This is the middle part of a series of three linked storylines starring good old Devlin Waugh, following on from the first part Chasing Herod which I have covered previously. If you don't know who Devlin is, he's a English gentleman, a flamboyantly gay man and a vampire (thanks to events that happened in his first storyline Swimming In Blood) who sort of works for the Dreddworld Vatican City as an expert in matters of the occult. He keeps trying to retire, but events in Chasing Herod dragged him back into action. In that storyline the Vatican was robbed and an item that summons a huge golem like creature called "The Herod" was stolen and auctioned. Before Devlin and the Vatican City strike team could stop it, The Herod was summoned it killed several people and beat Devlin very badly before the others rescued him. An avalanche temporarily brings it to a halt. Now it is in the hands of a mysterious group who, at the end of the previous story, stated they will need to be ready for July 23rd, "and then.. we change the world". Devlin, usually so smooth and composed is utterly terrified of The Herod, which he helped bring down in the past although we don't yet know how. So before we find out what he is up too, there is a prologue introducing a new character to the series. John Smith once again is writing, Steve Yeowell is also still doing the fantastically psychedelic art.
We're first introduced to one "Eddie Whyteman", a psychic detective from Megacity One who has been gambling and whoring in Indo-City. "If luck was a lady, she was my goddamn ex-wife" he bemoans to himself as he is brought before Miss Kapoor of "Bollywood Heights" who is going to hire him so he can pay off his gambling debts faster than doing porn.
He makes some inquiries on the streets and finds out a lot of dogs have been going missing, so he returns to his hotel room and gets out his old dollar bill so he could use the Illuminati Oracle and he performs the "XIII* ritual" to operate it. It points him towards a meat packing district.
He hotwires a hover rickshaw and travels across the "radlands and mutant jungles of Western Ghats". He ends up north in the uplands of Ahmadabad, "where my world came tumbling down". He sees the dead dogs having their heads cut off and then the flesh removed in an acid vat.
|Jack Of Knives.|
Unable to think of what else to do, Eddie pulls his gun and waits for a clear shot. But Jack of Knives sees him. It fires at him but in the long moment before the bullet hits Eddie manages to send out a "garbled psychic distress flare." Then the wind is punched out of him, the water comes up to meet him and all goes dark.
We then start the series proper with Devlin on his island off of East Samoa. He's yelling at his two exquisite boys Luke and Phillipe that the haven't done the magical rites to protect his island properly. They calm him down and he moodily says that "this place gets me so terribly down" and that "if this is life, I'm starting to envy the dead."
|Devlin, hiding on a tropical island.|
We cut to Jenny, she is a woman who is very psychically sensitive and lies in a water tank in Vatican City. She starts detecting something. Back with Lazlo he says when The Herod was last incarnate, Devlin and his brother Freddy defeated it. Now Devlin is in self-imposed exile hiding from the The Herod it's up to the other Vatican operatives to stop it.
One of the cardinals asks how it is possible that The Herod has killed people in Cairo, Bejing, Istanbul and Buenos Airies in the last 24 hours. Lazlo says it travels via mirrors. Occultists know this but they haven't made it public in case they induce mass panic.
|Jenny and Lazlo.|
Lucy comes rushing over to Lazlo saying Jenny's had some kind of fit and he needs to come and look because the whole mainboard has lit up like a Christmas tree:
Lucy: "It's India. Psi-Sats and Groundwatch both confirm it! The Centre of Pestilence in India has just gone critical!"
The effects of Jack Of Knive's "bomb" is shown. At 200 miles, shockwaves and Earth tremors. AT 100 miles, hallucinations, blindness, temporal lobe seizures and spontaneous combustion. 50 miles, hysteria, madness, anti-gravity effects, earthlights and poltergeist activity. At Ground Zero, death. "One down. Six to go." thinks Jack.
|Pussy Willow in action.|
Lazlo asks her what things are like where she is. She says it was a "dirty bomb" and she can't get within a mile of the blast zone.
