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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

- Double-click to enlarge in a new window -

  1. Her Story in the Making
  2. Supras of the Supernatural
  3. To the Devil His Duel
  4. Celestial Intercession
copyright © Jim McPherson (phantacea)
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6. "Her Story in the Making"

Oh, no, not more yap! Afraid so, -- albeit not for much longer.

This installment starts out with Hush (Jolene Callion, Joli Blon), Gilda, Eden, Memory, and Dolores examining the obvious, and not so obvious, candidates for Count Molech's, um, attentions. There are a surprising number of them actually. One is Barsine Mandam, Magister Joseph Mandam's Summoning-Aged daughter, whose mother may or may not have been the Magister's wife, Mary Magdalene born Ryne, who died ever so mysteriously at sea in April 1933. (And if Barsine's mother wasn't the Magdalene, was therefore unknown, she, the real mother, could have died giving her, Barsine, birth, couldn't she?) Of course Old Joe, Dragon Joe, is a man of mystery himself. He's also a man of knowledge, fancies himself an old-time Persian Magus even though he lives in Mesopotamia, and is extremely influential.

This influence extends not only to the Gypsies (Rhea Ararat, the 'Her Story' of Mole-6's title, may have been his sister) and the Etocretans (who, almost to a one, regard him as their mentor) but to the patriarch (Loxus Ryne, Joe's much younger brother-in-law), the Xuthrodite Faith, the Alliance of Man, and, though this is not yet evident, even to the reborn Mithrant Brotherhood. Of course the Magister would never give his precious daughter to a Blood Beast Prime. However, he was ruthless enough that he might make arrangements for an alternate in her stead.

Hush is convinced that alternative has to be Valfreja Volsung. But for the fact her mother's still alive, Freya had one appealing advantage: she was sickly, had some kind of internal cancer having to do with the reproductive organs, and was not expected to live much more than another year or two. If Memory was right and the 'virgin bride' had to be aware of what she was getting into, as was consistent with vampire lore, then she was perfect.

Freya would be desperate enough to bear a Vampire Maker's child because, once the kid was born, the Maker would turn himself, then turn her, the mother, into a vamp. Thus Freya would become an immortal bloodsucker and undie happily ever after with the Mighty Moloch, Mithrant Pater that he was, at her side. She would therefore become the Korant Mater, a position currently held, at least in name, by Freya's ostensible mother, Hulga Faust always Volsung.

Ah, but that's the melting pot in the steam bath, isn't it?, argued Gilda nee O'Ryan Dre'Ath. Hulga hadn't died giving her birth, had she? Who's to say the hag was her mother?, countered Hush. Me!, proclaimed Mama Goldie. Gilda was there when Hunnish Hulga gave birth to Freya, saw her coming out of the womb. And, as should go without saying, sleight-of-hand is much easier than sleight-of-womb.

What about Argiope Zeross then? Everyone knows Mother Britomars died giving her birth. Of course the same could be said about Aerobe nee Catreus, Roxanne nee Heliopolis now Kinesis's mother. Except Hot Rox was certainly no virgin and, to put the boot to that possibility altogether, already had a child, young Romaine, who was staying with the Atriedes, Laodice's parents, -- Clymene being Aerobe's sister --, back on Aegean Trigon.

No go, complained Memory. Etzel Sangati and Agenor Heliopolis, Roxanne's anarchist of a brother, the leader -- if that wasn't a contradiction in terms -- of the Minoan maniacs, are blood brothers. They would never hurt each other and Argiope Bright Face is Agenor's fiance. Eden confirms this, whereupon Memory drops her bomb. She knows who the target is ...

"It's someone the patriarch has and is willing to trade for Sangati's vampiric kiss. Has to be! The Tantaluses, that of Aesgard and that of Olympus, only showed up within the past year or so. It's Virginia, my Virginia, -- our Virginia, Doll! Quit playing stupid, Eden. I'm right, am I not?"

Eden was shocked at Memory's assertion. "Abe trading anyone for a bogus vampire's kiss is preposterous."

"Come up something better then. I'm telling you, everything points to Abe and the Magister!"

