False in Some Sense

Epilogue

Dr. Agatha Herman joins the FBI, and also joins Null Mysteriis, aiming to become a notable paranormal researcher in her spare time.

Chuck Storm continues the Vigil, this time with the United States government. Though forced to leave broadcasting due to the move, he still does important work.

After graduation, Elena MacKenzie goes to Las Vegas with Paul St. Claire, before returning to Terra Lake to prepare for college in the fall. She attends Brown University, and writes several books about serial killers.

Katrina Kournikova arranges to speak to her father before she gathers her things, and she and Michael (aka James Eliot) leave Terra Lake for her native Russia.

Jonah Flood is released from prison within five years, and returns to writing books and traveling the back roads of the world.

William Puckett’s body is never recovered.

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Extraction; Chapter 3

Tuesday, May 26, 2009, approximately 1:00 AM that morning

William Puckett awakens to some noise that morning. After trying to go back to sleep, he swears he hears the sound of distant horns in the woods outside his house. He goes downstairs and he and Billy Jack try to make a plan. After unsuccessfully debating whether to stay at the house or leave, Billy Jack tells William that he will be right back. He steps out of the house, and William hears the truck start up. William runs outside and manages to leap aboard, but the truck does not make it far before something sticks in the tire and deflates it. Still trying to drive, the pair sees a large man, antlered, walking with a pack of wild hounds. He fires another arrow, this time directly into the engine block. The truck stalls and dies.

William jumps onto the hood and activates his Contracts of Vainglory to hold off the horde. The antlered hunter stops, but his hounds do not. William fights valiantly, but is overwhelmed by the dogs and loses consciousness.

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Extraction; Chapter 2

Tuesday, May 26, 2009, throughout the day

Throughout the day, Agatha, Chuck, Elena, and Katrina go about their respective routines. While at work, Agatha makes certain that she finds floorplans and notes the night watchmen on duty. She contacts Chuck with this information, and he then contacts Elena and Katrina, being unable to reach William. After some deliberation, they decide to stick to the original plan of meeting at 5:00 PM.

Agatha, Chuck, Elena, “James,” Katrina, Paul, Agent Sklar, and Janet Cook meet at the “Lake House” around that time. First, Janet explains that if things are too dangerous, the group may abandon the mission if they have enough evidence of untoward things happening in the facility — after all, if things are bad enough, her people will take care of it. Next, Janet reveals what she acquired — some electronic lockpicking equipment along with enough shotguns, sidearms, ammunition, tranquilizer rounds, stun batons, bulletproof vests, BDUs, and personal cameras and radios for everyone, along with an SUV for transportation. With the information and equipment available, the group decides on a plan. “James” will be the driver. Agent Sklar will keep police busy for an extra minute or two if they are called. Janet will be monitoring data in a separate vehicle and will provide backup if necessary. Agatha will enter Phoenix Chemicals first and distract the guards, knocking them out with tranquilizers. Then, the entire group can go to Perkona’s special projects sector in the basement. From their, they can make their way to Lab 6 — the restricted sector. As everyone agrees on the plan, Agent Sklar takes his leave and the rest prepare the equipment, going to Chuck’s house first so Agatha can get a sweatshirt to hide her ballistic vest and sidearm before going to Phoenix Chemicals.

Upon arriving at Phoenix, everyone drops out of sight while Agatha enters the facility. She sees one of the night watchmen walking around, then goes to her office on the pretense of looking for something. She then goes to the guard station and says that she left her cell phone, and did anybody turn it in? When the guard goes to look through the lost and found, Agatha pulls out the stun baton. He catches the movement and tries to stop her, but gets briefly shocked. Disoriented, he manages to pull away, though Agatha tackles him to the ground and shocks him again, knocking him unconscious. She notes on the monitor bank that the second guard is returning to the guard station, so she drags the unconscious body to the side and waits next to the doorway with the stun baton. When the guard enters, she shocks him and knocks him unconscious. She then searches the men, and finding some zip-ties, she ties them up. Then she returns outside.

Quickly gathering her other things she left behind, she tells everyone else what happened and that the coast should be clear. When they enter Phoenix, Chuck does go to the guard station and apply tranquilizers to the two guards, just to ensure that they stay unconscious. Then, the group descends to the basement.

They wander for a bit to make certain that nobody is hiding in any of the other labs, and as they approach Lab 6, the door opens and three identical men, much like those encountered guarding This Way Comes, exit, with guns drawn. A brief firefight ensues, quickly dropping two. A third is engaged in melee combat, as Paul and Elena gang up on him. He is quickly knocked unconscious and Elena stomps on his head until it breaks to ensure that he does not awaken unexpectedly. Chuck looks down the corridor into Lab 6, but stays on that side of the barrier when the door closes. He notes that this small corridor has a sunburst on the ceiling, and that the door has a plate on it reading “Bhogavati.” The digital readout next to the door, positioned atop an alphanumeric keypad, reads, “Who will defend impudent Jatayu?” Agatha and Chuck determine these to be Sanskrit words, and when they ask Janet what this means, she replies that these refer to Hindu mythology, as something of an analogue to Icarus. When they ask what the answer might be, she tells Chuck to try “Sampati” on the keypad. Chuck does so and the door opens. The group moves down the corridor, noting the various labels on the doors — phrases such as “Animal Research A” and “Microbiology” — when they come to a door that quickly opens, revealing another one of the identical men. Gunfire quickly drops him, and another man steps out behind him. This man, wearing black BDUs, appears bald, wears goggles, and has a rather large and imposing knife in his hand. Seeing Elena first, he lashes out at her, stabbing deep into her shoulder. Paul jumps in to assist, but the electrical shock he delivers seems to do nothing to slow the man. Agatha crouches by the door and fires into the room, hitting one of the men still inside and discouraging anyone else from trying to exit. Elena swiftly draws the kukri at her side and goes for the man’s arm. When he slashes at her throat, she slashes at his. Paul keeps striking him with the baton. Finally, Chuck and Katrina risk firing into the fray and down him with two well-placed shots. Chuck shouts for the other men in the room to drop their weapons and slide them into the hall. Calmly, they walk into view and slide their guns into the hallway. Then, they ask what further instructions Chuck has for them. He tells them to turn around and put their hands against the wall. They comply. Then, the group tranquilizes them.

Confused at what just happened, but not questioning the good fortune of being able to order the identical men around, Agatha starts to treat Elena while Chuck examines the monitors. He sees Anatoly Kournikova, lying in a tank with a clear plate on the front. Judging by the position, he is in “Genetic Research B,” across the hall. There is also a woman in the lab with him, currently working on something else. When he conveys this information, Katrina goes to the door and fires a shotgun blast at the keypad and doorknob. Chuck sees the woman smile at the camera and then disappear, apparently after having interacted with a small Zen sand garden at her work station. Paul accompanies Katrina, but they find no trace of anybody else. Chuck also sees some strange animal-human hybrid creatures in the animal research labs, as well as a bandaged figure in another tank elsewhere, but otherwise he does not see anyone. After Agatha comes to investigate, she examines the computers and finds the combination to open Anatoly’s tank. Chuck gets a gurney and some blankets and things out of the stockroom, and they load Anatoly onto the gurney. After deciding that their primary objective is complete and that there should be enough recorded evidence for Janet and her organization, they take Anatoly out.

