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The Second Life of Dr Mirage

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The Second Life of Dr. Mirage
Attribution
Character(s)
Secondary Cast
Foe (s)
Locations
Events Seen

Parapsychologist Hwen Mirage and his wife, Carmen Ruiz, investigate unexplained phenomena, trying to solve all manner of supernatural mysteries. When Master Darque murders Mirage, Carmen brings her husband’s spirit back from the dead through the power of their mutual love.

Now, the spectral Doctor Mirage finds he is intangible and unable to touch the woman he conquered death to rejoin! Together, they must face new dangers, as they strive to control Mirage’s strange powers. Moreover, in exploring Mirage’s supernatural potential, they shall unlock secrets of the universe itself.

Does love really conquer all?

Darque Passage

Darque Passage – Part I

Slodm1

At the suggestion of Lieutenant Thomas Morgan, Dr. Wiestheimer, the NYC coroner, called Dr Hwen Mirage and his wife Carmen Ruiz to investigate the abnormal activity in the cellular structure of Hook and Welt, two creatures whom the Gilad Anni-Padda had apparently killed months earlier. Despite his unwillingness to believe in their work, Dr. Wiestheimer allowed Hwen and Carmen to take the bodies to run tests on them. Meanwhile in New Orleans, Master Darque discovered the resting place of the remains of Tashi Khatun, the Geomancer who authored the Book of Geomancers, the tome of ultimate knowledge, and left to take the secrets of oneness with the Earth imbued in his long–dead buried bones despite his sister’s warning not to.

The next morning at Hwen and Carmen’s Nyack state, while Carmen left for her morning run, Hwen exposed a tissue sample from one of the bodies to an electromagnetic pulse that disrupted the energy in the cells, but also informed the source of the energy, Master Darque, that someone was tampering with the Darque Power. Infuriated, Darque reactivated his minions to dispose of those who were foolish enough to encroach upon his forbidden knowledge. A weakling, Hwen was helpless, but suddenly Carmen returned and dealt with them while Hwen activated an electromagnetic pulse that rendered them inert. While Carmen and Hwen were delighted to have witnessed their first full paranormal event, at that moment in Darque’s manor, Darque smiled, certain that despite his new adversaries’ cleverness once his plan was fulfilled no one would ever thwart him again, while Sandria warned him that he might be getting more than he bargained for.

Later that day, while Darque unsuccessfully scoured the history records looking for information about the Geomancers, Hwen and Carmen asked Lt. Morgan for Darque’s address so they could confront him directly. Two days later, Hwen and Carmen arrived at Darque’s manor in New Orleans, where they met Sandria, who upon seeing Hwen referred to him as The One, a cryptic remark she did not elaborate on and put aside to say that her brother was on his way to Ladakh, where Hwen’s destiny awaited.

Following Darque’s trail to the monastery, Hwen and Carmen discovered that he had killed all the monks there. Despite Carmen’s insistence that they leave, Hwen’s desire to know Darque’s secret compelled him to stay. Finding Darque hovering beside an urn filled with Khatun’s crushed remains, Hwen stated his disgust with finding that Darque sat at the end of his search for the secrets of necromancy. Looking to punish Hwen’s meddling with an ironic answer to the secrets he sought, Darque converted him into necromantic energy and absorbed him into his body, but Hwen’s will and his immense love for Carmen were too strong for Darque to contain, and so Hwen burst out of Darque’s body, rendering him unconscious in the process. Unfortunately, he was still a being of pure energy – alive, but as intangible as a ghost.

Darque Passage – Part II

Though freaked by his transformation, Hwen worried that Darque might awake and harm Carmen, who in contrast was calmed and collected. Recalling what Sandria told them about her brother’s interest in Khatun’s remains, Carmen took the urn and left with Hwen. A short time later, Darque awoke and discovered the Mirages’ theft, so he reanimated the monks’ corpses and sent them to retrieve his prize.

Some miles away, while Hwen propelled himself alongside Carmen, troubled by his being unable to feel the wind, the cold, or anything else, she hypothesized that when Darque opened the portal to the necromantic power the sheer force had converted his mass into energy that retained his sentience. Forced to seek shelter from a snowstorm, Carmen lamented that due to Hwen’s transformation they would never make love again, when then a shift in his energy level alerted him to the approach of Darque’s minions and they had to run.

While making their way through the storm, Hwen went over what happened to him and realized that when Darque transformed him into energy Carmen’s love for him channeled it to keep him cohesive, which meant that he was now a being of pure energy. Reaching a cave where Carmen could hide for the night, Hwen focused and turned his energy into heat to keep her warm for the night.

Hours later, however, Darque and his undead servants found the Mirages. Though Hwen urged her to run, Carmen refused and fought her way through Darque’s minions, which overwhelming numbers nevertheless overpowered her. Thinking that Carmen was going to die, Hwen increased his energy levels and caused an avalanche that washed Darque and his minions off the face of the mountain. Though Darque was down, he was not out, so Hwen and Carmen continued their trek down the mountain until they arrived at a village where they found shelter from the storm. Meanwhile, Darque rose from the snow and found a new minion.

Later that night, Darque’s minion, a wolf mutated into a humanoid, broke into Carmen’s lodge and attacked her. Although Hwen urged her to run, Carmen refused to flee and confronted the wolf–man head on, but he turned out to be too strong for her. As the wolf–man loomed over a helpless Carmen, Hwen turned to the fireplace and moved the fire as he did the snow to burn him and save Carmen. Fed up with Darque’s constant attacks, Hwen went to find him and confront him one final time, while Carmen left with Khatun’s remains.

Meeting Darque on a mountaintop overlooking the sunrise, Hwen learned that no matter how hard he tried to influence him, Darque could not touch him because they were opposites that canceled each other out. While musing that Sandria was right and that he had indeed gotten more than he bargained for, Darque told Hwen that he was not immune to his influence, as Carmen, through whose love he continued to exist, was not beyond his reach, and that through her he would return him to the necromantic pool. At that same moment, Carmen scattered Khatun’s remains into the wind to keep them away from Darque forever.

Interlude I

Marital Blitz

Mirageposter

Outside the Tibetan capital of Lhasa, Carmen instructed Hwen on how to let light pass through him so that he could become invisible. Sometime later at the airport terminal, Carmen called their butler Enrico to ask him to prepare their beach house in Miami for her. After hanging the phone, Carmen collided with Darque, who was on his way to find a fabled coin that possessed tremendous necromantic power. Turning to face the invisible Mirage, Darque warned him that he could get to Carmen no matter where she went, and then he left.

The next day Carmen arrived at their Miami state, where Rico, who thought she was alone, asked her when the doctor was coming back, a double–entendred question she did not know how to answer. That night, as Hwen’s transformation prevented them from physically expressing their love for one another, she went to bed displeased with their situation. As he no longer required sleep, Hwen watched TV, a distraction that helped him understand his newly–acquired abilities, which in time he learned to use to manipulate objects.

A week later, while Hwen stayed out of Rico’s way so he would not discover him, an increasingly–frustrated Carmen broke down in tears at the through of never being able to hold her husband again. Sharing her woe, Hwen assured Carmen that he would find a way to get their lives back, unaware of his splashing on the floor. A few nights later, Hwen reached out to Rico looking for a sympathetic shoulder to share his burdens with. The following morning, Carmen accepted to investigate a case in Saudi Arabia without Hwen, claiming that though she loved him she needed time apart from him to deal with what happened.

That night, Rico asked Hwen how he was able to switch the channels on the TV if he was a ghost. As Hwen said that he had learned to funnel his energy and manipulate objects, a feat tied to his emotional levels, which meant that the more powerful his emotions were the greater the extend of the force he exerted became, Rico asked if his power worked on people or just objects, a question that revealed the solution to his problem.

That night, Hwen used his energy to physically express his love for Carmen by levitating her over their bed and making love to her. The next morning, with their marital problems behind them, Carmen and Hwen renewed their partnership and made plans to leave for Saudi Arabia as soon as possible.

Bull Market

In 1989, Duke Weston and his nephew Dwayne arrived in a village outside Calcutta to buy Shiva’s Child, a sacred steer, for their rodeo show, when then guru Karamchand entered the stable and plead with them not to take him. Despite the guru’s warnings of the terrible price for what they were doing, the Weston’s and their men beat up the guru in front of the steer’s eyes and took Shiva’s Child with them.

Five years later in Miami, while the Mirage and Rico were having fun by the pool they received a call from Duke Weston, who required their services. Arriving later that day to Fort Lauderdale, the Mirage learned that someone was trying to steal Duke’s prized steer Eugene, a renamed Shiva’s Child, and that his men, including Dwayne, of whom all that was left was his dissolved hand, were mysteriously disappearing. Accusing Hindus he saw in the fairgrounds, Duke asked the Mirage to help him stop them. Later that night, as Hwen conferred with Carmen, who was certain that Duke was hiding something from them, he said that he could feel a tug on the Darque power around him, so they decided to examine Eugene despite Duke’s refusal to let them see him.

