Sometimes you can "Change the rules" to win....but sometimes you still lose.....
Thus, the Voyager found itself...back in the Delta Quadrant. The Military planned on letting a few facts that would be sent the Voyager's way to "get their heads out of their A**es", combined with a little time to digest it all, before finally following the ship out to their universe....bringing them BACK to Terran space....and then putting them back in their precious ALPHA Quadrant.
As I said, the Military may be hard sometimes, but they aren't heartless.
Meanwhile, down on the world of Terra....
Meanwhile, Probe and Inquirer are playing bus drivers with the shuttlecraft as they quickly ferry various groups of adventurers hither and yon before the Top Brass remembers that there are two shutlecraft down here on Terra that could be useful to the Fleet. Probe is taking Fred 3's group up to Aqualaria to set up a wagon train for settlers into what had been Allaria (prime real estate, with the repair by the Crystallics). The Ai/golem finds that he must land the shuttle due to malfunctions, and finds the route for the failed computer attack by Human and Furry Ensign Solomons....and is thankful that the diddled computers to the shuttlecraft didn't blow them all to kingdom come! Upon hearing what happened, all agree it is time show a rather new demifox....the facts!
At least Probe and his family had been able to prove to the enraged Military command that Solomon had been working alone, unauthorized AND that the proposed method of....punishment....would be suitable.
Sure beat executing the entire Voyager crew and such, as the angry Captain Sterndeck felt like doing....initially.
Ensign Edward Solomon absently stroked his new fox tail as he looked over the strange equations written out on the chalkboard in front of him.
He was totally out to sea in amazement. He had seen much evidence that the local natural development of this parallel world had been seriously compromised by the Outsiders....but even IF the Alliance had somehow given this....Sigin Vulpine.....the secrets of advanced quantum physics.....
"I don't have a clue how he had come up with this!" Solomon mutters to himself as he traced the equation to it's logical....but brilliant conclusion. He understood what it said, but he was at a lose at just HOW this small....local had come upon it.
Hell, this answered some of Solomon's more vexing questions about the nature of subspace.....
They had said that mages here were able to manipulate the magical ether (at least up until....some type of magical transportation system collapsed) to look into other worlds. He hadn't figured what that exactly entailed until...now!
"Mother of God," Solomon swears quietly to himself.
"More like Mother Tiamat.....if I was in the habit of taking a divine beings name in vain," another young seeming voice says behind the new demifox. "I trust, however, that you DON'T do that anywhere near where I'm standing.....I'd rather NOT be struck by lightning!"
Solomon turns in surprise, his fox ears erect in surprise! He hadn't even heard the other demifox enter the room!
Solomon noted that the demifox mage has a look upon his face that was halfway serious....halfway joking. Given the strange nature of this world....where magic existed.....perhaps Solomon SHOULD watch his language?
"I trust you've gotten used to your new body?" Sigin continues, breaking into a smile. "I trust that that wolfbane extract was palpable enough. Goodness knows, even neutralizing my sense of smell.....I was hard pressed in handling that vile stuff!"
"Uh....it...did the trick, sir," Solomon demurrers, glad that the uncomfortable process of...mutation....had been sped up to an eye blink with the thick drink he had forced down his throat. He'd rather havr been cured, but the slow process that he had been going through in his metamorphosis.....bleh!
"Sir, I was curious....why did you want to see me?" Solomon asks, curious. "And....how did you....do that?"
Sigin nods, smiling.
"Actually, that has something to do with what I wanted to talk with you about," the demifox mage says. "I was hoping that my little theorem would intrigue you. I was hoping that....you might be interested in a position with me....working in that line of work. I can guarantee...you'll learn that and much MORE....with me. Interested?"
"Hey," sighs Solomon. "With the alternative is a dull and Spartan existence in that demifox settlement up near that strange town...... Where do I sign up?"
"Here, but I'd....." Sigin begins to say as he, with a flourish, produces a vellum scroll and a prosaic fountain pen from the sleeves. Solomon, an eyebrow raised in surprise up towards the mop of reddish hair he now is.....blessed with....nods and quickly signs the dotted line.
Solomon has time enough to note with surprise how....red the ink is from the pen he used....when he doubles over in surprise as something seems to sweep throughout his entire being.
