Issue 20: The Golden City
Thomas told me what happened within the Void Line. Now I understand my father’s cagey remarks. As the Steward of the Throne, he probably saw this coming. But the fact that we are the Primary Universe. Rulers preserve us and blind our enemies. There’s no way my husband and daughter are going to that city without me. Our family of Convergence will stick together. No matter what. I still find it very disturbing that the Ouro is made up of different versions of our Twins. Besides their physical shell, what goes into a ritual like that? I have a suspicion that my parents know.—J’ino
I went to the park with Jacob and Samatha. Cooper loves Frisby. Around the halfway point the Morrigan landed on my head again. Singing old songs that soothed a whole lot of doubts within me. No wonder magic affects me so. It’s a rather pure source. That got Morrigan to poke me on the head with her beak. I felt it because she is magic. That got me to laugh. Until I could barely breathe.—Eliza Murphy.
The reality of Ta’mathon’s Golden City was more than my simple texas mind could wrap itself around. Legends say Atlantis was peak technology. Well, the Golden City was peak magic. Rune would have had a field day in there but we weren’t there for sightseeing. We had to find the origin point for Unity. The thing is: It couldn’t be accessed very easily by just any magic-user. Dad got to pull his version of Captain Cosmos and the Temple of Ancients.—Sleeping in Starlight, a memoir of the 22nd century.
The Jupiter Rising
In orbit around Io
December 22nd, 2103
Di’axi, posing as his usual Mr. Apple persona, pointed at the raging surface of Io.
There is a backdoor of sorts on this planet.
It can be accessed using your father’s bracers.
I got the sense there was more there.
White cut in with a very blunt, Indeed. But it is too soon. That knowledge can wait.
I nodded. One step at a time. Mom was decked out in the latest Typherian battlesuit. Now that Earth was Stage Two, the sharing began in earnest. Our stocks with Bardax Prime were through the roof. Doc and Dexter had wanted to come but Mr. Apple shook his head.
The City will allow only the Wielder and two escorts. Try asking J’ino to stay behind. Even I won't be able to convince her.
Lorain asked, “Why 3 only?”
Some sides of magic have specific requirements but in this case: It is to honor that which is eternal. The Three.
White mused, “How quaint.” Lorain jumped, her eyes going to my midsection.
I rolled my shoulders. “You’re super feisty today.” Doc hid a smile behind her checklist. Sometimes I thought she used clipboards because she was old-fashioned but I realized she did it to hide her abject amusement. I motioned for us to enter a side room for a moment. She complied and asked as the door slid shut, “What’s up Cornfed?” I took off my flight jacket. Motioning to the sensor on my back. She removed it.
“Give me the linker. Put on the main receiver. I want to test something.” She looked baffled but complied. It took a few minutes but I grinned. I could feel the clothing on her. The hard plastic of the clipboard. Not to the extent that actual sensitivity was returned to me but it was nice to be able to feel cloth outside my spinal area. I tossed her one of the stress balls. “Squeeze that.” She did so. Her eyes going wide.
“Eliza Murphy! You genius! I can trace more feedback from your responses this way!”
I planted a kiss on her cheek. It warmed in response.
“Yup! Should we keep it set up this way for a while?”
Doc shot me a wild grin in reply. Something was being plotted but for the life of me, I didn't know what. She nodded, pushing me out the door again, to the amused looks of my family and Di’axi. Gulliver waddled over, “Hey Nurse Doctor!” He winked and landed in her arms. I could feel the warm weight of his feathers.
“Before we set off could you pet Cooper for me?”
Cooper barked and zoomed in. <<I will never forgo the joyous Human therapy!>>
To the point where even though she didn’t have lungs, I thought she would asphyxiate.
I sent out to mother, >>Am I missing something?<<
Mom responded with, >>Kinda but don’t worry. I have a feeling you’ll do just fine!<<
As we took one of Jupiter’s shuttles to the surface it finally clicked.
