Saturday, October 10, 2015

FLICKER STREET Treatment # 14 - Extrapolations

FLICKER STREET Treatment # 14 – Extrapolations

I. How Sharp...?

It's like a beauty pageant for mystery men”, grumbled Alec Duarte over his drink. “Instead of a baton, some clown'll break out num-chucks”. He laughed as he swilled down his paper-bagged lunch, much to the chagrin of his associates in the Aggregate. He was hoping the membership drive would divert his attention from thinking about Kicia Blessing.

The first prospective member was introduced to the group. He was called Serpent's Tooth and boasted an elaborate partially-scaled out fit that covered his entire head and body. Ledge wanted a piece of him but Straw took the honors. Serpent's Tooth was holding his own against Straw, who, like Ledge and Duarte, was slightly inebriated, which the Shadow Baron was not too thrilled with. Then, before anyone could move, Straw collapsed.

Don't beat a drunk when he's down, Tooth!” cried the ever ill-timed Thomas Ledge. Soon, Cary realized that his first applicant had thrust his fingers into a sensitive nerve cluster on Straw's back which temporarily disabled Euphrates. Ledge wasn't pleased and sprung up to wail on the smaller man. “I could just cry 'Uncle' but I guess that'd be redundant”, said Serpent's Tooth. Then he peeled back his mask to reveal -

Damon Carroll!" spat Ledge. "My brother's foster kid! Hell yeah you can call me uncle. Guys, I helped raise this boy. My brother Clarke and his wife were Damon's foster parents til Damon joined that cult. How's that goin' for you, by the way, kid?”

Damon replied, “It's not a cult. And I just finished college. Now I'm studying to be a chiropractor. Listen, this is secret stuff; can I trust everyone? No offense - “

Straw made his way off the floor and answered. “If you trust Ledge, then you're already half way to making a public service announcement, the way he talks. By comparison, the rest of us are 'loose lips, slink- uh, sink ships. Man what's you do to me? I didn't drink that much.”

We are taking much risk trusting you, Damon-san,” added Konchuman.
You're safe here, Damon”, stated Cary. “Just let us ask the questions for awhile. We have some time before the other applicants arrive so can you tell us more about yourself and why you wish to join?”

The unadulterated truth about Damon Carroll should be laid out at this time. Much of this he relates to the curious seven. At the points where Damon finds it inconvenient or painful to relate events, we will make note but keep the reader clued in.

II. Baphomet

Damon was born in 1956, a Pisces. Biazel was not thrilled about Damon's parentage – that his beloved daughter Velupsa Karollus could engage in an affair with Kong of all men disgusted him, especially when she was still married to Biazel's disciple Smith Fabricand, who was besieged by the Bradcrofts at this time. Smith was killed while Velupsa was pregnant with Kong's child. Biazel made sure for decades that no one, save Velupsa and himself (not even Kong) would know who Damon Karollous' real father was. Biazel took the newborn child from an ailing Velupsa and put him in a foster home, foisting him off as Damon Carroll. Biazel did have plans for the child but it would be years before they came to fruition.

After an unpleasant upbringing in foster care, in which the highly intelligent Damon was hardly challenged (except by a plethora of bullies), he was finally taken in by Clarke and Sadie Ledge in 1965. Damon did so well in public school he was allowed to skip a grade and graduated from high school in 1973. His time with the Ledges was also coming to an end that year (not 1969 as reported elsewhere). The Ledges' marriage was crumbling, as Sadie had learned of Clarke's homosexuality. As soon as Damon graduated, he fled to California, angry at both his foster parents. Sadie died that year, and Clarke in 1974 (as covered elsewhere).

Damon went to college in California for four years and his experiences there were uncanny and are what lead him to becoming Serpent's Tooth. He had been secretly studying the occult for a few years; hence, the contention with his parents. Damon was especially interested in Kabbalah, Kundalini, tantric magic, and alchemy. He attended several meetings of like-minded folk, and, at one, in early 1974, he met a shy androgynous girl who called herself Chrome. She asked him to attend a meeting of her coven, the Order of Cosmic Awakening. Damon got a distinctively bad vibe, and the reigning wizard of the coven was a wizened, gnarled old man with gleaming green eyes. His name was Biazel Karollus and he informed Damon that he was his grandfather but that Velupsa Karollus, Damon's mother, was dead. “But meet your other living relative, Damon – your cousin, Chrome Genet, or as we call Chrome here: Baphomet!”

