Friday, January 30, 2015

The Boy Who Burned the World-05

Maximillian Reinhardt, as Lord Cygnus of the Abyss, instantly became an international figure in the media and therefore in popular culture across the planet. Despite the pressures of governments and private opposition groups, a strong and growing number of people became attracted to Cygnus and erected fan sites and pages and groups of varying degrees of seriousness and sophistication devoted to their adoration of him. Maximillian, in public, criticized this as being the madness of the crowd in action. As Lord Cygnus, he encouraged it through more and more destructive spectacle. But now Chester Lame resurrected his old self.

Using his former name as an alias, and using manipulated photos of his old life, he resurrected Chester Lame as an online persona. By way of this persona, he quickly usurped control of the most influential groups and began exploiting them. He also began filtering their membership, seeking both useful idiots and useful agents, by sharing the most basic teachings and urging them to make videos of them using these powers. This caused a global eruption of copycats, most of them tragically short in their operations as they either botched the casting of their purloined powers or got killed attempting to make use of what little they knew.

The global Establishments freaked out at this development. The super-soldiers activated proved sufficient for most of the copycats encountered, but against Lord Cygnus himself they were woefully inadequate- save as expendable fodder to measure Cygnus's abilities, and that presumed that Cygnus did not hold back to conceal his true power. Once they learned that some online fan groups disseminated actual magical teachings that worked, they dropped the hammer, and that provoked a counter-attack from the free speech and civil liberties sectors which resulted in a legal shitstorm in all countries- and therefore ended up in super-national bodies like the United Nations when differing national and regional legal fights threatened to create an unworkable patchwork of policies.

However, the proof posted by the Cygnus Cult (as the emerging dominant online group came to become) of the teachings working--over and over and over again--drew in such an explosion of interest (and attendant increase in both accidents and ego-driven attempts at villainy) that it became impossible for the global Establishment to maintain the illusion of a free and open world culture being assaulted by an insane supervillain any longer. The world-wide police state, already lying dormant and operating quietly in the background, emerged overnight via the imposition of some variation of the Enabling Acts and with it ended all pretense that the planet was not already a global plutocratic oligarchy with competing factions vying for total domination. To combat the menace, the governments of the world imposed a total lockdown on the population and spied on all media tracking of all sorts without shame.

The populations of the world, even the most brainwashed and oppressed, would not stand for this and revolted. As Cygnus, he used his online "fan" to incite these populations to revolt. He exposed their secrets, with evidence, and though the Establishment wielded their full media and martial might to combat this threat it was not enough. Once the Cygnus Cultists began openly assaulting riot police from ambush, revolution broke out all over the planet and no more double-talk would be had. Global civil war had taken its place, and the people the world fractured instantaneously into their component natural nations. The world, no matter what, could no longer be preserved.

Friday, January 23, 2015

The Boy Who Burned the World-04

As Maxmillian, he continued to present the public persona of a personable and fashionable young man- the roguish man who's just mysterious enough to capture the attention of the people around him and yet safe enough to be tolerable to the elders. As Lord Cygnus, he afflicted those that hadn't died in the assault on the society's campus center and finished them off in grotesque and horrific ways- often in public. The public attention that Lord Cygnus attracted was fierce, but since everyone liked Maximillian well enough he got plenty of warning--inadvertently, of course--when enemy action got too close and therefore shunted them away with a shift in tactics.

Of course the Federal Government got involved, despite there being no reason under their own rules for doing so, because he's slaughtered the next cohort of fresh recruits into the Establishment's machine. Using that catch-all con of "terrorism", they intervened and took over investigation of the events to date. Lord Cygnus decided to grace the agents with a visit, and by that he meant that he would call down a rain of fire upon their base of operations- a rain that concealed the summoning of a powerful demon warrior, one who smashed through the walls and then got up and began slaughtering all it encountered until the agents' managed to destroy it with an excess of conventional firepower.

The message he sent, using that attack as the means, was crystal clear to the Establishment: "I have real power, and I will burn you all with it."