They are greeted in the parking lot by Janet Cook, who takes Anatoly in her car. Everyone agrees to meet at the “Lake House.” Upon arriving, Janet thanks everyone for the assistance, and says that this officially ends their obligation. Katrina says that she would like to speak with her father soon, and Janet says that it can likely be arranged, and that she will keep in contact. She then collects the equipment and tells everyone they know where to reach her. Then, she leaves to take Elena to the hospital while everyone else goes their separate ways for the evening.

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Extraction; Chapter 1

Sunday, May 17, 2009, around 7:30 AM (and throughout the following week)

Agatha is awakened by a persistent knocking on the front door of Chuck’s house. When the knocking continues, she grabs her shotgun and goes downstairs without changing out of her shirt and underpants. By the time she gets downstairs, the knocking stops. She looks to see if she can see anybody at all, and when she cannot, she calls Agent Sklar, reporting what happened. She further indicates that she doesn’t feel as though someone so insistent would just leave. Keeping him on the phone, she does a sweep of the house. Finally, she makes her way back upstairs…just in the time for the knocking to resume. Agent Sklar says he will start making his way over, but to keep him on the phone. As she returns downstairs, the knocking stops again, and Agatha doesn’t manage to see anybody. Finally, Sklar tells her to open the front door to see what it could be.

Agatha finds a strange knife stabbed into the door jamb. A note is wrapped around it. After reporting this to Agent Sklar, she carefully unrolls the note without touch the knife. The note reads “Use me.” Still somewhat confused, goes to turn around when she senses movement behind her. She grabs the knife and tucks it into her underpants before she wheels around.

Sitting in a chair is a tall, thin man. His limbs are too long, and his fedora shadows his face, revealing only a grin that is too wide. He asks her where the dancer is and she replies that she does not know. He asks again, standing as she does so. She continues to insist, and this is when he starts to move.

Lightning fast he clears the hallway and rakes his long fingers across her stomach, drawing blood. She discharges the shotgun but the shot goes wide as the man sidesteps the blast, embedding pellets into Chuck’s wall. The tall fellow then manages to grab and restrain her. After attempting to pull the knife free, he knocks it out of her grip and manages to subdue her. Steely fingers at her throat, he allows her to get an arm free and tells her to hang up on her friend and call the dancer, and to find out where she is. Pretend that nothing is wrong. She does so, calling Katrina under the pretense of a morning jog, but manages to act so cheerful that Katrina infers that something is wrong. She says that she and “James” will be over. As the conversation ends, Agatha hears sirens nearing.

After Agatha hangs up, the tall man throws her to the ground and gathers the weapons. He then tells her to move just as a car arrives and Agent Sklar steps out. He draws his weapon, takes aim, and fires just as the thing turns around. With the same speed, it starts to run at Sklar, tagging him with its claw-like fingers. Sklar backpedals and fires, sending another bullet into the thing. Agatha discharges a shot and strikes it in the back. It strikes Sklar again before he puts another bullet into it, dropping it.

Agatha comes outside and the two decide to drag the thing into the house to figure out what to do with it. Finally, Agatha grabs an iron bar and caves its head in. The fissure reveals an inky black ooze and the corpse dissipates into glittering, golden dust, which dissipates. Some few of the black bloodstains remain. Agatha opens the backdoor and the back gate to imply that the thing ran away. Then, another knock sounds on the door, and Agatha sees a policeman outside. She opens the door and the last thing she recalls is the figure saying, “Sleep now,” before falling asleep.

Katrina and “James” arrive to find the chaos of the previous melee, and Agatha and Sklar unconscious. She manages to awaken them both and the group sweeps the house, finding nothing other than the strange knife missing. The note, however, remains. After Katrina applies some first aid, everybody travels to the hospital for treatment.

Over the course of the week, Janet Cook asks Chuck, Elena, and William if they approve of the use of an experimental serum which should prompt faster recuperation. All agree, and everyone is out of the hospital within the week. Janet lets them know that she would like to meet with them when they are available.

On Sunday, May 24, Janet calls Chuck Storm to set up a meeting. He says he will call everyone and get back to her in the hour. After talking to everyone, they decide to meet the following evening at the “Lake House” at 5:00 PM. He then calls Janet and gives her the address. Elena also calls Paul and Agent Sklar to let them know, though Sklar says he will probably not make it.

The next day, everyone goes to work or school — for many of them, it is the first time they have returned since the events of prom. Elena finds that her schoolmates react with a mixture of shock, respect, and fear. The members of her own clique seem somewhat afraid of her, while most of the other students look at her with a newfound respect for her actions at prom.

For most others, their days are fairly quiet. That evening, everyone goes to the “Lake House.” Much to the others’ chagrin, they find William Puckett attends wearing a dashiki, Africa pendant, and wearing blackface. Chuck points out that Agent Cook is an African-American, and that blackface is illegal in some places, but William Puckett insists that this is how he is supposed to be. Then, the knock at the door announces Janet Cook’s presence. Chuck slips outside and quietly warns her about William’s condition. She says that it should be all right, but she is quite glad for the warning. She and Chuck then enter.

After initial pleasantries, and trying to keep William under control, Janet Cook explains that it is her understanding that the clones that took Anatoly Kournikova are under the control of Perkona, existing in Terra Lake as Phoenix Chemicals. Around this time, a second knock on the door announces the presence of Agent Sklar, who decided to attend after all.

After discussion resumes, it becomes apparent that Perkona only has two locations — the main facility in San Francisco, and the branch in Terra Lake. Janet Cook indicates that if Anatoly Kournikova cannot be found in Terra Lake, her people will take over operations in San Francisco. She further indicates that the operation at Perkona needs to happen soon, and is an extraction, though if Anatoly cannot be found, any information they can uncover would be appreciated. After further discussion, Janet agrees to outfit everyone with body armor and firearms — specifically high-capacity shotguns, sidearms, and some stun weapon. She will also outfit them with cameras to gather evidence, and radios for communication. Agent Sklar indicates that he will not accompany them personally, but he can attempt to delay police if law enforcement is called.

Sklar also takes the opportunity to make certain everybody knows about the Agatha’s encounter. When asked, he indicates that the police officer was not Hayward; in fact, it was someone he did not recognize at all, which is strange considering his months of working with local police.

After further deliberation, and after Janet Cook indicates that Agatha will have a place at the FBI even if her position at Perkona is soured, it is decided that “James” will likely stay in the car while Agatha, Chuck, Elena, Katrina, Paul, and William will enter the building. Janet will be on stand-by in case they require additional backup. They agree to meet at the same time tomorrow so Janet can deliver the equipment she promised. From there, everybody parts company to prepare for the following evening.

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Children of the Atom; Chapter 4

Saturday, May 16, 2009, around 11:00 PM

Before Katrina and “James” have the opportunity to leave, Sklar receives a phone call and tells Katrina to wait a moment. A black SUV arrives on the scene, and an African-American woman with a frizzy afro steps out of the vehicle. After speaking to Agent Sklar, she talks to Katrina. Introducing herself as Janet Cook and an agent of the U.S. government — specifically whatever shadowy agency employed James Soldati — she asks Katrina a few questions and explains that she requires her help to transport the Doctor. After the Doctor is loaded onto an ambulance, Katrina is to follow with them in the SUV to make sure that nothing tries to tamper with the Doctor. Then they can figure out what to do next. Meanwhile, “James” will take the car home.

