The dragoness then puts the still logy demifoxes in the presence of mundane
foxes. The demifox females are in heat, as well as the mundane vixens. What
happens next is....nature taking her course. 50 days later, well past the
two week deadline to reverse the curse, the demifoxes regain themselves and
find that they now have MORE infants to worry about.
Bad enough, and doubly so because it appears that there is nothing that they can do about it (no revenge on Dragoness Moreau, because she swiped the Crystallic.....the only means of getting off this island that they now are on).
However, Moreau got defeated by a Carradene who was at wits end (lets call him Carradene 2). Carradene 2 had made arrangements to FINALLY get the Pack off the Island, only to find that Malachi was dead....as well as Minestus. Since Minestus was dead, he needed not fear retaliation from the wyrm as he defeated Moreau. The Pack stumbled across the demifoxes and were bringing them up to speed when a Crystallic thrown by a panicked mage through a interdimensinoal portal lands at their feet. Sigin Vulpine, Rosepaw, their 12 kits and Carradene 2 are zapped to a parallel Moreau's Island (Manimal Universe).
Alternate Walants Universe 5
Fred 5 goes to the Southern Caves to slay a dragon. He kills Velus. He & Astra 5 are sent to the Calamari Desert to die. Dr.Vincent saves them. Minestus kidnaps Astra 5 and turns her into a demifox. Fred 5 goes after her but becomes a demifox too. Malachi and Minestus kill each other. Fred 5 & Astra 5 go to Walants to give Synizn the Crystallic so he can cure them. In Walants they are put in jail. Their greedy lawyer Rift frees them so that they can lead him to the dead dragon's treasure. The lawyer, dwarf, and their unwilling guest go out on the road to the Lair, only to have the demifoxes stumble upon a cure for their condition. You see, during a tense discussion with Tarin (the dwarf), the Crystallic morphed into an amber soft ale that Tarin, Astra 5, and Fred 5 ingested (long story). It didn't seem to effect Tarin in the slightest, but it caused the demifoxes to change back to human (thought Astra 5 is still pregnant). Each injestor actually had assimulated part of the Crystallic, unbeknownst to them at the time.
During a discussion as what to do next, the heroes made a terrible mistake. They had left the Crystallic laying about, in reach of the lawyer, Master Rift, and the barrister used the gem to keep them in line.
Then, while on the road, they all run into bandits, which the end result is that Rift and Tarin run for it while Astra 5 and Fred 5 are captured. The bandits ride back to Walants, with visions of the profits made from selling the adventurers as slaves. But, through some double dealing between another Walants lawyer and a member of the Paine gang (the bandits), we soon have the "custody" of Fred 5 and Astra 5 called into question. For a bit, it even looks like Astra 5 will be able to get Rift to get them free, but Rifts turns the tables by balckmailing Astra 5. If she doesn't fully cooperate, then her parents will learn of her delicate condition, caused by actions outside of wedlock. Ironically, in a land ruled by woman, this would cause her dishonor, dis-inheritance, and banishment. Astra complies, not wishing this to happen. Fred 5 is left out of the loop, and wondering just what the deuce is up her, but comes along because his honor and his desire to get the Crystallic away from Rifts makes him.
So, Rifts, Astra 5, and Fred 5 go off again to the Hoard, while Tarin cleans up the details with axe and Pact (getting the other lawyer to sign, putting him in the dwarf's service, or else dying by axe). Tarin catchs up after Rifts talks his way past a black knight with a bone to pick with people from Walants. Rifts had known what to say since he had been the defender of a man who had broken into an apothecary shop in search for medicine to heal his sick daughter (the thief got hung and the daughter died, much to the indifference to this Rift).
Things get even worse when Rift decides to try out the power of alteration of the Crystallic on Astra 5. Rift had willed Astra's hair to turn from red to black. In addition to that, it turned Astra 5's entire skin black (and I mean BLACK). Now, even her parents wouldn't recognize her. Rifts finally let slip the blackmail of Astra 5, and Fred 5 finally understood what was up! He didn't really blame Astra 5, and the distance that had been growing between the two vanished.
Still, Rift had the gem..but not for long. There was the question of Tarin.
