Thursday, October 1, 2015

FLICKER STREET Treatment # 12 - Deviations

What seemed like ephemera turned out to be a key chapter. Enjoy!

FLICKER STREET Treatment # 12 – Deviations

I. The Pod As Womb

The Omegan and Piscean penchant for “soft conquest” culminated in their vying for Earth. The Omegan Terminus was not a downed alien vessel or a crashed starship. It was however truly a “mothership” in that it contained an Omegan Birthing chamber. It was an extradimensional vessel traveling alchemically; it emerged inside Mt Mosaic based on the mountain's karmic ley lines. Tephiris was not the first, but the first known, Omegan scout and was extremely long lived. He came through the Terminus in a birthing pod, i.e. he was born incarnate on earth. He traveled his homeworld but North America remained his base of operations. He communed with Native Americans and settlers and slaves alike, always assuming a race's form and co-mingling with them all, spreading his seed far. Tephiris was the first newly born Exodesian in centuries – an Exodesian by virtue of the fact that he was the genetic product of pure Omegan seed and Piscean ovum. Tephiris thus was himself an experiment in keeping the peace between the coldly warring races.

Tephiris was the father of the druid Brithemain, born c. 12,000 BCE. Tephiris was born c. 13, 000 BCE and died sometime before Shun Ti's and Asenath-Zayan's births (c. 1500 AD). No Exodesians and few Omegans or Pisceans were as long-lived, i.e. over 14,000 years old. Only the hybrid priests Mordechai and his nephew Gammadion lived nearly as long. In addition to his genetic gifts, Tephiris used many alchemical life extension formulas, to varying degrees of success.

Mt Mosaic was the nexus point aka the “Terminal Pointe” of the truce if you will between the quietly warring races. Tephiris periodically used the pod tech at Terminal Pointe to travel to Omega and to Pisces to report as a scout for both races. The pods he utilized were the basis of the modern tech of the tellax pod that revolutionized human transport, though it only became used commercially in the early 21st century. It was plundered by SkullCorp from the tech Ursulin shared in the 1950s, and by the close of the century REACT and the Aggregate (and some of their foes) had access to this incredible teleportation technology.

To some Exodesians Tephiris claimed to be wholly one of them, and mated with some of their women. In his very old age Tephiris mated with a Frenchwoman named Dominique Chanel. Their daughter, Francoise Chanel, married into the Mercer family. This infused Cromwell's line with stronger Exodesian genes, as Francoise's son Leopold Mercer was also the grandson of the Carnifex. Leopold was also the grandfather of the gunfighter Mercy. Many of the descendants of Cromwell (himself Tephiris' great-grandson) and the great envoy Tephiris had extraordinary abilities; most, however, appeared and lived as human, save for a predilection for unnatural longevity.

When Ish of Omega and Asenath of Pisces were engineered to be the official infiltrators of Earth, Tephiris felt his time had come. He gently slipped away, imbibing moonbrew and ruminating on his thousands of adventures and many descendants on Earth. We shall now examine some of the foremost ones.

II. For A Few Digressions More...

The legendary gunfighter Mercy began life in 1843 as Nero Mercer, the son of Napoleon Mercer (the great-grandson of Ewen Cromwell) and Lily Runningwater, a mostly Pawnee Indian and herself a granddaughter of Cromwell's. Besides this, Nero was the great-great-grandson of Tephiris. Mercy was blessed with a retarded aging process, a strong healing factor, and an unerring marksmanship, his favored weapon being a portable Gatling gun. Most though him insane, but few dared square off against this titan of the Old West. Once his hands were crushed; he defeated his enemy regardless but lost his woman. His hands healed fully over a matter of weeks.