On another front, the Alliance's hotel, Donar Lancz and Jesus Mandam, the Magister's Summoning-Aged son by Mary Magdalene nee Ryne, compare notes. Young Mandam can get about between-space, one of the very few men who has that ability. At the same time Lancz was branded with the Mithraic Labarum someone shot and killed Stephen von Blut, who was comparatively pro-Slav but staunchly anti-communist, as well as being Lancz's main rival for Hitler's ear.

Although the assailant looked like one of the Lancz's Hermiones, Mandam is convinced the man was wearing a glamour. Is convinced, moreover, that it wasn't a man at all. Why? Because he/she got away on a stepping stone. Jesse followed the assailant into the Grey but lost him/her in, -- and this was interesting, given that she was so close to von Blut --, the hotel bedroom of Mata nee Sangati/Ararat Avar.

There are many other players in Heliodyssey beyond just those staying at the Alliance hotel or at the D'Angelo family villa. More than just Heliopolis's Etocretans and the Sangatis' gypsies as well. Some, like the Cheyenne Medicine Man named Manitoulin, Sedon St Synne and Joseph Mandam, are not even in Rome.

On Aegean Trigon, for example, the Atreides are out walking one year old Romaine Kinesis. There they make an intriguing discovery. At the foot of one of the Island's three spiralling peaks they find the black flower of a sloe or blackthorn bush. Clymene nee Catreus, Mystery Might, recognizes it instantly. It's the age-old symbol of Eris, sister of Ares, the Olympian God of War, she of the fabled Golden Apple of Discord and the legendary Judgement of Paris. Eris was more than just the personification of Discord however. She is best thought of as the living embodiment of Strife!

Three other players who are in Rome this thirteenth day of January 1938 but have contributed little to 'Manoeuvres' thus far are Auguste Moirnoir, the black-as-midnight Male Trickster who, for seventeen years, has been Hush's 'fairy' counterpart, -- Young Death to her Young Life; Solace Sunrise aka Sorciere, a Metis (half-French, half-Indian) Summoning Child who, like Hot Rox, has a child of her own; and Scylla Nereid, Fisherwoman, the exotic-looking aquatic who is somehow or other close to Magister Joseph Mandam. Moirnoir is also connected to the Mithraic Magus, as well as Sed-son, aging satyr that he is.

The Voodoo Child was supposed to be looking after young Jesse but, now that Donar Lancz had his brown-shirted, blood-stained claws into the erratic stumblebum of a Summoning Child, Moirnoir's giving up, going back to Africa to pick up the search for the missing Galvin/Shekmet party; a group of adventurers that include Barsine Mandam among their lost.

Fish and Sorciere, -- the one who, along with Granny Garuda, chased Medea Annulis back to Big Shelter in an earlier subsection --, have decided to hang around here in Rome. Good thing too. They're about to get very busy.

While Memory of the Angels is away from the house on unspecified business, Gilda Dre'Ath and Hush Mannering take a walk in the park across the street from the D'Angelos' villa. The topic of their conversation is mostly Rhea Ararat (Mama Moloch), her connection to the turn-of-the-century Anthean Sisterhood, of which she was co-Superior for awhile, her peculiar form of madness (maenadism), and her suspect 'celebration' of the True Easter, which resulted in the annual disappearances of her Year Kings from roughly 1902 until Leonora nee Tedesco D'Angelo at least semi-straightened her out circa 1909, or thereabouts.

(NOTE: Leonora was the mother of Celestine, Raphael, Dolores, and Mnemosyne as well as being the Ants' late, very much lamented, so-called Leonine Superior, -- Rhea's counterpart way back then.)

Hush and Gilda also discuss whether or not Rhea was the mother of Etzel Sangati. If she was, then it was unlikely she could have been the mother of Medea nee Aeetes Annulis as well. Quite simply they, Medea and the modern-day Moloch, were born too close together to have come from a common womb.

There are lots of other stuff of interest in their conversation and Hush is spellbound. All the more so when the Dre'Aths' Mama Goldie gets into the saga of Alexander the Great and how Olympias nee Sangati deliberately set up her son, Alexandros Kinesis, to become the reknowned Macedonian's reincarnation in hopes of relocating the Stream of Life. Then the little horror spots Count Molech's limousine, as driven by Djinn, Etzel Sangati's Arabian-looking manservant, pull into the D'Angelo driveway and decides to heed the call of nature.

