He Who Cannot Be Named
Note : This one is based on one of my roleplaying NPC's. Jack is
actually a divine being that appeared in one of my fantasy campaigns originally
as a bad guy. And he just kept on popping in other games, slowly becoming
a nicer, but extremely irreverent character. Being almost omnipotent, he
dashes around the universe playing and toying around. Like hunting Predators
for fun and saving the Enterprise from another attack by the Borg with
the flick of a wrist. He's basically, "Done it all, Seen it all and
then some more". He's part Q from Start Trek TNG, part Eddy Murphy
(as a loudmouth). The story is kinda nice and since I don't want to re-write
it all ...
The room was stacked full with all sorts of objects piled up in multiple mounds, except for the corner where Jack could see an automaton standing in the middle of the workshop Emile had set up. As came closer, he could see it was wearing a top hat and tails. Suddenly he heard music and the life-size automaton began to move. To the tune of "Putting on the Ritz", it took its hat off and bowed. The plastic face with a thin mustache and monocle looked like a window dummy from the forties. Jack watched it with fascination until completed its routine and stopped. Then it paused briefly and bent down. The music stopped, but just when he thought the show was over he could hear a Fred Astaire number beginning. The automaton jerked upright and tossed the hat away. It boldly jumped off the pedestal and began to dance round the room. It fluttered round Jack and finished its dance sprawled over a sofa. The intrigued Jack approached the lifeless dummy. He came right up to it and poked it in the back. It rolled off the sofa against his feet, almost knocking him down. With a powerful flick, it jumped to its feet, staring with plastic eyes at Jack. It began removing its coat and undid the buttons of the waistcoat, then it removed its tie and shirt, revealing its featureless rubber torso. It popped off its shoes and dropped the long, straight trousers. It reached behind its back and Jack could hear the sound of a zipper being undone. It then reached for the back of its head and removed its carefully groomed wig, undid another zipper and pulled the edge of the rubber skin over its shoulder. Fleshy arms emerged from the costume and a pretty young girl's face emerged from the automaton mask.
"Do you like Rupert ?" She asked Jack with the slight hint of French in her voice.
"Impressive !" Jack answered. "Where is Emile ?"
"He left for the day to get some truffles. It's the season, and he knows someone down in the countryside who has some excellent ones." The girl removed her hairnet and slipped into a pair of jeans.
"I guess you're Emile daughter ?"
"I'm his niece, my parents died a few years ago and my uncle took me in."
"I knew you couldn't be his sister, she died a few years ago."
"And you're Jack, right ? I thought you'd be much older."
"I am older than appearance suggests." He smiled
"By the way, I'm Veronique."
"Pleased to meet you."
Jack noticed the tattoo on her back as she put on a T-shirt.
"Why do you need Emile ?" She asked, her back turned to him.
"I need him for a very special job. My resources are stretched at this moment and I have no other solution to my problems."
"You smoke ?", she asked while presenting him a pack.
"I've quit for the time being." He held his hand up and shook his head.
"Can I offer you a drink then ? My uncle upholds all the cliché's Americans hold about French people, the wine, the good food and the Ooh La La !"
"I'm not American."
"You sound like one."
"You too, your American is flawless."
"My father worked for the American Embassy in Paris. He was from Boston. Where are you from ? The west coast I think... " she said while puffing some smoke and sitting cross-legged in one of the old armchairs that were the only accessible furniture in the biblical mess that was the rest of the house.
"I'm not an American actually."
"You really sound like one. Canadian ?"
Jack looked up and put his hands in his jacket. It's a very long story..."
"We have lots of time on our hands. My uncle won't be back until late this evening. He didn't expect you until tomorrow."
"Is Emile still turning junk into dreams ?"
"If you want to put it that way, yes." She said while eyeing him up, a faint smile playing on her lips.
"Are you in on some of Emile's wilder dreams."
She smiled conspiratorially and drew another breath from her cigarette. "Perhaps ?"
"Judging by the gear in the back room and looking at the ropes clumsily hidden under your chair I think you do."
Veronique cocked her head sideways and eyed Jack up. "You worked with him a few years ago, no ?"
"I helped him on a job and I'm here for him to return the favor."
"I used to know a nice little restaurant not far from here. Perhaps we could have ... dinner ?"
"Okay !" She jumped off the seat and grabbed her leather jacket.
