Issue 4: Double Trouble
I will only say this once: Where are the records? Not the backups. Those just have data.—E’ratha, internal security update.
The greatest endeavor of the avian kind. People always assumed Gulliver and I were just Royal Ummatosh birds. We have sapience where our cousins do not. Very few knew of our actual origins. Much to our delight. –Trouble
What saved Typha? Gulliver and Trouble getting those files to Doc. Not the overall data. That was useful. No, the genetic bio-data. Lorain was able to reconfigure much of it to block Set’s signal when he decided the Houses were to be activated. We couldn’t prevent all of them from being used as pawns though. But that event would be for later. During…--Sleeping in Starlight, a memoir of the 22nd century
Typha (Gene Archives)
July 17th, 2104
Trouble peeked around the corner. He and his brother were hidden by the power of their belts. They weren’t taking any chances. This would be pivotal to changing the course of history.
Trouble nudged Gulliver. The daily switch of men, guards, and materials was underway.
They dashed across the deep cavern. Their webbed feet soundless. This complex was deeper underground. Not to the level of the Throne Matrix but this area was the 2nd most protected area on the planet. The hum of automatons surrounded them as they entered the beating heart of Typha’s genetic repository. Gulliver pulled out the storage sphere that Aether had gifted him. Its outer shell crackling. White sparks pulsated from its inner core. Leaving traces of false signals. E’ratha wouldn’t know which House to blame for this.
Suspicion wasn’t the same as confirmation though. A House female could lose many social merits if she accused without solid evidence.
Each DNA capsule floated above them. Floating in specialized purple crystals.
In moments it sped along the vast spirals of biomatter. Sucking in each particle. From the days of C’alain to the modern-day. Trouble used his Omega belt to block any outgoing alerts. They would only have a few more minutes before the patrol hit this sector. Gulliver hopped from one sector to another, passing his scanner over the multitudes of data cubes. His heart racing. Planting physical evidence targeting the Commons, E’ratha’s Allies, Enemies, Litari, and even Bardaxian.
They glided over to the rocky encampment on the back wall of the main platform as E’ratha entered with her head Archivists. What better place to hide and watch the fireworks than in Cyphuskara’s Guard outpost?
E’ratha’s eyes darted around. Every single sample. None remained. The males next to her stepped back. Fearing the consequences. >>Scan the room. Seal this entire level.<<
Results trickled in. Her frown grew.
>>This has to be the work of V’alkor!<<
He’s been closed off for far too long. Even for a male. She walked the parameter. Her footfalls were heavy. Objects not nailed down floated around her as she fought the urge to hurl them into the abyss. This room was situated near a deep incline into the very bowels of Typha. One could say the gentle lava flow along the back wall was soothing most days. The arrival of J’ino’s defective Hybrid being the tipping point. This had been staged and planned to the letter. She would have to find a way to prove it before the Matriarchs.
She snarled as the two males dodged the thrown projectiles.
One cupping his cheek as bits of metal strafed across. Opening him to the bone.
E’ratha howled along her Family Line, >>BRING ME THE ARBITER!<<
They were House sanctified investigators. Each clan had its sector to call upon.
She would have her pound of flesh.
Set kept his host’s face natural. Inquisitive but stoic.
E’ratha’s ranting reached peak octaves. Reminding him of the nightly romps he had within her half-brother’s body. The trick with riding Hosts, give them subliminal signals of thoughts already planted deep within their waking mind, nudging just enough to get what the Gray Herald desired. He hadn’t been able to overtake anyone attached to Ayeer, Odessen, or M’tah. All other Houses had been fair game though. Set knew it had something to do with whatever relics C’alain had hidden. He suspected the Commons were hiding quite a bit on the Hysen Spheres encircling the twin suns. His mind reached out to his mirror network.
His eyes lit up, “J’kua tech. I might have known.”
E’ratha only heard the mental replies he commanded within the Host.
What were you up to dear Aether? Set knew of the underlying ties between that old scientist and his former protégé, Chronos. Both had been tasked to help Matarn stop Unity. One had emerged enlightened. The J’kua was a dead race. They just didn’t know it yet. He keyed in on E’ratha’s mental voice.
>>Find out anything you can. We must bring Ayeer’s machinations to an end. My House will control the secrets of the Throne Matrix.<< He nodded. Oh yes, my dear. Through you, I will have an army. The Throne and the willing obedience of the White and Black. He bowed. His host’s robes of office rippling as E’ratha forced him up against the wall. The telekinetic pressure growing. The host body shivered. Blood trickling from the right ear. Set snorted.
The puppy wanted to make its mark. How quaint!
Trouble said, <<Well that’s one way to get out of here!>> Both birds were riding within a suit of power armor. They had taken it from the guard outpost. Trouble controlled the legs while Gulliver steered. Each using their defender belts to fill out the suit so it walked normally. They performed their patrol route. Knowing it would be days before E’ratha decided to lift the Emergency alert.
