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On Holy Ground


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(Continuing from Collecting a Debt)

The drive from the Boardwalk to Lantern Hill didn't take long though it felt like it. Neither of the two occupants of the car talked to each other preferring to remain locked in their own thoughts. The present circumstance that brought the two together was not welcomed.

Sammy, also known as The Ghost, stared out of the window as the scene changed. His mind was wrapped around the job that was placed before them. He turned slightly to regard the driver, his companion on this particular job. They had worked before but that was what had gotten them into this mess.

The man driving wasn't really a man, at least that's how Sammy understood the situation. In realtiy, it was a demon that had possessed the body of a human. In his present form, he went as Jos, but when in his work clothes, was known as Belphegor. Together, they tried to rob one of the Casinos in Boardwalk, the Golden Calf, but the job went horribly wrong.

Now they were travelling to Lantern Hill in search of a George Kapetelis to retrieve a coin. Overkill for the two of them if it was a simple coin. Obviously, something about the coin made their particular skills highly useful.

Sammy turned back to watching the road and quickly sat up. "Hey, is that it?"

Just up a road stood a large house, well back from the main road. The house was white with a large wall surrounding it. The house itself actually was more like a mansion than a simple house. Not many people wanted to live in Lantern Hill due to the large cemetary in the area which allowed those brave enough to live near the dead, plenty of room to build thier homes. George Kapetelis was just a one.

"Big place. With a wall like that, he must be hiding something."

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"The bigger the wall, the bigger the treasure," Jos said as he drove past the house.

If not for you, I'd just fly over, break in and take it... but, in hindsight, that sort of thinking is what got me into this very situation, so I'll let you call the shots. For now.

"So, how do you want to do this?," he asked. "Park far away, sneak up under cover of darkness, and break in? Or pull right up in the driveway and introduce ourselves as animal control responding to reports of a rabid creature, then subdue him and force him to tell us where the coin is?"

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Sammy thought about the options before them. "I tend to like to check a place out before I hit it. Even if for a short time. See what kind of security there is on the place."

Sammy pointed at the wall. "See there and there? That makes five cameras on this side alone. Who knows what other security measures he has in place."

'If it was just me, I could easily get by those. They wouldn'T even notice my presence. Probablly everything else in this place would simply ignore me. Can't simply walk in like I normally would with Jos here.'

"Let's find a place to hide the car and come back to get a better look at the place."

It doesn'T take long for Jos to find a location that was perfect for hiding the car. Together, the two moved back towards the house and its wall to get a better look of what they were up against.

As they moved closer, Jos could feel the hair on the back of his arms being to rise in a very uncomfortable way. The two villains found a clumb of bushes that afforded them a clear view of the wall, the entrance and part of the western edge of the building. Still about 100 ft from the wall, the two take their time to watch the area.

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Now closer to the wall, Sammy catches a glimpse of light refelcting upon the wall. "Hey, Jos, what do you make of that? Did you catch that light? It looks like runes written on the wall. Any idea what they say?"

Sammy points out the area where he noticed the markings on the wall. Even with Sammy's help pointing them out, it takes Belphegor some time to pick them out. Unfortuantely, they are still too far away to make any clear sense out of.

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Hunh, he is good, I probably would've missed all of those cameras. Maybe this team-up is a good idea.

Jos was quiet as they approached the house and studied the wall. He did study them, mostly, but also gave his partner a look over, trying to assess how Sammy handled himself on the job.

When they moved, and Sammy pointed out the 'glinting runes' he spied, Jos tried to take a look but could not even make them out. "Pft, with these weak human eyes? It's a wonder you've managed to survive the nights as long as you have."

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Sammy looked at his companion and smiled. "It takes a lot of luck and the blessing of the Lady of Fortune to keep me out of trouble, Jos. I think there's a blind spot over there near the third and fourth cameras. We should be able to sneak up to the wall and get a better look at those runes. Think you can get up there without being seen?"

