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[Fic] Monsters, Evil and Not. [Complete]


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April 3rd, 2009

Nick walked into his apartment and closed the door. Moe walked through the wall. Nick said, "Finally! I can finally talk to you without sounding like I'm insane."

Moe replied, "Yeah, 'I see dead people' wouldn't play well. So what's on your mind? I think you're starting to adjust to all this."

Nick almost yelled, "Adjust?! Adjust?! Do you know that most police officers go their entire career without getting shot at? Many of them never even draw their gun! It's been two days and I've had gun involvement twice!"

Moe stated with a smile, "Technically you still haven't been shot at."

Nick replied, "Yes I Have! If he and I are fighting for his gun and it goes off, that counts as being shot at. And that's not even including yesterday.

Grabbing his gun while it's half way out counts as Something. And what's with the lack of warning? You could have told me today's guy had a partner."

Moe said, "Not much of a partner. And I did, but you were actively holding and thus using his gun, not your own."

Nick said, "I'm not holding a gun now and you can appear."

Moe said patiently, "No, I can appear pretty much any time for you. Our bond is unusually strong because we're twins. We have the same blood. If you go far enough back in time we used to be the same person. But you can only see me when you're using your death relic, which is your gun. That doesn't mean any gun, just that one." Moe pointed towards the gun Nick had at his waist.

Nick said, "Hey, but I was wearing my gun then, exactly like now."

Moe looked surprised and said, "Interesting... I hadn't expected that. I knew the rule was 'using', not 'wearing', but that doesn't mean 'out and killing people'. That would be silly. I think when you started using that guy's gun it was implied that you weren't using your own. If you want to use two guns then they both have to be out."

Nick frowned and said, "This sounds a lot like guesswork."

Moe laughed and said, "I actually have a researcher for these sorts of things, and while she's very good I don't think she's going to be able to find any references to two gun handling and their effects on relics. That sounds like a modern concern."

Nick made a mental note to follow up on this researcher but at the moment he had other concerns.

Nick said, "Alright then. Tell me about it."

Moe asked, "Who Livy? She's a class mate of mine. We met..."

Nick interrupted, "No. Not her. It. IT! You said you'd tell me about the thing that killed you in two days, and that was two days ago."

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Moe stared at Nick for a long time, and seeing the look of iron in his eyes decided he didn't have a choice.

Moe said, "Nick... you can't kill it. And I don't mean you shouldn't, I mean you literally can't."

Nick frowned sharply back and said harshly, "Explain. Now."

Moe said, "There's a lot of background on this one and there are interlocking issues. Take a seat."

Nick didn't move and Moe didn't press the point. After a moment Moe continued, "First, it's not evil. Supposedly it's a neutral, or maybe even our ally. My mission was never to actually kill it."

Nick didn't look impressed or understanding.

Moe sighed and said, "OK, I'm not going far enough back. Horus is a god of Justice, and the Sky, and the Sun, and a bunch of other stuff. But he's not a god of War. That's bad because with the Titans and everything, we need to have a lot of war types around. Usually when a God wants to give a power set to his Scion that he doesn't have, he'll trade favors with another god. That gun? Osiris put the 'Death' part into it. Death is easy to get for us because it was such a big thing in Egypt. Or maybe it's the other way around, it was big in Egypt because it's so common for us. Whatever. Anyway, the death god that Horus is tightest with is his dad Osiris, which makes him our grand-dad."

Nick waved a hand that said 'get to the point'.

Moe continued, "Some of the god groups have every third god channeling War. But with the Oesedjet, that's us in case you've forgotten, the only god of war is Set. Set and Horus hate each other. They have actively tried to kill each other in the past and they're barely on speaking terms right now, if they're on speaking terms. That eye patch that Horus wears? Set's doing. There is no way that Set is going to give a Scion of Horus a War relic. It's just not going to happen."

Nick said, "So that means going to one of the other groups?"

Moe nodded and said, "Yeah, but even that can be really dicey. The other groups have different interests and goals than us, and just dealing with them can open yourself up to all kinds of shit. It's better to go totally outside the god groups and get a relic from a totem. Which brings us to the War Bear."

