The Back Alley God

After a job gone bad, Iyanke has returned to Seattle, intent on starting a new life. But when she digs too deep on what she thought was a simple job, she finds herself on the forefront of a battle against a sinister force, bent on awakening an ancient evil.

Prologue

The shadow skittered up the wall and nestled itself into the joint of one of the ceiling’s support beams. From its perch it looked down on the packed main floor of the nightclub, watching the small sea of metahumans writhe and twist with the pounding beat of the music and swirling movements of multi-colored lights. For a moment, it allowed itself to drink in the sensation. Unseen from the astral plane it could feel the raw emotion that came from the crowd. The excitement of the moment, the adrenaline of physical movement, and the raw pleasure of dancing were all tangibles that it pulled in and consumed.

It loved to study them, these frail beings, ruled by their most fleeting passions. It puzzled to see what drove them to different patterns of behavior, and would often amuse itself by using its power to push their emotions in one direction or another. With enough exposure it could push them to darker and darker deeds. They would perform unspeakable things, driven by fear, anger, and hate. It savored those opportunities.

But tonight was not for study and amusement. Tonight, it had a higher purpose. Still, its gaze lingered. Perhaps, a small distraction…

A younger couple danced near the middle of the floor. They were perhaps in their early twenties, wearing a trendy mix of synth leather and denim, and had obviously come to the venue together. However, the woman’s aura had streaks of purple anxiety twisting around inside, tinged with orange flecks of jealousy. Her partner was the cause, his head turning to follow many of the other women that danced near them.

The shadow thing, invisible to those around it, lashed out and with a sharp twist the orange flecks in the woman’s aura flared brightly, igniting the purple and turning her whole soul to blazing red. She screamed at her boyfriend in frustration, her hand whipping out and slapping him across the face. For a brief moment his face lit up with shock, but the shadow was ready. Another push and the man’s face hardened into a twisted grimace, he respond to the slap with a backhand that struck the woman on the mouth and sent her sprawling to the ground. She got up with surprising speed, a streak of bright blood running from her lower lip, and launched herself at her companion. She clung to him, trying wildly to rain blows down on his shoulders and head.

A few moments later the bouncers arrived, two burly orks in black t-shirts. They quickly separated the couple and pushing their way through the other patrons, dragged them outside. As they left, the gap on the floor closed and the rest of the crowd continued to dance.

The shadow thing shook with a voiceless laugh. Such amusements brought it great pleasure, playing with these little toys of flesh. Now it was time for the business of the night. With a final, longing glance at the people on the dance floor it skittered to another corner of the building, this time overlooking a table with a single occupant.

He was a man in his prime, probably thirty or more years of age and in good physical condition. His aura was a brilliant yellow and gold, reflected his health and vitality. Despite this, there were a few small veins of black that ran through his limbs, moving through the body and joining up at the back of the head. These dark veins showed the corruption of steel and plastic that so much of metahumanity used to augment themselves. They thought it made them stronger, more capable. But for the shadow, it made their spirits weak, vulnerable to its influence. This man had been coming to the nightclub for months now, and the shadow had used that time wisely, reaching out gently and subtly, preparing him unknowingly for what would happen tonight.

Once again it reached out, wispy tendrils of magic softly probing the man’s aura. It drew lines from the veins of black, extending them into the healthy sections. A touch here, another touch there and the bright colors began to cool. The yellows and golds turned to varying shades of blue, spreading slowly, like ink drops in water. After a few minutes the shadow could feel the growing connection. It was almost time.

The connection became strong enough that now the man began feeling that something was wrong. He shifted nervously in his chair, unable to explain his unease. He was a corporate mid-level manager, slumming in one of the seedier clubs, but he was used to being in control of himself and the people around him. The knot of fear that was forming unbidden in his gut was starting to make him panic. It was what the creature had been waiting for.

It struck like a snake, latching itself onto the now dark patches in the man’s aura, piercing it and squirming inside. For one brief moment he saw it, the connection between the two beings allowing the man to bypass the physical realm and glimpse the astral plane. The thing was a dark cloud of shifting limbs and tentacles, with a malevolence that burned like eyes of fire. Like liquid smoke it rushed into him, filling every fiber and pore of his being. He went taught and then started to softly convulse, a process that forced small amounts of spittle and bile from his mouth.

And then there was no control. He was wrapped in a cocoon screaming, but no sound would come. He opened his eyes and could see, but his body would not respond to his commands. The shadow was in control, the man relegated to a passenger in a dark corner, able to see, feel, and experience, but without any control of action.

His head looked up and saw a waitress standing over him. She was asking him if he was ok. Again he tried to scream, but the thing inside him just reached across the table to grab a napkin and began wiping his lips.

“Yes, everything’s ok,” the shadow spoke for him, using his voice, “my drink just went down the wrong tube. Had a bit of a coughing fit.” The thing inside him made him smile and chuckle, almost jovially.

The waitress smiled back, “Ok, hun. You let me know if you need anything.” Then she walked away to tend to another table. The man began to panic, but the thing inside him just squirmed down deeper.

You are mine now.

The voice whispered in his head, a cold, wet thing that slid around like oil between his ears. Then it made him stand. He straightened his jacket, turned, and began heading for the door to leave. Behind him the crowd continued to dance.

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