After Carmen fooled the Texan guarding Eugene into letting him watch over him, Hwen entered the bull’s trailer and came across Shiva’s Child, who he discovered was a creature that radiated necromantic energy. Getting weaker as Shiva’s Child drained his energy, Hwen saw Karamchand come out of the shadows and warn him to stay out of the way of Shiva’s revenge. Hearing the sound of a scuffle, Hwen pulled himself together and created a gust of wind that pushed Karamchand’s men off Carmen. Certain that a necromancer lurked behind the strange occurrences, Hwen and Carmen returned home to learn more.

While going over police reports provided by Lt. Morgan, Carmen and Hwen learned that Duke’s problems began four years earlier after he returned from the far east. Just then, Hwen’s mother, Mamma Fong, called from Hong Kong and pushily asked Hwen to let her come visit, a notion he did his best to dissuade her from.

Early the next day Carmen accused Duke of stealing Eugene from its rightful owners and disowned the case. Threatening to report Duke to the authorities, Carmen walked away, when then Duke pulled a gun on her. Making himself visible, Hwen pushed the gun off Duke’s hand. Startled, Duke ran from his trailer screaming in horror. Holding a shotgun, Duke went to Eugene’s trailer to kill him, but when he opened the door he came upon Karamchand. Revealing that for two hundred years his spirit had resided in Shiva’s Child, who provided him with the energy of living beings he needed to survive, Karamchand had Shiva’s Child absorb Duke.

Hearing Duke’s screams Hwen and Carmen rushed to help him. Standing between Shiva’s Child and Duke, Hwen tried to stop the absorption, but he was unsuccessful and the bull absorbed him too. Luckily, Hwen’s positive charged necromantic energy canceled out Karamchand’s spell, much like the way he neutralized Darque’s power. Shooting Shiva’s Child with Duke’s gun, Carmen released all the stored energy within it, freeing Hwen and killing both Karamchand and Shiva’s Child.

A few days later in Calcutta, a cow gave birth to a calf that possessed the same stare as Shiva’s Child…

Time Slidin'

Darque Time

At the Mirage state in Miami, as Carmen Mirage finished installing a system that would allow Hwen to access most of the house through voice–commands, the phone rang. Testing Carmen’s system, Hwen answered and spoke with Mamma Fong, who, sensing that there was something wrong with him, reiterated her desire to visit. Feeling that the shock of his situation would kill Mamma, Hwen politely ignored her and hung up. Meanwhile in New Orleans, Master Darque hovered over Sandria, who was fading away due to a lack of necromantic energy, a shortage he hoped to solve by sending Shadowman to collect necromantic energy through time, a scheme derailed by Calvin, who convinced Shadowman to ignore Darque’s summons and forced him to search elsewhere for a way to penetrate time. Summoning Vise and Nitro, Darque sent them to bring Carmen to him. Anticipating the Mirage to not respond to his invitation, Darque gave Vise and Nitro a box, which contents would persuade them to meet with him.

Back in the Mirage state, while Carmen studied a physics book she was certain would help her reverse Hwen's transformation into an energy being, a notion which elated him, she had a sudden chill reminiscent of a feeling she had in college when Hwen’s dad died that made him feel that something bad was coming. After Carmen accused Hwen of being superstitious, he suggested that they do something fun, which gave her an idea.

Arriving in Peking, China in 1949, Shadowman saw one of Chairman Mao’s tanks about to crush a little girl. Though he feared that his actions would disrupt the space–time continuum, Shadowman leapt to the girl’s rescue and saved her. Leaving the girl in a monastery, Shadowman returned to the time tunnel, unaware that he had just rescued Mae Fong, Hwen Mirage’s mother, from certain doom.

While watching Carmen paint her toenails, Hwen sensed Vise and Nitro’s arrival in their mansion. While silently making their way across the darkened hallways, Vise and Nitro came across a door they believed led to the Mirage’s bedroom, but when they opened it they instead found Rico on the toilet. Acting tough, Vise and Nitro lunged against Rico, when then the smell coming from the bowl dissuaded them. Running away to find the Mirage, Vise and Nitro locked Rico in the bathroom, unaware that he called Hwen to warn him.

As Vise and Nitro broke into their bedroom and demanded that Carmen go with them, Hwen turned the lights off. While Carmen kicked Nitro across the room, Hwen tossed Vise through the wall before he could throw a lamp at her. Facing the barrel of Carmen’s gun, Nitro said that Darque sent him to request their aid and gave them the box, which contained one of Judas Iscariot’s silver coins, a token of peace and good faith. Delivering a message from Darque, Nitro said that in exchange for their help in retrieving Shadowman from the time stream to save his sister Sandria’s life, he would show them how a creature of necromantic energy can become flesh and blood, a tempting offer that Hwen found irresistible.

Four and a half hours later in Master Darque’s manor in New Orleans, Hwen learned that Darque specifically needed his help to retrieve Shadowman due to the time tunnel’s shrinkage making it impossible for a being of flesh and blood to cross it. Worried about leaving Carmen alone, Hwen was hesitant to go, so she showed him her gun and assured him that if she smelled a betrayal she would splatter Darque’s brain all over the room. Hopeful that Darque would keep his word, Hwen crossed the threshold in the hope of becoming mortal again.

Didn't He Ramble?

Thanks to the nature of Darque’s tunnel, Jack safely passed through his other self’s body, avoiding a reaction that could have blown up the world as a result of the existence of two Jack’s worth of mass and energy, a peril Anthor warned him about before he departed the 30th Century.

Arriving in 1890 New Orleans two seconds after he left, Jack bumped into Maxim St. James, who sick of his meddling wanted to cut off his nose. Stopping the Shadowmen from getting into another brawl, Mamma Nettie reminded them that a crowd who wanted to burn her had set the building on fire, a blaze she said Max would have rescued her from after he finished yelling at her. Standing between Max and Nettie, Jack said that when he arrived it looked like Max was trying to kill her not rescue her. Fed up with both Shadowmen, Nettie demanded that one of them rescue her immediately. Upset with Nettie for reasons of his own, Max wished Jack good luck and left them to fend for themselves. While Jack distracted the mob, Nettie ran to a horse–drawn cab, then as they escaped, he wondered why Darque sent him through time, and if he would kill him upon his return.

In 1993, in Master Darque’s manor, Hwen Mirage, hopeful that Darque would keep his promise to help him become tangible again, entered the time tunnel to find Jack. Back in 1890, as Nettie summoned a portal to return Jack to the present, she assured him that the spell that made him Shadowman ensured that Darque could not kill him with his magic, a fact that in light of his impending death in 1999 failed to comfort him. Just then, the portal opened and a second Jack Boniface came rushing out of it. Unable to prevent the pull of the vortex, Jack collided with his alternate self and feared that he had blown up the universe.

Falling through Unreality, certain that he did not blown up the world since he had seen the future, Jack was amazed at his discovery that he could conjure up a saxophone and an audience to hear him play. Just then, Jack found himself a victim of his innermost thoughts, in the form of the alien ID he faced once before, who he beat up, and Josiah Torrent, who drove up in a car and told him that he would never get to Heaven by fighting himself. Driving away, Josiah said that whenever he was in doubt, he had a funeral.

Exiting the time tunnel in 1890, Hwen met Nettie, who told him to go inside her amulet to find Jack. Crossing into Unreality, Hwen found Jack leading a New Orleans–style funeral and made contact with him. Telling Jack of his deal with Darque, Hwen urged him to go back with him, and though Jack, who was empowered by the Darque Power as a result of his time travels, was hesitant to return, he agreed to go with him. Concocting a plan in case Darque betrayed them, Hwen literally went inside Jack to give him a power boost.

As Jack leapt out of the time tunnel and in 1993, Darque tried to drain him using Sandria as a conduit between the two of them, but thanks to Hwen’s insight, Jack was able to disrupt Darque’s energy and hit him with a blast of positively charged necromantic energy that brought him to his knees. Calling out to Jack, Carmen showed him that Sandria was dying, which made him realize that Darque’s plan was to save her life. As Hwen left Jack’s body, wondering if Sandria was the answer Darque promised him, Carmen asked Jack if he could save Sandria’s life. Despite Darque’s doubts that Jack would willingly surrender the power he had acquired, Jack freely released the energy into Sandria while thinking that all Darque had to do was ask him for his help.

Though Darque pointed the irony that by saving Sandria’s life he was preserving his as well, Jack liked the idea that Darque would rather perish than have him perform an act of generosity. Facing Sandria, the Mirage asked her to honor her brother’s bargain and tell Hwen how to restore himself, but she confessed that she did not know how she changed her body, that it simply happened, an admission that made Hwen feel cheated. Reneging on his promise, Darque told the Mirage to be content with witnessing his sister become solid and then sent them on their way. Once alone with Sandria, a weakened Darque took immense pleasure in draining a small piece of her power, an act that made her feel violated and earned him her eternal, inexhaustible hatred.

While seeing the Mirage on their way, Jack assured them that they could trust Sandria, when suddenly one of Darque’s tattoos enveloped his head and Darque’s ethereal voice cursed him to feel helpless in the presence of that symbol. Though otherwise unharmed, Jack feared that Darque had done something bad to him.

