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Approx. 4100 words

All Rights Reserved

Copyright 2015   SJ




written by  SJ



    As Officer Dakota entered the mansion, it had the same eerie look to it as the last time she was here. However, this time, she sensed nothing at all, completely empty. Lana and her team all had a little different feeling, like they were entering a haunted mansion, expecting, at any time, to be greeted by the residing ghost and asked to join him in the afterlife. But, still, there was nothing...
    Gannon and Bull wore battle suits and were armed with Mark I heavy bolters. Zane wore Scout armor and was armed with his mastercrafted Mark I Scout heavy bolter. Lana had them stand together in a line in the foyer, telling them to aim their weapons in the direction of the basement. If any Chaos Marines appeared, the men would send a hail of fire through the floor, and at this range, tear apart any enemy battle suits fairly well as rip apart the floors and walls of the mansion.
    Once Lana and Jennifer had gone down the stairs to the basement, they looked at the spot where the Krootox had been chained to the floor. Lana target-painted the spot and sent the data to the men; now, wherever they were inside or outside the mansion, they would be able to hit that spot accurately.
    The first group of Chaos Marines, the Emperor’s Children, to use this teleportation point had appeared here several days earlier, then had used a secret door in the basement’s far wall, which led to a set of stairs that led up to a room that led to the monorail platform. However, now, the basement was empty, looking much like nothing had been there in days.
    Lana had been there when Marcellus explained to Jennifer how he thought the teleportation point worked, why the rider demonettes had not appeared in the basement, yet still came: The teleportation point could apparently be used like a memory address in a computer, accessing it directly, or, in the case of the demonettes, indirectly, making them appear one kilometer to the east and west of the teleportation point itself.
    Once Lana and Jennifer were ready to enter the basement, LaFong made the announcement to the men, who pointed their weapons in a safe direction. The two women looked around, Lana using her scanner, Jennifer using her special sense. After almost ten minutes, they found nothing, just like all the times before.
    Then Jennifer stomped her foot, angry. “Why didn’t I think of this before? It’s so simple. DAMN.”
    “What?” Lana wondered.
    The Librarian began looking around the room, then started opening the doors to the drawers located along a work bench. There, in the center drawer, nearest to the spot, was a small can of ordinary spackle. Jennifer began explaining, “I KNEW something had to be here that could affect the teleportation point--something we, or anybody, could interfere with.” She looked at Lana and apologized for her sudden burst of anger, then held up the can of spackle, sensing something VERY faint. Then she looked around and found a small puddy knife, using it to remove the lid. She quickly used her finger to dig around inside...then finally held out a small object covered with spackle.
    As she cleaned the object off, Lana had her scanner ready. When Jennifer laid it on the table, they could both see it was a small, thin, crystal, nothing more than a sliver, no more than ten millimeters long...Lana, eventually confirming it with her scanner (even though it was VERY faint): a small Chaos Crystal.
    However, much to their surprise, it seemed dormant. Normally, Chaos Crystals had anti-matter inside and could be detected fairly easily...even when not active; this one had such a microscopic amount of anti-matter inside, it was almost impossible to detect it at any distance, Lana doing so only after about ten seconds of scanning with her high-tech Special Ops scanner at close range. As a normal Chaos power Crystal, this one wouldn’t work; however, as a teleportation point marker, this might work--and obvious did. In the Universe, this small Crystal was hard to find; but, in the WARP, it might, very well, read out loud and clear like a beacon.
    Lana used her com to call out an order. “Zane, go get a meltagun and come down her, please.”
    In less than a minute, Zane was down stairs with a meltagun, waiting for orders. Lana pointed at the small Crystal she had placed on a clear space on the floor. “Destroy that.”
    The women stood back while Zane fired, leaving a baseball-size hole deep in the floor, the Crystal vaporized. However, the women still continued to search the basement for other places small Crystals could be hidden, even though they thought it was very unlikely. Once they were finished, finding nothing, they all returned to the foyer in the front section of the mansion.
    Outside, it was dark as Lana called Federal HQ with the good news.