Trouble chuckled, <<How many Bardaxians does it take to screw in a light bulb?>>
Gulliver responded, <<Only one! But in the days before the Weave blessed them with an overabundance of Hope? They would gather by the millions under the warmth of the sun. Wondering which way the bulb should move! Heads tilting this way and that! To the delight of Humans everywhere!>>
It was their favorite joke. Because Eliza had told it to them when they were young.
They would see that future born. No matter what!
Gulliver remembered the mix of pride and worry on Eliza’s face as she had sent the brothers through the portal. Knowing that they would have to spend the rest of their days within the past. A face with the weight of the multiverse. Her final words, “I wish I could send more than my blessings with you. That orange pocket dimension of yours is filled with time-era-appropriate items. I left notes as well.”
She had given them her final scratches. Just right behind the inner ear on their heads. Trouble had even said, <<We will make you laugh! I promise!>> He had been more upset to leave. His omega senses balking at leaving his adoptive mother behind. They had only known the present her sacrifices had made possible. Her ancient features were marked with old battles. Even after Unity’s banishment and overall destruction from the Multiverse, there had still been scars to heal. Other things to face. While all that she had loved had faded from the physical realm, she still kept up that solitary vigil. The Weave promising that this vigil’s protection would last until the unraveling of the very Universes they resided in.
Gulliver and Trouble had bestowed that final embrace upon her.
Old enough to be as tall as her 7-foot frame.
Stark white hair gleaming silver in the moonlight of this unnamed world. She cleared her throat, “I am never alone dear friends. Not ever. Not as long as the Weave remains.”
White phased in. Her brother following. They had their promise to keep as well.
The souls of her family waited.
Gulliver cleared his head. Woolgathering wouldn’t help right now.
A massive crystal doorway was before them.
One more adventure to cripple E’ratha’s plans.
A patrol demanded their clearance code. The brothers held out a small triangular device.
It flashed, freezing the guards and the surveillance around them.
Time to plant more insanity into this 4-D holo chess game.
Miles Below Argax City
C’alain’s Wall still took my breath away.
The obsidian stone hummed with power. Warming to my touch.
The annals of time bore down on me from that stark surface. Its white and blue markings pulsating soothingly.
Grandfather had herded us down here the very day we arrived. The items Di’axi had stored within me phasing into reality. The unusual half-crowns. One part made of white, the other cloaked in black, in the shape of an antler. The white part had zipped off to my brother, along his right side. While the black adhered to my left. V’alkor had groaned. More in relief than anything else as a circlet cracked apart and fell from his head. Crumbling into dust.
His features relaxed. He had stated, “It was never meant for me. I was merely a caretaker." Mom and dad had been present as well. I would know my true Typherian name soon. C’alain’s voice rumbled deep within me.
That is not all dear Scion.
Soon the very foundations will crash upon the shore. We must be ready!
Argax City (Ground Ring)
I wandered around the main palace. It was called that due to it being the official residence of the Ayeer House. Doc had not left my side barring that trip to the Wall. Beyond it was the Throne Matrix but Dexter and I dared not enter it. Grandpa said there would be a definite reaction if we did. Mustn’t set off the fireworks too early! I reached out to scan for the brothers of Dynamic Avian plots and was reassured that their heartbeats reached my ears.
Gulliver was calm. What other shenanigans were they pulling? Of the two, that white Ummatosh Bird was the ring leader.
Trouble’s excitement registered through his rapid pulse.
Lorain’s finger traced along my earlobe. “What’s up Cornfed?” She knew that distant gaze meant I was honing in on something. She let out a peal of laughter as I picked her up and jumped out of the 4th story window. The rolling courtyards opening below us as I flew towards the energy shield and transit of the mid-ring. I replied, “Let’s go get some real local fare!”
We entered the final space elevator that would carry us to the Mids. I floated a foot off the floor plating. A few Commons passengers grinning as they saw me waltz with Doc across the tram hub. I didn’t care if this would end up on the House Holo network later. One older man struck up a light tune with an instrument that could be strummed like a guitar. With a flute head near his mouth. Dancing was in order.
Anna rubbed her belly. The Jupiter Rising was quiet. Resting within the holds of House Ayeer’s private landing pad. She shifted to the Commons News Network along with displaying its House counterpart on the other screen. Looked like Murphy was pissing off more of the right people. She never thought she’d have this kind of relationship with the Golden Child. Not quite friends but tolerated. A sequence of understanding. Anna loved the chaos this was causing. If she had to put a mark on it: The Commons were traditional. One mate at a time. They frowned upon promiscuous relationships.
The Houses wanted to cultivate as many skills or Typherian powers as they could. So certain House operations were taboo to the Commons. Those in the Mid and Outer Shell areas were much less insular as well. No wonder all of this was a shock to the people back on Earth. It was like having a separate colony within a colony.
Anna’s jaw cracked as she yawned.
“Let’s see what’s on the Real Housewives of Idiocy today!”
The Commons broadcast, the show called, “From the Void” highlighted.
They spoke audibly to make sure everyone could participate.
“That must have caused quite a stir! Not only to speak to a mute before anyone else but Scion Ayeer throwing it in their faces that she had already bonded and Union’d with someone. No advanced genetic whoring for you House Dreadful!”
Anna smirked. They were just as blunt as she.
