by Tommy Hancock
DCFutures stories are fan fiction pieces theorizing events that may take place about a century into the future of the DC Universe. All characters of that era are creations of the DCF group, although they are based on DC characters and some DC characters continue into that era. THE DCFuture Underground Fan Fiction group acknowledges that DC Comics owns the concepts behind Dr. Occult, Rose Psychic and some other DC characters that may be used here, and ALL related characters and retains complete rights to said characters. These concepts are used WITHOUT permission for NO PROFIT, but rather a strong desire to peer into the future of the DC Universe. This also acknowledges that original concepts presented here are the intellectual property of the author.
ACT I: "Tricks and Truths"
DECEMBER 31, 1899-The main hall of the Golden Citadel in the Hidden Abode of the Seven.
The hooded members of the Seven stood in silence as Zator, the one true loyal to the Seven, gratefully walked out, carrying the two children he just minutes before saved from being sacrificed to the demon Koth. Zator was proud, betrayed by his wide grin, because the Seven had ruled his violation of their rule an acceptable one and that the infants would not die, but instead be raised in the light and knowledge of Zator and the Seven to stand again Koth and all other evil.
That was what Zator believed had just happened.
As the echo of Zator's hurried footsteps faded, five of the Seven nodded
to all and vanished. The First Among Equals, the leader of the council,
and one other, at home in the shadows of the walls, remained. The First
pulled his blue hood and cloak off, holding them only briefly before they
vanished. The one in the shadows did nothing.
The First nodded, pouring himself a goblet of wine. "Aye, that it will.
For I saw it. In the boy
I saw the end."
The First finished his goblet and placed the goblet on the table as it
vanished once more. "In the boy, I found what I have only touched once
.such power, such duty, such responsibility that it will kill
those not worthy
" He raised his hand to his left cheek as he turned to
face the one, his thin fingers tracing the burnt flesh of the scar running
from under his ear down the side of his face, a scar resembling a "7". "Or
it will at least mark the unworthy."
The First turned away. "And the girl-child? You felt the tie that bonded
The First hesitated, the room rippling around them as he did, then said, "And you, do you take any comfort in knowing that now, finally, there is an end in sight for you?"
The one in the shadows took one step up, nearly under the arch. "I take
no comfort in damning anyone to what this boy has been born into. And I
know enough of beginnings and endings to know that one never knows what
might start for him when all for him is done."
DECEMBER 31, 1989-Offices of Spiritus Investigations, Metropolis
The lights in the rather large office were off, yet the room was filled
with an eerie supernatural glow of so many colors melted into one another
that there was truly no way to tell what color resulted from it. Rose
Psychic, or Rose Spiritus as she was known now, stood near her desk, by the
door, away from the table holding the artifacts that burned like candles
all their own and cast that indescribable aura. She had no fear of the
objects, she had held and used many of them herself. She stood clear out
of respect for the man at the table, sorting through the objects and making
room for one more. Her partner in business, in life, in destiny. The one
man she knew better than anyone else did, yet she always felt she knew
nothing about at all. They truly had shared a life, being saved at an
early age from sacrifice and raised together in a world that existed only
in dreams to come fight for all that is right in a world born from
nightmares. He was her brother in a sense and her lover in so many ways
that even they did not understand them all. Rose stood out of the way for
him, for his completion of an act he had been years in finishing.
Dr. Richard Occult turned his head enough to see her over his shoulder. "It's all right, Rose. I am all right." He reached into his tan trenchcoat and pulled out the cloth bundle. Unrolling it slowly, he thought of what Rose must be feeling. Letting those thoughts roll into words, he said, "It's all right for you to wonder, Rose. I've wondered about this a millennia of times myself. All those years ago, after we left Zator and the Seven, even after I fought off Koth the first time, my supposed destiny, even then I was collecting things. No rhyme, no reason, just mementos I thought. Remnants of adventures we had, but things I knew I had to keep." The cloth finally gave way to a tiny pendant, a black marble cross with an ivory serpent coiled around it. "And just like all the times I kept those things and didn't know why, I know now that this, Kulak's Cross, is the last one." He placed the cross pendant on a bare spot between the Tannarak Pendant and the Bridle of Victory. He paused, looking over the motley collection of things before him. Some of them, like Ra's ancient helm of Nabu, held awesome power, while others, like the syringe Occult himself took out of the Lord of Life's hand in the 1930s, bore no supernatural significance that he was aware of. He just had to keep them.
He turned away from the table and walked over to Rose. He smiled, that smile she always said that he stole from Errol Flynn, and held his hand out to her. "I know all of that just like I have always known ."
She took his hand. "Quiet, Richard. We've lived as we have far too long to rely on sentiment now. She pulled herself against him, leaned up, and lightly kissed him on the lips. "Happy Birthday."
He kissed her back, just as lightly. "And to you, Rose." He chuckled
quietly. "You know, you don't look like you're 90 years old." He ran his
fingers through her long ebony hair.
Occult laughed. He looked down into her inviting hazel eyes and, just for a moment, lost himself in them. "You know," he said finally, "with all that we have known, life with the Seven, destined to fight supernatural evil of all sorts, with all of that, you have been my only constant. My only real forever."
She smiled, hoping the darkness hid the blush rising in her cheeks. "We
are tied, Richard, bonded at heart and soul. In all ways."
She felt it, she saw it in the insecurity and childlike nervousness of his eyes. In the same moment she could not believe it was happening and did not want it to happen now. She put her hand on his arm. "No, Richard. Not here. Not in the office."
He nodded. "Let me take care of the collection and then we will go
somewhere away from here. Somewhere you can find it easy to say 'yes'."