    “So, you found it, huh?” Melinda was glad. “The General and Marcellus are on the line.”
    “Good job you guys.” The General remarked, proudly. “Hopefully, that’ll end anymore Chaos intrusions in that area.”
    “Now that we know how they mark teleportation points, we’ll know what to look for in the future.” Marcellus seemed more relieved than happy. “Good job, Jennifer.” He sighed and decided to be frank. “To be honest, I was a little worried about you. I’m sorry.”
    Jennifer didn’t know what to say.
    “I think the Mayor of Louvain still wants sensors placed in and around the mansion--just to be safe.” The General mentioned, then had to ask, “what about this Lucius, character?”
    “I still don’t know.” Jennifer admitted. “We may never know what the Masque meant by, hiding. We can only presume he’s gone back to the WARP.”
    “With his teleportation point gone,” Marcellus wanted to agree, “that’s the only thing we can assume.” He smiled, then asked, primarily addressing Jennifer, but leaving it up to the whole team, “what are you going to do now?”
    Jennifer smiled back, then looked at Lana, leaving it up to her.
    She responded. “It’s dark outside and it’s been a long day.” She grinned and joked, “I guess we’re going to spend the night in a haunted mansion.”
    Marcellus made a face and joked back, “ah, yes...a haunted mansion--haunted by the demons of Chaos past, no doubt.”
    Lana and her team chuckled...
    Then LaFong became a little more serious. “We've got three big strong heavy weapons specialists over here with Mark I heavy bolters. If Lucius shows his face, they’re just the guys to shoot it off him. I’ve sent you all the data we’ve found over here; you should have it by now. We’ll see all of you in the morning.”
    Melinda, General Parker, and Marcellus all wished them a good night and signed off.
    The men were told to keep their heavy bolters with them, along side their beds--and NOT to sleep walk with them, Lana joked. Gannon and Bull found separate rooms upstairs, where they slept in nice, large, fancy, beds. Zane found a bed downstairs, some kind of servant’s quarters, but still very comfortable. Lana and Jennifer found a room upstairs right near the stairs with two queen-sized beds.
    In the most comfortable beds they ever slept in, they all fell asleep quickly.
    But, for was soon to become the most interesting and terrifying night she’d ever have:
    She dreamed she was walking down a dark hallway, not a scary place, but a home, a simple home with a kitchen and living room. However, there was no one there...empty with the lights out, night outside. Then she spotted a light in one of the bedrooms down the hallway, the door slightly open.
    Lana wasn’t frightened or even nervous...all her feelings calm. At the bedroom, she slowly pushed open the door and walked inside.
    The room quickly took on a surreal look, much larger than it seemed from the outside. This was a girls bedroom: on one side of the room, there were stuffed toys and games, like a young child would use. On the far side, it was more like a young woman’s room, with a desk and computer, and pictures on the wall, a large window looking out at a backyard. In the center of the room there was a young woman sitting on the floor reading a book out loud, like she was telling a story to a child, a few stuffed toys, apparently, her audience.
    As Lana walked up behind the woman, she slowly stopped reading, then turned around and looked up, staring at Lana. At first, the woman just seemed curious, then her jaw dropped, a look of utter disbelief on her face, the face that could belong to almost any young woman in her late twenties, with simple brown hair, shoulder length.
    The young woman continued to stare, then almost started crying as she asked, “are...are you real?”
    Lana didn’t know what to say.
    The woman couldn’t help crying as she continued speaking, her lower lip quivering, asking again, her voice sounding high, almost like a little girl, “are you in my dream?”
    Lana began understanding: It was like the WARP creature attached to Alpharius, where she was able to enter its dream. But, she didn’t understand: who was this woman? Where was she?
    The woman dropped the book and stood up, still crying, “I can’t believe’re here--in my dream!”
    “Yes. I think I am--yes, I am. Who are you?”
    The woman’s voice sounded like a little child, unable to control her joy...and, her apparent fear; she spoke while sniffing, still unable to stop crying. “This is the only time I can be Lucy.” She stopped, taking a breath before saying the next sentence, saying it quietly, like she didn’t want to wake someone that was very scary. “Lucius is sleeping. When he’s sleeping, sometimes I can be here.” She started crying more, like a little child begging, “I don’t want to be Lucius, anymore.”
