Rise of Wolsgret: Part V

Part V

Locke could hear Virrus growling in anger, then marching off into the woods. Something had stirred Virrus into a frenzy, Locke wasn’t sure what it was, but judging by the look on the Shaman’s face it seems like good news.

Drill takes his arm and wraps it around Locke’s throat. Locke stumbles back, throwing his arms up as Drill drags him away. The soldiers of the Forest Tribe start lining themselves up. The men and women standing firm, each coated in a wood armor that seems to cling to their bodies, a net of enchanted leaves flowing underneath, tightly knit like a mesh of steel beneath a knights breastplate. Locke could see a strength in their eyes, an unyielding determination to stand tall. All of their amber eyes fell on a lone soldier.

This soldier’s wearing a heavier set of wood armor that’s darker then the rest, the wood has wild knots and small stems of budding green life, as if the wood was still a tree in soil. A rich green moss grew on his backside, the enchanted mesh of leaves beneath, is almost invisible since the armor nearly swallows every inch of the soldiers massive form. His helmet mimics the point where a trunk stretches to the crown of the tree. The wood seems alive, twisting over his face and branching out into sharp points behind his head.

Drill comes to a stop, standing at the side of the gathering, his arm still around Locke’s neck. Locke twists around, till he finally finds himself in a comfortable position to watch. The soldier’s in the crowd begin to call a name, then it turns into a chant. “Rynarr!” they shout in unison, raising their swords or bows with each boisterous call to their leader. Rynarr comes to a stop, the voices of the multitude fall into silence.

“Our people,” the crowd begins speaking with Rynarr, echoing his voice, “the shadow beneath the bending trees, the wind cutting through the leaves, soldiers who never forget, the wisdom that is Wolsgret.” Locke’s eyebrow comes up, the chant and rhythm, it’s like a spell he would cast, perhaps it is a spell. The soldiers, following the lead of Rynarr, lay an open hand over their hearts, fingers spread like the branches of a tree. When they let their hands fall, Rynarr begins to pace again. “It is true that this is not our fight! That we owe the stone walkers nothing—but, these stone walkers have fallen to stray wolves, to the perversion of our mighty Wolsgrets power! These wolves have come and slaughtered their people, using the magic of the very things we work so hard to protect and honor to fuel their bloodlust and hatred. We are the people of Wolsgret!” A cheer fills the air, “we create a legacy for the Beast of Wood and Nature!” another cheer shakes the ground, “so we will help the stone walkers.” Locke lets loose a cheer only to find himself alone, every soldier along with Rynarr kept their bright brownish eyes on him. Drill takes his arm back from Locke’s shoulders and clears his throat, taking a step to the away. Locke finds his voice and cuts the awkwardness, “Sorry.”

All of their head’s turn back to Rynarr who allows his gaze to linger on poor Locke for a few more moments. “We leave at sun rise, rest and ready your mind and swords.” The soldiers salute once more with an open hand across their hearts and then disperse. Rynarr walks over to Locke and pulls his helmet free. “You,” Locke lifts a finger and points it to himself, “you are a wordsmith, correct?”

“Yes, I know magic.” Locke looks over Rynarr’s face, a burn scar runs over his neck and up to the side of his head, his remaining hair falling wildly over the unscathed side of his head.

“I wouldn’t turn my back to any of my soldiers, you might not like the outcome—or survive it.” Locke kept his jaw set firmly, nodding his understanding, “I’m sure you understand, especially since you travel with Virrus. I still owe that one.”

Locke stares at his clean skin and bright eyes, and then he looks over the burns, “He did that to you?” Rynarr scowls, pulling his helmet on.

“Do not think you’ll get the chance stone walker, watch your back.” Locke tries to say something, to explain that he wishes them no harm, but Rynarr slips away marching loudly through the fallen leaves. Drill lays a sympathetic hand on Locke’s shoulder.

“Man, do they hate you.” Drill nods along with his statement, all the while Locke nervously looks about. “Get some sleep, we’re all going to need it for tomorrow.” With that Drill pats Locke’s shoulder one last time and walks off to his hut. A bird whistles and Locke spins around with his hands up defensively, only to find empty trees and nothing but the greens of the wild.

“I don’t think I’ll be sleeping tonight.”

 

The night feels unending to Locke, Virrus sits in his hut with a small lantern that seems to spill an unnatural amount of soft blue light. Virrus claims that the lantern can calm those willing, Locke who has been laying in bed with his eyes wide open, turning and staring at every shadow doubts its magical ability. “Virrus,” Locke looks to the roll of sheets that lay at the other end of the hut, “Virrus!”

“To all the hells, what can ya possible want lad?” Locke swallows, aware of the one question that has been swirling through his thoughts.

“Why—no, how could you do it? Burn all those people,” the sheets over Virrus sit still and Locke waits for anything. Finally, when he thinks that Virrus has fallen back asleep, he hears him speak.

