Part 1

accidents will happen





There is such a thing as Destiny.

Take, for example, the infamous line of the family
Constantine.  Theirs is a bloodline marked by magic,
triumph, and tragedy.  Among the more notable Constantines
was King Kon-sten-tyn, king of England after the fall of
Arthur; Harry Constantine, cursed by the Ribbon Queen to
live for eternity in rotting flesh; and the Lady Johanna
Constantine, who was a spy and adventuress involved in 
many run-ins with the occult.

The touch of magic has always been with the line of
Constantine, in one form or another.  More often than not,
it left scars on their lives that would never heal.

It is destiny that every generation of Constantine be
touched by magic.

Thus, it was on one somewhat warm late summer day that a 
white cat with a particular wand was on its way to London,
where it knew a young lady by the name of Gemma Constantine
Masters was living. 

It was time for her to face Destiny.

However, the oddest thing happened.  Destiny ran headlong
into John Constantine.


- - -


"Out!  Scat!  Bloody bag of shite!"

*MREOOOOOOOOOWAAAAAAAAAAWWWR*

With a swift boot to the rear, John Constantine sent the
white cat flying into the air and out of his townhouse door.
It tumbled in a most un-catlike manner down the stairs, into
the street, and narrowly avoided getting hit by a passing
bicycle.  As it scrambled to get to its feet, it rolled
about violently... and smacked its head right up against a
lamp post. 

The cat raised its head slowly, then seemed to pass out.

John watched it with a little confusion and a lot of
amusement.  Didn't cats usually land on their feet?

"S'gotta be the clumsiest bloody cat I've ever seen." 

He shook his head, picked up the newspaper, and turned back
to his doorway.  One step later, his foot stepped on
something, causing him to slip and fall, almost following
the same path as the cat. 

"Ow!  What the frig?!"  He slowly rose to his feet and
looked for the object he'd tripped on.

It seemed to be a pen.  A gaudy, glitzy sort of pen, but
still a pen.

And radiating from it, if only faintly, he sensed magic. 

Carefully, he picked it up and examined it.  Aside from
sensing magic within it, he couldn't see anything
particularly spectacular about it.  He shrugged, put it in
his shirt pocket, and returned to his newly acquired (by
means that he would never disclose) townhouse. 

He made his way to the kitchen, where the smell of eggs and
bacon greeted his nose.  By the stove was a young lady,
blessed with schoolgirl looks, short brown hair and a sunny
disposition.  She waved a spatula as John entered. 

"G'morning, Uncle John."

"G'mornin', Gemma."  John took a deep breath, inhaling the
aroma of freshly cooked food.  It was something that wasn't
often done in his kitchen, except for the fried spam. 
Otherwise it was the aroma of microwavable goods that filled
the kitchen air.

"Mmm, breakfast smells great." 

"Thanks.  Eggs, bacon, and toast right'ere."  She brought a
plate over to the kitchen table, with all the aforementioned
items on it.

John immediately dug in, then paused.  "What, no beer?"

"Too early for that," chastised Gemma.

"Fine, fine, give us some orange juice then.  Bloody health
nut."  He spent a few minutes groggily devouring his
breakfast, then took a break to read over the newspaper.

"So, ready for your first day of college?" he asked Gemma.

"Mm-hm.  I just wish they weren't renovating the bloody
dorms," said Gemma, looking apologetic.

"Aw, you can stay as long as you need, Gemma.  D'worry about
it." 

Gemma smiled.  "Thanks, Uncle John."

He pulled out the odd pen-thing one more time and stared at
it.  The thing didn't seem to have an opening, cap, no.  No
buttons either.  Definitely not a pen.

Quite possibly, the shortest magic wand he'd ever seen.

John snorted, remembering a joke about wand length.

Gemma, with her own breakfast done, joined him at the table. 
She noticed the object immediately, and felt an intense wave
of curiosity hit. 

"What's that?" she asked.

John frowned and put the thing back in his pocket. 
"Possibly trouble.  Don't mind it, Gemma." 

"Can I see it?" she asked, holding out a hand.

"Maybe later, Gemma.  Okay?" 

"C'mon, please?"

He gave her a firm look.  "S'magic, Gemma.  Remember what I
told you about magic?"