I buried my face in my hands.
Mom hummed some sort of tune directly into my brain. INet linked into Typha’s social networks and the title of the song made me blush even harder. I know mom was trying to help but what did it say when one was so inexperienced that their parents had to intercede on their daughter's dating life. Then again I didn’t have any idea what Dexter talked to dad about.
I linked to Horus for a moment, <<Horus, can you sent me these materials? I’m a dork and I have no dating skills.>>
The F.R.A.M’s reply was cordial.
((Yes! I will do so. As the human’s put it enjoy the first base!))
I was extremely glad he had sent this on a very private sub-channel. I didn’t know which was sadder. The fact that I was so oblivious to basic tells or the fact that everyone else could see it when I didn’t. White apologized.
It’s not your fault. Not completely. I hijacked your body’s systems. Which is also affecting certain drives in your brain.
She seemed shocked by my basic lack of certain kinds of knowledge.
Then the adorable levels of squee happened. I hadn’t realized that White was a closet romantic. She found my innocence level completely enchanting.
I promise! I am nearly done.
Then things can go back to demi-normal. Along with your private life.
She sounded suspiciously like Grandma Murphy for a moment.
I got the distinct impression I just inherited a fairy godmother.
The marvels of the Golden City awaited.
White materialized briefly and wrapped herself around mom’s arm for a moment.
J’ino kept her eyes locked on White. The Defender Belt was giving her an earful so to speak. She motioned for Thomas, >>I am going to need to borrow our daughter after all this. I must pass on the torch of higher learning.<<
To Thomas Murphy that was code for Ladies Night. He nodded sagely. “Eliza, after this you will adhere to the ancient rites of all families. Woman to woman. Just as I have talks with your brother.” He saw his daughter tilt her head back until she was looking at the paneling above her.
He grinned. He messaged his wife, ///Who else is going?///
She replied, >>Samantha, my sister, your mother and my mother. Ahh progress!<<
The transport set down within an artificial hanger. My parents exited first. I had left my flight jacket with Doc. Just a simple set of black work boots. Jeans and a gray t-shirt for me. In case something went south I didn’t want to ruin my favorite things. I rubbed my hands together. After a few moments, the device relayed the sensation from Doc. One last message popped up from her.
///When you get back I'll do a complete physical with the instruments as they are now. We should have done this sooner. Granted, some ideas are percolating but I see the practical applications as well.///
///Please. I already got mindful from mom. And now White is in on it.///
I wasn’t upset. It was just a case of “I am the last to know.” As far as romance goes. You’d think I’d have a better handle on it because I had so many good examples to compare to but I hardly had direct knowledge. God help me. Plus if I had to be extremely honest: I wanted it to be special. Not just a common dalliance that I saw on some soap opera vids.
I paused. Mom shot me a startled look.
Lorain’s unbridled glee echoed through the device. For simplicity, I would start referring to it as the Sensation Bridge. Then she caught wind of some of my responses through it. Her voice was very professional, <<Don’t worry. It’s all above board. I want to see if through me wearing the main sensor that you will be able to sense pressure properly. Like throwing a ball. That sort of thing. Not…well let's just take other parts one thing at a time. Ok?>>
I sighed with relief.
It has been a trying 2 months since my physicality relied a tremendous amount on pressure and touch, I don’t think many noticed besides my closest confidants but I didn’t want to give anyone else an indication that my body was in flux. White gave me a mental poke.
You will only have to endure this a while longer.
Maybe another month or two Terran standard!
But I may be able to accelerate things. I’d have to have enough….