See, Tarin was a dwarf who had been exiled from his Clan for having Second Sight, a magic talent. Magic is anathema to dwarves in general, and as such Tarin was much the embarrassment. The news spread throughout the dwarven community, and Tarin was now a pariah. A dwarf without a Clan is sad. One banished is a tragedy, for stated reasons. Tarin went a bit mad because of this. He went to great lengths to prove to the world he was nothing but dwarf..and went to excess. He flew into beserker rages, sometimes not able to tell friend from foe. But at the core of it all, he had self doubts about if he was a "real" dwarf.
An unwanted Vision on the road, where he met his "brother" from Terra "Prime" and seeing his "own death" at the hands of some demifoxes, coupled with the revelations that by inbiding the Crystallic, he had become even more magical..and thus unforgivable in the eyes of his fellow dwarves. He couldn't bribe his way back into his Clan now, even with ten Hoards. Tarin snapped.
Mad, he turned and demanded Rifts give him the Crystallic (and made it clear that instant ompliance would be a BAD idea). Rift, knowning that he can't win, complies (beside, Tarin "owned" him by Pact..so better not mess around here)! So now the corrupt Tarin had the means of reaching his brother."
Tarin wills them to Terra "Prime." The corrupt Tarin, Fred 5 & Astra 5 get zapped to Walants (Manimal Universe). They arrive buck naked and unconscious! A stable boy stumbles across them, and then goes for help.
Alternate Walants Universe (??)
After Malachi and Minestus have killed each other and Fred & Astra travel to Walants, Fred's King discovers the destruction of the Southern Caves and comes to believe that Fred is dead. Fred's father, Duke Dred, thinks otherwise. He goes to the Southern Caves in search of clues to his son's whereabouts and is zapped to Atlantis (Manimal Universe).
Alternate Vampire Universe
Fred goes to the Southern Caves to slay a dragon. Instead, he is killed and resurrected as a vampire. His vampire master has captured three women for Fred to feed on; Astra, Andrea and Alicia (call her Alicia 2). Andrea is the one who gets away. Alicia 2 and Astra's unwilling blood donation is interrupted before the point where the transfer of blood between vampire and victim would change victim into vampire. The victims are still alive--albeit a few quarts low and BARELY conscious--as the AI Inquirer begins to try to fight it out. Both Astra and Alicia 2 are rescued from becoming vampires, but when they get zapped to the Manimal Universe Astra dies from the Phage due to something that she doesn't have in her immune system (something genetic). The Vampires are dead and dust, BTW (but you already knew that about this thread).
Atlantis Thread (Main Thread)
The dragon Minestus is finally killed. ManFox Fred, SheFox Alicia, Astra, Willian & ManBear Synizn join forces with :: Fred 1 & Astra 1 * Fred 2, Astra 2 & WereBear Synizn * Fred 3, Astra 3, DemiFox Synizn & Dragon Sigin * Duke Dred. Along with the AI Probe they all go back to the city of Panaras. WereBear Synizn is restored to his true dragon form and becomes Dragon Synizn. The demifox Freds and Astras are all restored to their true human shape. They discover that the world is going to be destroyed unless a way is found to shut down the slipgates. The big group then splits up and heads out to various destinations. Dred, Fred 1, Fred 2 & Astra 2 go to Walants to help the Phage victims. Probe, Astra 3, Fred 3, Dragon Synizn, Dragon Sigin, and the 7 infants of Fred 3 and Astra 3 go to Dr.Vincent's Tower to seek his help in fighting the Phage. Astra, Will and Astra 1 go to Aqualaria (Astra 1 will be stopping at an island in the possession of Aqaularia before going to Normandy Island...).
Meanwhile, at Dr.Vincent's Tower the ghost of Dr.Vincent casts a spell which pulls a whole bunch of the cast of characters down into his dungeon.
These are the people who get dragged into that dungeon. Many of them were either looking in on the events happening around the tower either by magical or scientific means.
Since the Dr. Vincent dabble in the combined forces of magic and science, it was such a way that he was able to "get the jump" on so many powerful characters...
Now, the list of unwilling guests:
This reality's Malachi. Since she is now anchored magically to Ethiopia, and cannot leave its borders, once the teleportation "rope" was reeled in, when Malachi came to a halt at the border the tower was compelled to come to her.