Pussy Willow: "I'm reading high radon and widecast Zothyrian level emanations and there's all kind of levitation effects showing up. Feels like gravity keeps switching itself on and off."
Checking closer she finds that it's not just a "grid point activation", they have gone deeper and "locked the original grid down." She goes in closer still. "I don't know whether this is hell or the foundation stones of heaven. But we've got trouble."
|Devlin is visited by the League of Shadows.|
In India, Pussy Willow reports that she needs to be pulled out of there, her ship isn't able to stand up to what's happening. Lazlo tells her about the message received from Eddie Whyteman and could she go and find him? She uses her special earring to track him down via his heartbeat.
Back with Devlin, the assorted people who transported in are all wanted by the Vatican City. But the threat of The Herod has caused them all to band together against the greater threat and they want Devlin on their side as well. One of them says The Herod is just one piece of the puzzle and someone has "struck fear into the massmind of the world." They know enough that everyone is under threat.
Devlin won't play ball however. He's content to sit in the dark and drink while the whole world falls apart. "That's precisely what I intend to do. Chin chin!" snarls Devlin. Watching this, Ralph Beerbohm says he's going to have to "bring in Stella."
|He refuses to play ball though.|
Devlin is still being intransigent. The others try to talk him into coopertaing but he says nothing they could say will convince him. Then Dr. Nevermind activates "the Eschersphere" and someone comes through it. "Mother?" whispers Devlin:
Stella: "Don't you 'mother' me. I was at a whist drive in Biarritz before they dragooned me into this and I'm not in the mood for any of your crap Devlin. Now stop gawping and fix me a drink and we can get this whole bloody mess sorted out."
We then travel to Thailand. A man in a flowery shirt is saying he sees drowned cities, "man crawling back to meet his maker". Then a man with no legs informs him he's detected unusual "aetheric activity" in the South Pacific where Devlin Waugh is. The flowery shirted man orders an "earthquake level event" targetted at Devlin's location. "They won't know what hit them" he says.
|Stella gives him a piece of her mind..|
We then jump forwards to Devlin, his mum and The League of Shadows safely at a hotel in Timbuk2. Stella's diary records that they all managed to get in the Eschersphere before the wave crashed down. She doesn't know how, "but he has my deepest respect." Investigators up in space find the satellite that caused the wave, it's "HekTek".
Pussy Willow then shows up with Eddie Whyteman, he's injured but patched up enough to now to interact with people normally. Bewildered by all the strange people, Stella leaves them and goes to find something to drink. Everyone else sits round a table and start to figure out what is going on.
Lazlo says that "Lord Benjamin Hekt" is behind everything. He apparently started to go off the rails with the building of Timbuk2, he's obsessed with the place. Hekt has his fingers in many pies but his real interest is in "enviromental engineering". He's been setting up satellite and ground based transmitter sites all over the world, but Pussy says they had no idea why until he suddenly powered up the "Centres of Pestilence." Eddie says that's when things get "seriously weird."
|A loose end from part one tied up.|
Timbuk2: Eddie carries on talking. He tells everyone about the "Dogon", an ancient people who migrated to Mali thousands of years ago from pre-dynastic Egypt. They are "practically on their doorstep" and why Hekt chose this place to build Timbuk2. The Dogon's secret knowledge is about the dog star Sirius:
Eddie: "They believe civilisation was bought to Earth 15,000 years ago by amphibious extra-terrestrials from the Sirius system."
Others have heard of this alien race, the "Nommo". Eddie is asked what makes him such an expert and he says he is half Dogon himself on his father's side. His father was a high priest before the "credit wars" forced him to relocate to Megacity One.
So he knows why Hekt is tripping the Centres of Pestilence. He's "lighting the beacon that will summon the Nommo back to Earth". The key is July the 23rd, which is when the hyperspace link between Sirius and Earth is at its strongest. As well as other occult links with people born on that day being sensitive to "influences from the outside", July the 23rd is Hekt's birthday:
Pussy Willow: "And he's convinced that by snuffing out the competition he'll be the only channel to receive the Sirius transmission. An astral lightning conductor earthing the current himself."