Sammy turned to observe the wall again.

'There's nobody manning the wall which for us is a good thing. The main gate seems to have an intercom to get it opened from the inside. We still don't know what kind of security's in place once we breech the wall, though. This is looking more and more like a straight frontal assualt than a quiet entrance.'

Sammy pointed at the gate. "Looks like the main gate is unmanned, Jos. That means at least on this side of the wall, those cameras mean little to me. The problem comes as to not knowing what lies on the other side of the wall. If he's got normal eyes there, it makes things more difficult for us. I'm thinking the frontal approach would work best. Bluffing our way into the compound would save us a lot of time and effort, but I want to see what those runes are all about first."

With that said, Sammy slipped out into the open towards the wall. His movement wasn't the best, but everytime he stepped on a twig a bird called out to help cover the sound. Luck wsa just on his side.

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Belphegor easily reaches the wall where he can get a better look at the runes. The mystical writting was slightly familiar to the demon as a ward against magical intrusions. Luckily, it would do little tokeep Belphegor out as his method of entering of places had nothing magical about it. The warding surrounded the ground so its protections would include the house itself as well.

Also closer to the wall, Belphegor realizes that the area had been blessed. The stench of holy ground floated over the wall and tickled his nose. It was clear that once they crossed that wall, life would be difficult for the demon.

Sammy watched Jos proceed over to the wall and he raised his eye in appreciation of his skill. 'Not bad. Not bad at all. I figured he would be as loud as a bull pushing his way around, but he actually has some skills.'

"Not bad, Jos," Sammy whispered as his companion reached him. "Now can you make out what these runes are all about?"

Sammy placed his hand on the wall, tracing the runes wondering what they were for. They were different than any that he's seen before but everytime he has seen runes etched somewhere, they boded baddly for him.

'Lady Fortune, I hope you watching over me today. I think I'll need your help quite a bit before this job is finished!'

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Ghost's keen ears easily heard Jos approach the blind spot, though it seemed no one and nothing else did.

I still have no idea what these- whoa. I do know what these are!

Jos stoked his chin with his left hand as he examined the runes, tilting his head this way and that, then finally spoke. "I do believe they are 'Screw You' Runes. Specifically, they ward against mystical intrusions, such as teleportation or certain forms of intangibility. Good for keeping ghosts out...."

He smirked when he realized the pun he'd made. Then his smirk turned into a sneer.

"And it is not just this wall: the protection extends to everything enclosed within it, which means we would be equally limited within the house as well. And as if that were not enough, Kapetelis somehow arranged for the entire grounds to be hallowed. Not enough to cause me damage while on it -- there are some advantages of wearing you mortals like a suit -- but enough that combat shall be more... intense for me."

I've never had knowledge like that pop into my head before. How did that happen? Is the demon that was fused to me trying to enhance my mind as well as my body? Dammit, this is a fine time for something like this to pop up, I need to be focusing on the tasks at hand!

Terhune spat to one side, "if not for this geas, I would be asking for hazard pay."

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Sammy smiled at teh words, "You and me both."

Still, the ever skilled B&E man looked back at the wall wondering how the information had limited their actions. 'Well, there goes any walking in and grabbing what I want. This is going to have to be the hard way I guess.'

"So Jos, you feel like climbing over the wall? Either that or simply going through the front gate. There's still a good chance that we'll get picked up once we cross this wall, but It might allow us some working room."

Sammy rubbed his chin in thought. "Let's try the bluff at the gate. You're pretty convincing, aren't you? Say we're here to do some work on plumbing or something. Also, how long does it take for you to switch over into combat readiness? I don't want us caught unprepared but would like to keep our profile as low keyed as possible."

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"Well... the thought occurs that we could split up, you go over the all here and sneak around the back, I go through the front and bluff my way in. We could meet in the mid-" He cut himself off, "wait, no, that will not work: we have no way to easily contact each other."

