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Thursday, April 1

Grace Under Pressure: Part 5 – Who's There?

"No!" shouted Hammer.

Cho Chu-Tsao was momentarily distracted, turning to look at the satchel tumbling down towards the altar. Her defenses lowered, Hammer fired a bullet between her eyes. She slumped backwards, mouth open in surprise.

The ensuing explosion blasted the plinths off their bases. Guppy was nearly beheaded by one of the rocks as it whistled through the air.

The shockwave stunned the agents. In the ensuing dust and debris it was clear that the altar had been ruined. Hammer, Archive, Guppy, and Caprice struggled to their feet.

A figure strode towards them out of the cloud of dust. Hammer's pistols were up in a flash.

It was Jim-Bean. He dusted his hands. "Great, so now that's over…"

The rubble shuddered. A huge piece of stone slid off the back of the Deep One bodyguard. It was bloody and battered, with one goggle eye smashed in. In its arms was the frail Ko, looking like nothing more than a sickly child in its arms.

"The stars are right again," Ko whispered as he expired. "What we failed to do by design…you did…by accident…"

He died with a smile on his lips.

The bodyguard made a low moan. But it was not mourning over the dead man in its arms. As the dust settled, a horrible fact became clear: the door was open.

By blood and force, the seal had been penetrated, its doors blasted open. In the darkness, a mountainous mass pulsed softly with the same unnatural glow as the rest of R'lyeh.

Jim-Bean's mouth fell open. For once, he was without words.

"Run…" whispered Hammer, straining to tear his eyes away from the slumbering mass at the center of the dome. "Run!" more

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posted by Michael Tresca at 6:30 AM


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