“Ya don’t know who I was, the darkness that ah once felt flowing through every inch of me soul. Trained to attack with not a fraction ah mercy, especially if their not royalty or the law. After you’ve smelled ah few burning corpses, they all start to smell the same, they all burn the same. I’ve gone and murdered and slaughtered hundreds upon hundreds of innocent souls and then the king puts his hand on me head and blesses me for fighting on behalf of the righteous. The man has the nerve ta say I’m a hero for killing, so his hands can stay clean.” There was something in Virrus’s voice, it felt like all the life and spirit that Locke had witnessed up to now was draining with each word, “I never knew that darkness till it covered all those bright things I loved in me life, till it hung over every window of my heart. Till ah saw that I was all alone, and the only thing left of me soul—the only proof it ever existed, is ah handful of gold and me final spell ta cast.”

“I…” Locke was fumbling with his thoughts, trying to find the right words to lift Virrus free of the emptiness he seemed to be creeping towards. Virrus doesn’t allow him to speak.

“Aye, you’re right, it’s late an we need ta rest. Good night Locke, tomorrow is going ta be a big day for all of us.” Locke’s heart sinks, the silence filling the air between them, till finally his eyes shut and his busy mind lets him fall away. Escaping into the comfort of another world, one last sweet dream before the war.

 

End of Part V

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Rise of Wolsgret: Part IV

Part IV

 

It was as if the tumblers to the mental locks in his mind were finally falling free. Locke sat there outside a small hut, his mind spilling reason into the once carefree corners of his consciousness. How small minded has he been, his attention for all of those years has been on becoming a great wordsmith, to be as powerful as his father. Now that the threat of losing his soul was present he abandoned the thing that kept him proud for so many years. But it took this moment, sitting outside of the shaman’s home, feeling completely helpless to pull himself from his selfish thoughts. His friend Drill is inside the small structure, screaming, fighting one of the demons of Malahaak as cleansing herbs and smoke billow from the top of it, it is now that Locke feels himself waking up to his mindless existence.

Locke feels the sun pressing higher up, his body is aching for rest, but Locke refuses to move, awaiting word on his only friend. Virrus emerges from a small tent, springing to his feet with a renewed vigor. Stretching he let out a long yawn, casually looking over the Forest Tribe women as they began weaving the long leaves from the trees nearby into shields for the possible upcoming battle. “Ya never think somethin as simple as leaves could stop an arrow, that is till ya take a shot at one of em.”

Locke who was nearly frozen since the arrival of the shaman and the cleansing ritual, takes a breath and twists his head to look at Virrus. “Why do they hate you?”

“Aye, I see yer going straight to the point, ah won’t hold ya back then. Long time ago there was ah kidnapping, now the man who was taken was no saint, but his father was a very rich man. I’ve changed ah whole lot since those days, but back then I’d burn a city down fer the right price.” Locke unknowingly wore his shock all over his face, Virrus couldn’t keep his eyes on him when he saw his expression. “Ya know I’m no longer that man, ah left the death and the anger and greed far in me shadows, deep in me past. When I lost me magic I found myself with ah lot of time to see me inner demons.”

A sudden scream brought Locke into a tense position and Virrus to straighten up, those nearby who were guarding the area readied their bows, eyes towards the hut. The flap of dear hide that was acting as a door began to rustle, small bits of smoke wafting out from the gaps. Then there was an old man, his hands shaking as he pulls himself out, his body’s coated with mud and plants, old designs hidden within scars that cover nearly every inch of his face and neck. His eyes fall on Locke, his old body trembling as the fresh air clears his lungs. Locke stands up, grabbing the old man by his elbow. The shaman turns his head to Locke, but it was clear to the both Virrus and Locke that he could not see either one of them, his pupils still dilated from the spiritual journey, his mind still recovering from the burning herbs inside.

It took a few minutes before the shaman could speak, “Your friend is strong.” Locke looks to Virrus who nods his agreement, “I went into his head, but he was no longer there, his passenger had taken the reins.” Locke sat back down, his face twisting into rage as Virrus places a hand on Locke’s shoulder. “But,” Locke and Virrus turn back to the shaman, “like I said, your friend is strong. I traveled down the spiritual path, deep into the realm of the gods—the dark territory. I found your friend Drill standing at the gates to the afterlife, his hands locked with one of those named Malahaak, his fingers interlocked with the demon, fighting. Just a few minutes is like a day or two, I don’t know how long he has been there wrestling with the demon. Your friend is a strong one. I whispered a word, something Wolsgret has shown me the night before. It was a word of power, it took from the demon his strength and gave Drill the advantage to break the demon, to lift him and drive him into the ground. I showed him the way back, he dragged the demon with him.”

Locke was confused, “But why? Why bring the demon into his body again?”

A voice came from inside the hut, “Because now that I’ve got him under control, he owes me for the years he lived inside.” Drill came out, half his head bound by black cloth, a symbol drawn over the cloth covering his right eye. “He’ll help with the fight to come.”

Locke shot up, his arms opening and before he could contain himself, his hold was around his friend. “I didn’t know if you were coming back. I thought you were going to die.”

Drill laughed, “I can’t die yet, we have wolves to kill. Not to mention, we have friends to avenge.” Drill pats his friend Locke, who coughs on impact and lets go of his hug.

