THE BLOOD OF OTHERS
E-mail: notmanos at yahoo dot com
Disclaimer: The characters of Angel are owned by 20th Century Fox and Mutant Enemy; theNotes: Takes place shortly after the "X Men" movie, and Waking Up Falling.
character of Wolverine is also owned by 20th Century Fox and Marvel Comics. No copyright
infringement intended. I'm not making any money off of this, but if you'd like to be a patron of the
arts, I won't object. ;-) Oh, and Bob is *my* character - keep your hands off!
This bar was far from his choice of establishments:it was crowded and noisy,and perhaps the worst crime of all,'trendy'.Or at least striving hard to be,which was probably worse.
The bar,oh so imaginatively called Babylon,was neon lit in acidic rainbow hues where it wasn't filled with deliberate pockets of shadows,which hid the booths where the drug deals were taking place.The dance floor was in another room,but he could feel the vibrations of the bass through the floorboards,a direct contradiction to the throbbing bass of the rock music in the bar,Nickelback growling about something being 'too bad'.Logan bet it was too loud by even human standards,but to him the music was nuclear detonation level,almost physically abusive.And yet nowhere near as assaultive as the smells.
It was too many hot bodies in a poorly ventilated space:deodorant and aftershave;perfume and hair products;alcohol and sweat;marijuana and cigarettes;hope and desire,and desperation and fear.
But there was a smell beneath even that noisome miasma,a strange scent that had gripped him as he walked blithely past them as the group entered the club,a scent that made him stop and follow,and even in this swamp of smells he had not lost the thread of it:it was like an infrared fillment glowing against the dark background of the crowd,and despite their attempts at camouflage, they stood out vividly in this crowd,even if no one else noticed them.
They were young enough to blend,yes,but their hair was cute too short,they were dressed to blandly,and carried themselves with a rigid,military air.Also,they nursed their drinks without ever really drinking them,their intense yet dead eyes scouring the room but always surreptitiously locked on a young man at the bar,who had unsuccessfully tried to chat up two women and one man,and was now on his third drink in an hour.He was a slip of a man,a tall drink of water but no older than twenty two, with expensively styled brown hair and stylish clothes,and didn't look like a threat to the drunkest woman in here,nonetheless to the eight men who had followed him in and were now sizing him up for inevitable captured.Of course,Logan had seem him do nothing out of the ordinary,but he wouldn't,not here,not surrounded by normals.
Logan was quietly amazed he knew the scent of the soldiers,even without seeing them in gear.Only now did he realize it was the scent of some industrial detergent ,one he had no idea he knew the scent of,something so burned into his subconscious that even hours of cigarettes and weapons grade coffee couldn't bury it.And the assholes walked right past him,never recognizing him as Wolverine.
Well,they never even looked at him-they were on a plain clothed mission to get this kid.He had no idea why,but he could guess.
Finally,the torture ended.The kid's pager went off (why the hell did he have a pager?),and after squinting to see its tiny readouts in the shadow of some blood red gel lights,he headed for the door.The soldiers shadowing him started to follow him out,with the kid still oblivious to their presence.Logan gulped down the rest of his overpriced beer,and waited until the last of the soldiers had fought his way out of Babylon before casually trailing after.He looked like he didn't belong here,but the few bewildered stares he got he met with acidic glares that seemed to burn all the rudeness out of them.And,as if the entire crowd had learned by osmosis,the mob of patrons near the door easily parted for him,deciding he was just better left alone.
Logan paused outside the club and enjoyed the relative silence of a city at night,the sounds of the cars and the sharp voices of people close to music to his ears.He also took a deep breath of air laden with exhaust and garbage,tinged with smog and various other human inflicted smells,but it was like heaven compared to the atmosphere of the club.
And there was the smell of the soldiers again,and the boy,and something else,something new.Adrenaline.The guys were pumped:they thought they were getting themselves a mutie tonight.
Yeah,they were getting a mutie all right.But not the one they had been counting on,and not in the manner they intended.
The parking lot was in the back,behind the pseudo aluminum facade of the club (and precisely who thought it was a good idea to make a club look like an Airstream trailer?),every available space taken with mostly newer model cars,suggesting this place wasn't for just the young more than the young,better off,and slumming crowd.No wonder he got evil looks:he wasn't even within a light year of any of those niches.But the bouncer-wherever he was-was probably too scared to toss him out.