"Apprentice," Sigin sighs as he rolls up the compact that the naïve ensign had signed. "First lesson you'd better learn real quickly is to READ something before you sign it....and just WHAT the 'ink' actually is!"
Solomon begins to pant as his heart races like a racehorse. A dire need has taken a hold of him....and it's building to painful proportions.
"You signed this compact in YOUR own blood, fool!" Sigin says in a stern voice as he holds up the modified pen that Solomon had used. "Be thankful that I didn't make the compact to where you'd be my slave, forevermore!"
And I am half way tempted...when I remember how you hurt my daughter! Sigin Vulpine thinks fiercely to himelf. But...hey...I'm a good fellow...and you were stupid....but drunk....
"Why?" Solomon gasps, feeling like his blood was afire.
"For various reason," Sigin sighs, leaning on his mage staff as his apprentice shivers on the floor. "It's the same method MY teacher used on me, and it's the same method for you. It concentrates your mind on the task at hand. And believe me, when you learn the ways of magic as I learned as a dragon-something that until now was only open to dragon and no other races-you'd better LEARN the right way. Learning to channel the mystical energy yourself, without aid of crutches like staff or magical components....will be deadly to those who are half assed in learning! Indeed, to be able to learn properly, my apprentice, you'll need to learn to do the advanced math almost instantly....without abacus or.....computer. Learn you will....for you'll be my apprentice for ten years at least...perhaps more.... You'll stay this way until I think your worthy of a true mage's robes! What you feel is a need to learn...a craving that is almost a physical pain. It's somewhat drastic, but....needed.
"Also," Sigin says in a sad voice. "What the Alliance wanted to do to you and your brother for what you tried....especially when you consider what you're about to see....."
"Cardassian Lover!" shouts Solomon weakly from the ground, trying futilely to grab at Sigin. "The Alliance is nothing more than yet another military coup who have the same dreams of Empire and conquest....all for the name of the people but.....at others expense!"
Indeed, there had been dangerous rumblings amongst the crew that the Voyager should somehow do SOMETHING about the Slammer ships. The Janeways (vixen morph and human) had squashed that talk, and had instead pointed out that the Voyager was in NO shape to dictate terms. She had instead tried to....convince Sterndeck the errors of his ways.
That hadn't worked, and finally in frustration, the crew watched on in silent horror as wave after wave of automated ship rose from the Ethiopian desert floor....and flew off to destroy worlds.
At least HE and his BROTHER (a raccoon morph) had tried to stop the evil....
With that thought, the donated memories from Dr. Vincent floods into Ensign Edward Solomon's mind. He gasps in mute horror as the Lizard operative, 510, exults over the role he had played in aiming the piece of space rock on a fatal collision course with Mirror 359 (one of many parallel worlds the Enemy and the Alliance fought over...in this case the Alliance had been able to repel the Enemy....but had lost so many personnel that....the asteroid was unstoppable......). It had been done purely out of spite by the Enemy, to punish the upstart non-People for daring to win against those who had souls. He writhed in anger as he watched the Phantom operative shrugged in apathy as he watched row after row of beggars try to receive something from him....as he drove by in his hover vehicle. He watched in mute horror as the entirety of what life was like for those not under the protective wing of the Company.....or the relative benevolent atmosphere provided by the Military. He watched as again and again, Agent Samual Dens laughed as yet another futile effort by the Military drones failed to make it to the Company owned government officials. Solomon began to see....the fanatical views that the Military had was something of....well....an allergic reaction to the injustice and depravity they saw back home.
Now, Solomon had a much deeper understanding of what the environment of a cyberpunk novel REALLY entailed. The Military had initially attracted those who desired revenge upon the Enemy (and seeing that in the first few days of the Alliance/Enemy war....the surprise attack had reduced...from the initial count of 10 billion people for each of the eighteen Home Earths......somewhere between ten percent to....fifty percent....) The Military swelled to huge proportions in the early days. As the surviving combat groups (that is....groups of fighting warriors who had survived from destroyed...traditional combat units....but were thrown together into something of an ad hoc combat team) were eaten up by further conflicts....the Military continued to be fed by those who.... The "low life" who wanted to belong to something bigger than themselves and their small gangs....joined and were pleasantly to find....that at least the Military believed in the phrase "we take care of our own." Before.....beyond a few trusted comrades on the streets....one couldn't trust anyone!