Lorain tuned into J’ino’s com feed, coded the link so no one could eavesdrop. <<Mrs. Murphy. I have one very big request. Don’t tease her too much. I didn’t realize Gulliver’s gift would work this way. I can tap into her Empath sense when she’s wearing the receiver end. She doesn’t want to say it but don’t go too heavy into her recent responses to me.>>
J’ino sucked in a breath. Ahh, she should have thought of that. Her daughter was fairly personable while performing her demi duties but in all the excitement she forgot that Eliza and not the Banner, was much more close to the chest when it came to relationships of a more intimate nature. That also came with some empathy underpinnings. She probably knew most reacted to her Banner uniform in a very polite yet excited manner. But that didn’t stop her from turning heads while wearing it. Eliza was very Texan in her responses. J’ino put her hands on her hips.
Eliza saw this, replying, >>Nothing too wrong, just thinking, really thinking.<<
J’ino went over, >>Don’t worry. We won’t poke. It's just that with all the activity I wanted to do something normal. Plus Samatha loves these types of gatherings.<<
I put a hand on her shoulder plate. The outer casing was smooth. The time delay wasn’t too bad. A few seconds. “Huh, I can feel that nearly like normal as well.”
Mom let out a gentle laugh, >>Well I expect more hugs out of you then!<<
White nudged me. My father was before a Triangular gate. Egyptian writing all over the edges.
I wrapped an arm around her, >>Let’s go see the Wizard. Even if it isn’t Emerald.<<
A bright yellow light flooded the area. Beyond the shimmering gate we saw a vast city. Inlaid with gold, silver, and various limestones. As we entered, a blast of wind and sand swirled around us. The sun was muted but we could see everything with sharp clarity. With a sudden shock, I realized we were within the Weave.
A giant shadow came across my field of vision. With one swift motion I was hurled backwards by a swipe of a massive paw. Glowing blue eyes. A rather feminine face snarling at me. Body of a Lion. My father cried out, “Stay your hand Sphinx!” It had one paw pressing down on my chest. I had redirected her blow by turning into it. Like with Anna I didn’t want her to break anything. I imagine that would have accelerated my current problem even more. Her voice was deadly. “There is something very ancient and powerful within! REVEAL YOURSELF SET!”
Mom edged toward me. >>Ma, stop!<<
She froze. A shimmering stone bird landed heavily near her. The Sphinx inhaled the air.
“They have the knives of Ra on them.”
She got right in my face. Her hot breath registering after a few moments.
Ta’mathon cried, “Halt!”
Sphinx whirled. The weight falling from me as she bowed to her master. I could see the demis of the Golden City arrayed behind my father. Isis made a warding gesture and the living stone animals returned to their posts on the walls. Anubis howled and the various sigils powered down near the golden statues guarding the entrance. Mom ran over to me to offer a hand up.
I grasped it and murmured, “Sorry. I could see the mass level of movement. “ She jerked in surprise. Her helmet scanning the city with her Typherian level sensor arrays.
According to her readouts, the city was supposed to be “dead.”
No heat signatures.
No power fluctuations or other sources visible but the presence of running water.
She exclaimed, >>Nothing on my HUD.<<
I shielded mom from the Sphinx's direct line of sight.
The emotions coming off of it didn’t give me a wholesome feeling.
I was beginning to think that Rune’s theory about White being a mix of tech and magic was right on the money. My belt stilled. She was shocked by the guardian’s reaction. I pointed out to her that since she had to be incognito it wouldn’t be that surprising if other particular kinds of magically enhanced entities reacted poorly to her.
Sphinx was giving me the ugly eye, “What are you?” She hissed. I held up my hands in a placating gesture. “Well for one, I’m his daughter.” I did a little finger gun motion to dad. He wasn’t in his Judgment gear but he had an arm locked onto the guardian’s headdress like he was ready to suplex her at a moment’s notice. Ta’mathon was talking to her in Egyptian. I could have tried to have my coms translate it but she was already eyeing me like the 5th plague so I decided to scan the area. Each part of the city was humming with a different tone. As I peered through walls I could see each of the six main areas was powered by a jewel of immense force.
