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Origin: A Horror Story
The Dark Harrier

Early morning. Several years ago. The second week of September.

New York City.

Dennis Corvus pushed the wheeled cart down the long hallway. It’s front left wheel squeaked annoyingly, wobbling around and misaiming the cart. Dennis struggled to keep the thing pointed toward the magnetic doors ahead. A guard in a blue uniform stood against the wall, an M16 hung neglected at his side. The man was bored; Pat, was his name? Dennis could never remember. There were many guards here at Vortex-Kaiman, who rotated their shifts often. Given the nature of the work that went on here, the storage and destruction of artifacts and technology deemed too dangerous to reverse engineer or disassemble for study, management didn’t want the same guards knowing the daily routines, lest they let something slip and invite theft. The government paid big money to Vor-Kaim to get this kind of stuff out of circulation, and to make absolutely, positively sure, that nobody else got access to these things. Ever.

There was literally a multi-billion-a-year industry in smuggling of such items, and Vor-Kaim was kept rich by being spotlessly honest about its dealings.

Naturally, Vor-Kaim did not believe in the trickle-down effect much. It had in its employ a legion of drones, such as Dennis, who shuffled items of incredible power around the hallways here, high up in the North Tower. A lot of these items went into a private express elevator to a lower level of the parking garage in the sub basement, to be whisked away in the dead of night or early morning [since Vor-Kaim did it’s work while the world slept] in an armored convoy, to one of Vor-Kaim’s deep-earth storage vaults. The rest, like the item on Dennis’ cart, went into a variety of specialized destructive devices, rendered down into powder where possible, and likewise buried en masse at the end of each month.

The item Dennis was pushing towards its doom, was headed for Disintegrating Centrifuge #1.

Naturally, Dennis did not realize, that while he was accompanying it to its doom, it was accompanying him, to his.

Dennis made his dull way toward the maglock door ahead of him. He was rather nondescript, five foot six, reddish auburn hair, combed back. Nobody had ever been intimidated by his slim frame, nor had he ever really tried to do any intimidating. He was the type who did his job, not unmotivated but certainly no go-getter, looking forward to the day when he could retire from a calm, undemanding corporate technician’s position and buy some cabin in the woods and get away from the bustle of New York, and all the people in it, forever. And not do much of anything, else, really. Maybe do some fishing, maybe raise bees, shoot at squirrels with a rifle he didn’t own yet nor really knew how to shoot.

He would never see this day he dreamed of.

The key card hanging from his neck let him into the restricted disposal suite. The door shut behind him. It was the last time he would ever see Pat the guard alive. He wheeled the squeaky cart around the separate rooms to the one with the centrifuges, card-accessed that one too, slipped inside.

There, he slid his keycard into a special slot which would clock his time in the chamber. He took off his labcoat, opened a shirt button, and got to work, unveiling the clear poly case in which hung suspended the menu item of the day: the Eye of Mu.

Unearthed by Crey company divers, the Eye had passed several sets of hands before being captured in a raid on a Circle of Thorns stronghold in Longbranch, New Jersey. After a long period of study by several agencies, it had been sent to Vortex-Kaimen and was slated for destruction. Its crystalline composition had resisted various other test methods, and so, into the centrifuge it would go, spinning until its own mass chewed it to pieces. For safety, Centrifuge #1 had technological gravity inducers which magnified the spinning effect of its interior cradle many times. This kind of technology was the type Vor-Kaim often had to destroy, coming as it did from alien dimensions, but, a few such odds and ends wound up in Vor-Kaim’s arsenal, for use on itself, in a sense.

With heavy leather-palmed gauntlets on, Dennis unlocked the bulletproof case, lifted the Eye [it was unusually heavy for its size], and prepared to fit it into the centrifugal cradle. Like most things that passed through Dennis’ area, this one had with it a file of preparations and precautions to be taken and any other information higher-ups deemed need-to-know for people handling it. The most obvious were always printed and stuck out in the open. In the Eyes’ case, the label on the folder read DO NOT UNWRAP. DO NOT EXPOSE TO EYES. DO NOT DROP. DO NOT DISPOSE OF IN FIRE.

The Eye had been almost entirely mummified in dispersion bands appropriate for itself. They appeared to be linen-covered, and had inside them strips of lead and other esoteric substances that allowed it to be stored harmlessly. As he moved it, Dennis took absent note of its odd weight [it would have fit inside a typical bowling ball, but felt like it massed in like two of them], was a bit warm even through its encasement, and vibrated slightly. A wan, weak red light leaked out from its wrappings, but Dennis knew better than to go looking for a source. Using a pair of snips he clipped off the attached ID band without damaging the wrappers, tossed the tag in the normal trash, and got to work.

