Sunday, February 28

thus endeth the lesson

"Common issues with the reanimation serum involve dosage difficulties with repeated use, and theoretical damage to the cerebellum," continued Frau Lowey with a twinge of nervousness in her voice.

Midway through the introduction the surroundings began to blur and gently twist. Voices started to echo and distort. Bloodwing glanced down at the student version of Darien, his head sinking towards the desk. A flick of his hand to the back of the youth's head as he muttered "Pay attention, Brat!" made him sit up straight in his desk, clarifying the scene again. The headmistress pointed to the aethernaut's backpack as gloves fumbled behind him to seal a jet of escaping oxygen. The clear glassteel tube began to collect droplets of familiar green inside.

The Founder nodded quietly at the descriptions of deadly levels of radiation and nergative pressure, combined with the chemistry of reanimation serum. while sifting through the connections, trying to find a link to Ash or Gematria.

A girl sitting in the front raised her hand, to which the headmistress nodded.

"So Doctor Mason is now a walking reanimation serum factory?"

"Yes, very well put, Miss Corryong!"

That much the demon understood. An apparent serendipity cascading into catastrophe. He nudged the young Darien again with his wing, and the boy raised his hand.

"So if he can't die from an overdose of the serum that won't let him die, what will happen after complete insanity?"

"Well, continual overproduction of serum compounded by radiation levels will result in an exponentially expanding level of mutation..."

The aethernaut's back was still to the class, but they could hear his faceplate shatter.

"...will lead to the final Pandoran phase."

The children screamed and bolted for the exits as a tentacle stretched through the faceplate and climbed towards the ceiling. Why was he sensing fear from the headmistress as a random array of misshapen limbs ripped their way out of the aethersuit? His crimson eyes saw terror in her gaze as she stood in place. A tentacle brushed against her ankle.

"You brought her spirit here as well? STOP THIS!" He waved his arms at the entity he knew surrounded him. "CLASS DISMISSED!"

Frau Lowey vanished, and everything else in the room buckled and fell in upon itself like a crumpled blueprint, until he was again floating in the silver void.

"Darien, a Pandorus...loose in the Steamlands." He shut his eyes again in the silence. "It will absorb everything in its path." He shook his head and sighed. "What now, Spark of Darien? What is left that we can do?"

He felt a hand reach around his wrist. He opened his eyes and found himself in operating theatre of Caledon Regency Hospital. The smell of chemicals mingled with the cloying stench of charred flesh. Lying on the operating table before him was an image of himself, skin seared black from radiation. Rubber tubing hanging from standing vials of reanimation fluid were jammed into him haphazardly where a vessel could be found intact, The shriveled wings under the patient were ready to fall off on their own. bandages tied around the victim's forehead bled through where the rotted horns were sawed away. Even though the dying demon's face was covered by the Soul Mask, Bloodwing winced at the memory of what lay beneath.

"Darien," the patient whispered in a gravelly voice. "Please. End this."

Bloodwing looked away from his destroyed double. His folded his wings and shuddered as the hand released its grip. With dread in his heart, he opened his eyes again. The void was growing dim as the poison outside the Spark reached higher saturation.

"I understand."

Far below him, Bloodwing saw through parting clouds of nightmares a flashing red epicenter in the mindscape. With a snap of his wings, he dove through one of the clouds. The hive of creatures inside parted a tunnel for him as he descended, their myriad eyes staring back at him as he passed with alien visages of hope and sorrow.

Wednesday, February 24

take your new-fangled this and your new-fangled that

"OVER THE TOP!" cried the image of a uniformed Hotspur O'Toole from inside a nearby neuron as Bloodwing tried to batter his way into the great glowing orb that was Darien's Spark. Tentacles of reanimation serum tried to ooze over him as he swatted the tendrils into droplets that slowly coalesced back into a steadily increasing mass.

While he had been transfixed by the workings of the Spark on many occasions, Bloodwing had ever entered this forbidden zone of Darien's mind. While occasionally he could reason with it from the outside, it was the one area he could never penetrate. "Let me in!" roared the demon. "You know damn well who this is! You sent for me!" Instantly, he was absorbed into the light.

He found himself floating in a silver orb. Looking up from where he was pulled through, he could see shadows shifting and growing on the outside of the barrier. Equations and diagrams swam past him like schools of fish. An brass automaton that resembled a great moray eel lined with shining lenses for spots circles itself several times around him as if ready to tighten and crush him. Lights from the beast danced in lines around the demon's pale form, following the trace of every mark on his skin, every ridge of his horns, his crimson hair that billowed behind him, and the striking colors upon his face.

"I am not simply a memory. I am indeed the Founder in spirit form. I entered Darien's mind in sleep, and found myself trapped by his precious poison."

The eel dispersed into a cloud of wires and brass and lenses, reforming into a human shape. While it kept the same color, two lenses adorned the face, very nearly matching in size, but not quite. The wires grew into hair, most notable a handlebar mustache.