Emile Rouget locked the door of his old Renault and walked into the little courtyard where his workshop was established. The flagstones still wet from the brief evening shower glistened in the light of the only lamp. The sudden movement in the shadows made Emile pause. A dark-skinned young man came up to Emile, followed by another two. The were dressed in jeans and wore American styled baseball-jackets and spoke to Emile in the street slang common to most immigrants from North-Africa living in France. "You got a light ?" They asked with little inspiration. Emile did not deign answer and tossed the large bag he was carrying at him. The young man tried to dodge it, but collided with his companions. Emile tried to rush one of them, but the young man, barely a boy, tripped him and pulled out a pair of Nunchuks. The other two closed in and grabbed Emile who promptly kicked one of them. The boy grabbed his stomach and dropped on his knees.
Emile tried to get up, but the sudden shock of the Nunchaku suddenly
striking his head sent waves of disabling pain through his body. Half conscious
he held his hand up in a vain attempt to parry the other boy's kick in
his side. Barely able to see, Emile prepared for the other blows. But they
never came. Jack had grabbed one of the boys and tossed him violently against
the wall. Before the other had realized what had happened, Jack kicked
him in the stomach and tripped him. The third one, having recovered from
the blow, produced a knife. Jack grabbed his arm and twisted it hard. There
was a faint crack as the boy screamed out in agony. Jack released the boy,
picked up the knife and broke it in two, tossing the remains at the boy's
feet who was on the ground, cradling his broken arm.
"How did you know these kids would attack uncle ?" Veronique asked Jack while bandaging Emile.
"I had a hunch."
"When I saw you take off like that, I didn't know what came up in you."
"Paris is getting worse, Emile. But most places do."
"Those kids have no jobs and see wealth around them. And they want it too, so they take to crime." Emile said.
"You're defending those little hoodlums ?" Veronique cried out.
"You have a lot of friends among them." Answered Emile.
"But none of them would dream of mugging people in the middle of the night." She answered angrily.
"Look, we have a lot to discuss and very little time. Veronique,
Emile if you would listen to me."
"These are the four gems of Isis. Currently the property of Seizo Kuzawa, the current computer whizzkid, and billionaire." Jack showed a picture of the diamonds.
"Kuzawa is the guy that Bill Gates gets sleepless nights from. He amassed as much money as Bill did in half the time. Rumors have it that by the end of next year he'll be able to buy Microsoft lock, stock and barrel."
"What have we to do with those jewels ?" Veronique asked. Emile, standing besides her, refrained from commenting and merely glanced knowledgeably at Jack.
"I need them for a ... special project. If you help me, I can get you enough money to retire to the south of France for the rest of your grandchildren's days."
Veronique shook her head. "Why come to us ?"
"Because next month is Kuzawa's birthday and he's throwing a huge
party in Paris, in the Cité des Sciences. And this is where you
and Emile come in."
"She likes you, Jack." Said Emile in a thickly accented voice.
"I don't know, there's something peculiar about her."
"She's young, not like us, times and people change, mon ami."
"Tell me about it, remember Chez Gaston ?"
"Yeah, its been a drag-queen bar for the last two years."
"I noticed the hard way. She blended right in. Never got the hang of electronic dance music, though."
"Although you never liked a good Java or a Musette neither."
"Hey, if you've been round some time like me, you're bound to settle in your ways after a while."
Emile smiled. "How can I repay you ? Why the gems, you could get them with a little bit of luck."
"I ran out of luck some time ago and somebody is after me." Jack stared at his glass of wine.
"It's that bad ?" Emile rubbed his mouth nervously.
"They won't come after you. But I need the gems to get out and
ready myself for them."
"How did you like Queens ?" Veronique asked, hanging from a bar slung between the doorframe. Her lean, muscular body glistened with sweat. And her dyed blonde hair, bound in a pony-tail bobbed as she raised herself up rhythmically.
"I don't like men who do bad, over-the-top impersonations of women. Even if it's a huge inside joke."
"Some of them are quite nice. You should let your hair down, experience new things."
"I've let my hair down so many times, if only you knew."
"Knew what ?" She asked, staring him straight in the eyes.
"I met this beautiful woman once. I courted her for a month and the evening, just before we'd do it, she told me she was actually a man. He was perfect in every way. I married him and we spent three years together, until he died."
Veronique stopped her sit-ups. She stared at Jack who's smile sent a chill down her spine.
"I didn't expect that of you. I thought you were the strong, silent type, with a healthy dose of Marlboro man."
Jack chuckled and turned away.
Emile sighed as he saw the plans Jack had drawn. He picked up a few pictures and scratched his head. "La, vieux, you got me." He handed the picture to Veronique who pursed her lips and looked at Jack standing opposite them his arms crossed.
"Can you make it ?"
"I can make it, but things like that take time. Ca prend du temps !" He said, while visually searching his stockpiles for the right parts."
