Once He ruled in majesty,
In the days of yore.
Earth was young and splendid,
And His word was law.
Till the jealous Elder Gods,
Envying his skill.
Bound him with their symbols-
But we serve him still!
Onwards Cthulhu Cultists,
Like in times before.
Best get on his good side,
Or he’ll eat us raw!
Soon comes the Millennium,
Face it without fear.
If you love Cthulhu,
Then your futures clear.
Skip the Rapture too.
Cthulhu is recruiting-
What He wants is YOU!
Lyrics; S Barber.
Tune; Onward Christian Soldiers.
Sam placed her Laptop on the breakfast table and sat down. Jack looked up from his bowl of Fruit Loops and raised a questioning eyebrow.
“Daniel’s off world at the moment,” Began Sam, “But they were able to contact him and send him copies of the pictures I took. He’s worried Jack, very worried. He said he needs to check his source material but it looks like Willow was right when she said that girl probably saved the world.”
“I’m sure the judge will take that into account at her trial.” Commented Jack.
“You’re not going to let this go, are you?” Asked Sam in surprise, “This isn’t like you Jack, what’s wrong.” She reached across the table and placed her hand on Jack’s.
“Oh, I don’t know,” Admitted Jack wondering if he looked as confused as he felt, “I think working at the Pentagon is starting to get to me I keep thinking they should have filled out a form in triplicate before they killed him! Maybe I’ve been doing this too long…maybe I should take up fishing full time.”
“You’d be tearing down the walls in a week from boredom.” Sam smiled and squeezed Jack’s hand.
“Yeah,” Jack hesitated for a moment before asking, “What’s Daniel got to say for himself?”
“Well…” Began Sam moving her laptop to where Jack could see the screen.
Within moments Jack had drifted off to that happy place he went to when Sam started to lecture.
Breakfast at the Slayer’s cabin was an unusually quiet affair.
“What’s Giles got to say for himself?” Asked Kennedy as Willow placed her Laptop on the breakfast table and sat down.
“He’s worried,” Replied Willow, “I mean really worried.”
Kennedy raised a inquiring eyebrow for her girlfriend to explain herself. The younger Slayers all sat around the table looking tense.
“Well…” Began Willow turning her laptop so everyone could see the screen.
Within moments the Slayers had all got up from the table to sharpen their weapons again.
Sheriff Mat Coltrane had not had a proper breakfast, he had managed to grab a cup of coffee and that was all. He could already feel the acid building up in his stomache. He stood on the lakeshore and looked down at the body of Ranger Smith. He had not known about Smith’s tattoos, but then again he had only known the man for a couple of months.
Sheriff Coltrane did not need any fancy CSI guy’s to tell him the cause of death. If the hole in the back of Smith’s head had not killed him the slit throat had. Obviously the Ranger had been killed elsewhere and dumped in the lake. A few yards further up the shore and they would likely not have found the body.
Clearly whoever had dumped the Ranger knew about Bear Point, but not so well as to know where to dump the body exactly. Coltrane turned his attention away to the shoreline. There were no drag marks on the shingle, so whoever had killed him had carried the body here. Chances were that whoever he was looking for was a man. Mat eyed the body again.
Smith was not that big, so maybe two women might have managed, but that would mean there would be more tracks along the shoreline. So far he had found none. He was going to stick with his idea of one guy for the perp until he had more evidence. The perp was probably a big guy, fit and strong and who knew his way around the woods at night.
Several names came to his mind of men that fit his profile, but why would any of them want to kill Smith. He had hardly been here long enough to pick up any enemies. No, the perp was likely to be an ‘out-of-towner’ a visitor. Mat thought hard for a moment. There was that General staying down the shore with his ‘wife’.
He certainly looked big and fit enough to carry Smith here, and he had the look of someone who could handle himself…ex-special forces maybe. Mat looked around at the sound of movement from behind him. Turning he saw Deputy Rosco Strate leading Doc Jones and a couple of local paramedics towards the body.
“Hi Doc.” Called Mat.
