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Welcome to a 'Moloch Manoeuvres' Web-Serial Synopsis Page

- Top of Page Search Engine - Phantacea Publications available in print and digitally - Bottom of Page Ordering Lynx -

Phantacea Publications in Print

- The 'Launch 1980' story cycle - 'The Thrice-Cursed Godly Glories' Fantasy Trilogy - The '1000 Days' Mini-Novels - The phantacea Graphic Novels -

The 'Launch 1980' Story Cycle

The War of the Apocalyptics

Front cover of War Pox, artwork by Ian Bateson, 2009

Published in 2009; main webpage is here; ordering lynx are here;

Nuclear Dragons

Nuclear Dragons front cover, artwork by Ian Bateson, 2013

Published in 2013; main webpage is here; ordering lynx are here;

Helios on the Moon

Front cover for Helios on the Moon, artwork by Ricardo Sandoval, 2014

Published in 2014; main webpage is here; ordering lynx are here;

The 'Launch 1980' story cycle comprises three complete, multi-character mosaic novels, "The War of the Apocalyptics", "Nuclear Dragons" and "Helios on the Moon", as well as parts of two others, "Janna Fangfingers" and "Goddess Gambit". Together they represent creator/writer Jim McPherson's long running, but now concluded, project to novelize the Phantacea comic book series.

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'The Thrice-Cursed Godly Glories' Epic Fantasy

Feeling Theocidal

Front Cover for Feel Theo, artwork by Verne Andru, 2008

Published in 2008; main webpage is here; ordering lynx are here

The 1000 Days of Disbelief

Front cover of The Thousand Days of Disbelief, collage prepared by Jim McPherson, 2010

Published as three mini-novels, 2010/11; main webpage is here; ordering lynx for individual mini-novels are here

Goddess Gambit

Front cover for Goddess Gambit by Verne Andru, 2012

Published in 2012; main webpage is here; ordering lynx are here

Circa the Year of Dome 2000, Anvil the Artificer, a then otherwise unnamed, highborn Lazaremist later called Tvasitar Smithmonger, dedicated the first three devic talismans, or power foci, that he forged out of molten Brainrock to the Trigregos Sisters.

The long lost, possibly even dead, simultaneous mothers of devakind hated their offspring for abandoning them on the far-off planetary Utopia of New Weir. Not surprisingly, their fearsome talismans could be used to kill Master Devas (devils).

For most of twenty-five hundred years, they belonged to the recurring deviant, Chrysaor Attis, time after time proven a devaslayer. On Thrygragon, Mithramas Day 4376 YD, he turned them over to his Great God of a half-father, Thrygragos Varuna Mithras, to use against his two brothers, Unmoving Byron and Little Star Lazareme, in hopes of usurping their adherents and claiming them as his own.

Hundreds of years later, these selfsame thrice-cursed Godly Glories helped turn the devil-worshippers of Sedon's Head against their seemingly immortal, if not necessarily undying gods. Now, five hundred years after the 1000 Days of Disbelief, they've been relocated.

The highest born, surviving devic goddesses want them for themselves; want to thereby become incarnations of the Trigregos Sisters on the Hidden Continent. An Outer Earthling, one who has literally fallen out of the sky after the launching of the Cosmic Express, gets to them first ...

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The '1000 Days' Mini-Novels

The Death's Head Hellion

- Sedonplay -

Front cover for The Death's Head Hellion, collage prepared by Jim McPherson, 2010

Published in 2010; main web presence is here; Character Companion starts here; ordering lynx are here;

Contagion Collectors

- Sedon Plague -

Front cover for Contagion Collectors, collage prepared by Jim McPherson, 2010

Published in 2010; main web presence is here; Character Companion starts here; ordering lynx are here;

Janna Fangfingers

- Sedon Purge -

Front cover for Janna Fangfingers, collage prepared by Jim McPherson, 2011

Published in 2011; two storylines recounted side-by-side, the titular one narrated by the Legendarian in 5980, the other indirectly leading into the 'Launch 1980' story cycle; main web presence is here; Character Companion starts here; ordering lynx are here;

In the Year of the Dome 4825, Morgan Abyss, the Melusine Master of the Utopian Weirdom of Cabalarkon, seizes control of Primeval Lilith, the ageless, seemingly unkillable Demon Queen of the Night. The eldritch earthborn is the real half-mother of the invariably mortal Sed-sons but, once she has hold of her, aka Lethal Lily, Master Morgan proceeds to trap the Moloch Sedon Himself.