He turned away from her, pulling his Symbol of the Seven, a pendant of
white with a black Maltese cross in the center and reaching out to all
sides, from his coat. Standing before the table, he held the Symbol out
and passed it over the objects, expecting them to fade from reality for
Cursing only once under his breath, Occult turned around at the quietly
thundering baritone voice he had heard so many times. The room faded from
view, as had Rose. All that remained was Richard Occult, the table of
collected pieces, and a man in a midnight blue fedora with a snapped brim
and a cloak of the same color that the shadows around him flirted and
Occult slipped the Symbol back into his coat. "What can I help you with, friend?"
Occult's friend ignored the question and walked across the dark to the table, the objects there still glowing, but that light no longer the vibrant aura it was. "I see you have amassed a collection .some would say an arsenal of some proportion."
Not one to wonder to himself about anything, Occult replied, "Interesting choice of words, friend. Is my hobby the reason we are here?"
"Yes." Occult's friend started walking away from the table, Occult following
closely. "And no."
None of this was a shock to Occult. He had been at this point before. He
did note, however, that his friend spoke with a hint of finality that
Occult had never heard before. "I will help, as you knew I would." He
hesitated. "And Rose? Can I go explain to her?"
Occult slipped his hand into his pocket, clutched the ring box for a moment, nodded to his friend, then followed him off into the shadows.
NO DATE, NO TIME, NO PLACE
Occult waited. He laughed. This always happened. He would feel the call, come to this corner of shadows, and wait for his friend, like some buddy on a street corner. He could use the respite though. He flexed his left hand, rubbing the soreness from it. He'd not known he could punch as hard as he had or that someone's face could be that resistant to a punch, but it had been. He had just finished dealing with a demon, a dealing that had taken him back to a small mining town in Arizona in the late nineteenth century. He chuckled out loud. The hand that was aching had shaken Wyatt Earp's hand, lifted glasses with Doc Holliday, and smashed into Jonah Hex's jaw. That was definitely one of his more enjoyable jaunts.
He had done much of that over the past few
..time had stopped meaning
much to him. He played tour guide for a young mystic, a member of the
Trenchcoat Brigade as Constantine called the four guides for young Tim
Hunter. He stood alongside Earth's finest in the dark of what some called
The Final Night. He found himself ending one "job," "mission," or whatever
his adventures were, and instantly jumping into another one. very little
time for Rose. Rose. He had seen her twice since
.that night. The last
time, he told her he would get back to her about that question. She smiled
her glow of angels smile and said she knew he would.
He watched his friend bleed into view from the black Occult noticed
something. His friend's face was different, thin, gaunt, but
And sad as well.
Occult's friend steadied himself. "You and I have spoken of and seen many destinies as they unfolded. We know that all beings have some sort of place in everything, pre-ordained or not. That is simply semantics We all fit into a scheme no mind or soul can grasp and when our responsibilities are completed, we fit no more. I" He looked Occult in the eyes from the shadow cast by his fedora's brim, "I fit no longer, Richard."
Occult showed little reaction, but felt a pang of loss suddenly in his
stomach. Of all he had seen, he never thought of his friend, whose origins
were always clouded in mists and shades, would pass. "You are dying,
Occult's friend nodded once. "This melding will end all of that. For
eons mystics have predicted it, tried to monitor it, tried to cause it, and
even tried to keep it from happening. We know nothing of what it will mean
to existence. We know not if it will herald in some peace, destroy
everything, or simply not have any affect at all. The power, however, that
will result, will be phenomenal.
Occult raised an eyebrow. "What are you saying, friend?"
Occult understood some of what was being said, but he knew from experience
that the curtain had not even been halfway opened yet. "I knew long ago
that I would spend my life as I have and I have no regrets," he knew his
friend would not believe that, "but I fear I am not equipped with the
knowledge to handle what you say I must do."
Occult put his hands on his friend's shoulders. "Enjoy peace, my friend. It is due you. And don't worry." He smiled that smile he knew someone loved. "I have someone waiting on me."
Occult's friend looked at him one last time .and Occult swore as all faded from around him that he saw a solitary tear on his friend's cheek.
DECEMBER 31, 2111
Occult coughed, hacking from deep inside. He was on his knees, ground wet under him, rain slapping him hard in the back of the head. "Never felt .like .." Talking to make sure he still could, Occult struggled to stand. He had never felt anything passing from one plane to another, especially not like he had just finished drinking nine pints of bad bourbon. Putting a hand on the ground in front of him, he felt mud rise between his fingers. He stood and shook his head, trying to get his bearings and shake fuzziness from his eyes. The sky was dark with storm and he could see very little, no light coming from anywhere. His eyes adjusted enough that he could see he was standing in a cemetery. Of all the places for him to put me, Occult thought. He put his hand out to lean against a tall tombstone. He raised his head as thunder screamed and lightning broke free almost at he same instant. And he read the stone.
DIED-DECEMBER 31, 2034
DYING AS SHE LIVED-FOR OTHERS
END ACT ONE
ACT 2 "Corruptions"
Rain fell on him in steady flashes of lavender and crimson. Mud rose and fell around him in belches and breaths. He reached out and felt only cold, gray, dead, reality. He struggled to stand and simply fell farther into the past, into her, into Rose.
Richard Occult remembered the forever long moments he had spent away from his Rose since that night the Stranger interrupted his proposal. He ached for her, even though he knew he was doing what was meant to be. He burned for her, so much that he gave part of himself, part of his soul, to have her near him. He created her, surrendering his very essence so that in some part she could be with him. He didn't care that that nearly cost him his life more than once, like that escapade in the mental institution. She was so much a part of him, what he was, what he knew he could be. Now, he could not even resurrect that portion of his spirit that had been her so briefly. She was lost to him. In his own soul, in his broken heart, and in body.