Doc Jones was a tall thin man in his early forties; he had lived in Amanda Park for about five years having got fed up with the problems of an inner city practice. The Doctor walked over to the Sheriff and looked down at the body.
“Well?” Asked Mat.
“Isn’t it obvious?” Asked the Doctor straight faced, “He was obviously killed in a boating accident six months ago!”
Coltrane frowned at the Doctor’s dry wit.
“All I can say for sure Mat is he’s dead!” The Doctor smiled at his friend, “Give me a little time and I might be able to tell you more. Now give me some room to work.”
Mat stepped away from the Doctor and his body and walked over to talk to Strate. Rosco was a short Latino guy in his late twenties. When he had been in his teens he had been in a street gang down in LA. He had been charged with some relatively minor crime and the judge had given him a choice, jail or six years in the Marines. Rosco had chosen the Marines.
After nine years in the Marines Rosco had been mustered out due to wounds received in Afghanistan. He had joined the Sheriffs department a few months later. Rosco was a good reliable Deputy who used his common sense and knew how to get on with people. Mat had him pegged for promotion.
“What took you so long?” Asked Mat.
“Traffic.” Replied Rosco wryly.
“Traffic!” Exclaimed the Sheriff.
“Yeah Boss,” Explained Rosco, “Never seen it this bad on a Monday…there’s not a local holiday on that I don’t know about is there?”
“If there is,” Concluded Coltrane, “I’ve not been told. Anyway,” Continued Mat as he led the way back to the body, “Excuse me Doc,” Mat bent down and lifted up the victims head to reveal the hole in the back of his head, “What do you make of that?”
Rosco studied the wound for a moment or two.
“Looks like a small hatchet or maybe a Tomahawk?” Replied Rosco.
The Sheriff straightened up and walked away from the body taking Rosco with him.
“You thinking Native American?” Asked Rosco when they were out of earshot of the Doctor.
“Could be,” Admitted Mat, “I’ll get on to the Indian Police over at the Reservation see if they’ve heard anything. Maybe Smith stepped on a few toes. Y’know a lot of the locals think these woods should be part of the Reservation?”
“Yeah,” Agreed Rosco, “Some of ‘em can be hot headed…but enough to kill?”
Mat shrugged his shoulders.
“Sheriff?” Called the Doctor as he walked over to the two policemen, he pulled latex gloves from his hands. “Near as I can tell, Ranger Smith was killed sometime last night and then dumped in the lake shortly afterwards. I’d have to say that it was the blow to the back of the head that killed him. I’ll know more once I’ve cut him open.”
As they talked the paramedics placed the dead Ranger into a body bag.
“One thing I would add,” Said Doc Smith, “His throat was cut within moments of the axe blow I’d guess, wherever he was killed is likely to be soaked in blood.”
“Thanks Doc.” Said the Sheriff as the Doctor turned and followed the paramedics back towards the road.
“Hear that,” Asked Mat, Rosco nodded his head. “We’re looking for a large blood stain.”
“Sheriff!” Called a voice from further along the shore, it was Deputy Dillon, Strate’s partner.
Unlike Rosco, Enos Dillon was a local, a tall gangling fair-haired young man he had never been more than fifty miles from Lake Quinault and had only been in the Sheriff’s Department for about a year. Mat considered him still wet behind the ears. He had teamed him up with Rosco in the hopes of toughening him up a little and maybe giving him a little wider worldview. It did not seem to be working. Enos would remain a typical country Deputy for the rest of his life.
“Sheriff!” Panted Enos as he drew near, “Wilma says the traffic’s backed up right to the Highway!”
“She does, does she?” Asked Mat his hands on his hips.
“Sure does Sheriff.” Replied Enos earnestly.
Mat turned to Rosco.
“You better sort it out Rosco,” Ordered the Sheriff quietly, “I’ll go up to Smith’s place see what I can find.”
Mat could tell by the look on Rosco’s face that he would much rather be investigating a murder than sorting out what was probably a six-car jam.
