Issue 21: House Murphy
I finally admitted to Anna why I peered into the Weave around Typha: The pale birds. They were at my window for days. Singing their songs. Reminding me of the Forgers in a strange way. I didn’t sense anything wrong with them. I went through various stories. They had never represented any kind of evil in Typherian Myths. The records had very little to say on them overall. In retrospect, I should have realized why.—Gwen Murphy
Damn, I should have referenced Earth myths. Our old magic users and shamans knew what was up. I'll do better by Gwen. Got the eggheads within Project Freefall on the case. The magical ones that are on duty that is. The Arcade Order had plenty to say about these “pale birds.” Often taking on different forms. Luring men and women to their deaths. Surprised J’ino didn’t lay into me for that one.—Anna McQuire
The Lying House wasn’t just any individual’s bloodline or member. It was everyone corrupted by Set. Open to the suggestions of Unity. Willing or not. They were bred to be tools. That’s all it saw within people. Not souls or dreams: Blunt flesh to be used, abused, and then discarded into the vast gaping maw of Forever. House Murphy, yes: It was a smokescreen but it provided us a good way to have E’ratha make certain kinds of missteps. Along with the All-Father. They had their poisons while we had our building blocks. The Wall Endures isn’t just a saying. It’s a fundamental foundation of our Universe.—Sleeping in Starlight, a memoir of the 22nd century
Outer Shield World
Time Redacted *Security Clearance Required
Lorain stood before me, hands on her hips, her frown pensive. “Do you ever wonder if you should have said more to your younger self? I know I was tempted countless times to spill the beans.”
The waters of the crystalline lake were calm. I crouched. Pulling five spheres from the water. Shaping them into a familiar crystallized dragon. The very same that guarded the evil beyond the boundaries of the Golden Path. Unity’s final prison.“In retrospect, it would have been great to know in the short term.” The long serpentine shape curled around my left hand. Marked with the old tattoo scar. Silver markings rippled across my skin. Reminding me of my Vigil. With my other hand, I pulled Lorain into a half hug.
“Thank you for not spilling. I know it was arduous.”
She grumbled, “You are stalling Eliza Murphy!”
When she was playful, it was my human name. When concerned, the Typherian one.
I replied, “I am glad I held back. The reality of that final fight would have come crashing in. Even now the Weave withholds some memories of my climb back from oblivion. There are some things the living should not know.”
She reached up and brushed my hair back. Her voice tender, “There is an innocence to your younger self I do miss.”
I pulled her hand up to kiss her knuckles lightly, “Hard-won wisdom.”
Lorain pulled back. Searching my face intently. Her smile relaxed when she found what she was looking for. She slapped my arm, “Cornfed!” I grinned in response to her pleas. A long howl split the night air. Cooper came bounding in, << PROMISE KEPT! BLESSED FRIENDS!>>
That black tail of his whirling a mile a minute.
My tears fell unheeded.
I opened my arms and he sprang into them, “Who’s a good boy?!”
That heartfelt response, <<I AM! Do you have any bacon! It feels like forever since I had those delicious strips!>>
Registry Level (Argax City)
September 19th, 2114
Thomas Murphy checked the final trappings of his Typherian ensemble. House Murphy’s colors would be Maroon. Typherian’s didn’t have an equivalent in their society. So Thomas would surprise his wife as well with the symbolism. Along with Black for honor and Silver denoting Life. His golden brooch holding the silver cape along his back was in the shape of a crystal Jar. He hoped it would make his family laugh. So many houses had dour sigils for their main banner marks. Mighty predator beasts roaming the plans, rivers, and cave systems of Typha. He grinned as he fixed the sunbursts on his collar. Representing Sol. Time to get this party started. J’dax took in the total ensemble. A hybrid of Typherian and Human design preferences. He smirked, “That will piss off all the right people.”
I asked Dexter, >>Finally going to get your time in the sun?<< His neatly trimmed beard wasn’t able to disguise his smile. Perfect white teeth. Most were still under the impression he was my younger brother. We’d have to stick with that story a while longer. He was dressed in a simple robe. I was tempted to look at what color combo dad picked but decided to wait. I knew my old man wanted to spring this on everyone. Sul’sundra was on my left arm. With Lorain on my right. Dexter was doing the same with Mary and our mother. E’ratha stewed in the corner. Her cheeks burning with too many m’tes hits. A local wine.
The blank-faced attendants next to her hiding a scout for the All-Father.
There was no question.