Finally, we were allowed to approach the city. Mom placed a hand lightly near her holster. It was an internal one built into her armor. I kept my hands clasped behind my head. A scraping of claws on stone told me that many animals were still watching us. Moving around the various rooftops and alleyways. I forced myself to relax. The giant golden and silver Sphinx was dogging my every move. She finally grated out, “What is she Ta’mathon? If not Set, who?”
He replied, “I cannot say. She is not your enemy.”
She snarled, “She is unrivaled power. The Shell is nearly complete! I demand an answer welp of the Wielder!”
I lowered my arms. I found I couldn’t speak. White spoke instead, using my voice to get things across. “I was old before this planet was an afterthought of the Big Bang. You will not threaten my host.” The Lioness cowered. Her eyes were as wide as saucers. Ta’mathon muttered, “Please forgive her. She is only protective of myself and the last Remnants of the Golden City.”
White continued, “Know this Kings and Queens of the Golden Throne. I have lost much. Many children to Unity. Never assume I do not care. I have interfered enough in the life of this host.” I finally got my voice back.
“Lady Sphinx was only protecting her city. What if someone was impersonating me?”
The half-lion growled and stated, “That would not be possible. Your scent permeates the Weave. Within this realm, this City, all would know the truth. Things may try to trick your senses but those living here would never mistake you for anything else but pure power.”
She wasn’t talking about me.
Note to self: Tread Lightly within the Weave. White agreed.
A black crow landed on my shoulder. Seemingly out of nowhere. The Morrigan stated, <<I cloaked White for you back in London’s Weave but be warned: Not all places will provide such protection. Within the realms of Time, Tech, Void, and Earth you may talk with White safely. But do not manifest the power until you are ready.>>
The message was clear. Others could sense White if I gave them the chance. Not good.
Mom broke in with >>I’ll have Q’vera come over and show you some Defender strategies to damper their signal or presence.<<
White replied, <<That would be wise. I cannot hide within your daughter the same as some other artifacts. As I get closer to full synchronicity with Eliza that will be harder to play off as a mere tremble of chance.>>
Sphinx pressed a sigil on the massive doors ahead of us. Her tail swishing as she went inside. “I know my place Wielder.” Who was the wielder in this instance?
Me, my father, or White? The Egyptian creature did not elaborate.
Thomas walked next to his daughter and wife. The main greeting hall of the City opened up to them. Every column etched with magic. He recognized the word for Library. As they stepped out into the middle of the next room, a copper disk raised from the floor and brought them to another level. Ta’mathon exclaimed, “Welcome to the Hidden Library of Alexandra. Here you will find the information you need. Walk lightly. All eyes are drawn here. Those known. Unknown or yet to be born.”
Thomas nodded, “We will respect this place and safeguard it for future generations.”
As they stepped inside another shape formed. She nodded to the Morrigan. “Finally. “ She drew back her hood and black hair framing a white mask tumbled out. “I am known as Bastet. Yes, that wild protector of the City is my companion. But what she guards is worth it.”
She was adorned in a robe of white and gold. Her masked eyes locked onto me. “I see you Wielder of Life.” She turned to my Mother, “Chosen by Convergence.” Finally, a sigil formed to protect my father. “Scion of Ta’mathon. Those knives you carry mark you as King and Consort. Only you two may walk freely once this is over.”
She pressed her copper bracers to each side of my head. “Think about that which must feed.”
I pictured the Unity within my mind.
From what I gathered from visions, leyline insights, and my encounters with Chronos’ people. Water flowed from her bands. Soaking me to the bone. She pointed. “Follow the River to the Lands of the Dead.” My parents followed me as we went deeper into the Library. The former demis stayed at the entrance. Each in a meditative pose. I could hear waves crashing upon a shore. One scroll gleamed light blue within. I picked it up. My parents crowded in. Mom took a moment to link her arms around both of us.