So, is Ginny the Moloch's intended target and what's with the Strife flower? The answers -- at least partially and, in one case, quite determinate -- are found in this sequence!

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7. "Supras of the Supernatural"

To say the least, this subsection's hardly all yap. There are a lot of questions raised during it, however. Perhaps surprisingly, most of them are answered, too!

"Young girls are trouble," wise men and, from firsthand experience, wiser women have often observed. As Count Molech learns, this aphorism couldn't be more accurate when it comes to Virginia Mannering.

There's another Mannering out and about beyond Ginny though. Might even be two of them. One's Hush, as in Jolene Callion or Joli Blon. Though she does get sloppy, -- very nearly fatally so --, the little trickster isn't fooling around. However, her maybe Aunt, Ant-Afrite Memory, definitely is; specifically with Agenor Heliopolis!

What's John Sundown been up to? A mask that reminds me of Shamanitoulin, photo by Jim McPhersonWho's this other Wayfarer in the Weird, not Sed-Son, who talks to the Cheyenne Summoning Child as he cleans his pistol? How about Mata Avar, Young Death, Jesus Mandam, Sorciere, and Fisherwoman, among others?

What's so terrifying about the Terrible Twins? Is mild-mannered Diego Rivera a closet supra? Could he have been their father? Was Dolores, Superior Sorrow, their mother? Or are their secrets even more incredible? Do they even know they have secrets? Hush does, she's been training them, but does she know the real truth about them? Do they have a real truth that's that insidious?

Who is Master Kyprian? Is Brainrock, the stuff Ants get about on, the Holy Grail? (Actually, it's what it was made out of!)

Who set up Sean Dre'Ath, -- Hush, Eden, Ginny herself? Was it just a matter of plain old, mutually-activated hormones? Young people are so unthinking after all. Might it have been Destiny? Was it the way things had to be? What have simultaneous births got to do with Panharmonium?

Is Fish really a killer witch? Could she be the one who murdered Stephen von Blut in the hotel earlier that day? What's all this about Unholy Abaddon, the dreaded Unity of Chaos, and who are the Six Great Gods and Goddesses?

What's an Ethereal, an ether-real, someone who a make-real out of the Ether, the Void, the Grey? Observe Faceless Strife in action and decide for yourself. Who's she occupying and what happens to her, Strife's shell, when Mata Avar shows she isn't just a wasted, forty-odd year old drunk? As for where Strife came from and who she came here inside of, well, shouldn't we leave some mysteries for later. As for what's a Chelonian Basilisk, a Baphomet and how it talks, well, some mysteries will be resolved here and not so much now as when you finish reading it.

Granny Garuda's back but, again, what's a Garuda? Who's Granny? Why's her given name the same as that other Kanin? Can't say, -- and I bet you can't figure out the connection even if you read this chapter over and over again! Nonetheless, the answers are all there.

Who does in Count Molech and his manservant, the diabolical Djinn? Was it Donar Lancz and his Hermiones? Was it Papa Rafe and his Sicilian carbineers? Was it Abe Ryne and his Xuthrodites?

Who tried to do them in is definitely answered this time up, -- but no one but the perpetrators themselves believe what seemingly happened to their intended victims. And, even then, they can't accept it. Not really. How the Moloch and Djinn got away is simply, well, unbelievable! Then again, no one had yet realized there was a real Heliodromos in their midst.

So, absenting the How and accepting that they did get away, what is the Moloch going to do in terms of passing on his genetic heritage, of impregnating a suitable Summoning Child with a potential Vampire Maker, now that Virginia's no longer a virgin?

As Sangati tells Heliopolis, via a burning bush and a talking bull, it's mostly down to Argiope "Bright Face" Zeross. They're blood brothers though, this Blood Beast Prime and this Black Rose Anarchist. Etzel's well aware that Argiope's the freedom-lover's betrothed so maybe they can still work something out between them.

Besides, who knows? Maybe any number of other seventeen, or nearly seventeen, year old girls currently in Rome might serve the Vampire Maker's purpose this Full Moon night of all nights. Just one thing though, -- as a sign of good faith, Heliopolis has to avenge him before he backs off Bright Face. Has to kill the despoiler, the one who rendered Ginny unsuitable for his purposes.