These things decided, Katrina goes with the agents. As the ambulance pulls out, the SUV follows. Janet rides in the passenger’s seat, keeping her gun ready. The driver keeps his eyes on the road, while Katrina keeps an eye on things from the back. She also has her shotgun ready.

Eventually, a black sedan pulls in behind the SUV, bearing a strange license plate — a triangle, a heart, and a hand with the middle finger extended. Katrina makes sure that Janet sees it and readies her gun. The back door of the sedan opens, and a person wearing a trenchcoat and wide-brimmed hat peers out, hanging on to avoid falling out of the vehicle. His arms are too long and his face is not entirely visible. He tests the wind, then leaps — only to be hit by a volley from Katrina’s shotgun. He twists in midair and scrambles to grab the side of the SUV, missing and falling onto the road, tumbling as he quickly disappears behind them.

A short distance up the road, the ambulance swerves to avoid something, which Katrina recognizes as the Mothman. Janet takes a shot at it as they pass, and then shoots at one of the tires on the sedan. The car wavers and skids off the road, allowing the ambulance and the SUV an uneventful trip to the hospital.

Once at the hospital, Janet and Katrina enter and Janet takes Katrina to the Doctor’s room. After having Katrina sign a nondisclosure agreement and asking about the Doctor’s threat level — whether he can be contained or should just be killed — Katrina indicates that killing him would probably be best. Janet smothers him with a pillow, and he explodes into golden dust, which dissipates swiftly.

Once that is done, Katrina is told that she can leave. If she would like a ride from Janet’s people, that can be arranged, or she can call her friend and get home that way. She chooses the latter and calls “James.”

Meanwhile, Agatha awakens after having rested to get over her bout of illness. She calls Chuck, and receiving no answer, calls Katrina. After learning that people are in the hospital and might be arrested, Agatha decides to go. Once arriving at the hospital, she greets Katrina and “James,” and then sees if she can visit. Getting a somewhat strange answer from the receptionist — that they are in custody and that she cannot even say where in the hospital they are right now — Agatha calls Agent Sklar. He says he feels somewhat confident that things will turn out well, though he can say that everyone is all right.

After discussions, Katrina and “James” go find a hotel room for the night, while Agatha goes home.

Chuck awakens to find his room swarming with doctors, nurses, and police officers. Some seem strange, though most are normal. After a little bit of questions and discussion, the various people in the room leave as Janet Cook enters. She explains that she is here on behalf of the organization that employed James Soldati, and Chuck asks after him. Afterward, she explains that she can have the charges against Chuck dropped if he agrees to help her organization. She then asks him to sign a nondisclosure agreement, and explains that her agency lost contact with one agent, Anatoly Kournikova, about a week ago. They want Chuck to find him and either rescue him, or if he is dead, report what happened to him. Chuck asks about Anatoly’s agenda of killing some of their contacts who happen to be strange in one way or another, and Janet says that she is not apprised of such plans; indeed, that such a thing might be something worth asking Anatoly when he is recovered. Chuck finally agrees, and Janet says she will be in contact with him in the future.

When Elena awakens, she experiences much the same thing. She notes that some personnel in the room are odd, but most are not. She is mostly quiet, but when Janet enters the room and explains that she is here on behalf of the U.S. government and works for the same agency as James Soldati, Elena’s demeanor changes. Janet explains the same series of events to her — that the charges can be dropped in return for a service, and after a nondisclosure agreement is signed, she explains that the aforementioned service involves rescuing Anatoly Kournikova. Elena agrees and Janet indicates that she will be in contact.

When William Puckett awakens, he lectures the personnel in his room on Satanists before Janet enters. Again, she introduces herself and makes the same offer. After some discussion, William agrees.

Later that evening, police officers enter and uncuff Chuck, Elena, and William from their beds, apologizing for the misunderstanding.

Finally, Janet calls Katrina and meets her in the hotel, explaining that she neglected to mention the rescue mission of Anatoly Kournikova. Janet indicates that she can compensate Katrina in some way for her assistance. Katrina asks many of the same questions as Chuck, namely whether or not there will be an issue of exterminating some of the things in town that are not causing trouble. Janet frankly states that they lack the time and resources necessary to take care of every problem, so that things that are not causing trouble likely will not be harmed, though that is something she may wish to discuss with Anatoly when he is found. She says that she will similarly contact Katrina later, and leaves her to her business.

Business complete, everyone goes to sleep for the night.

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Children of the Atom; Chapter 3

Sunday, May 10, 2009, and throughout the following week

Before Sunday, Chuck and Katrina acquire flareguns and flares for whatever may come.

On Sunday, Agatha and Elena decide not to go to the Church of Ezekiel’s Divine Revelation. Despite William’s claims that the others should stay away, Chuck and Katrina decide to go. As such, they get in their cars to attend a meeting.

When the arrive, they find the place abandoned with the blinds drawn. After looking around to see if anybody is nearby, Chuck picks the lock on the front door and the three enter. The church is largely one room with several chairs and a podium on a stage. Behind the podium is a Bible, but otherwise there are not many books within the place — no hymnals or anything of the sort. The walls are covered in murals, mostly made to look like the night sky, though one wall does bear designs featuring fiery wheels and four-headed angels, while the wall behind the podium bears an almost angelic figure wearing an elaborate uniform. Chuck, Katrina, and William recognize the figure as the Doctor.

Afterward, William continues to look around, informing the group that he senses no doors to the Hedge, and Chuck and Katrina go to the office in the rear. They find only financial data and a church directory, though Chuck copies this information in the event that it might be useful. When they hear the front door, Chuck and Katrina sneak out the back, only to find that it is William leaving. Knowing that he is going to the nearby Brown Baptist Church, they follow.

When William enters Brown Baptist Church, he first walks up to the pulpit, addressing the pastor with eldritch glamours so that he is unmolested. Then, he calls upon the power of his Wyrd to intensify his own persona, convincing them that they should boycott prom to prevent something terrible from happening there. This is around the time Chuck and Katrina arrive. Finally, William subtly reveals his changeling self, convincing the crowd that he is a servant of the Lord. By the end of his speech, he has convinced them to boycott prom, and as he leaves, he begins blessing people. The congregation goes ballistic at this, prompting Chuck and Katrina to leave while they still can.

Before going home, Chuck checks the Church of Ezekiel’s directory, and notes his coworker Steve on the list. He goes to visit him, asking why the church did not gather this morning, and Steve says that he does not know, only that he received an email. Chuck determines that Steve is hiding something, and further determines that Steve doesn’t appreciate his questioning, but does not determine anything else about the Church of Ezekiel. Then, he drops Katrina off at her apartment before returning to his own house.

The next day, shortly after Katrina gets home, there is a knock at her door. When she looks out, she sees a nondescript man with short, brown hair. She recognizes him as one of the identical triplets who accosted the group when they broke into the tractor-trailer truck to recover This Way Comes. Seeing that, she goes to the back window to access the fire escape. She notes a black van parked outside, but seeing no one in the driver’s seat or the passenger’s seat, she decides to climb out. She grabs some things and calls Chuck as she leaves, letting him know that something is happening. He jumps into his car to come over.

