Issue 3: Werewolf-Therewolf
Man, ever since this Crystal Requliary went up things have gotten weird. Now New Rachel is exploding. Wonder if I can hire out Doctor Zanzibar for some spectral gumshoe work. What? He usually deals with this stuff all the time. I’m just a very fit man who can negate gravity on people. Well to a point. I just like hitting things with my mighty tech mallet. Leave the spooky stuff to Area 51 and the X-Factor Murder Mysteries.–The Mighty Mallet.
Heals-The-Rifts has commanded me to look into this shape-shifting phenomenon. Some demis have entire tomes attached to whatever afflicts them. Is this werewolf legend attached to Bardax and the Weave somehow?—Glavie aka Finds-The-Path.
That wolf! Where wolf? Many woof woofs! Finding out the details surrounding this “curse” did quite the number within scholarly pursuits in terms of cosmic footprint. Even now the Weave holds more mysteries than I have uncovered. –Sleeping In Starlight, a Memoir of the 22nd century.
The Outskirts of the Crystal Reliquary
January 25th, 2104
Glaive sniffed at the hard packed earth. There is was again. That exotic scent mixed with the Weave. His intel was correct. Something was phasing in and out of the Weave in this area. Most locals called it the Howling. Because every time that werewolf appeared all the dogs went crazy. Barking at the top of their lungs. It didn’t go the way of legends. Full moonlight and all that. The Mighty Mallet waved Glaive over. “You that Bardax rep?”
He lifted his head, <<Indeed. Most Earth people call me Glaive. We must find this werewolf.>> Mallet crossed his arms.
“Ok, I’ll roll out the silver carpet for it.”
Glaive sneezed. <<Don’t know if that would affect it. Might want to get a Weave expert.>>
Mallet grunted, “Well they are all busy with this Stone business. I for one wouldn’t want my dreams or mind eaten. Thanks!”
He added. Somewhat apologetic, “I get you. I was able to call in a favor and here are the impressions Dr. Zanzibar got from the place. Sightings.”
Glaive took the readout. Letting his collar run the analysis.
Whatever this creature was it loved to raid areas with high meat content. If he had to guess, high metabolism indicated the creature had limited time within this side of the Weave. Or a limit on its transformation process. He put his nose to good work. Testing each vending stall and restaurant that it had raided. No loss of limb or life. So it wasn’t after raw flesh. It mostly wanted bacon. It's why Glaive assumed it might have some overall ties to Bardax. Or a similar evolutionary background. In their ancient past, many Bardaxians could get to the size of an Earth Clydesdale Horse. Many heroic deeds were done within that age. He hoped to regale Eliza with some stories one of these days.
A frantic civilian turned the corner. “The Howling! It's inside the Bacon Nation Hut!” Mallet and Glaive put on a burst of speed. Wondering what they would find.
As they stepped over the threshold they could hear it. The vigorous chomping of jaws. One brave cook pointed. Then resumed gawking. It wasn’t large at all.
In fact: The Howling was the size and shape of a corgi.
But its fur was that of a pitch-black wolf.
Its orange eyes gleamed as it looked up from his feast.
It overturned another tub of bacon. The nub of a tail was very happy.
“Humans are good. Bacon is extremely good. I protect. Night Shamans bad.”
It could talk without a collar. That was impressive to Glaive.
The mention of the Night Shamans caused the Mallet to twitch. His eyes cased the room. Expecting trouble.
Glaive asked the Howling, <<Brother, might you know where these Night Shamans are?>> The black corgi tilted his head to the side. “Yes! But we need more. They have bad barriers. I alone cannot bite through them!”
Mallet said, “I thought you’d be bigger.” The Howling finished off the last of the bacon.
“I can be. On the other side of the Weave. Beyond the Veil of the Physical World.”
He trotted over to another tub of bacon. Gulping it all down in one go.
He grinned. His tongue hanging out. “Payment for protection services.”
The Mighty Mallet paused. They were at the base of the mountain near one of the corners of the Requilary. Miles and miles from Rachel. He tried contacting Star but her HeroNet responder was offline. The real one. Not the social network port. Mainly so people wouldn’t know when she was off Earth. Glaive nudged the large demi. <<It will be fine. Between the 3 of us, we can just recon. I have experience and it looks like Howling knows his way around his corner of the Weave.>>
Mallet’s skin on his arms broke out with goosebumps. “That's what they all say before the Brain Suckers get them in the holovids.” Howling barked. “I am a good hunter! Will not let the Living Stone eat you. I will eat it instead. Clean the corruption!”