One bloodied hand crawled its way up Rose's tombstone. His muddy fingers wrapping around a corner of the stone, Occult wrenched himself to his feet. Morning was trying to come, but furious storm clouds kept it beaten down, a gray glimmer being cast over everything. Occult didn't know if the gray was real or just the way his new eyes saw everything. New eyes. New power. New mission. New dimensions of loneliness.
He stood on solid ground that was not beneath his feet. He breathed
air that was electric, sparking with fireflies of yellow and orange. A cold
wind slid up and down his spine and a drowning sweat covered his body.
Torrents of sheer, unadulterated force rolled and twisted within him,
buffeting his weakened, dying soul back and forth. He struggled to control
all that was happening, while dealing with the fact that nothing was
different. Yet, at the same time, everything had changed.
He stumbled on out of the cemetery, down a deserted street.
Buildings were empty, condemned, some looking out on the dead street with
cavernous eyes, others with their windows boarded up, blinded by age and
depravity. Not another person lived or walked on the street or any of the
streets nearby, Occult could feel that as clearly as he felt his wet clothes
heavy on his body. There was not another body on that street, except him.
Yet, the street and buildings were teeming with people.
A woman moving toward Occult caught his eye. Slender, blonde, beautiful. "Joan!" Occult moved to her, one filthy hand out. "Joan Garrick! What .how ."
She never raised her head, never turned an eye to him. She kept
walking, talking to someone he could not see. He heard her saying how she
wished Jay would just hang up that silly helmet and retire.
Occult looked around as he listened, even though he had little choice. He understood as he looked, seeing others he recognized. On the ledge of a building, cackling as if he found existence funny, was Jack Ryder, now forever trapped in the pea green skin of the Creeper. Down the middle of the street with his hands out in front of him was a man in a red and white outdoors outfit, a spelunker's helmet on his head, its white light burning eerily. "It's so dark in this cave," he shouted as if to someone behind him. "I've been wandering for what seems like eternity." Over by a dumpster sat a shade of a man in a gas mask and a shredded sanitation engineer's uniform. He giggled like a demented child as huge rants bit at him and nested in his curly blonde hair. A husky man stood in the front door of an old store front across from Occult. He yelled out loud in ancient Latin, his golden gladiator's armor shining even in the gray light, his sword high above his head. In the building Occult was standing beside now, through the paneless window he saw a man in a judge's robe, a gavel in one hand, a .357 Magnum in the other, a nameplate floating before him that read, "Hon. Adrian Chase."
Occult also saw the ones who let go of their mortal selves, now
representations of the magicks they truly were. A magnificent bronze
colored tiger stealthily slinked from alley to alley along the street. In
the distance at a four way intersection, Occult saw a familiar, evil face
shrouded in a tumbling fog of stench and hatred. "The Mist," Occult
muttered to himself. As those words faded, he felt someone call his name.
He turned and saw nothing but a column of bright orange flame, about five
and a half feet tall. he felt it again. It knew who he was. He peered
closer, sensing he knew it, too. Sensing he knew her.
As the flame simply dissipated, Occult saw a man staggering from side
to side in the street, snatching at remnants of reality and essence. His
narrow arms were already piled high with these patches of existence. He
muttered as he passed, "Got to collect 'em. Too many rags. Got keep
gettin' 'em. Rags for a new suit. Rags for a new soul."
The voice interrupted. "Still others exist here in some sense of
reality. Many, like that weaver of rags, are of great substance, magnificent
destiny, but now only know form in a mystic, ethereal sense." Occult
looked around, at the man in all black perched on an ancient lightpost, a
scarlet cape from his shoulders blowing in no wind. He knew him, too, once
known as the Phantom of the Fair, in the early twentieth century, now
nothing more than another magick on an empty street full of those like him.
A cowboy walked by, nodded at Occult, saying in a long drawl, "Mr. Occult,
Wayne Trigger. Nice to know you." And walked on. Above his head, Occult
heard the whine of a rocket pack and looked up to see a man he came to know
well in the mid Twentieth Century. Adam Strange saw him, waved, and then
flashed out of sight as a turquoise beam of light shot from nowhere and cut
through him. In the shadows cast by no lights in the alleys, Occult watched
as a man in red, a blue full mask hiding his face, lurked and prowled,
seeking the basest, most depraved malignancy he could find. Occult nodded.
He always knew, alive or dead, Paul Kirk would be Manhunter.
the voice drolled to life again, echoing to the point
of pain in Occult's head, "they are here like you. Passing on to their own
Before Occult could turn, a scarred hand fell on his shoulder hard
and turned him around fast into an oncoming fist. Occult yelled out, falling
back, folding to the ground. Willing the pain away, he looked up into the
rugged, weathered, half disfigured face of a man with his hand out to help
The glottal snicker brought as much of a smile as Hex could manage
with it. "Just owed you, Occult. That time in Tombstone, well, you rode me
pretty fur and hard."
Occult's next painful scream unraveled in a calliope of colors and images, his body following it in frayed strands and jagged shards. Everything whirled around him as he spun madly in chunks and pieces of space about himself. Blood gurgled in his words and lives died in his throat. Bones snapped in his ears and old men cried like baby girls. Pain was the only pleasure he was allowed and it was sweet in its agony. Even in that instant that lasted longer than forever could define, Occult saw things, learned things. He saw eight shadows standing around a globe, fiery storms of sparks flying from it. He heard a man screaming to find himself and felt the brimstone tears shed somewhere by a demon. He experienced the birth of a child that killed everything it touched and from that brought life. He felt no he heard, saw, even smelled his heart about to literally shatter. Then a delicate hand touched him and he collapsed back into the pile and heap that was his body.