Solomon ground his teeth in anger as, in the alien memories, Agent Dens laughed at such foolishness...
"I'm glad they HUNG you, you bastard," Solomon whispers fiercly, remembering what had only appeared to be yet another brutal killing by the Alliance....
Solomon then made a retching sound and proceeded to be violently ill as memories of what the Enemy operative had....before he had visited his Phantom friends.
"Oh...God!" he groans, and heaves up his breakfast all over his brown jerkin and pants.
He had actually wanted to.....help these bastards?! What in God's name had he almost unleashed upon...everyone?!
Yep, the magically donated memories from Dr. Vincent - from what he saw when the ghostly Dr. Vincent magically scanned his unconscious "guests'" minds, sure didn't agree with his little demifox tummy.
"Ah....now you see," Sigin sighs, looking down sadly at his young charge.
"It...can't be," Solomon whispers hoarsely, horrified by it all. "I....can't...."
"Ah, still a bit of healthy skepticism?" Sigin nods. "Well, tell you what....."
Solomon feels something like a weight lift from his shoulders as he hears the tearing of vellum behind him. He sighs as the....need....leaves him.
"I release you from the your foolishness," the demifox mage smiles down at the confused looking ensign. "See, this whole exercise was to.....open you up to the truth. Don't take my word for it, and don't expect me to FORCE you to believe....though with that compact...I could well have done it!
"Go out....do research," Sigin Vulpine smiles as he magically cleans the mess that Solomon had made of himself. "Do remember....don't jump to conclusions. This exercise should teach you....to be wary of preconceptions."
"You'll see....that the Golems aren't quiet the way they appear at first blush," the mage says. "If you feel like actually being my apprentice....the offer stands...with only a handshake instead of a magical compact!"
"And please don't try to hack into our net again," Inquirer says, coming in for her daily magical lessons. "The shuttle Probe and my friends were on.....the one who's computers you used to hack into our computer systems....nearly destroyed itself!"
"You....didn't try anything else in the way of cyber vandalism...in any other ships....like the OTHER shuttle?" the female AI/golem asks suddenly.
"No....you and your AI buddies made it abundantly clear....that any further attempts like that....would be futile!" the demifox Star Fleeter says in a droll voice.
Stress scans, of the magical and scientific kind, of Solomon reveals total...honesty.
"Resistence is futile." Inquirer says in an eerie imitation of the Borg, making Solomon's fox tail stand up on end in fright. Inquirer smiles, and then nods down at Solomon.
"Well, let's hope we never need to meet the Borg!" she chuckles. "It would be...a most....challenging encounter."
"Borg"....it DOES sound Swedish, Inquirer chuckles to herself.
"AS for the rest of the Military....well," the female golem/AI chuckles, and then says in a deep, resonant voice (shades of Darth Vader from Star Wars). ".....they'd find that those like Sterndeck.....aren't as forgiving as I...."
Meanwhile, after Probe is given an account with the session with the demifox Federation member, he makes one last adjustment to the ship....and they're off again!
The four Helenas are revived and given the job of amabassador to some non-humans who they were familiar with. Others are given the post of ambassador to Ethiopia or the Manimals (since Astra 1 was more interest in the job of mother and wife now...). Helena 3 is flown out by shuttle craft to become the ambassador to the recently united tribes of griffin (under Trilling Blackfeather's rule).
Fred 4's group is also flown back to Aqualaria to colonize yet another part of what had been Allaria.
Dragon Fred and Malachi D'Honaire become the Ethopian amabassadors to the Oriental dragons.
Everything looks like it's finally falling in place, and Terra can finally rest...however.....
Helena 3 can detect auras and sees the duality within the noble black griffin. She's never seen such before, and doesn't know what to make of it. How can an aura indicate both extreme good AND extreme evil. Puzzled, she initially puts it down to the different nature of griffins. Her experience with this stuff is with humans, after all. Later, she sees tha'ts not the case, but still is a loss when she tells her sister what she's seen when she and the griffin fly on down to the Manimal nation for a diplomatic visit.