Aspen Extremists

Aspen Extremists

As the Mirage walked out of Darque’s manor, Carmen unknowingly stepped on a piece of black ooze that clung to her shoe. Moments later, Hwen bemoaned what his situation was doing to him and Carmen, and sympathizing with him Jack suggested that surely there was a place where Hwen could move about unnoticed, which gave Carmen the idea to take Hwen on vacation to Aspen, Colorado, where he would fit in perfectly.

Aboard a Lear jet that Carmen charted to help Hwen hang on to as much of a normal life as possible, which he joked they could afford now that he no longer needed clothes, Carmen thought of asking Rico to send some stuff to Aspen, when then she remembered that they forgot to let him out of the bathroom. Calling Rico, who in his boredom had taken to reading the ingredients in his toiletries, information that severely depressed him, Carmen told him to call his fiancé to get him out of the bathroom as they were going to be out for days. Unbeknownst to the Mirage, the black ooze in Carmen’s shoe broke off and slithered away.

After their plane landed, Hwen worried someone would notice his condition, but Carmen assured him that he would be fine. Walking into the terminal, Hwen found himself surrounded by skiers in suits like his, and he realized Carmen was right. Back on the plane, the black ooze sucked the life from the pilots’ bodies.

While in another part of town the Mirage checked into a lodge they reserved from the plane where Carmen bought a wardrobe for herself, back at the airport the police discovered the pilots’ dried husks. Appalled, the primary officer on the scene asked for a passenger manifest, unaware that the ooze had latched on to his shoe.

While on the slopes, Carmen tried to cheer Hwen up, but feeling silly without a snowboard he couldn’t help but complain, inadvertently distracting her and causing her to crash on a rock. Using the Darque power, Hwen helped Carmen land safely in the snow and promised to try to enjoy himself and keep quiet. Returning to the lodge, the Mirage ran across Pat Gibbons, a schoolmate of Hwen from Harvard that insisted on calling him Dr. Dong. As Pat’s fiancée, Lynn, invited them to get together with them to talk about old times, Carmen easily wrangled their way out of her invitation and they walked away. Upset over Pat’s use of his name, Hwen was fuming, while Carmen reminded him that that was the reason he changed his name in the first place.

Later that evening, while Carmen read a romance novel to Hwen by the fireplace, down in the lobby two police officers arrived looking for her. Entering the elevator to go up to the presidential suite, the cop noticed the ooze on his shoe, which reached out to him and chocked him to death, then by the time the elevator reached the top floor, the ooze had sucked the life from the officers’ bodies.

After a waiter delivered Carmen’s dinner, Hwen, who longed for the taste of food, thought of the meal that he passed on the plane to Ladakh before he became a being of necromantic energy, when just then Carmen dropped her fork off the table. As Hwen levitated the floor before it hit the floor, a black forest cake on the cart whispered the words Darque power and then exploded into the air, revealing itself to be Dr. Eclipse, who months earlier Stronghold had blasted into ooze, a piece of which Carmen brought from Darque’s manor.

Hungry for Darque power, Eclipse reached out to Hwen, whose energy turned him into a puddle of ooze that exploded all over the room but nevertheless retained a consciousness. Changing into a ski suit, Carmen prodded Hwen to put as much distance between them and Eclipse, then she jumped out the window and had him levitated her down to the ground, where she commandeered a snowmobile to ride toward the silver mines at the foot of the slopes to where they could hide from Eclipse. Back at the lodge, while two employees discovered the theft of their snowmobile, Eclipse fell down on top of them and then picked up Hwen’s trail.

When Hwen Won One ...

Reaching the mines Carmen took parts from the snow mobile to built an arc lamp. The next morning while walking through the mine, Carmen and Hwen learned that silver was a conductor for necromantic energy, and that if left unchecked it could drain a being of necromantic energy. Hours later, as Hwen suggested that they trap Eclipse in the mine, he asked Carmen how she knew the mines were there, and reluctantly she told him that she had been there before with Lorenzo, her ex–husband. Just then Dr. Eclipse appeared and demanded Hwen’s energy. Shielding Carmen, Hwen severed Eclipse’s hands, but then he wrapped his tongue around Hwen to drain him. Finding a box of dynamite sticks, Carmen lit the fuse and threw it at Eclipse. The resulting explosion sealed the exit to the mine and caused a cave in.

After the dust settled, Hwen found Carmen hiding inside a toppled mine cart covered with silver dust that, reacting to his presence, made her glow. Sensing Eclipse’s approach, Hwen and Carmen prepared their trap. Oozing through the rocks from the cave in, Eclipse lunged against Carmen, who hit him with a shovel to hold him against a wall covered with silver. Releasing a burst of Darque power, Hwen completed a circuit and caused Eclipse’s energy to dissipate through the silver.

The next evening, while Carmen and Hwen laughed at the notion that the authorities wanted them to investigate the ski patrol men’s deaths, back inside the mine Dr. Eclipse slowly pulled himself back together.

Interlude II

Food For Thought

One night at the Miami Beach State of Doctor Mirage and Carmen Ruiz, Hwen’s longing for eating reached a pinnacle of desperation while watching food commercials on television. Looking to take his mind off food, Hwen searched for comfort in books to no avail. Floating into the kitchen to look for something to do, Hwen discovered a cake Rico had backed for Carmen that enthralled him. Wishing that he could eat, Hwen reached for the cake, when just then Rico walked into the kitchen and startled him. Listening to Hwen’s woes, Rico suggested that he find a hobby, so Hwen decided that if he could not eat food he could at least make it instead.

The next day, Carmen found Hwen in the kitchen while on her way out for her morning run. Sharing his plan, Hwen promised Carmen to have some muffins waiting for her when she returned. Standing by the door, Rico told Carmen of his hesitation to leave Hwen alone in his kitchen, but saying that this was the happiest she had seen Hwen since he changed, Carmen assured him that if anything happened to his kitchen they would buy him a new one and left. In the kitchen, Hwen opened the oven and realized that the pilot light was off. Concentrating on fire to light it on, he accidentally set off a blaze. Calling Rico to bring a fire extinguisher, Hwen was unable to hold back the flames as his powers were fading and he was becoming transparent.

Two hours later, in the basement, Carmen conducted a test on Hwen that revealed that he was experiencing a continuing decrease of necromantic energy, which explained his transparent appearance, which would cause him to fade out of existence unless they found a source of necromantic energy for him to absorb. Later that afternoon, as Carmen’s experiments to extract necromantic energy from plant and animal life all returned negative, Hwen suggested that they reach out to Master Darque for help, but she vehemently refused. Just then, Hwen keeled over feeling extreme hunger pains. Hours later, before going to bed, Carmen assured Hwen that his loss of energy and hunger were completely unrelated phenomena. After Carmen fell asleep, Hwen called the airport to inquiry when the next flight for New Orleans was leaving.

Coming full circle, Hwen went to the house of Master Darque just outside New Orleans intent on stealing some of his energy, but soon as he went inside he discovered that Darque was not there. Floating through the house, Hwen came upon Sandria, who offered to willingly give to him what he plotted to take from her brother. Leading Hwen into Darque’s sanctum, Sandria infused him with a sliver of her energy, restoring his opaque ghostly appearance. Warning him that she could never assist him in the same manner again, Sandria told Hwen that his future subsistence was up to him, and that the only source of the necromantic energy he needed was the death of a living being. Saying that her brother was aware of what transpired in spite of his absence, Sandria urged Hwen to go. Before he left, Hwen asked Sandria why she was welling to help him. Telling Hwen that from the moment she saw him she knew that he was the one he had been hoping and waiting for, Sandria placed her hand on his cheek and kissed him, a peck that he felt on his skin.

Twelve hours later in Miami, Carmen ran a series of tests on Hwen that showed that he was in perfect health for a phantom, but worried over his hunger pains, he doubted that he was find. Getting an idea on how to fix Hwen’s craving for food, Carmen used psychology to make him envision the pizza they ate on their first date. Focusing on her descriptions, Hwen was literally able to taste the pizza in his mouth. Later that night, while escorting Carmen to dinner, Hwen was delighted that she had figured out that his craving was all in his mind.

Dream Lover

Dream Lover

Dreaming that Hwen had found a way to restore his physical self only for him to fade away, Carmen awoke in bed with tears in her eyes. Blaming himself for her nightmares, Hwen said that if he had not ticked Darque off he would not have turned him into a phantom, but urging him not to blame himself, Carmen said that she was proud of the way she stood up to him. Later that morning, Rico suggested to Carmen that she and Hwen go back to work to take their mind off their problems, so following his advise she retuned to the office. A short time later, Carmen got a call from Elliot Littman of Littman–Martan Aerospace. Saying that Walt Willey, a mutual friend, referred him to her, Littman told Carmen that he believed his business partner was possessed.