As Logan came around the corner,he could see the kid near the end of the lot,in spite of the conveniently broken street lights that kept the parking area blanketed in shadows.If the kid had a decent sense of hearing or smell he still could have noticed the eight men fanning out across the lot in a standard 'noose' position,a net that closed ever tighter until the kid was helplessly boxed in and trapped in the middle,but of course he didn't notice.He put his pager away and searched for his car keys,perhaps peripherally aware of some of the men but unconcerned (after all,even if they were muggers he was a mutant,right?He could handle it).Logan wondered if he was ever that stupid.
Well,maybe once.But never again.
As the kid approached his car,one of the men moved in,removing a paralyzer from the pocket of his black canvas jacket.These idiots had not noticed Logan,and he moved fast enough that he never gave them a chance to send out an alarm.
He grabbed the man with the paralyzer and forced his hand into his neck,making the soldier paralyze himself.The electric snap and flash of blue that occurred with the paralyzer discharging brought everyone's attention to him,even before he dropped the soldier onto the pavement like so much garbage,his weapon falling from his useless hands and bouncing underneath a car.
It was hard to say who was more shocked:the kid or the remaining seven soldiers,who all looked at him with stunned,slack expressions.Logan focused on the oldest looking man among the commandos,assuming he was the de facto leader.He couldn't have been older than twenty seven,but severe acne scarring had given his craggy face the texture of pumice-he honestly did look like a type you wanted to avoid in a dark alley,if only because it looked as if he routinely washed his face in an acid bath."Why don't you stop picking on kids and take on someone your own size?"Logan growled.
The man with the pitted face scowled at him,his monobrow lowering over his two little eyes,making them almost disappear inside his cratered face."Who the fuck are you?"He demanded,his voice sounding as scrubbed raw as his face.
Logan smirked,a corner of his mouth briefly twitching upward as he noticed two soldiers-one on the left,one on the right-were moving in closer on him.They weren't flanking him yet,but the one on the right was starting to sidle that way.As if that would really help.He waited for the noose to tighten,the men to close in,before he bothered to acknowledge him. "Jeeze,what an ego blow.I thought I was a legend among your kind.Here's a clue."He popped his claws and lashed out at the soldier on the right ,who was moving in with his paralyzer.He barely felt the tingle of electricity run up his claws as he sliced the paralyzer into shreds,and kicked out with his left foot,planting a solid kick that snapped the other soldier's leg like a dried twig,the crack of the bone echoing through the dark lot before the man screamed and collapsed as if shot.
"Ah fuck,Wolverine,"the pineapple faced man exclaimed,making a hand gesture that brought all the rest of the troops swarming down like a cloud of angry wasps.
The kid scrambled to get out of the mob,and managed to do so,as no one was paying any attention to him anymore.Still,it didn't take him long to work his way through the soldiers:the paralyzers ended up as so much plastic confetti and their faces pretty much ended up bloody pools of mush in a few well placed slashes,punches,and kicks.The few who managed to land a hit just broke their knuckles on him.Without their body armor,they couldn't fight for shit.
The kid was hiding behind a ludicrously big black Durango and watching as he devastated the group.Logan admittedly needed no help,but the fact that the kid didn't even attempt to help save his own neck made Logan wonder why he even bothered to help him in the first place.
Ah,hell,who was he kidding?This wasn't about helping the kid-this was about kicking some soldier's asses.
"What-"the kid began,finally slinking out from behind his hiding place after the last man fell.He then changed his tune mid-sentence."Who the hell were these guys?"
"Assholes who capture and experiment on mutants,"he told him,retracting his claws.The very act made the jittery kid jump,and he could smell his fear even though the wind was at Logan's back.But as far as Logan was concerned,he should be scared, because he was tempted to kick his ass for being such a wimp."For whatever reason,bub,they've homed in on you.I suggest you start running and don't stop until you hit the border."
He turned and stalked away,glad he got to release a little tension,but it didn't feel like enough.Too bad there couldn't be another squad laying in wait as back up.
He was at the edge of the lot when the kid called out,tentatively,"Thank you."
Logan didn't look back.He gave him the finger over his shoulder,and walked on.
From his relative distance at the end of the hall,he assumed it was coming from a room beside his,but as he walked down the bland beige corridor towards the dark brown door of his temporary room,he realized the ringing phone was his.