Finally this was starting to get interesting. Nick asked, "So this war bear, it's not a god? It's not even part of a group?"

Moe replied, "No, it's a nature spirit."

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A nature spirit. Finally the beginnings of a description. Nick said, "That doesn't sound too bad. Nature Spirit isn't 'God' or 'Demigod'. I'm a Scion, right? Godly offspring and all that. So how do you make a 'Nature Spirit' and why should I be afraid of one? No, wait a moment. I thought everything that was going to try to kill us would be Titanspawn? And by the way, what is Titanspawn? Gods are spawn of the Titans, aren't they?"

A hair frustrated at Nick's ignorance, Moe replied, "Titanspawn is a vulgar word to describe artificial creatures imbued with magic by the Titans. And no, Gods are not Titanspawn. Never say that again, and especially never say that to a god, it's deeply offensive. Gods are offspring. 'Spawn' in this case doesn't mean 'son or daughter', it means more like 'mass produced like fish'."

Nick raised his eyebrow in question and from experience Moe knew what was next and answered the next question without being asked, "The difference is that you and I were born with Ichor. No, not even 'born', from the first moment of our existence it was a part of us, it's part of our birth right. Horus took us to the next stage by activating it, by pouring energy into it, but we have always had it."

Moe continued, "Titanspawn are different. At some point in their history they didn't have Ichor. That's the big difference right there. When you add magic into them most go insane, or if they weren't living creatures before, they become abominations, and that's by design. You end up with a creature of chaos opposed to humanity just by it's designed nature."

Still on a roll Moe kept going, "Some Titanspawn are unique creations, others are races. Their insanity is ongoing because of their link to the Titans which gives them their power to begin with. The Titans want them to be what they are. Which brings us to the subject of dwarfs and some types of nature spirits."

Finally. Nick said, "Don't keep me waiting."

Moe stated, "Dwarfs were created by some Titan who got killed in the first war. Which is a bad idea by the way, ending the existance of a fundemental concept of nature has nasty side effects. But anyway, without constant infusions of insanity they decided to switch sides. Most nature spirits either have a similar story, they were created by someone and managed to bow out of the war, or they're basically very, very minor forces which managed to not get killed, or locked up during the war by not taking sides or by siding with the winner. Nature spirits are mostly neutral... which isn't the same as being 'good'."

Moe gave a hand wave and said, "Technically the war against the Titans is NOT good vs. evil. That's why gods like Set are allowed to take part on our side. On the other hand Evil gods with evil minions are mostly going to do evil things and siding with the Titans should be included in there. This is a multi-factional mess sometimes. There are Scions and even gods who sometimes back the Titans because they're stupid, evil, short sighted, backstabbing bastards." Moe and Nick showed identical expressions of disgust at the idea.

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Nick said, "OK, so nature spirits are unaligned countries. How does this tie in with us needing war? For that matter, if we aren't supposed to kill this thing and it's hostile, then why get involved at all?"

Moe said, "Godly relics aren't the only way to access Power Purviews. A Relic is just a channel, think of it as a credit card, or better yet, a Driver's License. No, call it a Key."

Moe pointed to Nick's gun and said, "That thing lets you channel a bit of Grand-Dad's power. Like I said, Osiris is tight with Horus so he doesn't mind. I don't think it actually costs him anything, but if you take and start using another God's relic they will know, and they will be pissed. Think of it as identity theft. My impression is there are massive treaties or something that are above our pay grade covering this."

Nick hoped Moe would come to the point soon and it showed in his expression. Recognizing this Moe said, "The central point is, not only do Gods have these keys, so do Titans, and no one cares if you take one from one of their minions. The tricky part is you usually have to kill the Titanspawn to get the key, word for it by the way is totem, and then you have to do some things with it that neither of us have the skills for to make it into a relic."

"And that's where the War Bear comes in."

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This was starting to make sense, Nick held up a finger and stated, "The War Bear used to be Titanspawn and he has the keys to War."

Moe nodded and said, "Exactly. But more than that, he's not actively opposed to us, he has the reputation of being somewhat willing to cooperate, and it's not supposed to be that hard to turn what he has into a Relic."