With that, the cultists tore away Chrome's clothing to reveal her true nature as a hermaphrodite. Biazel went on a tangent about the “third sex” being revered going back to ancient times as beings especially receptive to incredible magickal power. These integrated beings could mate with males or females, but were incapable of parthenogenesis. Damon was rushed by the throng, and though he fought boldly (Clarke had taught him to fight since he'd been beaten in the foster home), the wave of robed disciples buoyed him about and forced him into an elaborate ceremonial room. They pushed Chrome in afterwards. Damon skipped over much of what followed in his account to his prospective teammates. Suffice to say, Damon and “Baphomet” did indeed “mate”, though Damon found it distasteful. But despite that, there was something in hir eyes that softened Damon's heart. She was the aggressor in the affair, yet Damon still saw hir as an innocent of sorts. S/he chanted while making love with Damon, softly, invoking the tantric energies.

After all was said and done, Damon felt defiled and disoriented. Chrome slunk out of the room, tears in hir eyes. Biazel entered and confronted a dressing Damon. “S/he's my daughter Genesse's offspring. Your family. We thought we'd bring you into the fold in a pleasurable way. What do you think boy? I know tantra appeals to you. As a matter of fact, I know everything about you, Damon Carroll. Things even you don't know. Or aren't ready to grasp quite yet. What say you boy? Join the order?

Hey! The boy's ready to crack. Moldor! Come in here. Damon, Antioch Moldor is a lieutenant of mine whose had right good success disrupting Disraeli's more – unh, benign branch of our thaumaturgical tree. Recently had a mix up in Massachusetts with that bastard Javier. Well, you don't know what I'm talking about.... but you will”. Biazel's eyes glistened emerald in the dim light. While the old man spoke in his peculiar accent, Damon had been curling his hand about a flaming brazier behind him. When Moldor approached Carroll, Damon hit the man with the brazier chained loosely to the wall. He wrapped the chain around Moldor's neck and screamed, “I'm leaving! And don't try to follow me. I-I'll kill you.”
Let it be as it may then, boy. Kill me?” he wheezed as he laughed.
Then – him!” screamed Carroll as he jammed the flaming brazier into Moldor's face, scalding him slowly to death. Blood and wax sprayed on Damon's robe, which he doffed as he bolted out the back door. He ran, and ran...

This nightmarish experience, and the abuse he suffered in his youth, mitigated by the solid values espoused by Clarke and Sadie Ledge, made Damon's mind a roiling but fertile petrie dish of possibilities. After college, he sought out Javier of the Order of Cosmic Emptiness in Hallmark. Javier carried on the Order of Gammadion, a “good” order to Biazel's decidedly evil one. No sooner had Damon set foot in Hallmark than Javier found him in his new apartment. Javier, it turned out, was family to Damon – the son of Biazel and a half-human, half-Exodesian woman called Sharima; hence, Damon's uncle.

Javier offered to train Damon unconditionally. Javier was surrounded by dark forces and yearned for filial companionship. Damon agreed, and the two men trained for over a year until Damon abruptly severed their alliance. The crestfallen Javier accused Damon of using him as a stepping stone to train with Cary Bradcroft or even Juniper Thoth (aka Jennifer Roeg, daughter of Gerhardt Vossius/ Kanabal; a left-hand path mage that we'll be dealing with in future volumes).

Damon apologized; he didn't ever mean to use his uncle and told him how thankful he was. But he was, indeed, wishing to train with Bradcroft next. Javier grudgingly gave Damon his blessing. Damon created a masked identity because he wished to move about inconspicuously in Hallmark and continue his chiropractic studies. Bradcroft happily welcomed Damon. He announced that a new member had been found. But the “try-outs” were far from over. There were several more candidates to consider. And the team demanded Cary employ a more diplomatic system of arriving at a decision instead of simply by a sorcerer's fiat. Bradcroft agreed that they would review all of the applicants and vote as a group afterward on who would stay and who would go.

III. Candidates

The next candidate was Lars Poole (b. 1957), the first-born son of Orphee deLander. Poole went by the code name Corona, as he could generate a heat plasma field around himself and, like his father, cause tendrils of energy to emanate from it. He was not nearly as powerful as his father but he could be a great asset. After Corona spoke briefly and nervously to the group, Cary brought in a young man named Stephen Bartholemew aka Myrmidon after a Greek legend. Stephen did not care if his ID was public or not and rarely referred to himself as Myrmidon. Stephen has been discussed briefly in an earlier installment as he was the son of the White Archer, Brandon ver Dorn. He was born in 1959 to Medea Strasser Bartholemew, a former REACT spy who studied under REACT's "superspy" couple Thurston "Tyger" Smythe and Annabelle deVries. When ver Dorn's assignment for REACT ended, he sadly abandoned his identity as Sigmund Bartholemew and his bride. He never knew he had a child and REACT shielded him from that info.