When she hits the ground, two identical men jump out of the van and tell her to come with them. When she refuses, they say they will fire on three. After counting to three, Katrina dives over her car and crouches down. She hears a little commotion, and as she gets into the car, she sees one of the men getting up while the other grabs an unconscious body. She recognizes the unconscious man being loaded into the van as her father, Anatoly. While figuring out what to do, the men load her father into the van and drive away. She notifies Chuck of the update and follows them out of town before finally losing them on the highway. She receives a call from Michael asking where she is, and she explains she will be home soon and will explain everything. She returns to Terra Lake and Chuck waits at her apartment to make sure she gets home safely.

Once inside, Katrina explains the mysterious appearance of her father, or someone claiming to be him, and further explains how he was abducted by clones. She indicates that she does not exactly know what this is all about, though she is somewhat relieved, and is fairly certain that her father can take care of himself.

The rest of the week goes quietly. Elena is preparing for prom, and with Chuck, Katrina, and William helping plug her prom queen recommendation, it appears that she should win. The others go to work and go about their business, making sure they have everything ready for the emergency on Saturday. Agatha and Chuck purchase flak vests.

On Friday night, the group assembles for a meeting, inviting Paul, Michael (or “James”), and Agent Sklar. They go over their plans one last time. Chuck, Elena, and Paul are inside and will smuggle weapons inside to make certain they are armed. Katrina and Michael are to be waiting in the woods in a vehicle to warn the others if the Doctor comes through the forest gate. If he comes by eldritch automobile, they are to put down a spike strip to slow his advance. William is going to be with the Baptists boycotting prom, and will be coordinating from the outside. Agent Sklar will make sure that police are informed of some vague threat so that they will be ready. As Agatha is not feeling well, she will likely stay home. Once everyone is more or less comfortable with their positions, the meeting is adjourned and everyone goes home.

The next day, they prepare. As night falls, everyone assembles in their positions to wait.

William sees her first, as a woman staggers toward the group. He notes that she is bandaged, wearing a hospital gown, and covered in blood. A scalpel is concealed in her hand. He approaches, attempting to make contact, but is instead given a nasty wound across the chest with the scalpel. He falls, trying to make certain that the Baptists see it so they know that an emergency has arisen, and they begin to move back. The woman charges the crowd, and as police enter the melee, William projects a fearsome aspect. The group stops and the woman flees, with the police giving chase. William then stands and goes to tend to his flock.

Meanwhile, the commotion outside cuts off the prom king and queen announcement. Dirk Allen is crowned Prom King, and after the delay, Elena is crowned Prom Queen. As she is crowned, the gym doors swing open revealing a forested path. The Doctor and eleven men in black suits and black fedoras with white faces, dark eye circles and dark lips walk out. All of them are strange. Elena readies her kukri strapped to her leg. Chuck, having grabbed his garment bag during the delay, takes out his shotgun. Paul grabs his baseball bat from underneath the table. Chuck tells Dirk Allen to do something as he scrambles onto the stage.

Meanwhile, Katrina observes the forest gate open while two of the black-suited men exit. They do not attack, only watching. Katrina notifies Chuck and says she will wait to see what they do.

In the confusion, the Doctor surveys the gym while the dark-suited men start to rush. Groups of them start to attack the assembled party while one gets sidetracked when Mr. Webb grabs him and begins wrestling with him. Elena attacks with her kukri, cutting into the suited things. Chuck blasts away with his shotgun, shells filled with iron chunks for shot. Paul goes after them with his baseball bat, but is quickly overwhelmed.

As the superior numbers of the suited things start to overwhelm the group, William and his Baptist army enters the fray. Many members fall back when they see the chaos, but some jump in and start detaining the suited things. William surveys the chaos along with the Doctor. Finally, the Doctor fires at Elena with the strange autoinjector he holds, breaking the enchantment he has to remove him from the battle. When the shot misses, Elena takes the opportunity to drop the kukri and take out her fist-loads with iron nails. Her blow bites deeply into the Doctor, but does not fell him. Chuck, likewise, turns his attentions to the Doctor, firing a shot at him that injures him, but still does not cause him to fall. When the Doctor swipes at her with his scalpel, she finally falls, unconscious. Chuck, likewise, falls unconscious under the heavy blows of the Doctor’s minions. Finally, William jumps into the fray to pick up one of Elena’s fist-loads and swipe at the Doctor. At that, he falls, his wounds leaking some black fluid. Finally, William gets hit and loses consciousness.

After noting that the men at the gate are not doing anything, Katrina starts to drive for the school. By the time she reaches it, a police perimeter has been set up. Agent Sklar and his partner are also on the scene. She asks a police officer to speak to Agent Sklar, and after a police officer talks to him, he comes over and explains what little he knows of the chaos. She sees Chuck, Elena, and William brought out on stretchers, while Paul is dragged out, still holding the Doctor’s body and fighting as hard as he can to hold onto it, saying that he is a very bad man and should not be treated. Katrina tells Sklar that he must ensure that the Doctor is not allowed to be let go, and Sklar says he will do his best. He says he will also keep her informed of whatever happens.

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Children of the Atom; Chapter 2

Monday, May 4, 2009, and throughout the following few days

Katrina, lacking any sort of information regarding her father, attempts to make contact by leaving a note on her computer. Elena and Paul decide to go to Indianapolis another night, while Chuck contacts everyone to set up a meeting on the following night. He also looks up Officer Ed Dunn, learning that his killer was one Anthony Reuter, who was arrested when incarcerated during a convenience store robbery. However, Anthony claimed that his associate, Hank Martinez, set him up. Hank is currently living in Indianapolis with his wife Julia, where he works construction.

The following day, everyone engages in their normal activities. Agatha and Katrina go to work. William investigates his options, and calls Paul to ask him about where to find fake identification. He determines that Mexicans in Arlington, VA could probably help him; Paul agrees, and William begins looking into acquiring a plane ticket. Chuck prepares for the night’s meeting, and Elena hears that Noelle Isaacs may be in the running for Prom Queen.

That night, around seven, Agatha, Chuck, Duke, Elena, James, Katrina, Paul, and William all gather at the Lake House. “James” and William meet for the first time, and William asks some questions about how James leads his life. James indicates that he largely tries to live a normal life, like a human. After Elena describes the fact that Noelle has been replaced by a fetch, she and Chuck further announce that the Doctor has threatened to appear to abduct Elena on prom night. After some discussion, everybody determines a course of action. First, Chuck wants to profile Noelle so that everyone can benefit from whatever he finds. Second, on prom night, everyone needs to be prepared. Katrina and “James” will watch the woods — assuming that the Doctor and whatever minions he may have will arrive from that gate — and drive ahead to notify the others. Since the Doctor has previously traveled by car, they may arrange to have caltrops to slow him down. Anybody who cannot get into prom will wait outside, while Chuck, Elena, and Paul will be inside, and hope to smuggle weapons within. Other than that, they’ll play it by ear.

Afterward, Chuck asks about the ability that the Doctor manifested to prevent people from harming him. William indicates that he is familiar with this ability — being able to use it himself — and that the Doctor likely cannot attack without breaking the spell. After testing William to determine the limits of this ability, they agree that this is likely the case, and hope to research other ways to break it. Since William plans on traveling to the Church of Ezekiel’s Divine Retribution on Sunday, and plans on revealing his majesty there, everyone decides that they will observe and further test the limits of his ability. Also, William is tasked with finding gates into the Hedge in the school, to see if there is any way for the Doctor to enter simply through the school. After deciding these things, the meeting parts for the evening.