This time it was Nick's turn to be irritated, "Willing to cooperate? Is that what you call it? It left you in pieces brother. I gather you made contact, what went wrong?"

Moe said, "That's the problem Nick, as far as I could tell, nothing went wrong. I did everything right. I made all the correct preparations, I sacrificed the chicken to summon it and had a larger sacrifice, sacrifices, for after negotiations. I was even willing to walk away from this as a failure, no harm, no foul."

"But as soon as I summoned it up, it took one look at me and attacked. I didn't really have a chance, it was a lot stronger and faster than me, got me in a bear hug and just kept biting."

Moe paused in the remembrance of the shock and horror being killed and Nick watched him and remembered losing his twin.

Finally Nick choked out, "This. Um. This, explains the cow I guess. I explained to everyone that you weren't into practical jokes, but that was the only way to make sense of you being in an ally with a cow. All this sacrificing stuff, it sounds very Voodoo-ish, not your cup of tea. Any chance you were set up? Deliberately told the wrong way to bring it out or told to bring out the wrong thing?"

Moe shook his head and said, "No. I'm sure. Livy wouldn't do that to me. Also, I think I would have noticed if she were lying. And everything she said about how to bring it out worked. For a long moment it looked perfect too. It saw the cows and said something about it being a worthy sacrifice, then I started to speak and it didn't give me the chance to put my foot in my mouth."

Still half thinking about his loss, Nick asked grimly, "Let's skip to the end here. Tell me how I can kill it."

Moe said bleakly, "You can't."

Nick replied flatly, "Bullshit. Why do you keep saying that?"

Moe said, "Because it's true. Seriously. You can't. It's been in North America like forever. The Indians used to worship it, cut deals the way I tried to. Anyway there are some serious prophecies about this thing. No Scion of a god will ever harm it. No weapon forged by mortal hands will ever damage it. No one who seeks war will kill it."

"Our mission means we can't kill it. Our birth means the same. No mortal is going to take that thing out bare handed."

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This wasn't good news. Nick frowned and asked angrily, "Who the HELL makes prophecies about a bear?"

Moe said, "It does. The Bear of War is a prophet."

Nick stared and said, "That makes no sense at all."

Moe replied, "Yeah, actually it does. Bears sleep for months, and a lot of prophecy is dream interpretation. Also a lot of the old time wilderness spirits were guides. Before the white man came that's what the Indians used it for. Then later some slaves on a plantation did the same thing. They'd feed it animals and it would awaken from slumber, eat, then give advise. Thus Voo-doo to wake it up and make a deal with it."

"Then it'd go back to sleep. Kind of clever really. It sleeps for years and misses the big dangerous stuff that could kill it. It also keeps a low enough profile that it doesn't get high enough up on the food chain that it runs into things which wouldn't be covered by it's prophecy."

Nick perked up and asked carefully, "'Not be covered' sounds good. What all doesn't that cover?"

Moe looked him in the eye and said, "Oh, that's easy. A for real God. God's aren't Scions. A god of strength would even be strong enough to rip the bear in half, no problem."

Nick asked carefully, "Know anyone like that?"

Moe replied, "We both do. Horus could do it. And before you ask, I already asked. He won't. If you want War, and Nick, you're going to need it, then you need to deal with the Bear."

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Nick spent almost an hour scowling at the newspaper, his food, and then at the wall. *No Scion of a god will ever harm it. No weapon forged by mortal hands will ever damage it. No one who seeks war will kill it.* He went to bed pissed, but when he woke up he was feeling a lot better. The next morning he put on his gun belt and said, "Moe, you around?"

Moe said, "Yes I am. And you have come to terms with this." That was a statement and not a question.

Nick replied, "Yes I have. And don't worry, I'm not going to throw my life away. It's good that you didn't tell me all this in the alley."

Moe replied, "Yeah, I thought you wouldn't be happy about it."

Nick said, "Happy? No, I'm still seriously pissed about all this. But you need to tell me how, where, and when I can summon this War Bear, and how I can bribe it."