"And you, had better start rehearsing or else our plan fails and you wouldn't want that to happen."
Veronique looked upset. "I'm not convinced. I'd have to sit a whole day in a box and slip out and take the gems like that ?" She drew another breath from her cigarette.
"Precisely." Answered Jack while tossing a thick stack of dollar bills on the table.
"Enough of an incentive ? This is the amount of money you'd make if you'd take a regular little job in a little office in Paris until you would retire and get a little pension. And I double it !" he said, while producing another stack.
"Is this for us ?"
"No, I'll pay Emile later. That's your cut."
"Who is he ? I mean, he never told me anything, only that he was married to a transvestite... can that be true."
"I don't pretend to know him, dear, but I know one thing. He paid off the debt he owes me years ago. If he comes to me, means that he is in a lot of trouble. If he asks you something, you'd better listen. He knows best."
"You didn't answer my question." Veronique said angrily.
Emile sighed, thought deeply and looked at Veronique. "He may be your father."
"What ! But what about Ben !" Veronique stared in surprised at Emile who was fidgeting with his glass.
"He went out with Claudine, just before he left and she met Ben. She told me he probably was the father."
"That's impossible, he's not that old !"
"He's much older than you think. But I've sworn never to tell anyone
what I know. Please don't ask me anything else." Emile gulped down
his glass and uncorked the bottle again.
"The hips will be the most difficult to make, she'll have to bend to fit in the case. I never made anything like this, it's too complicated." Emile looked up at Jack and folded his measurer.
"How does it feel ?" Jack asked Veronique sitting in the suitcase.
"I ... I'll be fine, what if you made the costume with some collapsible parts ?"
"Perhaps, we'll work on it." Jack scratched his beard and
sighed. "I'm going to town to take my mind off this work. Take five
Emile walked up to Jack. "I told her you might be ..."
"How did she take it ?"
"I'm not sure, I don't think she believes me."
"What do you believe ?"
"She's crazy enough to be your daughter."
Jack picked up his jacket and walked to the exit. In the adjacent room, Veronique was doing stretching exercises.
Suddenly the lights died and something smashed through the window. Veronique looked up and saw a man dressed in black, but the most startling thing of all were his eyes, which emitted a red glow. The man took out a sword and with a fluid motion cut the air where she had been standing. Veronique had not even felt Jack pick her up. With ease, he dodged the man's attacks. After a series of failed attacks, Jack grabbed the man's wrist and twisted it hard, and Veronique could hear the bone snap. Then he stabbed the man with his own blade. Emile entered the room, holding a large double-barreled shotgun in his hands.
"It's dead." Jack said.
"Why did you say 'it' ?" Veronique suddenly yelled. "Why did he have glowing eyes ?"
Jack hushed her. "It was only a slip of the tongue. And for the eyes..."
Jack bent over the man and produced a set of night-vision goggles. "These
were your glowing eyes." He said laughing.
After Emile and Jack had disposed of the body and put Veronique to bed, Emile sat at the kitchen table and served two glasses. "He didn't wear goggles did he ?"
"It wasn't even a he."
"How bad is it ?"
"You may soon wish the kids had sent you to hospital with a nasty cut in your belly."
"I'm not afraid, but protect Veronique, okay ?"
"I'm sorry I had to involve you in my problems again."
"If I hadn't stolen that watch from you, I would never have known."
"My opponents won't try another attack, at least not soon. If I hit them as bad as they hit me, they won't easily pull off another stunt like that. But we might need to finish our plan in, say 36 hours"
"With my apology, this place is great, but stinks for people like me."
Emile raised his glass and touched Jack's. "Santé !" Emile said.
"Now to drop this thing into the Seine !"
Veronique had been listening at her door. She went back to bed.
Is Jack my father ? He doesn't look a day over thirty ! And the 'Ninja'
wasn't even a 'he' ? Something's very wrong, but I'm going to find out
Emile put the tape into the recorder and waited for the music. Jack
stood before the suitcase and walked around it with quick dramatic leaps.
Wordlessly, he opened the box and showed it to the imaginary public. It
looked empty. Jack closed it and pulled the top of the large box like a
drawer, extending it vertically. Then he turned it round and undid the
latches again. He opened the box and out stepped a shining chrome robot
in the shape of a sexy woman. It mechanically walked out of the box and
did a dancing routine to the changing music. Then the music jerked, and
the robot jerked as well. Stuck like a scratched record, the robot repeated
it's last move. Jack went to her and opened panels all over her body, revealing
pulsating circuits of light. There was a sudden bang, smoke and a flash
as the robot fell silent. Jack pulled two pulsating light wires and hooked
them to the robot. It suddenly came to life again and all its panels closed
at once. It resumed its dancing, this time involving Jack. They grabbed
each other and the robot suddenly tugged at Jack's hair, revealing a metal
skull underneath. Then it pulled his white shirt over his head, revealing
Jack's robotic torso.