A few hours later, Carmen met with Elliot Littman, who, confessing that he was terrified of his partner, told her that ever since Mr. Martan took complete control of the company’s aerospace contract with the Harbinger Foundation the project had been plagued by accidents and delays that he believed were the result of sabotage. When Carmen asked him what made him believe that supernatural forces were at work there, Elliot told her that two days saw Martan disappear into thin air while he was following him just to see where he went. While Carmen met with Martan, who flirted with her despite her rejection of his advances, Hwen went inside his house and found Martan’s corpse hanging from a hook in the walk–in freezer.

An hour later, back in the Mirage state, Carmen decided not to call the police to report Martan’s murder so that they would not scare off the imposter before she knew what they were up against. Meanwhile, outside the state, Martan stalked out Carmen from his car, when, suddenly, he turned into ectoplasm and vanished. At that same moment, in an apartment in New York City , an individual known only as Other Man cursed the knocking on his door for breaking his concentration. Opening the door, Other Man saw Big Boy’s brother standing outside holding a bag of groceries and a prescription that he needed filled. Assuring him that he would avenge Big Boy, Other Man sent the hayseed on his way. Cursing his inability to leave his apartment, his fear to go to sleep because of his nightmares, and his lot in life to live other people’s dreams, Other Man took two pills that restored Martan’s ectoplastic form in the car outside the Mirage state.

Minutes later, inside the state, Hwen’s mom called to let them know she was in Miami. Worried over how she might react to what happened to him, Hwen did not want his mom to visit, but she was determined to see him. At Rico’s suggestion, Hwen agreed to hide in the guest house until Carmen broke the news of what happened to him to his mom, unaware that Rico was really Other Man posing as their friend.

Sometime later, while Hwen practiced how he would tell his mom what happened, back in the house, Other Man, posing as Hwen, fooled Carmen into believing that he had become solid to make out with her. Feeling apprehensive, Hwen left the guest house and found Rico tied inside the pool house. At that moment, while Mamma Fong arrived at the state, upstairs Hwen broke into the bedroom and confronted Other Man, who wrapped himself around Carmen and threatened to kill her, for if he could not have her no one else could.

Surrogate Lover

Making his way back to the house, Rico grabbed a shovel to hit Other Man with. While following Carmen’s screams to the second floor, Rico heard the doorbell and opened the door, finding Mamma Fong standing on the other side. Just then, the sound of a loud crash coming from upstairs filled the room, and Mamma Fong wanted to go see what was happening, but standing between her and the stairs, Rico urged her not to go up. Meanwhile, upstairs, Carmen punched Other Man in the face and shattered his head, but he reformed. Unable to sense any necromantic energy, Hwen deduced that Other Man’s abilities were science–based. Commending Hwen’s guess, Other Man told him that he could blow him apart a thousand times and he could reform with a mere thought. Doubting his claim, Hwen battered Other Man with a volley of necromantic blasts, but the energy passed through him. Sending Carmen away, Hwen engaged Other Man in battle. Running downstairs, Carmen saw Mamma Fong take the shovel out of Rico’s hands and demand to know what was happening.

Back in the Mirages’ bedroom, Other Man mocked Hwen and threatened to take Carmen for himself, so even though his powers were diminishing, Hwen lashed out with burst of energy that brought the floor down just as Rico told Mamma Fong the truth about what happened to him, a reveal that she questioned. Running toward Hwen to hug him, Mamma Fong passed right through him, when suddenly Other Man rose up from the rubble and lunged after her. Surprising Hwen, Mamma Fong kicked Other Man across the face and ripped his head off his body. Reforming once again, Other Man urged Carmen to go with him in exchange for leaving the others alone, asking her not to be afraid of him like everyone else. Accusing him of being afraid, Hwen dared Other Man to show Carmen his true self, but ashamed of it he refused. Reminded of the Wizard of Oz by Mamma Fong, Hwen threatened Other Man to zoom into his brain and burn a hole into his head in a bid to force him to flee. As Other Man fell for Hwen’s ruse and escaped, his ectoplasmic body exploded all over.

Moments later, Mamma Fong asked Hwen why he felt that he had to keep his condition a secret from her. Reminding her of how his father said he would wind up being nothing, Hwen told his mother than his dream turned into a nightmare. Assuring him that he was wrong, Mamma Fong told Hwen that after she saw the way he handled Other Man, she knew that his father would be proud of him, whether he was solid or a phantom.

Chaos Effect Beta

If This Be Madness

His personality split in two as a result of Darque’s spell, Shadowman ran through the streets damming Darque for making him too weak to kill him, while Jack thought that he needed to stop Shadowman’s run. Back in Darque’s estate, Sandria scolded Darque for what he did to Shadowman, who he promised she could have for the coming chaos. Mocking her, Darque told Sandria that he could not refuse her anything, and that she was sure to have a Shadowman. Concurrently, Shadowman came upon a theft in an alley and leapt at the muggers to stop them. Feeling the rising energy, Sandria asked her brother if he still welcomed the chaos, and he said that he embraced it. Elsewhere, Jack worried that whatever was happening was a bad thing, when then, a surge of energy filled them with power unlike any they had ever seen. Afraid, Sandria watched in horror as the energy destroyed their home, while, in the face of his imminent Godhood, Darque dismissed her concerns.

While a helicopter crashed in the French Quarter, at the hospital an aura of energy surrounded Patient 937 and awoke him from his coma. Elsewhere, Sandria asked a looter why it was that in the face of chaos some men stole while others performed acts of selfless heroism, but he lacked an answer. Leaving the man on a rooftop, satisfied that there was no answer, Sandria floated away amid his calling her the Madonna of Chaos.

Meanwhile, in a cemetery, as Darque ordered an army of corpses to remove the covers to their graves and the doors to their crypts so that he could use them to store the necromantic energy pouring into the world, he saw Shadowman leap over a wall threatening to kill him. Reduced to pure ID obsessed with destroying Darque, Shadowman shot him with a burst of energy from the Shadowman symbol on his shirt that peeled his skin away. Astonished by Shadowman’s power, which he felt might be enough to best him, Darque commanded his creatures to drag Shadowman down to the ground. Impressed with Shadowman’s power, Darque mused that it would take an army of the dead to stop him, so he raised one to do just that. Lacking the time to lead his soldiers, Darque raised the body of his ancient mentor, Anton Quigley, so that he could serve as his general. Burning his seal of power into Anton's brow, Darque sent him forth to lead his army and destroy Shadowman. Carried away on the arms of the dead, Shadowman vowed to return and kill Darque.

Back in the hospital, Rotwak dragged nurse Giulia to Patient 937’s room, when then a looter took her hostage while another knocked Rotwak out. Suddenly, a hand pulled the looter away from Giulia and tossed him out the window. Stunned, Giulia stood before Patient 937, aka Maxim St. James, who, restored to full health thanks to the influx of necromantic energy, was ready to finally take out Darque. Back in the cemetery, while Darque pared his nails to collect flesh that he scratched from Shadowman’s face, Sandria left through a door in space that she opened with her new power to fetch Hwen and Carmen so they would help save the world.

Off the coast of Florida, Hwen steered a coast guard vessel across a storm in search of a missing fishing boat. Suddenly, the sea calmed and Sandria appeared, calling the Mirage to her. Helping the Mirage, Sandria raised the fishing boat off the water and back to the coast. Astounded by the effect the necromantic flow had on Sandria, Carmen feared that she had become a Goddess. In New Orleans, Nettie, who chaos had rejuvenated, went to find Marcia Lewis to ask her to help her find Jack. Hearing Nettie say that she could use her feelings for Jack to find him, Marcia thought how a week earlier she would have laughed at such notions, but even so, she agreed to help, and moments later they left her house on two bicycles.

Following Jack deep into the French Quarter, Nettie ordered him to use the power to burn Darque’s army, and her command got through his mindless ID and he did as told. Looming over the charred corpses, Shadowman was insane with killing Darque, who at that moment in the cemetery, mused over how even if Shadowman were to defeat his army, he would still be crazy.

Amid the fire and riots, Maxim St James smelled Darque’s evil in the night and promised to stop him.

The One

Months after Darque slaughtered the monks in the temple of Ladakh, Brother Ting and others restored it to its previous state to ensure that it would flourish once again. Among the new comers to the temple was Chan, a young boy who Brother Ting took under his wing as his pupil. Weeks later, Chan asked his teacher why they had not sought revenge against Darque. Calling Chane the inevitability of life, Brother Ting told Chan that he believed that a greater good would come from the tragedy that befell their brothers.

Months later, at the estate of Hwen Mirage and his wife Carmen Ruiz, Carmen suggested that they go to their place in New York while the contractor rebuild their Miami estate. At that moment, in a nearby shopping mall, Mamma Fong confessed to Rico that she could not get over what happened to her son. Agreeing with her, Rico felt like giving Hwen and Carmen credit for sticking together in spite of his disability. Still, Mae could not shake a feeling of dread that filled her. Back in the estate, Hwen shared his mother’s dread, a sensation that felt like waiting for the other shoe to drop.

