Excerpt from Dante’s chat logs
Jtime267: hey myrtle hows this economy treating you?
HealthyComet: Who is this?
Jtime267: couple years back your club helped me talk into a rock
HealthyComet: Oh, you. If you need to help again, I’m sure you have a number for the other Alchemists by now.
Jtime267: nah, its you i want i assume your bakery could be doing better what if i told you i know a place in port nadine where you could set up shop for no rent
HealthyComet: What’s the catch?
Jtime267: you give us intel on supernatural stuff
HealthyComet: I’m listening.
The team meeting was held on the roof of the shop. October and Clint both arrived as agreed, but Adam was surprised to see a woman he did not know sitting next to Dante and Gladys.
“Ah, hello. Who is this?”
“This is Myrtle,” said Dante. “She’s a baker I know from out west. She’s agreed to come help us fight against evil and all that.”
“Well,” said Myrtle, “That’s my day job. But I also part of an occult group, we were–”
Adam held up a hand and smiled. “Do you have any good recipes using honey?”
On the roof of the former souvenir shop, Adam sat by his hive. Bees came and went. Adam’s five larger allies were gathered around him.
Downstairs, a figure in a long coat came through the damaged wall, made its way across the room, and rummaged through a desk.
Back above, the assembly introduced one another and discussed what each felt they had to offer the team, as well as what their ultimate goals were.
Below, the figure, now carrying a pair of items, headed to the stairs with a shuffling gait.
The door to the roof creaked as it opened.
The strange figure in the long coat pushed the door and stepped out onto the roof.
It was immediately apparent that it was not human.
It walked as if it were a satire of bipedal locomotion. A leg, or some kind of naked sinewy and scaled limb, protruded from the coat, probed ahead, and found a place to set down. The tip of the serpentine limb coiled onto the roof and supported the weight of the rest of the figure as it swayed forward to repeat the process.
From the top of the coat protruded the head of a snake.
Clint got to his feet, ready to fight, joining Dante and Gladys who had been quicker.
“Wait,” said Adam, stepping between his allies and the oncoming strange figure.
The figure’s long coat opened enough for Adam to see the wearer. He saw a coiled mass of snakes, writhing in such a manner as to emulate the motion of a single entity. What Adam had taken for its legs were actually strong tails.
A sleeve rose, pointed forward, a snake head poked out and dropped a note into Adam’s hand.
Adam read the words on the note: “I am Nineteen Snakes.”
“Hello,” Adam said to the Snakes. “What brings you here today?”
One snake, holding a pen in its mouth, moved over a notepad held by another snake. It presented a roughly scrawled message to Adam.
Adam showed the message to the others. “To Help,” it said.
“Huh. This is weirder than usual,” said Gladys.
“We are in need of help,” said Adam. “I think we should accept it in whatever form we find it.” He gestured to the group, “Join us, Nineteen Snakes. And if there are no further surprises this morning–”
And then a barrage of smoke grenades began.
Adam recognized the grenades and hesitated. Made from wax, they shattered onto the roof and smoke billowed forth.
The human members of the team doubled over, choking, breathless. The mass of snakes fell over, separated, and slithered out of their coat into various directions.
Then only Gladys was still standing. The false skin of her left hand melted as she closed a fist that crackled with electricity. She heard someone in the smoke and punched blindly, hitting nothing. Before she could react further, someone knocked her down.
A voice boomed from above, “Adam Obianu. It is time you returned home.”
A dozen Beekeepers surrounded Adam and his team.
“I have no interest in returning,” said Adam. “This is my home now.”
One Beekeeper stepped forward. “You have made deadly mistakes already. Let us prevent you making more. We can’t have a rogue Beekeeper loose in the world.”
“You had a chance to lead me. I came to you all for help.”
“You wanted our help to wage a war.”
“You could have stopped me! You could have guided me to productive ends! Instead, you treated me like a child.”
“You are a child. And we’re guiding you now. Come home.”
Another Beekeeper confronted Adam. “Do you think this is what my son would have wanted? Or Aaron? More violence? Would either of them have wanted you starting wars in their name?”
“Have I been unclear?” Adam said, “I am done with wars. This team is not an army. We will not fight unless necessary. We will prevent deaths like Isaac’s and Aaron’s. We will make this world better.”
“So naive. Once one of your new friends gets injured, you’ll get angry and strike out again.”
Then Dante kicked her in the face saying, “These new friends can strike by themselves.”
Through his ‘fancy killing’ mask, Dante said, “I’m afraid the store isn’t open today, dickholes.” While pulling on a glove, he jumped and kicked the Beekeeper who had Gladys pinned.
In a single motion Gladys jumped back to her feet and hit the same Beekeeper. “Yeah. Come back after we’re done renovating. We’ll have a Grand Opening sale.”
The assassin and the robot stood side by side, his gloves extending into claws and her left fist sparking.
A single Beekeepers stepped forward.
The assassin and the robot lashed out. The Beekeeper fell.
Eleven Beekeepers remained standing. They took combat stances.