Back in '85, Allen was fresh out of graduate school and already teaching his own class at a cushy little private college in Ohio called Antioch. He was amazed that he had gotten a good job so soon, but of course there weren't many para-psychologists who could also teach physics and computer science. Most para-psychologists were fruitcakes, but at least Allen was a scientifically sound fruitcake.
It was in this year that Allen first began teaching his para-psychology class. This year was also the only one in which Allen's "Ritual Lecture" took up two class sessions instead of one.
He had crossed the line in that one. It was all fine and dandy to mention traditional Celtic curses which cause diarreha. Even mentioning a book like the Necronomicon was allright...but to actually read examples from it, that was too much.
In his lecture, Allen had mentioned both the number and secret name of Nergal as an example case of Sumerian gods. Earlier in the class, while discussing ritual symbols, he had drawn the third Elder Sign on the board. Separately, these bits of information were more or less harmless. When brought together, they could bring about absolute disaster.
Allen was too blissfully happy with his new job to think of such things, though. He was blissfully happy until one of his students, Issac Warner, put the dangerous pieces together.
The roars of the lion-man tearing though campus he'd never forget through all his waking days.
The screams...those came at night.
That was nine years ago, though. Issac had become a successful and famous pro wrestler named Stingray. He had also learned how to control Nergal somewhat, enhancing his already impressive strength when needed. Allen knew this because it was the only way Issac could have press slammed the 600 pound King Kong Bungee.
Now Allen was pulling into Issac's driveway. He hoped that Issac had learned to see the binding as a boon instead of a curse.
Javier Hugo looked out the gaping hole in the wall of Examination Room twelve. He had already scanned the minds of the involved guards and scientists and was now replaying events with the aid of psychic impressions left in the area. He wanted a fully accurate visual report to send Tazakles.
Javier was one of Dynamax's chief investigators. Since this matter involved both the theft of powerful Omega and the defection of a employee, it was deemed important enough to call him in. The appearance of his tall, dark frame signified that everyone had a right to be afraid.
At first Javier didn't consider the case worth his time. Covenant wasn't even an Omega, just some hack para-psychology professor Dynamax picked up from Antioch. As for the loss of the Threlkain experiment, Javier had considered it a stupid idea in the first place. Replacing a brain with bits of machinery, indeed. Nothing was a substitute for human will.
There were suffcient mysteries to keep Javier interested, though. How did Covenant slip by everyone and transfer himself into the boy? He wasn't an Omega, Javier would have sensed his after-presence. And why did he do this? Even if he didn't consider it important, the case was interesting. Javier always loved a new challenge.
He finished compiling the information and called for Tazakles. Mr.Tazakles? he thought.
Yes, what is it Mr.Hugo? came Jarvis' steady, powerful thought-reply.
I fear that the Threlkain project was stolen by an employee, sir. His name is Allen Covenant.
Covenant? Oh, yes. I had always thought he didn't quite fit in.
I will send you a full visual report...
No need, Mr.Hugo. I will learn all I need and more from Covenant's own mind. You simply play your favorite game for now. With that, the communication ended.
"Play my favorite game..." Javier said to himself with a smile. First, he'd need a day to research.
He watched as the mortal called Covenant walked towards the house where the mortal called Warner lived. In the past, Covenant had bound one of his brethren to Warner.
Possibly Covenant had the knowledge he needed. Covenant had no power and would be read easily.
And if Covenant did have the answer, the he, Annubis, would once again be able to walk the earth.
Allen knocked at the door of the little home. Issac lived alone, so he evidently didn't feel the need to own a big house despite his millions of dollars. Another thing that Issac had picked up from his teachings, Allen would like to think.
The door opened and Allen found himself looking directly at the familiar sight of Issac's neck, which was at Allen's eye level. He looked up and beheld the rest of Issac. Handsome face was still there despite several televised beatings. Only his hair had gone from light brown to dusty blonde. Hmmm...
"Can I help you?" the big man asked.
"What?" replied Allen. "Don't you recognize your favorite professor?"
"Professor? Is this some kind of -" Suddenly it dawned on him. "JESUS!"
"No, I'm afraid I'm not any kind of Jesus," quipped Allen. "unless you want me to be your own personal one."