The stench of brimstone and the fragrance of orchids fled as his eyes
opened. Through the blur he saw he was no longer on the street of wandering
magicks, but where he was didn't look much different. A church towered above
him, an old gothic cathedral. The power there was palpable, seeping out
between the cracks in the stonework. He blinked once to clear his eyes and
this time saw that the smaller blur kneeling beside him was a woman. The
woman who had grabbed him, helped him back.
He nodded, then squinted. "I
." He searched her tanned,
exquisite face, searched beyond it, past her emerald eyes, her soft skin,
her tumultuous, stunning red hair. He looked deep into what she was and
still could only manage, "I
Occult watched the woman until he could no longer see her. Day was still wrestling with the stormy night before. The rain was gone, but clouds hung tight, strangling sunlight into gray. He stood up and looked down at himself. With a thought and a shrug, his body and clothes were dry and clean, just as if he was freshly bathed and they had been recently pressed. He smiled, a first hint of a genuine smile. Even though his first attempt at education in his new role was not pleasant, he now understood enough about his position in all the Stranger had told him about and what he needed to do. And he liked that, for if anything, Richard Occult had always been a man with a destiny. He started up the cracked, broken sidewalk to the church, an unearthly salmon colored light flashing through the paned, dirty windows.
end of Occult #2 Okay, here's the story on this issue. I started out and had so much planned for this issue well..not like I didn't get a lot done in this installment, but not nearly what I planned. Then I thought I would include a little part about mystical connections throughout the dcu well that part is the above issue and means I have to make "Corruptions" a two part book ..so in Occult #3, expect to find out what's going on in the church, who the strange lady is, and more about Occult's wild whirlwind education and the visions he saw.
END ACT II
ACT 3: "Corruptions" Part Two
The heavy, rust-eaten door to the church was ajar, just enough to let the stench of human filth and rotting wood snatch Occult by the nose. He put his hand to the door, but it didn't move. With a slight push, the door creaked and moaned open slowly, paying no heed to who was wanting into its church. Occult tried to see what was happening inside before he walked in, but the images were muddled, all hazy with a pinkish fog. He saw why when he stepped inside.
The church, once a Catholic parish, was nearly gutted. Occult felt the decay of both the building and the spirits and souls that had haunted this dying hall. Echoes of perverted hymns shrieked in his ears, though the choir of human voices singing demonic tones was not present. But they had been there. Recently. And would be back. Occult heard the timbers in the ceiling groan under the weight of the rotting roof, the far end of it nearly collapsing under its own age. He listened as the concrete and bricks in the walls and foundations snapped and cracked, ancient bones of an old man abused far too much over the years. Occult saw it, the malignancy of those who had claimed the nearly empty church for their own. The black and red inverted crosses painted and scrawled on the walls and bare floor, graffiti from deranged, disaffected youth. Shreds of what had been church pews and tables scattered across the floor, splinters of what this place once meant, the gathering of spirits and hearts in worship. Not of death, but of life. Not of demons, but of angels. Occult tried to sort through all the names, all the black prayers, all the shed blood dotting the stones and steel around him, to find something to redeem this once-holy hall. There was nothing. Only depravity. Decadence. Death. And the salmon-colored lightning bolt in front of the black altar.
Occult saw it when he walked in. He felt it before then, but only as confusion, chaos. Now he recognized it. Or what it had been. A Bahdnisian djinn. An ally. Johnny Thunder's Thunderbolt.
The magick, the pink that had been the Thunderbolt as Occult had known it, had felt it, was still there, but it was altered. The thunderbolt had no form now, no longer looking like a pink man with jagged lightning bolts for hair. It was simply a shred of energy, a shred of Pink hovering before the altar. One moment it was still, lifeless. The next, it was its own fireworks display, shards of itself ricocheting off the walls and roof of the church. One instant, it stood from the floor to the roof, a bright, vibrant, angry Pink. Then it was barely there, a thin phantom, almost extinguished, but still as angry. And evil.
Occult reached out to it, both with his right hand and his mind. His hand felt nothing, but his mind screamed with a searing flame, orange, loud, crackling, a million hearts bursting into blood and bile all at once in the space of Occult's thought. He dropped to one knee, his hand still up, trying to raise power from within himself, but all he felt was Pink. Crawling down his fingers. Filling his veins. Clotting all of his blood. Pink. Killing him.
Then he saw beyond it. Beyond the pain. Beyond the power. Beyond the Pink.
Suspended off the floor behind the ebony altar. A clear box, about
six feet long. No. Not a box. A coffin. A coffin holding a body. An
emaciated skeleton of a man, his skin white and brittle, tightly wrapped
around the bones. A man in a green suit, faded by nearly a century and a
half, but somehow preserved, his trademark bowtie still tied around his
nearly nonexistent neck. A man who, for all practical purposes, died of
old age near the end of the twentieth century. A man whose eyes were open,
clawing their way fervently into Occult's mind, ripping away at the agony
there as they came.
Occult nodded, trying to say his savior's name. It caught in his
throat as the Pink slapped at him again, but pulled back under the near
corpse's stare. Occult stammered, the Pink scratching at his soul trying
to hang on, but the unyielding glare of its former master and now its
prisoner beating it back, letting it know it was a prisoner as well.
Occult slumped to the floor, unable to help in the fight, becoming only
the battlefield for the war. The Pink bellowed soundlessly, finally
slinking away, flashing into brilliance once more in its place before the
altar. Occult coughed, breath at last coming without pain.
Occult glanced back up at the body in the box. His eyes were still
open, and his voice was still in Occult's head, but he didn't move.
Occult stood up slowly, then made his way to the coffin, walking a
wide circle around the Pink. Using the altar to steady himself, he got up
close to the coffin. It was suspended by nothing visible. Occult
concentrated, his head pounding from the recent attack, but was able to
lower the coffin to the platform he stood on behind the altar.
