The Tail of Frederigo D'Honaire: As the Fur Flys
Well, things have come a long way since the last since the last summary, so let us get back up to speed!
We soon see, after leaving the scene of Zerm gloating over how any cure released by the Golems will prove only to be a temporary thing, we come to the Room with Fred and Astra 3. They are discussing their plans on what to do with themselves and their lives once the Phage is actually cured. Amazingly enough, Astra and Fred are tempted in staying here on Terra Prime, for they see that the surviving humans could use the skills that such as they could provide. Before going to bed, they wonder if the Alliance (the Golems) could perhaps, instead of transporting them back home, could pass a note to Fred 3's father, so that he would know (and perhaps understand) just why his son and daughter in law have gone and vanished from the face of that version of Terra.
We then switch to the sailing ship that holds Astra 1 within it's bowels. She has successfully negotiated a treaty of trade and mutual support between the Manimal Nation (who had hired her as their spokesperson/ambassador) and Aqualaria. She is sailing back with the crew of manimals from the Aqualarian island of Normandy, and was talking to her assistant, a manlion called Lynx, who had helped her frame the terms of the treaty. They talked about various things like how the manimals had at first frightened the locals, but had won them over when the manimals bent over backwards in helping the islanders get back on their feet. The talked about Lynx's choice of recreational reading (thick tomes of heavy subjects). Seems that with the lifting of the curse against a manimal reading and writing, their mind had become something akin to dry sponges....and the manimals found themselves fascinated with all things of the world of text. They had nearly mobbed the island book store the first day (at least nobody was hurt...and the funds that the manimals spent on books made the storeowner VERY happy!)
Then, Astra 1 makes a magic mirror call to the Pack Leader, Frederigo D'Honaire the manfox, and told him of the dealings with the Aqualarian Ambassador, Tilbert. She had been annoyed by the man, who seemed to resent the orders given to him by Queen Astra and was out to bend the treaty to something of his liking. Tilbert had been difficult, but found that Astra 1 was no pushover. Tilbert was disgruntled, but he finally agreed to the terms that Queen Astra and Fred the manfox had already agreed to in private. A meeting that should have only been decorative had turned into a long, drawn out session, and this annoyed Astra 1 and Fred (and it turns out it also angered Queen Astra....but more on that later).
Her job done, Astra 1 then tentatively broached the subject of Fred getting the mages to teleport her to see the new analogs (set 4 and set 5), as well....as her sister, Astra 1. It seemed that something was troubling her heart, and she kept awakening with a name on her lips. It was all very troubling, and she hoped that if she talked with her sister over the matter of Fred 1 and the children....that she could perhaps lay the issue to rest in her troubled heart.
Fred was able to do this, and we soon see Astra 1 talking with her sisters down in the treasure vaults of Ethiopia. They had been discussing things as names for Astra 5's children, and they had a chart showing what had already been used:
PARENTS ............... BOY NAMES...................... GIRL NAMES
Fred & Astra 1......................(1)Justin..................(4) Malachi (Mali)
Fred & Astra 2 .....................(1)Ronald........................(4) Judith
Fred & Astra 3.....................(1) Thomas....................(4) Elizabeth
Fred & Astra 4.....................(1) Thomas....................(4) Elizabeth
Fred & Astra 5............... As of yet, not born..............................