Shortly after this, he encountered Shanedo Nakemura, a deciding factor in his life. Nakemura (b. 1823) was known in Japan as the 'Demon Dog' (translated) and was a wandering ronin who took along his young daughter Meiko on his journeys, teaching her all he knew along the way. Shanedo was the deadliest ronin to emerge from Japan in the waning days of the Tokugawa shogunate. He had run afoul of the Pan-Asian fanatical sect, the Hei Naodai, and wished to shatter them into a million pieces. Shun Ti at Feng Qi thought a truce could be arrived at; Kith M'Nali, the “Black Tamerlane”, did not concur and bedeviled Shanedo for a number of years. Shanedo was contracted to come to America in the mid 1860s and retrieve certain stolen Nakemura family artifacts. Shanedo had the feeling Kith had stolen them. Kith had a secret base in America, from which he plotted the end of the then-current US government, as he saw millions of his countrymen still in bondage. M'Nali was a busy man...

Shanedo faced off with Kith over the artifacts and won. M'Nali begged for his life, the first time he'd done so (though he was very insincere). Then Mercy appeared and shot Kith a number of times. Kith was taken totally unawares, an odd and uncomfortable feeling for him. Shanedo bid him go. M'Nali headed to his base and medical attention. Mercy and Shanedo forged a mutual respect of sorts over this odd incident. Shanedo's daughter Meiko (b. 1850) was immediately taken with Mercy, and he with her. In time, Shanedo came to grips with this. The two men fought together as partners a number of times (including on the steppes of the Ziggurat in 1868), and Shanedo now felt an outcast from Japan. Mercy proposed marriage, and soon he was Shanedo's son-in-law; now family. In 1878, the child Nero Nakemura was born to Mercy and Meiko.

Shanedo had one last mission he wished to fight alone. He returned to Asia, while his daughter, now known only as the Lady Ronin, became Mercy's partner in his increasingly outre adventures. In 1890, word reached Meiko that her father was slain in battle with Kith. Mercy and the Lady Ronin embarked on one last grand adventure, one with a bittersweet climax. After failing to route M'Nali, Meiko announced that she'd be staying in Asia, sometimes at Feng Qi. Her goals were two-fold: to avenge her father, and to further train, and, hopefully, to teach at Feng Qi. She would raise young Nero as a Japanese but would tell him all about his legendary father.

Mercy was devastated. He wandered Europe, alighting in France, where his daughter, La Comtesse de Marangias, held court. La Comtesse had wed one Armand Tressilian and had one infant daughter, Edith, b. 1890, and a son already on the way (This son would grow up to be the legendary Richter). But Mercy was drawn back to the United States and his family there, which essentially amounted to his brother and his brother's family.

III. Marisol's Odyssey

Mercy's half-brother was the much-discussed Sorrow, who married the wild Libanian gunfighter Carmelita Rodriguez. She gave him three daughters: twins Luna and Solita are covered elsewhere, but now we turn our attention to Mariposa Marisol Corvo, b. 1877. Marisol inherited Sorrow's unnatural longevity and many of his skills (Sorrow was the grandson of Exodesian Arch-Priest Urias, as established in past chapters, as well as the great-gradson of Ewen Cromwell). Marisol, as she chose to be called then, was a shapely stunner of a girl, but was something of a tomboy. She craved action and excitement. She was proud to come from a family of long-lived gunfighters, and wanted to learn the arts of combat herself, something that did not interest her older sisters.

When she met Mercy's bride, Meiko Nakemura, as a small child, she was staggered by her fighting prowess. A female samurai! Thought Marisol (though Meiko was technically a ronin, i.e. a masterless samurai). She asked Meiko to train her. The Lady Ronin agreed, but it had to be their secret. And so, furtively, they held a number of sessions. This ended in 1890, when Meiko was called away to Asia and never returned. Marisol vowed she'd find her one day and conclude her training with Meiko. Sorrow took good care of his daughter in the meantime. She reached adulthood, a buxom, athletic young woman with a razor-keen mind, and she decided to move to Libania, despite the risk and strife there. Carmelita warned her about Libania and Serafinia, but Marisol claimed she was to become a nun.

