Issue 16: Cellmates
Are the Arcons mad? Putting that shriveled piece of jerky in with Bel Mordred?!—Com Relay to Prison Sphere: the Bailey
With every thread stitched, we get closer to the whole.—Arcane Order (Layman’s Handbook.)
My vigil is coming to an end. I leave it to the younger races now. –From the Journals of Eliza Murphy
I know why both were thrown together. They both gave away more within that spark of conflict than the Order could have pulled from them otherwise. Turns out Mordred had more to lose than most suspected.—Sleeping in Starlight, a memoir of the 23rd century (vol 4)
Nexus In-Between Eden and UEF
Mordred recoiled from the wall as the room expanded. Adding another refresher space. Bed and food distribution unit. The warding symbols glowed. Sending an electric shock up his host body’s legs. He sprang onto his bed. A large obsidian stone phased through the wall. He sucked in a sharp breath through gritted teeth. Those markings. He had seen them before. On the coffins below the remains of the Golden City.
That place wasn’t as dead as it appeared.
His eyes widened as Lorain Lanis stepped out.
Why would she be here?!
Ren curled her lip, “Do they wish me to heal once such as you. A mere human mongrel?” She watched as the golden-haired woman recoiled further. A terrified glance warmed the coldest parts of the sorceress’ heart. Finally. Sustenance.
She licked her lips and strode forward.
“I know that flavor. I have tasted your terror before.”
The blonde scuttled back. Holding a food tray up over her head.
Bel observed. She was certain she could retreat into Mordred's blade. But that would reveal her to her captors and her co-host. Lorain’s face melted. The skin reformed. But not before Bel detected the desiccated corpse under the fakery. A copper-skinned creature walked forward. Wearing an emerald and white tunic. The skirt was Egyptian. Bel didn’t remember what it was called. That didn’t matter for now. Mordred’s terror skyrocketed. He knew this woman. Bel beheld a golden knife poised over Mordred’s chest. His bare arms nicked with wounds. That woman was straddling him. Morgana was nowhere to be found.
He shouted, “My father will destroy you!” A cold spike of rage sucked the breath from his lungs. The deep brown eyes flashed copper. The dark lining around her eyes crackled with power. “Chronos has no domain here boy.”
She ran her empty palm over his heart. “You are my reward.”
The memory faded. A white barrier separated the two. Bel had a name.
Renenutet, the Mother of Lies.The Tounge of Unity.
Agent Nines watched as both women circled. The partition kept the Mummy from sucking Mordred Bel dry. He didn’t understand the necessity. It would be far better for them both to consume each other.
His hand hovered over the glyphs.
All he had to do was push.
Their voices rose beyond. Echoing through the orbs lined up on the walls.
“Half breed son of the Cold Skins.”
The agent could see the Mummy eye the blonde. It was more than attraction. They were connected somehow.
Nines hesitated. Cipher Adjunct 255’s voice rolled through his ring. Magically augmented.
It was the only way to keep their Identities safe from each other as well as enemies.
“Relay everything said in that room to Node 355.328”
He moved his hand away. Activated his HUD. The biometrics were off the charts.
The Jupiter Rising
Officer Conference Room
Lorain’s hands gripped her mug so tightly that her knuckles whitened. Mary’s ID pinged on Jupiter’s sensors and the door opened. Mary grabbed a beverage and sat. The intensity behind everyone’s emotions prickled my skin. A domed helmet encircled my head. All my senses were gone except for speech. I knew this because I hummed at a few different frequencies and a cold wet nose twitched along my neck. A hand brushed my arm. So I still had tactile sensation.
It was above my paygrade time.
I hoped I could pay myself well in vacation time when it was all said and done.
Lorain tapped Eliza’s arm. Murphy responded by floating upward. Crossing her legs and Auggie placing himself in her lap. Cooper floated in. His green armor reflected off the table.<<Should I stay? Or just Augustus?>> Mary turned her head. Her eyes were unfocused.
Light purple symbols glowed on her exposed skin.
“Yes. You must remain.”
Cooper bounded the rest of the way in. Taking a seat next to Mary.
He placed a paw on the table. <<What does the Weave wish of us?>>
Mary opened a curious leather book, “To my past self, like the ouroboros we must build our past to face our future. Forever tied. The Arcane Order isn't just a place or person. It is the will of the Highest. The heritage of humanity.”
Lorain asked, “It's all in my handwriting, isn't it? I only understand a few symbols.”
Mary motioned with her hands.
The greeting rites of one Order member to another.
Lorain exclaimed, “You too!” She mirrored the movements easily.