Agenor has to bring him the head of Sean Dre'Ath!

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8. "To the Devil His Duel"

As the final session of the Alliance of Man's extraordinary Roman gathering concludes downtown -- successfully as it happens, at least as far as Abe Ryne is concerned -- Mnemosyne D'Angelo and Hush Mannering remain behind, at the D'Angelo family villa not far from Vatican City. It's time for another her-story, a short one this time, and it's Memory's not Rhea Ararat's. Be warned though: it's quite sensational, fairly brutal throughout and, since Afrites speak of such matters with an unabashed frankness, it may not be for the faint of heart.

It begins with Memory of the Angels killing daemonic Rhea. That happened right here in Rome back in 1923, when she was 14 years old. Rhea, who was going by the name of Norma in those days, deserved it too. Only the day before, down south in the Antheans' Pompeii Shelter at the foot of Mt. Vesuvius, Rhea/Norma kidnapped two year old Baby Virginia from the Ants' refuge and had not only murdered but mutilated then immolated Memory's oldest sister, Celestine D'Angelo. So why didn't those with Rhea/Norma retalliate, kill Memory as easily as they did the Celestial Superior?

There were probably a few reasons for that. One was they definitely wanted Ginny and Memory was the only one who could keep the youngster under control. Another was, without Rhea/Norma around, they weren't great killers. A third, only hinted at as yet (check out VolVar-5 for the bite-line), is because of something that happened during the Summoning, something that involved Bleda Sangati, the current Moloch's father, and Michael D'Angelo, the Angelics' presumed father.

Memory goes on to describe her initiation into a corrupted Sisterhood that wasn't that of Anthea, Aphrodite, Athene, or even that of Kore/Persephone/Eleusis, -- not precisely, though it might be somewhat similar. Memory can't be sure which Witch-Sisterhood it was exactly but Hush puts the pieces together and determines it was that of Hel, Helle, or Hecate: the Ghastly One, the Crone, she who eats her own children.

She calls these witches Hellions and equates them with Ophirants, Orphism, Dionysian frenzies, and maenadism. In very ancient times such Hellions would have worshipped Magna Mater, Meter, the Great Mother Goddess of the Mediterranean Region who, particularly in Phrygia and much of the rest of Asia Minor, also went by the name of Kybele or Cybele.

As the two of them relax in the heavily-guarded D'Angelo bastion, downtown, at the Alliance's conference, Abe Ryne and Baron Tyrtod von Alptraum get together for a quick tete-a-tete. The tension between the two men is almost palpable. Though long-time friends, with the spectre of Hitler, Nazism, and World War hanging over them, their relationship is severely strained.

Doesn't help when von Alp as much as accuses Ryne of plotting Stephen von Blut's death, along with the Etocretan Extremists of Agenor Heliopolis, and asserts that it was Raphael D'Angelo, via one of his Sicilian lieutenants, who tried to kill Etzel Sangati and this Djinn, his manservant, outside the Angelics' villa a couple of hours earlier.

The patriarch isn't having any of von Alp's guff, his snippy innuendo and unwarranted vituperation. Ryne's convinced something big's in the air for tonight and that it has to do with von Alp's Prussian faction, as opposed to Lancz's Nazi-oriented Hermiones, getting hold of the Aesgardian Tantalus from Count Molech. The meeting ends badly, with von Alp warning the great man to keep his twitching proboscis out of German business or he might find it pointing the other way, -- into his skull!

Ryne's in a testy mood. He calls for Agenor Heliopolis and Angelo Zeross to be brought before him. He even warns his men to watch out for Mnemosyne D'Angelo; says she's too close to Sedon St. Synne, Magister Mandam, and the various Gypsy/Manoan maniacs to be trusted. Neither Heliopolis nor Zeross are at the hotel, but the brother and sister team of Alexandros Kinesis and Megaera Zeross, Angelo's wife, are, -- and agree to speak to him. That's when things get seriously spooky!

Just how do silver arrowheads end up in his pocket, the pockets of his two pre-teen sons, David and Saul, the Dre'Aths, including Angus and wife Gilda, and those of some of his men, among them Len Starrus and Ted Mayhew? Alex says it's magic and it may well be. Ryne knows about witches. Meg hints his wife, Eden Nightingale, is not only one but is somehow beyond even her ken in terms of abilities.