That night, Elena has another dream featuring the Doctor. He asks about why she did not like his gift, and she explains that replacing people is wrong. After some bantering back and forth, she awakens. Rather than returning to sleep, she practices some more with her kukri.

The next day, Agatha, Chuck, and Katrina go to work, while Elena goes to school. She starts campaigning to get people on her side for Prom Queen, largely to ensure that Noelle doesn’t get it.

During the day, William does a little investigating. First, he goes to the school, suggesting to the person at the door that he is there to check the doors, and checks for Hedge gates to check for gates. Not finding any, he goes to the woods and opens the Hedge gate. He walks down the path a short way to look for some fruit. Finding a sparkly lemon, he takes it and places it in the grocery store, waiting to see what happens when someone purchases it. When a police officer purchases it, he follows him to the station. After convincing the receptionist to let him pass, he goes into the office and determines it to be Officer Hayward. He asks him a few questions about the lemon, claiming to be here on behalf of a lemon grower, and proceeds to engage in a very disorganized line of questioning to confuse Officer Hayward. In the meantime, he harvests Glamour from this confusion. After it becomes obvious that Officer Hayward knows he’s a changeling, he explains that William ought to be careful, as there are forces at work that will soon find his rifle and connect him to the murder of Johnny Page. William thanks him and goes on his way.

He then returns to the woods to use the gate to the lands of the dead. He bleeds profusely on the gate, and once he gains passage, he recalls a pledge from Arcadia, a way to cheat death. He notes this memory, knowing he will have to research further for it to be of use to him, and he begins to wander. He finally comes to a boiling river with a lone policeman standing watch. He bears a rifle. William asks him about it, and after some conversation, they come to an agreement. If William can track down his killer and bring him to “The Law,” better known as Officer Ed Dunn, “The Law” must give him the rifle. In the meantime, “The Law” cannot discuss any information regarding the rifle and cannot let it go, or else he will face dire consequences. On the other hand, William must not fail in his task to catch the killer. Once agreed, William seals the pledge and enforces it such that failure will summon the Wild Hunt to take the offender to Arcadia. He then returns to the surface, again bleeding to open the gate, and leaves.

Chuck, meanwhile, goes to Bishop’s Antiquities to find some iron implements. Finding some success with another iron, he speaks to Mrs. Bishop briefly and goes about his way.

Katrina similarly looks for some iron implements, with less success. She also attempts to leave messages for her father, finally meeting him on the street. She asks for proof that the things he has said will come to pass, and he says that these are merely visions of the future; he cannot provide proof. Finally, he tells her to gather the members of her group who are not compromised, and that he will meet them to explain himself. She sends messages for everybody to meet her at the food court in the mall, and not to mention it to the others.

That afternoon, Agatha, Chuck, Katrina, and Elena meet in the food court. Anatoly Kournikova arrives shortly thereafter. He and Katrina explain that he believes that Michael, Mrs. Bishop, and William will turn on the others once the Doctor is no longer a threat. They will vie for control and betray everyone else. He says that they must be dealt with, and if they do so before meeting the Doctor on prom night, he will outfit them. Otherwise, his people will be forced to take care of the situation, and they will not be nearly so neat and surgical as the local hunter cell will be — they will gladly destroy the town to take care of the problem. Once he has said his piece, he bids them farewell.

Even though Anatoly claimed it is untrue, Chuck believes he is connected with the people who abducted Angela Johnson’s fetch and placed her in his home. He also thinks that William might betray them, but Michael and Mrs. Bishop will not. They do not exactly decide what to do, though Chuck indicates that he is attempting to take care of the William Puckett problem, and discusses his idea that Billy Jack killed Johnny. He says that he is trying to find the evidence. Otherwise, though, they do not plan on doing anything about Mrs. Bishop or Michael. Katrina also reveals her plans to possibly leave with Michael after this is through. After some further discussion, the meeting breaks for the time being.

Afterward, Chuck follows Noelle while relating the information to Agatha. After the two have compiled everything, they put the information in the Lake House to reference later. As best as Chuck can tell, Noelle seems reasonably normal.

The rest of the week goes quietly. Everyone goes about their routines in preparation for investigating the Church of Ezekiel on Sunday.

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Children of the Atom: Chapter 1

Saturday, May 2, 2009, and throughout the following few days

While Chuck, Elena, Katrina, and the Pucketts are staying in the hospital, Agatha is going to work and sleeping at the “Lake House,” making sure she is not followed home. During the month, she receives a newsletter from an organization called “Null Mysteriis” — the attached note from Dr. Joyce Gallagher indicates that this is a copy of the newsletter she was describing. She also gets to know some of her new coworkers at Phoenix Chemicals, such as Dr. Kala Leto and Dr. Christopher Smith.

Early in the morning on May 2, Elena is sitting in her hospital room when the surroundings chance to a featureless white room. She is in the same bed, though there is no longer a door or any equipment nearby. The Doctor is standing in front of her. He ignores her apparent alarm, instead telling her that he will send her a gift to make her feel better. He also explains that he will be coming for her on prom night. He then says that he has a question to ask, and that is when her mind is flooded with a chaotic stream of images. She notes lights and music and blood, and herself caught in the middle of things.

She awakens, screaming. The doctors and nurses come to check on her, and she sleeps no further that night.

The next day, Katrina awakens to find another set of flowers on her nightstand. On them, a note is attached, written in Russian, which indicates that there will be someone to meet her at the food court in the mall at 2:00 PM tomorrow. The note continues, warning her that if she notifies anyone of this fact, the party who sent the note will not appear, and will handle the matter independently of Katrina.

Everybody goes to their respective houses. Billy Jack and William go their house, where William starts looking around to determine how to enter the 2010 Congressional race. Billy Jack runs a brief errand, then returns, apparently having received reimbursement for a missing shotgun. Before going to bed, he unsuccessfully propositions his Fetch for sex.

Michael drives Katrina home. She spends a couple of hours researching Project: Kupala online — finding only that it was the Soviet psychic research program — and then spends the rest of the evening with Michael.

Chuck goes to his home and contacts Sklar about the shotguns missing from his car. Sklar indicates that they were taken as evidence and destroyed because they were irradiated, but he can reimburse the parties involved if they would like. Chuck says he will likely meet with him later. That’s when he gets the text message.

Elena and her parents arrive home to find a large box — about the size of a refrigerator box wrapped in red wrapping paper and a gold ribbon, tied in a bow — on their front lawn. Whatever is inside seems strange to Elena. Elena reads the note, which reads, “I hope this cheers you up.” After some deliberation, they decide to bring the box inside and open it. That’s when she texts “911” to Chuck, and briefly explains that there is a thing in the box that pings. Chuck says he’ll make his way over.

After Elena convinces her parents not to open it, they deliberate until there is a knock on the door. Elena answers it to find Chuck, who is operating on the pretense of checking on her. She decides to call Agent Sklar and notify him; he says that he will bring the bomb squad.

