Saturday, October 22

Artwork: Dr. Mason and the Absinthe Fairy by @dechanique

Commissioned and drawn at Interventioncon 2011 by Deanna Echanique, the same lady who designed my current icon. If you're not reading her steampunk/fantasy/erotica series La Macchina Bellica, bloody well you should when you get home from work!

Steelhead: Necropolis Now!

I cannot tell you when the plague finally overcame me. It was a seamless transition in my delirium from caring for my single patient to caring for everyone else that would soon succumb. If this contagion is unstoppable, as I feared, we need to establish a graveyard. As is the case for the Haitian variety of zombie, the first one to establish themselves in a cemetery (prime real estate) is called the Baron. And if Patient Zero refuses to take responsibility for leading those he has infected...

"I was the first to call a town meeting in Steelhead, and so shall I be the last! A new dusk arrives for this, our fair city! Now for our agenda!"

The room was quiet save for the echoes of my own ranting. I knew it would soon be standing room only.

"Motion one! The dead shall rise and walk among the living! Resolved! Motion two! The dead shall rise and eat the living! In progress!"

Though my vision was starting to blur sightly, I could see the Founder staring through the window, his arms crossed grimly.

"What's the matter, Old Man?" I shouted. "Why won't you come in? Prior agreements? Oh such a pity! Qlippothic and Ash won't stop me...I can override them! Koen and Amarantis? Let them join me by my side! Where's your precious angel, I wonder? Cowering in his Shanghai tower?"

He gave no response. Still as a statue.

"No matter. Time for a bit of old-fashioned necromancy!"

I lifted the huge tome bound in questionable hide and lowered it with a heavy thump on the podium. Frost grew in delicate lattices across the windows soon after I opened the pages.

"Let me see...ah, there it is. Lichdom!"

My voice strained through the opening syllables, but I could invoke the final request in English.

"Ancient spirits of Evil! Transform this decayed..."

"Floppy Dong!" shouted a voice from the main entrance.

I slammed the book shut immediately. This was not the sort of ritual that tolerated foolish pranks.

"YOU!" I pointed to the short redhead in the airshipman's uniform who stood at the doorway to the meeting hall. "You're not dead yet! Come back later!"

"I'm afraid this can't wait...Doctah Mushtash. We made a pinky-promise, remember? Qlippothic sent me back in time to make sure it comes true."

"What? What pink..." I noticed the glimmer of the steel washer I had neglected to remove. "Oh MINDY! Oh how sweet! You seem to have been cured! A marvelous testament to my medical skills! Now please, go back to your own timeline. Hell, take little Mindy with you before I decide to paradox you out of existence myself!"

She lifted a weapon and aimed it towards me. The glow of the serum chambers were brighter and bluer than my traditional formula, but there was no doubt it was an inoculation pistol. My own pistol!

"Oh I see how this goes!" I climbed over the podium and stared down at her, with the full hunger of the undead rising to the surface. "Didn't I ever tell you that Masons never get happy endings?"

The next moment it felt like an elephant had slapped me on the neck with its trunk, and I fell to the ground writhing. When I came to, it was she who was staring down me. I could not help but notice the washer on a chain around her neck.

"You look better already."

"Did you have to aim for the carotid?"

Sunday, October 16

Steelhead: Quarantine

Bloodwing's eyes glowed like embers, piercing the darkness of this cloud-enshrouded night.

"I would barely call this a pestilence, Seventh Son. The symptoms vary wildly rom one soul to the next. This has all the signs of a curse."

I nodded quietly from behind the Soul Mask that the Founder recovered.

"Any sign of Loki?"

"The scamp who unleashed this havoc? Not yet. Xavael is circling the city to find him."

"But I must..."

"No." Bloodwing drew his blade halfway out of the scabbard. "Stay here with your fellow patient. Putter with your alchemy if you think you can find another clue. Perhaps you can find another ingredient for your precious serum so it will actually work this time. But you shall not infect infect another soul. If I wanted to live in the land of the walking dead I would have stayed in Erebus."

He slammed the door in my face before I could scream at him and dredge up one of his many failures, for which he may very well have cut me down on the spot. I simmered silently in rage at myself for not being careful enough. For refusing to believe that someday a plague would come for which even the famous Mason Reanimation Formula would not protect me from.

There was a single candle casting shadows about the room. Our eyes had grown to bleary to stand any more.

"Doctah Mushtash?" The young girl coughed and whimpered.

I returned to her sie, and used an alcohol-soaked towel to wipe another droplet of black pestilence from her mouth. Her sunken eyes stared balefully back at me.

"Are we dead?"

"I've died several times, child. This isn't death. And it's Dr. Mason, by the way."

She trembled beneath her sheets.

"Mindy. I want you to wear this. It will keep you safe." I removed the skull-like mask from face and placed it over her.

"Doctah Mason? You..look worse than me. Are you sure?"

I couldn't feel my face anymore. I suppose that's a blessing.

"I'm a lot older than I looked, Mindy. That serum I tried on's helped keep me young all these years. But now it's not working. Time is catching up with me."

"I don't want you to die!'

I squeezed her gray, cold hand. My own hand seemed almost as thin as hers at this point.

"I am as scared as you are. But we will make it through this."


"I'm not familiar with...ah...if you insist. Yes. Pinky-swear, then."

"Doctah Mason? What's your first name?"

"It's Darien, Mindy. Darien James Mason."

"Darien...can you keep a secret?"

I nodded. I leaned towards the dresser. Through cracked and shriveled lips a somehow drew enough breath to extinguish the candle.

Tuesday, October 11

Infection: Steelhead

Begin dictation.

Summoned the laboratory where the outbreak was created. Both scientific and mystical tools involved. Took *sneeze* samples, catalogued tomes in area of accident that were still legible. Summoned an imp to neutralize stagnant energies.

Profile compiled from *sneeze* psychic imprints and manifested in aether-hologram:
Patient Zero: Loki Gearhead
Race: Dark Elf
Talents: Spark/Mage
Symptoms: Necrosis, Depression.
Subject is at large and contagious. Spreading rapidly among local *sneeze* Excuse me...scamp population.

Patient: *cough* Mindy
Race: Human
Symptoms: Nausea (black, oily residue), Necrosis
First treatment: Reanimation Serum, maximum dose for height/weight ratio. Momentar *cough* effective, then necrosis resumed.

Second treatment: Healing invocations. No visible effect. *sneeze*

Ordered equipment shipped in from New Babbage Consulate laboratory. *sneeze* No apparent link between this outbreak and previous New Babbage epidemics.

No predatory/carnivorous *cough* behavior reported, but Loki displays cunning in avoiding capture.

Request assistance from all Masons and allies in capt....*coughing fit*

End *wheeze* dictation...