Vampire bat spotted and shot in Copan Honduras by Jim McPherson, writer's cover prepared ca 2002So, is Eden an old-time witch? Given she's never been trained, are her otherwise inexplicable 'talents' due to the fact she has been possessed by the spirit of a major league witch from the past? (Perhaps it's Leonora D'Angelo, as she herself once speculated to the little trickster.) And, if she was, could Meg, sister-in-law Roxanne now Kinesis, and some of the other Etocretans be possessed by the likes of Olympias nee Sangati, Britomars Zeross, or Aerobe Heliopolis?

It's certainly a thought but, then again, there might be other explanations. For example, could Sangati's Djinn be a real djinn, -- a genuine genie?

Sean Dre'Ath did not stay at the Hotel for the Alliance's final session. He took a cab back to the D'Angelos' villa. Felt so bad about letting himself be sucked in by Ginny's wiles, not to mention her fetching eyes, that he wanted to try to explain his misbehaviour, to put it mildly, to his wife, Rebecca Elizabeth nee Maxwell. This puts Anita D'Angelo, Raphael and Sophia nee St. Synne's legitimate Summoning Aged daughter, in an awkward position.

Even though the house was guarded by not only Papa Rafe's Sicilians but by a delegation of Ryne's heavily-armed professionals, Nita did not feel comfortable being in the same room as the estranged Dre'Ath couple. But what could she do? Her mother had left her in charge of the children, her own evident siblings, Marcello, Gloriella, and Claudia, as well as Aranyani Ryne and Baby Betty, Sean and Becky's one year old.

As capable as Nita was at nearly everything she tried, she needed help with the children. Three at once, Gloriel, Aranyani, and Marcello, plus a crying baby and a couple of potentially volcanic parents, were a bit much.

Becky Dre'Ath suddenly slumped forward. Something blew out the back of Sean's left shoulder and upper chest. Blood, gore, and slivers of bone covered her, the kids, the playpen, the toys, even the walls. Something else came out of the air, -- no, out of little Aran! Some one! A silver streak! A quicksilver-quick shriek of a horrible-headed or hideously-helmeted harridan all in silver and wearing Quicksilver's, Mercury's, talarial winged boots! With silver snakes slither-struggling out of its, her, silver scalp only to end up going nowhere!

Then certain things were not there any more. The quicksilver killer, Sean Dre'Ath, and most of what passed for her mind; her precious but, as was no secret, ever-fragile sanity. Don't scream, Nita told herself.

She did not need to, -- the kids did it for her!

It's not just Sean Dre'Ath, be he dead or somehow still alive, who has disappeared though. By the time the Rynes, Dre'Aths, and the rest of the D'Angelos make it back to the villa that night, so too have Joli Blon and Memory of the Angels, the Terrible Twins, Virginia Mannering, and even Maxwell Dre'Ath. They weren't the only ones either.

Frantic phone calls to the various hotels where they were staying confirmed that literally a couple dozen of the seventeen, or nearly seventeen, year old Summoning Children had apparently vanished as well.

Loxus Abraham Ryne already had a sense of impending doom. Control-freak that he was, he could probably be excused. Finding a silver arrowhead in one's pocket when it shouldn't have been there, learning that his precious wife, the mother of his three children, might be an old-time witch, then hearing that his meddlesome nephew, Jesus Mandam, had been spotted in the company of Donar Lancz that morning, -- and that no one had bothered to tell him about it! -- was only the worst of it.

Despite Eden's assurances that the trickster would take care of everything, that did little to bolster his confidence. In fact, it only plummeted him further into the proverbial bottomless pit of your not quite everyday average abject despair. Then news came from John Sundown. He'd found some of them, the Nazis, the Etocretans, and even some of the Gypsies. Unfortunately, so too had Papa Rafe's Sicilians. It could turn into a serious slaughterhouse, advised Ted Mayhew.

Found them where? As to that, best read the story.

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9. "Celestial Intercession"

"Know what else I think you are, -- a Spirit Carrier. I think, thanks to you, that the ghosts of Celestine, Rhea, Athena, Aerobe, Louise, Olympias, Leonora, and almost every other woman who died during or else as a result of the Summoning, of your failure, are still haunting us. That you're parcelling them out one by one."

