This excerpt from a private lecture given by Doctor Unknown Sr. sums up everything that is known so far about the sinister and mysterious White Centipede. This arch-villain was defeated and imprisoned in Blood of the Centipede, and was freed from his bondage in "The Abominable Myra Linsky Rises Again." The White Centipede is currently at large, and our heroes are nervously waiting for him to make his first move...
ORDER Blood of the Centipede HERE:
... and Pro Se Presents #13 ("Myra Linsky") HERE:
"There is a cult at work," said Unknown the Elder. "I know very little about them, apart from the fact that they were responsible for freeing the White Centipede from his imprisonment, and that they used the unfortunate Myra Linsky to achieve that end. What little I have learned has come to me second and third-hand from acquaintances of mine who are of rather questionable reliability. I must stress that what I am about to relate to you cannot be verified, but it seems to me to be logical in light of the scanty data that can. I have made a few surmises-- educated guesses, really, but extremely well-educated-- and here is what I believe:
"This cult is an offshoot of the Order of the Centipede. Very
little is known about the original organization. They were notoriously secretive and left nothing in the way of records. What is known-- or assumed-- is that the Order was subverted by Jack the Ripper in the 19th Century, and subsequently split into two different factions. The leader of the original Order was the White Centipede, a title and position that was passed down from one White Centipede to another by some unknown process. The Ripper enslaved the reigning White Centipede, and kept her alive until he could create and groom his own successor, who would be under his complete domination.
"This White Centipede was a composite being. That is, the Ripper somehow fused two living organisms into one. One of these was the infamous Grigori Yefimovich Rasputin, the so-called "Mad Monk," who wielded such disastrous influence over Tsar Nicholas II, through the Tsarina Alexandra. Early in 1917, Rasputin-- who was believed to have been assassinated in St. Petersburg in December of 1916-- arrived in the United States. Nothing is known of his activities for the next several years. Certain rumors suggest that he hired himself out as an enforcer and tactician to a number of organized criminal organizations in New York and Zenith. This was part of the training the Ripper required of him.
"But Rasputin comprised only half of this creature that would become the new White Centipede. The other half was... a colossal enigma. Here, rumor veers off into the wildest speculation-- if not outright delirium. This being, so the stories go, arrived on earth in 1897, having traveled here in an extraordinary vehicle-- from another planet. The Ripper had made contact with this being-- whether by scientific or sorcerous means, no one is prepared to say-- and had made what must have been an extraordinarily attractive proposition.
"This creature-- I'll assign it the male pronoun for the sake of convenience, though nothing is known of the creature's gender-- crashed his vehicle into a windmill in a small Texas town, and was presumed dead by the dumbfounded earthlings who found him. In fact, he had only become dormant from the shock of the collision, and the Ripper was on the scene later that day. Posing as a doctor working for the office of the Governor of Texas, the Ripper declared the creature dead and allowed him to be buried in the local cemetery.
"There the comatose being lay until 1903, until he was exhumed by Rasputin. Presumably, whatever abominable process fused the two together took place shortly after that. In appearance, the new organism was indistinguishable from the 'old' Rasputin. When it was stable, it returned to Russia, and Grigori Yefimovich Rasputin strutted and fretted his catastrophic hour upon the stage of world history. By late 1916, the work the Ripper had assigned him was done. His apparent murder and clandestine emigration followed, and Rasputin and 'friend' were free to assume the mantle of the new White Centipede when the time came."
"Why did he stay in Russia so long?" I asked.
"Well, Jack, he had other duties to perform before he could claim his title. For many years, the Ripper had been manipulating highly-placed people and significant events on an international scale. He was, in fact, shaping the destiny of the 20th Century to further his personal agenda. This much is verifiable fact, thanks to the Black Centipede and Amelia Earhart, who discovered the truth and thwarted the Ripper's scheme eighty years ago. Mary Jane Gallows was there, too.
"At any rate, it appeared that the Ripper had been destroyed. The White Centipede sustained some grievous injuries, and went into a sort of mystical coma. I was present for the aftermath of that strange affair, and helped bind the White Centipede and imprison him in the grave of one of the Ripper's many victims."
"Mary," Vionna said in a near-whisper.
"Yes," said Unknown with a nod. "Miss Mary Kelly. She, too, aided in the Ripper's defeat. I am pleased that things have worked out for her the way they have. She is a very deserving woman."
"Darn right she is!" Vionna said in something considerably louder than a whisper.
"And there the White Centipede lay," Unknown continued, "until Myra Linsky sacrificed herself to free him. It simply is not possible that she did that on her own. The question is, who put her up to it?"
Dana shook her head. "I have no idea," she said, "but you're right, that stunt was way above her pay grade. She made a few cryptic remarks that suggested she had a very powerful backer. Of course, she didn't mention any names."
"It's cause for concern," Doc said, "and maybe even alarm."
"I'm alarmed," Vionna said.
"Me, too," I said, just to get into the conversation...