It had to be a wrong number:he didn't even know his own hotel room phone number,nonetheless given it to anyone.
But by the time he had pulled his key card out of his pocket,the phone was on its fifteenth ring-and that was assuming it started the second he stepped out of the elevator.Wrong number or not,they were certainly determined.
Only when he swiped the mag card through the slot did it occur to him it could be Professor Xavier.He'd called him before, even when Logan himself wasn't sure where he was.Of course,he was checking up on him,the telepathic busybody...
And with a shock of fear as palpable as an ice pick to the heart,he had an insane,paranoid thought that something had happened to Naomi.
Shit-in spite of everything the Professor had in place,it wasn't enough to protect her and her parents.He was so certain that was it he could almost taste it.
Cursing under his breath,he shoved open the weighted door hard enough to make its pneumatic hinge wheeze like an old man staggering up his eighth flight of stairs,and darted to the phone,not even bothering to turn on a light.He didn't need it anyways:he knew he layout of the room,and he knew by smell that he was alone.
He grabbed the reciever hard enough to send the base of the phone off the nightstand,but the cord was so short the base never hit the carpet;it simply dangled,halfway between the table and the floor."Yeah?"He asked,almost breathless from the adrenaline surging through his system.
"Logan,I need you to come back here right away,"the clipped,plummy voice of Xavier responded,not even bothering with a greeting.
"Is it Naomi?"
"No,she's fine,"he said,then paused.He sounded tense,which was absolutely abnormal for him.Xavier was usually so cool you figured he had ice in his shorts."I think you'll see what's happened as soon as you arrive.Come as soon as you can"
""What-"he began,but Xavier had already hung up.
Logan pulled the base of the phone back up to the nightstand by the cord and hung up,wondering what had to happen to freak Xavier out.It had to be bad.
But he couldn't help but be a little incensed:he was not one of
his 'X Men'.He'd helped them out more than they helped
Ah fuck-he had to go if only just for curiosity's sake.What could freak Xavier out?This he had to see.
Still moving in darkness,he grabbed the small rucksack that contained all his worldly possessions and headed back out the door,figuring he could be in New York by sunrise if he broke every speeding law known to man.
So he was glad when he finally took the off ramp shortcut to a street that ran through a small little burg called Riverton, so tiny it wasn't even a dot on a map.It was more like a street and three intersections,with maybe a couple dozen handfuls of people overall.Xavier knew what he was doing by putting his 'school' in a place where the closest actual town was so tiny it was doubtful they'd notice anything strange in all their gratitude for the money he pumped into their anemic little speedbump of a town.
His initial observation that Riverton seemed a bit dead this morning was suddenly followed by another observation:the town was completely deserted.
He sat idling the bike in the middle of the first intersection,putting one foot down to hold up himself and the bike as he slowly scanned the new ghost town.It was more than abandoned:a cold North wind picked up,and brought the evidence to his nose.
It smelled like death.
Coppery blood and fear induced flop sweat,mingled with the unmistakable sickly sweet scent of decaying flesh.Someone had cleaned up-there were no bodies in evidence-but there was a lot of other evidence:buildings with broken facades and chunks missing out of them,as if someone had went nuts with a wrecking ball;a huge crack down main street,almost a foot wide and six feet long,as if there had been a massive earthquake (but an earthquake in New York?);and every now and again there was an irregular brown patch on the sidewalks and on the sides of roads,brown flecks on still intact walls like paint.But he knew it was old blood:exposed to air for a long period of time,blood oxidized,almost literally rusted like metal.There were a couple of carbonized black spots,as if localized explosions had occurred there,but nothing more than that,no body parts,no charred skin.
A fight had happened here;a big,apocalyptic fight.And the town had lost.
The worst part of all was he had missed it.Had the other 'X Men'?
No-those char marks could be the residue of lightning strikes,and the holes through a couple of the buildings could be the result of Cyclops's aim being way off.
Was that why Xavier was so freaked out?They couldn't stop whatever happened here?
He suddenly wondered if they had died trying.
He revved the bike and moved on,driving over the cracked and bloodied sidewalk to avoid the huge chasm in the center of the road,wondering if he'd reach the mansion in time for a funeral.