    It was Lana’s turn to be shocked, surprised beyond belief, unable to speak...
    The woman, Lucy, began controlling herself, becoming more like an adult, her voice still whispering. “Lucius was awake earlier. He summoned the Emperor’s Children.” She almost started crying again. “How many people did they kill?”
    Lana was still shocked, but knew she had to recover, find answers; however, she could see Lucy was worried and said the only thing she could think of to comfort her. “The Emperor’s Children didn’t kill anyone--”
    “The demonettes?” Lucy wanted to know about them.
    “No.” Lana was in control now. “No one was hurt.”
    Lucy smiled, relieved.
    “Listen, my name is Lana.” She became serious. “I’m a Space Marine. My team is here in the mansion. Do you know what Lucius is planning on doing?”
    The woman became sadder; she looked down, moaned miserably, then looked up and said plainly, “I AM Lucius.”
    Lana didn’t understand...
    “My real name is Lucy Weaver.” She looked around the room like she didn’t want to continue...then she faced Lana again, knowing what she had to do. “I have a long story to tell you. I don’t know when Lucius is going to wake up. Please, I have to tell you what happened.”
    Lana nodded, letting her continue.
    She began, “I worked at the power plant on Mars. We all worked there.” Her mind wandered...then she asked, “how long has it been?”
    Lana didn’t understand at first...then she guessed, “you mean, since the power plant was destroyed?”
    “It was destroyed?”
    “It’s been almost thirty years. No one’s lived on Mars since that time.”
    Lucy sighed. “Thirty years...oh, my’s been THAT long.”
    “Lucy, you were going to tell me what happened.” Lana implored, gently.
    “Oh...that’s right. I need to tell you something.” She began again: “We all worked there. There was Max Nelson.” She frowned and sighed. “He preferred Maximilian. He thought of himself as some kind of great scientist. He believed the Alien Power Crystals could harness the power of anti-matter, providing unlimited energy. He thought dimensional travel was the best way to travel through space, believing that by charting the dimensional universe, travel through the WARP would be safe. He eventually just became obsessed with power. He was the first one to become controlled by the Crystals, enticing the others. I tried to tell him to get away from those Crystals; but, he completely ignored me.”
    She took a breath to continue: “Then there was this guy, Xiaosheng...I think his name was. We just called him Xiao, Xiao Không. He was fairly new at the Power Plant, a technician like me. In his spare time, he practiced fighting. I think his family owned a martial arts studio on another planet someplace. I would catch him practicing in the Power Crystal room. Soon all he was interested in was becoming the best fighter in the Universe. I told him to quit. But, like the others...he never listen to me.”
    She paused, then frowned, speaking angrily, “no one ever listens to me--” She gasped, then controlled herself, becoming calm, like she was afraid to get angry. Then she looked at Lana with sad eyes, realizing her own condition. “I wanted people to listen to me. I didn’t want to be Lucy.” She looked down and sighed. “Lana, don’t ever want to be anyone else than who you are...”
    When the woman didn’t continue, Lana had to ask, “what happened next?”
    But, instead, it was as if another thought came to her, bringing with it a very frightened look on her face, so frightened she was having trouble speaking; then she whispered, “there’s something in the WARP with us, something from another galaxy, a DYING galaxy--all powerful.” Her voice became even quieter, “it’s in...the EYE of TERROR--” She gasped just saying the words.
    Lana patiently waited for her to continue...
