Issue 14: Anna Takes All
What in the hell have they been feeding Murphy? She can take direct hits from her brother now. She’s moving differently too. Like she can dip in and out of the Dreaming layer of the Weave without a second thought. Whatever fighting style she picked up suits her. Wish she would bash some heads in but I know that suggestion would horrify her. Which is why I brought it up first thing!—Anna, private observation
That last year: Aether front-loaded some old J’kua martial techniques into Eliza. She will need to keep practicing but I know why they did that. When the time comes she will cut the strings holding the All-Father up. Even as Dexter goes toe to toe with him. I hate the things Ur-Eliza tells me. But I made a vow to follow my Captain no matter what will happen.—Lorain Lanis
Do you think me cruel? Lining up things for my younger self? Only giving crumbs? Well, it was done on purpose. My waking mind is still crawling along with those cliff faces. Seeing things no other person was meant to see…save for the Weave. It would be many years before I could stand sleeping for more than 5 mins at a time. I knew it. The visage of utter evil. It wore my face. As if to mock me. Faith, flesh, the very meaning of a soul. How can I even describe such a thing? It is beyond my abilities for language. The Bardaxians understand. Lorain understands. She was made aware during the Trial of the Ordained. Of all of us? I leaned most heavily on her when I awakened. Returned to my proper time. For one final mission.—Sleeping in Starlight
August 26th, 2114
Anna jeered, “Oh. I see. So the men here really do have more fortitude. House women, legit adversaries? You remind me of kept felines that preen and shit in their box.”
I bit the inside of my cheek. Anna continued, “…but that would be an insult to cats. They at least clean themselves.” E’ratha smiled. Her movements were controlled. She was the only hostile House rep here.
Y’lansa’s father, A’tan, grabbed Anna. Moving her behind him as E’ratha’s nose bled. For everyone present, I hadn’t moved. Elias Payne gawked. Feeling the ripples through the Dreaming. But even his quick magical experienced eye hadn’t noticed me. E’ratha would have killed Anna. Of that, there was no doubt. The thin reddish blemish on both my palms was proof of that. She had made razor-thin strips of metals native to Typha. Intending to behead Anna.
Cyphuskara was at her limit.
She thought Anna was just a holovid host. Anna didn’t back down. “It's obvious you see us as low-lying monkeys. Flitting about the Universe and smearing shit all over your precious Uplift Protocol. Makes me wonder what you think of Bardax or elder races. As if they’d talk to you!” She spaced out the next words for dramatic effect.
“Inbred.” E'ratha spat.
“High-End Whore," retorted Anna.
“ Misbegotten Pedigree!”
Anna jerked a thumb in my direction.
“Murphy there has more class in her pinky toe than you do in your entire bloodline.”
Anna’s eyes blazed. Smiling ever so sweetly. She blew a kiss to E’ratha.
“Bless your Soul. Oh, wait. You don’t have one!”
Gwen, my sister, phased A’tan and Anna out of direct sight.
///Anna is nuts but thanks to her we pinpointed where E’ratha’s brain goes batty when she’s about to use some of her House Telekinetics.///
E’ratha stormed from the Rotunda.
What had protected the Human pest? It hadn’t been A’tan. E’ratha had been enhanced by Set personally. He had revealed himself. An angelic being of light. His void black wings a sight to behold. Cementing her upon the true path of righteousness. Everyone else would fall into the muck and drown in their delusions.
They were welcome to their fate. They mocked her now but the rising tide of the true faith would cleanse Typha of the riffraff. Commons. Humans. Litari. All of them. They wouldn’t have to endure this travesty much longer. Set had promised her that. A place at his side. Head Genetic Researcher for the Crusade. She would build the perfect defender. Soldier. Unbowed by petty concerns of lesser beings. Only the best of Typha would make the cut.
Her fingers curled into her palms. Pain never bothered her. It reminded her she was alive. Worthy of the mantle. There was no need to carry on the genes of Ayeer, M’tah, Odessen, and all those minor auxiliary Houses. Pigs to the end. Wallowing in the diseases of the flesh. Muted. Deaf and dumb. All of them would burn. Her white irises expanded as the All-Mother waved at her from the shadows. Her petition to Urraden would begin in earnest. She smiled.
Noting the mute slave the assassin used. Clever. No one would suspect someone like Lady Urraden using such a dreadful host.
>>I greet you Sister branch.<<
The All-Mother pivoted her shell’s head. Waving E’ratha forward.