Medea remarried when Stephen was three, but her husband refused to give the child his name, which was Angelo Blatanski. Angelo was an abusive, insufferable idiot by all accounts. He was a very low level mob informant and steelworker at Vossius Metalworks. and took out his frustrations daily on his wife and on Stephen. This nurtured in Stephen a repressed rage that rarely took a firm shape, but when it did it was bloodthirsty. None of this was shared with the Aggregate, at least not then.

Blatanski was allegedly killed by an undercover policeman in 1975, though Stephen's own mother suspected Stephen was the true culprit. He was never even considered as a suspect, but despite it all, Mrs. Blatanski cast out 16 year old Stephen to fend for himself. He was able to work full-time at the Harness & Toffler grocery chain, where he met his best friend - Lars Poole. Lars had encouraged Stephen to apply for the Aggregate, though Stephen was only a self-trained street fighter and marksman. He caught on quickly, and had the benefit of the marvelous ver Dorn genes.

The next applicant was the young martial artist Ko Mei-chan, known in Asia as Ghost Cat. She was born in 1943, the fraternal twin of Archimedes Ko, and spent some time at Feng Qi studying with the late Shun Ti. She was amazingly youthful, looking all of a schoolgirl when she was 32 years old. Her father, Bram Vallard aka the Apparition (and Saturnine and many more) was, of course, the schizoid co-founder of both the Aggregate and the Silent Seven before them. Ghost Cat took part in some training with her nephew Jun-kim Liao, who was being groomed to be a true force of nature in the martial arts world. The team were impressed with the demonstrations of her skills, particularly in a playful match with Konchuman.

IV. Greetings from Gossingham

Supposedly every party has its crashers, and that seemed to be the motivation of the final applicants: a couple, Garnet and Cynosure. Garnet was a gorgeous woman clad head to toe in shades of garnet, her birthstone, replete with duster, blazer, and incredibly long scarf. She looked more like a rock star than a superhero, though in Flicker Street, the two often bleed into and subsume each other. She claimed to be a superior fighter and assassin-for-hire, seduction being her hook to draw in the enemy. She radiated a deadly charisma.

Cynosure also cultivated a baroque rock star image, with part Edwardian dress, part gypsy flamboyance, and a completely made up lavender-painted face and a WWI fighter helmet, goggles and all. He would be labeled “steampunk” in the modern era, no doubt. He was fully color-coordinated with Garnet. His claim was heightened senses – all five honed to superhuman levels. Beyond that, he was a bit of a scrapper and admitted he could really use some “combat training” but mainly just loved playing music (he was toting a gorgeous guitar with him).

Cynosure spoke little, letting his lady friend do most of the talking. Garnet was young but tough; perhaps callous is a better word. She demanded entrance into the group so vehemently that Cotton asked, “Young lady – are we bein' pranked – or what?? Don't waste our time”. Alec grinned broadly at this.

Garnet was born Garnet Pace in Gossingham in 1957. She went to work for a SkullCorp warehouse in 1974. She quickly acclimated herself to the company's set up and advanced quickly. Her seductive persona helped immensely. She first knew Cynosure as Cyrus Parminter, a childhood classmate (and sometime boyfriend) of Garnet's sister Ruby Pace, born, like Cyrus, in 1962. Cyrus dreamt of becoming a rock star since he was a small child and had the innate talent to build towards his dreams. When he was twelve, he began going by a name he created: Convy Lee Sutch, and refused to ever answer to his legal name. He had a troubled relationship with his mother, and became legally emancipated at age 13. He moved in with Ruby and Garnet and their cousin Sam, who shared a trailer park dive. Sam, a journalist, was the closest thing Convy Lee had to a paternal figure in his teens. With Sam's help, Cyrus Parminter legally became Convy Lee Sutch in 1977. Under Garnet's tutelage (and often under her warm body), Sutch created the Cynosure persona and was inducted into a small team of Skull corporate spies. Garnet went way for a time for "training"; she was actually bearing CL's daughter, Sarah Pace (b. 1979), who was soon adopted by a barreb couple who were also extended family to Convy Lee. Thye called her Jynx Parminter. 