Occult was lost in the maelstrom. That feeling had grown familiar recently. Suddenly feeling as if the power that surged through him only moments before outside the church was all but gone, Occult simply asked, "Johnny, what is going on? I thought you died. I was there."
Johnny laughed. "You're all jumbled up now, Doc. The full body wash the ol' T-bolt gave you will do that. Even to someone at the center of all magicks like you are now. Me, I fell victim to a new toy for would-be wizards and witches. You've heard about it, I bet. Corruption, they call it."
Occult nodded. It was a practice that he knew of only due to his
new place in the realm of magic. "Mystics take a person whose soul is
powerful, a strong energy. Using a variety of chants and spells, they
capture the soul in the body near death. And they drain it. They get their
power from it. As long as they keep the soul, the body lives. They have to
keep it alive using part of the power they get. And it can be eternal."
Occult asked, "Waiting for me?" He knew he was supposed to be the
great source on all things mystical, but at the moment he felt like an
angry schoolboy who had played hooky one too many times. "Johnny, I don't
understand. What do you mean you were waiting for me?"
Occult moved away from the coffin, still unsure about all that was
happening, but trusting Johnny's words. He stood with his hands at his
side as he said, "All right, Johnny. Do your bit, then."
Occult knew what he was agreeing to. "I will, Johnny. I swear."
A glimmer of pink, and Occult was gone from the church.
There. Able to see the nurses screaming at doctors through doorless walls for help with a head wound or an accident victim. Able to taste the scent of formaldehyde, ammonia, and sweat of patients and doctors alike all around him. But not there. Unable to touch the tiny baby to his left that was dying of a knife wound it did not deserve. Unable to get run over by the maniacally swerving gurney being ushered at breakneck speed down the hall toward him. Suddenly Dr. Occult knew what Scrooge must have felt like. Yet he had no ghostly escorts.
The man on the gurney was strapped down with kevlar straps. His
body was full of sedatives, Occult saw the shifts in his body, in his
aura. Yet he still fought like he was an army instead of one man, his long
red hair flying about wildly, the white streak as prominent as it always
had been. His fervor did not surprise Occult, for he had always known
Jason Blood to be a warrior. What did startle, almost frighten him, was
what Blood was screaming about.
A pretty young woman walked briskly up to the gurney, holding her hand up to silently order the orderly to stop pushing. Her skin was beautifully pale, porcelain lain over an exquisite frame. She leaned over Blood's face and said calmly, "Sir, my name is Emily. Emily Thirteen. I am a doctor. Let me help."
Blood relaxed a little. It must have been the vibrations from her,
the same ones that Occult felt, those abilities that linked her to her
long dead relative. She went on, "You jumped from a building, Mr. Blood,
nine stories up. You are very lucky to be alive."
Dr. Thirteen kept her composure. "Who do you have to find, Mr. Blood?"
Blood's voice grew quiet, but lost nothing in intensity. "Etrigan. Someone has him. I have to find the demon Etrigan."
Occult would not be on this New York street long. He looked fervently, unsure of what he was to find here. On his side of the street was a rather modern office building, all glass and alloy. Across the street was an older stone building, nondescript, empty. Neither of them revealed anything to him. Ornate street lights stood on each of the four corners, lights that no longer worked, long ago obsolete in this part of town. All of them unimportant signposts of the past. All but one.
Occult moved across the street, past cars. Only one honked, a taxi
driver who had practiced Voodoo many years before. Occult slowed as he
neared the lamppost, the only one with an ornate carving reaching from its
base to nearly the long dead light itself. To most it was simply an oddly
grotesque statue of a giant man, an ogre to some. To Occult, it was much
more than that, much more. Yet its significance could be captured with
only one word.
She laughed as he moaned, their motions fluid as he pushed harder into her. He knew he was dying now, his organs being butchered one by one from the inside. And he didn't care. Each tear, each rip made him thrust harder, faster. She let her bare breasts fall into his face, her left nipple dipping into the dark blood as it bubbled up in his mouth. His hands scraped at the air, struggling for life, then tangling in her long auburn hair, pulling her down on him. She kissed his bloody mouth, then looked up. She saw Occult in the shadows of substance around her. She smiled a girlish grin as she licked her lips sensually. She stuck her tongue out a bit, a glob of blood on the end. An offer for Occult to join in. He shook it off. She rolled the blood into her own mouth.
Through his own bile and blood, the balding man gasped, "For the
love of God-"
She howled in orgasm as he died, her own body alive with dark swirls of destruction and gray shades of a tarnished soul. She fell on him, exhausted from the moment, whispering to Occult, "And soon you will welcome me, Doctor. As all eventually welcome Nyola, the She-Death."
Occult stood among the folds of the tattered stage curtain. The performer's back was to him. The drunken, sneering crowd looked through him as easily as they did the holes in the curtain. The man on stage was dressed as Occult remembered him, in a top hat and suit, the basic outfit for a Twentieth Century magician. His mustache was gone, but it was him.
The magician stood beside his large, foul smelling volunteer from the audience. He looked up at him, saying, "You want to do this trick after all you've said to me tonight, my good man?"
The big man hacked something green from his throat, spitting it on the magician's hat. "Sure, anything to prove to my girl you ain't nothin' but a freak and phony! What've I gotta do?"
The magician smiled, not a malicious sneer, simply a staged smile. "Why, nothing at all, except look into my eyes."