“Not going to lie, it’s weird hearing you say more than one word.”

“Really?” Locke stares at his friend waiting, Drill smiles and the two began laughing. Virrus moves to the shaman and clears his throat, drawing the old mans attention, waving him over. Drill and Locke continue to talk and Virrus whispers to the shaman.

“Ya say he’s alright but that ward is to seal ah demon. Why’s it on his head?”

The shaman grabs the back of Virrus’s neck and pulls him closer, “He has willingly taken a god into himself, no…he has beaten a god and now holds him hostage inside his flesh. The other pieces, those demons of Malahaak will search for their brethren. The eyes of the gods will be on the hunt, that seal is the only way to hide him,” the old man took a step back letting Virrus go, “now you travel with an imprisoned god, there will be no peaceful rest, you will never find safe haven.”

“What have ya done? Did ya weaken the demon so he’d drag him back?” Virrus felt his stomach twisting, “ya did, didn’t ya. Ya put some sorta wild thought in his head that he could control the demon.”

The side of the shaman’s mouth began to twist upward. “You, Virrus, you will get your army to take back the city for you stone dwellers. But the demon, I told him that if he ever got free, that he should speak to Wolsgret. Since he’s housing a demon his passenger will know you, he will remember your scent and your name,” Virrus felt the wolf inside him growling for freedom, hungry for a bite of the shaman. “If that demon slips loose, Wolsgret will find you, Malahaak will see to that. I’m sure Malahaak will trade a hundred souls to finally get his fangs into you. Do you think we forgot old friend? All those you killed for a rich man’s son, for a monster. The years we lived in shame that one greedy wordsmith nearly destroyed all of our people for his weight in gold. Well now your demons have come back and you’ll have to keep them in line, your friend has to stay alive and you have to make sure his passenger never breaks free, or your soul is as good as gone.”

 

End of Part IV

Paranoia

The day does end, a million moments made of nothing special. Just more wasted seconds given as an offering to those who never seem to give a care or gift. My life is traded for this house, that I approach tonight. My key is heavy, the lock is waiting, I hear a sound. To turn and witness not a thing, just bushes rustling to the breeze. I insert and twist, the locks then tumble free, I enter and close as the winds begin. The rattling glass fills the room, scratching branches, thoughts consumed. Just an eerie night, there have been others. My anxiety should not exist.

I hang my coat and hat, and lean my cane, my shoes positioned just below an old and faded picture frame. I move from room to room, a hunger grows, then to the kitchen. Switch a light. My stomach rumbles, hunger present. I grab a slab of meat to eat, to cut a tender portion for my waiting teeth to gnash and satisfy my wanting needs. I lay it out and smile, fingers reaching to the block, pointless grasp to empty air, the knife handle not in its spot. I look and find my largest knife is gone. Then a creaking, of old wood. A house breathing empty lungs, a fading sound just like a step.

Hello? Into an empty and silent home, my words trail off. I store the food, looking back twice, a cup of milk to ease this mounting fright. There’s nothing there, the doors are locked, windows closed as tight as knots. And yet, I seem to worry more and more—the wind outside is now a storm. The casual crash of thunder, lightning’s light. The house exposed from night, with every shattering blast of sound and life. I drink and stare, into my home, draining the glass as I go. The cup is empty, just like before, the worry pointless no need for more.

I place the glass and march up stairs. My waiting bed is warm with hope, to pass this night and start anew. Then the storm, it grows, a tempest flares. My lights give way, I look to shadowed walls that seem to stretch for days, they fade and run, while I pause and wait. The light will return, it always does, I chuckle at my dreary thoughts.

Feet patting quickly across wooden floors, they pass me, something bumps into my side, I stumble slightly call, who’s there? The sudden frightening burst of light, a glimmering object in the night does give me pause and cause to stare. I said who’s there? But not a sound as the lights return, I go to walk but freeze with chill, as my flesh trembles, under standing hairs.

The knife, it lays there next to stairs. It’s tip just wet with blood. No doubt it’s real, I run and fall, fingers clasping gripping tight. Who’s blood is this? What of the bump, I felt a sting. I hurry back onto my feet, and dash to the mirror near my bathroom sink. Put down the knife and lift my shirt, investigate, I find no scar or line or hurt. I drop my clothing, then stand still. Another crash of shattered nerves and sound, then looking down, no knife at all.

Then there, right there. Just slightly off to the side. When the shadows shift and the light does twists, everything around, like reality is nothing at all. Something moves subtly by. But they’re just shadows, nothing more and nothing less and shadows always move to light. What was that? A silhouette, a figure just off to the side, where I cannot see. Hiding in the dark. In the bathroom behind the frosted glass, just a moment, caught somewhere between the flickers of a dying bulb. A shape a form, so foreign and disturbing, my eyes do check twice. Yet there’s nothing there. Perhaps it’s nothing. But what if? What if it’s there, that thing I look for? What if the shadows do pause, and the silhouette turns? What if the darkness isn’t just darkness? A step outside the room, a finger waiting on the switch, the shadows stretching as my finger does persist. And then a sound, a screeching just so softly, waiting not so far away. Perhaps the greedy talons of a hungry soulless thing, searching for a taste of flesh and fear. My finger lingers. Should it drop?