He took several minutes to make precise balancing adjustments so that the liquid levels showed equal all around and the cradle would spin true. When the control console showed all was set, Dennis locked the case, activating the software and beginning the gravity induction sequence. Without a cup of coffee to mull over while it happened, he hummed to himself dully, only vaguely annoyed at the restrictions that kept the room safe and clean, and deprived him of something to do during the intolerable moments when having little personal action bored him. He wasn’t overly interested in reading the rest of the file [not much of a reader, was Dennis], and might have been only slightly worried if he had. He watched the countdown indicator lights, feeling the slight humming the centrifuge emitted while it warmed up.

It was 8:45 AM.

Finally the software had increased the G-forces inside the canister, and the motors began their slow wind up to, as Dennis and his fellows referred to it as, ‘killing speed’. Dennis continued leaning on the desk, ten or so feet away. He was not cognizant of the extra, faintly, subsonic rumble also being felt throughout the building at this height, noticed only by a few persons on this and other floors so far. This extra rumble was caused by the four turbo jet engines of a full-sized jetliner, its throttles wide open, as it approached from over the Hudson River.

When 8:46 AM arrived, a great many things began happening.

Dennis noticed that the Eye, spinning along so that soon, its surface would be a blur to him, had begun to glow. This despite the presence of the restraining bands the thing had been cocooned in, preventing any of its emanations from affecting Vor-Kaim personnel. He leaned forward a little, not sure what was up, but pretty sure this wasn’t supposed to be happening. He made mental note of the alarm button on the desk, and how quickly he could get to it, if it came to that.

People outside the disposal suites, those with windows looking toward New Jersey, had also noticed something that wasn’t supposed to be happening. Many of them had begun to scream.

When the jetliner struck, its normally rather bendable fuselage pierced the outer skin of the building, like normally weak plywood planks or drinking straws sometimes do to park benches, trees or bricks when driven by tornado winds. Its wings weren’t as fortunate, and they crumpled outright as they were dragged inside. Jet fuel by the ton spewed into the building along with the jet itself.

At that instant, the Eye of Mu had been nearing its terminal velocity. Between ticks of Time, the bands restraining it had succumbed to gravitational forces shortly before the crystal itself had been in jeopardy, flying to tatters inside the Eye’s death chamber, allowing the artifact a brief moment to assess the entirety of its situation, abruptly aware of many things that surprised the odd intelligence it possessed. Bursting from its restraint-induced somnambulence, it had less than seconds to react before destruction came for it.

A brief moment in Time, between ticks of the clock; one moment, and an infinity of events.

The jet has smashed its way through the building almost to the center, doused in its own fuel which is in the process of full ignition. People are dieing by the hundreds, others soon to follow as this clock tick passes by. The death all around it has awakened the orb completely, succoring it, and yet, informing it as well. The remnants of the front of the plane are passing directly under Dennis’ room. The Eye of Mu is at the moment of its own death, for gravity has won and the matrix of its crystal can hold together no longer, even with the immense boost of its power and will, desperately clenching itself to the physical world. In this brief instant of Time a coruscating bolt has bridged the gap between the Eye and the closest living sentient organism, that being Dennis Corvus. The bolt is red, much like the pure color of the Eye of Mu when lives, blood and souls had been given to it in ecstatic worship, long ago. The bolt has reached across the room, and fixed itself on Dennis’ face. It is invading him, as horribly and finally as the jet has the North Tower. The force of the impact of the bolt alone has cast Dennis’ head slightly backward. Had he merely been standing there in a calm environment, the bolt would likely have put Dennis through the wall and burned a shadow of his skeleton permanently in the paint that had been left behind him. However, when this tick of Time passes on, the wall will no longer be there, for a shockwave is leaving the jetliner below the room, pulsing outward, and it will travel faster than Dennis will. Dennis’ mouth is agape in a scream he will never give voice to. This particular scream, in any case. The wall to the West, as well as the floor under his shoes, are bulging inward, and have just begun lifting Dennis toward the ceiling. The shockwave from the jet is so severe that its soundwaves alone would have burst Dennis’ eardrums and eyes, invaded his sinuses and pulped his brain, not even mentioning the damage it would have done to his bones, skin and other organs.