The man nodded once, grunted, and set his stare on the eyes of the magician. Both of his eyes focused on the monocle worn by the performer. Nothing happened at first; several people in the audience began to moan for a singer or anyone other than the guy on stage. Then, suddenly, the big man's body shivered. Just once. A long, head-to-to tremble. And he was gone. Occult saw the look of utter terror on the man's face as he vanished, swallowed by an awesome set of jaws that only Occult, the volunteer, and the magician could see. The jaws snapped the man in one bite and vanished. The audience stood up and cheered, the now-dead man's girlfriend hollering, "I told you he wasn't fake, Denny!"
The magician smiled and took his bow. He turned to walk off stage,
not even acknowledging Occult as he went by. He stopped to listen to the
emcee say his name.
Occult stood on nothing. And leaned against everything. He had
passed through here a few times before, but this was different. This
place, this home of Order and Chaos and those who lorded over both, was
dead now. Almost empty.
Occult saw the being before him, once a dazzling display of light, then a human form, then light again. "So, they did what, Nabu? They left?"
Nabu laughed out loud, forming into a disembodied pair of red lips
as he did it. "No. Even with all the unrest in the universe, both sides
wanted more. They grew hungry for more. For what the other had. For each
other. So they ate one another."
The lips twisted into a wild smirk. "Yes, not before that. Quite
convenient, wasn't that?"
The young girl stood quietly, her hands down in front of her, clasped together and nearly hidden by the long sleeves of her white robe. Her head was bowed. Occult watched as she waited for the door behind the large desk before her to open. He was even more detached here than the other visits. No one, not even the strongest of mystics, would sense him here. He only wished one could when the door opened and an older woman walked into the room.
She was in a long white robe, much like the one worn by the girl,
except for a thick black stripe that ran down the center of hers. Occult
studied her, seeing little that time had scarred. Her face was still the
most finely crafted visage of beauty. Her ebony hair was longer than he
remembered it, a flame of white hair running through it, adding only to
her magnificence. She moved with the elegance of an angel. In that white
robe, one might mistake her for an angel from a children's story. Occult
The girl meekly nodded. "Yes, Mother."
The girl raised her head, a happy, glowing smile on her face.
Her voice was a bit more vibrant. "No, Mother, never again."
The older woman smiled pleasantly. "That is good, my little sister. You may go to your cell now."
The little girl nearly bounced backward to the door. As she opened it, she gleefully said, "Oh, thank you, Mother Zatanna, thank you so much!!"
Occult wanted to watch her smile again, to watch her turn and
leave, but he did not get that chance.
The two men walked beside one another between the ancient trees of the Black Forest. One was a resident of a nearby cave, a hermit by choice, a wise man to those desperate enough to seek him out. The other was a hermit by no means, a man who enjoyed finally for the first time ever living life, not for what he could take from it, but for what it gave him. Though he would still admit that he quite enjoyed taking from it, and others, at times.
Occult listened closely as he walked near them, still unseen even
by these two whose very forms were pure magic. "It is different when each
one comes to me, William. Each seeker of truth, each purveyor of
knowledge. Each one comes for a different reason."
After another trip to New York (Check out the BIZARRO One-Shot for
the full details on the subject of Occult's last visit), Occult found
himself nowhere. Not quite nowhere, but
.between. In the space between
reality and illusion, between fact and fiction. He'd walked this corridor
before, so he knew what being here meant. That his traveling education
was now over.
Johnny's voice grew solemn. "That, and to see if you can learn anything about what the Melding means and if you need to stop it. Cuz, if you do," a long pause, "then you may have to make some changes yourself. Remove the people put in place that caused the great shift in all the magicks."
Occult thought he understood Johnny's last words as the crowded
nothingness of between faded into four walls and a ceiling. Occult quickly
realized why Johnny Thunder's words sounded so dark, so sad. Invisible to
all, Occult stood in a room that he had only been in once before for a few
moments. But this time, he was here at a historic, auspicious moment. And
he could not believe it. He could not believe these people were the
beginning of the shift in all the magicks. He could not believe that he
might have to kill one, some, or all of them.
Eight figures stood around a round table in the large room. They each took a seat, one after the other. Occult watched in awe as they all sat around the round table. A round table with words carved in the middle. Carved by the fastest hands known to man at that time. Words that said it all--JUSTICE SOCIETY OF AMERICA.
END ACT III
Intoxicating. Occult tasted it all in the air, the bittersweet tinge of power, coincidence, chance, and energy, tickling at his tongue, ravaging his psyche as it heaved and crashed within him. He stared in awe at the eight around the table, even at the young, addle-headed Johnny Thunder standing outside of this fabled circle of gods-to-be, from his place between moments and shadows, where no one, not even Dr. Fate or The Spectre, saw him spying. He had stood alongside each of the men before him many times, counting himself as an equal among them, a fellow mystery man, but this time, this moment was different, in ways that Occult just barely grasped. Of course, Occult barely grasped most of the past few -- had it been minutes, days, or centuries since all this had started? Time did not matter any more, at least it was not supposed to. It could not at the moment, for even though he still struggled with all he had learned in a wink of forever, he felt that he now stood at the pivotal point. The beginning of his destiny, this abstract mission the Stranger and others had recently told him about, gathered around the table that last he saw it resided in a glass case in the Smithsonian. The answers to so many questions and the inklings of still more questions rested silently within the mouths and masks of the legends, still so vital in their youth, before him. The end of all that was magick, and perhaps reality as Occult and others knew it, might very well be dancing about one or all of the men in the room, a flirty phantom of final destruction. Occult felt all of that here. All of that inevitability, that vitality, that raw force of will and spirit. All of that which might destroy all that was.
All of it was there. In that dark room in Gotham City. At the first meeting of the Justice Society of America.
