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The Bureau of Occult Research and Intelligence was only a few weeks old officially and they had no real comprehension about the extent of the supernatural. Colonel Gregory Masters had spent much of this time retraining and reoutfitting his men from camouflaged soldiers to suited agents. Being based at Area 51 they kept all their former resources, but they were severely unequipped for the task they had been given regardless they pushed ahead and started the groundwork for Black Project Omega.
Meanwhile in Malum, the Stranger and Astarte had found themselves in a Fane and retrieved the flaming sword from the Nucleus Tree while being pursued by Mary and Anders Annalee. The couple finding the Stranger and Astarte approached them and then began to open fire, but the Divine Fire emitted by the sword simply melted their bullets. Mary and Anders looked at each other helplessly and they both dropped to their knees.
“Please spare our lives. Have mercy.” Begged Anders.
“They showed us no mercy; they deserve none in return. Use the sword!” Insisted Astarte.
The BORI was tasked with investigating the preternatural but the Colonel had a personal vendetta against the Stranger, or as he knows him Mogul, his codename from when he was a prisoner. In Masters’ defence though the Stranger is the only supernatural being he knows for sure exists despite it being reasonable to assume there was others.
“If you are so adamant about it, why don’t you do it?” Asked the Stranger.
“Because you have to do it. You need to remember who you are.” Responded Astarte.
“Am I a murderer? Is that what I am?”
“You tell me.”
Due to the instructing and retooling the BORI was behind the fugitives and would need catch up to them when they were ready to move forward.
The Stranger looked down at the couple as they continued to beg for their lives and at the sword in his hands then he looked at the Tree.
“Get out the way Astarte.” The Stranger instructed.
“What are you going to do?” She asked.
Astarte walked a few meters away and looked back at the Stranger. He gripped the grip of the sword with both hands, pulled it back and swung. The Nucleus Tree was down to a stump. Both segments of the Tree burnt with the holy flame at near the cut. The ground began to shake violently, and both the Stranger and Astarte lost their balance tumbling to the floor landing on the grassy meadow below. Dropping the sword beside him it retracted into its static ‘knife’ state. The earthquake persisted for five minutes after which the Stranger clambered slowly to his feet. He looked around to see where Mary and Anders were, but they were absent.
“Where did they go?”
“They were never here. The Fane is broken and now they never left the time of the war.”
“But how does that work?”
“Magic is as chaos. No use trying to understand it, but the important thing is you did it.”
She made her way over to him and kissed him on the lips before pulling away.
“Sorry I got over excited… listen I got to go.”
“What do you mean you have to go?”
“I’ll be back soon. While I’m gone sort out your clothes ok? I know you’ve got a better sense of style than plain white clothes, you aren’t in a military facility anymore you know.”
“But what if something…”
He simply blinks and she is gone.
“… happens.” He adds coming to terms with the fact she had just disappeared.
The Stranger retrieved the retracted sword and placed it into his pocket. The Stranger explored what was Malum now, it no longer just looked like any town USA, that’s exactly what it was. All the people were different, and none had fought in the war. Walking through the streets of what to him was the new Malum he came across a small boutique. He spent a lot of time looking through their surprising large selection. The shop worker, an older woman with short brunette hair couldn’t help but smile at the young man as he looked through the various clothing items with a surprising amount of glee.
Finding a look, he was happy with took time but soon enough he had it; black derby shoes, blue jeans, a navy-blue leather overcoat with worn silver buttons, a green neck swarf, a white shirt and a pattern-less black silk vest.
He subtly placed the sword in an inside pocket of the overcoat then checked himself for money before remembering that he had none. He sighed at the prospect of having to return all the items and awkwardly apologise to the shop worker. As he was thinking about this, he felt something sharp stick into the back of his neck. He wanted to fight back but he felt extremely weak and exhausted rapidly, his eyes soon flickered closed.