How silly I must seem, a foot in and out, a door halfway closed. Yet here I am, watching shadows pull and twist, hearing noises from what I can only claim is the darkness of thee abyss. My foot slides out, my finger falls, my hand does slam the portal shut, as these waiting, wanting, hungry shadows fall. But whatever hid inside the dark is now behind this wooden door, no need to worry any more…but what if?

I retire to a room down stairs, escaping doubt and wonder. Running hand across my sweating brow. An open book to take my thoughts away. Yet the silence let’s me return to ponder on the events of tonight’s foray. What evils might I have stirred to life? My wandering eyes searching for more, a sound rumbling from beyond. My bathroom door just opens slightly and something whispers in the air. Do I know you? Shadowed figure that comes walking down my weathered stairs. What do you say to me this night? Can I find it in your stare. Have I offended? Did I call upon a devil through my actions, my journeys flight? The transgressions I must have gone and unearthed, through my slippery trials of life. A path so cluttered, covered with the shames of yesterday. A rage, a sorrow, this father of my collective sins, I see you softly stepping down my hall. An eager gait, yet no foot falls.

I curl into my hopes and dreams, hugging close to the lamps embrace. Foul shadow, memory of a life long gone, the ghost of mourning at nights fall. I rebuke you yet you stand, my lanterns light does falter, and a greedy step does land. An inch given, and an inch lost. My soul does shiver as your figure comes, to claim a worthy trade or tender for the rivers run. Back! I cry, a shrill scream or shout into this unknown maw of darkness.

Why do you press? With these silent stares that sever at my will. Exhale, your winter chilling breath, that carries the rot of death. Your approach does slow my blood inside. The coldness filling fingers numb, the dimming brightness. What does this phantasm care for, or want?

It breathes into my eyes my face. Inhale, the very taste of sickness and disgrace, outstretching arms, my body squirms. It’s reaching past, the boundaries fall, a gnarled and twisted finger crawls, from never-ending shadowy arms. They pierce my protective walls of light, these superstitious charms that I’ve placed all faith and hope within, to save my life.

Teeth grit, eyes tightly bound by will and fear, to escape the devil that comes near. Am I safe? Another bolt does fall, the room once silent fills with a fading cymbals call, and ring into my ears. Then a chime, my grandfather’s clock as midnight strikes. I’m waiting, will I live or die, for this evil that does come and pry into my home and heart, with this gaze that I can feel, even with my eyelids pressed like steel. I know the truth, it does stand near—it must be real.

Rise of Wolsgret: Part III

Part III

 

If Locke thought it was bad before, he had no label for it now. After an hours run, Locke stopped counting the seconds, right after the wolves began howling again. Before long there was the sight of the sun and the less frequent call of a wolf, but still the three of them kept going. His body is dripping with sweat, legs numb from the nonstop running. Virrus and Drill kept an inhuman pace and Locke, when he could think, could only spend his time questioning if Drill was more than just a man as well. With his breathing turning into desperate gasps and his heart squeezing all the tighter Locke finally let himself go, falling to his knees, his body unable to create enough saliva to coat his tongue and mouth.

Drill came to a stop, turning to acknowledge Locke, who was failing to raise his head. Drill, having always the toughest exterior, couldn’t disguise his fatigue as well. His shoulders were failing to stand firm, his hands were resting on his legs. Drill let himself slouch, taking deep calming breaths as he took in his surroundings. Not noticing anything suspicious, he gave into his urge, falling backwards to rest his aching body. When Locke became aware of Drill, he fell to his side to enjoy the moment of peace.

Virrus came back, his expression empty, with no signs of fatigue. “Nothin like a run in da woods, the shade and cool breeze. Ya cannot find the feeling nowhere.” Locke couldn’t lift his head, much less muster a sneer, although he was wanting nothing more than to show his distaste for Virrus’s luster. Locke’s blister’s had blister’s, he was nearly swimming in a pool of his sweat, the little bits of spit forming in his mouth couldn’t satisfy his insatiable thirst. Virrus takes in his surroundings with a quick look, then nods his approval, “it’s ah short walk, we’re almost there.”

Before Locke could muster a response, Drill spoke his thoughts, “Water?” Virrus began digging through his bag, on removing two small glass containers he nodded.

“It’s water, in ah sense. But I’ve no label for em and I’m no sure which god has gone an bless which vial ah water. So it could taste bad, really bad, but I suppose you all are not having a care at the moment.” Virrus takes a look at the transparent flasks and then switches them into different hands, handing one to each of them. The two of them hold the glass containers reluctantly staring at its contents. “I like to use the blessed water to ease the aching from beast to man, an it does wonders to the skin.” Locke can’t wait another second, he pops the cork and downs the water, the heavy taste of minerals coats his tongue and throat. There’s an almost bitter aftertaste, which lingers for longer than he would care for, but his thirst miraculously fades away. Locke exhales, a feeling of relief coming over him. His fingers grip the bottom of the glass and Locke notices something he hadn’t on first inspection. Etched into the bottom was a symbol, there’s a look of confusion on Locke’s face, yet Virrus isn’t looking at Locke, he’s staring intently at Drill. Drill who still sat there, staring downward at the glass flask of holy water. Drill quickly threw back his head, downing the contents and tossing the glass to Virrus who caught it and kept watching Drill closely. Drill began gritting his teeth and forcing himself to his feet, then he went on ahead of them.