“Ok space cadet, open the scroll. Hope we aren’t sucked into some sort of tidal wave.” I unfurled it with a very gentle hand. We didn’t get sucked in. The words on the parchment changed. Showing us the coordinates for a dead universe. We could see darkmatter shifting everywhere. White added, “The physical realm there might be all dark matter but the Weave within is a different story. We will need Dexter and the Black to transverse such a place.”
Bastet’s voice echoed, “Life and Death. But that is not the end. Not for me. Not for you Eliza Murphy.” A warm wind howled outside. I looked at my arms, seeing the goosebumps form. I felt a buzzing in my ears. The room spun as I fainted.
Thomas caught his daughter. J’ino running a scanner over her via her wrist mount on her battlesuit. Eliza’s vitals were stable but her brainwaves were spiking. As if she was dreaming. Bastet motioned to the Murphys. “Follow. We must walk the Hall of Mirrors.” A floating disk scooped Eliza up and stayed next to Thomas. He kept one hand locked on her shoulder. “Fine. But what caused her to faint?”
Every time she blacked out something else mindboggling or unfortunate happened.
Bastet replied, “She is almost ready. The White is performing the last of the primary alterations. She will awaken.”
J’ino pressed a hand to her daughter’s brow. She saw flashes of a dreamscape but a hazy wall of colorless masses blocked true sight. She felt Eliza’s Defender belt push slightly. Almost in apology. Thomas, “How soon is that?” The woman had no answer.
The Mirrors of Fate
The Golden City
I awoke to a cavern of light. All around us were reflections. I didn’t know what the walls were made of but that didn’t matter. I could see three bright lights coming from my mother’s reflection. My father rolled me onto my stomach. I couldn’t move but that was because my Belt had immobilized me. White kept saying, “Almost there.” I could feel things moving around in my brain. Felt like a Monday. The Morrigan was near my chin, making a nest of sorts while cawing softly. I checked that I wasn’t dreaming via keying in on my father’s heartbeat first. His hand was a comforting weight on my shoulder.
It wasn’t a delayed reaction from the device either!
Thank goodness. My life was awkward enough at times without all the added: She’s a robot! Beep beep! I can’t feel like a real girl. Like one of those old vids. Or what that the one with the Ruby Slippers? I was suddenly glad that my parents couldn’t see the beet red flush on my face. I didn’t want to be a Tin Man. That would be very dangerous in my line of work. Both in and out of demi uniform. I let out a breath. Why were they all so quiet? Morrigan chuckled, “This place reflects everything, my dear. Your parents are just taking in the sights.” My mother gripped the disk I was laying on. Bringing it to eye level with her. Her face was set.
Thomas kept reading the message on his daughter’s back via the “mirrors.”
Words weren’t needed. What was printed on the military-style jacket the reflection wore was vastly more important. It was the Terran Alliance sigil on one half with the Herldry of Typha on the other. It was dark blue with gold trimmings. His reflection was even more elaborate. Decked out in his full Judgement gear but with a flaming staff added. Plus his helm had a corona around it. His deep purple robes were lined with silver and gold. The armor under it appeared ancient but hummed with energy. A definite upgrade within his future. He also held up his wrist. He could see J’ino’s eyes glued to the reflection. He was wearing a Typherian consort’s band. He grinned. His whole face was relaxed. It would turn out well. He just had to keep on the path.
True North and all that it implied.
Then they both heard Eliza say, “This might be a bit early but Mom’s gonna have triplets. Granted they are only 3 or so days old but this place doesn’t lie. ”
Thomas couldn’t quite keep the paternal grin from his face.
In his estimation, they did good work in that department.
I jerked and raised myself carefully from the copper conveyance. In any event, I stared at the reflections. The 3 lights kept swirling around mom. I wondered if they would inherit some of my abilities or random demi abilities from now on? The reflections had no answers there. I looked and just saw myself in my standard clothing. White apologized for that too, “You must speak to your other self first before I unveil more.”