None of that matters now, though.

The tick in Time passes on, as it must.

Many people die.

Dennis does not.

Encapsulated in the power matrix of the Atlantean artifact, Dennis is shoved upward two stories as the building shatters in his general area. Flame roars through the gaps, fanned and driven by the hurricane blast of the shockwave. Fire and detritus burst from the building along the jet’s path almost all the way out the other side. The magnitude of the event is being made known to many witnesses and victims, but Dennis is firmly grasped by the Eye of Mu’s awareness. It remains coldly aware of every nuance of the experience for it must cling to Dennis for all its worth. To lack physical form is to cease to be. He is the only anchor left to it, for the destruction around it confounds it and it cannot fasten itself to any other living thing amid the turmoil. Dennis is all it has, so even as the human undergoes trauma that would kill him many times over, it keeps him alive. His soul melded to its alien soul matrix, Dennis, also, is fully aware of everything.

His body is smashed through layers of ceiling, insulation, cabling, steel and concrete, bent into a slim shattered rag of jellied bones, and yet, he lives and knows. He is scalded in an inferno, and cannot cease experiencing it. Parts of him come away and are shoved rudely back into place, though not fully repaired; the Eye of Mu is merely keeping its vessel as intact as it can, given the circumstances. Bones and organs precede skin in importance at this moment. When he comes to rest two floors above the labs he occupied, it is in the chimney of Hell, and yet, the Eye of Mu forces his body back together with enough cohesion that he crawls, a salamander thrown on a griddle, seeking in any direction for surcease that he will not find. He cannot scream, he cannot think, for the agony he experiences is beyond human comprehension, He Should be dead, but he is not. No-one has gone through this before.

Unrecognizable, this new vessel of the Eye of Mu crawls, dragging itself up through the angular wreckage to the third floor above where Vortex-Kaiman is no longer. Waterfalls of jet fuel, alight, pour back down into the void that spewed it up, sluicing around the monstrous thing that cannot live, and does. There are no witnesses. The thing’s mouth vomits burning fuel, blackened and crisp skin stretches over clasping muscles and shriveled tendons. It makes its way toward the corner of the building where the heat is least, wreckage as its staircase, now five stories above the labs. Visibility is zero, death all around, agony driving the human soul inside beyond madness. And riding there amidst it all, is the Eye of Mu.

Many ticks of Time pass by now while the vessel pauses, too stunned to move; the Eye of Mu gives it a brief respite as the alien construct gains its bearings. Events play out here and nearby while both rest. Many more are already dead, and a countdown to additional slaughter has begun.

Dennis comes to.

He is naked, his clothes blasted away. His skin feels as if its still burning. There are open wounds down to the bones in several places, but the bones beneath are somehow intact. He cries out and rolls over. Debris bites into his skin, which he sees now, is burned black. He doesn’t have much room to roll within, for objects hem him in on all sides. He is conscious at a time when no human could be. And his mind is reeling from the onslaught of sensation and agony he has just undergone. It is like the exact opposite of an orgasm, the antithesis of rational experience, and he pauses to gulp acrid smoky air. He can smell things that will linger over the city for weeks, for the smell is coming from where he is. He can see light through the smashed material around him, a brief draw of clear air quickly covered again by the pall that crowns the North Tower. There are human noises near him, horrible sounds.

It is 9:59 AM.

The horrible human noises near where he is, rise suddenly as the South Tower, visible to many survivors who are trapped at this altitude, collapses in thunder and other noise. To have the twin building perish before them throws survivors here who have seen it, into understandable panic. The sun is blotted out. Hope evaporates for most and the air in the building becomes a miasma of pitiable emotion on top of everything else, felt especially strongly by the Eye of Mu.

For the first time, the entity that holds Dennis Corvus’ life within itself, speaks to him.

Vessel. Arise, it commands. Like a puppet, beyond shock, Dennis must do so. He stands on wobbly legs, arms reaching out to brace against closing walls of rubble. With the Eye of Mu gazing out through his own eyes, Dennis clambers through the detritus of lost lives and makes his way to the gaping hole in the side of the building. It takes him a long time, for things must be moved out of the way with little room into which to cast them aside. Many times he sustains injury, is briefly buried, burned. Fire is climbing from below them and the temperature is rising. Finally though, as impossible sounds drift upward from the cratered street below and all that is occurring, the dual being comes up into a passable space. Someone runs by in the darkness and smoke, screaming and crying, but Dennis cannot see who it is or what shape they are in, nor answer their cries. They do not come to the space where he is but have run away from it, or him. Standing at the precipice with one hand grasping the window frame so strongly that the shattered glass digs into his palm, bare toes clasping at the flooring to steady him, he and it together survey what lies below.