He fumbled through his pockets for a bit, and pulled out a cell phone. It was red.

"No guarantee how strong a signal we will get out here, or if there is some sort of jammer in there."

I really do need to find some way to expand my more mystical abilities. Especially since so many heroes here outclass me physically.

Terhune rolled his head around, cracking his neck, "probably best if we both go in. Say we are... well, not plumbers, that's a bit too cliched, but..." he paused, looking over Ghost and himself, trying to think what bluff would work best given how they were currently dressed, "well, lost tourists is the only thing coming to mind. Say e got separated form our tour group, we have been wandering for hours, ask to use a phone and restroom."

He stretched again, "oh, and it does not take long for me to shed this skin-suit. Though long enough, unfortunately, that I could be caught unawares midway through."

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Sammy thought about the tourist ploy and nodded his head in agreement. "Sounds like it could work. Let's get back to the car. We'll make sure to erase any tapes of our arrival after we're done." Sammy said with a smile upon his face.

He gestured towards the front gate, indicating Jos should proceed him.

The two quickly made their way back tot he road, safely avoiding detection by the cameras on the wall and prepared themseleves for entering through the main gate. Jos, still in the lead, turned and headed up the driveway to the main gate where an intercom was located. A camera was aimed at the area as well, there didn't seem to be any guards present.

Pushing the button, the scracthy voice of a board security guard somewhere in the main house came out.

"Yes? Can I help you?"

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Alright, time to see if my high school theater arts classes paid off.

"Yes, hello, good evening" Jos said in a very thick Dutch accent*, "we are lost, and we are hoping you can help us. We were with a tour group that was going through some of the older settlements of Freedom, and got separated from our group. We have been wandering for many hours, my friend and I, and were hoping we could use your phone to call the tour coordinator to help us out of here. We hate to be a bother, but our cell phones do not get good reception out in this area. Also, we would very much appreciate it if you would be so kind as to let us use your restroom. Please, can you help us?"

* I don't know what a heavy Dutch accent sounds like, and I torture enough people with my fake-German as Dr. Archeville, so I'm just typing this straight.

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"Hang on a second," came the bored voice on the other end of the intercom. After a while, the voice came back on.

"Okay. Come up to the house and you can use the phone. But stay on the path. If you go off the path, you'll set off the security alarms."

The gate swung open on motorized gears, opening the way to the house. Just beyond the gate, the two villians could see a wide path that led directly to the house. Small bushes lined both sides of the path, acting much like a barrier to the bright green grass beyond.

With just a short look between them, the two moved up the path to the large house. Now beyond the runed etched wall, the two can get a better look at the house. The house was large, with about three visible levels to it. A garage that is connected to the house sits on the east side of the building. A fountain with water shooting in the air sat in the center of a roundabout that marked the end of the path. The fountain consisted of baby angels shooting water from the end of bows.

Three steps led up to the front door which opened slowly to reveal a man dressed in a security guard's uniform. He looked slightly surprised to see a second man with Jos.

Sammy walked next to Jos, his eyes searching the area beyond the path for any signs of the security system that was in place. Though he looked hard he couldn't make out any telltale signs of hidden sensors or additional cameras.

'I wonder if he was just bluffing about the security system out here. I don'T see anything.'

Not wanting to keep his companion in the dark, he whispered his lack of findings. "I don't see anything out here that could a part of this security system, but that doesn't mean it isn't out there. So, until we can get into the house and the main security office, it might be better to stay off the grass."

As the two approached the fountain, Sammy took a look at the fountain for a moment trying to place the design but nothing really came to mind. "Looks like this guy is into cupid. Why in the world would he want a bunch of them in his driveway has got me."

When the door opened, Sammy turned to keep his eyes on what was coming. The surprised look on the guard's face reminded Sammy of his own particular luck.