As soon as he was inside the gates of the mansion,Logan noticed that someone was in the shadows of the front entrance, waiting for him,in spite of the early morning hour.As he parked the bike,he caught a scent on the wind,and knew it was Rogue.
She ran up to him as he got off the bike,looking pale and fraught,and almost literally threw herself in his arms as he turned around,nearly toppling him backwards over the bike.Luckily,he kept his balance,and her bare skin never touched his,although it was a close thing as she buried his face in his chest."Logan,I'm so glad you cam back,"she said,not sobbing,but coming very close."It was awful."
He patted her back awkwardly,careful to touch only her denim jacket,and tried to hide his impatience to get inside and talk to the Professor."What happened to Riverton?"He asked her."Who hit it?"
"I don't know,"she admitted,sounding defeated."They didn't know either,or they just won't tell me.They didn't let me come with them."
"Good,"he said,holding her at arm's length and gently moving her aside.He really needed to go in and have a talk with the Professor now.
Rogue punched him in the shoulder,a bit hard for her,but not so hard she broke a bone."Hey,"he protested,frowning sourly at her.It didn't hurt,but it was the principal of the thing.
She tried to scowl,but it turned into a pout on her young,heart shaped face."Not good,damn it.If I was there to help,maybe that thing wouldn't have happened to Storm."
He looked at her curiously."What happened to Storm?"
Before she could say anything,Jean appeared,opening the door of the mansion and giving him a smile so frail it was hardly a gesture at all.She looked even more drawn and weary than Rogue,dark circles ringing her brown eyes like she had been up all night and rest was nowhere in sight.The fact that she was wearing her long white 'doctor's' coat was an indication that whatever had happened to Storm was very bad indeed.
He followed her silently through the dark wood halls of the school,Rogue trailing behind,but when they reached the elevator, Jean barred her way in."You have to get ready for class,Marie,"she said,her voice tired but firm.
Rogue did the pouty thing again,looking very much like the teenager she was."I want to-"she began,but Jean didn't give her time to finish her sentence.
"We're not having this argument again.Go on."
Rogue gave him a 'help me' sort of look,but he shook his head:if Jean didn't want her coming along,he assumed she had a good reason for it.Also,he knew getting in between women having a fight was a good way to get yourself killed.
Rogue backed up,still attempting a scowl as the elevator doors closed,and they sank to the lower levels of the school,the 'complex'.
As soon as the doors opened on the steel grey halls of the underground...well,whatever the hell it was,he asked,"What the fuck happened out there?How's Storm?"
Jean ran a hand nervously through her hair,strands springing from her loose ponytail as she did so,and started down the hall,just assuming he'd follow.He did."She's still alive.I think."
"You think?"He repeated in disbelief,wondering if that was her attempt at a joke.But Jean didn't seem to have much in the way of a sense of humor,so he assumed not.
Before he could ask for further details,they had reached the infirmary,where everyone else seemed to be gathered.He saw the Professor sitting on the far side of the room,looking surprisingly grim,and old One Eye sitting on the edge of a lab table off to the Professor's right,his left arm in a sling.But in the center of the room,laying on the same diagnostic table where that Kelly guy dissolved into a big pile of goo,was Storm,so pale under the blue sheet pulled up to her shoulders she was almost as white as her hair.Four machines surrounded the table,and their bleeps and blips were rhythmic but surprisingly slow.Several tubes snaked out from under the sheet to the machines,and while he didn't know what was in them,he could say for certain she was not receiving blood.
Logan asked,for what he hoped was the last time:"What the hell happened?"
The Professor looked up at him,steepling his hands under his chin,his look still dour."There was a fight yesterday,and one of the students,Jessie Langencamp,ran off.Storm went after him,and found him in Riverton-which turned out to be under attack."
"Under attack by what?"
"We're still not sure,"Jean admitted,sounding dispirited."We've never encountered anything like them before."
"They weren't Human,"the Professor commented dolefully.
"What the hell else could they be?"Scott exploded in frustration,his brow furrowing around his protective visor.
"They still could be mutants of a type we've never seen before,"Jean offered,although he wasn't sure to who.
Logan was ready to start breaking shit in frustration."What the fuck were they?They killed the whole damn town!"
"They appeared Human-strange,but Human,"Jean answered,fiddling pointlessly with the machines surrounding Storm's bed. "At first.And then they transformed into..."She trailed off,obviously uncertain about what to say.
