Wednesday, October 13, 2021

The Uplift Protocol Escape Velocity Issue 6

 

Issue 6: That’s a Wrap!

 

            The historical archives don’t do justice to just how mundane Eliza Murphy is. How is it they are a threat? They are all sheep.— Renenutet

            I am glad I didn’t join that mummy in her misadventure. She’s ensnared. They wanted her to switch with Lanis. I have no way of contacting Tarkanan. So why bother?  It's not like any of them came to my aid. Ren only used me to escape. Its survival. Murphy’s crew isn't stupid. I suspect many of them are situated firmly with this Arcane Order. I saw mention of it in one of Chronos’ archives.  We only have the title but no other names connected to it. Hilary is still giving me that unsettling glance.–Medusa

            Was Lorain Lanis trapped within that place? Certainly. Ritark would find the oldest spark there and awaken it. Letting that seed grow. The counter to the influence of the Dark Mirrors. For when the enemy bases their avenues on that which is primordial, they leave open a doorway.—The CTT Archives. Pre-Convergence relays of Note.

Renenutet was a reflection. A cautionary tale. I thank god every day that Lorain and I had each other. After all we had been through? Would I have changed anything? No. For that would mean the threads binding us would unravel. It would have cascaded throughout the multiverse.  To live alone is misery. To know you are alone? Pure terror.—Sleeping in Starlight, a memoir of the 23rd century (Vol 3)

Offsite C.A.P Staging Area

New Ashbury, Texas

April 8th, 2116

 

            Renenutet contained her excitement. Just barely.

Finally!

            The facility humming around her was filled to the brim with information. She grabbed herself a cup of coffee and sat down. Examining the medical databases. There was even a data point about the Arcane Council. Chronos would give her a king’s ransom for such a thing. She accessed it.

            //Information Restricted. Please stand by for Bioscan.//

            She waited. She had every bit of Lorain Lanis mimick’d down to the slightest detail.

            These humans were such idiots.

            She took another swig of her black coffee. No sugar. It was delightfully bitter.

            Her eyes widened as information flowed.

*****

            Proctor Ganysis turned to Thomas Murphy. His dark features were grim. “Prepare the other sites. We will have to make this look authentic. Chronos is already amassing his fleets. Open War is inevitable.”

            Murphy fed the information into Ren’s H.U.D.

Yes, she was able to replicate everything about Lorain. On the surface level. Thomas brought up the holo projection of his wife and Victor. He knew what he was fighting for. A future free of Unity. Free of psychos like Ren or Mordred. Instead of finding true hotspots, they would lead Chronos’ forces to death traps. Populated with a mix of highly trained troops and civilians. Those who would know the cost. They both watched as Ren twitched. Her face filled with demonic hunger.

She could never hide her true nature. The more she attempted it the more blatant it was.

Ganysis knew they put the Iron Line on the spot. Making it more important. Not that it wasn’t but trouble would be knocking on Robin Hood’s door. Based on her biological output they had the mummy hook, line, and sinker.

*****

            The being formerly known as Draken Nix followed Medusa. Knowing the woman from her scent. It was corrupted by the touch of the Herald of Endless Death. The one who fed off everything. Renenutet. A prize that Unity had shaped in another universe. She would do her part. So would the former snake woman. A muthra cast adrift. He spoke, both of them paused at an intersection within the beating heart of New Ashbury, “I require your services. One touched by fate.” He spoke in the old tongue. One only known to those touched by Unity. She didn’t turn but her back stiffened.

            Her voice was equally soft, “What is required?”

            Internally Medusa was cursing.

She should have known that thing would find her. Unity’s castoffs always did. She waited until the being spoke again, “I require Striker Nix. The Child has something of mine I must imbue.”

The way it said child sent a spasm of foreboding up her spine. It was cursed.