Emile clapped his hands wildly, while Jack removed the robot facemask. Besides him, the robot woman mechanically tilted her head to the side and put a finger to her metallic lips. Jack merely went behind her and opened a panel in her back, switching off all the lights on her. The bright yellow visor went out. The robot tensed and fell down, barely stopped by Jack and Emile. Jack pulled it back on its feet and opened the head, revealing Veronique's smiling, sweaty face.
"We have a show !"
The morning of the last day, Emile finished putting the box into the back of the Renault Espace Jack had "found" somewhere. He tapped it and shouted inside. "You be good in there ?"
A muffled answer came out of the box.
"Thank you Emile, I'll send Veronique with the money once I get the gems."
"Be careful, or you may make more enemies than you already had."
"The list's so long ! I can handle Kuzawa as well."
Once in the Cité des Sciences, a science museum just outside Paris. Jack took great care to unload the box and put it right next to the stage, where a series of acts would entertain the many guests. By the evening, the guests poured in. Jack took time to examine the gems displayed in a specially prepared room. Then he went back to the box.
"Are you okay ?" Jack tapped three times on the box. Two taps answered.
To Jack the evening seemed to drag on ever more slowly and it had to
be even worse to Veronique.
Finally came the time to do the act. Inside the box, dressed in the robot costume, she had been thinking. Where did he get the invitation to perform ? Where did her find a car on such short notice ? All of a sudden, she felt the box move and mentally prepared herself for the act. She heard the dramatic tones of the Carmina Burana and waited for Jack to open the suitcase. Inside the hidden compartment, she felt sore and stiff from remaining an entire day in the box. Then she felt the box slide open and stretched herself. Her legs and back ached as she got up. She gathered herself together and positioned herself as the door opened. Her appearance was greeted with great applause. She danced round the stage, until the music tape broke down. She jerked in tune with the music and activated the pyrotechnics. Then she turned limp. Jack did not pull out the cables, but began examining her. He went behind her. "Don't worry, I'm improving the show, but this might be slightly upsetting."
"Wha ..." Veronique tried to say when Jack suddenly twisted
the robot's head 180°. He paused and began turning it round and round
several times until the head spun back in place and stopped abruptly. Jack
then turned the robot with its side to the audience and opened the stomach
and back panels. He put his hand into the back panel and passed it straight
through the robot's body, twisting it with its palm to the public, Jack
waved at the audience. Cries of surprise and admiration filled the room.
Jack closed the panels again and removed the torso from the legs. He put
the torso down and pushed a button inside the legs. Both legs sprang to
life and began to walk sensously round Jack. He picked up the torso and
put it facing the wrong way on the legs. The robot came to life again and
mimed her protestations about this situation. Jack picked her torso up,
while the legs did a turn and faced the right direction. As soon as the
torso was back in its place, the robot fell limp again. Jack took out he
jump-start cables and hooked them up to the robot-woman. The light in her
visor slowly lit up until it became very bright. She began jerking and
shaking and her head popped from her body. Jack caught it and put it back.
The robot then came to life once more and grabbed Jack by his shirt, reeled
him in and began kissing him. She ran her hands through her hair and pulled
off his wig, revealing a shining chrome skull underneath. She pulled his
shirt over his head and revealed his metallic torso.
At the afterparty, Jack was greeted by everyone and congratulated on his marvelous act. Kusawa walked up to him.
"I must say that your trick baffled me. At first I though you had somebody in a costume, but when you twisted the head, I wondered how you did it."
"You know that a magician never reveals his secrets."
"Oh, but perform some tricks on occasion. Nothing as elaborate as yours, but please tell me how you do it. I'll tell you how Copperfield made the Statue of Liberty Disappear !"
"I'm sorry." Jack smiled.
"When you put the torso down, there is someone under it to animate it right ? And how do you make it walk ? You don't use a real robot for that ?"
Jack smiled and nodded. I wouldn't want to disappoint you on how I did it."
"But I must know. If I can't work out a trick, I merely ask."
"And they tell you ?" Jack asked surprised
"If you pay them enough, yes ! I'll give you ten."
"Ten what ?"
"Ten thousand dollars."
"I really must insist." Jack pleaded.
"Twenty !" said the Japanese man.