Gwen asked, >>I could…<<
Her request withered on the vine as mom snapped back, >>Grounded!<<
Tobin and Jace took up guard positions beside me. One? To showcase sibling cohesion. Two? They didn’t want to attract the ire of Momma Bear. Very wise. I didn’t either. Even at my age: Momma was formidable. Gwen was onboard the Jupiter. With my ship under the strictest orders to keep her there. Anna stood next to Y’lanasa. She proclaimed, “Nice of you to show up Golden Child!” Once an insult? Now a strange term of endearment. I walked over. A crystalline tone spilled out. The doorman announced, “Thomas Richard Murphy, Scion of his House. First of his Name. Honored Unioned Mate to J’ino Ayeer….” It went on for another solid two minutes. Mom’s toothy grin widened as my father descended the steps.
With that Jar symbol emblazoned on his golden cape brooch. Outlined in silver. With a solid black color. Maroon coat. White dress shirt under that.
Black pants. Silver Cape.
Dad must have hit a nerve because mom made a beeline to him and took up a subordinate position to him! Oh boy. This was going to be quite the dinner announcement. E’ratha screamed, “No man dominates Typherian women!”
Mom leaned up to kiss dad’s cheek, “Did you hear something? Was it the wind?”
Dad, in a rare display of public affection, leaned down to press a kiss on mom’s forehead.
“Not a thing my dear!”
Anna rounded on E’ratha, her holo cam floating above her, “Any statements for the good people of Earth? Or the Commons? Or would you rather say Mud Monkey? I hear that is a favorite of yours!” Sul blinked in surprise as I pulled her and Doc into the Dreaming with me. There is was. A patch of distortion curled around E’ratha’s stormy outline. Anna must have sensed it too. White warned her brother. I could tell because of the vibrations coming off of her within the Dreaming.
Dexter pulled off his robe. Using it as a distraction. It flew through the air. Forcing Anna to move back as it sailed between both women. He used his speed and matter manipulation to keep it aloft. Parading it about the room under a mockery of a dance. Giving his sister enough time to get Anna to safety. E’ratha had no idea that a soul stealer grew within her. Where a normal baby would be. Black hissed, >>It reeks of Nyx’s handiwork.<<
Black dared not say more this close to the enemy. They may know of Eliza’s status but as long as Dexter’s remained shrouded: they could keep their adversaries off balance a bit longer.
Dexter swooped in, showcasing the uniform he was wearing.
It was the newest uniform of the Terran Alliance. Around his waist? The House Murphy sash. He pulled Anna towards his parents, “Let’s cover more interesting topics shall we?” Anna noted the disgust in his eyes. Not aimed at her but E’ratha.
McQuire clammed down on her curiosity.
That had nearly undone Gwen here.
E’ratha clutched her head. Blood pounding.
What was wrong with her?! Her biometrics noted the wines in her system but said nothing else. A seed of worry bloomed within the back of her mind. She had a good tolerance for illegal and recreational substances. She ran the diagnostic again.
Behind her, the All-Mother’s shell form recorded the stimuli. Nyx was correct. What Set had done made some House lines perfect for the job of birthing new armies. She would have to push E’ratha further. Distract her from the thing growing within. It was a pity they’d lose some of the original host's flesh but that could be remedied with the birth chambers back on Tarkanan. Then all they’d need was to reset some of her memories.
They had done it over half a dozen times already.
It was regrettable that E’ratha had so little time left though.
The All-Mother smiled brightly as the Brood Mother whirled. Demanding, “What is this?! Take me to my chambers. I'll have to flush my system. It's not like anything important is happening here anyway.”
E’ratha’s flesh would give the fires of Urranden one last gift.
High above Horus observed the readouts from E’ratha’s biosignature. His link with Goldenlight within Project Freefall updating the various protectors within Earth’s Weavespace. The Soul Eater would be the arbiter of her fate. If they gave any indication of what was coming it would tip off Urraden early. It was the choice that would save more Typherian lives than not. Lives that didn’t even realize they were being used for meat puppets at best. Cannon Fodder at worst.
Horus gained a new appreciation for certain kinds of ignorance.
What he knew via the Ur-Stone: He wouldn’t wish upon friends let alone enemies.
The information was compartmentalized. No one had the full picture. Each relying on various teams to set the future in motion.
Faith, fire, and the weight of all would fall to Eliza.
Atonement didn’t even cover it.
Goldenlight remarked, <<The Weave chooses individuals it knows can bear the weight. The mercy is in keeping her innocence alive for as long as possible. It will be a shield against all forms of oblivion.>>
Gwen Murphy had seen but a glimpse of the Lies within Unity.
The F.R.A.M dived towards the Registry Ball. Taking in the last words of E’ratha, for she was drunk enough that she muttered them audibly, “I will have my Throne.”
She would preside over nothing but ashen dreams.
Horus released probes into the sky. Tracking the individuals mentioned by Samantha. The Lost Ones. The forgotten of Typha. Unity would not take those children. No matter the sins of their parent House. Project Lighthouse would save as many as it could. Many Houses arrayed against the Commons and the Triumative, as they called Ayeer, Odessen and M’tah nowadays, had many undesired castoffs. Horus would help place them with families who desired children. Many Human and Typherian couples fit that model.
