Tyger laid back in the makeshift hospital bed that the Order of Enoch had established in an attempt to provide healing and assistance to those that had defended Angelus from the surprise attack from their splinter order, The Enochians. He had lost count of how many XSWAT and regular Police Department officers he had seen in the room he was in throughout their various stages of recovery. He never bothered to count the civilians who had either picked up weapons in defense, brought their own, or were simply caught in the crossfire.
Something told the clade that he had failed. If he had just done a little better, perhaps some of those people would not be in the situation they were in. He cast those thoughts aside. He recalled with a morbid pleasure his own performance in the defense of the city as well as, despite his injuries and weariness, managed to help Brogan disarm a nuclear device that could have sunk Angelus. He seriously doubted he could have done more or performed better even if he tried.
The caretakers (could he actually call them doctors?) informed him the day that he had checked in that although his body was wounded, thanks to the confrontation with the second Soul Stealer, they were not severe... simply numerous. The majority of his ailments were actually with his brain. The constant and excessive neural feedback caused by the extensive fighting as of late had caused a lot of superficial damage. Good news was that he was not bedridden for very long. Bad news, is that he had to stay very close by in case he developed a stroke or worse. Tyger was, of course, upset by this, but he relented accepted the aid of the Order.
During one of his short walks around the facility, Tyger, wearing his battered, though clean civilian attire, found himself in a small library of sorts. Well, not so much a library, rather place where patients who were well enough to walk on their own, visitors and caretakers on break could relax with a cup of coffee with a book or magazine that had been provided.
Tyger walked near a table and thumbed idly through some of the magazines and books. Not really his preferred topics. Most of what was available were centered on religion, spirituality and other such nonsense. Well, not total nonsense, he imagined that there were those who read and needed such guidance at times. What materials were not centered on trying to press the Order's faith and agenda were those that were donated... and those were either complete fiction, totally poor writing or were more of Enochian perspective and ways of doing things.
Tyger longed for an Iron Gauntlet, Wild Blue Yonder, or Soldier of Fortune. He would even settle for a Popular Mechanics magazine at this point. Something that did catch his eye was a pamphlet. Too thin and not large enough to be a magazine, but nowhere near long enough to be a novel, the pamphlet was plain brown and embossed on its aged cover was titled "The Nature of the Enemy". Perhaps it was the nature of the title that book that caught the clade's attention. He picked it up, tucking it under his arm and left the room.
The next day, Tyger sat near the window reading through the book carefully. It intrigued him, mostly because of subject matter—that being the nature of how Demons, specifically the Devil himself, operated in the mortal world. Of course his own Atheist beliefs found the idea of a "Devil" to be utter idiocy, he knew quite well that there were beings possessing unnatural power and properties that threatened this world. Entities. He found it quite plausible that such beings had plagued mankind in the past, as he recalled Ysarille's words during one of their confrontations; something about being sent to 'the First Cataclysm' or something of that nature, not that it mattered anymore. Yeah, to most humans, Entities would be demons. That made sense.
Tyger reached halfway through the book when he started asking questions about past events. Events happened several months ago, that eventually lead to more current events. Tyger blinked and stood up, ignoring the book as it fell to the floor. Ignoring the warnings the caretakers had given him to 'take it easy', the clade bolted from the room and down the hall. He had to get a hold of someone, anyone, form the squad.
Tyger shoved past caretakers, priests, nuns, other servants of the Order as well as other patients in his flight from the facility. He knew that he could not get a signal where he was at, so he had to get up higher, or, more preferably, outside. Or a telephone! Yes, that would work!
Just shy of making his sudden activity less of the actions of a disturbed patient and more of a violent incident, Tyger keyed up his databand and grabbed a desk phone. The nun at the desk looked at Tyger, mortified at his utter rudeness and complete lack of manners. Pulling up the correct information, Tyger dialed a phone number.
Jamadigni Renuka held the loupe close the faded page of the Grimoriom, peering closely at the text. "Ater malkt va geblar ve deduler lu aurlam, amen," she whispered, before making some notes in the journal next to her. Sitting up, she smiled and announced, "This is Hermetic Theurgy," to no one in particular, apparently unaware the room was otherwise virtually empty. She glanced from her notes to a map of Omega, and back again. "Of course, there's no telling if I can cast anything this large, or it would even work...."
The ringing of her cell phone interrupted the sorceress's musings. She put her pen down and stretched, picking up the phone with a free hand.
"Jama? This is Tyger. Where are you at? Wait... never mind. They won't let me go yet anyway. Listen, we have to talk. Like... yesterday."