Sigin Vulpine& Rosepaw.........(1)Adriel........................(7)Angeni
........................................(4) Sahale........................(10) Migina
They also were discussing an alternate means of saving Astra 5's children from dying at birth (or Astra dying giving birth to SEVEN children). It was a suggesting by Inquirer, the female AI/golem. She suggested that the children be removed from Astra 5 by c-section and placed in the advanced version of Alliance incubators, machines that mimiced the enviroment of a human's womb much better than present 20th century machines. Astra 5 was still a bit nervous about it, but was also beginning to like the idea. The only other safe way of saving her and/or her unborn children would be for her and her unborn children to be: changed back into demifoxs, her pregnancy accelerated via Crystallic magic, have the kits delivered, and then have herself and her children changed BACK into normal humans! All god and well, except that: her Matrix had probably been strained and muddied to near the breaking point with the ham handed ministrations of their greedy lawyer, Rift. The mages COULD do all this safely, but the effort would put them down again for days as they recovered. Gods know how long it would be before the evil mage known as Zerm and his hench mages/ghost: Turoc Kith and the Dead Dr. Vincent! Also, there was the fact that the slipgates were still going to finally collapse and destroy the world if nothing was done! No adventurer was sure when THAT was going to happen (actually Zerm was planning on letting the adventurers fix the slipgates and THEN attack when their Crystallics turned themselves into useless hunks of glass with the destruction of the slipgates....leaving the adventures at a decided DISADVANTAGE....since the Crystallics at least gave them even footing with Zerm's magic).
That done, the others leave to let Astra 1 and Astra 2 speak together alone. And boy what a discussion they had!
The Astras talked, and Astra 2 revealed that she had been surprised at how Astra 1 had gone off and not even considered exploring a relationship between her Fred and her children. That hit Astra 1 like a blow. The reason why Astra 2 was surprised was that.....they were almost the same person up to a point. It was possible for Astra 1 to not fall in love with Fred 1 and infants, as Astra 2 had fallen for her Fred and babies. However, what actually happened was that Astra 2 had done the infants the courtesy of at least looking at them in the face before deciding what to do with them. Astra 1 hadn't done that. When Astra 2 looked into her children's eyes, she found her heart melting...and herself on a road that eventually lead to her falling for Fred 2 and finally becoming wife and mother to the brood. Astra 1's road to falling in love still happened, but it happened to take longer. Now, Astra 1 DID love Fred 1, but she was too proud to admit it even to herself, though she cried out at night for Fred and her children to come back to her. She might be able to lie to herself while awake, but in dream and sleep....nope! Astra 1 protested, silently afraid of what Astra 2 was saying was right, but all barriers to the truth broke down when she looked her children in the eye. They didn't laugh, coo, or do anything but look silently up at her....but Astra 1 sensed that despite all that had occurred....that they still loved her.
Astra 1 was aghast, and desperate. She panicked at what she had seen, but couldn't deny it. She even now saw that she was actually in love with Fred 1, who'd only been nothing but courteous and kind...even going out to find her and rescue her AGAIN after being swept away by an ill timed sneeze when their Dr. Vincent had been restoring Fred 1 back to normal (curing his scissor hand condition). Astra 2, seeing her sister in distress, came to her aid, and said that if she truly wanted Fred 1, she would have to go out and first ask humbly for Fred's hand in marriage from Duke Drederigo. And then, with permission given, using Norse tradition (the D'Honaires were sticklers for tradition and honor and that was a good way to butter them up)....asked Fred 1 for his hand in marriage. And so....
"You'll do it, for your in love, sister." Astra 1 says, looking into her sister's eyes. "Love is a rare, wonderful thing. To deny it for pride would mean you are suffering from FOOL's pride, and that's nothing to be proud of."
An hour later, a surprised Duke Dredrick is approached and asked for his son's (Fred 1's) hand in marriage. The elder Duke's heart had been softened by what he'd seen and heard of Astra 1's work on her mission of diplomacy, and saw that Astra 1 was worthy. Convincing his wife wasn't easy, but finally.....permission is given.
Fred 1 then is approached by Astra 1, who's dressed in the traditional clothing of a woman of Norse time. She then gets down on her knee and asks for Fred 1 to marry her.
Her delivery is perfect, and it cuts through any bad feelings that Fred 1 may have been harboring (not that there had been any). Fred cries as he accepts, and they both cry and hug each other.
Arrangements are made for a double wedding for Fred 1 and 2. Fred 1 and Astra 1 will be having a traditional Norse wedding. Fred 2 and Astra 2 will be having a traditional wedding of the religion of Aqualaria. Fred 2 will become a Thessamer while Astra 1 will become a D'Honaire.