'Oh damn! I forgot he wouldn't see me at the gate through the cameras!' Sammy looked at Jos, hoping the demon would be quick enough to settle the guard's suspicion.

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Seeing Jos' nonreactive self, Sammy nudgeed him in the side with his elbow. Sammy quickly followed the nudge with a nod of his head towards the security guard indicating that he should continue with the ruse.

'Once we get inside, we can over power this guy and find the main security room. That should help us out a lot,' Sammy smiled dumbly at the security guard, trying to keep up the ruse that he didn't speak English.

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So far, so good.

"I do not see any security system," Jos whispered to Sammy, "but as I said, you mortals have such poor eyes. I can discern, though, that those," he nodded towards the fountain, "are not Cupids, but are in fact a somewhat obscure representation of the Angel of Death. Which makes their placement around that fountain a bit odd, since water is traditionally associated with life."

When the door opened and the somewhat confused guard peered out, Jos was already on him with the fast-talk. "Ah, kind sir, thank you again for letting my friend and I use your phone so that we may get ourselves out from this predicament. Also, my friend does have a very mighty need to use a restroom, so if you could to direct him, please, yes? Thank you!"

Shame I can't send Sammy a telepathic message to do a 'I Must Go Wee!' dance, it might help the act. Right, we overpower this guy, then find the main security room... wherever that is.

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  • 2 weeks later...

Sammy looked at Jos, and began to fidget slightly. 'I hope this guy doesn't realize what's going on!'

Sammy turned his gaze upon the giard and gave a weak smile. He placed his hands in the universal sign of bathroom time as he hopped from foot to foot.

The guard watched the fidgeting man for a while before making a quick gesture for the two to enter. "Come on in. Make it quick. My boss doesn't like having visitors in the house."

Both Jos and Sammy followed the man into the main foyer. The house was just as impressive on the inside as it was on the outside. A large spiral staircase that led up to the higher levels was the main feature before them. To the left, a doorway led to what must be teh main living room area for guests. To the right, there was a small door partially ajar with security written upon it. Jos could just make out a monitor inside of the room.

The guard point beyond the security room to another small door on the right. "That's the bathroom. You can go in there." Without waiting, he led Jos over to a telephone position near the secuirty room. "Here's the phone to make your call. Make it quick."

The guard stood with his back to the security room where he could keep an eye on both the bathroom as well as Jos as he made his call.

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"Thank you very much, kind sir," Jos continued babbling as he picked up the phone. "I had heard so much about American hospitality, and I am glad to to see that the stories my university roommate told me are true. I think you would like him, he was a large man like you. I will never forget the first time we met; he was in a band, on electric guitar, and his very first words to me were-"

Suddenly, the slender, narrow-faced, mousy-haired man in his mid-30s was not there, instead replaced by a hulking, bat-winged, red-scaled demon. Who had a ball of dark fire in his taloned hands, which was quickly growing.


The hellfireball was thrown (accompanied by the demon actually roaring "boom"), and suddenly the guard was no longer there.

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Sammy saw teh sudden change and quick reaction of the demon and frowned. "You could have tried doing that a lot quieter, you know. There's no telling how many security guards on the premisies. Now, only a fool wouldn't ahve heard that boom."

Sammy carefully walked around the spot that marked the guard and walked into the security room.

The security room was relatively small compared to the size of the grounds but there were a number of monitors that showed scenes from various areas of the compound. Each screen flipped through another of different of angles, each monitor obviously hosting a number of cameras.

Sammy frowned as he tried to identify the system. Eight different monitors rotated through various camera angles. "Hey. Looks like there's quite an extensive security system in place."

Sammy pointed to two of the eight screens as he explained what he could understand of the system. "These two are for the gate and outside of the compound. We'll need to find the recording device and disable it to make sure that our approach isn't on here. Well, your approach that is. I doubt that I'll show up on any of the footage, but better to be safe than sorry."