In the midst of the bitter, century-long expansion of the Lathakran Empire, the Hidden Headworld's three tribes of devil-gods are forced to unite in an effort to release their All-Father. Unfortunately for them, they're initially unaware Master Morg, the Death's Head Hellion herself, has also got hold of the Trigregos Talismans, devic power foci that can actually kill devils, and Sedon's thought-father Cabalarkon, the Undying Utopian she'll happily slay if they dare attack her Weirdom.

Utopians from Weir have never given up seeking to wipe devils off not just the face of the Inner Earth, but off the planet itself. Their techno and biomages, under the direction of the Weirdom of Cabalarkon's extremely long-lived High Illuminary, Quoits Tethys, have determined there is only one sure way to do that -- namely, to infect the devils' Inner Earth worshippers with fatal plagues brought in from the Outer Earth.

Come All-Death Day there are more Dead Things Walking than Living Beings Talking. Believe it or not, that's the good news.

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phantacea Graphic Novels

Forever and Forty Days

- The Genesis of Phantacea -

Front cover of Forever and Forty Days; artwork by Ian Fry and Ian Bateson, ca 1990

Published in 1990; main webpage is here; ordering lynx are here

The Damnation Brigade

- Phantacea Revisited 1 -

Front cover of The Damnation Brigade, artwork by Ian Bateson, retouching by Chris Chuckry 2012

Published in 2013; main webpage is here; ordering lynx are here

Cataclysm Catalyst

- Phantacea Revisited 2 -

Front cover for Cataclysm Catalyst, artwork by Verne Andru, 2013

Published in 2014, main webpage is here; ordering lynx are here

Kadmon Heliopolis had one life. It ended in October 1968. The Male Entity has had many lives. In his fifth, he and his female counterpart, often known as Miracle Memory, engendered more so than created the Moloch Sedon. They believe him to be the Devil Incarnate. They've been attempting to kill him ever since. Too bad it's invariably he, Heliosophos (Helios called Sophos the Wise), who gets killed instead.

On the then still Whole Earth circa the Year 4000 BCE, one of their descendants, Xuthros Hor, the tenth patriarch of Golden Age Humanity, puts into action a thought-foolproof, albeit mass murderous, plan to succeed where the Dual Entities have always failed. He unleashes the Genesea. The Devil takes a bath.

Fifty-nine hundred and eighty years later, New Century Enterprises launches the Cosmic Express from Centauri Island. It never reaches Outer Space; not all of it anyhow. As a stunning consequence of its apparent destruction, ten extraordinary supranormals are reunited, bodies, souls and minds, after a quarter century in what they've come to consider Limbo. They name themselves the Damnation Brigade. And so it appears they are -- if perhaps not so much damned as doomed.

At least one person survives the launching of the Cosmic Express. He literally falls out of the sky -- on the Hidden Continent of Sedon's Head. An old lady saves him. Except this old lady lives in a golden pagoda, rides vultures and has a third eye. She also doesn't stay old long. He becomes her willing soldier, acquires the three Sacred Objects and goes on a rampage, against his own people, those that live.

Meanwhile, Centauri Island, the launch site of the Cosmic Express, comes under attack from Hell's Horsemen. Only it's not horses they ride. It's Atomic Firedrakes!

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'The Moloch Manoeuvres'

Alternative pHlogo prepared by Jim McPherson, 2002

pH-Webworld

-- Story Synopses --

Heliodyssey

 

Potential cover for The Molech Manoeuvres, prepared by Jim McPheron

Gold-Mining for PHANTACEA Factoids
| Psychopomps |

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  1. Witches of Weir
  2. Wayfarers of the Weird
  3. Devil-Doings
  4. Pagan Princesses
  5. Devic Undoings
copyright © Jim McPherson (phantacea)
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1. The Moloch Manoeuvres: "Witches of Weir"

There's a vampire loose in Rome in January 1938. Or is there? And, even if there is, a vampire is probably the least thing anyone has to worry about. World War is looming and the Alliance of Man is doing its best to prevent it. If that can't be done then it intends to make sure it is between Nazi Germany and the Soviet Union in Europe, and/or Imperial Japan and the Soviet Union in Asia.