“Whatever,” Sighed Rosco, “You know where to find me if you need help.”
“Yeah,” Smiled the Sheriff, “Don’t worry I’ll call you if I need you.”
Norm Van Damme lent against the wing of his beat-up red pick-up and smiled. He had parked at the side of North Shore Road to watch as all the cars and SUV’s went by. Now, thanks to the Sheriff’s department, the traffic was moving smoothly. Each vehicle carried one or more Cultists to attend the Ritual tonight. By this time tomorrow most of them would be dead or insane and Cthulhu would be starting His new Reign on Earth and he would be the Great Ones ‘human’ face.
Norm was just about to laugh maniacally when he saw a typical suburban Station Wagon pull up next to him and stop. Moments later a short brown haired middle-aged woman got out of the drivers seat and walked towards him. Norm sighed, as this archetypal suburban housewife came over to him. The world knew her a Mavis Waters, he knew her as the High Priestess of their cult.
“Hi Mavis.” Sighed Norm resignedly.
“Hi Norm,” Replied the woman, “What happened to Frank?”
“He got murdered.” Announced Norm showing no emotion, “Don’t know who by, the police are investigating. There’s nothing to trace him back to us.”
“You sure?” Demanded Mavis, “You didn’t have any…?”
“What me?” Asked Norm, “Hell no! This close to the Ritual no way.”
Well actually ‘Yes Way’, thought Norm. What he had found out about the true course of the Ritual made him thank his Stars that whoever had killed Frank had done it when they did! Norm had no intention of being a snack for the Great One or ending his days as a gibbering idiot!
Mavis eyed him suspiciously for a moment and then decided to let it go.
“Is everything ready for tonight?” She asked instead.
“More or less.” Replied Norm; “We still need to source some Handmaidens for the Great One.”
“Handmaidens?” Asked Mavis puzzled, “No one said anything about Handmaidens!”
“I know,” Agreed Norm, “It came as a surprise to me too. Anyway I’ve got some girls in mind. They’re staying down by the lake; I’ll get the Deep Ones to collect them tonight. It shouldn’t be a problem.”
“You sure?” Asked Mavis, she hated it when people changed the plan at the last minute.
“Yeah, no problem,” Norm reassured the High Priestess, “But maybe…maybe we should have a fall back plan?”
“What do you mean?”
“Just in case something goes wrong.” Explained Norm, “All we need are five reasonably attractive teenage girls who can dance for a few minutes. They don’t even have to be virgins!”
Mavis thought for a minute or two.
“Leave it with me,” She said, “I’m sure some of the faithful have daughters that they’ll eagerly volunteer.”
“Good,” Smiled Norm, he looked at his watch, “I’ll have to be going, there are things I need to organise.”
“Handmaidens for one.” Pointed out Mavis.
“Yeah Handmaidens,” Agreed Norm, “Gotta see a beast or two.”
Sheriff Coltrane stood in the middle of Ranger Smith’s cabin and looked around. The cabin was set back from the road leading up to the Ranger Station. It consisted of one large room and a bathroom. In one corner of the room opposite Smiths bed was a wood stove, fridge and sink underneath some cupboards containing food.
Mat had already gone through the dead Ranger’s clothes closet and drawers. He had searched under the bed and through the bookshelves. So far he had found nothing out of the ordinary, he had not even found any girlie magazines. He knew Smith was a bit of a loner and there was no indication of a girlfriend or indeed any family.
Coltrane turned to go and check out the bathroom, as he moved his foot came down on a loose floorboard, it squeaked loudly. Mat stopped and shifted his weight again; the floorboard squeaked the louder for it.
“What have we here?” Muttered Mat as he bent down and moved a rug aside to reveal a trapdoor.
Carefully Mat opened the trapdoor, at first he could see nothing. He took his flashlight off his belt and shone it into the space beneath the floor. No wonder there was no sign of a girlfriend. She was under the floorboards and looked as if she had been there for some time!