"Professor -uh- Allen? Covenant! What the Hell are you doing here?"
"Have you been watching the news?" asked Allen.
"Uh, yea," Issac replied.
"Have you heard about the explosion at Dynamax this afternoon?"
Allen just smiled.
"Oh shit," Issac moaned. "You're going to get me in trouble, aren't you?"
"Don't worry, big guy," replied Allen. "It'll be some good, honest trouble. Not like that fiasco at Antioch. Also, there's the life of the young man in my car at stake too."
Issac looked out at Allen's beat up Tercel, seeing Bob through the window. "Well, if you're going to put it that way, you'd better bring him in here quickly."
"...and so I raced here," Allen said as he concluded his rehash. "Will you help?"
"Of course I'll help, Allen," replied Issac. "What can I do, though?"
"Well, I've got this idea on how to fix Bob up. I'll need break into the cybernetic limb sect-AHG!" Suddenly Allen cried and doubled over as a burning sensation took his left pectoral.
"Allen, what's wrong?" asked Issac. "Is it Nergal?"
"No," Allen gasped, "And don't say his name. It's -AHHHHH!" Allen suddenly cried out again and fell from his chair to his knees as searing pain took his right pectoral.
"Issac, it's -AAAARRRRGGGHHHH!!!" Allen screamed and crumpled to the ground as his shirt began to smoulder by the left side of his chest.
"Allen, ALLEN!" Issac cried, but Allen was too busy being unconscious to reply.
Jarvin Tazakles opened his eyes and started. At first Covenant's mind was an open book, and he had learned all about his relation to Warscoviak. Then suddenly, a powerful presence overtook Covenant's mind, completely shoving Tazakles out.
Someone (or something) of great power also had an interest in Covenant, and he didn't recognize the presence. Chess did not go well with more than two players...
For the first time in several thousand years, Annubis was happy. Covenant did indeed have the knowledge to free him. Further more, Covenant could bind Annubis to the mortal body he desired. The only mortal body that could contain his mighty presence.
Javier flipped through the papers faxed to him from Columbus. Education records...recomodations...but nothing useful.
The he saw the article clipping from the Inquisitor tabloid. "Antioch Professor Stops Demon Rampage!" Javier read on...
Allen woke up to Issac dabbing a wet sponge on his chest. The mystic sigil inscribed on his left pectoral was blackened from burning. The one one his right was reddened also.
"Jesus, Allen," said Issac as he noticed his awakening. "What have you done to yourself?"
"Just a little -ow- protection. The sigils on my chest are warning lights, you could say. When the right one warms, it means -ow- that a being I'm familiar with is scanning my mind. When the left warms, a being that I'm not familiar with is scanning me."
"But do they have to warm so much?" Issac asked.
"Well," began Allen, "they heat up according to the power level of the being I'm being scanned by. I don't know who the first one was, but I suspect by the power level that it was an Omega of great ability. That's bad news because it means Dynamax knows who I am and is after me."
"What about the second time? You mentioned Ner -uh- him."
"You can say his name now. It's just that when you said it the first time, you peaked his interest and he came down to see who was visiting. I wish he could have just asked."
"And that last time?"
Allen stared off into space. "I don't know, Issac. Whatever it was -and it was a what. There aren't any who's that powerful- whatever it was would make even this new Tempest guy on the news cringe."
"Great," said Issac as he finished bandaging Allen. "So we've got Dynamax Omegas and a near omnipotent entity after us and we don't even know who they are."
"Wrongo!" proclaimed Allen as he stood up. "Just give me a few minutes and I'll have the answer." He looked around as if missing something. "Do you have a pen and paper I could use?"
"Sure, just a sec." Issac went over to his desk in the other room.
In the meantime, Allen traced around the sigil inscribed in the middle of his chest, chanting in Arabic. After it lit up briefly, he said, "Goodbye detection ward, hello cloaking ward." He then looked up, as if talking to God. "Lets see you read me now you nosy bastards."
Issac returned with the pen and paper and handed it to Allen who sat down at the kitchen table. He closed his eyes and began to say, "Schmuck, come to me...Schmuck, come to me..." Issac had to strain in order not to laugh.