Mom cut in with, >>I just ran a scan. It’s too early for the suit’s sensor suite to glean anything. Are they ok?<<
She was breathless. I couldn’t blame her. Thinking of Zach’s birth.
I still didn’t know the full details around mine and Dexter’s.
I used my enhanced sight to run the confirmation. I didn’t see any abnormal hiccups in their DNA. I replied, >>All systems normal. I bet Doc will tell you the same.<<
Audibly I stated, “That’s some nice braclets you guys have .” I walked closer to the wall. My parents did the same. Plus mom’s armor looked even more hardened than current standards. Dad cut a nice figure too. Even the Morrigan was decked out in Serious “End of Everything” mode. Mom was crying. Dad just wrapped an arm around both of us.
I wanted to see also but White just kept putting up that block.
J’ino wanted to shout. Not a terrified one mind you but one filled with joy. No matter what would happen she would keep this image glued in her mind. While Eliza still couldn’t see any difference in herself, her parents saw the images flash. Until a final uniform appeared. One that J’ino saw on her father countless times. This time though, that uniform incorporated Earth aesthetics as well. Her daughter was also wearing a T’arge. It was more elaborate than J’ino’s. Along with the one she built for Thomas. But that was to be expected for the Ruler of Typha.
Somehow her daughter would lead the Ascendency.
Without being tied down to the “Throne” mechanism. If one looked close enough one could see the aura of the connection band around the head. Bastet guided them to the Armory and Weapons depot. They saw the empty slots for the daggers. The Keeper of the Library of Alexandria bowed. “Enthroned. By virtue of blood and bone, you Thomas Murphy, wield the power of the Golden City. Guide it wisely. The battles ahead will be fierce. The day this city rises from the Weave is the day that Earth will be at her most desperate. This is what I have foreseen.”
As they made their way back to the portal, Thomas stopped and gazed back at the city. The magic already cloaking it once more. He smiled at his daughter and shot his wife a delighted look, “Guess we aren’t escaping royal titles any time soon huh?” J’ino shoved him.
“Thomas, Ill have you know, I married you for your good looks and love of flight.”
Mom was being playful.
I made sure their suits were primed and ready as we stepped back through the portal.
Mr. Apple was there. He smiled.
“Have a good 5 mins?” He held out his hand. I took the ID card.
Mr. Archibald Davis.
“But you can call me Oath Master. I figured it was high time to get into the thick of things.”
White nudged me once more, <<Merry Christmas! I used some of the City’s energies to accelerate the process. You should have a normal tactile feeling now. Alongside all the helpful node rehab. It’s why I had to knock you out. So you wouldn’t inadvertently hurt someone.>> I knelt and ran my hand alongside the floors of the hanger. For normal people, it would have melted them. For me? It felt like a normal summer’s day.
As the black of space wrapped the shuttle back up in its embrace my body sunk into the chair. It was like all sensation was new again. I sighed with relief. At least I’d be able to employ my full suite of abilities again. A warm weight settled in my lap. The Morrigan’s beak downing some Irish whiskey. I asked, “Want some eggnog with that?” A flap of feathers hit my face.
“I like Rum with my eggnog. ”
Mom settled down next to me as dad flew us back to the Jupiter Rising.
She asked, >>Anything you want for Christmas this year?<<
I replied, >>I got everything I ever wanted Space Lady. <<
Mom shot me a rather poignant look, >>Well we could always pick out something nice for friends then! Retail therapy as the humans put it! I like giving gifts. It’s something many don’t think about in the Ascendancy. We have RCMs. But some keep old customs and professions alive.<<
INet filled me in.
Recombination Construction Manufacturer device. In laymen’s terms: I’ll take whatever the machine can form out of matter. The largest ones helped mom’s people make their ships of the line. What wonders would change Earth in the next decade? I was glad to be around to find out.
Issue 19: Here
The Dog Days of Christmas: Here