The media reaction, as most of the witnesses caught it on their phones or tablets and then uploaded it to the Internet in various places, could not be more predictable: panic, panic, and more panic. Fear-mongering on a scope and scale only seen in comic book movies previously. Speculation of all sorts, in all corners, exploded and raged across all media all across the world. Here was a bonafide superhuman, and he was no Superman or Spider-Man. Meanwhile, as Maximillian he kept to the fashionably cheeky opinions but otherwise kept distant from the topic while out as this persona; as Lord Cygnus, he played to the hype and made some obvious public assaults to manipulate public perception- and to get his supervillain persona out there as a meme. Soon, "Lord Cygnus of the Abyss" became a thing.

As for the Establishment, they conferred and called upon their own inhuman patrons. Most got nothing useful back. A few learned that this enemy was himself a wielder of powers like their own. A handful learned that this was the promised cleaner, the one signifying that the final stage of their great plan had come at last, and it was these handful who--being agents of the same inhuman patron--began to work behind the scenes to keep others from taking him out.

Meanwhile, other factions in the Establishment--unaware of treason within their own ranks--moved to deploy secret technologies against this threat, and as such the word went out through the underground network to activate vast numbers of previously-prepared disposable assets: MK Ultra subjects, specifically the Delta-class killbot mind slaves. Within a week, Lord Cygnus' public appearances began to involve increasing numbers of seemingly ordinary people going berserk and attacking him; all of them died horribly, incinerated by his fires or butchered like cattle by his in human aids- and the media frenzy continued to accelerate until it was an all-consuming obsession. The former Chester Lame greatly enjoyed this development.

Friday, January 16, 2015

The Boy Who Burned the World-03

Chester Lame disappeared from history after that night, presumed killed by the arsonist that burned his foster home to the ground with everyone lost. He was not mourned. He was not missed. No one who knew of him cared that he wasn't around anymore. They turned their attention to the pretty people, the popular people, the puppies and the kitties, that burned and screamed and cried and died that night. They did not care about the poor, the ugly, the unloved, the underclass or anyone else of contempt. Chester Lame, being all of those things, slipped from the minds of the survivors with speed and aplomb.

Not that he cared. Chester changed patrons, now mastering powers unknown to most and unbelieved by most that did know, in a hidden place forgotten by the modern world he hated and despised--but, wisely, monitored closely--and he consorted with entities all in a firm hierarchy that knew their place. Chester was no fool; he knew his new patron sought to groom him as much as his old one did, but nonetheless revealed in the attention given to him- the powers introduced to him, taught to him, and urged to master by his inhuman patron intoxicated him.

Chester took to these lessons with an eagerness he never knew before. The proof of real power, power without tools or reliance upon others, was so compelling that he became obsessed with mastery of this power and applying it to the world he so despised. It was not long before he did so, and he did so with the deformed flesh of old as much a forgotten past as his original name. Chester Lame died in the fires of that night; Maximillian Reinhardt, Lord Cygnus, arose in Chester's place. And it was Lord Cygnus who, after a year in seclusion and training, emerged back into the modern world to begin working towards ultimate revenge.

As Maximillian Reinhardt, he entered into the best university in the nation, using a combination of the skills he honed and the powers he mastered to ensure admission without any cost to himself. This university, as many knew, was the entry ground for the national Establishment and Maximillian wanted to make his first stroke something that only others in the know would comprehend. Before the first snows fell that year, Lord Cygnus made his debut.

The campus featured the known headquarters of a notorious secret society, one that invited and inducted new members in the Autumn, and this was a window of opportunity that could not be ignored. He donned a variation of his ritual vestments--reinforced for the action he expected--and took up his implements, and then assaulted the society's campus headquarters on the night of the new recruits' indoctrination. Fire and brimstone erupted as he immolated each campus cultist in turn, incinerated those that did not immediately succumb, and then unleashed conflagrations to accelerate the destruction of both the cultists and the cult headquarters. One--only one, the senior responsible for the local operations--he allowed to live saying to the badly-burned bravo "You tell your father that I, Cygnus, Lord of the Abyss, comes for them- ALL of them."

He then called forth a petty minion, and bound it to his will. He bade this minion to not be seen or heard until recalled, and then to watch over the bravo. As he expected, the young man passed the message to his father, and then his father ensured the tragic passing of his son in order to keep secret the truth of their order. The minion reported what he observed, and then returned to the nether from when he came. "The Burning is on."

