Chapter 2: Death by Shadow

Part 1: Search and Rescue 


Nathan Sowell looked outside the window and sighed. He turned towards the in-flight monitor and it indicated that the plane was flying at 30,000 feet close toSouthern Sudan.


He was back from a funeral for his brother, a missionary in Kenya for the Baptist Church. Kenya had become his home and in his will, he asked to be buried on Kenyan soil.


The captain spoke on the loudspeaker: "We are now entering Sudanese airspace en route to Cairo ETA forty five minutes. Our stop there will only be for three hours, after that we will head to London... If you look outside, you will see the river Nile, the longest river in the world, making its way up the Horn of Africa..."


"Up?" Nathan thought to himself. He looked outside again and nodded to himself "You'd think the river flows down southward, but it goes up instead. This planet is screwed up." While looking outside, Nathan thought of how sexy the captain's voice was and wondered if she looked as good as she sounded.


Nathan squinted his eyes as he saw a large shadow loom on the ground. "Damn, I don't have my contacts on." He rummaged through his hand luggage and took out his glasses. He put them on and looked outside. "What the?" Now the shadow was larger. It was like three large circles on a triangle. Sort of like a "Clubs" cards symbol.


The man next to him leaned towards his side and looked out the small oval window. "What's going on? What do you see?"


The lights in the plane flickered. The passengers murmured. Even the air-hostesses looked worried.


The lights went out.


In the cockpit, the co-pilot looked at the pilot in fear: "Captain Waldchen, the backup generator's supposed to come on in case of power failure. It's not. We've lost all control."


They looked at the cockpit gauges and watched as the compass, air speed, horizon gyro, VSI and altimeter spun wildly to and fro.


"Get on the radio and contact the nearest aircraft control terminal, Kent. Tell them we're in an unprecedented technical fault." She commanded as she checked all her instruments but found none in working order.


"The radio's not working either, Captain." Kent D. shook his head.


Waldchen picked up the intercom and pressed on the transmit button. "Hello... DAMN." She replaced the intercom onto its port. Kent stuttered: "C... Captain, doesn't the intercom work on its own batteries?". Waldchen nodded. "It's like we've entered a Sudanese Bermuda Triangle." Kent said.


Waldchen glared at him. "That's not funny." He looked at her straight into her eyes: "Who said I was trying to be funny?".


"If anything happens to the plane, Kent , it's your ass. You're the one who decided to take this abnormal detour." Augusta said angrily. Kent looked at her: "This is not turbulence or a natural occurrence, Augusta . This is paranormal."


Augusta looked at him with questioning eyes, but before she could ask anything, ur ass. happens to the plane, Kent, it'eakthere was a violent crash. An alarm noise started blaring inside the cockpit and the lights came back on.


The Passengers screamed as the plane yawed violently to the right and pitched upwards. The pilot and co-pilot fought with the controls but they wouldn't budge. Someone... Or something else was in control. "This thing's got a mind of its own!" Augusta shouted.


Another alarm sounded and Kent exclaimed: "Fire in the left engine. Oh crap, there was a fire before the lights went back on, as well. In the cargo area..." "Quick, while we still have power, contact the nearest aircraft..." "Control Terminal, I'm on it, Captain."


Everyone in the plane screamed as the plane went into a sudden pitch downwards, so steep that for a moment, you would've thought you had become weightless with the negative G force.


Augusta screamed, not because of the acceleration, but because within one split second, the altitude indicator went down from 2000 meters to 200. And suddenly, it was dark.



The Bronx

New York, NY


Krome grabbed the railing to the dance floor and scanned the faces. He paused for a second as he saw the men and women, some half drunk, some drunk out of their minds, without a care in the world. Doing nothing useful to themselves but drink and dance their young lives away. He could sense that several of the young clubbers were on one drug or another. Probably Ecstasy/Speed; he could tell by their sporadic and uncontrolled hyper spasms. Or maybe that was just the way to dance these days.


As the techno music blared in CityHub 9, Locan walked towards Krome. "Lord, no sign of demons or any other type of shadow matter. Apart from artificially elevated soul frequencies from Class-A drugs, I cannot sense anything out of the ordinary. Unless they know we're here, and are hiding somewhere away from my sense of perception."