Allen suddenly straightened up and said, "OK, Schmuck, what were the names and numbers of the last three beings to scan me?" He then began to write in a messy script.
When he had finished writing, Allen said, "Thanks, Schmuck. Goodbye." He then opened his eyes and began to read what he had written.
"Schmuck?" asked Issac.
Allen looked up at Issac with a smile. "Schmuck is the name of the spirit who watches my two outer sigils. He also keeps track of who scans me."
"Schmuck?" asked Issac again, incredulous.
"Well...I had to name him something!"
Allen turned back to his paper. If what was on there was right, he didn't have time for games now. He remained silent over the writing for several minutes, making Issac calmer and then more nervous.
"Allen," he asked tenetively, "is it bad?"
"Bad?" said Allen. "Well, it's not so bad that Jarvin Tazakles can read my mind from halfway across the country."
"Not when compared to the last caller I had." Allen looked again at the paper. "His number is 0. In Sumer he was known as Tiamatt, representative of the Elder Gods. Your probably more familiar with his Egyptian name, though, Annubis."
Issac eyes bulged. "Oh my God...that's bad, isn't it?"
"That's terrible!" replied Allen. "You may be linked to Nergal, Sumerian god of war, but this god could eat your god for breakfast!"
It was almost midnight and Javier was halfway through Covenant's book, The Magic of Science. It was a fascinating discussion of how what Covenant called the "magic curtain" was lifted to reveal scientific truths throughout history. There were many references to the book The Golden Bough by J.G.Frazier. Javier would have to read it some time.
But this book, written by Covenant himself, gave Javier a much clearer understanding of who he was dealing with. Intellectually at least. Covenant was scientist who also dabbled with magic, constantly trying to find the common ground in between. A genius and worthy opponent, even if not an Omega.
Javier was startled by Tazakles call. What is it, Mr.Tazakles?
Covenant's mind has been shut off to me and has proven more dangerous than previously expected. Catch him and bring him in.
Yes, Mr.Tazakles. I'll catch him, rest assured.
Excellent, Mr.Hugo. and he was gone.
Javier though to himself, "But first, I will know him!" He then began making his plans for a trip to Chicago, the place of Covenant's birth.
A nightly report as filed by Ronald Lowry, security guard for Dynamax offices:
All things were normal until about nine o'clock. A man showed up claiming to be a Xerox repair man. Seeing as there always seemed to be one coming in, I didn't feel like checking his ID as per standard procedure...
He examined one of the machines on the third floor for several minutes. Suddenly it began to shake and emit strange lights. I could hear it actually -laughing- in a deep, evil sounding voice. The repair man pulled a vial from his work belt and sprinkled some water on the Xerox machine. That seemed to calm it.
He then told me that the machine was possessed and he would need a disinfect program from one of our computers. Normally, I'd refuse such a request flat out, but for some reason I felt obliged to let him do so at the time...
He returned with a disk and did something with it that I couldn't see. He then began to chant in Latin or something over the Xerox machine which began to buck and shine again. He then threw the vial at it and everything went quiet. He told me the Xerox machine had been exercised and left.
The rest of the night was pretty normal...
It was around 1 AM. Issac, who was carrying Bob, was looking about nervously as Allen typed entrance codes into the security system. "Are you sure it's safe to stand out front of the Dynamax complex like this? And where did you get those codes?" Issac whispered.
"No, it's not safe," replied Allen, "and I got the codes from the main office building. Funny story. I'll have to tell it to you sometime." The front door then slid open. "Now lets get in so we don't HAVE to stand out front any more!"
They hurried into the building and began heading towards the cybernetics wing. "We'll only have three hours before someone shows up to work," Allen whispered back to Issac. "If I'm not done by then, you might have to get rough. Do you remember how to activate the binding spell."
"Yeah," said Issac, "but I'm really scared about using it. The last time I let him in that much I nearly destroyed the who campus."
"Don't worry, you know what you're doing this time."
They went through a set of doors with the words "Threlkain Project" written on them. "This is the place!" Allen exclaimed.
The room looked like a combination between a operating room and a high tech amunitions dump. All the requirements for a surgical operation were in the center of the room while various pieces of cybernetic equipment were in boxes along the walls.