Marisol actually made her way to Asia with a cache of gold her father gave her. She struggled, and fought, but she finally reached Feng Qi, based on all she'd been told by Meiko. This was in 1900. She was reunited with Meiko Nakemura, who, as promised all those years ago, resumed training beside her. They trained together for 35 years, neither of them aging appreciably, just getting stronger and more finely honed in their arts. But then Kith M'Nali returned after a time away from Feng Qi. He had been assembling various criminal and revolutionary elements to fall under the Black Skull Society rubric. Marisol and her master encountered Kith one day and they soon began hurling curses at each other. This erupted into a full-fledged duel. Shun Ti, worried, came to watch. She knew by now that nothing could tear them apart. In their pitched combat, the Lady Ronin, sliced off one of the Black Tamerlane's legs. He fought on, hopping, crawling, and spurting blood all about the dojo. In an amazing reversal, he leapt on his single foot and hacked off Meiko's right arm (her sword-wielding one), and, as they both fell and crawled about the floor slick with their blood, he impaled Meiko on his blade.

Marisol was aghast and felt like running up to M'Nali and slitting his arrogant throat. He and his detached limb were spirited away, though. Much later, she learned that certain mystic allies of Kith's were able to re-attach his leg. Another rumor later flotaed about was that Ish used Omegan tech to restore it. This was several years before Ursulin arrived on Earth and began disseminating regeneration tech to a chosen few; of course today it is widely used and has revolutionized medicine.

Shun Ti took over Mariposa Marisol's training (she had ceased going by her surname). Marisol “graduated” to the highest level that Shun Ti could grant her in 1950. Marisol was still a stunning young woman. She wondered if she would age as well as her father, who died at 98 in 1938, but only appeared middle-aged.

IV. The Marchessa Unbound – and Her Wayward Pupil

After Mariposa Marisol attained the highest honors Shun Ti could bestow upon her, she gave herself the title “The Marchessa”. It had only taken her 73 years to attain this total mastery of the mystic and martial arts. And this time, she really was determined to return to Libania. There, she founded her own Solacium, patterned after the one Shun Ti would retreat to (and which was an Omegan creation). She gathered agents over the decades and created her own temple. did not establish any particular order for those interested to join. She didn't want to foment another cult in a region reviled for them. She simply taught her eclectic blend of alchemy and martial arts. FOPA raided her on occasion, but they finally ruled that she did indeed fit into their “Freedom of the People' mantra.

Her goal was to train others and to pass on the knowledge she'd received, but so few had what it took. The Marchessa lived a long, lonely life. She yearned to be a lover and an adventurer, not a monk, but such, she felt, was her lot. All of that changed in 1965, when the 88 year old Marchessa, who looked and felt no older than a human woman of 35, found a new purpose.

We must derail our attention from the Marchessa at this point, and return to a character from a past installment. His name was Alec Nicholas Duarte, b. 1948 in Hallmark. He was born a fraternal twin, his brother Julius Antony Duarte born minutes before him. It seemed the two hated each other from birth. Certainly their parents hated them both from their births. The twins' mother, Roxanne Cooper Duarte, was the maternal granddaughter of Hallmark co-founder Ananias de Ruyter. She was also a stripper, a prostitute, and a heavy drinker. Roxanne's mother Eliza severed ties with the de Ruyters when she married Axel Cooper, an attorney for the mob (who, ironically, had married her for her money and family name; now he was supporting her by defending infamous mobsters such as Boston Haverty).

Roxanne's brother, Elias, was also an attorney, and though a rabid right-winger, he was no criminal. He was rather ugly to Roxanne, and distanced himself from her. Elias had two daughters with Gwyneth Shaw: Susan Cooper (b.1950) and Selena Cooper (b. 1960). Both figure prominently in future narratives. These women were the first cousins of Alec and Julius Duarte, whose father, Antonio “Tony” Duarte (b. 1918), took over organized crime and racketeering in Hallmark by the 1940s, filling the gap left by Boston Haverty's defeat at the hands of the Silent Seven.

