- The Buzzing
- The Black Signal
Our wisdom flows so sweet. Taste and see...
TRANSMIT - initiate the Jigoku signal - RECEIVE - initiate the Yokai cadence - HELL IS OTHER PEOPLE - initiate the Ox-Tiger direction - WHEN THE GOING GETS WEIRD, THE WEIRD TURN PRO - let Miru-me and Kagu-hana testify - WITNESSS - the House-in-Exile.
At the bathhouse, The mask will say, "Omnes relinquite vestis, o vos intrantes."
The mask translates as its masters grunts obscenities at the mannequins. Upon his wet throne, Inbeda will say, through the mask, "It is better to franchise on Earth than reign in Hell." The mannequins never do answer.
Even the infernal realms have outcasts. Even the Oni have misfits. They are welcome neither in the eight great hells nor in the sixteen lesser. Banished to the earth, where matter hangs so heavily, they must find company with the talking apes. And yet, under Inbeda, they form the tenth house of Oni, the House-in-Exile.
They've gathered for centuries, in the back alleys of Tokyo. From different demonic clans, but united in mutual humiliation. Inbeda had only to give it a name. Profit! Industry! Purpose!
Initiate scan. Subject: the mark. A man in an expensive suit sits in an office in Tokyo. His sins do not weigh down his smile. A black hole opens in the corner of his office ceiling. A clawed hand reaches out, snatches up the business man and pulls him in - an insect on a lizard's tongue. Slurp! a contract is fulfilled.
It was all going so well.
And then, the bomb.
Initiate the infernal histories.
The outcast Oni formed their nascent clan during the later part of the Edo period. Down the tumultuous centuries, they became one of Japan's most feared mercenary rings. Legendary samurais, mob bosses, emperors, and mythic monsters have all met their end as the name on a House-in-Exile contract. Inbeda turned the Oni's demonic frowns upside-down by introducing them to the delights of this plane of existence.
Then came the end of the 20th century and the beginning of the 21st. In that "Lost Decade" of economic downturn, Inbeda signed an extended contract with the Children of Eye and Pyramid that runs through 2041. This helped them survive the lean times, and today the economy of death booms once again. The Illuminati are VIP customers.
The vibrations of the illuminati match the vibration of the House-in-exile. The two align.
The House-in-Exile appreciates Tokyo. They have made a practice of not accepting contracts that disrupt the status overly much. However, mercenaries for hire can only afford to be so scrupulous when the likes of the Korinto-kai come traipsing down the streets collecting monthly protection money.
Recently, the outcast Oni accepted a series of contracts from the Purple People. Contracts for oddly tiny lives: a conductor of a train, the security detail for the metro control room, the controller himself. Contracts, also, for rogue members of Tokyo's Morninglight. The price was right. The demons did not think twice.
And then, the bomb.
And now the House-in-Exile has cause for concern. The status is very much not quo. Inbeda and his outcast Oni have come to like this dimension. It is a good playground. The misfit demons are not about to let it be taken away, not by their brothers in Hell or by the multitude of eyes and mouths glaring and gnashing beyond the outer dark.
And we shall give you one more treat to consider, sweetling: the House-in-Exile are not the most honourable of mercenary rings. They have a habit of shaking down a mark for more money, rather than cancel their biology. Not every crossed-off name on their list is actually dead.
Ssssssssssssssssssssssssssssss-I am the dreamers' dream-let me in.
Hiya Chuck. It's John.
You're making new friends. That's good, Chuck. And such diversity. Demons from hell. I bet your parents weren't so tolerant, Chuck. I bet they were real sticks in the mud. You're changing, Chuck. And Change is beautiful. Change makes art. It blasts ash shadows on post-atomic walls. It freezes children's shadows on the lonely floor. But you'll see all that soon.
The problem is, you'll hit a barrier. Your biological programming is too strong, Chuck. If you want to hit the next stage, you'll have to let that all go-go-go. I know it's tough, Chuck. Believe me, I know. I just need you to go a little further. FEAR NOTHING.
See you, Chuck ...