They are wed the next day, and it's a question indeed to decide just WHO's happier in this wedding ceremony. Fred 1? Fred 2? Astra 1 or 2? Nobody can say, not even them.
After the ceremony, the newlyweds are dazzled by it all, but still are with the others enough to participate with an important meeting.
Probe and Inquirer revealed that they had found tow things in their quest for a Phage cure. One was a means to neutralize the deadly aspect of the Phage for Humans, still leaving it deadly to the Enemy. The other was the actual cure. The Golems wanted to keep the Phage around just a bit more before using the death ships that the Military would assemble and power with Terra's tiberium and smash the Enemy held worlds into rubble (by crashing into them at light speed)....just to twist the knife into the scaly SOBs a little more.
When the Phage was cured, the counter organisms that made the Phage safe for humans would still be around, able to counter any other Phages that happened to be floating around in other parallel universes....
With a LOT of persuasion, Probe is able to get a shuttlecraft to automatically land and deliver the incubators. The shuttlecrafts are expensive, and initially the High Command didn't want to lose one, for anything that lands on Terra Prime can't leave, due to the infectious nature of the Phage. Probe points out, with lots of force, that if the Military could have done something to save the lives of Astra 5...but DIDN'T than the relationship between the Military and Terra would suffer dearly! Also, the incubators are too advance to produce locally, even with Alliance help. Magically reproducing them via Crystallic was out. (Just telling it: "Produce seven incubators" would probably have produced the equivalent of a shrug of incomprehension.)
The AIs had to perform the operation on Astra 5 themselves, since no doctor from the Military felt like going down to Terra Prime (and risk the Phage). They were able to download the needed procedures electronically, and the operation was done.
Had it been a normal birth, Fred 5 would have wanted to be present. As it will be a Caesarian, he, Astra 5 and Probe all agree that it is better that he should not be. The operation goes smoothly, and soon the seven infants, weighing between one pound four ounces and one pound eight ounces, are safely in the incubators. Technology has moved on since the twentieth century, and these incubators mimic the womb far better than those of our own day. Thus the babies' chance of survival is excellent. Fortunately Astra has had a chance to "bond" with her babies in a very unusual manner before their birth , so her inability to hug or feed them until they are removed from the incubator some weeks hence will not be a problem.
Soon Fred is able to see his wife and babies. The combination of the Alliance's advanced technology, coupled with a bit of magic from Inquirer, will guarantee Astra's rapid healing. She shouldn't even be left with a scar. However, to her evident frustration, she will have to stay in bed for a day or two. The incubators are just across the room, so that she can see her babies at all times. Fred walks across and looks at them. His view is slightly obscured by the artificial amniotic fluid. He can see that the babies are tiny, red and wrinkled, though, and that they have artificial placentas plugged into their navels. Astra reassures him that, though tiny, they are all normal.
Once Probe and Inquirer have finished their medical duties, and ensured that Astra 5 will be properly looked after (the nurse being given strict instructions to make sure that her charge, headstrong like all the Astras, remains in bed for the time being), they join a council of war that is being held elsewhere in the palace. This has been called by Malachi Droconis. She knows that whilst the two ghosts should not prove a real threat, at least not away from their own homes, Zerm is a different matter. It may be necessary to take action against him whilst they still have the advantage given them by operational Crystallics, remembering that once the slipgate system is closed down that advantage may cease.
In spite of what was said earlier , Fred and Astra 4 fear that this could mean that their own business with the mages will have to wait.
Yet another meeting is called by the Regent, and we see Malachi Dronocis, dragoness of nearly 5,000 years.....horrified to find herself blushing in delight like a little schoolgirl when she and her love, Dragon Sigin look at each other.
"Let's..begin, shall we?" Probe coughs, pretending not to notice the little exchange.
Malachi, Regent of Ethiopia, notices that her sister and her husband: Malachi D'Honaire and Dragon Fred, give both a slight nod and an understanding smile.