Moe said, "Summon it when the sun is neither day nor night. Livy figured out that meant touching the horizon but still shining. Spill the life blood in... I'll spare you the details. Cut off the head of a live chicken and spill it in part of this alley. That part of the old plantation probably extends into the buildings to the right and left, but you might as well use the alley. It's not even a crummy part of town. Tracking down where the old plantation used to be was the hardest part of this."

Nick said evenly, "I know the alley. I've been there. Any magic phrases or anything?"

Moe replied, "It speaks English. Say the words, 'War Bear, I summon you with food.'"

Nick said, "And if he doesn't like what you have to say, he'll eat you?"

Moe replied, "Pretty much. That's why I had a pair of cows on hand. You'll be on duty at sun set tonight, won't you?"

Nick said, "Yes. Yes. I will."

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April 4th, 2009

An hour after he left his apartment Nick realized to his annoyance he didn't know where to buy a live chicken, and Moe wasn't around to ask where he'd gotten his. The third place he called directed him to a Mom and Pop oriental food store. There he picked up three elderly birds, a cardboard box, and a large sharp knife.

Nick's next stop was to the Alley. The Alley. The place where his brother was ripped to pieces didn't even deserve a formal name. Not the first time he'd been there looking for clues but before he hadn't been an activated Scion.

This time it was obviously a 'Place'. It smelled of blood, and manure, and there was an omnipresent musky animal smell Nick assumed was bear. Deep in the alley there was a huge spot that was different, somehow without being different. Maybe Magic and powered called to magic and power. Whatever. This was it.

Nick glanced up at the sun which was still high in the sky. His shift started in an hour, a few hours later the sun would hit the horizon. Unless there was an earthquake or he caught a mass murderer, which wasn't as unlikely as it sounded with his current lifestyle, he'd be back here then.

Nick left the box of chickens behind a dumpster, only a few feet from where Moe had died. The place, not yet the time, but very soon now. Somehow he had the feeling they'd be there waiting when he got back.

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April 4th, 2009

Sometimes Fate was more obvious than at others. 10 minutes after the start of the shift, Nick, his partner John, and about twenty other officers had gotten sucked into a stand off. Some guy had taken his ex-wife hostage at her place of work, which turned out to be two blocks away from Moe's Bear's alley.

Thankfully it had ended without violence. A little bit before Sunset the guy had surrendered and been hauled off to justice and Nick, John, and most of the others had been able to leave. John choose to drive right past Moe's alley without any prompting.

As Rookie, technically, but only technically, Nick was the junior man in the car. Maybe it was part of the basic Scion package, or maybe Horus had done something, but when Nick went Scion he picked up an air of leadership and competence. Better still, it had been tested several times in the last few days. John hadn't blinked an eye when Nick asked him to pull the car over and let him 'look into something odd'.

Nick disappeared into the alley and checked that his box was still there. This close to Twilight the feeling of power and potential was even greater. Maybe it was Fate again but Moe made an appearance. Moe looked around but didn't say anything. In public it was hard to have a conversation.

Nick went back to the car and told his partner, "Found something big. That Bear is down there again. The one that killed those kids last week. Radio for lots of backup, this is going to be a serious problem and we're going to need lots of help."

Moe said, "Nick... what do you think you're doing? I didn't see any cows in that alley."

Ten minutes later five more police cars holding nine officers showed up. Nick fingered his badge and mentally snorted at 'magic'. Of course the badge let him bring in the police, well, that and a radio.

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Nick said to the assembled officers, "Well, it's down there. Animal control is on the way but they're used to dealing with deer, skunks, and bees. Rifle up, this one isn't coming quietly."

In a voice that indicated wishful thinking, Fred asked, "Now you're sure it's not a bear rug down there?"

Nick replied, "We should all be so lucky. There's eleven of us. I don't see the point of waiting. It must have a way in and out of the alley."

Moe said, "Nick, you're going to get people killed here. The Bear is a neutral. You shouldn't be bringing them in and you shouldn't be doing this at all."

Nick added, "It has a history of being a man killer. I'm not going to put up with that in my city."

Fred said, "I don't see it down there."

Nick replied, "You will. I'll go first."

