She passes out to the sound of links of chainmail falling from the spot
she'd just occupied. She would awaken to find herself
suffering from several cracked ribs and a monster of a headache.
Right now, she's out for the count.
Head turn at a whining sound that is rapidly building in volume....
Zerm is still looking at, what my optics inform me from the edge of it's visual field, at Astra 2. I see that, he's getting ready to say something. Perhaps even a spell to finish off the sister to Queen Astra.
No. This will not be.
This would be Aryan must be brought to an end, and quickly before any of my friends have been by this slug of a man!
Within each base unit of the Inuit line, there is a bay for almost any type of component the unit feels is needed to carry out his or her mission.
I myself use a small pulse laser in there, just in case I ever get captured and boarded by Enemy scum. It can be used in it's deployed mode, or it's stored mode. With it deployed, I'd be able to have taken a few potshots at Zerm safely enough. However, I can't deploy the damn thing.
B plan, I guess.
The unit was also the electronic equivalent to a gun put in one's mouth and pulling the trigger. I mean, I could use it as a last resort to deny sensitive, vital information to the Enemy. I'd basically blow my electronic brain out with that pulse laser.
It was more of a ship to ship weapon than an anti-personnel weapon. The Alliance foot soldier preferred the more reliable plasma rifle to an equivalent laser rifle. Laser rifles had the bad grace to break at the wrong times. The mirror for the laser were a nightmare to do maintenance upon, and it's deadly beam could be blocked by chaff...even a heavy enough dust storm!
My laser drew enough power from my base unit's power source to be usable, unlike the equivalent plasma weapon or rail gun system. It could vaporize my higher functions easily, and continue out through my armored shell to hit whatever I darn well wished.
Besides, I notice that while plasma bolts and magical bolts don't penetrate this joker's shields, I can still see Zerm plain enough. Meaning, light gets through! Meaning that while it may defract the light, I have a special delivery for Zerm. I have an offer he's not going to refuse!
The charging capacitor whines up to a screeching banshee wail as I make a few minor adjustments to just WHERE the beam with splash out. Estimates show that this will still fry me, but ironically enough the I/O inerface will be be intact.
Not that it'll matter to me.
Malachi Dronocis, Regent Queen of Ethiopia:
I curse silently to myself as I view the horrible scene before me. Tears run down my scaley muzzle as I watched Probe sacrifice himself so the others could live! I'd felt it via the link we magic user had made to quickly gather everyone needed for the final safe destruction of the slipgate.
I had made all manner of preparation for this battle, ready to protect myself with every scrap of magical knowledge I'd learned since freeing myself from my egg, and I'd totally overlooked Probe!
Initially, I'd hated that Golem....hated them all.
He and his comrades had shaken my race to it's foundation.
Then I'd learned that it had all been due to a deception perpetrated by a race of alien reptilian men, the Enemy, were the actual cause for my race's near extinction.
Even more to my dismay, the Golems had even given what I'd only be able to term as a fair warning to the Council to disassociate themselves with the Enemy. The Council of Wyrms had reacted in typical manner, and had damned all of dragonkind in the process.
I still hadn't trusted Probe much when he'd joined us, but finally he and his companion, Probe, would prove to me and my draconian friends.....he was a person of trust and honor.
Hell, he was a friend! He even SAVED my lovely Sigin from death, as well as my friends (dragon and human). He'd saved my friends again and again.
I should have put a circle of protection around his base unit.
I cry as I watch, through the Crystallics, the others gather around the crater hole that had been their enemy, Zerm. I watch as several mages cry out as they realize what sacrifice Probe had made. I watch Astra 2 stir, and groans.
I then pause, confused, as Inquirer shouts something while pointing up at a panel that had popped open as that bolt of searing light had vaporized Zerm. I then see Inquirer pull out one of those sapphire that were bespelled in the same manner as the one that had entrapped her spirit within. Suddenly, my jaw drops open in amazement at what she does next!
She had taken that gem into battle on the off chance she could use it against Zerm. She still gets to use it as she climbs quickly up the statue and touches the gem to the still active I/O port on Probe's lobotomized base unit. People look slack jawed as the gem begins to glow and pulsate in a similar manner to Inquirer's gem.