Mary leaned back. Placing the book on the table. A distant competitive expression behind her clasped hands. The elder Lanis reached out to link hands with her daughter, “I have Arcane Primacy through my Father’s name. It's why I had to keep Herbert as my callsign. The wards wouldn’t recognize me any other way.”
Lorain closed her eyes. “How is it Eliza and I will create the Golden City. I thought that was Ta’mathon?” Mary replied, “It will be Ta’mathon, The Lady of the Isles and the Arbiter. The City Slumbers.”
Augustus barked, <<That is why Eliza was made to heal White. She will house something greater even if only for mere moments. To make the journey across time.>>
Mary watched as Eliza flickered for a moment. Then her form solidified.
Rosetta Stone flipped the book open.
Its pages carbon dated. “This was made over 8000 years ago.”
Lorain gawked. “How?!”
Her mother pulled up the historical files on the Golden City. It was reported to be from 500 or 600 B.C. A cover made ironclad by the Order itself. Mary couldn’t send files to her daughter. They couldn’t risk the real history to the common domain of technology.
So she said, “I cannot transfer magical codexes but Arthur can. Through his Intez connection.”
The dome lifted and Mary was before me. I rested my hands on my hips as I lowered myself to the floor. I said, “So what else do I not tell myself to say later for this big old ship assault to succeed?”
Lorain choked back a spurt of laughter.
Some of the bleakness left her eyes. It wasn’t total despair. She was extremely upset. It was aimed at me. I dug deeper. It was flavored with self-loathing. Mary’s aura was calm. Like she had expected this. Arthur’s?
Sympathy. Especially from his symboite within.
I considered that mission accomplished.
It wasn’t Doc’s fault she couldn’t say anything.
We were in a war of misinformation as well.
I was its chief conduit.
Arthur made a short bow. His coifed scale mail head was covered by an old-style bullet helm. With that golden T guard running across his nose. A plain white tunic with a red cross covered the rest of his armor. I asked, “What kind of information do you want me to distribute?”
Mary reached up to touch the side of my head. My HUD flashed.
“Start planting these devices.”
Jupiter responded, <<Ahh. Cargo 25-7. Excellent.>>
I made my way to the command chair. “You go it! I started off as a delivery operation. Might as well get back to my roots!”
Arthur waited until he felt the hum of FTL travel. He placed his gauntleted hand on the book. Raising his other to Lorain’s temple. “Tell me what to transfer.” Mary stepped forward. Her hand motions were quick.
The Intez within said, “It shall be done.”
For his part, Arthur watched as symbols floated into Lorain. Her eyes glowed a deep purple at intervals. Finally, she awakened. Her head lowered, “Mom. I don’t know if I…”
“Can do this?” Mary finished for her.
A reluctant nod.
Arthur said, “You will ma’am. Just as my previous hosts have done.”
Both women stared. It was the Intez speaking.
It continued, “For I knew you for a time. As the Lady of the Isles.”
Nexus In-Between Eden and UEF
Ren licked her lips, “I remember the taste of your tears dear Mordred.” She ran a finger down the partition separating them. “They protect you for now. Yet that heart of yours was promised to me. It matters not. The blood was sealed that day.” She giggled.
Bel stilled. Did Mordred not see the threads seeping from that creature?!
Mordred spat, “You own nothing! This body isn't even mine.” He smiled as if that fixed everything. Bel wanted to shout. They had known from the very start. Bel forced the words from her body, lips pulled back into a sneer.
“Mordred is an idiot. And you have given me away Mother of Lies.”
Ren nodded. A gleeful expression bloomed.
Ren replied, “Oh yes. I know of you. Chronos mentioned your obsessions.” The mummy winked. She hitched a leg over the bed. Leaving nothing to the imagination. Bel recoiled. She hissed, “Whore.”
Ren pouted, “I know I am but Mordred is an even bigger one.” She laughed.
“Isn’t that right my boy?”
Bel didn’t like the way Ren lingered on the word boy. Mordred howled, “You are not my mother. I did not grow within your body.”
Ren smirked, “Half right. We used the human. Yet you are mine.”
Bel answered for both, “Mordred’s body is gone!”
Ren smiled, “You’d think that, wouldn’t you. The sword was a commission. I merely offered a soul for it.”
Mordred bellowed, “Bitch!”
Ren smiled. Her eyes glowing with unholy power, “That is no way to talk to your mother my dear.”
Agent Nines stared at the readouts. They cross-examined Mordred’s blade. The centerpiece within the stolen Markav tech was foreign to Eden or the Earth within. Yet it gave off the same vibrations as Ren. He linked with his fellow watchers within the Sphere.
“We have a problem.”
Coils of black scrawl rose. Hitting the barrier around the blade.
Issue 15: Here
Issue 17: Here