1 - The Betrayer by misterq
*Most everything belongs to other people*Hyperion Hotel – Los Angeles – July 2004
Dawn ran up the stairs and burst open through the entrance to the roof where Illyria was standing inhumanly still, contemplating the situation in the hot California night.
"Hey, Illyria. I was thinking about potential other powerful beings that could maybe help with our fight. Anyways, I was wondering if you could tell me anything about the fall of the Old Ones. Was it just a lot of smaller beings or were there any heavyweights that fought against you?"
Illyria just turned her head towards the younger Summers and stared.
"You don't have to, if it's a sensitive subject, I mean."
A few brief moments of silence passed before the blue-haired woman spoke. "You wish to know of Ametsaru, the Betrayer?"
"Sure, I suppose. Who was this Ametsaru?" Dawn was secretly proud of herself for getting the name correct. All thoughts of how badly her sister would have mangled the word were expelled as Illyria started talking.
"Ametsaru was the last of the black clan of the Old Ones. This happened shortly after Ametsaru was spawned - actually, as a direct result. My clan was known for their leadership ability and temporal manipulation, Berith's were the mages, and the black clan were known more for their personal power, shape shifting, and difficulty to kill than their intelligence. But like every group, there are outliers."
"Do you remember an episode of the show called 'The Twilight Zone' where a boy was born that could transform people and transport them to 'the cornfield'?" Dawn nodded. "Imagine such a thing happening to Old Ones, rather than human parents of limited potential. Ametsaru was large, even for its clan - powerful beyond measure with an appetite to match, but rather simple of mind."
Dawn giggled. "Sorry, just had a thought of a giant tentacled horror wearing a football helmet for its own protection. But this Ametsaru, it was kind of like the Forrest Gump of Old Ones?"
Illyria inclined her head in thought briefly. "The analogy is not entirely accurate. A being of lower intelligence than most Old Ones would still be smarter than the majority of humans. Unlike most Old Ones, Ametsaru simply had no desire to rule or dominate. It would not attack if there was no threat."
"But you said it killed its entire clan."
"That was instinctual. Due to Ametsaru's size and power, every other member of the black clan would have seen it as a threat to their own dominion."
"When I came upon it, I offered Ametsaru the equivalent of a job working for me and it accepted."
"Wait." Dawn shook her head. "If this Old One was so powerful, why did it work for you - not to say that you are not powerful either, but, you know…"
"It knew that even with all its power, it was still only one being, living one life. Like a bear can be taken down by a pack of wolves, it knew that a union of Old Ones could defeat it."
"Okay, I can see that."
"Good. I offered Ametsaru an exalted position of my spymaster and assassin." Illyria paused, remembering. "We had no word for 'assassin'. Old Ones are known for being difficult to destroy. Even a battle of several Old Ones against a single one could take several days to finish. Ametsaru possessed such power that it could kill with one burst of effort. Afterwards, maps would have to be altered to conform to the changed landscape. My protection and a diet of powerful foes kept Ametsaru content for eons."
"So, what happened?"
Illyria paused. "I do not know. Perhaps boredom, perhaps it tired of constant warfare. Ametsaru turned on all of us one day and fought with the various forces arranged against us during one of our weakest points, when our cycle of power ebbed. In the end, I managed to trap Ametsaru in a dimension without time, where it would remain forever
."Shrine of the Sun Goddess' Flame - Osaka, Japan - March 1945
The small shrine was located near the waterfront and had been up kept by the same family for generations. Tonight, the family was still in the temple - although in small unrecognizable pieces precisely cut to ensure the success of the ritual. Seven figures wearing old fashioned robes stood in position over an odd sigil painted in blood, chanting, as the one with the grandest robe spoke.
"Tonight is when it all changes! Our way of life is about to be made extinct. Despite what the government tells us, Japan is loosing the war! But after today, it will all change! Get ready, brothers, our day of destiny is upon us!"
The chanting reached a crescendo as a small pinpoint of light shone in mid air above the center of the blood sigil. Without warning, the light expanded to blinding dimensions, flinging the worshipers backwards at high speeds. When it faded, the flimsy temple was gone and where it stood, towered a monstrosity.