A whispy portal emerged from the base of the mountain. Glaive went in first. Howling waited until Mallet stepped forward. Crossing the barrier into a realm beyond imagining. Is this what magic demis went through? Some sort of strange 3rd eye jigsaw landscape? He couldn’t even place up or down here. His eyes slammed shut. “Think I’m gonna be sick.” Even gravity didn’t work normally here. They were on a stone walkway. The ground and sky in opposing directions. He stared hard at his boots.
Mallet remarked, “Wonder if I’ll find some goblins and a crystal ball here. Need some lipstick to mark our path.”
Glaive didn’t know much about human movies but he had an idea where the demi was going with that remark. Lorain had made all of them watch the Labyrinth alongside the rest of the crew a few years ago.
<<Well luckily we have an expert guide. Plus if I recall that particular video ended fairly well. Although I have a feeling turning into a goblin at the end of the clock strike would be preferable to be eaten mentally by Living Stone.>>
Howling shifted. Becoming a 20-foot tall bulldozer of destruction as he tore into what looked like an impressionist painting meets deranged squid. Its tentacles tried to wrap around the corgi’s neck but in his battle form, it was Clifford the Pissed off Dog mixed with what one would call a traditional werewolf. Massive claws. Standing on his hind legs. Bipedal and all that. Mallet entered the melee with his signature weapon. The squid let out a warbling sound and the area darkened. The insane Calvary had arrived for old 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea.
The Bardaxian leaped into the air. Battle tech armor clicking into place over his head, legs and torso. The HUD indicated that there was a figure beyond the mass of Living Stone. Glaive barked at Mallet, <<TOSS ME!>> Mallet dodged. Claws barely missing him. The lightbulb ignited. Negate gravity for Mr. Shake and Bark there. He hurled the Bardaxian in the direction he indicated. Giving him an added boost. Glaive let out a warcry of his own and locked his jaws around the whispy shape controlling the stone. Blood soaked the stone. Black and muddy. Glaive clung onto the creature until he could hear no more breath come from its body. It was merely an extension of the overall corruption.
Still, it wore the face of familiarity. There were many fallen Litari Dreamweavers here.
The Living Stone had a particular hunger for them.
Howling tossed the body of the Squid over the side of the walkway and they continued.
Their guide said, “The Night Shamans help guide the Stone to more potent dreams. It's why I manifested in that town. I knew someone would notice me. Plus the Star likes the shape of Corgis. So I became one. I cannot hide my true eyes or fur though.” Glaive retracted his armor. It would pop out when needed. He sniffed at the ground, <<Many Litari markers here. Tell me, was the Weave here before Earth was manifesting within the physical realm?>> Howling nodded. “Indeed brother. Many souls resided here beyond the Weave before that planet took shape. I even saw the city of Illiarium rise from the green valleys of what you call Mars. Even if I didn’t understand it all at the time.”
Mallet scratched his chin, “So you're saying something intelligent existed within this Weave before Earth even said hello in caves and spears?” The corgi nodded. “Oh yes. It is why the Unity’s universe is still in pain. Its physical realm may be gone but the wound goes through all aspects of the Weave.”
Mallet held out his hand, “My name’s Frank Thomson. So what was that about Mars again?”
After what felt like forever they came upon what looked like a jungle to Mallet. Frank was still wrapping his mind around what Atlantis was. He had a feeling he’d have to talk to Star about it. Didn’t want his brain fried. Glaive merely winked. At the heart of this jungle, the Howling resided, watching over things that pass through this “area.” He still didn’t understand it all but from the looks of it, there were 3 levels to the Weave. The first level was what most magic demis interacted with. The 2nd was this place. A strange mirror of the physical reality and what lay beyond it. The deepest part? That was where the true danger lurked. The Howling said Star had been there already. Mallet didn’t ever want to go that deep. This was confusing enough as it was.
Glaive seemed more at peace here. The demi’s impression of the Bardaxian was one of “Old Man at Sea.”Glaive had seen much but had a playful side. Frank would never underestimate an Earth dog or Bardaxian ever again. Who knows how many demi dogs his home had. Howling put a stone shard within Mallet’s palm. It faded from view as it sunk into the flesh and marked him.