Blessed yet damned all at once. What kind of Child would Unity covet? Medusa didn’t want to know. So they walked. Heading toward the industrial district. Where the excess of sound would mask certain vibrations. She glanced at its form from the corner of her eye. An old yellowed Markav. Its deep brown within brown eyes milked over. He smiled at her. Holding out his hand, “Guide me would you dear? We will attract less attention that way.”

            It was right. She slipped an arm about his.

“This way! I'll show you where they make the best civilian ships within Sol!”

*****

            Lorain awoke to five White Owls peering down at her from the rafters. Black eyes consuming every movement. Sy’ra’s hand resting on her shoulder. The scholar woman smiled at her. Her silver-blue eyes warming. She weaved the threads of Dreaming tighter.

            They will come for us. Matarn and Star.

            Lorain clung to that statement like a drowning woman.

            The images of Ikaris fresh in her mind.

            What she wouldn’t give to feel the warmth of the sun on her face once more.

            Sy’ra hummed and the White Owls shimmered. Slinking away into the darkness.

            Doc rose and handed Sy’ra’s outer robe back.

“Thanks for the pillow. I do feel better. After a fashion.”

****

            The All-Mother stumbled into the room, “Healer!” Her face twisted in pain.

            Lanis saw the way the unnatural baby kicked.  

Through clenched teeth, Urraden hissed, “Make it stop.”

Lorain rested a palm on the All-Mother’s abdomen. Her body was twisted by corruption. If Ren was here, her disgusting abilities would prove more fruitful. Thoth materialzed behind Urranden. He pulled Lanis’ hand away, “Her healing will kill the child. The mummy left you a present. I asked it of her before she left to dance with the enemy.” He watched Lorain’s face. Adding more pressure to his grip. He growled, “I do hope she manages to ensnare Murphy. Sucking the life from those lips.”

He leered at the human.

Daring her to rise to the bait.

Lanis didn’t budge. She had seen what happened at Ikaris. She cried out as Thoth snapped her right wrist. “Have fun healing that.” He whirled and pulled the All-Mother from the room. The bones moved within her body. Remolding with agonizing slowness. The pain remained. It would take another day to remove the poisons Thoth had shot into her arm just as he was leaving. She’d make sure to store proper antibodies. This place was gearing up for war. She could feel it in the metals. The constant pounding from the deep.

The All-Father strode in, “Follow.” They obeyed.

The scythe hanging over Sy’ra wouldn’t allow Doc to do otherwise.

Ritark noted the haggard level of growth around the Urraden’s chin. Unlike most beards it was sparse. His crimson eyes were paler than usual. He was dying. Thoth’s influence over Tarkanan growing every day. They all heard the sharp intake of breath as Lorain’s bones fully fused back together. The aura of this place made her rejuvenation sluggish. The All-Father herded them onto the platform. They rose. As it sped along she finally got a good look at the space outside. The horror of it was conveyed even through the shimmering pallid green energy fields.

Artock ships by the millions. The All-Father felt a smile tug at the corners of his mouth, “Earth will die. There is nothing you can do against the might of Tarkanan, Chronos, and the Living Stone of Morgana.”

All of their enemies were finally pulling together.

Ritark noted the Amarche swirling among the endless hulls of the enemy.

They would tell Eliza. He didn’t dare try to connect to his father.

Not knowing if Sir Avalon’s human shell would give anything away. Not out of malice but magical connection. The Litari Dreamweaver had no clue what this place could sense. Sy’ra spoke to him.

Stay hidden little one. I will weave you into the Dreaming when the time comes.

Record everything. No matter how small. It will save us.

He prayed even more to the Highest and the Weave. Sy’ra didn’t have any demi powers yet she held the lantern of light. A way from this madness. The Owls were starving. He wouldn’t feed them either.

*****

            E’ratha watched as the All-Mother floated in the Breeding Pits. The oil-slicked water hiding the various scars along her body. For once the former Typherian Matriarch was glad she had no physical body. Seeing that unity spawn writhe within Urraden’s body disgusted her. It was growing far too fast. An ill omen. The All-Mother shouted, “More!”  More water fell from the tubes overhead. Enhanced by that bundle of rags. It had bestowed its loving attention upon E’ratha. Whispering promises of a new body. If she would only let Ren touch her brain. Her remaining spinal nodes floating in the morass of her metal shell.