From a distance, it could have resembled a man in a trenchcoat wearing a broad-brimmed hat… flailing several cat-o-nine-tail whips around randomly - reaching a height of about a hundred feet tall - and with a huge eye placed vertically in the center of his chest. Its existence unknowingly fried the brains of the seers working in both the Tokyo and Berlin offices of Wolfram and Hart as well as disrupting a Nazi ritual to bring forth a fully grown apocalypse demon (although a baby one was brought forth and adopted by liberating Allied forces).
The head priest managed to raise himself painfully to a kneeling position. "Ametsaru! O, undiminished Old One! We, your humble servants beseech you to-Aaaauugghhhhh!!!!!!"
He never saw the long thin tendril that speared him through the abdomen, lifting him up to the center eye for examination. But he did hear the voice in his mind sigh and say, "And I just brought down one regime based on oppression and grand superiority beliefs."
And with that, what the priest thought was an eye opened, the eyeball extending into a huge tongue and the lashes flexing into immense curved fangs, each the size of a bus. His last sight was of other thin tentacles spearing the remaining priests.
The bystanders who saw the inky-black form move towards the waterfront either filed it away as hallucinations from diminishing rice rations or simply blocked it out in denial. One young aspiring filmmaker, a Tomoyuki Tanaka, after seeing the sight; would be inspired to create a movie he later called 'Godzilla'.
No one saw the slim, black-haired 4 foot 8 inch Japanese girl emerge from the water. Making sure her cloaking spells were fully active (you don't become an effective Old One spymaster unless you can keep every other Old One from detecting your presence), she fixed what her newly 'acquired' memories told her was appropriate clothing for the time, and strode off into the war torn city.
The chaos of war had always brought forth the worst elements, both human and supernatural. Having thousands of weak, starving people who couldn't run or fight very effectively was essentially an all-you-can-eat buffet to a vampire. Hitori learned about demons when he returned to his hiding place after foraging for food, to see that vampires were bent over the bodies of his companions - also orphaned or lost children who stayed together to survive. That was twenty minutes ago. He had been running ever since two of them turned their yellow eyes at him when he dropped the single can of tuna he was able to find in shock.
He knew the area, every nook and crevice, from months of scavenging - but they were fast. Oh, so fast. And with their hearing, Hitori didn't think hiding was an option. Even when the air-raid sirens went off, alerting everyone in the city to seek shelter.
But after running so far, he began to go into unfamiliar territory - and that was when he felt their claws on his back, lifting him up, then down - slamming him into the debris-strewn ground.
There was a black blur, the pressure on his back vanishing, a few cut off screams - then calm.
It took him only a few moments for his eyes to refocus. When they did, he didn't see any of the blood-sucking demons. All he saw was a slim girl, about his age, standing there, smiling.
"Uh, what happened to those demons?", he shouted over the sirens.
"Those half-breeds? I, uh, chased them away." answered the girl, still smiling. Then she burped. "So, you seem nice. Do you want to be my Qwa'ha Xahn?"
"I said, do you want to be my guide? I'm new to this city. A priest I ate called it 'Osaka'."
"I said, a priest I met called this city 'Osaka'." Planes were flying overhead now, bombers, dropping hundreds of thousands of what looked like cylindrical flares. Despite all efforts, they were setting most of the wooden structures of the city ablaze.
"Look," said the girl, "we should probably go towards the waterfront. We can get a boat there and go to a place that's less… on fire."
The boy looked around and nodded in agreement. Together, they ran towards the water. Hitori watched as the girl looked back towards the flames and thought he heard her whisper, "This place reminds me too much of home."
He didn't see her casually raise an arm and launch a beam of pure darkness through the two remaining vampires that had seen what she did to their friends. No one saw the beam continue through every building until impacting a hill near the end of town in a massive explosion.
"My name is Hitori." The boy said as he ran.
"Mine is Ametsaru." She smiled, "But you can call me Mitzy."