He pointed to another monitor, "This one must be of the first floor and entrance. I recognize the fountain as well as the lobby. I didn't think there was one inside like this, but I should have expected it. These others must each be a floor or areas of the building.."

Sammy stopped in his explination as one of the monitors showed a group of men in a room, locking ablocking a door. He quickly counted three men with the same clothing as the recently departed security guard and two men that seemed to be directing them. Though there was no sound coming from the monitor, it was clear that the two men were obviously better trained than other three men. Before more of the area could be learned, the screen changed to another part of the building.

"Great. We've got three peons and two guys that look as if they know what they're doing. We're not going to be getting the drop on that bunch now."

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"Bah! We don't need surprise, we have the very powers of Hell itself with us!," he boasted. "And... whatever it is you can do."

He flexed his taloned hands, and dark flame again erupted from them; he was clearly eager to inflict some damage.

"So, mortal, do we hole up here, or move on, try to catch them before they're fully prepared?"

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Ghost takes a moment to look at teh demon in its true form, the talons sending a slight shiver through his body.

"No, I plan on going right to them. I would get there pretty fast too if the place wasn't warded against me. Just give me a moment."

The Ghost turns his attention back to the monitors, trying to get a quick understanding of where the room might be. As he worked, he made sure that the system wouldn't monitor their progress. He smiles once he gets the information he was looking for.

"Looks like they're in a sub basement. I think I can get us to the elevator fairly quickly."

The Ghost stood and moved out of the room leading the way to hidden elevator behind the large stairs.

"The doors look to open into a short corridor that leads directly to that room they were setting up. So, expect trouble as soon as we enter." Ghost said as the two rode the elevator down to the sub levels.

He moved to the side so that the doors could open without him in the center.

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Yes! Time to work out some aggression!

The demon's fanged muzzle broke into something approximating a smile, "Fine by me!"

As the demons stomped towards the elevator, the dark flames in its taloned hands flared up, then was sucked back into his body. He now practically glowed with an inner light, and Ghost could almost make out parts of its skeleton from the internalized hellfire.

"I can take out the peons easily enough, if you want to start in on the leaders," he added, almost as an afterthought.

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  • 1 month later...

The Ghost looked at the glowing demon a smirk on his face. "Of course, leave the leaders for me. I'm not much of a combatant, Bel, but I'll do the best that I can."

The Ghost made a slient prayer to the Lady of Fortune as he moved against the edge to avoid fire. 'Lady watch over your follower. I'm going to need all the luck you can send my way.'

The elevator reached the bottom level and a ring went out signalling its arrival. As the doors opened, the corridor is filled with lead. Belphegor is hit once but Ghost catches two shots.

The first shot that hits ghost, his miraculous luck manages to divert the bullet but the second one manages to reach through. At the last moment, Ghost is able to shift just enough to allow the bullet to graze him.

The two leaders safely behind their three charges, fires as well. One at Belphegor the other at Ghost. Belphegor is hit easily and is surprised as the bullet goes through his toughened skin quite easily. Ghost shares the same faith as he is also hit and the bullet draws blood.

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The ghost grunted as the bullets wounded him. He didn'T like being in a frontal assualt situation against these odds. Normally, he would simply slip through the walls and avoid the fight altogether but that wasn'T possible here. He had to fight and hoped that Belphegor could even the odds quickly.

'I really am lucky to only to have been grazed twice. That could have been a lot worse!'

The Ghost waited to see Belphegor act before he did what he could against the leaders.

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The ghost's eyes widen when he saw the demon stagger from the blow. 'Great! With him trying to catch his wind, we're going to get toasted! I've got to do something.'

The Ghost looked at the group and focused his powers upon them. The furious round of fire coming form the men sent casings flying about the corridor. Some of those casings hit the lights above. The damage normally would be miniscule but this time, it was just enough to cause the lights to burst sending wires down upon the men. The electric shock was more than enough to knock out the three guards and stun the other two.

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