In Ladakh, the monks awoke to discover a black hole of dark energy opening in the heavens above. Feeling that something incredible was about to occur, the monks witnessed as Ivar the Timewalker fell out of the hole into their courtyard. Gravely injured, Ivar reached for the sky and said that he had brought the end of everything with him before he lapsed into unconsciousness. Consigned to await the outcome, the monks saw as the hole engulfed the sky and inferred that, soon, it would engulf the world too.

The energies released by the opening caused a planetary shutdown of all electrical systems that spared no bit of technology. In New York City, the streets filled with people proclaiming the coming of the apocalypse, critical life–saving operations in hospitals came to a stop, and airplanes crashed into airports. In Miami, Mae and Rico found themselves in the midst of a blackout that confirmed her sense of dread.

Back at the estate, Hwen could sense that the energy disrupting all electricity was necromantic in nature. Frightened, Carmen sensed that something terrible was about to happen, when, suddenly, the surge of energy hit Hwen like it did the others. Moments later, Carmen and Hwen discovered that the surge had made him solid. Teary–eyed, Carmen and Hwen passionately kissed.

A passionate hour later, Hwen and Carmen laid on the floor, surrounded by their clothes. While Carmen felt happy for the first time in awhile, Hwen looked forward to telling his mother and Rico what happened, when then he realized that they were out there in the midst of whatever was happening. Pointing out that whatever happened was bigger than they were, Carmen told Hwen that they would find his mother and then find out what was happening to the world and him. At the mall, as Mae and Rico fought their way through a group of looters, Hwen appeared and sent the thieves on their way with a demonstration of his power. Hugging Mae, Hwen surmised that the necromantic pool exploded and broke down the laws of physics.

Sometime later, while pulling a woman out of her car, Hwen learned that his energy levels were unlimited. Throughout the long hours, the Mirages’ rescued one victim another, until Hwen saw a sinking fishing boat in the marina. Using his necromantic energy to substitute for the electrical current of coast guard’s vessel, Hwen and Carmen went to rescue the fishermen. At that moment, Sandria Darque appeared over the bow of the ship and told Hwen that he had to go with her, but he refused to leave until he figured out how to save the ship. Telling Hwen that the problem was in his thinking, and that he continued to comprehend like a mortal even after gaining the power of a God, Sandria levitated the vessel much to the Mirages’ awe.

Back in Ladakh, Chan asked Brother Ting if he believed that what was happening and the incident in their temple with Master Darque were connected. Assuring him that everything, from Darque, to the portal, Ivar’s arrival, and his very presence there were connected, Brother Ting told Chan that everything served some purpose that in time they would come to know. Staring at the mouth of the darkness above them, Brother Ting told Chan that their brother’s deaths brought him there, at that time, at that place, to play his part.

A short while later, while Hwen towed the boat back to shore, Sandria insisted that he had to go with her, but he refused. Though grateful for her help in rescuing the boat, Carmen still did not trust Sandria, who told her that trust would cease to be an issue if the world came to an end. Telling the Mirage that her brother was the only one who could explain what was happening to them in a way that they would find useful, Sandria took them to his sanctum in New Orleans through a door in space.

Taking the Mirages to the Dragon Maze Darque and Sandria willed the runes that covered their flesh off them to show them the fate that awaited mankind. Showing them the opening in the curtain of time over Ladakh, Darque reiterated his sister’s reference to Hwen being the one and told him that he had to plug the hole before they all perished. Opening a door way to Ladakh, Sandria asked her brother about the Shadowman, who she required in order to save the world. Called forth, Shadowman stepped out of the darkness and followed Hwen and the others through the doorway, leaving Darque behind.

In Tibet, Sandria and the others stepped out of the doorway into the temple’s courtyard, where Chan welcomed them. Standing under the looming rent in the sky, Sandria told Hwen that, with all the courage he could muster, he had to block the flow of energy until the others came to seal the breach. Teary–eyed, Carmen faced Hwen and told him that she had just realized that once he closed the rent he would revert back to his phantom state. Aware of what would happen, Hwen nevertheless felt that saving the world was the reason he gained a second life. After kissing Carmen one last time, Hwen rose to the mouth of the hole and plugged it.

The Darque Gods

Hovering over the cemetery adjoining the ruins of his home, Master Darque stared out at the chaos around him and wished that it could go on forever. Returning to his chambers, confident that his army of the dead would pursue Shadowman to his destruction, his sister could not oppose him, and that the Coven would be powerless without his champion, Darque had forgotten about Dr. Eclipse. Having gained the powers of a God like Darque and many others, Eclipse was at a loss on what to do with his newfound abilities. Focusing Eclipse’s attention on a miniature of the sun, Darque fooled him into visualizing the celestial spheres orbiting the fiery star and split himself into six individual planetoids orbiting the sun.

Running away from Nettie and Marcia, Shadowman saved an old man from a group of looters, but then the cops arrived on the scene. Resisting arrest, Shadowman beat up a cop after he shot him. Calling him Jack, Lt. Szymanski urged him stand down, but calling Jack weak, Shadowman beat up the lieutenant and escaped.

Elsewhere, Maxim and Rotwak made their way across the French Quarter looking for Darque. Curious, Rotwak asked Maxim how he knew that Darque was still alive if he had been in a coma since 1944. Pointing to the Shadowman symbol on his chest, Maxim told Rotwak that the closer he got to Darque, the more it burned, and that whatever restored his youth might have empowered Darque. Just then, a runaway carriage came running down the street, and Maxim mused that in the country of chaos, the 19th Century man might be king.

Back in Darque’s chambers, Darque hovered over a pit surrounded by his minions. Aware of Sandria’s need of Shadowman’s participation to end chaos, Darque, who was most anxious to see chaos cease once he had captured sufficient necromantic energy lest every fool receptive to it be ordained with divinity, used the flesh he scratched from Jack Boniface’s face during their battle to create a soulless double that served only him.

Just off the coast of Florida, while Hwen Mirage towed a fishing boat back to shore, Sandria insisted that he had to go with her, but he refused. Though grateful for her help in rescuing the boat, Carmen still did not trust Sandria, who told her that trust would cease to be an issue of the world came to an end. Telling the Mirage that her brother was the only one who could explain what was happening to them in a way that they would find useful, Sandria took them to his sanctum in New Orleans through a door in space. Taking the Mirages to the Dragon Maze Darque and Sandria willed the runes that covered their flesh off them to show them the fate that awaited mankind. Showing them the opening in the curtain of time over Ladakh, Darque reiterated his sister’s reference to Hwen being the one and told him that he had to plug the hole before they all perished. Opening a door way to Ladakh, Sandria asked her brother about the Shadowman, who she required in order to save the world. Called forth, Shadowman stepped out of the darkness and followed Hwen and the others through the doorway, leaving Darque behind. Before crossing the threshold, Sandria told her brother that he had not deceived her, and left, fearing that Jack’s clone would be the Shadowman her vision predicted.

Basking in the glow of the necromantic power that filled the sky, and the knowledge that his rivals had been neutralized, Darque was nevertheless aware that someone would inevitably stop the chaos effect, so he went about collecting as much Darque power as possible. After sacrificing one of his servants, Darque stepped out into the cemetery, which his dead servants had transformed into a battery to collect the necromantic energy that poured from the skies, and sealed the crypts and tombs. Surrounded by his rotting minions, Darque was satisfied that he had hoarded the energy of a billion deaths, enough to feed him for a thousand years, and had accounted for all those who might threatened him. Elsewhere, using the carriage, Maxim followed the burning sensation of his Shadowman symbol to Darque’s location, confident that Darque ignored that he still lived.

Back in the Quarter, Shadowman came upon a burning building. Seeing a little girl trapped in the top floor, Shadowman wrestled with his need to kill Darque and his sense of heroism, the latter of which won out in the end, restoring Jack’s dominant personality. Leaping inside the building, Shadowman rescued the girl and took her out the window, where Marcia and Nettie were waiting for him, glad to see that he was back to normal.

Alone, filled with power that would last him for centuries, and confident that his enemies were gone, Darque believed that now he would finally have time to study his fate, inscribed in the runes upon his skin that he called the Book of Darque. Outside the cemetery, Maxim followed his burning symbol to Darque’s chambers. Letting his body vanish, letting only the symbols remain, Darque transformed into energy and vanished, promising to return once he had studied his own destiny written in the air. Standing over the hovering runes, Maxim sucked them into his symbol to trap Darque within the purgatory of the Shadow Portal. Simultaneously, on a rooftop overlooking the Quarter, as Nettie told Jack that there was a link between his Shadowman symbol and Darque, Jack felt a door slam shut in his chest and both he and Nettie felt Darque’s departure. Sensing Maxim’s involvement, Jack was glad to know that he was too mean to die.

Back in the cemetery, Maxim rode away in the carriage, telling Rotwak that it was better that no one knew where he was going.