"We have to talk? About what?" Jama glanced around the room, wondering where Brogan or Hemelshot had gotten to.
"Just trust me on this. Please. I... I just realized something and I think you outta know about it. You're like the only one who could make heads or tails of it, or tell me I'm just jumpin' at shadows. Just get over here to the infirmary that the Order set up. That's where I'm at."
Jama felt her blood go cold, ""Is this... is this about Omega?"
Tyger looked about and tried to smile to the irate secretary. "Something like that. It has more to with the 'Big G' and some of the guys on the council. Actually... I think it goes even beyond just..." Tyger paused, glancing to the nun those around him, choosing his next words carefully. "...that place. Anyway, I am stuck here for a few days. I'd like to see if you can make sense of some of this before I go makin' everyone paranoid."
Tyger could hear Jama's arrival long before her saw her. Fellow XSWAT officers called her by name, while the regular Police acknowledged her presence with cries of "Go get 'em, 9th!" He heard Santerino's name mentioned as well, usually as part of a 'thank you' for her letting the officer know about the advanced equipment the 9th Squad had been able to deliver. As for Jama, she paused by bed and chairs, returned the greetings, smiled at the wounded and bandaged officers, and brought a bit of cheer into a far to somber place.
When he finally did catch sight of her, Tyger found it interesting to see she was in full uniform. He gave a wry grin, there was a lot of steel in the slender girl's frame, and by dressing as she did, she was showing Hart, Angelus, and the rest of the world where her allegiances lay. Her coat was mended here and there and looked battered, as was the armor plates on her boots, but it was all clean, and the patches reading Angelus PD XSWAT were there for all to see.
Finally reaching his bed, Jama pulled up a chair and sat down. There were circles under her eyes, and she looked tired, but who didn't? All of the 9th Squad, hell, all off XSWAT and the PD (or what was left of them) were pulling long hours, and it probably going to get far worse before it had a chance to get better.
"Hey, Tyger," she smiled. "You wanted to talk?"
Tyger grinned a bit. The pint-sized powerhouse had really grown up. He genuinely thought she wouldn't last a week, given her reaction to her first day. "Yeah..." He began. He reached over and picked up the battered book. "I found this while walkin' around. Gave it a read and then I started thinkin' Yeah... dangerous I know... but still..."
"First, I started wonderin' where those Enochians came from. Yeah, they came from a flotilla, but where did they set sail from? My best guess is Bloody Bay. I think they were usin' that as a training and staging ground."
Jama shook her head. "Why there? They're based out of Castaway Kay."
"Yeah, they got that island in the Caribbean," Tyger said, lifting a hand to stop any further questions. "That works great as an HQ to plan and build a fleet from, but fuckin' lousy to stage an Invasion from. Those ships can carry a lot of stuff, but they needed to stop somewhere to make the final preparations, unload gear, stretch their legs and warm up their jets before kickin' off.
"Thinkin' about that, I realized that the best place for that was Bloody Bay. They got huge facilities that accept incomin' and outgoin' ships akin to what Angelus accepts on a daily basis. They could hold a dozen vessels like what the Enochians used and nobody would know one way or the other.
"Of course when that thought hit me, I remembered my dealin's with Deadeye... he runs Bloody Bay. Y'see, if you wanna deal with him, y'gotta make it worth his while. Way I figure it, is that Masada or the Enochians made some deals with him to use his place as a staging ground. He could gain a lot from it... includin' but not limited to Angelus itself." Tyger paused there, allowing that to sink in before continuing on.
Jama blinked as she tried to digest everything Tyger had just told her. Military tactics and logistics weren't even close to her specialty, not by a long shot. "Shouldn't you be telling Hemelshot or Carpenter this? This sounds more like their field."
Tyger smiled a bit "I ain't done yet. It gets better." His smile faded quickly. "This goes a lot deeper, I think, than that... and I think you'll see what I mean when I say that Gurzorath's influence ain't limited to just Angelus, Hart or the Council. It goes as far out as Bloody Bay an' all the way to the Enochians."
The clade barely let the sorceress digest that information before he continued. "When I was at Bloody Bay, I first learned about the Enochians splittin' away from the Order. Decided to step off and do their own thing as we all now know. Thing of it is, is that while I was at Bloody Bay, I found these fuckin' creepy as hell kids." Tyger paused and clenched his fist, a keen eye would see that he was still disturbed at what he saw back then.
