Occult Standards
rating: +11+x

"Sales for our patented anti-lever have been growing rapidly recently. There's been extremely positive reception coming from the Church of the Broken God," Reuprecht Carter stated, a pie chart projected onto a white board behind him. He was conferencing MC&D's distributors concerning their most popular product of the month. The room around them was sharp and spotless, a luxurious hue of purple painted onto the walls and peices of high-end folk art clinging to the walls. The only scent the pervaded was that of money and cleaning spray.

He had indeed received the dire news, but the police were already on the case.

"In fact, may I add, the Mekhanites have been gobbling up our item recently! They say it's because it "assists with construction efforts", whatever that may mean. We—" something began to buzz in the corner of the room. It was a Nokia phone, resting in a charger port situated on a table. "I'm so sorry — Melanie? Could you get that please?" Carter nodded to a blonde woman politely resting next to the table. She picked up the phone and pressed it against her ear, Carter resuming his speech.

"Hello, this is Marshall, Ca—"

"Yeah, sorry to interrupt, but is Carter there?" a man said from the other side. His voice was rough as sandpaper, almost sounding like a rabid animal readying to pounce on the nearest soul.

"Um, yes, but it seems Carter is busy right now. Would you like to be put on hold, sir?"

"Busy? With what?"

"He is in a meeting, sir. Who is this?"

"My name's Harry. Come on now, this is important," he began to grow impatient. Melanie rolled her eyes, lowered the phone, and silently treaded next to Carter.

"Sir," she muttered. Carter waved her away, but she persisted. "Sir, it's from Harry. He says it's important."

Carter paused. "Who?"

"Harry, sir? You don't know him?"

"No, I—" He grabbed the phone and raised it to the side of his head, "Hello? How did you get this number?"

"Hello Carter," Harry chuckled ruggedly, completely disregarding the question. "I have some news for you."

"I… what is it?" Half of Carter was genuinely concerned, yet his ignorance pushed him onward. The distributors began to stare at him in displeasure. "Of course we had to be lectured by Carter, of all people," one of them uttered to another, "The best thing he can do is—"

"We want your delicious caviar. All of it." To that, the room fell silent.

"… Excuse me?"

"Yeah, that's right. Your delicacy, the spotlight of Pretty Penny's. We want them, and you've got 'em."

"I…" Carter looked at Melanie, who still stood there distantly, and to the audience. He smiled at them and declared: "I'm sorry, but this meeting is over," before immediately turning around, hunched, with a look of concern plastered across his body.

"So? What's it gonna be?"

"I don't understand, are you robbing us? If so, you're not going to get anywhere with this ploy." This wasn't the first time Carter had ever been threatened, but it was turning out to be one of the strangest ways that he had been.

"No, we can pay you back. We've got an artifact you'd kill for, if we've got our cards right."

As Melanie shut the door behind her, Carter raised his hand, motioning for her to come back. "Have you…"

"I'm sure the Prices would be delighted by your little donation. And if you don't cooperate… Meet us at Outermost Shelf 5101520-E, and be there as soon as you can. Any amount'll do." Harry hung up. Carter's brow raised and he looked up in panic. His legs were ready to give way. Did I just hear that right? his brain pleaded. What do I do? Do I call private security, or—

"Melanie, could you schedule a meeting with Ben, please?"

"Sure, sir. When would you—"

"Immediately."


"Mornin' to 'ya," a man named Howard Walcott exclaimed delightfully as Jay Suthers plopped down next to him. The two were in a relatively new car; it had an alabaster coat of paint that shimmered like chrome, and the seats were tightly wrapped in jet-black leather. Jay carried a cup of coffee with him, as his nose was growing red from the cold before Howard showed up.

"Hey, have you got the stuff?"

"It's all in the trunk, why?"

"Just making sure," Jay sniffed, sucking the snot back up his nostrils. He really wasn't built for low temperatures. "So, what's the occasion?"

"Wait, he didn't give you a call?"

"No, what's going on?" he said as he sipped his drink.

"Darke requested a meeting. It's about the Prices—" Howard was interrupted by Jay, who nearly spit out his coffee. He managed to hold it in, however, to Howard and his car's luck.

"Sorry—"

"Ah, so you've heard of it?"

"Yeah. Saw it on the telly before I left. But, wait, does that mean we're looking for them?"

"I think so. Markus and Phillip'll be there when we arrive, too, so it must be a rescue mission."

Jay leaned back and sighed. "Whoo, boy. Here we go again."

And so they drove on, plowing through the walls of people and cars London threw at them on their journey. The fog drifted past them like white seafoam; it frothed and moved around them like nothing they could ever see anywhere else. Like an impenetrable barrier of nothingness just barely encroaching the vehicle. It almost reminded Jay of the snow brushing past his car back in his old hometown, Cincinatti.

Finally, they arrived at the London Office. As the two exited the car, the wind seemed to rush around them like foxes playing in the snow. The building leaned over them like an empowering monument, constructed by an ancient people billions of years ago. Its exterior and interior were posh in their decoration, with architecture heavily inspired by Gothic churches and dungeons of the like. It was falsely labelled as "Montgomery & Charles Dorion Furnishings". It was, in fact, an operational store, because MC&D had thrown their hat in non-anomalous business too at some point.

"Help me carry some of this," Howard motioned Jay over to him. He lifted the trunk open, revealing four lengthy briefcases, each gray and colorless. Of course they were disguised: there was a secret button on their handles. With a single push, the outer shell would go flying off, revealing an assault rifle powered by EVE Energy.