Tony Duarte was the worst of the worst: a wife-beating pederast/ pimp/ killer. He gladly prostituted Roxanne while he chased young men new to the mob, his favorite being Marco Allegretti, who just happened to be Roxanne's long-time pimp. She tried to escape numerous times before Marco finally plugged her in the street (Paige Street, to be exact) in 1959. Tony told his boys that their mother was mentally disturbed, and had finally committed suicide.

Everything changed in 1965, the year Alec Duarte met the Marchessa. Tony had arranged a major drug deal in Libania. He loved doing business with the Libanians. He sent one of his up-and-comers, a 25 year old errand boy named Reve Raphael the great-grandson of Hallmark co-founder Guillermo Renova. He assigned Alec and Julius, 17 years old, to accompany Reve. Tony also asked Reve to take Reva, his 5 year old daughter. Reve and Alec were filled with dread; was Tony going to sell the girl into “white slavery” or “kiddie porn”? With Tony Duarte nothing was too low. Julius was amused by it all – and sailing on cocaine.

Tony had heard a rumor that there was a place called the Solacium where all four of these youths could be trained into fighting machines for the drug enforcement arm of Tony's Libanian operation. Julius opted out of the training; he was far too fey for much physical exertion. Reve oversaw the operation, and watched helplessly, Julius' gun trained on him, as he handed over his daughter and Alec to the Solacium. When the drug transaction was completed, Reve flipped out about Reva and Julius shot him to death. Julius and Tony's men left Libania, leaving Alec and Reva with the Marchessa. She thought Tony a fool, as she'd never paid him anything; Duarte simply assumed the Marchessa would train the children for a few years til they could take their places as mob enforcers. Julius was happy, feeling he was finally rid of Alec; Alec's feelings were more than mutual.

The woman once called “Marisol” had no intention to prostitute the children or anything else – except the training part. She became a mother figure to the two youths, though Alec hid well his deep-seated sexual desire for his new mentor. Alec, being older, took far quicker to the more rigorous training. In 1971, after Alec has been with the Marchessa for six years, the Marchessa laid out three mandates for Alec to achieve to prove his worthiness to “graduate” from the Solacium. Reva Raphael's fate shall unfold shortly.

V. The Three Mandates

The mandates were odd at first to Alec Duarte. But he soon became excited by the challenge. Here were three opportunities to find catharsis, gain revenge, and right the karma in his own life for the sake of the Marchessa's plans for him. He humbly thanked her, and began planning his take on the mandates. And he wanted her more than ever.

The three mandates were, in order: 1. Draw first blood. 2. Infiltrate and foment chaos. 3. Present yourself before your true peers. These mandates were reminiscent of what Alec had read about the Freemasons and the Knights Templar. Thus he devised a disguise with which he could carry out the mandates.

Late in 1971, Alec Duarte returned to Hallmark. Masked and armed, he broke into Tony's house. Taking out Tony's goons, he made his way to Tony's master bedroom, where Tony and Marco were engaged in some rather bizarre sex acts. Alec slit Marco's throat and smothered Tony with a pillow as he struggled for a gun. He gained the proverbial upper hand, and shot Tony to death through the pillow. Alec took one item from beneath his father's bed and lugged it with him. He calmly, discreetly made his way out the way he came in, just as more of Tony's men arrived. Alec rode away, flooring it just as Hades broke loose at the Duarte stronghold.

Duarte returned to Marchessa. She encouraged him to return to Hallmark, to see what was going on in the streets with people his own age. This disinterested him, but he saw her logic. After the Duarte/ Allegretti killings, Alec waited a good while, continuing his training and using the money in his father's box to buy arms in Libania. He knew he must be well-equipped, even though buying the arms there was something of a contentious conflict of interest for Duarte.