Interlude III

Size Matters

In the temple of Lamayuru in Ladakh, Carmen Ruiz displayed her Brazilian fighting style of Capoeria to the monks. Telling them that they were pretty rough as long as they were fighting someone using their style of martial arts, Carmen knocked down three monks with one kick. Holding his brothers off, Brother Tau said that he wanted to see how well she coped against a weapon in the hands of a master. Avoiding Tau’s staff, Carmen told him that he sounded almost arrogant, and that she thought they were supposed to be humble. Kicking Tau across the head, Carmen told him that he should meditate upon that when he woke up. Halting the demonstration, Master Ting thanked Carmen for her magnificent display and said that there was much she could teach them. Honored by Ting’s praise, Carmen vowed before him and told him that unfortunately she and the doctor had to return to their homeland, but that perhaps they would return for a vacation soon.

In another part of the temple, Hwen told Sandria that it was amazing how everything had returned to normal and it was like the chaos effect never happened. Somber, Sandria told Hwen that he would find the rest of the world was not as timeless as Ladakh, and that they all had to deal with the consequences of chaos for years to come. Certain that with her brother bone many would rise to take his place as master necromancer, Sandria told Hwen that there would only be one, him. Reluctant, Hwen told Sandria that he just wanted to return himself to normal and get on with his life. Just then, Chan walked into the terrace with a tray of food for the Visitor. Asking Chan who the Visitor was, Hwen wanted to know if he could meet him, but Chan told him that that was not permitted, for though the Visitor was a being of extraordinary abilities, he shunned all but minimal human contact. Upset, Hwen asked Chan why the Visitor was not helping them when chaos broke out, but Chan assured him that he did, and that in his way he was very much involved.

Sometime later, Sandria told Carmen that the journey to the capital was not an easy one, and since she did not have the power to teleport them it was a good thing that the monks could provide them with warm clothing. Eager to leave, Carmen asked Master Ting if he had seen Hwen, and he told her that the last he saw of him he was in the crypt chamber of Tashi Khatun. Shortly, Carmen entered the chamber and found Hwen standing in the place where Master Darque changed him. Telling Carmen that he knew that he should stay away, Hwen said that the urge to see the place was too overwhelming. Urging him to accept what happened and move on, Carmen told Hwen that it was not his fault and that someone had to stop Darque. Telling her that she did not understand, Hwen reminded Carmen that during the chaos effect he got to be human again, and that he was not sure he could go on much longer in his ghostly state. As Hwen pondered that perhaps his state was punishment for screwing around with things he could not comprehend, Carmen told him that he was wrong. Reminding him that their love was a force powerful enough to drag his soul back into the world of the living, Carmen told Hwen that he had to believe that it was strong enough to get them through this. Though chaos showed them that it was possible to restore him, Carmen said that they should not squander the second life fate had granted them, regardless of its unpleasant nature, and that together they would find a way to fix him.

The next day on a plane to New York, Sandria told Carmen that Hwen had more power than he was aware of, and that if he could understand how to make it work she could use it for herself. Asking Sandria to elaborate, Carmen asked her if she meant that Hwen could restore himself. Saying that knowledge was the key and power was merely a tool, Sandria told Carmen that Hwen had the power to do more than restore his body

Hours later, at the Mirage state in Nyack, Rico told Carmen and Hwen that when they disappeared he and Mae feared the worst. Though Hwen assured Mae that the worst was over, she brushed his cheek and cried because he was intangible again. While Hwen told Mae that his sacrifice was a small price to pay for saving the world, Carmen said that she would have been proud of Hwen, who saved them all. Later that evening, Hwen told Carmen that even though he could not explain how it worked, he could still remember the feeling of becoming solid, and that if he could get his necromantic energy to duplicate that sensation he might be able to restore himself. Before going to sleep, Carmen warned Hwen that it was not that simple to convert energy back into mass, and that if he did not know what he was doing anything could happen. A few hours later, Rico found Hwen in the laboratory running a few tests he tried his theory. Moments after Rico left, Hwen recorded a video for Carmen so sh could witness what he was about to do. Shifting his necromantic energy, Hwen could feel the same sensation as before, but suddenly, he screamed out in horror and exploded.

The next morning, Carmen asked Rico where Hwen was, and he said that the last time he saw him he was in the lab. Wondering what Hwen was up to, and getting a bad feeling, Carmen went down to the lab with Rico and Mae, and soon as they opened the door, they found that the lab was a mess. Searching for Hwen in vain, Carmen could feel that he was in trouble, when then she found the tape that he made. Elsewhere, Hwen awoke in a pitch black void. Realizing that he had become solid, Hwen saw a rift over him and theorized that he had created a breach in the space time continuum. Wondering how he was going to get up there, Hwen supposed that he could use his powers to levitate, but soon as he activated them he started to turn intangible. Refusing to go back to being like that, Hwen decided to find another way to get back to Carmen.

Meanwhile, after watching the video, Carmen realized what happened to Hwen and returned to the lab. While looking for an exit, Hwen collided with a solid, smooth surface and wondered if there was an intelligence keeping him there, when suddenly a ring of light appeared around him and a loud voice called his name. Once his eyes adjusted to the light, Hwen saw Carmen, Mae, and Rico standing over him, and he realized that he had become really small. Holding Hwen in her palm, Carmen told him to let go of his solidity and go back to his natural energy state to return to normal, and though he disliked the idea, he did what she told him.

Sometime later, Carmen told Hwen that if he reversed the process, energy back to matter, he needed more power than his form contained, which was why he shrunk. Explaining that his body size was relative to the amount of energy he possessed, Carmen told Hwen that if he could absorb enough ambient energy, he should be able to achieve a corporeal state until he used the power up. Figuring that it was worth a try, and aware that the chaos effect had left a huge amount of necromantic energy roaming free, Hwen focused and managed to become solid. Even though he was successful, Hwen said that it would not last long. Forced to concentrate in order to keep his solid form, Hwen could feel himself expending energy, and did not think that he could hold this tangible state for more than five or six hours, long enough for Rico to make him something to eat.

Some hours later, while Hwen changed into a suit and tie, he and Carmen kissed and he lost focus of his concentration, which returned him to his intangible state for the next eighteen hours.

Soap Stars

Somewhere in New York City, a man garbed in ceremonial robes plunged a knife through a photograph of Walt Willey and said that he had to die. Surrounded by three other men in similar attire, the man said that Walt’s death would grant him necromantic power beyond comprehension, and regardless of his celebrity, when the time was upon them, he would die under their sacrificial knife.

Later that day, at the Mirages’ apartment on the upper west side, Carmen and Hwen walked into the den while Rico and Mae were watching All My Children. Seeing Walt on the TV, Carmen suggested that they give him a call while they were there since he was a dear friend to both of them. Telling her not to go that far, Hwen began to tell Carmen what he really thought about Walt, but Mae stopped him. Facing Mae, Carmen told her that Hwen and Walt had a little feud over her that had gone on for years. Sometime later, at the ABC studios, Walt received a call from Carmen while he was arguing with Mr. Howell, a temp director. Telling Walt that it had been too long since they saw each other, Carmen told him that she and Hwen were in town and had some friends who would love to meet him. As he was performing his stand–up show for a fundraiser at the Comedy Closet, Walt told Carmen to bring her friends downtown and be his special guests. After hanging up, Walt wondered if Hwen still held a grudge against him. Back in the apartment, Carmen urged Hwen to forget his grudge against Walt, but he refused to until she and Walt told him what happened back at college.

That evening on the lower west side of Manhattan, while Hwen and Carmen watched Walt’s act, Hwen felt a disturbance of a mystical nature, but dismissed it as being unimportant. Backstage, a short time later, Hwen introduced Walt to Mae and Rico, who while shaking hands with him noticed a tattoo under his sleeve and asked him where he got it. Laughing, Hwen told Rico that one night back in college Walt went out and partied all night, and the next day woke up with a massive hangover and the tattoo on his forearm. Embarrassed, Walt said that he asked one of his professors what it meant, but all he could tell him was that it was Celtic in origin. Worried that he could only maintain his solid form for three more hours, Hwen suggested that they leave for dinner. Minutes later, Hwen and Walt got inside the limo and discovered that the men in robes had taken the women and Rico hostage. Forcing them into the car at gun point, the men told Walt that he bore the Mark of Geis, and that his death at the appointed time of the stars’ alignment would grant their leader immortality.

Telling Walt not to jump out of his skin when he saw what he was going to do, Hwen reverted to his phantom state and used his energy to implode the men’s glasses, while Carmen knocked them out with her fists, but then the limo crashed and the men ran away. Telling the others to stay there, Hwen wanted to chase them, but Carmen told him that Mae hit her head when they slammed into the wall and he stayed. Moments later, after Hwen made sure that Mae was okay and he explained what happened to him to Walt, the men in robes returned in a van, but Walt shot them with his gun and scared them off.

Sometime later, at Walt’s place, Hwen told Walt to stay put until they found those guys that attacked them, but, even though he knew that their intentions were good, Walt said that he could not stay locked up until they caught those nutcases because he had a hectic shooting schedule he could not cancel without jeopardizing his career. Insistent, Hwen became infuriated when Walt refused to see things his way, which lead to an argument that Carmen had to interrupt. Suggesting that they use their paranormal investigative skills, Carmen pointed out that the men in robes thought that there was a preordained time to sacrifice Walt. Agreeing wit her, Hwen said that all they had to do was keep Walt away from them until the deadline passed, then he told Rico to stay with Walt while they checked their occult library for information about the men in robes.