After squad arrives, the box is taken outside and opened. Johnny walks out, though he seems a bit odd and his movements are somewhat stiff. Agent Sklar goes over to talk to him, and returns, saying that Elena needs to tell him to go with the police officers. She does so, telling him that he needs to leave so that they can prepare for a party, but everyone will return later. He agrees and gets into the police van. After checking to make certain that everyone is all right, Agent Sklar says that he needs to go see about Johnny, and he drives away. After Chuck makes certain everything is all right, he calls Sklar and asks about the shotguns. This prompts Agent Sklar to call Billy Jack and Agatha, to inform them that they can also get reimbursed. When Chuck arrives, he runs into Billy Jack, who is also talking to Agent Sklar. While there, he picks up Agatha’s check. He then goes shopping for a pump-action shotgun before returning home.

Elena, meanwhile, spends some time alone in her room. Agent Sklar calls her later to inform her that the Johnny simulacrum should not be bothering her; it was an automaton, and it was successfully dismantled.

The next day, Agatha goes about her business and Elena practices with her new kukri. William goes to a local evangelical church to absorb the emotions of the place. Katrina tells Michael that she has an errand to run, and goes to the mall. She wanders around the food court, and not seeing anybody, gets a drink and sits down, making sure she has a decent view of the entrances and exits. A man wearing a suit walks from behind her and sits down, a briefcase in hand. After she asks him a few questions, he introduces himself as Anatoly Kournikova — her father. When she seems incredulous, he explains that he was forced to fake his own death to protect Katrina and her mother. Having been burned by the Soviet government, he was forced to flee to America, making sure that loyal associates kept watch over his family in his absence. As she has now learned, her father was an agent of Project: Kupala, the GRU’s psychic research program, and it is with this expertise that he was able to find her. He also notes that Dr. Zirpoli is not one of his associates — he is a dangerous psychic, not to be trusted.

After Anatoly feels that he has explained everything, he explains his purpose. He believes that Katrina is in this town for a specific reason; he feels that she can be instrumental in turning it into a liveable place, free from malign psychic influence. He is willing to help — providing weapons and other resources before his task takes him elsewhere — but she has to show her dedication to ridding the town of all corrupting influences. That includes William Puckett, Mrs. Bishop, and most importantly, Michael. Anatoly claims that Michael will betray her some day, and that if she does not get him first, she will learn the hard way. He finishes by saying that he will know if she and her cell does this thing — she is free to discuss his offer with the others, if she so chooses — and then gives her the briefcase, saying that the firearm inside is unregistered and should not be traced back to her. Then, he leaves.

When Katrina returns home, she asks Michael if he has given any thought to returning to Russia with her when all is said and done. He says that he is likely going to talk to Agatha about it, but since his old life in America is relatively nonexistent, he is not opposed to the idea. She also sends a text message to Chuck, asking him about the Fetch ratio in town. She ponders the idea, knowing that she will have to broach the subject with everyone sooner or later.

Chuck, meanwhile, calls Billy Jack to talk to him. He gets William to agree to meet him at the Jumping Bean first, and confronts him with the knowledge that he killed Johnny. William denies it, saying that he ought to talk to Billy Jack. Chuck then tells William to instruct Billy Jack to talk to him. When William returns home, he instructs Billy Jack thusly, telling him not to tell Chuck anything. While Billy Jack is out, Duke returns, somewhat mangy, and William grooms him.

When Chuck meets with Billy Jack, Billy Jack indicates that he did not kill Johnny, and when asked about the demonic tattoo, he indicates that he does not have one. He shows Chuck that he is indeed telling the truth, which surprises him. When Billy Jack then recommends that Chuck should question William about these things, Chuck gives up and lets him go. He resumes planning for the rest of the day.

The next day, everyone goes to work. Agatha goes to Phoenix Chemicals. Katrina goes to the dance studio. Elena goes to school, and is welcomed back by her peers. They then explain that six students — Brad Dyson, Max Carter, Steven Green, Susan Nelson, Jenny Roberts, Barbara Scott — went to a cabin in the woods over spring break, where they were apparently attacked and murdered. Only Susan Nelson survived, and she is in a coma.

A little later in the day, Elena also offhandedly learns about her sometime boyfriend, Dirk Allen, when somebody gives condolences regarding her and Dirk. When she asks for clarification, it is explained that Dirk has started dating Noelle Isaacs — Johnny’s girlfriend. Elena immediately finds Dirk before class starts and yells at him about how he waited until she was in the hospital and Johnny was dead to do this, and how could he? At lunch, she finds Noelle, noting that she is dressed differently than she used to and that she seems strange. Elena asks her why she would do this to Johnny’s memory; Noelle merely indicates that since Elena is responsible for getting Johnny killed, Noelle is just taking her boyfriend away, too. Elena says that this isn’t over and storms off. She talks to Bill Frederick — one of Johnny and Noelle’s mutual friends — and asked when Noelle started acting strangely. He says after spring break.

She texts Paul, asking him to prom. He agrees, and the two decide to go to Indianapolis after school to shop for prom clothes.

At the end of the day, the janitor Mr. Webb catches Elena’s attention. He apologizes for not visiting while she was in the hospital — indicating that it would probably seem odd if he did — and he asks how she is doing. He then makes sure that she knows what happened in her absence. He explains that Noelle Isaacs started acting differently, that some woman moved into the Sherman house, that the drug trade is back — and that Chase Montgomery, the teen who was wounded during Roger Mason’s attack on the school, might be involved — and that the Church of Ezekiel’s Divine Revelation has apparently been recruiting in the chaos. He says that he doesn’t quite know what Elena is doing, but that these seem like things she ought to know. She thanks him, and then contacts Paul to go to Indianapolis.

Meanwhile, during the day, Chuck goes into work to look at some things. Pulling up the records regarding Billy Jack’s missing firearm report, he learns that the rifle was reported missing at the same time as the revolver — even though he remembers Billy Jack only reporting a revolver stolen.

After this, Chuck calls Agent Sklar. He asks how one might falsify a police report, to which Agent Sklar replies that it might vary from police department to police department, but it seems likely that hacking is involved; if someone just altered the police report, it would probably leave a timestamp of some sort. Chuck ends up asking Agent Sklar if he wants to meet at Eddie’s, and he agrees. They discuss these things further, with Agent Sklar deducing that Chuck probably suspects Puckett, but he says that this would probably require tampering with official police records. He also reminds Chuck just how illegal that is.

He also takes the opportunity to inform Chuck that the Johnny simulacrum was a robot, made of clockwork. He also indicates that five teens were killed over Spring Break, with a sixth in a coma. Apparently, they were staying in a cabin in the woods when Lydia York — a serial killer with an outstanding warrant — apparently approached and insighted them to murder each other. She died in the melee. The only survivor, again, is in the hospital, unconscious.

Finally, Agent Sklar suggests that, if Billy Jack didn’t hide the rifle in his holdings or in Indianapolis, then it is probably in Terra Lake and probably in a hiding spot that Chuck might know about.

Once lunch is finished, Chuck decides to investigate the woods. Not finding anything, he looks around in the caves, and decides to examine the gate to the dead place. However, he decides that he should have assistance, and so calls Elena. After some discussion, Paul turns the car around and they start to drive back to Terra Lake.