There's another problem on the Alliance's plate however. Dozens of them. And they're all just turned or just turning seventeen. These are the Summoning Children, born in late December 1920 or early January 1921. All were conceived around Easter 1920 and a number of them were born to former members of the Godling Guild lost in the Himalayan Valley of the Visionaries at the beginning of Lent that year.

What were they doing there? The short answer, and perhaps the only answer, is that they were summoned.

The mothers of a few of the girls born as a result of the Summoning died in the process. It is at least one of these girls that the Blood Beast Prime is after. Why? No one is really certain. What is certain is that the Alliance of Man has gathered in Rome to determine what to do with the Summoning Children.

Loxus Ryne, who founded the Alliance to replace the Godling Guild and is also the patriarch of the Illuminated Faith of Xuthros Hor, wants them all to be educated at the Academy of Man he is building in Amsterdam. But some of the German members of the Alliance, predominantly Baron Tyrtod von Alptraum and his mother-in-law, Hulga Faust always Volsung, would prefer them educated in Berlin.

The Soviets are against Berlin and the Japanese are boycotting the conference altogether. As for the Americans, well, they are still pretending that whatever happens in the rest of the world will not affect them.

What is the big deal about these Summoning Children? The answer is that, to a one, they are extraordinary, pure and simple. A number were not allowed to participate in the Berlin Olympics because they were just too damn good. Others are budding scientific or artistic geniuses. One of them, Jesus Mandam, Ryne's nephew, once coined a term for the bunch of them: supranormals!

And just how supra are they? Ryne has a theory about that. He thinks they are the reincarnations of the Gods and Goddesses, the Demons and Monsters, of Ancient Mythology.

Then there are the Twin Tantaluses, a couple of transparent display cases containing, well, there is some debate about that too. Supposedly the two that have recently turned up were part of a number of treasuries taken from the Cave Temple of Varuna Mithras on Vatican Hill in 376 AD by Roman Legionnaires, most of whom worshipped Mithras before Christianity became a force in the old Empire.

One of the Tantaluses is in the hands of a band of Etocretan Extremists, anarchists to a man, woman, other of them, led by Agenor Heliopolis. The other is being held by a certain Etzel Sangati, an itinerant magician whose stage name is Count Molech. He just happens to be Heliopolis' blood brother and his manservant, whose name is Djinn, may well be a legitimate genie.

Count Molech though is tired of his gypsy life and wants to sell his Tantalus to the German contingent led by Baron von Alptraum and Hulga Faust. Heliopolis, who hates all Germans because of what Nazi 'advisers' were in the process of doing to his Internationalist cause in Spain, is against his blood brother's efforts.

Hel knows what his Tantalus contained, the paraphernalia of the Olympian Gods, and suspects the other one holds much the same thing: namely, the goods and glories of the Aesgardian Gods. If the German Summoning Children get hold of it then the likes of Odin, Thor, Valfreja, and Balder might be out and about again, -- just like, in Heliopolis and his loose-knit band of freedom fanatics, Zeus, Athene, Ares, and so on, potentially already are!

While vampires may be the least of anyone's concerns, Hulga Volsung is approaching her sixtieth birthday and hates the prospect of growing any older more than she fears death itself. She claims her Summoning-Aged daughter, Freya, was adopted; that her actual mother died giving her birth; and that therefore the golden-blonde, but deathly ill, beauty is an ideal mate for a Vampire Maker. He can have her if he promises to turn Hulga into an unaging, nocturnal blood-sucker.

The Blood Beast Prime is not interested in Freya but his half-sister, Medea Annulis, -- whose husband, Jason, is a highly skilled surgeon --, wants her for their son, Apsyrtus. They will have glorious children, Medea tells Hulga, real gods and goddesses, not phony Olympians or Aegardians. As an enticement Medea offers Hulga 'Aeson's Bath' exactly as it was detailed in Ovid's Metamorphoses.

Trouble is Hulga has read the same book and knows what Medea of Colchis did to Aeson's rival for the throne of Corinth in Minoan times. She politely refuses the modern day Medea's generosity.

So who is the vampire? Actually, as Hulga, Medea, and a number of bona fide witches gathering in Rome know, there is no vampire as such. There is however a potential vampire maker. Except he will only be fertile for one night, tomorrow, the Thirteenth, the night of the full moon. After that he can turn himself any time he pleases. Then there will be a real vampire on the prowl.