Krome looked at Locan and smiled: "Hey Locan. It's Ironic isn't it? This is demon heaven. Even an inexperienced one can possess people here without much trouble."


Locan laughed. "Attach. We prefer to call it "Attaching" to people. Usually we just go in to watch, rarely do anything."


Cristy Ridgway walked towards the two men. Krome: "Ahh... Cristy, what is a nice girl like you doing in a club like this?" Cristy smiled: "Funny you should say that. I was going to ask you the other day if you liked to join me here. I come here on the weekends to wind down, relax and have a Baja Rosa or two. Would you like to try one?" She raised her glass towards him. Krome shook his head: "Sorry dear, I don't drink. Locan on the other hand..." Krome looked at Locan who smiled: "No thanks." He spoke with a fake Jamaican accent. "Back in Montego Bay, we had the best rum in the world. I have seen nothing like that here. You know what they say, if you taste the best, you can't go any less." Cristy nodded and looked at Krome with seducing eyes: "That's what they say about sex on Ecstasy. Krome. Have you ever tried Ecstasy?" Krome shook his head. Cristy: "Wanna?" She asked as she slowly circled the rim of her glass with her finger. Krome looked at her with a frown: "I don't even drink alcohol, what makes you think I'd want to try drugs my dear?" She shrugged: "Your loss."


Arjun Sura walked towards Krome. He had a sense of urgency in his voice. "Krome. Listen to this. It was recorded four hours ago." Krome grabbed the small mini-disc player and plugged the headphones to his ears. He listened to the voice of Augusta and Kent struggling in the plane. He winced and quickly unplugged the headphones as a loud crash sounded and the recording ended. Jonas Rynn and Robert Mackintosh approached as well. "What's going on?" Jonas asked. Cristy stepped back and looked on with cautious eyes, hoping they'd forget she was standing there.


As if he sensed it, Krome took the men aside: "No idea on how Kent is doing?" Krome asked. Arjun shook his head. Krome patted Arjun: "Your team calls for your aid. Go back to your base and take care of the issue guys. I'll tend to this one with Locan." Arjun shook his head: "Negative. I don't think that will be necessary. I just got off the cellphone with Stella. She had received Kent 's Distress Signal and is on her way to the crash site as we speak." Jonas nodded: "That's where she disappeared to. You're right Arjun... She had a good reason alright." Robert looked at Arjun: "She went alone?" Arjun shook his head: "No, she took the initiative to take three of the new members of the Alliance , Jonathan Anders, A.J. and Ace Winstar. The search and rescue operation would be good field training for the new recruits."


Robert looked at Krome with a concerned look: "You do know why we had sent Kent on that flight in the first place, right Krome?". Krome shook his head then thought for a bit. "Wait. Where is the crash site?" "Southern border of Sudan ." Arjun said. Krome frowned: "You sent him off to find the source of the North African shadow disturbance readings that the Tower of Spades had been reporting? Without my permission?" Arjun sighed: "I'm sorry, Herald." "You needed a full briefing before doing something like that. It is a very sensitive mission. Those shadow readings could very much be one of the Clubs Token gone out of control." Krome explained. Cristy smiled and walked away.


She walked up the stairs and stepped into the manager's office. Inside, Mika Wolfgang sat on the Club Manager's chair and behind her stood the hulk Claude Dean. Sieg and Niedrig kept themselves busy with the "Foosball" table. "Hello my dear." Mika said. "Did you find out what that friend of yours wants?" Cristy sat on the table and smiled: "Krome. He's not what he seems. He's more than just a man. Arjun, the leader of this super-hero team had called Krome by the title of 'Herald'." Everyone in the room looked at Cristy with shocked eyes. "A Herald?" Niedrig asked. "That's what Neria is."


"I knew that they were going to send someone after me. And he's hot in my trails too. Good." Mika said. "Go on, Cristy."


"And this team, they're definitely super-beings, like Sieg, Nied, Claude and I. I can feel it. One of the guys looks super smart, another one's built like a martial artist, the big one Locan simply looked like a freak... But ooksuper smart, Claude and I. .end someone after me. s.t you very much." made of thunder, reporting?"t a care in the world. Arjun... His eyes crackled a couple of times, as if he had electricity inside of him... And they were talking about something that might interest you very much."


Mika nodded: "Go on."


"I think your search for the King of Clubs may be over."