    When Lucy recovered, she got her mind back on the tract of her original subject; at the same time, she remembered something, almost smiling, like she was having a pleasant memory. “Then there was Doctor Titus Bailey. He was nice. He was one of the Plant doctors. He studied Old Earth illnesses; but, reading about it always made him mad--about how horribly the sick were treated back then. He told me about how he was going to try to find all kinds of cures for illnesses when he left Mars.” Pausing to think, she started frowning, as if remembering a sad story. “Then he began staring at one of those Crystals.” She stomped her foot. “I told him to STOP.” She smiled. “And he did, at first. Then the Crystal drew him back. It was like the Crystal was giving him the cure for ALL the illnesses in the Universe.” She almost started crying again. “I told him to stop...I begged him to stop...oh...I begged and begged.” She had a very sad look on her face. “Then, one day I heard him inside the Crystal room. He kept chanting, over and over: ‘If everyone’s sick, then no one’s sick...if everyone’s sick, then no one’s sick.’” She took a deep breath and sighed. “It wasn’t long before everything when to hell after that.”
    Soon, Lucy was no longer crying; she stood almost catatonic as she told her own story: “I tried to tell everyone to stop. But, they didn’t listen to me.” She frowned angrily, gritting her teeth as she spoke, “NO ONE EVER LISTENS TO one ever listens to little, demure, Lucy. I looked into the forth Crystal and IT told me how to get EVERYONE to listen to me.” She stood glaring into space, frowning. “But, they’ll LISTEN to--” She gasped. “OH. Oh...NOOOO! Lucius is coming...he’s waking up. Oh God, RUN, LANA...RUN!!!” Her voice began changing. “Armor of Shrieking Souls...Lash of Torment!!! EVERYONE LISTENS TO LUCIUS THE ETERNAL...”
    Lana woke up sweating; rolling over, she fell out of bed, thrashing around trying to get to her feet, then falling on a fancy night stand, both of them crashing to the floor noisily.
    The racket woke up Jennifer, who almost fell out of bed herself. She sat on the edge of bed, wondering what had happened. “Lana..what’s wrong?”
    LaFong finally got to her feet, still mentally out of it, but had to announce, “Lucius is coming. He’s coming!” Then she began struggling to find her com, dropping it, losing it under the bed.
    Jennifer found hers and set the emergency wake up alarm to alert the team. As Lana began putting on her pants, then her force shield, Jennifer did the same.
    Soon they were called by Zane, the first awake. “What’s up? What’s going on? I’m ready.”
    “LuLu.” Gannon was next to wake up, calling.
    Then Bull. “Okay...I’m up.”
    Lana then ran out of the room, barefoot, just pants and tank top--no weapons.
    “Lana! What’s going on? Come back!” Jennifer shouted, concerned. However, even if Lana wasn’t, she wanted to be properly equipped, arming herself with her Cane...then her Scout bolter.
    Lana was already running downstairs when Jennifer felt it--a WARP opening! But, it wasn’t in the basement. By the time she had put on her fatigue shirt and force shield, Lana had already taken the door next to the stairs and was starting to go down to the basement. “LANA!” The Librarian desperately called again, as loud as she could...realizing Lana hadn’t taken her com with her. She shouted louder. “LANA, there’s a WARP opening in the ballroom wing--it’s coming from there, not the basement!”
    Apparently, Lana had heard Jennifer and had stopped; she then headed back up the stairs, toward the ballroom, a large room to the right of the foyer, a place that took up almost that one whole wing of the mansion.
    However, the WARP pulse was diminishing...replaced by a powerful WARP entity. Knowing Lana wasn’t armed, and knowing generally where the pulse came from, Jennifer stepped out and stood at the top of the stairs and fired.
    Zane was taking the time to put on his pants, while Gannon and Bull were readying their heavy bolters. When they heard firing, they got their weapons ready and headed for the stairs, not bothering to put on pants.
    In Lana’s mind, she was rushing to rescue Lucy, the poor young woman in her dream that had tried to stop all the others from being seduced by Chaos, only to become one herself, her compassion overwhelming her. When she heard shooting above her, she finally came to her senses.
    But, it was too late. She stood staring at the most horrible vestige of Chaos, yet--a Chaos Lord with weird black and pink battle suit armor, armor that seemed to writhe like it was alive, screaming in torment. He wore no helmet, his face appearing like a nightmarish undead creature, eyes glaring. She ducked, crouching as the ceiling was torn apart above her, pieces of it raining down as bolters bullets missed its target.