As Howard pushed the doors open, a burst of warmth washed over them. People of all sorts were there, each consulting workers dressed in fancy purple attire. In fact, the entire palace of a shopping institution took on a violet hue; the wallpaper, and employees were all the same expensive color, save for the furniture that was being sold.

"A nice look this place's got going, innit?" Jay said queerly. He and Howard approached the nearest worker; a round-faced fellow with apricot hair.

"Hello, how may I help you?" he said with a cheery tone. Howard leaned forward and whispered something into his ear, straightening his face. "… Yes sir, follow me," his voice now flat as a board. He lead them to the leftmost side of the room and into an elevator. To their surprise, the evelvator's interior was of an extremely vintage design. The man put his hand on the lever and uttered something under his breath. After he lifted his hand, the air around them became hazy, and the contraption began to vibrate. It was like they were underwater; each particle of dust fogging their vision. Eventually, the door opened, revealing Darke's sanctum.

"Please enjoy your stay. Esq. Darke awaits your arrival," the guide says as Jay and Howard left the elevator. The door closed instantly, taking the man with it.

"He was nice, wasn't he?"

"Yeah, just as emotionless as the rest of those bastards," said Jay as he pushed the door open. "And, wait do you hear that?"

"… That's Carter. Come, they're in the study hall."

They followed Carter's incomprehensible argument to Darke's private study, whereas his speech became more clear:

"It's true! His voice was like a madman's, ready to rip apart any poor soul who were to look him straight in the eye! Poor Penny, I bet she's being stuck full of daggers at this very moment!" It was Carter, over-exaggerating things as usual. But, given the depth of the situation, Howard and Jay couldn't help but shudder at the thought. Philip and Markus stood next to him, with Benjamin Dark situated in front of the threesome. Each had equally disgruntled expressions on their face, but none had the heart to shut him up. Darke, tall and thin as a wraith, was located away from the group, literally staring at the brick wall in the back of the hall.

"We're here!" Jay bluntly shouted accross the clearance. Carter ceased his ramblings and the party turned to the pair.

"Ah, welcome back," Darke said. Howard and Jay ambled over to them and set their guns on a nearby counter.

"Yes, welcome— er, as I was saying—"

"Put a silk sock in your smoke hole, Carter, the boys are here," Benjamin growled. He was encased in a broad jacket with heavy, dark boots. His entire figure stood high and mighty, like a great redwood. Underneath his cloak peeked out two Mekhanite limbs. Various copper chips were embedded in his head as well.

Howard looked at Ben and squinted, before he exclaimed: "… Wait, Benjamin? I thought you died!"

Philip replied: "Since when do these people stay dead?"

"… I see your point."

"So, uh," Jay driveled. "Why'd you invite us here?" To that, Darke produced a piece of paper.

"This is the shelf you wrote down, correct, Carter?"

"Uh, yes, I have!"

""Outermost Shelf 5101520-E". That's where they told you to meet them. Gentlemen, as you may know, Penny Price and her husband have been kidnapped." Benjamin began to speak, "They have demanded the delivery of the eggs."

"Wait, so we're being sent on a hostage negotiation?" Markus asked.

"Indeed so. So, the Prices are valuable to us, so we have crafted a little plan," Benjamin stepped to the side. A malnourished humanoid creature clad in Georgian attire tottered into the room, pushing a cart loaded with caviar. Their colors glimmered like the sea itself, presenting themselves with utterly enchanting hues of green reminiscent of ancient fae attire.

"They're done, sir," the first entity said as the hobbled entity lifted the eggs onto the table, whereas another, taller creature appeared and began packing them in a duffle bag.

"Good," Darke smiled.

"Thank you. Now, I shall be guiding you through the Great Library," Benjamin stated as he handed the agents transmitting devices. They fit compactly around each man's ear. "If anything goes wrong, I will be listening. Got that, gentlemen?"

All but Suther afformended instantly.

"Yeah, yeah," he mumbled reluctantly. "I just don't see how we can't find the shelf ourselves."

"Because I know the Library better than you do, Suthers," Ben said sharply, facing him with cold and somewhat annoyed eyes.

Jay looked at him. Did he just say what I think he said? he wondered. He knew something was off about him from the start. "Is that so?"

"Indeed. My purpose on this mission is to—"

"We can get out of tough situations ourselves, thank you very much! Have you got somehing you need to say, sir? "

"Excuse me? What are you implying?"

"You're not yourself, Ben—"

"Enough," Darke demanded, resting one hand on Benjamin's shoulder and pulling him away. "This bickering will not serve in our favor."

"I think now's the time to stop, Suthers," Markus suggested. Howard and Philip grew increasingly on-edge. The imp handed Howard the bag of eggs.

"… Fine. I apologize, sir."

"That is more like it. Grandsire?" Ben turned to Darke, who immediately turned to the wall and waved his hands. As he did, each brick making up the wall removed themselves from their individual slots smoothly and began forming a gate. The structure reached the cieling of Darke's chamber, and was bland and cubic in its architecture. Finally, as it was completed, a blinding light stretched over it and into its arch, thrusting a gust of wind at the party.

"Uh, sorry to be that guy, but how much're we being paid for this?" Markus inquired.

"One million pounds and free access to the soul sucker for a year, for the lot of you. Split the money how you may," Ben replied.

"We wish you good luck on your journey, gentlemen," said Darke, staring into the colossal Way. And so they agents nodded at eachother, accepting their quest. They grabbed their weapons, activated their communicators, and went in.

Unless otherwise stated, the content of this page is licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 License