Chief, this is Denise.
Something’s… dammit… something’s gone wrong. I’m–
[burst of static]
Sorry for the mess, sir. I’m using the live feed from the auto-transcription mic, so this is gonna come out a little stream of consciousness. But I’m in a hurry, so I wanted to dictate this to you from the– gah!
Sorry. Deer in the road. How these people live with rodents running out in front of them all the damn time is– Shit. Deer aren’t rodents. I know that. They’re… What the hell are they? Anyway. You know what I mean.
So I’m in the car, heading up-mountain to the Opa Lodge. Something’s– I had a dream. Something’s wrong with X-23. One of those things – the owl-headed things – has dosed him with something. The Black Drink, I think. He fought it, but– Something’s not right. He was in my head, Chief. He was in my head, and he needs help.
I’m not making sense.
X-23 sent me a psychic distress call. The Somnambulists aren’t responding. (And don’t think I won’t be filing charges about that.) So I’m en route to the Agent’s last known position – his bed in that god-forsaken Lodge – to offer assistance.
This Black Drink stuff’s turning up all over, Chief. They’ve given it to X-23, I’m pretty sure Heyoka was on it when they interrogated him, and now I’ve found it all over the hospital here, too. I went down there this afternoon, saw Possum Reynolds. They had the crap in his IV drip, Chief. I thought it looked kind of weird, so I pulled out my Pocket Brain, and bingo! Psychoactive. The Brain can’t tell me much more than that, of course. I was gonna have X-23 take a closer look tonight, but then he went running off to–
Sorry. Report. My research locally indicates that Alo holy men would use the Black Drink to commune with the Ahtunowhiho, the evil spirits of the Black Mirror World. The Drink would open them up, let the spirits in. Might explain how the Sad Man possessed old Possum. And from X-23’s description, I think they did the same thing to Alexandra Melmoth. God only knows why. The doctor who signed off on her treatment, conveniently, isn’t on staff. He was a specialist brought in by the girl’s grandfather, and nobody’s seen or heard from him since she checked out.
We might wanna have Simmons run a background on him. Name of– Shit, I don’t remember. Simmons has it. He never loses data. So have him run the guy, will you Chief? Might not amount to anything, but you never know. Anyway. Where was I?
…what the hell is Edna doing open at this time of night…?
Sorry, Chief. I pulled off at the Stop N Go. Edna’s lights were on, and she’s never open this late. Probably a waste of time, but on a night like this, I thought maybe I should check out any anomalies. Think I caught her and Cecil Murden in the middle of something. Don’t like to think what. The beer cooler was open, though, and so was Edna’s blouse. She looked cold. But happy. To each his own, I guess. I just hope he stops tapping that damn wooden foot long enough to– JESUS!
[honking of horn, screeching of tires]
Apparently it’s my night for near-death experiences. Just had a sports car come barreling out of a side road in front of me. Didn’t even slow down. I almost hit the bitch, and– holy shit! HOLY SHIT!
[revving engine, screeching wheels]
Chief, I’m in hot pursuit! That was Alexandra Melmoth behind the wheel! Signing off!
I lost her. Dammit, I lost her. Piece of shit company car! Bitch knows the roads better than me, too. She might’ve zipped down one of these glorified mule paths, and I never would’ve known. [sigh] I suppose it’s just as well. I need to be getting to X-23, not chasing teenage snake girls up the mountain.
How do the field agents do this, Chief? Keeping priorities straight, not flying off the handle or following hunches that just lead to elderly fridge sex…
Swear to God, I’m gonna stick to research after this. After I help X-23.
Alright, Chief. Just pulled up outside the Opa Lodge. Jesus, it’s dark. Whatever happened to lobby lights? I’m… gonna keep the mic live while I go in. I know that’s against protocol, but… The deeper I get into this, the more I realize I don’t know what I’m doing. If things go wrong in there, I figure the live feed’ll let you know to send in the troops.
At least those gun safety classes you made me take are finally gonna pay off, though, huh? Okay. Here goes.
[car door opening, night sounds]
Jesus, what the hell was that? Don’t think it was a wolf. Too deep. Too loud. I mean, the mountain might be playing hell with the sound, but– Shit. It was the Brute, wasn’t it? The Brute’s loose again. Shit shit shit. Okay. Okay. I’m getting X-23 out of there, and then we’re going up the mountain.
No. No, that’ll take too long. Somebody’s gonna die, and– Cheveyo.