Upon hearing what Probe and Inquirer ACTUALLY are, Dark Trilling mentally talks himself into not bothering with revenge upon them. After all, he even did him a favor by killing Zerm and the other mages. Besides, he has not even clue ONE on how to kill a golem without magic. He'd had quiet enough of the stuff, and only would use it at need, through the old Shaman. He instead turned his dark mind to the task of eventually killing the other adventurers (without being caught....of course).
Light Trilling and Dark Trilling, not aware of the other within their griffin body.....is being shown around town by the Pack Leader, Frederigo D'Honaire.
Meanwhile, sometime during all this, we see dark clouds gathering.....
Lord Sithe, leader of the Orcs, has found out about the human's newest weapons the hard way...and barely survived being shot. He soon finds it necessary to ally himself with yet another race who have....little love for humans. He allies himself with a very hateful of human dwarven tribe, and plans are made to capture and reproduce handguns. They even have this new bulletproof set of armor. But not known to these monsters, the humans have come up with heavier bullets for "rifles" and a new type of bullet called magnums. And let us not forget the gattler gun....a 19th century, hand cranked machine gun (known as a gattling gun back on Earth during the Civil War in the United States).
We also see that Evis 7 was able to deliver her message from Fred 3 to Fred's father without being caught (leading to lots of needless questions....easier to just drop the note and go).
We see that Fred 5 and Astra 5 have decided to just stay in Aqualaria and help a local castle get back on it's feet (what with the local lord dead....the peasants could use a helping hand and a new lord and lady).
Some disease had seriously weakened the human's numbers, the scryings had said..... Slithe sat upon his heavy mount, smiling at pleasant thoughts of blood and guts when.....
He starts, and is about to ask his aid what that was when a chorus of explosions similar to the last....mixed in with surprisingly high pitched (for an orc) screams of terror, come from up ahead. Dozens of warriors come streaming past him, running for all they are worth....followed by dozens of male and female humans carrying some odd type weapons.
He begins to shout to his retreating male and female orcs to stand their grounds to these weakling humans, when a raven haired female human stops and points one of those strange devices at him!
It seems to flash, and suddenly the Orcen lord feels like someone had driven a fist into his stomach. He looks down and sees....green blood....and then he feels the beginning of agony.....
He croaks out an order to retreat, and spends the next week recovering and listening to grim reports of similar incidents happening to other raiding parties.
"Perhaps....we need to go back to alliance with less.....savory humans?" Slithe asks himself before falling asleep.
See, with the destruction of the slipgates, the orcen magi couldn't reach their dark world any more. This had put a serious crimp in Sithe's plans of vengence upon the Prey who'd driven them off Terra centuries ago. He had enough supplies and people to set up something decent, but with this new twist......drastic measures were needed.
Later that week, at a what will be a wedding (and much more)
"Can't really blame Fred and Astra 5 for not wanting to join in on the colonizing fun," Probe whispers to Dragon Synizn (in man form). "After all, not all land to be had is back in what used to be Allaria! There are dozens of keeps and such that are just begging for Fred and Astra to whip back into shape...what with the death of their previous landlords and such."
"True enough," the dragon mage says quietly, nodding, then thinking of something else. "Sire, by any chance were you able to relay the message from Fred 3 to his father?"
Fred 3's mother had died years ago.....
"Mother, Evis 7, was able to sneak her Avatar into his bedroom," Inquirer says softly, smiling as the bride and groom begin to walk down the aisle together. "She left the note on his bed and left without detection..... Better that way....that kind of delivery....fewer questions to answer."
"True," Probe sighs softly. He sighs partly out of frustration of not being able to do it himself. At least he had been able to send a "nasty gram" (he had a bone to pick with Typhoon Janeway!) along with the rest of communications that the surviving Human Ensign Solomon (from yet another alternate Voyager...re: 5796 and 5797). He sighs partly out of reluctantly accepting what the soon to be Consort to the Regent of Ethiopia insisted on adding to this already busy set of ceremonies. "And please....just Probe?"
Bad enough that they're making me a count here down in Ethiopia, Probe thinks to himself. However, I'm not going to accept being called by titles UNTIL I have to!