See, though Inquirer's mind had been sucked into the gem and the magical crystalline matrix within mimicked every circuit of the old shell that had housed her conscious, the bottom line was it had sucked Inquirer's soul within the gem.....
As it did with Probe's spirit.
Probe has a bit of fun with Zerm's ghost before it is dragged down into the darkness, and soon finds himself within the magical gem...and then fused to his avatar body. Now he, like his "daughter" Inquirer, are literal golems.
The adventurers, since already at Atlantis, set up the Crystallic to destroy itself....and shut down the slipgate system. Inquirer sets the read/write CD player to go off in a moment, and teleports out. The gravity begins to fluctuate, but returns to normal when the slipgate system ceases to be. Atlantis is finally destroyed in the process of the slipgate system destroying itself, but Terra now is safe.
That done, the Military wastes no time on getting DOWN to Terra (since the Phage had been neautralized), and began to build the massive fleet of deathships (Slammers) that would reach out, and kill each and every last Enemy held world. In a war to the death, this was to be the final killing stroke.
Meanwhile, Probe, upon reflecting on all that had happened up to the time he got sucked into the gem, realizes that the Crystallics changed Astra 4 to her original state just PRIOR to her transformation into a demifox vixen. Synizn had altered her.....breast to be able to give off the milk needed to feed seven infants while she, Fred 4, and they were on their quest to destroy their Crystallic (to deny it's use to enemies). Short of it is that since alterations by Crystallic are almost impossible to alter without another Crystallic.....Astra 4 better like her figure. The embarrassed Probe was going to try to break this news easily to her, but she laughed and explained that she had already been informed about that....and was actually happy that she was human again....and besides....she looked quiet...stunning now (and having gotten a bra that Probe had given to Astra 3 made things....easier on her).
Meanwhile, various other plot elements are in the works.
There is the black griffin Zular, who finds he's increasingly divided between loving what he's become and loathing what he's become. IN an attempt at throwing himself to his to his death, griffin instinct prevails, and Zular finds himself flying. The adrenal rush and other chemicals that his the former dukes mind increase the division a thousand fold.
He hates this!
He loves this!
Half zonked out of his mind by the rush of flying, he comes across a funeral procession of griffin who were burying their recently departed griffin chief by dropping him into a sacred pond from on high (to symbolize one last blessed flight). The sight of a jet BLACK almost made them fall from the sky in shock....for that was a sign that the griffin race would be united by this figure and lead to greatness....to be equals amongst the other intelligent races.
Zular, sensing an opportunity, accepted. But, due to his mental struggle within....things got weird!
The Clan shaman had predicted, through his examination of the entrails of the largest stag of the forest, that soon the Clan would be blessed by a wondrous visitor who'd.....lead the Clan...the entire People of the Wing.....to their rightful place amongst the lands of Terra!
And the name of this gift from the gods is to be: Trilling Blackfeather!
Zular looks down at the rows upon rows of tan and red colored male and female griffins, who look back at him in something akin to worshipful awe. Through some quirk of fate, these.....creatures had come to HIM and BEGGED him to be their leader. To be their KING!
Well, actually these primitives had used the word: "Chief amongst chiefs" but the soft, sibilant tongue that the older....Shaman had used had translated to the same thing.
"Perrrrhapsssss I sssshould accccept," Zular thinks aloud to himself, in his honeland's tongue, wincing at the deep (but oddly pleasing) voice he now possessed. It was amazing that he could speak at all with the beak he now possessed, but Zular still felt a sense of loathing every time he spoke. He hated every rolled "r" and every hissed "s."
"What say you, Oh Chief of Chiefs?" the old, grey feathered shaman asks, ignorant, like most of his species, of all but the most basic terms of human language. The old male smiles inwardly, secretly congratulating himself on selecting the one before him! Truly, this black griffin was skilled in matters far beyond normal. Perhaps even to the point that rivaled the Chief of Chiefs before the Fall....thousands of years ago!
If nothing else, the fact that the black griffin had been able to somehow learn the flighty human's tongue.....was amazing (most had a disturbing tendency to either attack a griffin....or run screaming)! Curious but true!