She rolled her eyes.  "Yeah, I know, I shouldn't mess about
with it."

While she knew that terrible things had happened to her
uncle because of magic, Gemma was still curious about it. 
She also thought her uncle was terribly hypocritical about
it.  Telling her to not touch it, then turning around and
messing about with it himself?

Seemed a bit unfair, that did.

For now, Gemma gave up on seeing the pen, but she silently
vowed to get a hold of it later, by hook or by crook.


- - -


Somewhere in his maze, the robed figure known as Destiny was
pacing about calmly as he was known to do.  His book, in
which the tale of mankind was written, was open, as it often
was.

He looked a bit puzzled, which was considerably out of the
ordinary for him.

His confusion washed away once he read some fine print on
the page.

   John Constantine.

Ah.  Well.  That would explain it then.

With a neutral expression back on his face, he continued his walk.


- - -


The cat had a headache.

There was something on its mind... something about... a
stick?  A wand?  Sailors?

Aaaagh, couldn't remember.  It wondered where it got the
headache.  Perhaps it hit that lamp post?  Probably.

It got to its feet unsteadily and wobbled down the street,
trying furiously to remember what it was that was so
important.

Sailor.... sailor.... something about sailor...

Maybe sailors going fishing? 

Hm.

Fish sounded good.

It decided it was hungry and went off in search of fish. 
And, it reasoned, if whatever it forgot was truly
important, it'd remember sooner or later. 


- - -


It had been an uneventful day so far, just the typical
routine for John.

Stop by Bill's and collect the money he'd won off the horses
(the 'rent money' he called it) and other assorted sports
gambling activities, swing over to some of the local
occultist dives to get some news and make some trades, and
finally over to Meadow Lane Retirement Center. 

That last one was the 'itch' of the day, as he called it. 
Something odd and supernatural was going on there, and an
old neighbor who was now stuck in that place, old Mrs. 
Moore, had called up and asked him to look into it.

Ordinarily, he'd never be caught dead doing charity work,
but as of late it had been staggeringly quiet.  John was an
addict of occult activity, and he needed to scratch that
itch.

That, and Mrs. Moore was a nice enough lady.  It didn't hurt
that Mrs.  Moore was a 'sensitive' either, which meant that
when she had a feeling about something, there was usually a
good reason for it. 

It was going to be a routine 'house cleaning'.

Or so he thought.


- - -


Gemma Masters sat under a tree, idly killing time by doodling
until her next class was to begin.  She hadn't had a good 
sleep last night, mainly because of this odd recurring dream
she'd been having recently.

The details were sketchy in her mind, always rushing out of
her memory as she woke up and leaving Gemma with only bits
and pieces of the dream.

A majestic kingdom.

A terrible evil.

Darkness.

Space.

Stars.

A cloaked figure.

An explosion.

She shook her head at it all, irritated that the images in
her mind wouldn't gel together.  Then she looked at her
paper and frowned.

Sketched by her own hand was the image of a planet.

Exploding.


- - -


The Meadow Lane Retirement Center was, in John's eyes, a
ghastly example of good intentions messing things up.  The
center occupied floors eight through fourteen of the Meadow
Lane Medical Center, a thirty floor complex dedicated to
medical research and health care.  The elderly got a nice
bonus since the nearest hospital was just a few floors up. 
On the other hand, the hospital got their patients easier,
could bring them in cheaper than using an ambulance, and
there was quite a bit of suspicion that they were running
secret experiments on the tenants. 

John casually ignored the 'no smoking' sign and entered the
tower, heading straight for the elevators.

As he hit floor eight, he looked around and scowled in
disgust.  Sterile air, sterile floors, sterile walls,
sterile chairs, there was so much sterility it made John
shiver with revulsion.

An elderly woman, with long white hair and a slight stoop
in her posture greeted John.  "Hello, dearie.  Nice t'see
you again."

"Hello, Mrs. Moore.  Your son chucked you away to here?  You
ought to have someone kick his arse."

"Oh hush, John," replied Mrs. Moore, giving him a light bap
on the arm.  "It's better this way.  'Sides, I can't stand
the little tart he married.  Smarmy little bitch, she is." 