He had expected it to hurt. Howling grinned. “That will protect your mind and dreams. When Star returns. Bring her to the base of the Mountain. We will need to hunt!”
Mallet blinked and they were back at the Bacon Hut. Glaive reclined within one of the booths. <<Mind making us something. I am starving.>> Mallet put together a feast fit for a king. Or a Bardaxian. He even added two thick slices of swiss to the mix. Bacon and any cheese worked but his favorite would always have those delectable white squares.
The Howling gazed up at the stars. The inner fire of the cosmos was brighter within the 2nd Layer of the Inner Weave. He could see Jupiter Rising. Its bright red and white hull cutting a majestic figure out in the black. He reached out, “Lady Iresh. I am ready on my end. I suggest you tell Star what the Living Stone and Endless Night comes from. We do not have time for politics or secrets. Not with the Bearer.”
I stared at the console. We would be at Bardax Prime very soon. Iresh was pensive. It was more than worry about her son. I nudged her. “Bardax will need these ship logs. Plus it's only right. To bring this crew and their family records back home.”
While we left the gravesite undisturbed I wanted to bring the ship and its other artifacts back to the Bardaxians. So pictures, journals, books, or anything of that nature.
Iresh swayed around my neck. Curling even tighter.
Her voice was barely above a whisper. “The Endless Night? The Living Stone. That is our fault. Our Dreamweavers went mad. The first ones. From the Before Time.” I stared. I didn’t know what to say. I knew Anna would hem and haw. Screaming, “SEE?! It's ALL ON THEM!” I put the ship on auto-flight and headed for the galley. I had a feeling I’d need some more coffee for this one. I made her some tea. She accepted the cup gratefully. Still curled around my neck. For Litari, that was a sign of great trust.
White replied for the Ambassador, “Unity happened but with that first Turning…the universe existed before the Big Bang. As you know it. The Weave existed before all else.”
“So it’s a corruption of the Weave and Litari Dreamweavers? How did they go insane?”
Iresh said, “Our most powerful Dreamer went with D’ixai’s father to combat the Unity. She came back hungry. Willing to eat the souls of others. Bent her husband to that purpose. We call them the Lord and Lady of Chains. The Children of Chains are theirs. With some horrid output from House Urraden.”
I clasped my hands around my mug. The warmth kept them from shaking. To see your children turned to such a purpose. It made the Night of 1000 Stars even more distressing. They had already been corrupted and Chronos wanted more. Iresh buried herself inside my flight jacket. I waited. This kind of pain wasn’t something you just pushed past. Even with friends. Eventually, she shared an image.
D’iaxi’s father. He was boarding a ship. Unlike any vessel, I’ve ever seen. Iresh added, <<It is made for going through the Weave itself.>>
A rather stately Litari woman was next to him. With one other. The Piper! Ichabod’s master. The rat usually kept to his favorite spots on the ship. Jupiter tracked him from time to time to make sure he wouldn’t get into trouble.
“So is that why Uplift is so strict?” She nodded.
“Thing is, some of those pirates use tech to move through the Weave.”
Her eyes narrowed. <<This we didn’t know. That worries me. Something like that would have been a top priority for the Typherian Navy to investigate. Y’lansa is only one woman. That means there is more corruption. Say nothing to outsiders for now.>>
So mom, Iresh, and some others were being extremely rebellious.
Even more so than I initially thought. Things must be getting desperate back home for all of them. Even if Typha had overall stewardship of the “Throne” that still didn’t make much sense for them to have the final say. Mom and the others were keeping me in the dark about political maneuvering but I hadn’t given it much thought to why beyond the surface level. IE: My cover as a Markav agent. Or rather Muthra. Sul did say I would still have access after the fact. When the bigger secret of my actual heritage came out.
The Professor popped in as well, <<Lady Iresh, we have a priority communication from Bardax. They expect us shortly.>> Nara was gone before I could say anything. He was mostly a bookish sort but that didn’t stop him from doing what he thought was right. Iresh had been pleased when she found he was aboard. The scandal of one such as himself consorting with K2 level humans had caused quite the stir back home. Until they found out he was covering the Living Stone situation on Earth and beyond. With what Iresh told me. It was no wonder they were so cagey. So many wanted to do well by others but things beyond our lifetime or control took the choice from us.
It was how we dealt with it that would matter most.
