42: Whitesnake

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When It Happened (Chronicle Time): February-March, 2008

Who Was There: Mark Donovin (Eric), Yukio Ohta(Bob)

What It Was

A bizarre harmonic resonance turns out to be evidence of a violent confrontation between three serpent people factions on Staten Island. First there were Green Serpents, then Black Serpents, and now White Serpents. And all of them may be fighting for control of a strange valise.

The Full Horror

The weeks are quiet but also tense at the Renaissance and the Marble Arch, where everyone is waiting for an all-but-inevitable attack by Thomas Donnelly. Yukio and Mark agree that the Renaissance must be the more inviting target, which is good since the Marble Arch does not have an Orgone defense to equal Jonathan's powerful field.

Mark carefully describes Donnelly to Bruce, who sends Joaquin Guzman and the droogs out into the City to find out what they can. Unfortunately, they come back only with inconclusive reports, and a few scattered readings of Uranur traces that had nearly faded by the time the droogs found them.

Meanwhile, a offhand joke by Bruce gets Yukio wondering if the Orikalk and crystal sculpture that he has concealed beneath the Arch could be used to make bullets to use against the Saints. A few experiments prove that crafting bullets out of Orikalk will not be easy but can be done. A plan starts to emerge: Bruce poses as a trafficker to draw Donnelly in. If he can get Donnelly to agree to a meeting, Mark will be waiting with a sniper rifle. Mark assures them he would be satisfied with a kill from long-distance. So long as Donnelly ends up dead, Mark no longer cares how he gets that way.

Despite the defeat of the cultists a few weeks ago, worship of the Great Old One Y'golonac persists in New York, though its followers now keep a profile low enough to avoid a response from Katsoulakis or Ariadne Kyrios. Still, their horrific rituals are having an appalling effect in the City's more squalid neighborhoods. For the first time since the 1970s one hears rumors about the "the Hand of Y'golonac" and "the Touch of Y'golonac," though whether these are references to drugs, rituals, or other, indefinable things, it's impossible to say.

Thomas Cartwright shows up at the Renaissance one day, and Tamara Westcott is grateful to have his help with her ongoing Orgone-related projects. He ends up staying for a few weeks, setting up temporary shop in George Phillapoussis' old room. Westcott and Cartwright are especially interested in pursuing Yukio's idea of deploying Orgone "pings" like sonar in order to find pockets of Uranur throughout the City.

In the mundane world, Harlem buzzes with excitement for a few weeks while Bill Clinton establishes his new headquarters.


One day Yukio is beneath the Marble Arch, near the chamber with the Orikalk and crystal sculpture, when it suddenly begins to resonate. The sound is utterly unearthly, with a kind of celestial beauty but like nothing remotely human. At once alien and unutterably hostile to humanity. So Yukio records it with his smartphone.

At precisely the same moment in the basement of the Renaissance the equipment retrieved from the Black Serpents at Wardenclyffe begins to resonate as well. Everyone in the building is instantly and painfully aware of it. Tamara runs downstairs and is fascinated to find the equipment vibrating like the pipes of an organ, clearly responding to some kind of harmonic scale but one completely foreign to human ears.

As the harmonics intensify. Tamara grows alarmed and tells Mark they need to find a way to quiet the effect, or else. She runs back to her lab, and Mark can hear bangs and crashes from upstairs as the equipment gets louder and louder. Finally, Tamara comes back downstairs with an armful of metal pipes and elastic straps. As quickly as possible she has Mark help her construct a complicated sculpture that should capture the strange tones and dissipate them safely.

The construct is weird. Tamara clearly has some kind of geometry in mind, but not like any kind Mark has ever seen, and the angles are starting to make them both nauseous. She yells for Michel Borsavin, and has him begin running back and forth from the lab, bringing more and more pipes and straps. Eventually, the construct fills most of the room. Tamara hands Mark safety gloves and goggles and starts drenching the ends of several pipes with a fast-acting adhesive in a large plastic bottle. As the walls begin shuddering ominously, they press the ends of the pipes against the resonating equipment. The adhesive dries almost instantly, and the resonance passes into the pipes, growing still louder. And then suddenly reaches a deafening crescendo.

Tamara yells for everyone to run, and she, Mark, and Michel have barely reached the top of the stairs when a tremendous BANG from below makes the entire building shudder. Silence falls, and the Renaissance still stands—though with a few heavy sounds of resettling.

Meanwhile, at the Arch, the Orikalk sculpture rings louder and louder—but then gradually fades to silence.

As soon as Yukio tells Tamara about the Orikalk sculpture, she realizes she can use its location and the location of the Renaissance to triangulate where the resonance may have been coming from. With only the recording from Yukio's smartphone to give her an idea of the resonance's intensity up by the Marble Arch, her estimate is rough at best, but that's enough for her to conclude that the source must have been somewhere in the North Shore neighborhoods of Staten Island.

The Forgotten Borough

That isn't a hard place to get to, and if they take the ferry, they can also take Mark's van. After a short delay to make the van even more ready for anything than it usually is (it being Mark's van, after all), they pile in and head for the island.

Neither of them are very familiar with "Shaolin," but an hour or two of driving around is all it takes before they come upon signs leading to the Serpentarium. Not hard to guess the place might have something to do with a harmonic resonance that reacts to Black Serpent equipment. Any remaining doubts are squelched when Mark's police scanner picks up a frantic call:

"Hey, dispatch, I'm not kidding around, we need 'Crazy 8' out here, like yesterday."

"Crazy 8" has been the NYPD's unfortunate nickname for Alan Wingate for years now. By the time they get to the Serpentarium, they find the zoo in lockdown and nearby, panic-stricken Staten Islanders raving about strange flashes, loud bangs, and hails of gunfire. Not to mention talk of "dizzy spaces" that sounds a lot like the disorientation they can remember feeling sometimes when Serpent People were near. Worse, there are enough references to "Greens" and to "Blacks" to suggest there might be a fight going on involving both factions.

On the scene, in charge, and not happy about that at all, is Officer Anthony ("Tony") Fuccato. He was trying to survive his first day on the job during the night of Red Rain, and when a rookie cop gets in the Aces' way, he tells the kid to, "Quit bustin' their balls." He asks them if they know where Wingate is, and even when they tell him no, he's still glad to have them there.

"We figured it was some kid with a gun—bad enough—but then we heard something about a "snake man" and I knew we were in the shit. Haven't had one of those in years."

Fuccato is only too happy to let Yukio and Mark break the police line and head into the zoo. But the two men have barely reached the main building before they find themselves in the middle of a deadly brawl between serpent factions. Even worse, there aren't just Black and Green Serpents here. There is also a faction of White Serpents, and they seem even more deadly than the Black Serpent soldiers Mark has faced before.

Faced with both the Black Faction and the White Faction, the Greens have been forced to fall back into the main building of the Serpentarium. Mark and Yukio manage to take another entrance into the building before the Whites cut off the escape route, and Yukio's recently acquired skill with created ectoplasm allows them to make their way to the main offices. There they find two surviving Green Serpents, the corpse of a recently dead Green, and the spattered remains of what had probably been one of the herpetologists who worked here. There is also a strange valise, clearly of non–human design, which the Greens are keeping well away from them.

The Greens, of course, are not at all pleased to see Mark and Yukio, but they have bigger problems when the Black Serpents and White Serpents charge the building. As the fight reaches the office, Yukio manages to get over to the valise and touches the Orgone taser to it. The resulting blast hurls the serpents away, and in the stunned silence that follows, Mark and Yukio run off with the valise in hand.

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