    This Chaos Lord had to be Lucius. Lana watched as he raised a strange weapon and fired upward, the sound deafening; she had just enough time to fall flat before the massive blast of noise tore apart the ceiling, walls, and stairs behind her, followed by the crashing of many parts of the building itself, like the whole mansion was being demolished, the bolter fire immediately coming to an end. Whatever weapon had been fired, it knocked out her force shield, which saved her from being deafened.
    Lana started to get up, but could barely take her eyes off the horrible sight before her. Lucius then glared at her. In one hand he wielded some kind of lash that looked like it was alive. When she tried to get away, she was hit, the end of the whip wrapping around her neck like a noose, pulling her backward on to the floor as she writhed in agony, her body twisting and stiffening as she clawed at her neck, her mouth open trying to scream, but with no breath to do it with.
    Just when it felt like her organs would burst inside her, she was let go, released. Laying on the floor twitching, still in pain, she saw him, Lucius, still staring at her. Then he held out his hand toward her, facing upward, like he was gripping a small round object tightly, holding it like he wished she was in that hand squeezing the life out of her, his teeth gritted as he spoke angrily with an unearthly voice, “Lucy won’t let me kill you!”
    Then she heard the sound of heavy bolter fire as it ripped apart the sides of the ballroom walls, followed by more heavy bolter fire from above. Lucius was knocked down, parts of his armor blown off. Behind him, there was a WARP opening, something he had already summoned. He got up quickly, then disappeared into the blackness, the WARP opening closing behind him.
    Lana lay on the floor, shaking in pain, her eyes too blurry to make out the people standing over her. She eventually doubled up, holding her abdomen; every organ in her body felt sore. When her eyes focused, she saw Jennifer standing over her with Zane slightly further back, his heavy bolter resting on the floor beside him, smoke coming from the barrel. Gannon and Bull were in the distance, holding their heavy bolters ready, both of them wearing nothing but tee-shirts and boxer underwear.
    Jennifer almost gasped seeing a raw, red, ring around Lana’s neck, like the skin had been ripped off savagely. Then she began ordering, “Zane, ready the shuttle for transport. We need to take Lana to a hospital. I’ll make the call.” She turned and looked at the two big guys. “We’ll stay here and retrieve our gear...then we’ll wait outside for Zane to return.”
    After Lana had been treated for her injuries, as she lay on the hospital bed, she wiped away a couple tears after emotionally recounting the tale of her dream, telling about Lucy, someone that had ended up being the unfortunate victim of trying to save the other three.
    The General and Marcellus both listened to her amazing tale, paying attention to every word. What Lana had just told them was now the most valuable information they had gained, so far. General Parker said he would send out a team to try and gather more information on the people she just mentioned: Maximilian Nelson, Xiaosheng Không, Doctor Titus Bailey, and Lucy Weaver. He also said he was going to allocate more resources to the investigation of the ruined Mars power plant, now, apparently buried under almost three hundred meters of earth. They needed to find and examine the Alien Power Crystal room, see if any of the Crystals were still there. And what about the bodies of the four people the Crystals had supposedly taken; were they still there?
    For Marcellus, the information was extremely enlightening: “Now we know how these Chaos Lords can move so easily between the WARP and our Universe: They still must be part of both worlds, somehow. And this EYE of TERROR, Lucy mentioned...with an entity living inside it--being from a dying galaxy. That could only mean it’s a VERY highly evolved being, very intelligent, and no doubt spiritual in nature. But, what its motivation could possible be in helping Chaos armies, armies condemned to the WARP, into our Universe, I have no idea. We already know we can’t permanently kill these Chaos Lords, even though we are working to see if its  possible to contain them in some sort of stasis. As for the EYE of TERROR, there’s no way we can affect that, and I doubt we’ll ever be able to talk to it, let alone, reason with it. That leaves the four Crystals. If we can destroy those, it’s possible THAT might put an end to these incursions.”
    “But, how do we do that?” The General proposed the sixty-five billion Galactic Credit question.
    Marcellus pondered, wisely. “Yes...yes, indeed--how DO we do that?”


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