Fred 3, Astra 3, their seven babies, Dragons Sigin and Synizn, Demifox Synizn and Probe.
Manbear Synizn, who had been interested in observing what his analogues were up to.
Dragon Fred, Malachi D'Honaire, Alicia 2 and Inquirer. Malachi is currently in human form.
Carradene 2, Rosepaw, Sigin Vulpine and Rosepaw and Sigin's twelve cubs. The cubs were too young to take much notice of what their parents had been observing, but had been close enough to their parents to get dragged in with them anyway.
Probe's base unit, together with four of the mysterious operatives known within the Alliance military as "Phantoms". The Phantoms had been tapping into Probe's base unit in order to spy on him, and had hence been sucked in. Three of the four were now black and very dead, thanks to the near instantaneous effect of the phage on most humans. The other was immune, probably totally but possibly only to the extent that he would die in a few days time.
Inquirer's base unit, together with three of the Enemy. They had been trying to dredge something out of the fried circuitry of the base unit, but it had been a hopeless task. The phage would kill them too, but it would be a slow death. They had been on the Phantoms' ship, thanks to their covert alliance with them. Getting bored with their task, they had looked across to where the Phantoms were looking at their feed from Probe, and so had got sucked in, together with the base unit they had been working on.
Moreau's Island Thread
The Manfox Fred and Shefox Malachi (the alternate ones) use the Crystallic to change themselves into dragons and then join forces with Sigin Vulpine, Rosepaw and Carradene 2. The group then commandeers an Alliance shuttle where they meet up with Inquirer and Alicia 2.
They inadvertently had saved Inquirer from the Phantoms, when the opteratives sent a malicious program through her communications that caused her to writhe about in extreme pain. The operatives would have come down, via Avatar, and finished her and Alicia to suppress any cure that the dead Astra's body could have yielded (a DNA cross examination could reveal a method to a cure..) Inquirer's mind got sucked into a gem, which did two things. It totally fried her original computer mind back in outer space, and also made her join the ranks of the magical creatures known as golems. Her mind now controls the female Avatar that she had been controlling before, and since she can't break contact with gem and Avatar, she's pretty much stuck with her new body. As such, she can't go out and animate a new body. They then get zapped to Dr.Vincent's Tower and into his dungeon.
The Combined Main Thread
Inside the Tower were collected:
(From the Manimal Universe)
Dragon Malachi Dronicis, Queen Regent of Ethiopia
(From Manimal Universe 2)
Dragon Malachi D'Honaire
(From Walants Universe 2)
(From Walants Universe 3)
Fred & Astra's 7 babies
(From Walants Universe 4)
Sigin & Rosepaw's 12 kits
(From Vampire Universe)
(From Alliance Universe)
a Phantom intelligence officer
(From Lizard Empire Universe)
3 Lizard soldiers
The ghost Dr.Vincent reads his captives' minds (in the process, the living Dr.Vincent learns everything his ghost counterpart does) and then the ghost tries to possess the body of the AI Inquirer. He is repulsed and flees to his dead body which is hidden in the Tower. Inquirer read the ghost's mind during the aborted possession and both she and the living Dr.Vincent have discovered some unsettling secrets.
Some of the Alliance Phantom operatives are allied with the Lizard Empire. (To do what?)
The Phantom operatives are an example of "good cop turning bad." Basically, the operatives had been bought off by the Lizards. Thus, the Lizard soldiers were able to get so close to Terra while it was guarded by the Military. If any Military official came aboard, they'd find the Lizards in holding cells awaiting interrogation and eventual liquidation according to the subverted Phantom operatives. The operatives don't feel bad about betraying the Military, for THEY know that as soon as the planet is secured by the Military, and the Military uses the Tiberium to batter the Enemy into oblivion.....that the Military will turn it's eyes upon Home and try to "set things right." The Company had been preparing for that day, but with the wildcard that Terra represents, it threw everything into disarray. The Company had even LESS time now than they'd thought they'd had.
The operatives were just doing what they felt was right, and making a quick credit or three on the side.
If the Lizard Empire can't have the world, they will blow it up.