"Yes, we have been rivals in this mind for decades. But we are all in danger. Tell me how this happened. I cannot believe he would be so careless as to overdose..."

The figure waved its arms like an overly excited lecturer from the podium, its constituent parts jangling like the contents of a tinkerer's box falling off the carriage and down the ravine. A cloud of small orbs gathered behind it, making a mad choreographed dance to the tunes of protons, electrons, rings of molecular chains and double-helices.

The demon closed his eyes and held his head in frustration. "I do not have a damned sheepskin on my wall from performing years of practical jokes with cadavers at Miskatonic! Condense and simplify!"

When he opened his eyes, he found himself in a classroom. He stood in the center aisle, with a dozen desks manned by children to either side, their heads facing forwards for the most part and all apparently oblivious to the sudden presence of a former demon-prince in their midst.

"Now class, I have a special presentation for you," chirped a bespectacled Frau Lowey, standing in front of the room. She gestured towards the medical table with her pointer. The shrouded shape on the table slowly shifted as she spoke.

"Today we are going to discuss the dangers of critical overdose of reanimation fluid. Please welcome Doctor Darien James Mason to the class."

"Hello Doctor Mason!" their voices raised in unison as Frau Lowey pulled back the sheet to reveal an aether suit floating a yard over the table. As the limbs flailed helplessly, the suit gently spun on its side. Through the glass of the faceplate the demon could make out Darien screaming in self-contained silence.

Saturday, February 20

these thoughts I try to hide

Bloodwing banked and dove through the maze of glistening neurons that rippled with electrical energy, illuminating his way like the full moon reflected on turbulent seas. A glint of jade caught his eye, and froze to hover as the droplet of reanimation fluid the size of his head floated closer.

A gout of flame erupted in the demon's right hand , and he drove his fist through globule, which quickly sizzled and evaporated into nothing. An image of his Seventh Son in laboratory green coalesced inside a nearby neuron.

"You fool! I needed that!"

"You certainly don't," retorted the Founder scornfully. "You've become addicted to your own drug, little cell, and it's destroying this entire brain. Death shall surely follow." The goggled and mustachioed face blinked out without a response."

"Gospodin Bloodwing?" The Founder floated upwards to gaze into a neuron with a memory a lengthy discussion with Baron Wulfenbach.

"Yes, Baron?"

"I've received reports from the medulla. The reanimation serum has found Darien's Spark. We haven't much..." The Baron's image blurred as it's energy was stolen by a neighboring neuron, which projected the image of father figure that Darien despised, cackling maniacally from his throne in New Erebus."

"Yes, Bloodwing! The culmination of my research has lead to your final entrap..."

Bloodwing did not have time to listen to a montage of the Sixth Son's rantings. Diving through to where the emerald aura permeated nearly every cell, he saw a burning star nearly eclipsed by a thick undulating mass of green. The Founder lowered his wings as his angry visage turned to dread. And still, he snapped his wings for a burst of speed as he dove through the morass and into the burning source of Darien's madness.

Monday, February 15

Let's do this...Anime Style!

A handsome resemblance to my person done by Miss Deanna Echanique, an artist I had the pleasure to meet at the recent Katsucon.

Hmmm...some chapters of the Histories would make for an excellent webcomic, don't you think?

While I'm at it, let me answer those formspring questions one of you sent me:

• If you had access to a time machine, where and when would be the first place you travel to?

I'd go back to just before a certain tragic point in my own history and knock that bottle of absinthe out of my hand.

• Who would win in a fight: pirates or ninjas?

At sea: Pirates. On land: Ninjas.

• If your house was on fire and you could only grab three things, what would they be?

I have three trunks full of equipment, personal items, and secret formulae for just such an event. You never know when your lab is going to catch fire when you're in my line of work.

Wednesday, February 10

I bare my heart for all to see the wonders I've seen

Thank you so much for the Valentines. Your devotions sustain me through the most difficult chapters of my journals. Know that even as I spend days on end never turning my eyes away from these machines, it is for you, my family and friends, that bring me back to share these discoveries and accomplishments, and yes, failures...all the fruits of my labors.

Your faith in me shall not go to waste. We come from strong stock indeed. Yes...very soon we will Show Them All.

Friday, February 5

Gloom and Hope

I read the Steelhead papers with much sadness. Creaky Gloom has found his way to Steelhead and claimed the life of at least one child. I watch my daughter Wren play with her pet rabbit and wonder...

Could I use her as bait to catch the sluagh? She's proven herself to be fearless. Hide a weapon in her The glow of her gaslamp heart will give her away. To say nothing of the fact that she's half made of iron.

Daughters...yes...that would solve this equation, wouldn't it? Power source...OF COURSE! POWER SOURCE! This will change everything...this will change...EVERYTHING!!!!