He pretended not to notice his daughter smiling in slight amusement. She knew why exactly Probe was uncomfortable about the whole deal....but since this whole deal wasn't actually like what had almost happened with him being nothing more than property to the Company....
"Here we go," Dragon Synizn mutters as the music begins....
Dragon Sigin, in human form and dressed in his best outfit, fidgets.
Malachi, also in human form and dressed in the splendor of state of Regent of Ethiopia, reaches out and brushes Sigins hand lightly, sending a jolt of pleasure through both him and her.
It's not that he's nervous about being wed, for when Eye met Eye his heart was forevermore bound to Malachi's Dronocis' heart. It's the...anticipation....of what is to come later on tonight that speed's his draconian heart and makes his blood sing within his veins!
I look forward to tonight as well, love, Malachi says telepathically to Sigin, causing the younger dragon to shiver in delight. But there are ceremonies to be observed, both in our new Faith and in the eyes of the humans who asked me to rule them.....
And I thank God for all of this, Sigin says right back to Malachi, with the deepest of sincerity. It's still....hard....to wait. Heh, I never thought that something like days could seem so long, considering that dragons can live for centuries.....for thousands of years!.....but.....We all have changed, and it's not finished yet!
The whole of Terra has changed drastically....and will soon be unrecognizable to those of a human generation ago, Malachi sighs. Needs be we must change as quickly. Either we adapt, or get left in the dust.....forgotten relics.
True, Sigin agrees.
The wedding music begins, and the dragon and dragoness step down the long aisle towards the altar, to the awaiting altar and Bishop.
"....I now pronounce you...husband and wife," the Bishop says, glad that he had been able to remember to put in the modified line in the last part of this ceremony. "You may now kiss the bride."
Bishop Mark blinks in befuddlement as the Consort gives of a deep, rumbling sound that he'd call a growl (of anticipation) and a literal flash of his eyes (red in coloration) as he roguishly smiles over at the Regent, who herself is looking back at him in longing, and.....well the kiss is less than chaste.
Stop staring at them like a first year novice! the Bishop scolds himself. It isn't like you didn't know that the Regent wouldn't be....different...as well as the Consort....when you threw in your support on the Cardinal Council for this and approaching Malachi to safe Ethiopia from collapse! Lord above, the confessions they give you should have told you that!
Indeed, it had been a marathon session with the Regent when she had had approached him weeks later, after she had first became the Regent (she had lived for thousands of years....). Not only was the initial confession long, it was...unorthodox to say the least! Bishop Mark had known something like that could happen, when the Church had baptized their first non-human believer....but still.....
Furthermore, there had been the initial charade that the noble dragoness had tried to live out, when she became Regent (re: 1723). Oh, she had been baptized when she had become Regent - that was part and parcel of ruling Ethiopia - but the Bishop hadn't been too surprised when she had confessed....eyes streaming tears....that she had initially only been....pretending to convert.
The Bishop knew within his heart that this act of contrition was genuine, and Malachi was truly wroth at what she had done. He had also been hoping and praying for this event.
He'd figured as much about the "act", but he'd also detected much....conflict and anger within the dragoness whenever she had spoken of her original faith....in Tiamat. He had been correct in his beliefs that the noble dragoness would see the Light. He'd given her a dozen prayers of contrition, and told her to sin no more.
Considering the good she'd done for the land, Mark was hardly going to chastise her for that. After all, in the end, her heart and soul now belong to the Lord's house...and not this other....dragon goddess or whatever type of reptilian deity this Tiamat was!
Indeed, the Regent later converted the Consort to the True Faith AND had recently been (much to her surprise and....embarrassment) been designated a Saint in the Church (something until recently only reserved to the dearly departed...and human)! Why chastise such a noble being for a mistake that she had corrected herself? The prayers were to make her feel better about the whole deal, if nothing else.
The Bishop "hrmphs" and steps aside as his part in today's activities is done. Now it is time for a magical ceremony who's origins trace themselves before even the founding of the Judaic faith....the forerunner of Christianity....
Ten minutes later, the magical ceremony almost complete...
"....and I willingly bind my life to the land...." Sigin says in the Ancient Dragon tongue. "I willingly join my lifeblood...my Hoard.....to the coin the land..... So says I, Sigin Dronocis!"