But first they must deal with the ghost of Dr.Vincent. He hasn't been defeated but will return soon. So they decided to blow up the Tower, thus incinerating his remains and sending him off to the great beyond. However, there might be a chance that the ghost somehow was able to recover before the destruction of his Tower and teleport his body elsewhere, out of harms way (Author note: that's EXACTLY what he did, and now vows vengeance for the destruction of his lovely Tower). In case the ghost's body remained intact, the Regent of Ethiopia is in the process of contacting an old friend, one Belboz the necromancer (not evil as his other counterparts from other realities..surprisingly).
A necromancer should be able to more easily ascertain the status of the ghost of Dr. Vincent, hopefully. While they await the return of the ghostly necromancer, the dragons and the other magic users are busily using the combined might of five Crystallics to heal the wounds the Lizards have inflicted on Terra. They remove the radioactive scars left upon the land, replace the vegetation that had been burned away. They also heal the people who were suffering from radiation sickness. At last, exhausted, the adventurers in Ethiopia are relaxing around the diner table, congratulating themselves on a job well done.
They aren't so happy when they find out that something is afoot in other parts of the world. Down in Panaras, the Pack is happy that they had finally been able to get their ambassador, Astra 1, off so she could finally do what she'd been hired to do, when the news that Manbear Synizn was missing puts them into a tizzy. They finally find out, after a few hours of searching, that the Manbear got sucked into the dungeon's of the ghostly Dr. Vincent, but was alive and well. Still, their was a sense of tension in the air. They found out what was wrong in a bit. Now, there is one other faction arrayed against a cure for the Phage. There is the Enemy, who doesn't want the Alliance to have Terra for obvious reasons.
However. there are also factions within the Company who have enough forward vision to see what will come of the defeat of the Enemy so soon! They had been stockpiling resources for the upcoming war between Company and Military in the hopes that enough of a show of force could cause the Military to perhaps await and see if this faction could actually carry our it's plans of reform so a Civil War wouldn't be necessary.
"Civil war?" you ask? Well, let's just say that the Company hasn't been doing a too good of job at governing (in fact..did a piss poor job of it). Home has become something out of a Bladerunner novel, and the Military isn't too happy about this. The Military has said on occasion that the Company needs to clean up it's act, but to no avail. Now, if the Alliance/Enemy war ends soon (and with the Tiberium of Terra..it'll happen), the Military will turn it's eyes on the Company and wrest control from it. The resulting Civil War will kill a lot of people, and that's what Seeker's faction is hoping to avoid.
Seeker has taken on the appearance of the Oracle, a revered prophetess from the land of Aqualaria. The AI murdered the original so that he could fashion a body that mimicked the old lady, then he set off so that he could gain the trust of either Astra or Astra 2 so as to latter make it easier for him to get close and kidnap them..and use them as a bargaining chip. The AI would demand the Crystallics for the Astras. In doing so, the AI hoped that the loss of the Crystallics would stop any hope of a cure for the Phage. Well, it worked with Astra 2. Seeker found that the defense forces surrounding Astra didn't make him confident that kidnapping her was feasible..
However, with the fallout of the betrayal of the Phantoms became known, it caused the shadowy allies of Seeker to panic, and thus set the AI off to hurry up his time table. Seeker tried to capture Astra 2 (who'd renamed herself Para-Astra in relation to the "revelation" the Oracle had revealed to her), but was having no luck. The sleep gas grenade had gone off, but Fred 2 and Astra 2 had enough wit to cover their mouths and get away from the AI when it had tried to collect...
The short of it right now is that a suspicious Astra has discovered the deception, and she and Will have contacted Fred the Manfox for aid. Fred has contacted Malachi Dronocis for a magical lift to Walants to protect Astra 2. The dragoness gave 2 Crystallics to Inquirer (who was now a mage from the knowledge she'd gotten from the ghost Dr. Vincent's failed attempt to displace her from her gem), and the group of manimals (Fred, Alicia the Shefox, and Loam)..along with Probe and Inquirer appeared in the midst of Walants, and quickly tracked down Astra 2 (through the sound of battle between her and Fred 2 against Seeker).
Astra 2 has discovered that she's in love with Fred 2 during the battle. Fred 2 was more than willing to sacrifice his life so that Astra 2 could escape Seeker. This touched Astra 2 to the core, and the Amazon warrior found that she was now in love with Fred 2.