“What’s going on?” Locke whispers to Virrus, now that Drill was far enough. Virrus merely pocketed the flask and gave Locke a hand, who eagerly took it, since his body was still feeling sore.

“Not sure,” Virrus states after a pause. Locke hands him the flask back and walks on ahead. In a few minutes Virrus claps his hands, drawing Locke and Drill towards him. Drill was pale, his normally tan complexion fading away. There was a circular opening within a tall surrounding of tightly knit trees, Virrus walks into the center of this clearing. His movements are slow and he’s telegraphing each thing he does, like he’s putting on a show. Drill and Locke look around, the leaves lightly twitch under the soft breeze rolling through the tall trees. Nothing but the colors of Autumn and the faint scent of flowers, flowers that Locke with all his squinting can’t seem to locate. “Drill, do you smell that?” but Drill seems more distracted by a pain in his abdomen, his hand clutching at his stomach.

Virrus finds a small leaf and with two fingers, holds it to his lips, blowing till a light whistling sound fills the air. The trees sway at the sound, Locke couldn’t believe that Virrus had cast a spell with just a whistle. The answer came in the form of arrows, three landing in the disguise of one thud. One arrow landing at Virrus’s feet, another at Drill’s, and the last one splits the side of Locke’s right shoe as it lands. When Locke raises his eyes skyward, the trees are filled with Forest Tribe. Tribes of men and women who abandoned the cities hundreds of years ago and made a society of people who live in the wilds, who are constantly blessed by the god known as the Beast of Wood and Nature. Their armor is made of wood, that had been shaped by the power of Wolsgret, a net of leaves like a mesh of steel, as strong as anything that a blacksmith could mold in the cities. There are those men in the city that have laughed at those children who carry wooden swords, yet to the Forest Tribe a wooden sword could cut a man in two.

Virrus puts a hand at his waist and bows, “It’s nice ta see ya all as well.”

A voice falls to their ears below, “Virrus, you’re lucky I didn’t put all three of those arrows in your twisted skull.” Locke took a look at the placement of the arrows and began considering the speed at which they all had landed. He suddenly understood just how vulnerable the three of them were, if only one of the Forest Tribe had fired all three arrows.

“Aye, the thought did cross me mind, ah seem to be the lucky type these days.” Virrus rose from his bow and lifts a finger to Drill, “Me associate over there, him not as lucky as me. He’s got a passenger with em.” There was a rustling in the trees, Locke moves his head for a better view, right over Drill was a pack of Forest Tribe sliding down the vines head first. Around their legs are vines, that they use to slow their decent, swords at the ready, while others above adjust their aim to point their bows at Drill.

“Wait!” Locke shouts, the sounds of the forest seem to burst into movement and then silence. Virrus was staring at Locke with his eyes wide, a look of fear on him, probably for Locke’s life. Locke himself was terrified by his outburst, but he couldn’t remain silent. “Please wait. This man is my friend, he’s a good man, I—I don’t know what you mean by a passenger and why that’s got all of you out for blood, but I know Drill.” Locke swallows hard, nervous an arrow would find his heart. “This man is good, I trust him with my life.”

Drill shudders, spitting up something, and gasps for air. He then takes a deep breath and speaks, “I try not to talk too much, he I are fighting some times we talk and it becomes…one.” Drill was shivering, “I am not him, he wants to be in control I am in control, you will give control…” Drill clears his throat, “…that stuff I drank, we digested, it stings and stirs him alive.” Locke turns his attention to Virrus, who shrugs.

“Ya not fer sharing so ah had to test it out me self. One fer Locke and the other fer you, I picked the only two gods who are able to share since they’re made of a group. Malahaal who are the Angels of Wind and Malahaak who are the Demons of Soil and Rock. I wondered why ya made no sound when I seared the flesh on yer back, I just figured you were tough. Then I wondered why you had so little blood pouring out of yer wounds, why the dead werewolves in the room were stabbed ta death, meaning you killed two of em by yerself. The last one was when I saw the werewolf toss you head first into a sharp rock, that stone was like the edge of a sword.” Locke was turning his attention to Drill who shook uncontrollably, “Any normal man would’ve split his head wide open, dead on impact, but you’re more than just ah normal man ain’tcha.” Drill finally found enough strength to lift his head and look Virrus in the eye, Locke could see a change in him, his iris had expanded, it now was covering the whites of his eyes while his pupils were two dots in the middle of them. “The Forest Tribe may be a bunch ah self righteous tree lovers, but their shaman’s are beyond any mage’s I’ve ever encountered. They can do things I’ve no understanding of, and we need to find out if Drill can make it to the war.”