Back at the Mirage penthouse, shortly before dawn, Carmen analyzed the data and discovered that the symbol on Walt’s forearm represented a Geis, or bond placed on one of his ancestors, and that whoever led the cult must had had an ancestor that violated that bond and was left cursed. Calculating from Walt’s birthday, Carmen discovered a planetary conjunction in less than an hour, so she called Walt, but no one answered. At that moment, Rico took Walt to ABC studios to film a public service spot, when just then he got a message from the Mirages in his beeper. While Rico went to find a phone, Mr. Howell took Walt to an old soundstage in the sub–basement where he said they could shoot undisturbed. Moments later, while Rico was on the phone with Carmen, Hwen transmitted his energy form across the phone lines and came out of the receiver.

In the deserted sub–basement, Mr. Howell had the men in robes tie Walt to a table to sacrifice him to lift the curse from his family and grant him immortality. With the planets in position, Mr. Howell plunged the knife toward Walt’s heart, but Hwen stopped him. Releasing Walt from his bonds, Hwen tied up the men in robs while Rico broke through the doors in a forklift. Enraged, Mr. Howell told Walt that he ruined everything and destroyed his chance at immortality. Sarcastically, Walt told Howell that if he wanted to be truly immortal he better start working the other side of the camera and then knocked him out with one punch. Hearing police sirens in the distance, alt told Hwen to disappear before they got there.

That evening, Hwen told Walt that even if Howell and the others were paroled, the time of the sacrifice had passed, while Carmen added that she doubted that they would ever bother him again. Speaking of which, Hwen asked Walt to come clean with him and tell him what happened between him and Carmen at college to end their feud, but Walt said that he would never tell. Curious, Rico asked what the feud was about. Carmen told Rico that after they got married Hwen found out that Walt and her used to date, and ever since he had been crazy to know if they had been intimate, but Walt promised he would never tell and she was going to keep it that way because she liked Hwen being a little jealous.

Unfinished Business

Unfinished Business – Part I

On June 21st, 1994, during the chaos effect, at the Baker home in rural Rhode Island, the Bakers futilely tried to flee from an unseen creature that stopped them from leaving.

On September 21st, 194, at the Mirage State in Nyack, NY, Carmen got a postcard from her parents, Luis and Christina, telling her that they would be in New York and would love to see her and Hwen. Mockingly, Hwen told Carmen that he looked forward to having her parents, who every year since they got married, endlessly compare him to her ex–husband, Lorenzo. Just then, Carmen opened an envelope with news clippings calling Thornton Manor a center of chaos and a note from Professor Mabry asking them to go up to Providence for a matter of life and death. The next day, on the interstate between New York and Providence, Hwen surprised Carmen when he showed her that he could transform his ski outfit into a suit and tie and told her that with a little concentration he could look like anybody, even her.

At the Thornton Manor, as Mabry’s assistant, Chris Taylor, took the Mirages to see the professor, Carmen got the feeling that there was something in the house, and though she was not sure what it was, she could tell that it almost radiated evil. Sitting in the den with the professor, who believed that Carmen was Hwen’s assistant and patronized her even after Hwen told him that she was his wife, the Mirages listened to him as he narrated the story of the manor. Telling the Mirages that since the manor was built in 1888 local residents had shunned it due to talk of strange noises at night and an unseen power that he believed would lead them to the origins of chaos itself, the professor said that ever since the chaos effect there had been a flood of paranormal activity in the manor. While Mabry said that he believed that chaos had awakened the spirit of Jeremiah Thornton, the owner of the house who vanished in 1926 amid rumors that he had made his fortune through dealings with the devil, which forced the Bakers to leave, Carmen had the feeling that someone was watching her.

Sometime later, while Carmen set up a camcorder, Hwen switched back to his ghost form and left to check out the manor, starting with the basement. Just then, Mabry, patronizing Carmen, told Chris that she probably needed his help with her equipment, but Carmen assured him that she could handle setting up a camcorder by herself. Walking away, the professor told Carmen that the doctor vouching for her good enough for him. Telling Carmen not to let the professor get to her, Chris told her that he had been like that since his wife died in a plane crash during the chaos effect, and that the manor was his only remaining connection to her. Meanwhile, in the basement, Hwen found the Bakers’ corpses in a room behind a foundation wall.

Upstairs, Carmen could not shake the feeling that something bad was about to happen, when then, her image on a mirror behind her came to life and strangled her. Grabbing her attacker’s arm, Carmen threw it over her shoulder, and, though she was stunned to see herself, she kicked in the abdomen and the duplicate escaped through a wall. While Carmen stared at the wall, and deduced that her duplicate had powers almost identical to Hwen’s, the replicate leapt up from behind her and tried to bite her on the neck. Sensing that Carmen was in danger, Hwen teleported to her side and blasted the duplicate over the railing. Discovering that the replicate had vanished, Carmen said that it could be anywhere in the house. Frightened by its raw power, Carmen told Hwen that the duplicate switched back and forth between solid and intangible forms with ease. Deciding to get the others out of the house, Hwen called Chris and told him that something attacked Carmen and that he wanted him and the professor to leave, but just then, the duplicate stabbed Chris in the back with a knife.

Second later, while Carmen checked on Chris, who was loosing blood fast, Hwen floated toward Mabry, who was asleep on a chair, and startled him while trying to check if he was breathing. While Hwen told Mabry that the entity existed and had attacked Carmen and Chris, the entity came up from behind him and stuck its hand through him to suck his energy. Loosing cohesion, Hwen shot a beam of energy from his eyes at the entity, but he missed his shot and set a couch on fire. Falling to his knees calling Carmen’s name while the entity loomed over him, Hwen continued to loose cohesion.

Unfinished Business – Part II

While professor Mabry cowered behind a cabinet and Carmen urged Hwen to fight against the entity’s control over him, all of a sudden the entity fled, scared by the fire on the couch. A minute later, while Carmen put the fire out, Mabry, amazed that he could see right through Hwen, knelt before Chris and apologized for not realizing what they were dealing with.

Twenty minutes later, while the paramedics took Chris to the hospital, Carmen asked Hwen if he sensed anything from the entity, but he told her that there was no intelligence or logic to it, and that all he could fell was hate, as if it were composed of nothing else. Asking Carmen to take Mabry home and to wait for him at the hotel, Hwen told her that there was something he needed to do and went inside the ambulance. Hovering over Chris, Hwen could feel his life fading and necromantic energy pouring out of him. Though it would have been easy for Hwen to absorb the energy and recharged himself, life meant too much for him, and instead he decided to channel the energy back into Chris, and, using a bit of his own energy, brought him back to life.

Two hours later, at the Providence Hilton Hotel, Carmen yelled at Hwen for risking his life saving Chris. Stupidly, Hwen asked Carmen if she would have rather he sucked Chris dry like a ghoul. Enraged, Carmen walked into the room and slammed the door on Hwen’s face. Half an hour later, Hwen apologized to Carmen for what he said. Telling her that he was scared too, Hwen said that there was a reason Darque killed him and he came back, and that if he did not try to save Chris, his second life would be meaningless.

The next morning, at Professor Mabry’s home, Hwen tried to convince Mabry to help them stop the entity, but feeling responsible for what happened to him and Christopher, the professor refused to take any more responsibility for the outcome. Kneeling beside Mabry, Carmen told him that she knew what the investigation meant to him, and that he should let the entity destroy the last link between him and his wife. Asking him if his wife would want him to quit, Carmen got Mabry to accept that she would not and he agreed to help them. Much later, Carmen found an article written a week after Thornton disappeared that said that a man fitting Darque’s description had inquired about Thornton’s disappearance. Deducing that Darque killed Thornton, the Mirages and Mabry realized that the entity was Thornton’s lingering hatred given a physical form by the chaos effect, and that the only way to destroy it was to destroy the house.

That evening at the Thornton House, Carmen broke the gas main to fill the basement with propane to blow up the house, when then, Hwen felt a surge of necromantic energy pulsating through the house and moments later the Bakers’ corpses broke free from the room behind the foundation wall and attacked them. While Carmen kept the corpses busy, Mabry kept trying to break the pipe, but it would not budge. Watching the zombies overwhelm Carmen, Hwen tried to help her, but he was too powerless to do much. Deducing that the zombies were an extension of the entity, Hwen risked loosing all his energy and transformed himself into a replica of Master Darque to distract them. Fooling the zombies into following him, Hwen lead them upstairs, where the entity, Thornton’s hatred, attacked him. Outside, Carmen and Mabry came out of the basement and, after taking cover, Carmen threw a flare at the house that ignited the gas and blew it up. Inside the house, Hwen felt a flood of necromantic energy wash over him and absorbed it, letting none of it go.

