Lords of Chaos, Part Five: Detour

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As the sun slipped over the horizon, an old weatherbeaten brown pickup truck trundled up the gravel road, making its way towards Patchwork City at a leisurely pace. In the driver’s seat, a man hummed a tuneless song as he drove, one eye occasionally glancing up to the sky to gauge his progress. He wasn’t very notable at first – dark blonde hair, average height and weight, a thin blonde goatee. It was only the dullness of his eyes that might give warning that he was more than he seemed. The seat beside him was empty, smelling faintly of disinfectant and soap, and he sighed as he caught another whiff of it in the shifting wind sliding in through the open windows. Some people were simply not meant to own machinery – the state that this vehicle’s previous owner had left it in was frankly a disgrace, and the cleaning he’d done to get rid of the bloodstains hadn’t been nearly enough.

There was nothing for it. He was just going to have to torch the truck when he reached his destination. Or possibly drive it into the lake, but no body of water was enough to wash this truck clean…

As he pondered the best way to dispose of this affront to the automotive industry, he felt the telltale tingle of magic running down his spine. One hand slipped off the wheel and into his blue windbreaker, sliding out an amulet made of blackened bone and four tiny diamonds.

“You won’t be needing that, Scourge. I’m merely here to talk.” The shadows pooled up from the floor of the truck, taking the form of a massive suit of arcane armor, flowing into the shape of hair, and then a face was turning to look at the driver as a massive man sat beside him, his form rippling slightly with each passing gust of wind.

Scourge considered the apparition. “A shadow projection. That’s very high-order magic.” He remarked with more calmness than he felt.

“Indeed. And even so, I nearly couldn’t find you. You are well-concealed. Fortunately, I mean you no harm, so your… abilities were not an impediment. Otherwise, well…” The man chuckled. “Even my prodigious talents might not have been enough. I am Malleus Kane. Perhaps you have heard of me.”

Scourge smiled briefly. “I studied alongside you. Or at least, alongside another you.”

“That would make sense, I suppose.” Malleus nodded slowly. “You are travelling to Patchwork City. Don’t bother to deny it.” He said quickly, as Scourge began to speak. “I know, and so does the S.E.A. They will not allow you to get through, and you can’t defeat them. Not even with your powers.”

“And I suppose this is where you offer me an alternative.” Scourge replied drolly.

“Quite.” Malleus smiled. “You are trying to recreate your world, but it’s hardly necessary. Why be simply one in a pack there, when you can be a king here? The Oligarchs could very much use someone with your talents. You know me. Have you heard of Warzone and Clockwork as well?”

“The Fear Force. They survive in this ordered world?” Scourge asked curiously.

“They do. But as you’ve seen, there are many who would bar our path.” Malleus leaned in. “Scourge, you can never recreate your world. Narrative will not allow it, and your powers aren’t enough to override that past yourself. You know this, don’t you?”

“I haven’t given up yet.” Scourge’s humour died away instantly.

“Then give us a chance to show you why our way is better. Come to Milwaukee. Be a part of something greater than you had. Don’t run into the arms of the S.E.A.”

“Hm.” Scourge pulled the truck over for a moment, considering. “Not that far a drive, I suppose. Would certainly throw those Agency bastards for a loop. Fine, Malleus. You’ve got a day to convince me that your people are more than posers.”

“Surely, you know…” Malleus began.

“I know my people. Not yours. I’m not falling into that trap.”

Malleus nodded magnanimously. “I assure you, they will not disappoint. We are close to ruling the world. I will see you in Milwaukee.” With that, the shadows lost their potency. One moment, there was a man sitting next to Scourge, and the next it was simply a trick of the light.

Scourge considered the seat again, then shrugged and started driving, looking for the first eastbound road. He’d kind of liked his own world’s Malleus, and had always regretted that circumstances had kept them from joining forces on a permanent basis. It might be interesting to work with him again.

Plus, if there really was a plan to conquer the world, and it was being spearheaded by Malleus and the Fear Force, he just might be able to push them aside once they were in control. He’d killed Malleus once to gain power – he could do it again.

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