Issac set Bob down on the operating table while Allen became acquainted with the equipment. He saw Allen pull a printout from his pocket and look it over saying, "Now lets see, how do I put one of these together?..."
Issac turned away and stared at the door. He didn't want to have to watch this.
For several hours Issac could hear the hummings, clankings, and grindings of the operation going on behind him. Every now and again he's hear Allen say something like, "Ooops, that shouldn't be there!" or "Hmmm, which arm would look cooler?" Issac felt bad for Bob, not for Allen's lack of skill but his lack of professionalism. He had this terrible feeling Bob would end up looking like Zippy the Clown or something.
Eventually Allen said, "It's OK, Issac. The bloody stuff's done and you can look now."
Issac walked over the operating table and looked. Bob's right arm was a mesh of metal bars and wires ending in what resembled a hand. The machinery continued up along the right side of his head and into the device that rested in Bob's open cranium. All the rest of him was completely normal.
"His arm..." Issac began.
"Yes, I know," said Allen. "He had lost total use of it. Since I have a feeling he won't be leading a normal life any more, I decided to give him something to protect him from that new life. All I have left to do is -"
"Dynamax security! Freeze!" Four men in yellow uniforms burst into the lab. They leveled their guns in Allen and Issac's direction. Issac wheeled around, frightened of what needed to be done.
"Issac! Use the spell!" insisted Allen.
Issac drew himself up and prepared for his worst nightmare. He called out, "Nergal, Nergal! Nergal Ia! Ia!"
Suddenly Issac began to grow. His clothing ripped to shreds and his bare skin was quickly covered in a gold fur. In moments, Issac's head was atop the seven foot body of a upright lion. He raised his hands into the air and let out a mighty roar that shook the building. In a flash, a sword appeared in his right hand and a flail in his left.
The guards opened fire on the beast before them, the bullets bouncing off it harmlessly. With a mighty swing, the flail came down on the first guard, crushing his head to a pulp. "Retreat!" cried the apparent leader.
Allen finished up his final connections and was trying to get Bob to wake up. "Come on, Bob! Up and at 'em!"
"Uuuuhhh..." he moaned.
In the meantime, Issac/Nergal threw his sword at one of the fleeing guards like a javelin, running him through and pinning him to the wall. The beast again let out another roar.
By now, Allen had Bob up on his feet and was leading him out. Fortunately, everyone else in the building was scrambling to get out too, including janitors, guards, and early arriving doctors. No one noticed Allen leading the robed figure out the exit.
What they did notice was the beast had grown even larger in size, almost fifteen feet tall now. It was swinging it's flail about like a wrecking ball, bringing down the entire cybernetics wing. "Good thing they don't keep anything alive in there," thought Allen as he hurried to Issac's Porche.
After several more minutes of destruction, the beast disappeared and Issac came running out to the car, naked. Allen put on the gas and took off amidst all the newly arriving police cars and ambulances.
Allen and Issac were loading supplies into the Porche, getting ready for a road trip to Chicago. "I lost control, didn't I?" Issac asked glumly.
"No," replied Allen, "you were in control the whole time. You were simply living out some power mad desires that lay in your subconscious."
"So I'll act like that every time I call on him?"
"No, you'll learn a bit more each time and it'll be easier. Hhhmmph!" Allen dropped a large suitcase into the back seat next to the sleeping Bob. "Hopefully you won't kill any more, either. We may have to have you practice out in the woods or something." Allen looked at Bob. "He's the one who'll have the trouble adjusting. It's a good thing he never really came to. I didn't have time to explain everything I'm gonna have to explain to him when he's awake."
"Explain how to use his powers?" asked Issac.
"No, explain why I lied to him."
Several moments of silence passed as the last of the supplies were put in the trunk. "Why Chicago, Allen?" Issac suddenly asked.
Allen jumped into the driver's seat and replied, "Because it's my home town and there are some secrets there I'll need to brush off."
He then slipped his Blues Brothers Soundtrack CD into the player. "And I haven't paid homage to my two personal heroes for a long time!" Allen proclaimed with a renewed smile.
"Bow-chick-a-bow-bow Bow-chick-a-bow-bow Da-Daaaaa!" the music began as they sped off along the highway. "She caught the Katie, and left me and you to ride..."