            House Cyphuskara was many things but she would never allow such a base-born individual to handle her core self. Even if she was mere brain matter in a can. As Thoth was fond of pointing out. She slipped out. Riding the energy ways to the top of the facility. Unlike his wife, she had access to the singular observation dome resting above the industrial line of the machine planet. She glided along the walls. Using her spider-shaped body to listen from above. Regrettably, that human was still as beautiful as ever.

            E’ratha snarled at the equally ethereal Scholar.

With its paler skin. Long black hair. With its white highlights. How she wanted to grind them both into dust. She wished she could cut their throats. Yet the All-Father wished otherwise.

            For now.

            E’ratha caught the words, “…Chronos, and the Living Stone….”

            Yes, that monkey mud ball would fall to the endless Fleets of Night. For all of the multiverse would fall under the shroud of Unity. Even now her mirror counterparts within the Oblivion Gates were being culled for the fight. What could one universe do against the might of the Endless? The true power of her House? Urraden’s forces would help. That was assured. But after the fog of battle? She’d make her move. They would regret giving her this body of durasteel.

*****

            Ren marveled at the information. They had put a good chunk of defense upon the Iron Line. A leyline of magic that was situated within a human city.

London.

She wished to see Egypt. If only out of sheer curiosity yet the threads of magic there would likely foil her disguise. It was old. Perhaps even more potent than the magic of her home universe. She dared not breach that sacred land until this mission was finished. She passed on the juicy bits to Chronos. Keeping back one vital bit. How to enter the Iron Line. That she would do herself. An unfettered source of Life and Mana? Oh yes. She would feed.

The Night was coming.

She would ride at the head of the dreaded host.

Curling her hands around Eliza Murphy’s neck.

Her one wish? To destroy it all and lay the broken form of Murphy at Lanis’ feet.

She waved towards J’dax. Noting his frown. “What’s wrong?”

He replied, “The Artock have abandoned their forward posts.”

Ren mirrored his disquiet. “They will attack sooner rather than later. I suspect.”

Inwardly she held back her bark of laughter. They had no idea.

Idiots.

She held out her hand, “More coffee. I might be able to develop more countermeasures to the artock neural structures!” He put another cup in her hand. Careful to not brush fingers. They were all so careful around Lanis. Did she know about her duel nature? That of Death? Ren put on a show of concern, “No worries J’dax. We will find the cure to this plague.”

*****

            J’dax motioned for Cooper to take up a guard position. The mummy thought it was for Lorain’s protection. Since all she actually researched was the fact that Lorain was lovesick for Eliza. Loved Bardaxians and was a medical researcher. While on their end? They grilled Dexter and the few contacts Eliza Odessen had within that corrupted sphere. The UEF had been putting spies and scouts into other places for generations. Since their Earth was situated on the Universal Line. J’dax suspected that the Weave had something to do with that.

            He only hoped it would be enough to gauge the opening salvo.

*****

            I awoke to pressure on my chest. Five Amarche clutching at my arms and legs. One had a hand over my mouth. His face worried. They didn’t want me to react. Yelling was strait out. Once I nodded my compliance the wispy hands moved away. They had never touched me before so this must have been paramount. They nodded.

            Endless Ships of Night flashed along the periphery of my vision.

            Enough Artock to consume the entire universe.

            I used the hypernet channel on the ship to contact my father.

            Invasion was imminent.

            His reply was swift, //Get home as soon as possible. Stage 2 in effect.//

            Gulliver and Trouble flapped down to rest upon the foot of my bed.

<<The curtain is coming down. Better be ready!>>

Like Anna, they did their best not to keep me totally in the dark.

I rubbed my face, “We will not walk alone.”

Issue 5:

Issue 7:

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