Friday, January 9, 2015

The Boy Who Burned the World-02

Chester took up his place as the old teacher's apprentice. Once he saw that the old man dealt in real power, power not tied to things or people that he could not control and power held wholly within himself, Chester threw himself into the work- and kept a sharp eye and a keen ear out for where this old man got this power. Chester soon found himself accompanying the old man, often under the guise of a grandson or nephew, to meeting with important people around town. As with the fiction and speculations so often spread, Chester did indeed find himself delving into a shadowy world of hidden connections and equally-hidden sources of power.

But what cemented Chester on this path was the first time that he participated in one of the rituals that his patron's association conducted on a regular--if infrequent--basis. His was not an important role, that time, but the combination of awe, desire, and ambition caught the attention of his patron's patron. This alien entity, a demon if you must, noticed Chester due to that combination of traits and--unknown to the old man--made contact with Chester one night in the boy's most recent foster home.

"Why do you come to me?"

"The others seek power for vain and petty reasons. They achieve vain and petty results. They do not have the burning ambition that you possess."

"I want it to burn. I want it all to burn."

"Prove it, my boy, and I will show you how."

In that night, Chester burned down that house and all of the people within it. Before the fires died down, he fled to his patron's home and burned it--and him--to ash. He then went to the school, broke in, and lit as many fires as he could in as many ways as he knew. As he paid attention in his science classes, that was a lot. By the last hour before dawn, his world was chaos and destruction as he then lit as many houses of his peers aflame as he could. Ambulances, fire trucks, police cruisers- all of them going all over the neighborhood, all working to put down the flames and rescue the people, and then encountering difficulties unexpected due to Chester being smarter than the average young arsonist that would tie them down and delay them further.

Chester watched from the top of a nearby hill. "I call upon you, oh Hidden Master. Are you satisfied by my demonstration?"

A heavy, dark presence settled about him that felt wrong and yet burned brightly. "I am very pleased, my boy."

Out of the ground arose an arch and within it shimmered a sickly-green energy. "Step through the portal, my boy, and embrace your true nature."

Chester did, without hesitation.

Friday, January 2, 2015

The Boy Who Burned the World-01

Chester Lame was a most unfortunate boy. His father abandoned him before his birth, and his mother followed shortly afterword, leaving him at an anonymous turn-in site at a hospital. His name was the result of a doctor who had no love for bastards, which he was presumed to be, and noted an obvious deformity in him. His life thereafter was to be condemned as as Ward of the State, passed from foster home to foster home, and he found nothing but the worst that Mankind has to offer a unwanted boy. As he endured, he grew, and as he grew he soured and turned bitter. By the time he emerged into his youth he was far from the fresh, full flower of manhood many other boys he encountered had become. He hobbled, he had scars in too obvious places, and he long had lost his sense of empathy for his fellow man- being beaten, abused, and battered routinely for years does that to a lot of children.

So, when one of the mean old men teaching at his high school ordered to stay after class, Chester was not in the mood to suffer this intrusion.

The door shut, leaving the two of them alone. "You are not here due to any fault of yours." the old man said, "Whether or not you are here due to any merit remains to be see. As I too was once like you, I shall do you--and I--this courtesy and get straight to the point."

"I appreciate that, sir." Chester said, witholding his contempt as best he could.

"I need not access your student file, or do any other research into your background to date, to recognize someone done wrong by life itself- one seething with anger, and unable to do anything about it. Yet you want it, and will pursue whatever routes you can to get it. Though no one in the Administration can prove it, we all suspect that the incidents of maiming and crippling of those known to abuse you and later suffering accidents with acids or other chemicals are your work."

"Interesting." Chester said, "Go on, sir."

"I require an assistant. You require a patron to shield you. If you are half as intelligent as you think you are, then not only do you see through this meeting for what it is, you will also accept the offer I am about to make to you."

Chester's eyes said all. The old man, far more experienced in such subterfuge, long ago mastered body language and other manipulative arts. This was not the first seduction-as-recruitment operation he performed, so he felt no fear in doing this so boldly.

"Assistant with what?"

"Why, what else, Chester? Revenge, using some of the most powerful means Man has ever possessed."

Chester could not conceal the excitement in his eyes. "I'm in."