In her case, the remembered days of “Star is here to overtake the human race via breeding programs” made her cackle harder. How right she was. In so many ways. She munched on some popcorn as they continued debating the merits of pissing off the Houses. This place was due for a revolution from the looks of it. Wouldn’t it be ironic if Humanity managed to step on more toes ala That Earth United Front universe?
She sent a message to the Golden Corn Muffin.
I had taken that Typherian man’s food recommendation to heart. This place reminded me of those old-style diners back home. Doc and I sat at a booth. Watching the throng of Typherians stride past. I glanced at my HUD as a message pinged.
///Having fun with your breeding program? The Commons are highly amused by your antics. Did you know they think most Houses are filled with….///
Doc saw my face turn beet red. I linked her in.
She took another sip of wine.
“Well, they are rather extravagant in that way. You know.”
I responded, “Yeah. Dexter showed me a whole ton of requests. NO THANK YOU!”
Lorain squeezed my hand as I reached out across the table.
The same Commons from the space elevator surrounded us.
“May the Blade protect you!”
Doc thanked them. “May your harvest rise to the Heavens.”
They took this in stride. She had paid them a great compliment. Based on their auras.
We exited and walked the grand thoroughfares of the mid rings. Dyson spheres had so much potential. It shocked me that the Houses remained so close to the ground of the planet. Doc jumped onto my back. Her hair tickling my face. As we passed by more shops I paused. In the window sill was a green threaded sash with gold and white highlights. I went in and asked, “How much?”
The shopkeeper’s eyes light up. “For you? For what you did for my boy? Take it with my blessing.” The aura was familiar. From my shrouded memory days. I transferred some Earth credits her way for gratuity. Adding in 2 Typherian sigils as well. These allowed those without mental powers to access services otherwise denied them. It was mostly symbolic on my part. I wanted to make a point that I’d pay her as an equal. She reached out and I shook her hand. Adding the old Light Shaman blessing, “May the 3 protect you!”
I wrapped my gift around Doc’s waist. Positioning it next to the Ayeer Union belt. Lorain smiled, “It’s beautiful!” She leaned in and planted a kiss on my neck. I made sure to finish weaving both about her waist. This quiet moment of joy the most relaxing I had experienced on Typha so far.
Lorain kept the sash positioned the way Eliza had initially tied it. It would make a statement when they got back to ground level as well. J’ino was crafty. As they traveled back to the ground and House Territory, the various news outlets went insane. The King’s Own surrounded them as they exited the Space Elevator. One reporter asking, “Care to elaborate about your statement that Commons Sector is equal to Ayeer?”
Doc squeezed Eliza’s hand as her captain thought of a response.
Anna chimed in on my private comms, <<That reporter is a 4th House Prick so go all American Home Run on him!>>
I smiled sweetly for the recorders, “Because the Commons are doing all the hard work. Did you know that most think of Typha fondly because of that? What have most of the Houses done for others lately?”
That same blonde Typherian with the bushy beard bellowed, “We know which families have merits! Don’t we?” Half the crowd chanted. Some lines about C’alain’s sword. The House members within the crowd vacated the area. Their shoulders hunched. But not before I caught the whiff of death from one in particular. The markings on his robe unfamiliar to me. Doc’s eyes narrowed. She knew. Then her face cleared as she wrapped an arm about my waist, “I know things are rather boisterous here on Typha but the Mid Rim has some of the best food I’ve had in a while. That’s saying something when you are stuck with rations!”
The crowd dissipated as the object of its ire fled.
The yellow-haired man held out his hand. “I’m Ta’len by the way! Nice to finally introduce myself.” The bit of paper stuck to my palm. I pocketed it. He waved and ambled over to the space elevator. The King’s Own guided us back to the Palace. There would be an official Ball announcement. I told Lorain, “Wanna line dance?”
She pinched my cheek. “Of course!”
Gulliver and Trouble wouldn’t arrive until 2 more days after the event.
By then a full-on social revolt would be in play by yours truly.
Luckily for me, my crew would join in on the Line dance. The Conga line would be especially scandalous to those harpies. Because I would make sure Eddie would lead it.
Omega Defender Citadel
Argax City (Outer Shell District)
The honeycombed corridors of the Citadel echoed with the foot traffic of Omegas and their staff. This place was perfect. Connected to the void of space itself while maintaining a tenuous connection to the corrupted Weave encircling Typha.
B’karis of House M’tah handed the page another missive. Tipping the lad with a rare treat: Everan Bread. Made to energize combatants past all limits. “Make sure it arrives in time!” The boy nodded. His eyes widening. This would be quite the prize to share with his fellows at the Castoff.
The head Omega knew it was on short
request but knew this boy would fulfill his duty. The markings upon the Page's forehead told B'karis he had never sullied his oath of office.
It was time to rally the “Cult” of C’alain. Convergence was at hand.
He knew M’taris would be ready. The Three blessed branches of Ayeer, Odessen and M’tah would have to be the Wall that Set couldn’t destroy. If any of them hoped to prevail they would have to know which other decayed branches to enshrine in amber.
Issue 3: Here
Interlude The Passage of Years: Here