"The kids were in their teens I would guess... but they didn't have eyes Jama. They looked at me, and they didn't have any fuckin' eyes. Just blackness... kinda like what the skin of an Entity looks like... only it was their eyes. Anyway, they told me they knew my face... whatever that meant. They ran off a bit after that an' started spray-paint'n all sorts of shit over the walls. My first reaction was to stop 'em... but Bloody Bay is hella outta my jurisdiction." Tyger tried to laugh that off, but he was still a little disturbed by the memories. "Anyway, I saw what they wrote on the walls... most of it was gibberish in some alien language... but there was a hell of a lot of "Gurzorath Lives" also. I got pics of the walls... I put all of that in my report too... I think we can dig that all up if we can get back to the Precinct."
Tyger looked at Jama, a slight frown highlighting his determination. "I think Hart, Davies, Masada, and the Enochians were manipulated, if not outright possessed from the beginning."
Jama closed her eyes and thought for a moment. "I've heard of the black-eyed children. Just rumors really, and urban legends... I wonder...." She shook her head and looked over to Tyger. "I looked at both Hart and Davis with my Second Sight, I think I would know if they were possessed. But you may be right, they have been manipulated. Gurzorath promised them something—Hart's son, power, the removal of Director Cadbury—while guised as someone else I'll wager. It can't be mere coincidence that Hart pulls the water patrols and disbands XSWAT on the same day Masada chooses to invade."
A breath and then she continued. "And I'd like to see those photos. I might be able to read what they wrote."
"Funny you should mention coincidences," Tyger frowned. "I gotta 'nother one for ya." Tyger paused and took a breath. "Remember how Masada showed us that image in the shuttle? Well, I don't think you saw it, but those of us that did see it put that in our report. I think it's too much of a coincidence that Masada saw that image, that there are possessed people runnin' around on Bloody Bay spoutin' off nonsense bout Gurzorath, right near when the Enochians split from the Order."
"I think Gurzorath fed that image to Masada to get him fired up. I think, in fact, this 'future' that Masada saw was a bunch of bullshit dreamt up by Gurzorath. I think Gurzorath knew how Masada would react to it. Gurzorath wanted Masada to pop a hole in Angelus from orbit. Gurzorath wanted Masada to drop a nuke in the middle of Omega Sector. Gurzorath wants that door broken Jama. Cause breakin' the door... whether it's closed or open, is still a broken door and Gurzorath an' all of his buddies get in for free."
Tyger released a sigh and continued. "An' to make matters worse, we're still in the shit up to our eyebrows thanks to Hart and his shenanigans."
A long moment of silence followed that pronouncement. Jama stared at her hands, clenched together in her lap, her brows furrowed. "I don't think Masada's vision was false," she said in a low voice. "I think it was all too real. I think it showed Masada what was to be. But as you say, it may have been a future brought about by Masada's actions.
"Gurzorath wants to gate opened more than anything. Once that happens he will have free access to this world and can warp it to this will. He... and his masters. Gurzorath...." the young sorceress paused, then spoke in a faint whisper. "brothers will battle to bloody end... and sister's sons their siblings betray... woe's in the world... much savagery... ere the world crumbles." She looked over to Tyger, her gaze intense.
"That passage refers to the Norse Ragnaršck. Gurzorath wants to shatter the Bifršst Bridge in the form of Angelus and bring about the end of the world, so he can reshape it as he wills. He will use any means to do so, be it manipulating Masada to fire an orbital beam weapon at the city or to bring a nuclear weapon into the center of Omega.
"They are building something in Omega, Tyger. Jester said so. I think they are building their own weapon, to break the gate, if Masada's fails. Or... they may want to the nuclear bomb to power it." She paused, and held up a hand, forestalling any input from Tyger for the time being. As for the clade, he was content to let her talk, for who knew what she'd come up with at this rate. "The general is dead and his army is scattered. Jester said the tools of war would cost dearly. We can now decide between safety or opportunity. What happens next will test our faith, meddle, and will. Gurzorath's attempt to gain access to the XSWAT Vault has been stopped, the soul stealers are destroyed, and XSWAT still stands. Alone, beset on all sides, but we still stand."
Abruptly Jama stood glancing out at the makeshift infirmary before turning back to Tyger. "We are running out of time, Tyger. We must stop Gurzorath as soon as we are able. The Lieutenant has spoken of Hart, but I fear that he's a diversion, made to be more of a threat than he is. We must move against Gurzorath as soon as we are able, Hart and the rest be damned."