John nodded and resumed walking down the halls, saying an
occasional hello to the various senior citizens within.
Silently, he vowed to himself that this would never, ever be
his fate.

He paused.

There, in the air.

The faintest of scents.

Blood.  Brimstone.  Candles.

"Bloody hell."

"Y'sense something, Johnny?" asked Mrs. Moore.

"Yeah luv.  I think... you'd best get back to yer room."

"Oh, messy business, is it?"

"Yeah, you can say that."

It was a summoning.  Not just the run-of-the-mill demon
summoning either.  Whoever was doing the summoning was
reaching to the dark dimensions, the great unknown of the
occult.  Reaching into that world always ended in chaos and
disaster, and every now and then something nasty with
tentacles.

Well, he'd put an end to that nonsense.

Following his senses, he took the elevator and began to
ascend to the 14th floor.  He paused, and looked down at the
floor he was just on.  The 12th floor.

Oh.  Right.  There was some sort of superstition.  No 13th 
floors in buildings.  So technically, the 14th floor was
the 13th floor.

Hmmm.

"How bloody appropriate," he deadpanned.

Then he began to feel it in the air.  Something was
stirring, building up, rising. 

Magic.

And suddenly the power spiked.  Static energy filled the air
and buzzed in his ears.  

It only meant one thing: he was too late.


- - -


Jack Emerson was 87 years old... and hating it.  This tired
frame, these aches and pains, they served to remind him of
the slow and steady decay of his body.

He would have none of it.

Jack remembered better days, when the young women swooned at
his touch and the men moved out of his path.  Now the young
ladies flinched at his touch and the men treated him like a
joke.

No more.

Oh, he'd found a way, yessir, found a way to recapture the
glory of youth.  It just involved making a deal with the
devil.  Of course, there would be a price to pay, but he
wasn't willing to offer his soul.

There was, however, an entire building of tired, useless,
unsuspecting spirits, all around him.  Useless buggers. 
Besides, nobody would notice a heart attack or two now and
then, not in a senior citizen's home.

With a final stroke of charcoal upon the floor, he completed
an intricate pattern of lines and spirals upon the once
sterile floor.

A gust of wind swirled through the room and the lights all
dimmed.  At the heart of the complex diagram, a column of
smoke arose.


- - -


Out of the darkness of the great beyond, she rushed towards
the earth realm.  Her kind hadn't been doing so well lately,
with the fall of Queen Beryl and Queen Metallia.  Still,
they managed to eek out an existence in the Dark Kingdom.
She was the first to come to earth after the fall.

Her brothers and sisters had tried to rush forth on their
own before, in the heydey of Queen Beryl, and it'd gotten
them zapped by THEM, those girls in short skirts and magical
sticks.  On the whole, she felt it was a silly way for their
kind to die.

She decided to do it the old fashioned way, via contract.

And she decided to do it FAR away from THEM, and London
was very and nicely far away.

The world around her began to shift into focus, and she soon
found herself standing at the center of a diagram of
summoning.  Briefly, she looked herself over to make sure
everything made it through the trip.

There were a few rare instances where those that were
summoned made the trip missing a few... things... due to
the summoner's incompetence.

All body parts, check.

Flowing black cape, check.

Spiffy and sexy black pseudo-military uniform, check.

She took a moment to straighten out her cloak and hair, then
took a quick peek at the mirror in the room.

Ah, perfect.

Right then, to work.

The room she found herself in was amazingly drab.  White
walls, white ceiling, white lights, white sheet.  The only
thing not white was the black diagram on the floor.  An old
man stood at the diagram's edge, eyeing her lecherously. 

"Who is it that summons me?" she asked.

"I, Jack Emerson, summon you," said the old man.

"What is it you wish for, Jack Emerson?" she asked.

"I wish for youth."

"What do you offer?" she asked.

"I offer souls, the souls of those that dwell within this
tower."

The door slowly creaked open, surprising them both.  A lone
figure clad in a trenchcoat stood there and looked at them
both calmly. 

"Not so fast, squire," he said.

She looked at the stranger with mild irritation.  He seemed
to be ordinary enough.  At least he wasn't one of those
lunatic girls with short skirts and magic wands.