"Fifty ! And you get our top of the line computer on top of it !"
Jack sighed and looked uncertain.
"I give you a hundred thousand dollars !"
"Mr. Kuzawa, you're a hard businessman. I give up, but I can't show the trick here in front of all these people."
"We could go backstage ?"
"No there are people there too. We need a place that's safe from indiscreet eyes."
"I know where !"
"In the gem-room ! Nobody can get in !"
"Now the most important thing about this trick is timing and coordination." Jack said. The box stood among the displays with the gems in it.
"You see when I open the box like this and pull it open like this, out comes Nikki !"
Kuzawa looked with great interest at the robot-woman.
"Come and take a closer look at her. She's quite surprising you know." Jack opened her stomach panel and the man crouched to look inside.
"Is this where you put ..." The robot woman slammed hard with interlocked fists into Kuzawa's neck before he could finish his sentence.
Veronique removed the mask and stared in stupor at Jack. "How did you do that ? I mean you ... You ... and ..." Speechless, she gesticulated, gasped and mimed around her body.
"I told you I was improving the trick." Jack paid no attention to her but watched the glass case with great interest.
"YOU TOOK MY HEAD OFF ! How did you do that ?" Veronique screamed in utter amazement.
"Just a little magic."
"You call that magic ? You took me apart just like that !"
Jack gave Veronique a stern look. "Get the glass cutter now ! The quicker I have the gems, the ..."
Jack's words were interrupted by the sudden appearance of a man. He seemed to materialize out of thin air.
"So my old friend, we meet again !"
"Raax the Destroyer ! I liked your lifestalker a lot."
"I'm sorry my abilities are limited in this world. For you I may have summoned something more interesting."
Veronique stared in utter stupor at the two men.
"Who the fuck are you ?" She suddenly said.
"I am Raax the Destroyer." The man said in a voice with a slight unnatural tone to it. Besides, the glowing eyes were a dead give-away !
"Veronique, get out. Or he'll try to destroy you."
"I would not wish to spend whatever powers I still have on a puny mortal." And with these words his eyes lit up and shafts of light erupted from them, sending Jack clear across the room.
Then Raax began to levitate and sent bolts of electricity through the room, striking down a howling Jack.
"When I have the gems I will leave this world and return with a proper army to conquer it."
"Not if I can help it !" Jack dodged a bolt by rolling over his shoulder and levitated to his feet. He reached and grasped a huge sword that materialized out of thin air. Waving the huge black blade, he charged forward only to be struck down by a bolt from Raax.
"If only you hadn't spent all your energy on doing parlor tricks with that tiny thing over there."
"Tiny ? Me ?" Veronique looked angrily at Raax and with a supreme effort of will slammed with her knee against the glass case, previously weakened by her scratching the surface with the glass-cutters in her fingernails. She grabbed the gems, but Raax screamed angrily at her and fired a bolt at her. The blast lifter her from her feet and slammed her hard against the wall. Raax yelled again and the metal of her costume melted. Veronique screamed in agony as the molten metal burnt into her flesh.
Raax then turned to Jack. "Another moment and I will triumph !"
"J.. ack ... Catch !" Screamed Veronique, while tossing one of the gems at Jack.
Raax cried out in pain as Jack caught the gem. Light erupted from it
and Jack concentrated the light at Raax. The bolt of light cut straight
through the man and dissolved him, not unlike the way he had first appeared.
Jack ran to the side of Veronique.
"Is he gone ?" She asked faintly. The metal had cooled, but underneath she was still horribly burnt.
Jack nodded. "He won't be back for another thousand years."
"Tell me <Cough> Are you my father ?" She said faintly.
"Yes !" And Jack kissed her on her forehead. The metal turned to quicksilver and as if it had a will of its own, rolled off Veronique, gathered together in a pool and vanished through the floor.
Veronique felt the intense relief propagate through her body and looked at her body. It was unharmed.
"I told you it was magic !"
"Who are you ?"
Jack smiled and sighed before answering. "Technically, I'm a vastly superior being. A common description would be 'god'."
"You're God !?"
"Not 'the' God, but a god, yes."
"But what does that make me then ?"
"A godette ?"
Emile smiled as he saw the envelope on the table. Inside it were the
property titles to one of the largest villas of the south of France and
half a dozen Swiss bank account numbers. Emile lifted his glass and held
it in the air. "To you, mon ami !"
"So, Dad, what are we doing now ?"
"Don't call me dad !"
"What do I call you then, N'Zaarth or whatever you pronounce it ?"
"Watch it, a lot of people like that name."
"I preferred Jack."
"Have you ever met a god called Jack ?"