E’ratha noted that the All-Mother maintained proper protocol.
It was so nice to work with professionals for a change.
House Cyphuskara had been one of the few to vote against Ayeer with Urraden’s banishment. While few Houses openly agreed, they had more allies than V’alkor suspected. E’ratha waved the mute servants over.
>>What is your will All-Mother?<<
The assassin held out a data cube.
Let the games begin in earnest.
Within the Jupiter Rising’s conference room, Anna paced about, her voice animated. “E’ratha is gonna make the Artock look like a picnic!” Mom frowned. Placing her mug down. It was filled with root beer. No alcohol for her for a while. She asked, “In what way? Zombie slaves?”
Anna whirled, “Worse. Willing fanatics. From other Typhas. I got an impression worthy of Hell when she tried to behead me. Very glad Eliza was there to stop her, so congrats! You only have another 500 rescues to go!”
Everyone present shot me a glance.
Anna had the number she wanted me to reach due to the amount of havoc she had witnessed in old Weave dreams.
Elias broke in with, “Ahhh. So that was you going through the Dreaming. But don’t worry. I won’t ask. Of all of us you’ve earned a bit of secrecy yourself!” He slapped his knee. His other hand holding an ancient smoking pipe. Tobin snapped his fingers and it lit with a small spark. Elias took a drag from it.
I grinned. “No matter. Doc and I took a 5-year skip trip as well.”
My father inquired, “I get the feeling you got more than you bargained for.”
I hooked my thumbs into my belt, “Oh yeah. About 5 kitchen sinks worth or more!”
Cooper barked, <<Yes! Doctor Lanis knows the basics of Defender responsibilities!>>
Goldielocks stated, <<The Yellow Defender Corp recognizes Adept status for Host Lanis. We are thrilled with her progress ….>>
20 Minutes Later
My parents pulled me into the Library aboard the ship.
Ta’mathon materializing the instant the door whooshed to a close.
“We need you and the good Doctor to head the Delegation to the Forgers.”
I replied, “What you mean is you need me out of the way for a bit to do some Earth/Commons gymnastics!”
Dad handed me a data cube, “Correct. We need to update our allies there. Doc will handle that. We need you to be that bright welcoming Star that the universe is familiar with.” His eyes twinkled a bit. “Besides you have fans in that sector anyway. Seeing how often you breached the barrier in times long ago!”
Yeah, I couldn’t help it. White would often key in on things even before her overall awakening. Allowing my ship and myself to get past what they initially set up around old Earth barriers.
Mom would be joining us as well.
She knew it was to keep her out of harm's way. But hated the thought of dad going into some troubles without her. I handed him a gem that Aether had manufactured. Ta’mathon’s dark eyes widened.
“Oh my.” His ancient Eygptian features fixated on the simple teal gem.
I stated, “No idea what it does but Aether said it would be able to help the Golden City Legacy.” Isis materialized and blew me a kiss. Roping Ra and Anubis into a good-natured commentary.
“This will be a boon to our magics so far away from Earth’s Leylines.” Her statement reminded me.
“Once I clear Typha’s Weave you should get a better signal.” In the intervening years, my brother and I had cleared a good chunk of the Milky Way aka Utasa sector. Union Fleets had cut down Artock incursions to a standstill. While Typha’s Commons and Survey Corp staunchly in our corner. Bardax provided important Auxiliary fleet support. Their ships were primed to be scout vessels. I checked my H.U.D update.
Bardax and the Markav were protectorates of the Terran Alliance while the Union was the overall military and trading might of combined efforts. I knew other newcomers were petitioning to join us every moment. The trillions of lights were bursting behind my eyes as White took me along cleansed routes. While some races were still infants tech-wise, their Light Shaman power was considerable, but each new breach into other galaxies between the void brought the possibility of encountering Unity’s forces as well. So we stuck to areas pre approved by Project Freefall specialists.
The pulse of life was invigorating.
I could hear the music of the spheres.
The endless line of voices.
I came back to myself when mom touched my forehead. White’s golden third eye still visible above my Union circlet. A hint of apology in her voice, “Sorry space cadet. Dexter’s orders.”
White grumbled, <<That doesn’t surprise me. My brother knows me all too well. I am to remain on the back burner until….>>
That poignant silence.
Dad piped up, “We were lucky the Light Shamans of Project Freefall and the Arcane Order had already foreseen your transformation into the White Defender. They managed with the J’kua’s help to hide some key facts from many outside the immediate Sol System.”