ACT IV: "The Tarnish of Gold"
Occult had heard many versions of what actually occurred the night the Justice Society first met in November, 1940. Only once, from the Spectre, who could not lie, had he heard what he was now witnessing. The first meeting of the greatest group of heroes ever assembled together was little more than a roundtable storytelling session. Suggested by Johnny Thunder, the various heroes were sharing tales of their own exploits. The Flash started with a yarn of high- speed treasure hunting, and Hawkman was just finishing a story of fire beings living in a volcano. Occult knew he could simply stand gawking in the shadows no one saw listening in childlike awe to these fanciful flights, but there was that gnawing at his heart, an ethereal scent of something off. So much righteousness at one table, so much turmoil in the very air around them. That was why he was here.
He let his eyes fall into each one as he looked from man to man, peeling
away the physical like a dead skin, peering underneath the Technicolor
grandiosity into the black-and-white truth harbored in the darkness of each one.
And in them he saw much to come
and much that had been
.. Dr. Fate's trials
. The Spectre's questions of faith and God
his own creation first, then adrenaline later
. Green Lantern's heavy legacy
and two children he would not know until they were adults
troubled personal life in and out of the gasmask
The Atom-s never-ending
struggle to be better, brighter, and taller than all the rest and his blindness
to the fact that he was already what he wished to be
The Flash's struggle as
the father of a tradition and the losses that parenthood was to bring
Occult jumped, even though he had watched Carter Hall, the famed
Hawkman, excuse himself from the table just before the Spectre began his
contribution to the meeting. Hawkman walked out of the room, not from one room
to the next, but in between thoughts and time, removing his Hawk's head mask as
he went, stepping into Occult's face.
No longer letting surprise hold him in its thrall too long, Occult
focused on Hawkman's words. He opened up his ears to all the sounds spoken in
the room at present, past, and future. And he did hear something. Faint.
Ominous. Not of the room. But of one of the men at the table.
Even as the questions bubbled up in his mind, Occult felt the answers
rising to the surface with them. The advantages of expanded consciousness, he
thought to himself. "You are here at the meeting
and here outside of this
moment with me at the same time? I knew of your Egyptian lineage, Carter, but I
never knew your abilities included
Carter nodded solemnly. "It's not easy for me to explain because I am not aware of all the reasons for it myself, but as the battle of the avatars and the Final Banishing were happening, I .. was made over again. I had yet another Becoming. I transcended mortality as an avatar . and transcended that, being reborn as a force a force of magick. Not as you were, not as one who holds all magicks around him, but simply as one of those magicks.
Occult nodded, but still asked, "One of which magicks?"
Carter's brow furrowed. "It is no longer that simple to clearly define
the magicks. The best way to describe it is that I became
a primal force in
magic. It was as if I existed everywhere I always had before, alongside myself
at all points in my lives. And beyond." Carter noticed Occult's simultaneous
confusion and realization. "I was saved from oblivion by an accident of the
Melding. A random accident of magic."
Occult's face flamed with frustration. "For one who is supposed to investigate the Melding and determine whether it must be stopped or spurred on, I know little about it."
Carter shook his head. "You have had a difficult time of it, Richard, but you are a detective. You know that in order to learn how and why something ends as it does, you must know how it begins."
Occult nodded. "This is like no case I have ever known, Carter. There
are signposts all along the way on this one. The Stranger, the street of lost
magicks, the lady at the church, poor Johnny Thunder. Now you. I am starting to
feel less like a defender of anything and more like some cosmic chess piece."
Occult started to understand, his gaze wandering back to the men at the
table. "Like hard water suddenly granting a man super speed. Or a bullet
striking a policeman down and leading to his rebirth as a ghostly avenger
a stone powered with emerald energy falling to the earth
." He looked at
"Or a man realizing he is an Egyptian prince reincarnated and gaining
the power to fly. All of these things and others happened. And all of these
things were somehow magick-related?"
Occult saw it now. All out in front of him like a blueprint
destruction of all, or fulfillment of what should be? "It reached such a
point after what you all
" He hesitated, suddenly feeling the burden of his
unknowing part in this
"what we all did that there was so many magicks, not
only the ones that always had been, but others, new one, variations and
perversions of the old ones. And they were no longer winding together, but
flying apart and into one another. And no one knew to do anything about it. So,
as it always does, reality
. decided to take care of its own."
will cause. This has been foretold by mystics and psychics since the mid-20th Century. What wasn't foretold was that the Almighty, or whoever does such things, knew that this was inevitable by the beginning of the 20th Century and made sure someone was born to deal with whatever happened." Carter's eyes fell heavy on Occult.
Occult, lost in confusion, bitterness, and grief before, stood up
straight, shaking his shoulders slightly, as if to throw off all that had been
before. His mind was clear, his heart was howling in his ears, and his time had
come. Just like that. An epiphany. A predestined moment. Or maybe just a man who
gave up on understanding any of it and decided just to do what he thought was
best. Whatever it was, Dr. Richard Occult had discovered all he needed to know,
enough that he saw a need for what he could do, a need to set things right. And
that had been his compass ever since his time with the Seven and all through his
Carter put his hand on Occult's shoulder. "Yes. But, Richard, know this. You and Rose .. are like magic. Unending. And you will find your way together again." He dropped his hand, his Hawk's head helmet reappearing under his arm. Taking it in both hands, he put it on his head, his youthful features returning as it slipped over his face. His wings detached from his back and found their way onto the straps again. He turned away, looking back to say, "I'll be seeing you again, too, friend." With his first step, Hawkman was moving back to the table just as The Spectre's story was beginning.