He was also keen on locating more Scholar Markers. Like the one Dexter and I activated on the Litari moon. It was pretty funny how he could blend in and just make use of Jupiter’s research facilities. Sometimes he would even ask Doc about human eating rituals. He was rather curious. Most of his people would have a cleansing rite before any meal. To keep the soul fortified. Made an odd sort of sense with what I just learned.
Iresh continued, << To free the souls captured by the Chains, we must destroy the physical form of the Lord and Lady. I will need your help, Eliza Murphy. Will you use Throne Sight on them when the time comes? I must know where to strike.>>
“Of course. I'll be ready.”
I might not use my fists first thing but if being raised by my father taught me one thing:
Always Recon. It will help you find other avenues when direct force wouldn’t work.
She unfurled. <<Now I understand all too well why your mother doesn’t talk about her home as much. She likes being treated as a mother rather than….>>
“A bird in a nice multiversal cage? Or do Typha’s houses operate on a different level from the baseline population?”
Mom’s overall distaste with her Typherian station hit my empathetic pathways every time I saw her at Area 51. Most of it was open to the public now. Via the Crystal Reliquary but the most sensitive spots demanded clearance. Sometimes it was emotional whiplash. She didn’t mean to but her frustration was clear to see. While roaming around as Jennifer Murphy she felt more freedom than she did as Typha’s representative.
Iresh touched my cheek, << It's even more than that. I think we have all changed by being around you. Even without Uplift, you act according to your heart. Not what secrets will wound another. Or who needs to know what. You act. You defend. Simple actions with simple purity.>>
“I just know mom as my mother. Nothing more than that. They could have a whole floating throne set up and I’d still do something silly to make her laugh.”
Iresh chuckled. <<Good. I will be recording that first arrival on Typha. Should be fun.>>
While the universe had all sorts of interesting mysteries out there I was often reminded that home is also important. Jupiter interjected, “We have arrived Captain. Ready to disembark?”
Iresh merely added, <<Many Typherians are as enthusiastic as Earthers. It is the leash around House protocol that divides Typha’s heart. That is why she won’t discuss internal matters with you. She wants you to throw Texan hot sauce on all of them. Step on all the toes. Wake them up.>>
Gulliver waddled in. He was wearing a smaller sized t-shirt that stated, “10 out of 10.” His voice carried within the compartment. The galley could house 100 or so at a time. My ship had 5 of them. It could operate as a starliner or ship of battle. Not quite a ship of the wall but she packed a punch. He said, <<It’s gonna be the best party. So many sticks to extract from so many rear ends. But for now, let’s go meet the heart of Dogdom everywhere. Plus they find paw shakes from humans to be fascinating. Use that!>>
I sent a burst of calm through my bond to Doc. Whatever was happening with them now was making her irate beyond anything I had experienced. I wanted to be with them but Queen Guinevere wanted me to stay the course. Get Bardax ready. She had given me threads to wrap around the Weave surrounding Bardax Prime. Made me wonder how fast ships could travel within it. Why only pirates had the ability for now. It explained why X’mil had been able to escape but if Iresh knew about these ships what stopped the higher-ups of Typha from coming out and putting a stop to it?
We would have to pull together. A united front against all forms of darkness.
I would pull them all towards the bright light of hope.
Even if it meant cutting through red tape I had no real understanding of.
White said, <<Good. We cannot act just yet but you are a red-blooded American. Bullrush all the annoying tape. Ignorance is a good weapon in this case. How do you say it? 1689 all of it!>>
“1686, the day America declared itself independent from the Demi Monchary of Arcland. It was quite a ride. The Brits broke off as well. About 4 years later.”
I paused. Thinking about possibilities. “Might as well go all out. Wonder if they’d let me negotiate some things with Bardax.” White squeezed my midsection. <<Now your thinking properly! Do! Don’t ask.>>
I received a mental image of a toddler spreading finger paint all over a wall.
Mom was really at it today.
>>Paint that wall. I know nothing Space Cadet. I never tell myself anything. Bad for business and surprises.<<
Iresh’s warm laughter tickled my inner ear.
To Bardax and the future!
Gulliver flapped his wings and landed in my arms. >>FORWARD! Let us drink and be merry for tomorrow House politics have another capitulation of the vapors. Or preferably a brain aneurysm.<<
Issue 2: Here
Issue 4: Here