White said, <<Ahh. No wonder those Defenders summoned that day took an oath of silence.>>
Explained why mom had me wear the House Sash just so. Plus the extra training I did with White and Doc. More pieces clicking together. Had I genuinely orchestrated all of this with the Weave’s blessing? It was absurd in some ways. I had basic leadership drilled into me by mom, dad, Grandpa Murphy but only now did it occur to me to wonder why.
I asked point-blank, “Did my future self give you guys specific timestamps?”
Dad nodded, “Along with V’alkor and M’taris. Even now we get phased messages that fade away. The whole world goes gray when that happens. Then everything resumes when needed.”
They saw from my face that I was relieved, “I get things too. But it's usually pretty cryptic. I don’t discount it but I’d like to give myself a piece of my mind.”
Doc entered and secured the door once more. Nola on her heels. The purple woman held up her mirror. “Ask away!”
The reflection changed, my voice echoing outward, still wearing that garment setup Doc hated. “Nola, tell your father the Wall awaits him.” She nodded as if that made the perfect amount of sense. I crossed my arms. While Ur Eliza took a floating crossed-legged position. It was weird.
“It can’t be that bad.”
Both of our voices echoing at the same time.
“I hate this you know! I want to help!”
I poked the mirror’s surface. Gently.
“Why won’t you give me a straight answer!”
Future self’s face blanched, breaking away from the word games, to state roughly, “Because it will know everything. You will see everything, hear everything, experience everything!”
Her eyes locked onto mine, “You will die. You will rise. You will walk the Path meant for only the Weave.” She added after eyeing me harshly, her voice lower but clear. “The Weave sees all. Unity will be the dark reflection. The mirror to the soul. You are half Primary Typherian. Half the Chain of Woe.”
Anna entered. Resealing the Door with Weave Speak.
She glanced back and forth between us, “Oh…well shit. Guess this isn’t the best time but oh well! E’ratha’s sided with Urraden. I placed a quick tracker on her. It faded when it encountered All-Mother drones.”
Future me shuddered. But a tight rictus smirk formed, “They mean to gather more like-minded Converged Houses. Set’s influence star shattered knives in the dark. Tick. I am alive. Tock. I am dead. Tick. Tock. Tick. Tock.”
Lorain pulled me back. Eyeing the mirror, “Eliza Elizabeth Murphy. YOU CORNFED MEAT SACK OF A CAPTAIN! STOP THAT!” A sliver of warmth entered Ur-Eliza’s features. She rocked back and forth. “I see the lands that were. The lands that are. The islands of new beginning. Shall you heal me? Diving into the hurricane? A sweet respite from the storm?”
Lorain didn’t move. Her mouth firm.
Anna’s white-gloved hands brushed my forehead. “Time to forget.”
A J’kua device shimmered before my eyes.
My future self’s emotions lashed out.
Sadness. Joy. Despair. All emotions shifting within a storm.
“You are not ready. I must find her. The one who will be. Missing to the surf of the Infinite. Nyx shall not have the child. I must reunite the mother. Can I atone? Can you see Healer? The Cliffs were only the beginning. My hands raised to the ashen sky.”
Before the memory left me I gave myself an emotional codifier.
A sleeper trigger of my making.
Repeating the refrain I got from the waves of Ur-Eliza. I would reflect that back upon Unity when the time came. To break its chains. A woman’s voice echoed: Yes, remember its dark carapace. It can reflect but so can you!
A man’s deeper tones joined it.
It fears what lives in you. You are the refection. Not it. Emotions can be controlled.
Find its fears. Reflect your true self at it.
Rise. As was written!
Lorain couldn’t see the outfit Ur-Eliza was wearing.
Murphy’s voice grew fevered, “Shh. Do you see it now? Its closer. It asks me things. But the pull is too strong. I can see them dancing. Those with no faces. Unbent by time and space.”
She focused. Asking Nola, “I only need a moment. Give me that.”
The Priestess bowed her head, “So it shall be.”
Nola chanted. Invoking the protection of the World Maker as she did so.
Thomas Murphy saw the war within his daughter’s eyes. Her true self fighting for all its worth. J’ino brought them both in next to Doc. Their daughter needed them. Not now but for the future. A dance already completed. It only needed the final notes. All three of them added their Light to Ur-Eliza. Her features relaxed for a moment. Gray eyes clear for the first time in what must have been ages.