- - -


Buried deep within a pocket of John's trenchcoat, the
mysterious pen began to glow.

It sensed one of THEM near.

Something would have to be done, but the chosen one was
nowhere near.

It was having an anxiety attack.

Because Gemma Masters wasn't here.


- - -


"Now what's going on here, eh?" asked John.  He looked first
at the old man, then the young woman, and finally the
diagram.

Mm-hm.  Definitely summoning from the dark dimensions.  At
least the old fart didn't summon up something with tentacles.
That would've been a bloody nuisance and a half.

The next trick would be to get the woman.... demoness....
whatever she was.... back to wherever she belonged.

"Do not intrude, mortal," said the woman.

"Bugger off, ya cheeky wanker!" growled the old man.

"You," said John, pointing at the old man, "shut the fuck
up.  And you," he said, pointing to the woman, "exactly who
the hell are you?"

She stood tall and proud.  "I am Calcite of the Dark
Kingdom."

Dark Kingdom?  John frowned.  Hadn't heard that one before.

"Calcite?  Innit the stuff that comes with milk?"

"Bugger off, damn you!" wheezed the old man.

The woman scowled, fire lighting around her.  "How DARE
you!"

John shrugged.  The girl didn't seem to be much, a typical
soul peddler.  The old man was an occult novice, so there
wasn't anything to worry about there.  Just dismantle this
little scene peacefully then go home for some Guinness.

But first, the trademark cigarette.

He reached in his pocket and pulled out a cigarette, then
paused just as it was inches from his face.

Wait.  

That wasn't a cigarette.  

It was that bloody stupid pen. 


- - -


Calcite gasped.  That man had one of THOSE wands.


- - -


Jack nearly tore his hair out.  He ALMOST had the ceremony
done!  Damn that... that... that young punk!


- - -


John stared at the pen for a moment, mesmerized by the
swirling patterns on its surface.  It seemed to encourage
him to say whatever came naturally to his mind.  It seemed,
in fact, very urgent that he say what came naturally to his
mind.

What naturally came to his mind at that point were these
words:

"Bloody friggin' hell..."

The wand somehow seemed puzzled, an amazing achievement in
itself.  Those weren't quite the words, no.  Normally, it'd
be something like 'MOON CRYSTAL POWER, MAKE UP!' or 'PLUTO
PLANET POWER, MAKE UP!' or something like that.

'Bloody friggin' hell' was not quite it.

It was, however, the words that came naturally to the
subject's mind.

So....

*POOF*

"What the.... AAAAAAAAAAAAAGGGGGH!!!"


- - -


Lectures, thought Gemma, were a bloody bore.  She seriously
mulled over sneaking out of the auditorium, bumming off her
classmates' notes later on.

Suddenly, she felt a chill run through her spine.  It was as
if something had left her... a piece of her soul, perhaps.

She frowned and shrugged off the feeling, blaming it on not
enough sleep, then snuck out.


- - -


Calcite stood there, gaping.  She'd heard of this sort of
thing, but never actually seen it or really believed it.

Where once there stood an ordinary man, there was now a
young woman.  Not just a young woman, but a young woman
dressed all in black, with a ridiculously short pleated
skirt, arm length gloves, and knee high boots.

And she was holding the wand.

"Oh no," she whimpered.  "It's one of them."


- - -


Instincts were racing through his body, words buzzing
through his head, and John struggled to keep them at bay. 

He was a She. 

She was a GIRL.

She was a GIRL in a SHORT SKIRT. 

She was tremendously, royally, unmeasurably pissed off.

John raised her glare from the pen to the woman, and words,
not entirely his own, flowed from his mouth.

"Taking advantage of the elderly..." she said through
gritted teeth, "to power the forces of darkness..."

In her mind, she wondered what the hell she was saying.  These
words were crap!  Overdramatic bullshit that you wouldn't catch the
worst actress saying!

"In the name of... in the name of..."  She shuddered,
fighting the words that were trying to come out.

There was no way in hell she was willing to say 'In the name
of love, I will punish you!'. 

No.

Bloody.

Way.

John straightened herself out, pointed the wand at the
woman, and posed dramatically, though in a somewhat macho
fashion.

"In the name of love.... fuck off."


-  e n d  p a r t  1  -