Once they arrive, Chuck, Elena, and Paul go to the caves. Chuck only indicates that he is looking for something that might be down here — he refuses to elaborate. He cuts his hand — much to Elena’s alarm, since she does not recall how to open the gate — and smears some blood on it. When the door only shudders as if to demand more, he gives more blood. Feeling a little woozy as the wall crumbles away, he turns on his flashlight and the three descend into the darkness.

Along the way, they start meeting figures in various states of injury and disarray. Some try to lap at the blood from his bandaged hand, but he tries to avoid them. Once he gives one some gum and asks about the lost rifle, the shade explains that the one known only as the Law holds it. He uses it to guard against anything that might arrive from below. When Chuck asks if he can be taken to this man, the shade agrees.

The three descend, moving through twisted passageways until they come to a boiling, fiery river. A little motorboat sits off a rickety pier, while a man in police uniform stands guard. Elena is alarmed by the river, but Paul comforts her while Chuck speaks to the Law. He eventually gets the Law to agree to part with the rifle if Chuck will return to the land of the living and take care of the one who killed him, either by killing him or bringing him down among the dead men. Chuck asks for some details, and learns that the Law was Officer Ed Dunn of Indianapolis, on patrol on October 18, 2005. He heard struggle, and rounded an alley to take four shots in the chest. He got a look at the shooter, though — Hispanic male, with black hair, hard, brown eyes, gaunt demeanor, and so forth. Chuck agrees and begins to ascend again when he is found by a nude man with a noose around his neck who says he can get the rifle if Chuck deigns to leave someone behind. Chuck refuses and the three return to the land of the living, with the appropriate donation of Chuck’s blood to open the gate.

Having returned to the woods, Elena and Paul decide to return to Indianapolis, and Elena explains the current happenings to Paul. Chuck indicates that he will likely need to go to Indianapolis, though he will plan his trip a little later. He also mentions that he will probably call a meeting within the next day or two, so that everyone can make their plans for the coming of the Doctor on prom night.

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Clap If You Believe; Chapter 6

Sunday, April 5, 2009, and throughout the following month

Agatha, Michael, and Katrina’s friends arrive at the hospital. Agent Sklar spots them and takes them aside, saying that visitors are not welcome at this time due to quarantine, but everyone has been quarantined for radiation sickness. He says that he will keep everyone updated on the situation. After hearing this, Michael drives Agatha home and then goes home himself.

Once Agatha is home, she looks up radiation sickness symptoms online, just to make certain that she is up to speed. Once she looks downstairs and sees that all the plastic is still in place in the basement, she packs a bag and decides to stay at the “Lake House” until things calm down.

Meanwhile, Chuck, Elena, Katrina, and the Pucketts are in the hospital, treated by doctors wearing Hazmat suits. The next day during the day, Agent Sklar visits them, explaining that he does not know when they will be released, though he estimates at least a month. They ask what happened to Paul, and he explains that he just needed to be disinfected, and was released. They also ask what happened to Duke, and he says that he never encountered Duke, so that he supposes that he should be on the lookout for a radioactive chimp. He also indicates that in addition to cleanup and evacuations, this is the week that the divers should dredge the lake. So, busy, busy.

The week passes quietly until Thursday, when Agent Sklar returns to give an update. He says that a scientist from New York came to help with the effort, and managed to keep the fish docile by the use of electricity. They managed to catch some, and found human remains inside. They have not yet received the results of the DNA test, but he suspects that it’s Johnny. Otherwise, he just checks to see how everyone is doing and proceed along his way.

As he proceeds to leave, there is a slight commotion in the hallway, just before an older gentleman wearing a suit and glasses enters. Agent Sklar recognizes him as the scientist who arrived to help with the carnivorous fish, and he seems fairly surprised that he is not wearing a Hazmat suit. The gentleman explains that this is because he checked the site and found that it is no longer radioactive. He pulls a Geiger counter out of his black bag and proceeds to display the same fact about the hospitalized group, much to everyone’s surprise. Introductions are made, revealing the elderly gentleman as Dr. Ebenezer Zirpoli from New York City. He also recognizes Katrina’s accent as being in the vicinity of St. Petersburg, and when she introduces herself, he asks if she is the daughter of Anatoly Kournikova with the GRU. She replies that, yes, that is her father, though he did not work with the GRU. He nods thoughtfully.

Once Agent Sklar indicates that these people have been helping him with his case, Dr. Zirpoli answers their questions. When they ask about the fish, he explains that his system uses sound waves and electricity to interfere with their lateral line system, thereby keeping them under control. He does not, however, recognize the species, though he hopes to do a little research. He then examines everyone and gives them a relatively clean bill of health, saying that they should recover without any of the nasty radiation poisoning symptoms, as they only received a small dose. He adds that Elena should be recovered in time for the promenade. Chuck and Elena, however, notice that he seems to have a note of distaste in his gaze and voice when referring to the Pucketts. Before he leaves, Chuck and Katrina ask for contact information, and he gives his card to everyone. He explains that he will likely return to New York before long, but that he will still accept phone calls and whatnot. He then leaves.

Once it is established that everyone is not radioactive and should recover nicely, visitors are allowed. Friday sees Elena’s parents arrive, as well as Paul, Michael, Katrina’s friends and family, and some assorted coworkers and friends. Katrina apologizes to her family, and says that she will call and explain this to her mother. Michael indicates that he will drive them to the airport tomorrow.

Jim Soldati also comes to visit, explaining that everything should be cleaned up, and that he has been reassigned. He is, however, reasonably certain that their paths may cross again some day. He displays surprise at learning that Puckett has returned, but does not inquire further. He then takes his leave.

Agent Sklar also visits, giving the bad news that the remains have been positively identified as Johnny Page’s remains. Elena is shaken, and tends to become somewhat withdrawn after hearing this.

William Puckett also contacts Action 5 news to explain what he knows about the radiation incident. When an interviewer comes down, the drugged William begins to rant about the things going on in the town. The interviewer thanks him and takes his leave.

After everyone is moved to separate rooms, Katrina calls Dr. Zirpoli to ask him about her father. He merely explains that he was detained in 1987 — likely because he was a foreigner with U.S. military ties — and met Anatoly Kournikova in his capacity as a GRU agent. He says he does not know much more, but he can give Katrina something to research — Project Kupala. She thanks him for the information, and the two indicate that they very well may speak in the future.

Katrina also calls her mother, largely to explain about the radiation leak. She says that she should be fine, and she hopes to return home soon, though she does not know how soon. She also explains that she met someone who knew her father, just as an aside. Her mother wishes her well and says that she is excited at the prospect of seeing her soon.

Chuck also calls Dr. Zirpoli, asking him if he made the radiation go away. Dr. Zirpoli explains that such is quite a silly proposition, but the note of irony in his voice tells Chuck all he needs to know. Likewise, he asks about the note of distaste with which he regarded Puckett. After saying that he is not entirely certain what he should do with the information, he tells Chuck that Puckett killed Johnny. He further explains, however, that there is no murder weapon to link Puckett to the crime, indicating that either that must be found, or a confession must be achieved. Chuck asks if he learned that through forensics, to which Dr. Zirpoli gives an affirmative reply that is still rather ironic. He leaves it at the fact that they both know things that other men do not, and when Chuck asks if he may contact him in the future about things that he and his group encounter, Dr. Zirpoli says that he may. The two then part on amicable terms.