"Logan,"Xavier said,and when Logan looked at him,he stared at him intently,and he figured out what the Professor intended to do.He nodded faintly,giving him permission,and braced himself.
This type of telepathy wasn't like the first time,or like the type practiced by Bob,which was so subtle as to be imperceptible.It was like the sun exploded inside his mind,blinding and somewhere beyond pain,but as the blinding yellow light faded away in his mind's eye,figures formed.
They looked like tall,broad shouldered men,beaten half to death with the ugly stick:skin textured like leather and colored like parchment,with something like bloodless scars criss crossing their face over the bridges of their strangely thin noses,as narrow as knife blades,their hair shoulder length,greasy veils of ebony.Their eyes,small but wide,seemed like muddy pools of water:without pupils or white,just a dark brown,a color that wasn't so much a color as an absence of once.There were five of them,and they all looked alike,identical quintuplets,right down to their ratty denim overcoats,and clothes so scruffy it made them look like oil derrick workers on a break.
And as they walked down the center of the street,the light of the moon high overhead,they transformed.
They seemed to grow two feet higher and three feet wider,their clothes submerging beneath skin as thick and poreless as a rhinoceros hide as their facial features blurred and sank,their mouths becoming wide,lipless slashes,red rimmed and full of jagged,ivory needle teeth.Their eyes remained,wider and more fathomless,like bottomless pits.
And suddenly their two arms became four tentacles,and if the men (?) were now eight or nine feet high,their whip thin tentacles unfurled to nearly twelve feet in length.And rather than suction cups,the tentacles were rife with curved black claws, like thorns.
'Demons,' he thought instantly,but tried to banish that,as it sounded insane even to him.But hadn't he seen enough in L.A. to know them when he saw them?He was sorry the Professor's telepathy couldn't supply smell as well as audio and visual.
The telepathic feed stopped,and he felt a dull ache in the center of his head,like someone had jammed a red hot pipe through the top of his skull.But it was fading even as he looked around the room,blinking as he adjust to reality once more."Those were fucking ugly,"he said,crossing his arms over his chest to avoid rubbing his temple."How'd they get to Storm?"
"One of them grabbed her,"Scott said,pouting himself.
"And that's it.It grabbed her,and she just...fell comatose.Jean got her loose,but she hasn't regained consciousness yet."
"Their claws are poisonous?"Logan guessed,then scowled at Scott."Jean got her loose?Why not you?"
The Boy Scout's pout turned into a frown that reminded Logan he's seen more frightening coffee tables."I tried,damn it!But it only worked once."
"They adapted rapidly to our attack,"Jean explained,with a tired sigh.Her face was the color of damp wool,and he thought she might pass out.He realized she was in pain as well as simply exhausted."Storm hit one of them with a lightning bolt once,and it knocked them over,but didn't seem to harm them.The second time,the other one just seemed to...absorb the electricity.And that's when it grabbed her."
"And you couldn't blast them to hell?"Logan asked Scott,his scowl deepening.Some fucking leader he was.
"I hurt one,and that was it."
"It absorbed your energy too?"
"No.Its skin became mirrored,and it reflected the beam right back.I had to dive out of the way,and it still winged me."He admitted with great self-loathing,briefly lifting up his slinged arm in case Logan couldn't put two and two together."With my own goddamn beam."
"There's no toxin in her system,as far as I can tell,"Jean continued."It seemed to absorb her brain's electrical energy as well as the lightning bolt."
Logan was tempted to say demon again,but didn't."Could they be like Rogue?Absorbing powers?"
"I think that may be part of it,"Xavier admitted."But not all.That doesn't explain the physical transformations,the adaptations to our mutations.Well,almost all of our mutations."At that,Xavier glanced at Jean,and Logan picked that up.
"They couldn't adapt to you."He said,although it was almost a question.
She nodded."Telekinesis seemed to frustrate them,so they left."
"But not before killing everyone they could touch,"Logan mused bitterly.
"We were too late,"Jean said somberly."As far as I can tell,the townspeople died from their touch.Whether Storm was saved because she was a mutant,or it didn't have a hold of her long enough to be lethal,I don't know."
"Did you follow them?"Logan wondered,needing something to work off of,since the smell of the dead buried whatever scent may have been left behind."Or at least see which direction they took off in?"