Inside his own mind Dennis is gibbering.

Silence! I must gather strength. There is something to come and we must weather it, Vessel of Mu. We must go down.

Dennis gazes out and understands the shared thought that they are about to jump.

NO! Dennis is shrieking into the echoing depths of his now-shared mental landscape, to the horrid thing that lurks there. He battles with it, in a sense, struggling to pull himself back from the drop. He will do anything, say anything, rather than face what lies outside that window. Beg and offer anything.

His permanently altered mind finds a rational possibility, for he is becoming a new animal inside his own impossible skin. He is somehow possessed, but the enormity of what he has already undergone had burned away much of him; some of what was lost would have caused him reasonable fear at this point. What is left of him attempts to be smart and analytical.

There is a way down! The private elevator, the private elevator!

There is a pause in the nothingness. Where is this thing? It will take us down?

Its near the middle of the building! Back down there. The motor room is on this floor! We can climb down to the car and use it if its working! At this point the rule of using the stairs in such a fire emergency have naturally been discarded. Dennis is trying to reason with what must be a demonic entity that has taken hold of him! Anything to placate it and keep it from making him jump from the tower. He simply cannot do that. Even after what he has seen happen to himself, even despite this, he cannot jump from here and watch the street come rushing up. As he moves backward, some poor soul from above does so, but with a goal in mind the Eye of Mu cares not a whit.

Grunting and bloodied again, his scalded burns gone and not even considered anymore, Dennis clambers toward the area where he knows the elevator motor room would be.

Time is passing. Things are rushing to a conclusion that has been already been demonstrated.

Somehow, the Vessel of the Eye of Mu finds the shattered frame of the elevator anchor and motor room. This shaft it sat upon reaches all the way to the third sub basement in a single throw, and Dennis can see as he approaches that the car is gone. Through the smoke billowing upward, the shaft a chimney funneling it up from the conflagration below, Dennis and the Eye of Mu can see the tattered ends of several sheered-through steel cables rocking back and forth, supporting nothing. Nonetheless, even as Dennis tries in images rather than words to convey that the car is useless, that they can try the stairs, please please anything but jumping, the Eye of Mu takes him to the brink. It looks in a casual way, hijacking his movements, all around at the interior of the shaft and the hellish drop at its feet. It also notes that the dangling cables are shifting as it watches.

With senses Dennis cannot grasp, it knows what this means.

Dennis only notices after it does, in the wan apocalyptic darkeness, that the cables are moving, all of the bunch stretching toward the right side of the shaft wall as if a snake charmer were calling them with an ill-tuned flute in some cartoon. He only notices the sensation in his inner ear secondarily, the canting of the floor, for the Eye of Mu has asserted itself treacherously, suddenly.

At 10:28 AM, the Eye of Mu steps its suddenly screaming Vessel over the brink and into the elevator shaft. Dennis is wide-eyed as he drops into the dark hole, his eyes burning from the smoke and very soon after, from fire. He passes floors below that are an inferno, and is flash-baked as he does so, fully aware. He is tumbling in darkness and agony, striking an incursion into the shaft and bouncing back into it, and as if his ragged body is a tossed kerchief or a starter’s pistol, the building above sags behind him. The roof and its broadcast mast sink into the wreath of smoke, and everything ahead of it joins in, in a domino effect. The collapse follows Dennis all the way down, until this new shockwave catches him in its tumult, a detonation chasing an overeager bullet down the barrel of a rifle. He is propelled down toward the depths of the earth by blast, fire, and the dust of inconceivable loss.

He is aware, all the way down.

He is held together by a power determined to not cease, as it surely would if this vessel were destroyed at this moment. When he would be pulped, he is kept together, surviving the horrid blender that the collapsing building becomes. He is bent but again not broken. The impact is not a single event, for by the time he reaches the ground there is so much debris in which he is mixed it is a kind of settling. He is the pea sandwiched in the mattresses. And he is alive, somehow. The agony and its duration are beyond reason.