She also sees Sigin Vulpine and Rosepaw smiling with a foxy, but sympathetic, smile. Of all those present, THEY would know the power of love has over her heart!
"I called this meeting to discuss a most disturbing turn of event that can be summed up in one word," Malachi begins, gathering herself. "Zerm."
A few heads nod, having already guessed the purpose of this meeting. This even includes the aged head of her mentor and presently head of the diplomatic team from the East, Sato.
"It almost seems like divine irony that an Atlantian would rise up after all these centuries," a small, white haired oriental man chuckle mirthlessly."Rise up to yet AGAIN threaten all."
"It has indeed, Sato-San." Malachi Dronocis says sadly, shaking her head. "Ironic that a member of the group that laid the groundwork for this entire tragedy would be here again, menacing us.."
It dealt with the origin of the web of power that the Council of Wyrms ruled through. The nation of dragons may have appeared invisible to outsiders, but it was ALL too evident and apparent to the dragon citizens within! Some reveled in it. Those few dragons like Malachi suffered silently within it, blocked in open methods and reduced to clandestine operations to further her beliefs...and desires.
It was now a well-known story, the strife between the nation that had called itself the "Elder Race" (or "Elder Races" for some reason) and non-humans. Seemingly overnight, a race of gifted human mages had appeared as if from thin air, and commenced to enslave the world. The threat had been so large and fierce that this had done something that had never been thought possible, it united the what had then been a wildly diverse and fiercely individualistic race known as "Dragons" Oriental, Occidental, strong, old, weak and strong! The dragons had joined together, in a pact of mutual defense...Protection. ONLY by the combined might brought about by such a pooling of mystical power and resources would the draconian race have any chance of survival as a free species. By garnering more and more treasure into their Hoards, the newly formed Council of Wyrms, a group dedicated to directing the defenses and resources (such as spell and power enhancer) of the dragon race in the best way possible, they hoped to be able to withstand the threat (and do more. eventually).
The dragons, scared of the threat the Atlantians represented, were thus ruthless in their actions. In those early days, all other races were seen as just a liability if the "noble" dragons tried to join with them in defense. Instead, the dragons took from the other races what they needed, by force if necessary! When the dwarves refused to freely give their treasure of gold and gems, the dragons took by force with such fierceness that the dwarven race was sent teetering to the brink of extinction. In any event, these and other acts of desperation broke the backs of many non-human nations, which is an irony. It made the task of conquest by the Atlantians that much easier.
These facts had been buried or forgotten by the other non-human races; forgotten either out of pride or out of the fact that there had been more of an emphasis on bare basic survival than recording events. Thank the Lord that none would believe the truth now (Tarin believed, but he knew better than to spread such an antagonizing truth amongst his people that he was trying to be a part of again). Why rock the boat?
Atlantis, instead of finding nations able to halfway defend themselves, found a land ripe for the picking, ready to be plucked of it's "potential slave/toys" assets. So--as was said before--this was ironic, for there was now little to slow the conquerors.
Nothing, nothing stood between the Atlantians and world conquest but an increasingly desperate draconian people and...the Altanian's malignant nature.
It was a delicious irony that the crowning tool that SHOULD have clinched victory for the Atlantians at the gifted (but evil) hand of Lord Tesla, should play in their downfall. Quickly, the drive of the invaders was halted as factions arose over just WHO should actually possess the powerful artifact known as the Crystallic.
The magic relic could have teleported vast Atlantian armies within the midst of the Dragon Council, killing them before the dragons were able to breath a blast of flame in feeble protection.
It should have been able, at the hands of the ungodly powerful and skilled Atlantians to transform huge numbers of draconic defenders into harmless animals before they got within even sight of the invaders.