"I said I accept," Zular lied, int the griffin tongue, instantly deciding that if he couldn't rule as a human, that this would do. If nothing else, he could use his position as a beginning for his revenge on his enemies!
A happy murmur passed throughout the crowd, and the Shaman and several assistants stepped forward to perform the Ceremony of Anointment. Several packs of dyes were brought forth, and Zular's knack for chemistry (from his dabbling in the art of poisoning), noted the property of some of them.
Ack, bitterroot stains! Zular mutters to himself as the Shaman lightly paints various eldritch symbols onto his feathery/furry black chest and fore and rear legs. Master Carisi warned that bitterroot was impossible to wash off the skin....it even stains down to the bone! I'll NEVER be rid of it!
Zular allowed the ceremony to continue, knowing that the signs "of the Clan" would forevermore be with him....for every new feather would be dyed anew by the berry stain that permeated every cell underneath the crimson/purple stain.
Zular allowed this, for though his heart was now a fusion of both avian and leonine, deep within it still was a deep greed for power. If he must be stained forevermore by this Shaman, then so be it!
Various leather straps and bangles are attacked onto Zular's forelegs/arms and wings. Some are adorn with shiny stones, others with intricate knotwork.
The trappings of power, Zular thinks drolly to himself.
The crowd of worshipful griffin, meanwhile, have taken up a soft chant as the full moon rises. The Shaman raises yet another pouch of crushed berries, and proceeds to paint various other parts of Zular's body! The black griffin is growing restless. However, Zular had enough sense to prevent his natural instinct to strike out at the odd Shaman.
He nearly laughs in scorn at some of the symbols he recognizes.
Why in the name of Hel is this fool making Irisn fertility symbol on.....? Zular thinks, looking down at himself. His eyes grow wide when the.....urgency hits him down there and spreads like wildfire throughout his entire being! It is like Zular has been hit by a bolt of lightning, so powerful is what he feels!
NO! Zular screams to himself, desire burning out of control within him.
The instincts are in control, and part of him rejoices at what he knows is to come.
The more human part of Zular is screaming.....
As similarly decorated red and tan griffin females, incredibly beautiful in the eyes of their fellow avian folk, lead a softly purring black griffin off to the Cave of Joining, the Shaman raises a clawed hand/talon to the rising Moon.
"Hear my cry...Oh Silvery Mistress!" the Shaman begs his godess as Luna shines down upon Terra. "Let Trilling Blackfeather's seed and blood strengthen my Clan...and strengthen the entirety of the Griffin Race!"
Under an experience that is beyond anything the evil duke had ever experienced as a human being (even more intense than his act of flying with his new wings), Zular's mind snaps! He can no longer reconcile his twin feelings of love and hate for what he has become. His mind shatters in twain. One part is his old personality, but this dark side sees his new form as a blessing from the gods....and his old human body as a horrible mistake! Now, he truly is what he was destined to be. The other side inherits the values and ethics that Zular knows of (if only to put on the proper show for the masses). This side is the polar opposite of Zular's old personality. It is generous, caring....heroic. It has no knowledge of his darker side, nor does the darker side know of his lighter side. Any inconsistencies in memory and actions will be explained away or written off as inspiration....or necessity.
But....with everything else on Terra....sometimes it's not as simple as it looks. There truly are TWO souls running around in the black griffin's skull!
Zular, no longer a duke...not a human....not even thinking of himself as named "Zular" (but by his new name), comes forth the next day with his new pair of wives.
It is the Light Trilling who addresses his Clan. Light Trilling has no memories of anything before awakening in the glen...earlier that day. Everything up to the point of last night was a foggy blur...confusing.....and unimportant. The Shaman had it right, he was a much needed leader, a divine gift from the gods. As a humble tool, he was obligated to carry out Their will in leading the Clans of the Griffin to greatness.
The Shaman pierces his right ear, as the final symbol of his binding of his body and soul to the Clan.
For a second, Dark Trilling Blackfeather is looking out at his followers, and congratulates himself on a masterful job of acting.... And all of this, and power!
Light Trilling reaches out and tenderly strokes the beak of Morning Song, who leans into it and gives off a rumbling sigh.....