Hours later. Efforts unlike any ever seen have begun pulling apart the still-hot pile above.
Earth movers cause the rubble to shift, and the Vessel of the Eye of Mu moves deeper as the wreckage of two buildings settles. Many times small movements happen. Soon, he is cast out onto the cold tile of what used to be the extensive subway station beneath the tower in a shifting avalance. His body moves, wrong angles and damage molding back into correct shape. Dennis is gibbering again because he feels it all, unable to pass into unconsciousness, again spitting out the plug of dust and blood that has filled his mouth countless times. He gives random cries, until he finally climbs to his bare feet, covered by more grey dust and dried blood [not the majority of it his own], in the blackness of the railway mall. Without Dennis’ own real awareness the Eye of Mu has wormed him through the rubble bit my bit, down and to the edge of the tower’s footprint. Though clogged completely at a certain point [essentially, directly behind him/them], the New Jersey transit tunnels are intact.

Tearing his bare feet on the track bed, Dennis slogs away from the disaster behind him. He passes under the Hudson, along the tracks which have been shut down. In the incredible silence deep in the earth, he speaks to his puppetmaster once again.

Who are you? What do you want? Please, get out of my head!

I cannot, Vessel. I must return to my people. I cannot end. You do not command me; I am the Eye of Mu. We will move forward and return to my people.

Your people! Who are –

The Eye of Mu shows him and he freezes midstride. He saw, heard, smelt, tasted, lived it. The Lacerta, through their glory and their fall, and the Eye as ritual witness. They were here now, they were searching, he could feel the longing reaching out, even here sheltered in the bedrock. It was somewhere to the north. Very close, in terms of the size of the world.

There are my people. We will go to them. No-one will stop us, Vessel of Mu.

What will you do with me?

You are the Vessel. To continue, you must live. We will return in glory to my people and bring about the glory of Mu.

This time, Dennis got no inner image to define what this meant. That should have disconcerted him, what was left of him, but at that moment, there was movement and noise ahead in the darkness.

The mouth of the tunnel would emerge near the Hoboken station, and the entrance, set below street level, was frequent home to the area’s homeless population. Most of these pitiable people had taken to the shore to witness the horror unfolding across the river. Some though, had remained behind.

One of them, a huge-bodied indigent man, watched the naked skinny Dennis emerging from the tunnel and saw, not a dust-covered victim in need of aid, but a helpless target on whom to vent the unease and agitation the disaster in New York was raising in his schizoid mind. With an inarticulate roar he bore down on Dennis, huge meaty hands grasping and ready to pummel.

Dennis felt only a shadow of fear, for after what he’d just been through, a simple beating was almost a nonevent; and yet, instinctual reaction to threat crept forward. He tensed, ready to defend himself in his vulnerable naked state.

The Eye of Mu struck first.

It knew Dennis would be no physical match for this other human. Instead, it reached with a clawed simulated hand deep into Dennis’ consciousness and took what it could. With a mental mitt aglow with collected imagery, it flung the sum of Dennis’ experiences that day at the homeless man’s formidable damaged psyche.

Compressed into a matter of seconds, the agony, fear, the ride through the collapse, the entirety of Dennis’ repeated conscious death that day bored like a diamond undergoing fusion into the mind of the homeless man. With a guttural animal shriek, the attacker gripped at his temples as the information, relentless, merciless, impossible, flooded into him. He scraped his nails down the sides of his face trying to stop the influx, skin peeling away in curlicues, but it would not stop.

The structure of his mind melted under the onslaught. The railway tunnel walls lit with a sodium white light, and then, the homeless man keeled over, stone cold dead, body spasming.

Dennis staggered. The Eye of Mu had overextended itself in its viciousness. For a moment the great entity itself was stunned, and Dennis reasserted control over his body. He could feel the entity inside him now, clearly and with no imposed filters. He also felt his body, made whole by its presence. He was shaken, trembling, exhausted… but he was alive. Able to think completely on his own for the first time in what was happening, the tattered remnants of his Self suddenly back in control and knowing it could not last, he made a decision all by himself.

He knelt over the corpse before him, and began taking its clothes. The Eye of Mu, quiescent, nonetheless approved. The rags stank, and wouldn’t fit, but he needed to get away from here. His small apartment was a few miles away up the coast in a small suburb. He lived alone, had no family who’d be calling for him to see if he was safe. His life had been work, and everyone he’d known, were they all dead? He needed to know. He scrubbed his face in a dirty puddle and lurched off to gain the street above, and find his way home, because at this instant, that was all he could think to do.

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