Of course Count Molech has to last that long first!

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2. The Moloch Manoeuvres: "Wayfarers of the Weird"

Medea's lamia, Neith and Lathe, are hungry. Ordinarily she would just let them go for a few days to seek their sustenance where they may. She does not have a few days however. Her half-brother, Count Molech, may have need of them tomorrow, the Thirteenth, the night of the full moon.

Unlike her or her brother though, they are great killers, these two wyrms. So she sets them on their carnivorous way through the Grey to the D'Angelo family villa near Vatican Hill. Why there? Because she despises Sedon St. Synne, a notorious sensualist/satyr, and the younger Angelics are his grandchildren. Oh yes, children are what lamia eat!

Except, who should be there waiting for them between-space but Granny Garuda and her latest pupil, a Summoning-Aged American Aboriginal and Athenan War Witch by the name of Sorciere. Despite her youth, she's a real killer too, -- at least she wants to be.

Medea doesn't fancy getting involved in a blood baptism. Not when the blood would probably be mostly hers. So she whips her lamia out of Rome, towards the nexus gateway to Big Shelter on Aegean Trigon. Trouble is Granny's a lot faster than her winged wyrms!

Meanwhile Jesus Mandam, another Summoning Child, has literally popped in to visit Hulga once Faust now Volsung again. Popped in to pop Horrid Hulga, to be more precise. It appears she has been trying to trade her Summoning-Aged Daughter, Valfreja Volsung, to Count Molech in return for his vampiric kiss.

Jesse though, from his father, Magister Joseph Mandam, -- who is no more in Rome than Sedon St. Synne is --, knows what will happen if Freya lives long enough to bear the Moloch's child. She'll die giving it birth. Seems Jess fancies himself the Saviour of Supranormalkind. And all the Summoning Children are potential supras!

Unaware of the confrontation going on in the Grey just beyond the family villa, Mnemosyne D'Angelo has taken Maxwell Dre'Ath to bed. It's his 17th birthday so this is her way of giving him a present. It's his first time but for Memory of the Angels, well, she's an Afrite, a Lovely Lady, a worshipper of Aphrodite. She considers love, make that love-making, an offering to the Great Goddess.

What she does not realize is what young Dre'Ath's Summoning Heritage has granted him, -- the ability to turn innate supras into actual ones.Much to her horror, Memory discovers she can read the memories of Niece Claudia's cat, Bast. What horrifies her even more is what Bast, many miles away on the old Appian Way, has seen earlier that night, -- a Taurobolium. In the Pope's Basement!

Sedon St Synne is a Wayfarer in the Weird. He can dream walk and does so to visit Count Molech as he sleeps. The Moloch thinks he can avoid St. Synne by waking up. He's wrong. Sed-son sends his astral projection to his bed chamber. He warns the counterfeit count to stay away from his granddaughters, specifically Anita D'Angelo, who is Daughter Sophia's eldest of seven children.

Thalassa, another likely candidate for Sangati's Satanic Seed living in the villa, is adopted and therefore not of St. Synne's blood. She is one of the Terrible Twins, however (Aires being the other one), and they don't mess about; unless it's with each other of course. Air and Sea, as they are nicknamed, are also Summoning Children.

Vampire bat spotted and shot in Copan Honduras by Jim McPherson, writer's cover prepared ca 2002The Melanchlaeni Magician protests his innocence; they, and Magister Mandam, Jesse and Barsine's father, -- Barstool's not by Mary Magdalene nee Ryne and also isn't in Rome --, already have an agreement about that. St. Synne tells the Moloch he'll him hold responsible for the actions of his half-sisters, Medea Annulis and Mata Avar. And Medea was going to sick her sickening lamia on Gloriella and Baby Marcello.

Something happens to any of his children or children's children, and any of the count's relations are in any way responsible, there will be hell to pay. And Count Molech will pay it with a one-way ticket to that very place!

It has been a long, mostly sleepless night for Eden Nightingale, the natural-born Althean wife of Loxus Abraham Ryne. She has been studying Roman Mithraism at the request of Dolores nee D'Angelo Rivera, the Antheans' youngish, at thirty-five, Superior. Made some pretty remarkable discoveries as well. For example, she is convinced that Count Molech has the potential to become a werewolf. And quotes both Herodotus and Dante to back up her assertion!