Alec returned to Hallmark in 1973. While hiding out in a dive in nearby Augensburg, Duarte caught a poster advertising a meeting of the Order of Cosmic Emptiness, an obvious takeoff on the Order of Cosmic Awakening. The meeting was to take place in the town of Gossingham, not terribly far from Hallmark. Alec planned to go as a man called simply Cowan. A cowan is an outsider in Masonic and similar traditions. Infiltrating an occult group – pretending to be one of them but actually not – was an amusing irony to Duarte.

Leading the meeting was a cryptic gentleman called Javier. Javier appeared to be a nice fellow – the kind of man a loner like Alec actually wouldn't mind befriending. The absurdist, almost dada, approach to the occult and spirituality empluyed amused Alec beneath his Cowan cowl. No one seemed to find Alec's dress odd; several other attendees wore masks. Towards the end of the meeting, the “special guest” was unveiled – a self-proclaimed sorcerer named Antioch Moldor, flanked by two large bodyguards. Moldor used his time in the spotlight broke out into a rant about the Abstruse, losing Alec completely. And so he took this opportunity to get up, pretend to fall, and as Javier reached out to help him, he used a kung fu move on Javier, flipping him through the air. He pulled a gun, cautioning all to stay back “or you'll all be meeting Abraxas way ahead 'a' schedule!!"

He laughed, backing his way out, as Moldor's guards approached. Alec swiftly shot them both, each in the head (Tony Duarte made sure Alec was a top flight marksman through years handling guns before the fateful mission to Libania). Alec hurled himself down a flight of stairs, knocked out a window, and made it to his car. Only Javier seemed to be following him. There was something about Javier, an energy of some kind, that rattled Alec a bit when he flipped the spokesman for Cosmic Emptiness.

The incident made the sometimes irreverent paper The Flicker Street Dispatch, but not the straight-laced major Hallmark rag The Occidental. As for Cowan, he returned to Libania. He continued his regimen having passed the first two mandates. He was glad to see Reva, who was like a sister to him, still serving the Marchessa. He was not glad to see FOPA thugs ogling the 14 year old when she went to market. The Marchessa said it would be roughly three years before Alec, as the Cowan, was ready to present himself to his peers. 

In mid 1976, Alec returned to Hallmark. He took a room in the poorest section of town and kept a low profile. Occasionally, reporters would pester him for info on his father and family and their criminal activities. Alec deflected skillfully albeit with little patience. Eventually, his minor celebrity eroded, and he was left alone. He landed a job with Zenith Cab and worked as many hours as he could stand. 

He had a brief alcohol-soaked rendezvous with a fellow cabbie, an older Frenchwoman named Renee Pointier that left Renee heartbroken and cynical. She left town, and, as we have seen with the uber-fertile "Flicker Street Family", predictably she was pregnant. Alec had mistreated her and felt badly, but crime was rampant in the parts of town he most frequented and it obsessed him, as his own family was much to blame, in those days especially Julius Duarte and his lover/master Milo Majestyk, who strove to unite organized crime in Hallmark. What happened to that fuckin' Aggregate? Alec thought, not knowing the government had fractured the group. He decided it was time for the third mandate to play out...

VI. 1977

It was a routine meeting for the Aggregate. They recently lost some members (and some friends on another team); some to death, some to coma, some to defection to Orphee deLander's camp. Only seven remained: Shadow Baron, Thomas Ledge, Euphrates Straw, Cedric Lykos, Cotton Suede, Konchuman, and Go Demon, who was himself debating returning to Japan. Suddenly, alarms went off, and the group mobilized. But it was all for naught. “It's just me, man. I ain't a threat to you. I'm Cowan, and I could just be the best thing that ever happened to this not-so-sensational seven”.

To Be Continued...........

Welcome to Flicker Street!

Henry Covert
October 1, 2015

Copyright 2015 George Henry Smathers Jr.

Dedicated to Philip Jose Farmer, my favorite author. RIP.
Special thanx to Jason V Brock. He knows why.

Flicker Street, all characters, images, and story elements are Copyright (c) 2015 George Henry Smathers Jr.

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