Scene change, in the gossamer tail of Terra's Haley's comet.....An urgent Enemy burst transmission is being received from somewhere in the vicinity of the Moon's orbit.....
The burst is from a robotic spy that has spotted the massive buildup of Alliance assets on the face of Terra. The Enemy figures out that somehow the Phage has been neutralized, and the final countdown has begun. The Enemy fleet, hidden in Halley's comet's tail (so as to better hide in the special scanner fuzzing properties of it), must strike and strike now if heir race is to survive.
However, the way they had to get into the comet's tail without the Military detected them had been delicate....and difficult. Part of it entailed that the main reactors being shut off, so as not to leave a tell tail signature. It would take hours for the reactors to warm up for use. That's when the Alliance fleet, warned by the ghostly Ajax, struck.
One, the Fleet commander of the Enemy forces, knew that all was lost, but would be damned if he didn't' give a good final accounting for himself and the People! Thus began a short but fierce battle within the confines of the comet's tail. The Enemy ships were sitting ducks, but could still send out salvo after salvo of nuclear missiles and such back at the Alliance ships. Several idiots down in the engine room of some Enemy ships tried to jumpstart their reactors, and blew themselves and ship to blazes.
That, and ripping brief holes in space/time...and drawing forth a desperate small ship of combined human and furries. This ship was called the Voyager, a noble ship who's history is too long to go into here.
The transision should have torn the ship apart, but the special nature of one Ensign Chen prevented that (but draining him of all his strange attributes.....not that he minded). It did leave the Voyager damaged and the crew unconscious as they floated in the middle of the battle.
Evis 7, Probe's second in command, and her family of AIs had to tractor beam the ship the heck out of their, and down to Terra (the nearest repair facilty). The AIs had wanted to watch the final destruction of the hated Enemy, but their sense of decency prevented the Voyager from being destroyed.
Repairs were made, and nerves rubbed the wrong way. The Federation were aghast at the Military's plans at killing each and every last Enemy, and protested that there was a better way than genocide. However, protests that the Enemy had it coming....and all other means had failed fell upon deaf ears. Several other incidents happened to totally ruin good relations with the Voyager and the Military...climaxing with the antics of this one....well meaning but naïve crewmember.....
Human Ensign Solomon was bored to tears.
There was much work still to do on the Voyager, but it was mostly small stuff.
Besides, he almost could cut the tension in Engineering every time an Alliance goon comes in there.
It had started when Probe, that....android?.....cyborg?....., had taken one look at the schematics of the warpcore, and had nearly had a conniption. Something to do with Tarin's Prophecy...and how the Company had basically scr.....ah.....done the Military wrong by holding back a power source free from the shackles of Tiberium.
It has something all to do with the "lifeblood" of their war effort.
Strange guys, these Alliance folk.
At least they know how to throw a good party! And this is the best synthahol whiskey I've ever tasted. Good party I've crashed...actually. Hope the Captain doesn't' find out.
Good thing I can dismiss the effects of this stuff with a mental effort. Right now, it's too fun to dismiss!
It's almost tastes like what the real stuff would taste like, I imagine.
"Sho...What's upa with da electronic girlfriend?" I ask. "Gotta prob with real girls....gotta try the sytheti....the fake wones? He-he..."
The young man I had been ribbing was named Bishop. His "date" glares down at me from the holoemitter above me as Bishop growls. He was supposed to be a pretty good guy, decent and all. Next thing I know is that he's got his hands around my throat, strangling the @#!$& out of me! His friends drag him off me, and take him to a corner to calm down. Hey, it was only a harmless joke. I made a few others like it, and nobody jumped me for it like HE did!
The room goes quiet as the resident cynic and ship doctor of some scout ship that had first "discovered" Terra (hah....as if it was lost to the natives!) takes me by the shoulders and starts to steer me out the door. I don't want to go, and start to shove him off. Lt. Bristol, nicknamed Paladin, sighs and somehow puts me into some type of karate hold, because I find myself on the floor...then being crabwalked out the door!
I shake my head, trying to clear it so I can whip this SOB.
Wha..? It...didn't work?
"Thasth...stuff was.....real...alkiholic?" I slur drunkenly. Good merciful Powers above, I'm actually drunk on alcohol!