It is an extended and, for both of them, fascinating conversation. One only interrupted when Ted Mayhew, Ryne's factor factotum, bursts in on them. He has just had a phone call from Dolores Rivera. Raphael D'Angelo is hers and Mnemosyne's older brother. Is also the host for the Alliance of Man's Roman gathering, a confidante of the Pope, a well-connected and fairly ruthless Sicilian, and a leading member of the Knights Hospitaller.

Rafe has just learned of a truly disgusting event in the Tomb of Cecilia Mettella, near the catacombs of San Sebastion out on the old Appian Way. As Superior Sorrow puts it to Mayhew, quoting her brother, 'Heathen Mithrants have defiled God's Holy House!'

Many a witch has gathered in Rome for the Alliance's conference on what to do with the Summoning Children. Besides Antheans and Afrites, there are War Witches of Athena, ostensibly named after the seventeen years dead Athena nee Kinesis Ryne as opposed to Olympian Athene, as well as Althean healers like Eden Nightingale and Gilda Dre'Ath, young Maxwell's mother.

There are also Hellions like the Etocretans, Megaera nee Kinesis now Zeross, Artemis nee Zeross now Hyperenor, Roxanne nee Heliopolis now Kinesis, Argiope nee Zeross soon-to-be Heliopolis, and Laodice Atreides, whose mother, Clymene nee Catreus, is Roxanne and Agenor Heliopolis' maternal aunt. Finally, there are the Ophirants/Ophidians like Medea and Mata, Count Molech's half-sisters, and Korants trained by Medea and Mata such as the various Volsungs. Due to their mental instability these may be the most dangerous of them all. Not for nothing are they considered Maenad Madwomen!

Two of the Athenan War Witches are Sorciere and Fisherwoman, as they codename themselves. Just as Clymene, Mystery Might, was the Hellions' primary teacher, Granny Garuda, Kanin nee Nauroz Falconiform, was their instructress. However, she once taught another witch also then in Rome. And this witch is probably the strangest of them all.

She appears to be a pretty blonde seven year old, -- but she has been a seven year old since nine months after the Summoning of 1920 ended. Has therefore been a seven year old for seventeen years. In fact, since she was seventeen herself!

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3. The Moloch Manoeuvres: "Devil-Doings"

Young Life and Young Death don't like each other. This might seem odd given that, as Pandora Mannering and Augustus Nauroz, they were once married and had two children together. But that was seventeen years ago and, thanks to two devils, they had been apparent seven year olds since that time.

Or had they? Might they not be feeorins, faerie children? What is certain is that they are both tricksters and could get about between-space on witches' stepping stones. Young Death has another way to get about though, a rather unsavoury one, -- he kills himself!It is January 13, 1938. The night before, a Taurobolium initiation ceremony had been performed in the Tomb of Cecilia Metella, just up the hill from the original catacombs, the death-place of Saints Peter and Paul. Because of who this Cecilia was, who her father had been more precisely, this provokes a lengthy discussion of comparative mythology amongst the ancients, with special emphasis on Mithraism.

Participating in this discussion are Loxus Abraham Ryne, Eden Nightingale, Angus and Gilda Dre'Ath, Raphael D'Angelo, and his sister, Dolores now Rivera.The six of them are at the D'Angelo Family Villa, not far from the Vatican. Papa Rafe is acting as the host of the Alliance's gathering in Rome to decide the educational future of the Summoning Children. Dolores, also known as Sister Sorrow, is the youngish Superior of the Antediluvian Sisterhood of Anthea, the legendary wife of Xuthros Hor, -- the Biblical Noah.

Gilda is sort of Superior Sorrow's mentor, an Althean Healer. Husband Angus, the eldest there, was an old friend of the late Charon Ryne and acts as his son's chief adviser. Abe Ryne is of course the Patriarch of the Illuminated Faith of Xuthros Hor but, somewhat oddly, his wife, the youngest of them all, may be the most knowledgeable of the six gathered there.Not all that far away, at the Alliance's hotel, the site of its final scheduled meeting that afternoon, another brunch gathering is taking place.