It was in this capacity that they applied for membership in the Aggregate. But the assembled throng was not really fooled. There seemed to be more style than substance for sure. When the group voted, Corona, Myrmidon, and Ghost Cat were voted in, bringing the Aggregate's number to a healthy 11. Their latter two hopefuls were rejected. Garnet angrily stormed out. Cynosure trailed behind but paused to make a filial gesture at Stephen, the “devil's horns” or “evil eye”, because he thought Bartholemew seemed cool. Their paths would cross again, and often, as we shall see in future accounts.

And so the Aggregate faced a new and uncertain year. They spent most of their time training; getting in sync with each other; learning each other's peculiar moves and techniques. In our next treatment, we hope to gather together some dangling threads and advance our narrative further than before. But let's clarify some points re: certain organizations in Flicker Street's orbit.

V. 1979: The State of Things

This is as good a time and place as any to iterate the convoluted intrigues of Skull and REACT – who does what exactly and whose side are they on? On the surface the impression given FSO and the Aggregate is there's a simplistic 'good spy (REACT) vs. bad spy (Skull)' cold war scenario. Things are quite a bit more complex than that, as is no doubt evident by now.

SkullCorp began as a vice and racketeering outfit (as 'The Machine') that segued, simply put, into an international conglomerate that deals in entertainment and media. Skull uses money from its overflowing coffers to fund armies in South America and destabilize regimes in foreign countries. Many politicians are where they are due to Skull's largesse, and hence votes for such actions are plentiful. Skull's main base in South America is in Libania, a country with a long history of political and territorial strife. As of 1978, Generalissimo Copron is the ruler of Libania, having performed a military coup partially funded and carried out by REACT at the onset of President Eisenhower's administration. There is constant strife between Libania and neighboring Serafinia. The two have been enemies for centuries, their conflict rooted in religion and the sacred ground of the Ziggurat, on the border between nations. Serafinians are considered savages by Libania, but are not – as rumored – cannibals. The ancient Yashaharo clan, whose villages border Libania to the south, are still cannibals, and live a Stone Age existence to this day.

Libania's ruling military party is FOPA (English translation; in English Freedom Of the People's Army), coincidentally pronounced the same as the French phrase faux pas. They have been espousing socialist values, albeit beneath a militaristic patina, for decades. American and Libania are officially enemies in the cold war, and no trade or embargo between the two exist. They are ruled by President Carter in 1979 as Communist and a terrorist threat. This hasn't made him rule out mending relations if he's re-elected. Serafinia is considered a US ally.

And now, we turn everything we've just learned upside down. In actuality, as mentioned above, Copron gained power under Eisenhower, though Ike was out of the loop of all the CIA and REACT maneuvering. The benefits to this were manifold: Libania is one of the world's richest sources of homegrown illicit drugs; Copron wanted arms to conquer Serafinia and outlying nations such as Enquador; and so a permanent trade was set up in the 1950s. The US, with the knowledge of REACT's upper echelons, purchased massive quantities of drugs for decades while arming FOPA to the proverbial teeth.

So what are the connections between Skull and REACT, who both fund Libanian military aims? In the US' case, the drug supply and the hiring out of FOPA agents for an occasional regime change is the main connection between FOPA and REACT. But Skull also develops highly advanced technology extrapolated from that shared by Omega Ceti I. Libania has bases underground and in the jungle where cutting edge experimentation takes place daily.Through FOPA, Libania (read Skull) began purchasing this alien tech as early as the late 1950s. The pods, regenerators, tellaxes, cybernetics, etc. went full circle into the hands of REACT and used against Libania. Thus both ostensible sides (REACT and Skull) were officially engaged in a cold war. And so we ask again: where does one end and the other begin in this Ouroboros-like construct? Bottom line: our true heroes on the world stage fight against both sides, and struggle to stay above the fray. The Freedom Squadron Ops has succumbed to the charade; the Aggregate has not and likely never will. And this is the status quo in 1979. Much grist for conspiracy theorists indeed.

Welcome to Flicker Street!

Henry Covert
October 10, 2015

Dedicated to the editors that gave me a chance: Michael Huegen, Samir Shukla, Scott Homewood, Steve Puchalski, Sam Gaines, Dave Yount, Allen Freeman, Shawnti Therrien, Jason V Brock, Win Scott Eckert, Dennis E Power, Michael Croteau, John Donald Carlucci,... and Sarah L Covert.

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

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