While it wasn’t mainstream with many Houses: The Commons of Typha had taken a shine to humanity. Horus only hoped this would further distort the hold Set had over people. He positioned himself just over Eliza’s head. Shrinking to the size of a typical baseball.
J’ino had insisted upon it.
The Birthing Pits
The dim green fires flickered in the distance. The heavy ozone rippling over the artificial planet, adding to the haze, making the Keeper woman scratch at her cross-shaped scar.
Sister Nyx reviewed the records.
One of the early models had crippled the Star-Spangled Banner’s cosmic fire hand trick. An early probe into Area 51’s defenses. Both human and uplifted side. It had been a delightful study. Chronos had commended her on her scientific insight. Melding Artock with Forger had produced a brute of a creature. One that civilized races had no name for other than death. It had helped that she had farmed a neighboring alternate universe. Finding a strain of Forgers still in their nascent stage. Living deep within the earth of their home. No techbase to speak of.
She had paid dearly for that venture but the payoff had been worth it.
The forces stationed along the Ouroborous Wall would certainly ID her ship the next time she tried to shift to that universe. But she didn’t need to farm it for additional flesh. The cloning vats of the All-Father provided enough material.
Mixed with E’ratha’s house ability of telekinesis? An absolute monster.
It would need no name. But she mused, “Perhaps our addled brained enemies will come up with something amusing!” She pressed her palm to the glass. Within the murky brown fluid, her hybrid weapon shifted. Yes, the best of the Artock. The Forgers and E’ratha’s misguided faith and flesh. She purred, “Mommas gonna buy you a mocking bird. If that bird…”
Gwen paced about the Jupiter Rising. Clutching her head. Nothing. No hint of what was to come. She entered the rec area. Running through a simple set of push-ups, sit-ups, and short bursts of sprints. All to keep her mind off the sliver of vision she remembered. The torn and bleached bodies of her older brother and sister. Those hollowed-out thrones. Numerous dragons devouring the suns of all universes. She let out a yelp when Comet rounded the corner. The U-Markav probe trilled, <<You must not access the Weave here! Anna said so!>>
The deep green sphere’s yellow iris expanded.
Gwen slumped to the ground, “Eliza and Dexter need me! My visions! I am stronger than Tobin and Jace when it comes to that!”
Comet responded, <<They need you functioning. Not driven mad by the Unity corruption.>>
He nudged her.
“Answers will come in time. Do not rush such matters. What you will find may not be optimal! I should know. They rescued me from the Last Vigil! At the cost of an Omega!”
She had read about that. The floor heated slightly as she rested against the rec wall.
Jupiter added, <<The House Ceremony has ended. House Murphy has joined the Commons and Remaining Loyalist Houses together. Thomas Murphy now has a seat on the council but passed it to Dexter Murphy.>>
That lingering vision remained.
She shivered and crossed her arms.
“I can’t give up!”
She would find a way to prevent that vision from occurring.
Comet linked in with Horus, <<Little one is stubborn. We must keep her far from Typha for now. She will not heed Anna’s words. A string of false Prophecy clings to her Weave Sight.>>
Horus replied, <<Noted. Inform the Arcane Order. I will be along shortly. The time of hiding is ending. We will board their Dweller Gate. Recall personnel. We shall return to Earth to resupply.>>
Thomas Murphy raised his fist, “Earth and Typha united!”
Taking special note of the withdrawn House members. Y’lansa’s hearty bellows were also noted. He grinned. Imagining the look on her face when he presented his Union gifts to her. Unknown to her he had asked her father for permission. Not wanting to blindside the older man. His response had been shocking but gleeful, “I am glad she has someone. I was worried I’d never become a grandfather!”
Y’lansa nudged Eliza, “What is up with him?”
I sampled Ta’len’s emotions. He was happy. Content with the turnout of events. But a hidden fire of desire roared to the forefront when his gaze met Y’lansa’s. Mom linked A’tan Odessen’s mind to mine.
>>He has a special request. Would you be the honored second to a Union proclamation?<<
I was rendered speechless.
Mom’s worried mental shove got me moving again. So to speak.
>>Forgive me. I was taken aback. Not because of the pairing but of the boldness of it.<<
A’tan laughed, >>You were the one who broke that beachhead, my dear!<<
Lorain raised her wineglass in my direction. Her emerald eyes twinkling.
“Alright! You have it Mr. Odessen!”
Y’lansa’s confusion hit me full force.
He smiled at his daughter.
“Let’s go join the festivities. This is a new rebirth for all of us!”
Issue 20: Here