Thank god for speed dial… C’mon c’mon c’mon… Cheveyo! Cheveyo, it’s Denise. I’m– what?
Clint called you?! Called you from where?
No, that doesn’t sound crazy at all. Listen, I’m at the Opa Lodge. I think they– Yes, he went back.
Yes. He’s an idiot. I agree. Listen. Clint’s in there, and I think they’ve dosed him with the Black Drink. I’m going in to see what I can do, and–
No! No, don’t come up here! Listen–
Did you hear that?
No, I KNOW it’s not a wolf! Listen to me! It’s the Brute! I–
Yes! Yes, that’s why I called you! Get up a goddamn posse and get your ass up on that mountain or somebody’s gonna die!
Alright! Yes! I’ll call you when I’m clear here. Just get on that mountain!
Yeah. Yeah, thanks. I’ll try.
Yes, the safety’s off! I’m not an idiot! Now, go!
Jesus. Like talking to my dad…
Alright, Chief. I’m going in.
At least they left the door open. Guess you don’t need to worry about security too much when you’ve got owl men running around. Really dark in here, though. How the hell do people find the ice machines? Okay. Okay, focus. X-23’s up on the third floor. Don’t trust the elevator. Find the stairs.
[footsteps, a crash]
Dammit! Why would they roll a rug up right in the walk…way…?
Oh, Jesus. Jesus! Chief, it’s a body. Somebody left a body in the lobby, and–
Holy… Hey. Hey, are you okay? No, obviously not. Here, lemme get my light… Oooohh, that’s no good. That looks bad. You–
Chief, I’ve got an Alo male here. Middle-aged. Dressed nice. Looks like he’s been attacked. Nasty gash on his head. Lotta blood. He’s alive, but only about half-conscious… Pulse is strong, though. Okay. I’m leaving him here. Paramedics’ll have to wait.
Hmm. I was gonna try stealth. But that fall I took was about as stealthy as a buffalo stampede. So I’m just gonna keep my flashlight on from here on out. Don’t know what’s going on now, though. Why would they knock out the desk clerk? That doesn’t match the MO we’ve been assuming for this place at all. Doesn’t sound like Cheveyo’s descriptions of the Nukpana, either. Aren’t they supposed to be annoying, but helpful? Unless he was supposed to be the bait for the Brute, and–
Actually, scratch that thing about the bait. If the Brute’s already out, the bait must be on the mountain. Unless it’s not the bait that’s drawing him out. What if he’s just coming through on his own, and the Sad Man’s just trying to draw him where he wants him to go? Huh. That never occurred to me before now. Might explain why he’s so upset about things.
Of course, that would mean that they were drawing the Brute here to the Lodge, and… Oh, crap. Are they bringing the thing HERE? Have they immobilized X-23 so they can feed him to the Brute? No. No, that doesn’t make sense. The Brute wants women. He wants– Shit, are they trying to feed ME to him? But how would they know I’d come to the Lodge? Unless this whole thing’s a trap. Maybe it wasn’t X-23 who sent me the dream. Maybe it was–
God! Why does this stairwell smell like fish?
[deep ululating gurgle]
[gurgle-slap gurgle-slap gurgle-slap]
[gurgle-slap gurgle-slap gurgle-slap]
Male Voice: Joe! Quit chasin’ that lady, and help me with this he-she!
[running stops … slow slapping footfalls]
Who the– Who the hell are you?! And what the hell is that?!
Male Voice: Jackson Curry, at your service, Ma’am. And this here’s Joe. [grunt] Joe helps me with the heavy liftin’.
Curry: Just put him in the wagon. And make sure them ropes are tight. He might be little, but he’s strong.
Now just hold it right there! You’re not taking that Nukpana anywhere!
Curry: Nukpana? Well! You’re mighty in the know for a white lady.
I mean it!
Curry: Oh c’mon now. Don’t be that way. You don’t wanna shoot me. I just saved your life. Besides… If you know what that thing’s called proper, I’m bettin’ you’re here to see that Agent in the bed in yonder.
Clint? What did you do to him, you–
Curry: Whoa, whoa! Calm down, now. I didn’t do nothin’ to him. That he-she there, though… He mighta done some damage.
What– What did he do?
Curry: Well, I don’t mean to be the bearer of bad news here, darlin’… But I think your friend’s dead.
Oh my god.
Curry: Joe! Now!
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