Some of those staying at the D'Angelos' villa are there. They include Sean Dre'Ath, the eldest son of Angus and Gilda, his slightly younger brother, Nathan, and the Summoning Child of the Dre'Aths, Maxwell. Also from the D'Angelos' villa are Sorrow's husband, Diego Rivera, his foster daughter, Virginia Mannering, and the Terrible Twins, Aires and Thalassa D'Angelo. Ginny is with Brunhild von Alptraum while the latter's identically-aged cousins, Tanith von Blut and Valfreja Faust-Volsung, are fawning over Aires.

Meanwhile, upstairs in the Hotel, Jesus Mandam, yet another Summoning Child, is being held by Donar Lancz, an out-and-out Nazi who once challenged Abe Ryne for the Xuthrodites' Patriarchy and is now a major player in the Teutonic Order, and Hulga Volsung, Freya's mother of record. Mandam, who is also the patriarch's nephew, had been captured by Lancz and his men, his universally blond-haired and blue-eyed Hermiones, the night before, -- just before he had a chance to kill Hulga. Because of his relationship to Ryne, Lancz has decided to keep Jess alive and, hopefully, turn him to the German cause.

Besides, in Count Molech, Etzel Sangati, they have a mutual enemy. Jesse wants him dead because he's after a Summoning Child to bear his son. And anyone foolish enough to become pregnant by the Moloch will die giving birth. Lancz wants him dead too, though not immediately. First he wants to get the Northern Treasury from him, -- the Mithraic Tantalus containing the goods and glories of the Aesgardian Pantheon. In particular, Donar wants Mjolnir, the Hammer of Thor!

All Hell breaks loose in the hotel dining room once Lancz, Mandam, and Hulga finally make their appearance. Gas and smoke grenades go off. In the mayhem that follows, two notable, though possibly unrelated, events take place. The first is someone wrestling Donar to the ground and gouging into his chest the emblem of a single-headed hammer similar to the letter P with an X crossed through its handle. The second is someone shooting, and killing, Stephen von Blut, Tanith's uncle and an associate of Mata Avar, one of Etzel Sangati's half-sisters. Two others, Count Zygion Avar, Mata's husband, and Tyrtod von Blut, Tanith's father, have been shot with some kind of poisoned dart. Turns out the sleep-inducing darts are shaped like silver arrowheads, -- an age-old symbol of Cretan Freedom Fighters!

As the hotel is evacuated a little girl, Jolene Callion, latches onto Virginia. She speaks with a French accent but it's North American French, Quebecois or, more likely, Louisiana Cajun. She's blond and cute, hence her nickname, Joli Blon, but she is much more than that. Though she knows it's impossible, -- the child could not be more than seven years old --, Ginny thinks she recognizes her. Maybe she should. Maybe this little one is Ginny's half-sister. Or maybe, just maybe, she's her mother!

The cast of major players in this saga has now been assembled. Everyone but one, that is. And, although she won't make her official appearance for a few subsections still to come, she's been around throughout the Moloch Manoeuvres. In fact, while her name comes up frequently in this instalment, Manoeuvres began with her murdering Azrael Sangati, the current Moloch's vampiric uncle!

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4. The Moloch Manoeuvres: "Pagan Princesses"

As Mnemosyne D'Angelo, Memory of the Angels, sits down to discuss her bizarre visions of the night previous with Loxus Ryne among others, elsewhere in Rome the Cheyenne Summoning Child, John Sundown, has followed Agenor Heliopolis, his former commander in the International Brigade, to a warehouse on the Tiber River.

He sees Hel and some others he remembers from Spain unload a glass display case filled with an odd assortment of clothing, antique weaponry and armour that might have been fashioned out of bronze. Though he knows it not, this is one of the Twin Tantaluses. Supposedly, it contained treasures stolen by Mithras-worshipping Roman Legionnaires some fifteen hundred years earlier; talismanic treasures that amounted to the Goods and Glories of the Olympian Gods.

With Mnemosyne and the patriarch in the D'Angelo Family Villa are the former's sister, Dolores now Rivera, the Anthean Mother Superior, the latter's wife, Eden Nightingale, and his two oldest friends and advisers, Angus and Gilda nee O'Ryan Dre'Ath. They are the parents of Elaine, who is not in Rome, Sean, Nathan, and Maxwell, whom Memory had been in bed with when she had her extraordinary encounter with a cat's mind.