“War?” Locke wasn’t sure what Virrus was talking about.

“Aye, a war, lad. What do you think we’re doing here, if they can help Drill with his personality issues or at least make sure he won’t be a problem, then he can fight with us. The Forest Tribe are just like any other tribe. They might like their god’s ah bit much too much, at least fer my taste, but this ones all about peace an all that nonsense. They don’t like war, but they like it less when someone stronger steps all over someone weaker. It get’s their blood going, makes em want to fight and set it all back to the way it was.” Locke took a good look around, at all the trained warriors with their eyes unwavering, set on them, “we’re not here to die, we’re here to recruit an army. Aren’t you dying to take back the city?”

 

End of Part III

Rise of Wolgret (Magical Locke series) Part 2

Part II

Locke was trying to look as defenseless as he was feeling. Nearly choking on his fear, trying to avert his eyes, trying to avoid those amber rings shining in the deep black spots of Virrus’s face, in the eyes of the wolf. Locke was sitting on his knees, Drill was slowly shaking away the flickering lights, becoming aware of the current dilemma. “Can you understand me? Virrus?” The creature let out a low growl, its sound sent shivers through Locke, even putting Drill on edge.

The werewolf hunches lower, his salt and pepper mane shimmering with a silver shine, shaking it as he turns his attention skyward, letting a nearly deafening howl rip loose. Locke covers his ears, flinching, yet too afraid to look away. This wolf, Virrus, curls his hands into fists. He howls again, this time his voice wavers. His snout then snaps, the sound of cartilage and bones shifting. His muscles tighten and compress, while his fur sheds slowly. The howl shifts from it’s feral call to the sound of a tormented cry of pain and despair. Virrus’s jacket loosens again, his once monstrous form dissipating, till there’s only silence and a worn and weary old man.

“Virrus,” Locke’s voice is a whisper, the form remaining still, frozen. “Virrus, are you alright?” Drill and Locke lean forward, listening closely, checking for any signs of life. Locke jumps, the old man suddenly coughing as he lunges forward, unable to stop. Hacking up globs of blood, and spitting them out into the grass around him.

Virrus hacks up a final time and then wipes the bloody spittle from his chin. “Ya no idea how badly werewolves taste, like grit and grime clinging to the drops ah blood.” Virrus tries to stand but crumples to the ground, his legs trembling under his weight. “Where’d the capsule go, the small thing ah had in me hands before the werewolf attacked me?” Virrus lifts a heavy head and stares at Locke and Drill, “well don’t ya just sit there like rocks on the ground, how about you two make yerselfs useful?”

Locke is on the edge of two thoughts, one is screaming for him to run in any direction as long as it’s away, and the other thought is telling him Virrus just saved his life. Drill walks past Locke, the small glass flask in his hands. Drill kneels down and hands it to Virrus, all the while Locke is stuck, staring at the two. Drill then stands and stares at Virrus, saying one word in an almost demanding tone, “Explain.”

“Aye,” Virrus drinks from the flask and then pours the remainder over his face and hair. “I suppose I should. Magic does two things,” Virrus shakes his head, spraying droplets, “no it’s three actually. Magic acts like fire, it burns away at the soul, in bits. It puts on ah bit show when ya cast it, and the last thing it does is attract the attention ah the god who is hunting ya. Ah fire in the darkness, should I cast another spell Wolsgret can find me soul and rip it from me. So ah hold back, the power of Wolsgret sits inside me, it festers and takes shape as the wolf.” Virrus stood up, finding renewed strength, Drill took a step back from him. “I’m no like the others, this is what ah live with. I’m me, and inside of me is filled with something dark but ah get the feeling that something dark was always there and the wolf lets it out. Normally I can sedate the other side of me with ah bit of drink.” Virrus turns his head, looking to Locke and points at his satchel, which is within arms reach of Locke, “which I could use right now if ya don’t mind.” Locke clears his throat, and pulls the bottle that peaks from the top of his bag. Then he finds the courage to stand and walk over. Locke raises the bottle to Virrus who catches him by the wrist and pulls him closer. Drill tenses up and grabs the corkscrew that’s tucked under his belt. “Ya no reason to fear me, this is ah curse, but ah could hear ya when I was inside that beast.” Virrus took the bottle with his other hand and kept looking at Locke who was nervously looking around, “just don’t expect me ta talk. Me other side, it ain’t as verbose as I am.”

Locke began to physically relax, finally able to speak to Virrus again. “I—it’s hard to believe that you’re a werewolf.” Off in the distance a howl rings out, then two other howls follow in its wake.

Virrus takes a mouthful of the liquor and swallows it back. Then he puts the cork back in and addresses Drill and Locke, “Not meaning to ruining the mood or anything, but by any chance did I howl real loud fer no reason in particular?” Locke and Drill look to each other and then to Virrus, nodding simultaneously. “Then we better start running, that other side of me likes to fight wit other wolves, gives em a call and all trying to get them to come over. Thirsty for more ah that disgusting filth ah blood.” Locke gives Virrus a suspicious look as Virrus picks up his staff, “it’s no me, the crazy wolf inside me wants to fight. Never mind though, we haven’t much time till they show up, so get moving.”