Fred said, "In 20 minutes we could get you a helmet."

Nick replied, "Too long. I'll live with a baseball cap."

The sun had just touched the horizon when Nick started sneaking down the alley with 10 cops with rifles at his back. He stepped behind the garbage bin, opened the box, got a chicken, the knife, and walked over to the edge of "The Place".

One of the policemen whispered, "What the hell is he doing?"

Nick neatly sliced off the chicken's head and up ended it so the blood poured out into the place. There was a murmur from the police behind him and Nick said loudly, "Bear. I summon you with food."

The War Bear was just there, like it'd always been there and everyone had somehow missed it. It was totally black but the size of a grizzly. It was an icon of strength, power, and pure predator. The Bear glanced at the police and dismissed them from it's consideration, then with one paw picked up and started eating the chicken.

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Nick took a defensive position which the bear also ignored.

The chicken bones crunched and broke in the bear's mouth and it said with it's mouth full, "Old and stringy. Can I hope that box has something younger and tastier? Or perhaps beer?"

In person the War Bear seemed friendly and good natured, like an old, fat, adviser and not a dangerous animal.

One of the police said in shock, "It can talk!?"

The bear swallowed and waddled past Nick over to the box. There was the sound of protests by the chickens which turned into the sound of broken bones as the bears head disappeared into the box. Nick dropped the knife and drew his gun and night stick.

After a moment the bear turned around and waddled back to Nick. Sounding like a distressed elder it complained in a deep bear voice, "Next time bigger, younger, and beer." Then it said in a monologue, like it'd used this phrase many times before, "Your sacrifice is deemed worthy young war seeking Scion..." then breaking from script it added as a friendly warning, "...but next time remember the beer."

The bear added, "So what brings you?"

Nick had been struggling with the mental impression of a bear drinking a 12 pack of beer, but the bear's voice snapped him back to reality and he replied, "You do."

The War Bear said, "Obviously. But why for? What question do you have for me young Scion?"

Presented with the opportunity, Nick asked, "The man you killed in this alley a week ago? What did he do wrong?"

The War Bear answered, "Not the question I expected, but I'll answer it just the same. He did nothing, yet. But he would have. He showed up in a prophesy that I didn't want to see happen, and which now will never happen."

"I have another prophesy about a war seeking scion..." The Bear nodded towards the police pointing guns at it, "...and how it will turn out ill for me to refuse, so hand the sword over and I will give it my blessing."

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Nick said, "Yeah, about that. I think you got us reversed. Moe was here for War."

The Bear looked puzzled and said, "Moe?"

Nick explained again, "I'm here for you", and tossed his hat away to let the War Bear see his face and the hate in his eyes. Nick brought up his gun but even with surprise the Bear was still quicker. With a bellow of outrage the back of it's claw knocked the gun out of Nick's hand and down the alley before Nick could pull the trigger.

Nick slipped the handle of his nightclub around the Bear's paw and twisted, holding the much stronger Bear still for just a moment. Nick screamed, "Shoot" and ten rifles spoke, each of them impacting the magically tough bear. Two bullets bounced, eight drew blood, four of those were heavy hits.

After thousands of years of life the War Bear slumped over, looked Nick in the eyes, muttered the word "How..." but was dead before he got an answer.

Nick freed his stick and kicked the bear for good measure. The police ran forward and verified this was in fact a Bear and not someone in a bear costume. Nick walked further down the alley and picked up his gun, and found Moe there waiting for him. Nick answered the look of accusation in Moe's eyes by saying, "Made by Mortal Hands. Guns and bullets are mass produced by machines. No mortal ever touches them during manufacture."

Moe frowned, not really looking unhappy. The Bear was dead and Nick was alive, that was good. Of course Horus might be unhappy. Moe asked, "What about the War key?"

Nick said, "It's a fair trade. I lose the key but cap his ass. I got what I wanted."

Nick walked back to the cars, sat against a wall, and closed his eyes. He'd figuratively put some ghosts to rest here. Something hit his chest and he found John had tossed a towel on him.

John said kindly, "Wipe your stick off kid. You've got blood spatter all over it."

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