Of some significance, Memory of the Angels and Eden Nightingale are exactly the same age, to the day, and even look a little alike. They are not the only ones in the room with long distance twins however. Besides having an actual twin, the late Mary Magdalene, mother of Jesus Mandam, Loxus Ryne was born on the same day, January 1, 1900, as Donar Lancz.

This is important because Lancz, in many respects the great man's opposite, has been trying to recruit Maxwell Dre'Ath to join his Hermiones. Indeed, the Elder Dre'Aths and Hulga Faust always Volsung have had some discussions regarding marrying their Max to her Valfreja. Unfortunately, Lancz also wants to marry Freya and is having trouble taking no for an answer.

After digesting Memory's assertion that she pulled a Circean with Bast, her niece's cat, the six of them have a long, wide-ranging blabfest. They go over what they've learned of Mithraism, from pre-Persian times right up to the present day, and touch on its strictly female counterpart, the Korant Sisterhood, which Hulga Volsung is attempting to revive with the help of Count Molech's two surviving half-sisters, Mata Avar and Medea Annulis.

Ryne seems disinterested until Memory mentions that Virginia Mannering, Dolores and Diego's foster child, the Summoning Child who not only looked a little like him but whose upbringing he funded, had gone off to the Alliance's hotel that morning with Diego, the three Dre'Ath boys, and a few others.

Though these included the Terrible Twins, Aires and Thalassa, and some of Papa Rafe's Sicilian gunmen -- which meant she should be in safe hands -- what agitates Ryne so much is that Count Molech, Etzel Sangati, might also be at the hotel. Then a car pulls up and the two Angelics go to see if it's Ginny and the rest of them.

With Memory and Superior Sorrow out of the room, the remaining four get into what Agenor Heliopolis and Angelo Zeross told the great man that morning about the Twin Tantaluses and what were inside them; about Etzel Sangati being a genuine Moloch, a Vampire Maker, and a shape-shifter on top of everything else; and about Etzel's uncle, Azrael Sangati, being the same thing, a Blood Beast Prime, when the long gone Celestine D'Angelo, only seven at the time, slew him back in 1895.

As might be expected, they eventually get around to what was really inside the Twin Tantaluses. If they did contain the goods and glories of both the Olympian and Teutonic Gods and Goddesses, why had it taken so long for anyone to unearth them? Maybe they unearthed themselves. Forget the how, what about the why? Because their original owners had been reborn, -- were in fact the myriad Summoning Children!

At that very moment, downtown in the hospice where most of the Etocretans are staying, Argiope 'Bright Face' Zeross is showing off the latest gift from her fiance, Agenor Heliopolis, to Medea's son, Apsyrtus Annulis. What is it? Does Dolores nee D'Angelo Rivera sometimes talk in the voice of her dead sister, the Celestial Superior?

Is there a relationship between Eden Nightingale and the D'Angelo women, particularly their long gone mother, Leonora nee Tedesco? And is that really Hiliarti Schroff, the seven year old daughter of Skadi nee von Blut and Richard Schroff, both of whom were killed in the Sedoni Cave on Crete a couple of years earlier, who came back with Virginia and the others from the hotel?

Tricky questions these. Of course that's the way the little trickster likes them. Can't trick a trickster, can you?

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5. The Moloch Manoeuvres: "Devic Undoings"

Donar Lancz is no trickster. Nor does he know anything about tricksters. He does believe in the supernatural, though, and actually thinks that Baphomet, the bejewelled head he stole from Baron Tyrtod von Alptraum during his takeover of the Teutonic Order, speaks to him. What he doesn't know is who does Baphomet's speaking. Then again, he doesn't know anything about Wayfarers in the Weird either.

What he does know, is informed of more like, -- by Vele Schuler, his right hand man --, is who branded him with the Mithraic Labarum, the single-headed hammer with an 'X' crossed over its shaft. Actually know might be too strong a word. What Schuler found in the hotel that morning after the assault on his boss and the execution of Stephen von Blut were some anaesthetic darts shaped like silver arrows. And Silver Arrowheads were the calling cards of Sagittarius and Sagitta, Nester and Artemis nee Zeross Hyperenor. The very people Lancz wanted Schuler to hire to assassinate Loxus Ryne and the Baron had been the ones who branded him and killed Stephen!