Occult watched and listened for a moment, taking in the momentous scene
once more. He then closed his eyes, pursed his lips, and reached out across the
time and world he now stood in and found her
. poring over books researching
the fabled Green Arrow for a case they had
and he lightly laid a kiss on her
lips. She felt little more than a passing tingle, but it was for him a kiss
that he had yearned for for decades. He sighed, opened his eyes, and with an
unnecessary theatric wave of his hand, moved himself back to 2112, back to the
decimated church to keep a promise. As he vanished from one year to the next, he
could still hear the hellish voice repeating the phrase that would curse one of
the members of the Justice Society for the rest of his life.
Occult felt the future on his hands first, shifting from one existence to another, finding their way back to the near-lifeless church his journey had started in. His body began to follow, blown across time and space like crushed rose petals caught in the embrace of a firm, but gentle wind, but was suddenly slapped hard, every atom of his body struck by a bolt of salmon lightning.
His very essence screamed, scattered all about the hull of a building, collecting finally in a corner. He was slumped over, his entire self aching from the attack by the Pink. Raising his head, he saw that he and Johnny Thunder, still held in the clear coffin behind the altar, were not alone as before. Two men, one a rather short, fat man with a goatee beard wearing a scarlet robe, the other a rippling mound of muscles in an identical robe, fitting tightly over his biceps, stood in front of the altar, one on each side. The Pink shimmered and shattered between them, a kinetic burst of energy firing from one to the other and back.
Johnny's voice rattled again in Occult's head, now barely a memory's
Occult chuckled. "I best warn the both of you that I've been in a bad mood for nearly two centuries now, and I've had nearly enough."
The fat man shouted in a nasal voice, "Blasphemer! You dare misuse the power of the Lightning of the Lord in His own dark house and still speak with insolence!"
Occult smiled. "There you go. That makes it enough."
Occult chanted quickly in a long-dead Arabic dialect as the fat man turned toward the Pink and threw his hands up high. A burst of white light filled the church as the Pink shot toward Occult in a frenetic ball. Occult squinted his eyes, his hands up, working the light he conjured, his fingers weaving the light around Pink, encasing it in a spherical cocoon of white.
The bigger man roared. "Forget magic! See what your powers do to Mojo!"
Scraping his foot three times on the floor like a bull coaxed into charging, the man charged at Occult, growling for blood.
Occult waited, giving Mojo his time, letting him get close, then stepped
aside, delivering a crushing blow to the massive man's gut as he did. Mojo's
black eyes widened, then slammed shut as Occult followed through with an
uppercut, shattering Mojo's jaw.
The little man stood near the white sphere that the Pink was trapped in,
shouting at Occult, "You don't get it, do you? You want to free our vessel so he
can die, then do that. But know that his power will go on, uncontrolled!" He
laughed in short chortles that made him sound like he was choking. "The focus
will be gone, and the Lightning of the Lord will be free! To devastate, to
destroy, and to one day, be contained again!"
The fat little man's mouth curled into an insipid grin, the goatee making him look like a caricature of Anton LeVey. He said nothing, only gestured with both his pudgy hands at Occult. The Pink snapped into line, its sparks melting together into a jagged bolt of lightning, and leaped at Occult.
Hoping this trick would work twice in one fight, Occult let the Pink get within a second of him, then jumped to his right. The Pink bolt struck Johnny Thunder's coffin, splintering the enchanted box into shards of light and dust. Occult rolled up to his feet, firing a stream of eldritch at the fat man in the robe as he ran from the church, leaving his religion behind.
Occult rushed from one second to the next, catching Johnny's emaciated,
withered body before it fell to the floor. What had been the Pink ricocheted
madly around the church, slamming into beams and walls, leaving pink flames
burning everywhere it touched. Occult cradled Johnny in his arms as Johnny's lips
parted, shut, then opened again. His chest heaved, each time rising up as if it
would break open, then sinking down as if it were about to cave in.
Occult nodded. Placing his hands on Johnny's body, he closed his eyes,
focusing all the magicks at his call on making Johnny whole again. The Pink
still shot about in chaotic frenzy, the entire church now nearly consumed in
tongues of salmon colored flame. A halo of multicolored light surrounded
Johnny's body, raising him up from the ground, but still nothing changed.
Occult raised his head. At the back of the church, cast in an eerie rose
colored glow by the flames, was the redheaded woman who first directed him into
the church. Her emerald eyes saw all around her and at the same time read every
thought in Occult's lifetime.
The woman knew that Occult was right. "More is needed, Richard Occult, more than even you have to give. Say my name."
Occult angrily shouted, "Who the hell are you?"
Johnny's frail lips cracked open as he started to say his magic words.
Johnny struggled, saying, "
" as Occult shouted the
The air sizzled as two bolts of lightning erupted from nowhere, one pink, the other yellow, both colliding into Johnny Thunder's chest, wracking his body with spasms of energy. Occult threw up his hands and fell back out of the way of the blasts. He watched as the lightnings mingled and merged, tendrils of power entangling Johnny's body, then suddenly exploding upward, a single strand of light burning through what was left of the roof, leaving only a burnt silhouette on the floor where Johnny's body had been.
Occult stood, knowing instantly that Johnny Thunder's story was surely
not over, and quickly moved to the back of the church, following the woman out.
As they both reached the sidewalk, the church trembled, pink fire engulfing it,
and crumbled into nothing, its very structure consumed by the corrupted magick
eating at it.
The woman, Shazam, replied, "The reasons for my presence in this form are many, Richard Occult, and shall be dealt with in time."
Occult smiled. "Yes. You are Shazam. Yes, you are."
Ignoring that comment, Shazam looked sternly at Occult and said, "And you, Richard Occult, what are you? Now that you know all that you can of what has happened to you and to the Magic of this universe, what are you?"
Occult looked back at her. "I'm the man who intends to set things right. Whatever that might mean to me and to the Magic."
The two stood in silence, slivers of pink eldritch still flickering on the once-holy ground behind them.