-- Eden Nightingale to Hush Mannering from 'The Moloch Manoeuvres', Subsection Seven: "Supras of the Supernatural"

Hush never really bought into Eden's theory that she was some kind of spirit carrier. On the contrary, she figured she was just a spear carrier, -- and that the spear she has been carrying belonged to a spirit; one who has been lurking in the background throughout these pages. She finally shows up, though obviously not altogether in the flesh. Her flesh, that is!

As if in answer to her question, Mnemosyne and Virginia touched each other on their nearest shoulders. Between them shimmered the ghostly figure of an evanescent woman of indeterminate age whose hair was silver and whose body, such as it was, seemed composed of a rainbow. Even though most thought her dead for a decade and a half, when Sorciere was still in diapers and Fish barely out of them, Hush and the other two fully conscious Antheans instantly realized what, rather who, this was.

It was the spirit, the ghost, the soul self, of the famous Celeste Mannering, of the Celestial Superior, -- arguably, as many members of the Sisterhood believed back then, of Flowery Anthea herself. Forever detached from her own body, which had been hacked apart and immolated by the demonic Druidess, the one Memory had known simply as Norma, in 1923, this was all that was left of Celestine D'Angelo!

So, how did Dolores now Rivera become the Ants' Mother Superior when she wasn't even a mother? What became of the Chelonian Basilisk? What happened to Strife and Mata Avar? Who could Count Molech be after now that Ginny's no longer a suitable target? What's the full story of what really happened on Halloween and All Saints Day back in '23? Now that the Celestial Spook's finally revealed herself, a great deal of the Moloch mysteries are laid to rest.

What's so important about triplet births to the Superior Sisterhood's dream of Panharmonium? What's a Sedon and what's it got to do with Strife and Sedon St. Synne? Even, if you haven't guessed already, who Strife found as a shell after Medea Annulis fled to Big Shelter near the beginning of Manoeuvres? All this and a lot more is sorted out, at least to Hush's apparent satisfaction.

Then, having done her bit for clarity's cause, the Spook promptly vanishes, -- taking Ginny with her. No matter! They're both back before section-end. Well, Ginny's back for sure and the Spook's gone onto, make that into, someone else. The very person Strife brought back from Big Shelter, as it happens. Not that it's altogether certain who that is as yet. Got to have some mysteries left for the concluding four subsections after all.

The Devil's going to get his duel, it seems. In the Roman Colosseum, no less. Agenor Heliopolis has brought the Olympian Tantalus there as well as, including himself, his twelve, though one's just a seven year old kid, -- Demonites Zeross, Megaera and Angelo's son. And Sagitta, Artemis Zeross, Angie's Silver Arrow of a sister, brings her contribution to the great gladiatorial gathering. Only he isn't dead yet. Not quite. Which will likely cause a ton of trouble for nearly everyone very shortly.

Between them, Baron Tyrtod and mother-in-law Hulga Volsung have brought twelve of their own: six women and six men, including themselves. For those keeping count, they're all named and, for those at least somewhat familiar with The PHANTACEA Mythos, some of von Alp's chosen ones, Summoning Children the lot, are destined to become quite renowned, -- one way or another. Unless of course Count Molech's having them all on. Or they don't make it out alive!

But those of the Etocretans and those of the Teutons are not the only ones arriving in number. Hush, Fish, Sorciere, and Granny Garuda have been collecting a few Summoning Children of their own; ones the little trickster's been secretly training for something like eight years, -- ever since she first thought she took care of the Celestial Superior in Shaikh Zachariah Markazi's Baghdad harem back in '28/29.

They're not the only other ones either. John Sundown's somewhere about; so's Jesus Mandam. Pape Rafe and his Sicilians are on their way as are Abe Ryne and his professionals. Oh yes, lest we forget, Donar Lancz and his Hermiones aren't far away. Not far away at all, as von Alp quickly finds out, much to his discomfort.

As a matter of fact, seemingly about the only one who doesn't make an appearance this time around is, you've definitely guessed this, Count Molech himself!

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The Moloch Manoeuvres: Subsections 1-5

The Moloch Manoeuvres: Subsections 10-13

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