She shook her head."I had to get Storm and Scott back to the mansion.Besides,I blinked and they were gone.One second they were back in their human form,headed down the street,and then I blinked and they were gone.I thought I saw movement in the darkness,but it didn't look like them."
"Are you telling me these ugly fucks can teleport?"
"I'm telling you I lost sight of them,Logan,"she snapped,her tired face becoming sharp with anger."Maybe if you'd been there,you could have followed them."
He knew she was just lashing out in frustration,but he couldn't help but feel a little resentment."Hey,I never asked to join your little team-"
"That's enough,"Xavier said,angry frustration burning in his own eyes."I didn't ask you come back so we could squabble like children."
"What did you ask me back for?"Logan wondered,especially since the fight was over,and Storm wasn't dead.Well,yet.
"Something Jean said,about a comment you made recently..."he began,but then the Professor sat up straighter in his wheelchair,a far away look in his steel blue eyes.It was the way his knuckles tightened on the arms of his chair until they were a bloodless,ghost white that made Logan realize what he was going to say before he said it.
"They've come back."Professor Xavier said,breathless with unwelcome surprise.
It was then a noise that Logan had never heard before-an alarm-started bleet through the underground hallways,rebounding off the metal walls."They've come through the Eastern perimeter,"Scott commented,looking at Jean and the Professor,but not Logan.A different alarm for different sector breeches?Actually,that was pretty smart:no need for a confab,just identify the sound and haul ass.
"Which perimeter is that?"Logan wondered,trying to mentally call up an image of the grounds."Back garden?"
The Professor nodded."Atrium leading into the simulation area."
"Right."Logan turned and started out of the infirmary,willing himself not to run until he was out of sight.God,he wanted a piece of those ugly bastards.Several pieces,in fact.
"Hey,you don't think you can take them on alone,"Scott called after him,sounding like a scolding teacher addressing the world's biggest idiot.
"I think I can try,"he admitted,letting the Boy Scout's pissy tone go.At least for now.
"Logan,you can't let it touch you,"Jean added,sounding defeated.
"Yeah,I got that part nailed."As soon as he was beyond the doors of the infirmary he ran to the nearest elevator,the klaxon continuing its ululating cry.The Professor had probably asked him back for just this scenario:now it was all on him.It was up to Logan to beat these suckers back,because everyone else had failed.
And if he failed...holy shit,were they in trouble.
He did the instant he reached the easternmost part of the mansion,just in time to see the ugly mothers literally walk through a wall.But they didn't pass through it-they took it down with them,chunks of wood and plaster collapsing as they came through, making man size holes in the outer walls.That freaked Logan out more than anything else:they didn't even care about doors. Maybe they didn't even know they were there.
Because the Professor was right:they were not human.
They smelled wrong;completely,utterly wrong.
There was nothing human in their undertone,and they positively reeked:why didn't anyone mention that?They smelled like a swamp,one polluted with sewage and acetate,paint thinner and something sickly sweet,something like decaying flesh.
Demons.Goddamn it,his first instinct was right.
There was one ugly mother in the lead,with his equally ugly brothers fanned out behind him,two directly following him,and three after that.They looked as human as they could,for now,but he expected that to change rapidly.
He popped his claws and charged,not bothering with any foreplay because they were in the mansion now,and a lot of people could die by the dozens.Or be completely wiped out,like Riverton.
He was almost within decapitation range when the lead ugly seemed to explode upward,two thick arms becoming four monstrously long clay colored tentacles,lashing right towards him as it suddenly gained about two feet in height,and almost twice that in width.
He instantly put on the brakes,boot heels almost skidding along the red carpet in the wood paneled hallway,and slashed his hands in opposite directions as the tentacles came rushing for him,trying to envelope him on both sides.
His claws met little resistance as they cut through the thick,muscular flesh like it was no more than paper.
The tentacles went flying in all directions,thwacking wetly against the walls as it let out a noise that was more high pitched dental drill than scream,a noise so painfully inhuman he couldn't help but wince,and he had to fight back the urge the noise seem to evoke,a pure atavistic response to run as far from that noise as possible.
Blood,as brownish grey as landfill mud,fountained from the enraged being's stumps,increasing the polluted smell in the suddenly too small corridor as its brethren exploded into what he thought of as their true form,and converged on him en masse.