A little later in the week, Elena’s parents tell her that the Pages left a package for her, apparently from Johnny. She asks if they could deliver it, and they do, leaving a big box with a note on it. She opens it after they leave, finding a letter that explains what is in the big box. It continues to explain that he has his notes he was compiling for a book he hoped to write on serial killers, as well as a homemade first aid kit and a briefcase containing a kukri, and two squirt pistols. One contains LSD, the other contains drain cleaner, and there are instructions on how to mix more solution. Having been left alone, Elena weeps while she reads the letter and looks through the supplies.

Save for the occasional visitor, the remaining month goes quietly for everyone, until their release in early May.

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Clap If You Believe; Chapter 5

Sunday, April 5, 2009, around 3:00 AM

Before everyone arrives at the “Lake House,” Katrina takes the opportunity to explain some things to her friends. Specifically, she explains that the reason why things have been so weird is that “James” is Michael; Michael was implicated in a crime, so needed to change his identity. Additionally, she and her friends are into some dangerous things — not illegal, but crazy things are happening in town. She further explains that whatever comes through the door is likely part of that; her friends are probably going to enter the house injured, and everyone should be expecting that.

She also mentions that another thing that has contributed to her weird mood — and that nobody can breathe a word of this to her mother — is that she lost a baby a couple of weeks ago. Everybody gives their condolences, though Yuri questions her heavily on what she has gotten herself into and says that she should return to Russia. She says that she feels the need to take care of things in Terra Lake before returning home.

Meanwhile, William Puckett makes his way out of a tangle of woods, his last memories being of a flight through the Hedge followed by setting up camp before the final push back to the Earth to find Duke. To his surprise, he finds Duke beside him, who says hello and asks how he is doing, and notes a nearby beartrap outside of a nearby house. As it occurs to him that this is his house, he goes to the door and knocks on it. After waiting for a moment, Billy Jack opens the door and tells him to go away. When William indicates that he is welcome to keep the house, Billy Jack seems surprised and after a moment, invites him inside the house. After some discussion over drinks, William and Billy Jack agree to share this life; William will maintain contact with the local hunter cell and try to establish a political career, while Billy Jack will maintain contact with his associates in Indianapolis and keep working in town. He then decides to contact Chuck so that he can meet and discuss these things.

After driving from town, the battered party of Agatha, Chuck, Elena, and Paul arrive at the “Lake House.” Katrina, Michael, and her friends come out to greet them and help them inside. Katrina introduces everyone to each other. Then, Katrina starts looking at Agatha’s wounds while the others take a moment to rest and explain a little of what happened. As this progresses, Chuck’s cell phone rings. He answers it to find that it is Billy Jack, who indicates that he and another party — being he and his Fetch — would like to meet with everyone and discuss what happened. After a little deliberation, Chuck tells William and Billy Jack to come to the “Lake House.”

In preparation, Michael says that he will take Katrina’s friends downstairs to keep them company while Billy Jack is over. Likewise, Chuck starts setting up the room so that weapons are readily accessible in case things go awry. Elena brews some coffee.

In about a half-hour, William, Billy Jack, and Duke arrive. After everyone exchanges strained greetings, stressed particularly by the presence of what amounts to two Billy Jacks, William explains a few things, essentially going over the conversation that he and Billy Jack had. He explains that he has returned, and he and Billy Jack have decided to share the same life, with Billy Jack taking care of certain things in Indianapolis while William takes care of things in Terra Lake. When he asks Duke a question, everyone is surprised to hear Duke talk, and Duke expresses the fact that William ought to have waited to have questioned him. Once that is out of the way, everyone agrees to return to Terra Lake and take care of whatever entities are still running around in the town. Katrina says good bye to Michael and her friends before leaving, and Agatha decides to stay behind as she is heavily injured.

Elena and Paul arrive in Terra Lake first, and at Chuck’s request, pass by the woods. They note that the spidery goblin is there, as well as the large crab. They call Chuck to report back, and everyone agrees to regroup once Chuck and Katrina check Elena’s house to make sure everything looks all right. It’s only on their way in that direction that they notice the bright flash and hear the thundering explosion from another neighborhood.

Chuck and Katrina park by Elena’s house. Chuck circles around to make sure that everything looks all right. When he is convinced, he returns to the car just in time to see and hear the same blast.

Billy Jack, William, and Duke are driving when they see a spindly, goblinoid thing with mime paint and a large cockroach leaving a house. William tells Billy Jack to stop the truck, and he gets out to speak to them. For a moment, they seem willing to listen before the mime-thing turns into a large, bipedal hyena and begins to attack.

The hyena-man gets a swipe in on William, though William largely manages to evade it and is only grazed. Billy Jack, panicked, fumbles with his revolver while Duke erupts into flames — though seemingly none the worse for it. That’s when a blinding white light and rolling thunder erupts from the cockroach, issuing a concussive blast that knocks Billy Jack unconscious. Everyone is bruised and bloody, and notes the taste of metal and a tingling sensation on the skin. William takes one more swipe from the hyena-thing before he loses consciousness.

Elena and Paul arrive on the scene to see the unconscious people and a flaming chimp dancing around the hyena-man. Paul tells Elena to take the wheel, and he leaps out of the car, waving his baseball bat. Duke finally jumps on the hyena-man and the thing loses consciousness. Elena parks the car and runs after the cockroach, finally pinning it down in someone’s front yard. She dons her iron nail claws and though it is fast, she is faster. She finally manages to down the thing and sneaks away before the Nelsons awaken to see what the disturbance was.

While she is away, Paul successfully tends to William to keep him from bleeding to death.

Chuck and Katrina arrive at the scene a little later, and leave Billy Jack’s big rig to take the others into their own cars. Everyone notes the sensation of tingling skin and the metallic taste before leaving.

They begin to drive around looking for the other creatures. Chuck notices the dragon moving by the side of the road when wounds suddenly erupt on his skin. He manages to control the vehicle while he and Paul drive past it, Paul swatting at it with his baseball bat as he passes and Katrina firing at it with her shotgun. As they turn around, Chuck tries to pass Elena a shotgun but drops it, prompting both to park their cars and retrieve the fallen gun. They then finish the dragon off before reloading and returning to their cars to go to the woods.

They pull into the woods to see the spidery goblin and the crab standing guard over the gate. Elena and Katrina train shotguns on them. Elena manages to get a good hit on the spidery goblin despite its speed, but it still appears to be about to go through the gateway. Katrina fires a shot that downs the crab and Chuck drops his gun, causing it to discharge and blow out one of his tires. The spidery goblin manages to run through the gate before anyone can fire at it.

Everyone reloads and decides to look for the spider, the only thing left unaccounted. They decide on the caves to look for it, and manage to find it and make short work of it. They again reload and return to their cars.

While driving around to make sure that nothing else is running around town, they begin to feel violently ill, and produce bloody vomit. Realizing that they are probably suffering from radiation poisoning, Chuck calls Agent Sklar to inform him of such, and Katrina calls Michael to let him know. Agent Sklar tells them to go to the hospital but not to enter until proper precautions are made. Michael says that he will be on his way, and when he tells Agatha and Katrina’s friends, they decide to relocate and visit.

The others drive to the hospital and wait for the emergency personnel to bring them inside. Paul, realizing that he is likely a special case, says he is going to go find Agent Sklar. The others are transferred to their own room in a wing of the hospital to await treatment.

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