Straightening up Mat sighed as he brought his radio up to his lips. It looked like it was going to busy week for the Sheriff’s Department.
The news just got worse and worse. Giles had been having Dawn send Willow e-mails all day. Each new message added another notch on the anxiety meter. Late in the afternoon General O’Niell and Colonel Carter had turned up at the Slayer Cabin. While Willow and Sam sat inside comparing notes, Kennedy and Jack sat outside on the deck discussing what they should do about whatever it was that was going on.
“Are you armed?” Asked Kennedy.
“No!” Exclaimed Jack; “We weren’t actually planning on having to save the Earth while we were on vacation.”
“Ah!” Replied Kennedy, “That’s where you an’ I differ. Don’t worry we can lend you some pistols.”
“Enchanted bullets?” Asked Jack hopefully.
“Of course!” Replied Kennedy with a short bark of laughter.
The two fell silent, as they watched Tara mope about by herself. What with everything that was going on no one wanted to play with her, all the Slayers had been out on patrols and both her mommies were too busy to pay her much attention.
“Tara baby?” Called Kennedy, she held her arms out to the child, “Come and give your Ma’Ken a hug.”
Tara ran over to her other-mom, and was lifted into Kennedy’s lap. The child rested there with her head on Kennedy’s tummy as her other-mom stroked the little girl’s back.
“Buffy’s sending more Slayers.” Kennedy announced after a moment, “Trouble is I don’t know if they’ll be here in time. Can you do anything.”
“I’ve called in a few favours,” Replied Jack, “But even the US Military is short of men these days. We’ve got two wars here on Earth, all the SG teams are committed at the moment chasing down the last of the Goa’uld System Lords.”
“There’s a unit commanded by a Maj…no Colonel Finn…” Began Kennedy.
“The guy that rescued the President’s daughters?” Asked Jack.
“That’s him.” Affirmed Ken, keeping the truth about that to herself.
“You know him?” Asked Jack, “Thought there was something fishy about that business.” Mused the old General. “I’ll make some calls.”
“Let’s assume that we only have what we’ve got here.” Suggested Kennedy.
“Okay,” Began Jack, “We’ve got five teenage girls…”
“Slayers.” Corrected Ken.
“Okay five ‘Slayers’.” Jack admitted reluctantly.
“One pregnant Slayer.”
“Willow the world’s most powerful witch.”
“Hmm.” Grunted Jack unimpressed.
“You and the Colonel.” Ken listed.
“A robotic bear, a large black and white cat and a three year old girl.” Jack finished the list, “Some army.”
“On the plus side Willow said we’ll be fighting mostly humans.” Added Kennedy as brightly as she could.
“Mostly?” Queried Jack.
“Yeah,” Agreed Ken sobering, “There’s always the ‘mostly’.”
The old General and the pregnant Slayer sat in silence as the little girl dozed with her head on her other-mom’s tummy.
“Looks like it’s time for one of those insanely brave but ultimately futile gestures.” Observed Jack.
“You know I can’t believe that,” Pointed out Kennedy, “And didn’t someone tell me recently that resistance was never futile?”
“Hoped you’d forgotten about that.” Chuckled Jack.
Kennedy smiled for a moment, and then a pained look came across her face.
“Ow!” She exclaimed, “Baby’s kicking me in the bladder. Can you take Tara for a minute I’ve gotta pee.”
Kennedy passed Tara to Jack, struggled out of her seat and started to head towards the cabin. After a step or two she stopped and turned back to look at Jack.
“Jack,” She said, “If anything happens to Willow an’ me and you survive…will you make sure Tara gets to her Aunt Buffy?”
“Not a problem,” Agreed Jack hugging the sleeping child, “But it won’t be necessary, nothing’s goin’ to happen to you.”
Kennedy smiled knowingly, then made her best speed towards the cabin.
Norm stepped away from the water’s edge and smiled to himself. That had gone well, he thought. Tonight the Deep Ones would collect the Handmaidens from the shore side cabin and then all would be ready for the night’s ritual. Norm laughed.