Outside, the entity took the shape of a monster with multiple heads and gashing teeth that attacked Carmen and Mabry. Stopping the monster in its tracks, Hwen hovered over it and destroyed it with a massive burst of necromantic energy. Landing beside Carmen, thinking that even after releasing that burst he still stored an unbelievable amount of necromantic energy, making him stronger than he had been since chaos, Hwen became solid and hugged Carmen.

Three days later, at the Providence General Hospital, as Chris told Mabry that he felt compelled to move towards a bright light a familiar voice called him back, the Mirages walked into the room and Chris said that, for a second, he thought that the voice that called him back from the dead was Hwen’s.

Building The Perfect Beast

Building The Perfect Beast – Part I

In the subway station at 79th and Broadway in New York City, a man in a trench coat unexpectedly pulled the emergency stop of the Bronx–bound number one train after it left the station, throwing the other passengers off their feet. Enraged, a commuter confronted the man in the coat, who grabbed the man’s head and, taking his coat off to reveal his true self, said that his body and soul belonged to the Deathsmith.

At the Mirage State in Nyack, NY, Rico stressed over packing at the last minute to leave for Miami to oversee the Mirage’s move back there. Concerned over Carmen’s upset stomach, Rico asked Hwen if she was feeling better that morning, and telling him that she was despite the bowl of chili she had for dinner, Hwen left to check on her while Rico finished packing. While thinking that for the last few mornings Carmen’s stomach had been giving her hell, Hwen stopped outside the bathroom door and told her that if she was not feeling well they could cancel dinner with her parents, but insisting that they were going, Carmen said that they were going to have a wonderful time even if it killed him. While Carmen came out of the bathroom and told Hwen that they had to go to the city to consult on a case for Lt Morgan, Rico took off on a taxi for the airport.

Hours later, at the subway station at 79th Street and Broadway, Lt Morgan told the Mirages that on Monday an upbound train left the station just before midnight, and that as it entered the tunnel someone pulled the brake cord. When emergency services arrived ten minutes later, they found the train empty, and forty passengers and crew had vanished. Urging Hwen to believe what he told him, Morgan said that that was just the most recent in a string of disappearances that went back to June 21st, the day of the chaos effect, when about two dozen people attending a small gallery opening down in Chelsea disappeared. While Hwen and Morgan talked, Carmen chased a rat that she could swore was watching them that escaped into a hole. Leaving to see the train, the Mirages were unaware that a rat with an eyeball on its head was watching them from behind.

That day, in Miami Florida, Rico was thrilled to learn that someone had bought the house next to the Mirages’ state, unaware that the buyer was watching him from his window and knew who he was. Meanwhile, in the abandoned Mariner’s church in Manhattan, Deathsmith pondered why he had been given the power over life and death, to mold flesh into whatever form he wished, had his eyes opened to a myriad of possibilities when he was forced to live in darkness, and why he craved death energy, when then the rat came to him. Taking the eyeball off the rat’s head, Deathsmith put it on his forehead and saw a memory of the Mirages at the station. Sensing death energy coming from Carmen, Deathsmith was adamant to make her his.

On Friday evening, at the Trustees’ dining room of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, Hwen kept himself distracted to ignore Luis and Christina’s endless praise for Carmen’s ex–husband, but fed up, he went to the bathroom to calm down. As Hwen walked away, Carmen accused her parents of purposely trying to hurt him, and warned them that, even though she loved them, they would not like the outcome of making her choose between them and Hwen. Convincing himself to put up with Luis and Christina for Carmen’s sake, Hwen came out of the men’s room and walked back to the table, when then he collided with Deathsmith, who garbed in his trench coat unassumingly walked into the kitchen.

Returning to the table, Hwen discovered that Luis and Christina had left, and feeling responsible for their departure, he placed his hand on Carmen’s hand and apologized. Pulling back, Carmen screamed and told Hwen that she sensed necromantic energy on him, meaning that he had been in contact with a very powerful necromancer. Deducing that the necromancer was the man he bumped into, Hwen took Carmen with him to check the kitchen, and while she stayed out of sight, he took a peak and saw Deathsmith killing the staff. Telling Carmen that they had to get everyone out without causing a panic, Hwen pulled the fire alarm.

While Hwen got everyone to the exits, Deathsmith came out of the kitchen and sent a creature built from the remains of the staff to fetch Carmen. Pushing a tray on the creature’s path, Hwen took Carmen to the stairwell so he could change back into his ghost form, but no matter how hard he focused, he could not change back.

Building The Perfect Beast – Part II

Trapped in the stairwell of the dining room of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, Hwen was unable to switch to his phantom form due to something blocking the flow of necromantic energy, when then, Deathsmith broke through the door. Certain that Deathsmith was interfering with his power, Hwen grabbed Carmen and they ran away to the museum to find an exit. Following the Mirages, Deathsmith found Carmen’s discarded shoe, which gave out an aura of death energy that he found intoxicating. Trapped by a closed door as Deathsmith’s monster came toward them, Carmen dropped a sculpture on the beast’s head and then she and Hwen escaped. Meanwhile, in Miami, Lorenzo called Rico and told him that he wanted him to help him reclaim his wife. To Rico’s further surprise, he discovered that Lorenzo had bought the mansion next to the Mirages’ state.

Outside the Metropolitan Museum of Art, as Lt. Morgan ordered the police to evacuate the park so that in case whatever was in the museum got out no civilian was hurt in the crossfire, Luis and Christina Ruiz told him that their daughter and Hwen were inside. Watching SWAT enter the museum, Morgan told the Ruiz that for their sake they better hope to be wrong because it was a nightmare in there. Just then, they heard a shot out coming from inside the museum and Morgan ordered some back up.

Inside, Deathsmith’s walkers trapped the Mirages in the Arms and Armor room, and sensing Deathsmith’s approach, Carmen broke a display case and grabbed a sword. A few minutes later, Deathsmith came into the room looking for the Mirages, who, armed with ancient weapons, were ready to face him. Elongating his fingernails, Deathsmith slashed Hwen’s chest, drawing blood, then he grabbed Carmen’s ankle and held her over him, but just then, Hwen slashed his hand and freed Carmen. While the Mirages ran away, Deathsmith recreated his hand and mused that he would make them suffer an exquisite torture for hurting him.

A few minutes later, at the Charles Englehard court, as Hwen and Carmen tried to break a window with a bench, Deathsmith shot them with a gun made out of dinosaur bones, but the Mirages leapt out of the way of the blast, which destroyed the window. Running away, Carmen and Hwen escaped to Central Park hoping to loose Deathsmith there. Reaching Cleopatra’s Needle, Carmen told Hwen to try to revert to his phantom form again, but as he did, she collapsed on the ground from a great pain in her stomach. Enraged, Hwen blamed Deathsmith for Carmen’s collapse and lashed out against him.

Building The Perfect Beast – Part III

Enraged, Hwen lashed out against Deathsmith, who, sensed that the power he sensed in Carmen resided in Hwen. Destroying Deathsmith’s walkers, Hwen forced Deathsmith to escape into the woods. Landing beside Carmen, Hwen told her that she had to leave the park because he had to use everything he had against Deathsmith and could not do that unless she was safe. Elsewhere, while Deathsmith pondered how the power flowed from Carmen to Hwen, he transformed two squirrels into walkers.

Flying over Central Park, near the Great Lawn, Hwen sensed that he was close to Deathsmith, when just then, Deathsmith shot him with a blast of necromantic energy from a top a flying creature. Uncertain of what to do, Hwen shot the creature with a blast of his own, but the beast healed itself. Deranged, Deathsmith plowed right through Belvedere Castle and destroyed it. Refusing to let Deathsmith destroy New York, Hwen flew toward him and shot him with more energy blasts, but missed. Meanwhile, outside the Metropolitan Museum of Art, Carmen reunited with her parents and told Lt. Morgan that Hwen was fighting Deathsmith in the park.

Back in the park, Deathsmith shot Hwen with a necromantic blast that would have disrupted his energy had he not concentrated on holding himself together. Realizing that if Deathsmith could disrupt his energy he could so the same to him, Hwen planned to get close enough to him and hit him with everything he had, praying that he had enough power left to stop him and get out alive. Flying toward Deathsmith, Hwen avoided the blasts from his gun and, while thinking that he wished he had kissed Carmen one last time, phased through Deathsmith and disrupted his energy, resulting in a massive explosion that blackened the sky. Falling to pieces, Deathsmith fell into the reservoir and, much to Hwen’s delight, did not resurface.

A few days later at JFK airport, Hwen watched as Carmen and her parents said goodbye, feeling glad that they had patched things up, and thinking that seeing her happy made everything worthwhile. Surprisingly, before they left, Luis shook Hwen’s hand and told him that he was sorry for the way he had treated him in he past, and that he was a good man who made his daughter happy, which was the only thing that mattered. Moments later, Morgan told the Mirages that the cops dragged the river but did not find Deathsmith’s body.

Meanwhile, in a bar in Miami, Lorenzo blackmailed Rico with telling the Mirages about his time in jail for manslaughter unless he helped him get his wife back. Damming Lorenzo, Rico agreed to help him.

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