"Yes, you sorry sack of....," Erin Bristol begins, and then calms down before continuing.
"Yes, you are VERY drunk, Ensign." Lt. Bristol says in a calmer, more normal voice. "And I think you'll be going home now..... Eh, you've never actually touched whiskey before? I thought by the way you went at it and all...."
"No....drink Synthahol....from the Ferengi, can't be drunk on stuff," I slur, slowly realizing that I'm going to be suffering...a hangover....soon!
"Fereng....the same mysterious race that had crashed out in Roswell so long ago," Bristol says, suddenly nodding. "The one's who had somehow accidentally gotten teleported SIDEWAYS in time when their cargo had some sort of accident with their warp engines....."
The truth of the Alliance leap in technology (to something disturbingly on par with us) was familiar to me, now. I see the wheels turn in Bristol's mind. The story was now the stuff of legend back home (though until NOW the Alliance had no real clue as to who the "Greys" had been). The ship had crashed, and the aliens had suffered grievous injuries. Their trip from universe to universe had been lethal, ultimately. Some of the aliens had looked like what you'd find in what Bristol had seen on the remake of Star Trek I, where there had been a horrible transporter accident (and the teleportee's mangled body had been shown....after it had been snatched back too late to save the poor SOB). Parts of the ship had been left behind, but enough had been left to where those geniuses back at Area 51 had reverse engineered what was left....and mated it to the Tiberium atomic reactor....that mankind had already set up a fledgling Alliance before the Enemy had......
Bristol shakes his head, dismissing the past as past.
"Look, I'll cut you some slack for being drunk...since you didn't set out to be that," the Alliance doctor sighs. "Just don't go around insulting Queen Astra's sisters. Minestus was an evil fiend that had not a trace of decency for putting her into a body that was controlled by instinct. It wasn't nice, but....it's life here on Terra. The demifoxs up in Walants, away from Ethiopia, have herbs to control those urges in both males and females....but that is something that was in Walants....not there in the Fox Forest. People were giving you not so subtle hints to shut up. Then you make fun of my friend's choice of life loves.
"The war has been hell on us, Solomon." Bristol says softly. "We take love in who we can...for we are human. We are more accepting of artificial life forms than you...DON'T protest....I've seen the log entries of what you guys thought of your Doctor when he was first turned on. He may have been abrasive, but he's still a person. You shouldn't have even considered reprogramming him, in the beginning.
Great, I'm being lectured to in tolerance by a guy who's part of a group bent on genocide, I grump to myself. By a friendly fascist...sheesh.
"One....last thing," Bristol says, with an edge. "You got off lucky with Bishop. He has the same stuff as I do...you know."
"Thes...broken downy hideout weaps?" I slur derisively. I blink as claws pop out of the fingernails of Bristol's left hand. He grabs me and holds one just...below the left ear....near the carotid artery.
"No....he's got rippers," Bristol says in a low, mean voice. His voice grows guttural (didn't somebody say he had been in a streetgang or somesuch as....a razor guy?) "We...hava long time togetta....blood brotha from da street...ya dig....Jafo?"
"We join up to...improve our lot in life," Dr. Bristol says, cleaning up his accent to something acceptable in the King's English (funny how Anglish is more Germanic than anything else on....Terra). "We both went through reconstruction together...upgrading our cybergear....from the street trash brand to something that doesn't cause us to be so.....crazy. Cyber-psychosis is a....B**ch."
"Right," I squeak, frightened.
"Now, get back to your starship with it's wonderful stuff," Bristol smiles, removing his claws from my neck. "And after you get over your hangover in the morning...if your Doctor doesn't have anything for it....fall to your knees and thank your god that you have it so well. Remember us Alliance slubs....when you complain about how rough it was...Now beat it."
I run. They told me that the Alliance folk and we were incompatible....told me!
I'll listen next time!
Bristol told me about how he handled Ensign Solomon (the human one). That Voyager has a human analog for every furry crew member in there.....
What happens next was told to me by.....Sigin and Rosepaw. This is another reason WHY we wanted the Voyager guys in their ship...and not about the countryside.
It was for their own protection. They nearly had lost crewmembers from past mystical encounters with Terran natives......