Then the battle is joined! Frederigo D'Honaire and his Packmates arrive, and start to make things difficult for Seeker. No, it isn't like they can actually HARM Seeker, but he was seriously hampered by their presence (and their weapons were really causing a lot of cosmetic damage to his Avatar Oracle). This, coupled with the fact that Inquirer (who was hanging back and fiddling with a blue gem for some reason) and the recently teleported Probe (there to lend a hand in battle) was making this WAY too public. Yet, the rogue AI was torn. On one hand, retreat would be easy by just cutting his connection to the Avatar, just leaving an anonymous Avatar (could be anyone, human or machine intelligence, piloting it...with allegience to nearly anyone..). On the other hand, getting back to the surface and again trying to carry out his plans could be more difficult (the Military might start to monitor their Avatar systems more closely after this episode)..
Just as Seeker decides to cut his losses and bug out, Inquirer leaps forward with her bespelled gem that will entrap whoever is controlling the Avatar, so she and the others can interrogate the entity at a later date (and nicely neutralizing the Avatar in the meantime). The race is one, and the winner is..the hand of Seeker's treacherous Avatar!)
See, what I didn't tell you is that Inquirer had teleported, via Crystallic, yet another bespelled jewel into the hand of the false Oracle. All Avatars, at the time of creation, have verbal overrides that are there for safety reason, in the Company's opinion. The Military hates them with a passion, the Overrides, for if somebody shouts out that word, the operator finds himself fighting the Avatar over what to do (disastrous in a battle, makes them a sitting duck). The Overrides are gleefully gutted and scrapped before the Avatars are allowed into battle. Inquirer was hoping that whoever was in control of the thing HAD not gotten around to doing that yet..A telepathic command by Inquirer, and the Avatar slaps bespelled gem on forehead before Seeker can disconnect and before Inquirer can slap her gem onto Seeker's Avatar. Seeker yells in terror, mentally, as he feels himself falling into the gem. Seeker looks very satisfied as she looks down at the madly sparkling gem in her hands, for she knows she's succeeded.
The battle stops as the Avatar falls over, out of commission. Then, to avoid further mayhem, the Manimals surrender to the town guard, led by this world's very agitated Tarin (who's the Constable of Walants). Then, Duke Dredrick appears upon the scene (having received word via magic mirror about the danger to Astra 2 by word from Ethiopia) and gets the Manimals and the other adventurers inside, making it clear to town guard and Amazon contingent that further questions will be answered LATER, if ever.
Later, back in the residence of the dukes, Tarin and Master Rifts look sandbagged as the truth of the events that have been happening on Terra are told (withholding parts that neither lawyer or dwarf have any business knowing about...like personal relations and such...) because they've seen much, and to have any further cooperation from them...the truth was revealed. They finally are able to get their minds around it, and discussions then drift to why humans have such large families (larger resource basin caused by more children who reach adulthood to support oldsters when they can no longer work..a retirement strategy), and why even bother with marriage (dwarves do their duty by order of their Clan Leader, and the Clan raises the children..where humans do it to affirm their relationship to their gods and to settle inheritance issues) and such between Rifts and Tarin while Para-Astra proposes marriage to a stunned (but willing and happy) Fred 2.
Then we see just why Tarin was banished from his clan (same as the one from Fred 5's world: Second Sight). He goes off, screaming about visions of this and that. He mistakes the sudden arrival and appearance of Fred 4's group (foxes and demifoxes) as those who had killed his "brother" in another Vision. He Sees the whole of Castle D'Honaire (with residents and a party of Duke Zelar and men) land in the newly restored lands of what had been Aqualaria (the land outside looks alien..and familiar..lots of trees.no sign of civilization). Tarin saw a few other things, but the only thing that brought him out of it was his friends, Rift, slapping him.
Might have something to do with the heavy use of the five Crystallics.
Anyway, just after having brought the understandably confused people of Fred 4's group up to speed and THEN giving them hope that their demifox condition is curable with the exponential powers of FIVE Crystallics..the Amazons carry in the unconscious forms of Fred 5 and Astra 5!