“Virrus, where are we going? I still have questions, I need to know. Is it safe for me and Drill to travel with you?” Drill put a hand on Locke’s shoulder.

“Trust,” Drill said without a second thought or pause.

Locke throws his hands up in a defeated manner. “Trust! Easy for you to say, you can fight a Werewolf with a bleeding corkscrew, while I have my good looks to scare them back.” Drill did something Locke wasn’t ready for, he let out a boisterous laugh. Locke’s eyes went wide, in all the years Locke has never heard Drill laugh till this very moment. Drill was smiling, but as soon as he sees Locke staring at him incredulously, Drill’s expression changes back to his stoic self. “We still don’t know where we’re going.”

Virrus picks up his final piece of equipment and walks over, “If we walk on fer about a days trek I know ah man, an he might actually be able to help us, although he might be in a sour mood. I’d start running though, the wolves will be here in a few.” Without another word, Virrus dives into the brush, not bothering to be silent. The urgency and sheer panic alerts Locke and Drill that they’ve run out of time to waste. Drill and Locke charge into the dark woods trying to follow Virrus’s shadow as he darts away from the howling approach of a wild pack, searching for their kin.

Rise of Wolsgret (Magical Locke series) Part I

Part I

 

Their clothes were still wet, the river had barely stripped the smell of the sewers off of them. Yet Locke was too preoccupied to notice the sloshing rhythm of their march. His nose buried in his father’s book, tripping over every raised root as he blindly followed. The book is half ruined, foreign specks of ill smelling grit still clinging to the pages. The other pages he had attempted to wash nearly erased all traces of the spells recorded on them. “Damn it all.”

Virrus slaps the front of the book shut. “The book means nothin if yer ah wolfs snack, at least ya left with yer throat intact.” It was true, and maybe somewhere deep down Locke knew his focus on the book was just a distraction. Now that Virrus had brought his mind to the present, he felt the shame roll over him. They were survivors, Drill had watched Hammer die, Virrus had lost his whole life’s work, and—dear gods, Zell was murdered by the Wolves and now Locke was whining about his book of spells, spells that he was now too afraid to practice. A book filled with useless magic, and it was taking his attention from the horrors of what everyone had gone through, even taking priority over the loss.

“You’re right,” Locke muttered. Virrus took a long look at Locke, the sad state he was in.

“It’s not ah reason to be ashamed or ta be guilty of. We’re alive, an we breathe an walk, so we can fight another day. Ya follow boy?” Virrus saw the mounting hopelessness, Locke’s face twisting in the agony of it all. He didn’t need to be a scholar to see that Locke was already down on his luck, his clothing obviously handed down, small holes and tattered garments. Now he was walking with both eyes glued to the dirt and fallen leaves, trying to hide the tears that dripped silently free. Virrus knew what Locke saw in his head, he still saw the same thing playing in his mind over and over, Zell being grabbed by the Werewolf. “An I’m sorry fer yer lady friend, there was nothin we could do fer her.”

“I could have ran to her, died trying to save her. I wish I had.” Virrus suddenly went though a change, his face tightening. He let out some air and came to a halt. Drill feeling the pace behind him change, came to a stop, turning around to investigate. Locke almost ran into Virrus, his head came up in time to take a solid cross to the chin, the punch sent Locke ungracefully to the myriad of plants that thickly covered the soil at their feet. The swing was almost faster then Locke could perceive, “what in the hells are you doing?”

“Ya no right ta say those things. I seen lives lost and tossed aside fer gold and fame and no man had made the choice to willingly throw their lives away.” Virrus squats down, his eyes never flinching as Locke stares his way, “when yer hands are pressed half way through ah mans innards trying to keep em alive, an he’s pissin and crying and praying fer any god ta save em, screaming fer another chance to live the life that’s leavin em. When ya know what that feels like, an yer still ready to piss away the life yer lucky ta be livin, I’ll kill ya myself and put ya to peace.” Virrus straightens up giving Locke a final look and then walks away. Drill, seeing Virrus moving towards him, takes a step aside and lets Virrus take the lead. Locke looks to Drill, Drill awkwardly scratches his neck and then follows Virrus. Locke feeling that he has no other choice, decides to keep his mouth shut, trying to compose himself. He gets up and plows on, his jaw aching but his head clear of the busy thoughts that were plaguing him just minutes before.

They walk till the sun dips low. until their feet can carry them no more. Moving through the thin black tree trunks, the leaves all bright yellow with flecks of orange, lightly falling in an almost consistent rainfall of colorful oval drops. A peaceful and stark contrast to the horror of the city they had just put to their backs. No words are exchanged, almost as if they all mutually understood that they need to put the day to an end. Locke with his pride still sore, fights the urge to speak, to comment on his hunger. Drill disappears silently into the brush, no one bothering to try and stop him, while Virrus plants himself down in the pile of soft moss and leaves searching through his bag. Locke’s ego was still a bit bruised by Virrus’s strike earlier, but as he sat there staring at the old man, he became curious. Virrus was unusual, he was strong although he appeared worn and wary, and there was an absorbent amount of magical knowledge buried in his head.