It isn't young Hiliarti Schroff who Virginia Mannering brought with her to the D'Angelo Villa. It's a face dancer, an illusionist, a Mariamnic, a feeorin, a trickster. It's Pandora Mannering, Jolene Callion, Joli Blon, -- only she prefers to call herself Hush. Memory knows her right away.

When she was looking after Ginny from 1923 until 1928 or so, Hush took her place for a while. Did the same thing to Joanie and Gillian Galvin, Gilda's nieces by Sister Bunnie and Jimbo Galvin, in the early thirties. Seems that was one of her jobs, to take the place of seven year olds while the Sisterhood tested to see if they were Great Goddesses.

One who definitely isn't a Great Goddess is Mata nee Sangati Avar, one of the modern-day Moloch's two surviving half-sisters. Though she had been affected by the gas and smoke bombs that masked the Etocretans assault on the hotel this morning, she had not been one of those hit with a sleep dart; a dart that could just as easily have been a bullet.

She hadn't been forewarned but she didn't need to see any silver arrowheads to figure out who was responsible for the assault. What she couldn't figure was why they had branded Donar Lancz yet murdered Stephen von Blut. They hadn't, explained her brother, Etzel Sangati, Count Molech. Oh, he had gouged the Mithraic Labarum into Lancz's chest but the Silver Arrows hadn't killed anyone. They'd just come along to act as support if needed.

So who did kill Stephen? Was it Agenor Heliopolis, Sangati's blood brother? Was it one of his former comrades in the International Brigade taking revenge for von Blut's actions in Spain the year before. Stephen's colleagues there had been dropping like flies ever since Guernica.

Etzel either didn't know or wouldn't say. He was looking for their other half-sister, Medea Annulis. Where was she? Mata speculated maybe she finally got enough nerve up to kill Mnemosyne D'Angelo, the person who killed their mother, Rhea Ararat, in 1923. Sangati wasn't buying it. He'd told Medea to stay away from Memory of the Angels.

His blood brother needed the goodwill of Raphael and his Sicilian cohorts, the ones who were supplying the Black Rose with weapons for the Great Greek Revolution Heliopolis was plotting. And, as for Agenor slaying Stephen, -- no way! Mithrants didn't kill fellow Mithrants.

After revealing her identity, Hush Mannering sits down with Eden Nightingale, Memory and Dolores nee D'Angelo, and Gilda Dre'Ath. The five of them analyze what's been going on in Rome and try to figure out what makes Count Molech tick.

They conclude that, for some reason, he's fertile, a rare event, and that he wants to pass on his genes, have a son, before he turns himself into an actual vampire. They also figure he has to have a particular mate, a virgin Summoning Child whose mother died giving her birth.

While there are a few dozen Summoning Children in Rome, there aren't very many whose mothers died giving them birth. One that comes to mind is Roxanne nee Heliopolis Kinesis but she's no virgin; in fact, she already has a child, a one year old by the name of Romaine.

Another is Argiope 'Bright Face' Zeross but she's engaged to be married to Agenor Heliopolis, Hot Rox's twenty years older sibling and Etzel's blood brother, which probably disqualified her. Gypsies like Sangati were as big on blood-bonds as Etocretans.

Another who would not qualify would be Valfreja Volsung, Horrid Hulga's daughter. Unless Hulga wasn't her mother. And therein lay the problem. Could anyone be sure who was who's mother with all the witches that were abroad nine months after the Summoning seventeen years earlier?

Think of the three Summoning Aged girls in the villa, -- Virginia Mannering, whose parentage was unknown, Thalassa, who was adopted, and even Anita D'Angelo. Using that logic, any one of them might be his target.

And, as he told his half-sister just before he left her, Etzel Sangati was on his way to the D'Angelos' villa. Besides Mata and Djinn, the Moloch's manservant, only one other might be aware of that. That one other was a Wayfarer in the Weird, -- the very one who spoke through Baphomet.

His name was Sedon St. Synne and he didn't have to be in Rome for his spirit to be there. Sangati and Lancz via Baphomet were hardly the only ones he could connect with long distance either. One of the many others was Jesus Mandam!

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The Moloch Manoeuvres: Subsections 1-5

The Moloch Manoeuvres: Subsections 6-9

The Moloch Manoeuvres: Subsections 10-13

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