Tyger's blood ran a little cold at the mention of giving up safety for opportunity. He swallowed hard and gave a slight nod. "I agree with you there..." There was that silent 'but' that he left hanging. "...but it may not be as simple as all that. Remember when I mentioned Deadeye runnin' Bloody Bay? Well, he's a Pirate. Well... he was. He put himself into retirement some years back after takin' total control of Bloody Bay."
"You're prolly wonderin' why I bring him up again. Well, Guys like Deadeye don't let people do shit for free. He gets a cut of everythin' that goes on at Bloody Bay. There is no way Masada or the Enochians could set up camp there and prepare for an invasion without him knowin' it. There is no way he would let them use his place unless he got somethin' out of it. Money may or may not have changed hands. I think it was more of an' understandin', a deal an' maybe a bit more went on."
"Meaning?" Jama asked faintly.
"Angelus has been seen as one hell of a gem ta plunder for some time. It was only due to XSWAT, the patrols, sensors and coastal defenses that keep that from happenin'. I know. I made that mistake before. That's how I ended up in XSWAT. By now, word has got out, or will soon get out that there is no XSWAT. That there are no coastal defenders or early-warning systems."
"Leaving us wide open for another invasion," she replied.
"Think about it. Y'got an island full of folks who have had their eye on Angelus for a hell of a long time. Up until now, they couldn't touch it. Hell, only the stupid and crazy would even think about getting anywhere near Angelus' waters. Now there is no way Angelus can defend herself. A whole helluva lot of opportunists are gonna see one helluvan opportunity. Shit. If I were still a Pirate an' I saw an openin' like this, I would hit Angelus like th' fist of an angry god."
"To put it bluntly, somebody needs to let the VADF know that they should buckle down an' get ready for another invasion. It may or it may not happen... but if it does, they won't be dealin' with pissed off clades and flyin' mecha with big swords and short tempers. They will be dealing with professional looters, rapists and plunderers. The way I see it we need ta sacrifice the safety of Angelus' shores an' borders if we are gonna put a stop to Gurzorath and his friends."
Jama pressed the palms of her hands to her face and bowed her head. "I see storms on the horizon. I see tempest at the gates. I see storms on the horizon." She looked up, "Do you suppose the tempest at the gate was our fight with Masada, that the storms are the Enochians and... and... and these pirates?"
Tyger gave a slight nod. "Makes sense to me. The Wall surroundin' Omega Sector has always been seen as a Gate to Hell so to speak. I mean, think about it... how do you get past a wall? Through a Gate. If the shores of Angelus, as big as it is, don't count as a horizon, I have no bloody clue what would."
He paused, "You know the Enochians ain't through yet, right? We didn't kill 'em all... a lot of 'em split. If the ground troops are as well trained as I think they are, they're gonna do one of three things:
"One: They will go to ground and continue to fight "Evil" in their own way. Two: They will just go berserk and wreak whatever havoc they can as an insurgency of some sort. Three: They will high tail it back to Bloody Bay and rethink their position, prolly give it another go... or get some pirate support to provide a cover so they can try again... or at least get revenge. You gotta realize Jama, these Enochians, they ain't normal troops. They're bloody zealots who will do whatever it takes to win. They don't care who they hurt or kill to see that goal accomplished either."
"You want my opinion? As soon as we're all rested up we need to go knockin' on Gurzorath's head, kick him in the balls and make sure he's dealt with once an' for all. As much as protectin' Angelus means to me Jama... It don't make sense to leave something like this alone. If we wait and clean up here, and then go in, there may not be an Angelus to protect. At least if we kick Gurzorath around for a bit, when we're done there will be an Angelus to rebuild."
Jama nodded in return. "Do you want me to get the rest of the Squad?"
"Yeah. Please do that... I'd go tell 'em myself, but the docs here wanna keep me under wraps for a few more days. They said somethin' about all the neural feedback from the fighting could make my head explode or something." Tyger shrugged his shoulders. "Personally, I feel just fine... but I guess those guys know more about this sort of stuff than I do."
There was a moment of quiet and then Jama reached for Tyger's hand. She held it tightly in her own as she addressed the clade, "You stay here and rest. I'll go back to the Workshop and find Hemelshot and Brogan and bring them back here."
Tyger squeezed her hand with a smile. "I don't think I have much of a choice there babe. But thanks." He was silent for a few moments and then smiled. "Oh... and remember what I told you before this whole thing kicked off: We're gonna make it through this. We ain't gonna die. We're 9th Squad dammit, we've survived hell an' high water. Ain't nothin' gonna take us down. We will win Jama."
The sorcress smiled. "Of course."