The guards and the Amazons were trying to cover up any potential embarrassing situations with the forms of what looked like THEIR Tarin and their Lord Fred (either 1 or 2..they weren't sure) found naked and unconscious in a barn. Makes their leaders look bad. The unconscious black skinned woman was taken along for the Dukes to decide what to do with her (they were too low on the totem pole for making such unilateral decisions in such a situation..they feared what might come back at them if they made a unilateral decision). Okay, after yet another bout of confusion, the unconscious forms of the newest analogs are put to bed, and looked after.
The unconscious form of Tarin was taken to "his" residence, where he was to recover. The insane dwarf awoke, and slaughtered the well meaning guards with nearby weapons that his "brother" kept by his bed.
Oh, for the next part to make sense a flashback is needed.
Between the ticks of the clock and in the realm between realms (i.e. the place and time between Fred 5's group's departure via Crystallic and arrival in Terra Prime). A vacationing Rule (179) from the world nicknamed Rifts Earth, gets interested in the going ons of some teleportees..and awakens them from their slumber between realms. He sees the female human known as Astra awaken, and due to the nature of this Realm, unable to escape the realization that she couldn't go home! The short of it is that by custom and law of her Aqualria, she must join..for a time...a branch of the priesthood in order to be worthy of her high position in life. She chose the Daughters of the Huntress, worshipers of Diana (Roman goddess of the hunt and of the Moon...who has a thing about turning peeping toms who see her naked into stags...). The branch she chose would have been a permanent position, and the War Council would have decided the question of who would ascend the throne after her death. She hadn't been accepted yet (the hide of Minestus would have clinched her acceptance into the Sisterhood), but she had met the requirements ..until that night as a demifox and being mistaken for a Kitsune forever barred her from it (no non-virgins allowed..and the Elders of the Sisterhood had ways of telling). And since she couldn't go into another branch (she had committed herself by choosing the Sisters of the Huntress). Astra 5 DIDN'T have a future in Aqualria!
Astra 5 was feeling low, pitiful, and alone and sliding further and further down into oblivion when eight presence made themselves known to her. She gasped in shock and surprise as she felt her heart fill with love...love for her.
Seven of the presences had the feel of those newly minted, of innocence only found within the just born (or not even born yet..). Astra 5's seven unborn children, after seeking out and finding their father (who had discovered, through the nature of this Realm, that he'd fallen in love with Astra 5 somewhere along the lines) and sending waves of love and happiness at him, then rushed off (with Fred 5) to comfort their saddened mother. So, Astra 5 felt their uncompromising love, and felt her heart melt. She saw the naked soul of Fred 5, and saw it was wonderful. She saw that it was a noble soul, and that he loved her.
Astra 5 felt herself fall for her unborn children and Fred 5. After a tender moment, 179 brings Fred 5 and Astra 5 up to speed on the world they are headed to and the people (the other Freds and Astras). The children are left out of the loop, due to the adult nature of the discussion.
Finally, 179 breaks the bad news about the punishment that the Crystallic got for bending the rules the Rules had set down. See, the mad Tarin had demanded that "we" be teleported to Terra. The wording was sloppy and put the Crystallic in danger. See, it wasn't allowed to teleport itself and it's owner to other parallel worlds. If it tried, it would find itself in limbo..forever (as well as the owner). Through some fancy interpretations, it came to pass that the Crystallic was only teleporting itself (Fred 5 and the others who had drank the Crystallic had assimilated part of it..and thus got dragged along as the Crystallic transported itself). The Rules allowed it, but made sure that a punishment was put down so the other Crystallics out there don't get any funny ideas. Five hundred years of the Crystallic's memory were erased, permanently, as it appears next to it's two "brothers" in Inquirer's pouch. So, there was no way for Fred 5's group to return home, period!
After a stern lecture about talking about what's fair (it wasn't the Rules job to be fair..just keep the order), 179 told them to warn the others about the corrupt (insane) Tarin.
They woke, and did that. They also got married by Astra 2 (she can do that by her station as Duchess..).
There, they find they must wait until the mages recover after a few days from the repairing of Terra. Many are needed to work in concert to overcome the metaphysical interference of the lycanthropic Matrix shard that has warped Fred 4's group into demifoxes (see after 2 weeks, the level of interference gets too high for a mere one Crystallic to overcome..don't ask, it's a mage thing).
1/12/2000 3:27:47 AM
The Never Ending Quest Home
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