The symbolic bag of coins that is before him glows, and then gives off a small *pop* as it and the entire contents of Sigin's dragon Hoard (on Terra Prime AND the one he had left back on his homeworld) appear in the royal coffers of the Palace!
Sigin's head spins as twin sensations course throughout his body. On one hand, there is the shock and draining effect of his original source of vitality has been severed (for a dragon's Hoard is more than just a pile of treasure....it is life itself). On the other hand, there is the almost orgasmic sensation of the power and vitality of an entire nation coursing through the dragon's entire being!
Sigin screams out in joy as he feels his link to the land of Ethiopia form! He looks around, tears of joy streaming down his human form's face. He can tell the emotion, with just a ghost of an effort, of each and every being in this room! One being in particular is very happy for him....and is crying and hugging him.
"It's....so beautiful....." the Consort whispers into his wife's ear.
Sigin will find later, as expected, that he can not leave the borders of his adopted homeland. However, the joy he receives from the bounds to Ethiopia more than compensate!
The giddy wyrm is escorted by Malachi herself to a seat in order for him to recover in a few minutes. Sigin still has a slightly daffy smile on his face, but behaves as the last part of today's show unfolds..... "I call forth the noble ones known as Probe and Inquirer," the Regent calls out in a clear and soft (but oddly resonant) voice.
I know that Malachi Dronocis is using a simple Acoustics spell so her voice can be heard in every corner of the Royal Chapel, but at the moment I sit in my seat....next to my Father....as if spellbound myself! But.....this part was only for him! I protest silently as I look over at Probe...who's got a smirk on his face!
Well, it's not impossible to fool an Inuit AI, especially when your father - who has twice the experience in our field than I do - is in on the trick!
I had halfway expected something like this, but had kept my eyes and ears open for any such planing.
It makes a bit of sense what is going to happen here, really. See, I DID save the royal Vizier's life when I rescued her from those vampires (re: 2505). I did it because it was the Right thing to do, not because she was the princess of Aethiopia (her worlds version of Ethiopia). I had never seen pictures of Terra Prime's Alicia as she looked as a human, so didn't even have a clue as to her true identity, so I didn't even know who she was and she was hardly in a position to tell me who she was until much later (re:2755, 2756).
I had fainted when I found out the entirety of what had happened to me. Hell, how often do YOU find out that you've been changed from an AI to a golem?! Try it sometimes and see how YOU react!
I don't feel faint, but I feel a bit dazed as I follow my father up to the front of the Chapel....
A bit later, the "retired" AI/golems are up front....
"Arise, Marquise Inquirer," the Regent of Ethiopia says solemnly. "Arise, and be welcome!"
From the look on Inquirer's face, I'd say we were able to keep this part of the ceremony a secret until the Leader of the Circle's sister called upon her to be granted an aristocratic title, Sigin Vulpine's mate thinks to herself.The fact that we had been able to do that was no small feat!
There had been over one dozen times where the little surprise almost slipped, once or twice by Rosepaw herself.
Several of the castle servants blink in surprise as a dozen demifox kits (presently in their human form) rise up in mid air. Sigin Vulpine smiles down at Rosepaw as the kits laugh.
"See the nice golems?" Rosepaw yips up to her children that she's telekinetically holding up for a better view. "Smile for the nice golems! That's my good angels!"
About half of the brood giggle and at least TRY to smile at Probe and Inquirer (more like grin...for the kit's human form still are toothless). The others just cry out in delight and wave chubby arms, legs, and little fox tails in delight at floating
about.... Inquirer, upon seeing the latest antics of the small vixen, starts to shudder....and then breaks out in helpless laughter.
Proper decorum or not, it struck the young female golem/AI as deliciously funny!
Several of the people present via magical mirror also laugh, for they were able to see the floating fox children, themselves.
Later, after a small meeting...
"....and of course being a Consort frees you from any conflict with Probe and your wife," Alicia says knowingly while stroking her tail. She then sits, with some relief. Being a manimal might mean she could be active throughout her entire pregnancy with the two kits inside her, but
1/12/2000 3:54:41 AM
The Never Ending Quest Home
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