Instead, it caused divisions within the evil nation. Measures had been taken to try to stem the tide of anarchy by scaring the subjects into compliance. Threats of releasing a horrible new curse called lycanthropy were made to dissidents. The threats were scoffed at, disbelieved. The threat of this new, powerful curse didn't work, for the dissidents finally made war upon the forces of Tesla. The curse was released, and thousands and thousands of rebels suddenly found themselves changing, some by the initial casting. Others changed by being infected and surviving attacks by former allies. They changed into werewolves and other lycanthropes. The new curse/disease was TOO powerful, though. The curse spread TOO quickly. Tesla was seeing his mighty empire, his plaything, being torn apart! In a fit of insane rage, the mighty mage initiated a series of signals that triggered massive earthquakes and flooding. Entire islands, including the capital island of Atlantis, disappeared under the waves.
Lord Tesla's body atomized under the stress of his final act of anger. The ravening monsters that had been men managed to escape the still intact capital city, and spread. Others, in an effort to save their wretched lives from the in-rushing waves, courted necromancy, and were transformed into the world's first vampires. These and other atrocities still plague Terra today; all could trace themselves to that fateful night.
The dragons were left standing, first stunned and then amused at the fate that had befallen their enemy. The vileness within the invaders had been the Atlantians' downfall!
It soon became a popular misconception amongst the dragons that this was the nature of all of mankind. It was thought that mankind would always self-destruct, due to the immature and violent nature within them.
Two schools of thought came about to prevent a threat like the Atlantians from ever arising again. Extermination was out of the question. There was the ethical question on such a vile act, so many dragons dismissed this thought. Others saw it as impossible, for the humans bred too fast for extermination to work.
Both sides were in agreement over one thing: they "knew" that humanity was NOT capable of nobility on its own, and was a decided threat if left unchecked.
Irony struck again, thousands of years later when Malachi would find that humanity was very well capable of being noble and good without draconian aid.
But that was now, this was then.
One school felt that humanity needed to be guided and taught, to be brought up to a level that would be the monsters the Atlantians had been. "would not be"? The thought that mankind could be domesticated and civilized. However some, while they professed this view, they saw humanity as just a gaggle of children, forever needing protection and guidance.
The other school felt that humanity was nothing but menace, and as such harsh measures should be taken in case it became clear that humanity was "getting too powerful." Some dragons even took a darker view than this. They reasoned that since Atlantis went and destroyed itself in such a childish and violent manner, that it was obvious that humanity as a species really wasn't very intelligent...little more than animals, actually. Animals to be used and abused as a dragon felt. Through long centuries, it became apparent that the Council harbored many of the latter school. Through the Council's influence and power, the second school of thought was put into positions of power and influence in the Occidental dragon people's society. Soon, the entire group was almost entirely of this school, evil and cruel. The Oriental dragons kept to the first school and resisted following their Western brothers into moral decline but, however, they still hoped to persuade the Council to the more benign view through peaceful means.
Small chance, it turned out. The majority of the Council had grown to love its power, and love the influence they had over the dragons of the West. They soon "outlawed" some techniques that would perhaps threaten their hold on their subjects. To put it in Probe's word's "The Council blew off the protests of the East." Thus it was. The Council had cemented their power base, until Minestus changed everything.
When Minestus contacted the Enemy, using the Crystallic that had been thought lost forever, he brought the proud nation of dragons crashing to the dirt!
"Perhaps we deserve Zerm," Sato says softly, haunted by memories."We Certainly deserved what the Alliance did to us."
See, Sato had been one of the original dragons that helped form the Council of Wyrms (which later turned into a disaster for all of dragonkind when they refused to even listen to an angry Alliance who warned them to "....cease their alliance with the Enemy...." And the Council even went so far as to destroy the Avatar envoy....setting the stage for their race's disaster).
Probe breaks in, violently protesting that the Dragons did NOT deserve what had befallen them. It had been a horrible mistake that will nev er be undone.
"Thus are the fortunes of war," Sato said softly. "I do not blame you for reacting as you did. The facts revealed to me and my...allies...have been most enlightening. If anyone is to be blamed for you being fooled by such a masterful stroke, it's the Enemy. BUT, it was the Council that sealed our fate. It was the Council that refused to even consider your just warning.