Her voice calm, “It almost made me forget. It fears the Path. Where Olam lay. The first of many. I must head toward the shore. Olam is not a man. Or place. It is the true center. I will make my final stand there. The Ouroborous rings within me.”
She reached out. Placing a kiss on Lorain’s forehead. Thomas and J’ino wrapping all four of them into a fierce hug. It lasted only moments before Eliza sank into the mirror again.
The reflective surface shimmered and she was gone. Doc sucked in a breath. “I need a whiskey. I'll drink for everyone.” Anna assisted current Eliza to her feet. Murphy sucked in a breath.
“What the heck did I do this time? Did I upset my future self?” While gazing up into the shining tapestry of the FTL observatory dome. It was a live feed of what was happening outside Jupiter Rising.
Lorain took a shaky step towards the door.
Eliza caught her as she fell. Her face buried within Murphy’s blue flight jacket.
Anna glared out at the passing starscape, a cigar protruding from her mouth, her father remarked, “That kinda day?”
Moonlighter removed his signature white cloak. His chin shadowed with a few days worth of stubble. She kicked up her feet. Lorain had been a wreak. Probably seeing things through that Union bracket. Even though Anna knew that dork of a future Murphy had done her best to shield the Lanis woman. She asked the space before her, “Ok Weave, I get it. We mess up and we lose everything. But couldn’t you have been a bit nicer to the Lanis kid? She already has enough on her mind!”
Her father twitched, his voice a measure too low and high all at once.
“The brother guards the gates of Death. Eliza must guard the gates of Life. This was always meant to be.” Anna tried to move but a force held her in place. The Weave hummed around her.
“You will remember. For the others? Only Nola will know my Will.”
The Jupiter Rising
In route to Forger Territory
August 27th, 2114
Anna bolted upright. She winced as the overhead cabin lights turned on, Jupiter’s cheery tone indicating they would be in Forger Space within the next 2 hours. It had been a real memory. She commanded, “Patch me through to Golden Child.”
Eliza’s cheerful voice reverberated throughout the cabin. “Yes?”
Anna replied, “How drunk did I get yesterday?”
Murphy’s response was quick, “Doc tried to challenge me to a contest. You said that wasn’t fair, you won while I got to carry a comatose Lorain to sickbay. Dad sent you, me, mom, and Lorain as the head delegation to update our Forger allies. Gave him a pretty stone. You sure you remember things to that point? Then we had a farewell party. Cooper chugged down some Rum.”
Anna winced. Rubbing her face. “Yes. I got it. Good night? Day? Whatever.” She cut the link. Messaging Nola.
///So what are we to accomplish in Forger space?///
Nola responded, ///To bring the Light back to the Forgers. A pounding within the deep corrupts their greatest patriarchs. The children must sing anew.///
Anna buried her head under her pillows.
Granted, the Forgers weren’t bugs. They had an outer tan shell and those 6 red eyes.
Under that shell? Corded muscles layered with enhanced bone structure that allowed them to travel quickly and burrow under the ground.
But she couldn’t get over the line about conductors and musics. They communicated through higher frequencies than humans did but could still use translators to get the point across. Eliza could speak to them directly. Since she could detect those higher tones. Like a Bardaxian. Now all Anna could do was picture Star as a giant Golden Retriever. Happy, Loyal, and far too trusting. She frowned then screamed into the pillow. She added a few messages to Teddy. In the hidden language of the Project Freefall shamans. They would relay things to them. Like Ned Fletcher’s family, hers was station and living on the Dyson Sphere. Sam, Jacob, and all those most vulnerable to Eliza’s Identity being known. As far as Earth citizens went.
The only ones not there were the Golden Bulleteer and his wife. Along with the rest of the Mavericks.
Their demi IDs were still private.
Anna was just glad that there was a safe harbor.
The Weave was playing for keeps.
She huddled deeper into the blankets.
Her United Earth Front counterpart swam before her vision. His Irish accent thick, “It's on us, dearie. No matter the universe. Peachy isn’t it? I got a mouthful from the Weave on High as well. Chop chop!”
He continued, “Oh and Eliza Odessen is the Queen of the Bar here in jolly good UEF land. Was a nice ceremony. She’s sending you a rather peculiar ally.”
Anna groaned, “Fine.”
He winked and faded from the connected Dreamweave.
She kicked off the sheets and cursed as she entered the refresher.
She muttered, “I might as well tempt fate. What’s it gonna be? Reincarnated Joan of Arc?”
Issue 13: Here
Issue 15: Here