The SPLATTERHOUSE!!! Incident
To say that Harry Dresden and Rick Taylor's first meeting didn't go very well would be an understatement. For one thing, it had only been about a week since he'd finished up the Proven Guilty
case, and he was still dealing with the repercussions of that, among them being his new apprentice, Molly Carpenter. Harry had hoped that taking out the various phobophages that had been attacking the SPLATTERCON!!! horror movie convention would have resulted in a break in supernatural activity, but it seemed like the weirdness had only increased in the time since then. Harry himself had been attacked outside of his office by some strange creature he had never seen before, and had only barely managed to defeat. So when an eight foot something giant built like the Incredible Hulk, wearing a long coat and a hood approached him suddenly outside of his home at the dead of night, it tended to make Harry a little jumpy. That said giant's face radiated a palpable aura of unnatural magic didn't help things, and combined with all of the other events of the last few weeks, he went with his first impulse, which was to cut loose at the giant with a blast of fire. Which burnt off the coat and hoot to reveal that the guy was even more muscular than Harry had thought, and had his face covered in a mask that looked downright demonic. And he was barely even singed by Harry's attack. Harry was about to shoot the giant again when the guy held up his hands and said, "Jesus F***ING CHRIST! Take it easy man, I'm here to ask for HELP!" It was at about this time that Harry noticed the unconscious girl laying on the ground directly behind said man, and told him to start talking.
A little while later, Rick and Harry had traded names, with Rick sitting on the floor of Harry's apartment while the girl was laid out on Harry's bed. Rick explained to Harry his situation to Harry, how a couple of weeks ago he and his girlfriend Jenny had been lured to the mansion of Dr. Henry West, where they discovered that the Doctor had been insane, attempting to call in powerful entities known as the Corrupted to this world in order to resurrect his wife. Rick had been mortally wounded, and only by donning the Mask he presently wore was he able to survive and rescue his Jenny from Dr. West. However, it had not been a complete victory. West had escaped, and the Mask that had allowed Rick his chance to rescue Jenny was in fact sentient. It had struck a bargain with Rick, that it would only allow itself to be removed once Rick and Jenny were truly 'safe'. During the course of Rick's adventure, Jenny had been possessed by some entity, and since neither she nor Rick would be safe while so possessed, the Mask refused to release its hold on Rick. Fortunately, the Mask had shown Rick how to safely render Jenny comatose, and the entity inside of her sustained her life forces, but Rick knew the longer he left her like this, the more likely something bad would happen. After several days so searching, the best lead Rick could find was a private investigator living in Chicago who advertised as being a 'wizard', which the Mask for some reason advised him to follow. Given that Harry had just assaulted Rick with magical fire a little while ago, Rick had to admit the Mask had known what it had been talking about.
During the conversation, the Mask chimed in occasionally, with Harry being able to hear it speak, which was somewhat disconcerting. Harry realized that it was the shadow of Lasciel that was letting him listen in, while at the same time the Mask could pick up Lash and Harry's banter, and relayed it to Rick. This caused some awkward tension for a bit, before everyone came to an understanding and decided to move on.
Harry broke out Bob the Skull to take a look at Jenny, where Bob not only confirmed that she was possessed, but that he knew the spirit inside the Mask personally. Where Bob was a spirit of intellect, the Mask was a spiritual embodiment of war and battle. It took a while for Harry and Rick to get Bob and the Mask to quit referring to each other respectively as "The Dickless Bone-Wonder" and "Punchy McKillCrazy" before they could FINALLY move it along.
Eventually they figured out that there was, in fact, a Corrupted inside of Jenny, and that the Corrupted were themselves Outsiders of no small power. Furthermore, the attacker Harry described sounded suspiciously like one of the monsters Rick had faced during his battle at the West Mansion. They concluded that Dr. West was in town, and up to his old tricks. Now it was just a matter of finding him.
They dropped Jenny off with Waldo Butters, Harry's unofficial physician, to run some medical tests to make sure she was physically stable. Harry and Rick then went do some detective work, speaking the recently demoted Sgt. Murphy, the Alphas and other members of the Chicago supernatural scene. It was when they visited the Carpenter household that the pair finally made some head way, as they arrived just in time to help Michael Carpenter fight off a group of Forgotten
. The trio made short work of the monsters, with Michael attributing the timely arrival to God, something that made the Mask nauseous. After introductions were made, Michael revealed that the only person home besides him at the moment was Molly, and that the creatures seemed to be trying to get around him to get to her. Harry made several calls then to confirm his suspicions, finding out that several people involved in the SPLATTERCON!!! convention were missing, including one from the church and a few from the hospital. Worse, when contacting Butters, the ME revealed that Jenny herself had been taken by a crazy eyed doctor and a hulking assistant (thankfully, Butters had been in the restroom during the kidnapping, and found this out via the security cameras). It was easy enough to figure out where West had set up shop, and what he was up to.
The hotel that had hosted SPLATTERCON!!! was shut down for the foreseeable future due to the various deaths and damages the building had incurred during the incident. No one was suppose to be going in or out of there, but it became pretty clear to Harry, Rick and Michael that someone obviously was. After dropping Molly off at St. Mary's Church, the three men stormed the hotel, only to find that it had been converted into a nightmarish labyrinth much like the West Mansion had been. Fighting their way through the hotel and horror after horror, they made their way to Dr. West himself, now sporting a Teratoid tentacle
in place of his missing arm. As Harry had suspected, West was using the SPLATTERCON!!! building, home to so much recent death, horror, fear and a weakening of dimensional fabric from all the recent phobophage activity (as well as Chicago's natural state as a magical nexus of travel) to try and call the Corrupted back to this world. To do this, he needed Jenny (who housed the only Corrupted on Earth) and as many people whose suffering was linked to this place to make the connection stronger. As a final stroke, Harry and Rick would be used as sacrifices to call the Corrupted to this plane, with Harry having a connection to SPLATTERCON and Rick having a connection to Jenny and the Corrupted inside of her.
Naturally, violence ensued, with Harry and Michael keeping the various monsters from getting to the kids while Rick tried to take the fight to West and rescue Jenny. At the crux of the battle, Harry actually prevented Rick from interrupting West's ritual. With the other sacrifices safe, the Corrupted inside of Jenny extracted itself from her, and created a body for itself composed of all the monsters West had created and infected the hotel with, including West himself. It then opened a portal to draw in still more Corrupted, but the three heroes were able to force the creature through the portal itself, Rick delivering the final blow that sent it hurtling through, trapping it and West in that realm outside of Creation.
With West and the Corrupted gone, the Mask finally released its hold on Rick, who was finally reunited with a freed Jenny. When asked what he planned to do with the Mask, Rick revealed that his encounter with West and Harry made him realize how much is actually going on in the world, and that he could use the Mask to help fight that kind of evil. He could give the Mask the violence it needed to keep it from becoming a threat, and he could safeguard innocent people as well. Harry was a little unsure of Rick being able to use an item like that for good, but reminded himself that, having a fallen angel inside of his head, he wasn't one to throw stones.
Harry agreed to spend the next few weeks bringing Rick and Jenny up to speed on the supernatural world, making sure at the very least that they were as prepared as they could be. The day Rick and Jenny finally departed was the day Molly arrived to begin her first lesson from Harry as his apprentice.