"I could have listened to the younger, but now apparently wiser, voices." the elder wyrm sighs, looking towards the Regent's new Vizier, Alicia 2. "We should have made a stand against the Council. We should have fought just as those wiser Occidental dragons did in YOUR universe! Thus dragon kind would have been spared such devastation when the Alliance saw us as what we actually were, not as the monolithic menace that the Council made us look like!"
"But that was just...an isolated incident! (re: 2745)" protested Alicia 2, befuddled. "Just two Oriental dragons attacking an evil Occidental dragon. There were no more events like that!"
"That you know of," Sato smiled softly. "See, that would have been a quiet affair, out of sight of most non-humans and humans. It would have been. Embarrassing otherwise..
"Sorry if that sound strange," Sato finishes. "It's just the way dragons would conduct business such as that."
Heads that belong to those of draconian origin (or were currently dragon) nod, as if that made perfect sense. The others just looked at each other, askance.
"Well, that aside," Probe said diplomatically. "The rest of the mages, I, and Inquirer have been having a bull session, a meeting to come up with ideas and share ideas." Sato looked like he was going to ask clarification to that odd phrase. "We finally came upon"
"Two methods of action which you hoped would work but would have failed miserably!" interrupted a deep male voice, laughing. Probe's Avatar freezes for a few seconds, while Probe himself feels a shock of recognition. He knew that voice. But it was impossible. Somebody was playing a VERY bad practical joke that he or she's were going to regret dearly!
The humans then jumped back in shock as a ghostly figure appeared, floating above the table. The ghost was of a beautiful woman with flowing red hair down to her rear, dressed in the arms and armor of an Aqualarian Amazon warrior. It looked to be a ghostly Princess Astra, but the only dead Astra they knew of.. The only Astra they knew of was down in a cryo-unit in the shuttlecraft. She had a look of peace and contentment, whoever she was.
"One is hypnotizing Dr. Vincent and seeing if he can remember some clue that he picked up from his ghostly brother," the ghost of the Astra-icle said softly. "Perhaps while using those funny hats that read some of your minds." "The other was to contact the golems of the Sueze Channel (re: 2118)" said another figure, appearing out of thin air. "Perhaps there had been an emergency feature that could have been used to teleport Zerm, a possible high up in Atlantian society, out of danger. Perhaps that could be used to yank him to you guys so you could kill him." Probe looked up and stares at the ghost of Ajax, a friend and fellow Unuit unit that had committed suicide upon learning that he'd been fooled by the Enemy into killing the almost all of the Dragons.
Probe saw the ghost of the machine, since he's an AI (not a golem like Inquirer is now). Probe did not see the other ghost, due to some ghostly law in the Afterlife about such things.
The humans (lycanthopic and otherwise) and those dragons who've been "contaminated" by humanity (i.e. too human by the defunct Council of Wyrms' standards) saw the ghostly Astra. The failed to notice Ajax. The Manimals, Sato, and Inquirer saw neither, and wondered what the heck was up with their friends. What were they staring at?! "Neither would have worked," the ghosts said in duet.
There was a babble of voices until the ghosts of Ajax and Astra the ice princess shouted for quiet. Dr. Vincent then had a brainstorm, and soon the mages were looking (and hearing) the ghosts by mage sight and spell.
"We don't have much time," Ajax said, smiling a slightly less than sane smile. "However, for a very short time, we bring to you the answer to your man-hunting needs!"
Ghostly Astra nudged Ajax, and the AI/ghost frowned, but then continued.
"Short of it is that, ironically, we find our villain and his ghostly buddies are back near the street corner in Atlantis the first few analogs and natives met. Third pyramid to the North. Can't miss it!"
"Yes, he's hiding in the LAST place you'd expect," the ghostly Astra-icle smiled down at the mirror with the startled looking image of Astra 1 inside.
1/12/2000 3:36:13 AM
The Never Ending Quest Home
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