The Miltary might lean...to the Right quiet a bit....but the drunken Ensign was not correct about them being fascists. True fascists would have been MUCH harder on the Voyager's crew.
Just....trust me on that.
Our Ensign Solomon was batting a thousand that night. And his luck, already gone sour....went to Hades when his drunken path lead him across the path of Sigin Vulpine's brood.
Sigin had led his kit's, along with his mate, out for a late night stroll (yeah....he's more of a night person now...due to him being part fox and all....)
Solomon ran right through the pack, and tripped on the little female kit, Nita. She yelped, and then she and her brothers and sisters turned their anger upon....Solomon.
The bites weren't life threatening, nor too....many as their frightened parents saw as they pulled their children off the drunken Federation Ensign....but....
He had been bitten.. .by lycanthropes. Worse, of the breed that had an even more likely to....set in...than the old style. With a regular lycanthrope....the odds of infection are....oh....30 percent.....incubation done in a month (i.e. a full blown lycanthrope at the end of the month). With a demi-fox, the incubation time is a bit shorter, with something like an....85 percent chance (I hear that the manimal strain of lycanthropy....before Fred came around...was almost instantaneous with a 98 percent chance of infection.....bleh...).
Uh....let's put it this way.....
The demifox clan up in Walants is going....to get a new member.....real soon here.
Janeway hit the roof. I don't blame her. However, we can't help poor Human (for the time being) Ensign Solomon. The only cure we had were the Crystallics. The Doctor....the entirety of Federation Science can't stop the demifox lycanthropy from having it's way with Solomon.
If they take Solomon with them, the changes that have already been wrought on him (small seeming that it seems)....will kill him. His Matrix is in a state of flux...that would shatter....leaving him dead.
The Federation has no knowledge with magic. It's driving them nuts. I feel for them. Creator, I do!
If he's going to live in anything like a normal life, he's stuck on Terra. Even if the Voyager let his Matrix get to a point were he could live in a magicless universe....it wouldn't be much of a life. He'd be stuck in the form of a small demifox, with no immune system to speak of...nor anything in the way of being able to recover from even the smallest of injuries.
See, even the cutting edge of Federation technology has to have SOME type of regenerative powers within the body. All lycanthropes have incredible regenerative abilities, but it's all MAGICAL! All magic, and nothing else.
We launched every last death ship...every last "Slammer." Every last Lizard/Enemy/Race held world....in all known universes....have been shattered to rubble by ships ramming into them at light speed. Anything left over of the Enemy is....small fry now (if it hasn't collapsed with the death of their infrastructure....destroying planets can do that).
So, the Alliance has won the Enemy/Alliance war, but problems and challenges still abound. Our worst fears about the Corporation have been confirmed while all this was happening. They have held back the secrets of the antimatter drive, and had been in the process of building a large fleet of starships. We just left one war, and now have another one....a Civil War. The Fleet is boosting off to war.....again.
We have our planetary defenses, and a crew manning them, but they won't be able to help the locals with domestic problems....
Locally, the Regent has just ended a week long mourning ritual for those lost in battle with Zerm AND the loss of Sato. I and my father (now both....civilians....now that's a WEIRD thing to be), have been invited to a combined ritual of marriage and Dragon Sigin joining his Hoard with the coins of Ethiopia.
Fred and Astra 3 through 5 must decide just where in Aqualaria they're going to go. Probe now has the somewhat funny problem of having two dragon mages (Dragon Sigin and Dragon Synizn) having sworn fealty to him (considering the background of an AI still being considered property by the Company...and only through the demands of the Military are AIs given equality....one can see why he doesn't exactly like this situation).
And there's the notion that the Malachi sisters have fallen in love with....
I did have to tell them about the United Nations back Home....when it was a going concern......!
Janeway and the Voyager are gone, being "escorted" to something called "the Guardian of Forever."
We never have been able to get those damn things to even talk with us. They probably know that we'd use them in a heartbeat to change history for the better! And I think those...Rules....have something to do with them being quiet.
But that's not my problem right now. I can only handle my own, pray to the Creator of the Grand Simulation for Him to aid his Constructs for other people's problems.
1/12/2000 3:47:52 AM
The Never Ending Quest Home
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