Before the Nommo arrive, Hekt has to prepare the planet and that's what he's been doing setting up all the transmitter sites and seismic weapons. Pussy Willow says he plans to flip the magnetic poles and flood the Earth.
|The League and Vatican representatives try and figure out Hekt's plan.|
The Catechist says maybe both are right, he sees it maybe a something to do with sex, "erotic symbolism which concealed intercourse with cosmic beings". Devlin snaps at him that he doesn't believe his "satanic flim flam". Eddie says they are all blinkered by their magickal dogma, "it's hard to know who's right and wrong".
Eddie then goes onto say that Hekt must have found out about the Nommo from "the Toad in the Stone". A guardian left behind by the Nommo, which was to monitor mankind in their abscence. It was sealed beneath the Spinx but is now somewhere under Timbuk2 and Hekt has tuned into its wavelength somehow.
So what does the Herod have to do with this? It's the "Opener of the Way" killing everyone born on July 23rd. But Hekt has been killing those people for decades now with specially engineered viruses which killed 40% of people born on that day. "A quiet war waged with silent weapons" muses Lucy.
Elsewhere in the hotel a couple have checked in, although they were told not to bring in a mirror, the woman has smuggled one in. Bad move, the Herod comes through and crushes her, then goes rampaging in search of his real target. Dr Nevermind panics, he was born on July 23rd. Lucy summons the tree-like Exus to fight The Herod as they run. Dr. Nevermind flees at great speed and Lazlo admits July the 23rd is his birthday too.
|The Herod squishes people with ease.|
He then uses his amulet on the Herod even though he thinks a fertility spell won't be much use, but some things grow from the ground an attack it and another of the group uses an ice spell against it which temporarily slows it down and Devlin's mother can get to safety. Another of the group has his cockatoo transform into a pterodon like monster which fights the recovered Herod as everyone runs again.
They leave the hotel and find The Catechist in a truck. He disses God and says he's not afraid to die and rams the truck into the Herod. They carry on running but find they can go no further. Lazlo decides to face death with dignity, but then Jenny in her mobile tank rams the Herod who tosses her to one side. Then he murders Lazlo and departs through a nearby nightclub mirror.
|Lazlo is killed, Jenny badly injured.|
Jenny, despite losing her body's arms and legs wass still alive and traveled with them via her astral projection. "There was a foetor to that place - a reek of dissolution - and as we pushed further onwards it grew interminably worse" he recounts. Then they were attacked by creatures with many arms and legs.
They managed to wipe the creatures out but sustained casualities as they did so. With no other options they pressed on.
Devlin: "For the longest time it was eerily quiet - the kind of quiet you only find underground - the sense of all that rock pressing down. Then Jenny muttered something in a strange fluting voice and I knew then we'd found it. Our quarry's lair. The heart of darkness. The house that Hekt built".
There was a massive geode cracked open outside the perfectly normal looking house. They ventured inside with weapons primed, but a voice warned them they shouldn't have come here.
|Something was inside that thing...|
Devlin then admits he can't remember much of what happened next. But as he fled he glanced back and saw a giant frog-like monster, which is obviously the Nommo Monitor Eddie spoke of. Devlin says that how he got out he doesn't know, "some things are so terrible. So big and sharp and ugly they're not meant to fit in our heads."
They sent "the movers" down there the next day but Hekt and the Nommo were gone. Jenny never regained her higher brain functions. Devlin says sadly that "he beat us. Trounced us like we were amateurs". Nevermind, Lazlo, The Cathechist, Furor all dead. Jenny as good as dead.
Devlin: "We have six days before Sirius rises and the outer gateways flung open. Time to bury our dead and grieve before the final curtain".
|And the mosnter is revealed.|