Shadows Over Milwaukee - The Deep End

Nicodemus Nero, Daiyu Fan, and Perry Parsons sat in a dingy living room above the Koala Coin Laundry in downtown Milwaukee.   They were taking steps but unsure of the direction.  The city was being chipped away, shard by shard.  There were sporadic sightings of horrible, bipedal fish creatures that shuffled after horrified citizens.  Now, huge and looming amphibious monstrosities were wading out of the dark waters of Lake Michigan.  The frequency of attacks was increasing.  No one dared get near the lake anymore, especially at night.  Local police and SWAT were barely able to keep up and their firepower was lacking. 

In the chaos, the 3 had knocked over a pawn shop.  With her tremendous speed, Daiyu had made short work of the security in the building and swiped just about everything of value.  Nicodemus, the enigmatic telepath known as the Alienist, was playing the Xbox that she’d taken.  Perry, a sonic rabble rouser known as Kid Pandemonium, had helped himself to a number of silver flasks and bottles of Jack Daniels.  He carefully poured the whiskey into the final flask as Daiyu paced around in the kitchen.  Daiyu Fan, the snake kung-fu speedster known as Taipan, had just returned from fencing the jewelry she’d lifted from the pawn shop.  With her speed, it was a quick trip down to Chicago’s Chinatown.  She made a few hundred dollars.  Not enough.  Not enough to… what?

The pawn shop job hadn’t gone as smoothly as they had hoped.   The fish creatures had shown up with the inevitable police presence and the usual thorn in all of their sides: Manitou. 

Manitou

 

Milwaukee’s local hero, Manitou had once again done her best to thwart evil and keep the city safe.  But one of the giant beasts had shown up, and Manitou’s best wasn’t good enough.  It had smashed her into unconsciousness and thrown The Alienist through a storefront window.  Kid Pandemonium, Taipan, and a serendipitous National Guard tank had defeated the monster with great effort.  Taipan had whisked the unconscious Manitou to a hospital and taken the rest of them back to their hideout here to recover and consider their next move.  

A desperate knock on the door roused the group of miscreants.  The hinges shook and they heard ragged breathing in the hallway.  Taipan grasped her spear and Kid Pandemonium began to hum and vibrate.  With a crash, fragments of the door exploded across the room and they saw their nemesis, Manitou, standing in the hallway.  Her eyes darted around nervously and her body shook.  “Wait!” she screamed and she staggered into the room.  She looked pale and weak.  Her hair was matted to her shoulders and she was carrying what looked like a soggy brochure. 

“I didn’t know where else to go.  My tribe has exiled me and I… I don’t think I should be around the citizenry until I get this, ah, worked out.”

The Alienist got up from the ratty couch. 

“Get what worked out?”

  “I woke up in the hospital the morning after our fight with all kinds of people around me, the mayor, the chief of police, a few aldermen, city officials… all there to congratulate me.“

Taipan snorted contemptuously and Perry spat on the floor.

“I was still drugged and incoherent.  I was in my hospital bed and then I was… in water.  Dark, cold water and odd lights.  Voices and chanting.  Someplace.  I don’t know what happened.  I found myself staggering down Harbor Drive… outside the aquarium.”

Cthulu2

 

“Pickman’s Aquarium and Undersea Zoo?” Nicodemus asked.  He was eyeing her intently.

“Yes.  I looked behind me and there was trail of those creatures, those unnatural amphibious horrors.  They were following me, they… I… I could tell they had clothes hanging off them.  One of them had one of those mylar balloons of Pisca the dolphin.  I looked down and I was carrying this.“

She held up a damp brochure from the aquarium.  Pisca the dolphin grinned up at all of them. 

“Be still,” Nicodemus Nero said and moved around behind her.  Daiyu and Perry, their skin starting to crawl, watched in dread.  Daiyu gripped the Spear of Funcanlong tight and Perry took a long pull of whiskey. 

“I ran off and came here.  I had placed a tracker on one of you and figured this was my last option.  People I passed on the street, they-  I had to run to get away from them.“

Cthulu

The telepath known as The Alienist carefully walked around behind Manitou and pulled back her hair, revealing gills that started behind her ears and extended down her neck almost to her shoulders.  They fluttered gently with her gasping breaths.  Nicodemus examined her, gingerly pulling the gills apart. 

“How many did you infect?” he asked.

“I don’t, I don’t know.  Please help me.  I have no place to go.  I can’t get too close to anyone or…”

“Get the hell out of here!” Daiyu said.  Perry was alarmed but considering… is this it?  Is this my chance?

“There are runes here, birthmark runes,” Nicodemus said, “your breathing is becoming more labored, yes?”

“Yes.”

“That will most likely continue.  You will feel the pull to the depths.  The final stages will occur on the bottom of Lake Michigan.”

“Final stages of what?”

“Your metamorphosis.”

“Get out now!” Daiyu screamed and the tip of her spear was at Manitou’s throat in an instant. 

“Hey, wait,” Perry said, “we’re probably the only ones strong enough in this city to resist whatever Manitou is spreading.  We help her and everything is easier, for all of us.  Fewer fish heads, fewer cops and we score some points, right Manitou?”

“Yes.  Yes, please just… do something.”

“I am in generally in favor of obliterating her right here,” Nicodemus said mildly, “but it would undoubtedly be messy and who knows what her shattered corpse might release into the air.  I suppose we should find the source of the infection or… curse, rather.”

“Pickman’s Aquarium and Undersea Zoo,” Perry said, “you know, I did a few field trips there as a kid.  Way, way better than the Golden Rondelle.  Let’s go.”

 

Aquarium