Episode 26: A Father's Sacrifice

The gang hears fire engines and finds an angry mob burning the Caldwell mansion. Seems they're a little angry about Amos Caldwell turning out to be a vampire, and what with the town being taken over by Deliverance Dole last year, they don't like vampires at all. Excellence is there, watching steadily without expression, as the flames consume her house. Sure, her father's house primarily, but still her house.

The angry mob is diverted by a random suggestion that bricks are needed; they try to pry up bricks from the Miskatonic University quadrangle, and wind up in a street brawl with the scrawny savants of Aleph Gimbel Tau fraternity. Juliet and Walker try to break it up with strongarm tactics, while Diligence exercises his newfound public speaking skills.

Billy, meanwhile, has taken Excellence to the local malt shop to calm down. She's eerily calm already, but he's figuring that's a quiet form of shock. And her disconnected, but still self-centered, statements suggest it still more strongly: she's sure she'll have to go live with Aunt Rose, in MAINE, with LUMBERJACKS in CHECKERED SHIRTS! What horror could be greater?

Charlotte and the gang break into the school to see if Carfax is up to anything, and also to use the computers. They're in luck: the local bank has been bought by Carfax Corporation and their computers interconnect! They transfer Amos Hackshaw's account (almost seven million dollars) into Excellence's account (fifty thousand dollars, actually, but that's not a lifetime's worth) fairly easily, and without apparent detection.

Which means they're not in earshot when thugs slam Billy's head on the counter and try to kidnap Excellence. He doesn't go down, having become a proficient brawler over time, and manages to hold his own even when the thugs start shooting in the air. But he has trouble with Junius, a hulking zombie, who knocks him senseless. Billy and Excellence are dragged into a waiting car.

Walker and Juliet, having heard the brawl, show up just too late to stop the kidnappers. They rally the troops and gather their weapons. Someone finds a celphone on one of the unconscious hoodlums and hits REDIAL, which connects him to Amos Caldwell. Caldwell's voice flickers in and out, as though he were underground, but near the surface.

Charlotte's reading suggests that the Conjunction of the Thousand Spheres is tonight. It's a time when our world gets very close to many others, and an excellent time for a summoning. However, ANY magic involving the drawing of forces into this world will be greatly magnified, and unpredictably so, during the Conjunction. The Conjunction only lasts a few seconds, but there's no way to tell exactly when that will be, so most magic is safe, but we dare not use it, lest it destroy us all.

A spell of similarity between the two telephones would have been a nice thing, but Diligence and Alexandra wisely refrain. A bit of detective work leads us to, what else, the Ravine. The town's policemen, Chief Carl Braun and Officer Eddie, come along. They run into a couple thugs with guns, whom the police shoot at, and Walker kicks one guy unconscious. Junius the zombie is also there, quite strong and impervious to pain, but he's so slow he can't stop Juliet from going down into the Ravine.

Caldwell and his crony Morgan Hackshaw are about to sacrifice Excellence to summon Cthulhu from his long sleep. Caldwell has spent 18 years perfecting her to be the ultimate sacrifice: pretty, innocent, fit, educated, smart and knowledgeable in the occult. Even her name reflects her ultimate destiny: to snap Cthulhu out of its primordial slumber, and bring about an age where the gods, and the sorcerors who serve them, will rule over the brainless warriors and workers of the world.

Billy awakens and says Amos must be crazy to sacrifice the Doctor. Amos is puzzled; the Doctor is a forty-year-old Nigerian named Canute Black. Billy says he died last year saving the town from Deliverance Dole, and now Excellence has become the new Doctor. Amos is very proud of producing the perfect girl, so it seems plausible to him, and as a result, he hesitates fatally until Juliet arrives.

Morgan Hackshaw vomits a cloud of black bugs who freeze whatever they touch; Amos initiates the ritual, but stops when Juliet hacks off his head. She goes after Morgan, who defends himself with his own sword, but she gets the better of him. While she's fighting the vampires, Billy lunges into the summoning circle and swings Excellence clear, but then a crackling, crystalline disturbance of pale color arises from the circle and begins rising, growing more facets and complicated structures all the time. The Conjunction is folding space, making every point in space and time visible at once from within the circle, angled through 168,833 dimensions. And if Billy's still there when the sphere closes, he's going to go at least that many different places, all at once.

Juliet grabs one of the poles making up the sacrificial altar and holds it over the circle for Billy to grab, and he's lifted clear of the phenomenon just in time. When complete, it shimmers like a complicated snowflake, rotating while each individual element of it rotates as well. Then it vanishes.

Afterward, Excellence wonders if she has to go to school at all, now that she's a millionaire.

Quotes:

"Aleph Gimbel Tau? It's Hebrew. We use Hebrew letters because they WORK."

 

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