Locke stood up and made his way to Virrus, who was watching him closely. Locke raises his hands, “It’s alright, I just want to talk.” Virrus pulls a bottle out of his bag and pops the cork.

“No man ever talks fully without ah bit ah courage in his gut.”

“You know, I find you very strange.” Virrus takes the bottle he was just about to drink from and corks it.

“Aye, perhaps a bit strange, to those who don’t understand the reasons.” Virrus tightened two hands over the neck of the bottle, “I can feel ya wanting to have some ah those reasons explained to ya, so go ahead and ask.”

Locke eagerly took the opportunity to question him, “You know so much about magic but I’ve never seen you cast a spell without the use of magically imbued items, things that anyone without any knowledge of magic can use—that is, if they know the trigger words or actions.” Virrus put the bottle down against his leg and raised his eyebrows. “Well, I guess what I’m saying is…I mean why do you not cast magic? Is it the thing about the gods claiming a soul when they use too much?”

Virrus put a half smile on, a smile where his mouth is showing one emotion while his eyes spoke another. “All da magic I’ve done in my day boy, it’d put the gods ta shame knowing how much ah squeezed outta them. It’s ah long long road boy, with ah steep slope on tha other side. Aye, the reason has to do with gods claiming their prize, but ya no idea what it really means. Ya ever seen ah tree that looked odd, like its branches were fingers and arms, that the ole knots ah wood almost seemed like ah face?” Locke felt a tingling sensation run through his spine and nodded, “those are the lucky ones that followed Wolsgret, the ones he took without ah—little fun beforehand. He’s the popular one ah the gods, the Beast of Wood and Nature. He’s the one that perverts wolves into the things we saw, before he had his way, wolves were just like dogs.”

“You mean they were that small?”

“Aye, they’d always walk on all fours, and they were afraid ah fire.” Virrus saw the look of skepticism on Locke’s face, chuckling he started back up“Ya no have to believe me, but it’s ah truth. Nevermind it though, ah know what you’re thinking about and what you’re wanting to ask.”

“I just have all these questions. Some about magic and others about…” Drill exploded through the brush. He was panting and trying to talk.

“I…I got a…Wolf following me. I think it’s just one.” Virrus dug into his bag, searching frantically, Locke shot to his feet spinning in slow circles, looking for movement in the shadows of the dying day. Virrus pulls a flask from the bag and rushes to his feet.

As Virrus stood up, a figure darted from the shadows knocking Drill aside like a small child and dashing for Virrus, it’s size equally double that of Drill and Locke combined. There was a growl and a muffled sound as they connected, the two of them sliding through the dirt, the flask had fallen somewhere between where Virrus had been standing and where they struggled now.

Locke didn’t have a weapon, he even knew that any spell he could use would undoubtedly hurt Virrus while barely stunning the Werewolf. He ran to Drill and found him dazed, his head bloody. He had been thrown into a large rock head first. “Come on Drill! I need some muscle here!” Locke heard a cry, so he turns around.

At first Locke was confused, the angle of Virrus’s head, the position of the wolf. Locke looked closer, to verify what he was witnessing. Virrus had his teeth clamped around the Werewolf’s throat, blood oozing from the wolf’s neck, matting the brown fur that hung over the wolf’s chest. The wolf was calling out in pain, a second sound rumbling from the two, the sound of Virrus’s feral growl. Locke’s eyes open wide as Virrus’s mouth and nose stretched into a snout, its texture turning to wood. His slick and pulled back salt and pepper hair stretched out standing on end as patches of similar colored fur began to sprout all over him. The long coat Virrus wore began to tighten, till he filled it out fully, and the armored plates that hung awkwardly on his jacket now sat over his vital spots. Locke’s legs trembled, his body was otherwise frozen to the spot. The Werewolf was nearly hanging limp, blood pouring from his neck and coating Virrus who laid beneath him. Virrus began growling, his jaw snapped shut, severing the werewolf’s head. Virrus opened his maw, spilling hot air into the cold wind, his breath left a train of smoke. Slowly, this creature that was Virrus, stood to his feet. It’s eyes nearly black except for the bright amber ring that made up his iris. These amber rings were glowing in the night, and they were fixed on Locke. Locke slowly raised his hands, every little movement a rattling shake of nerves. Finally, with great effort, Locke spoke up, “Everything is okay Virrus, we’re your friends—please don’t kill us.”

 

End of Part I

Flight of the Hellion: Part 3

Part 3: Existence

I lean in and whisper, “I’m sorry, what the hell did you just say?”

“I said you’ll bring me on board as your prisoner.  It’s the only way to flush them out.”  Jon stood up and made his way to a workbench sliding the pile of mix matched parts to the floor.  After a minute he turns around with his wrists bound in a high grade military shackle.  “We need to hurry, if they find out who I am they might sabotage the ship before we get back on.  No time to waste Captain.”   He pulls his right hand free from the bonds and scratches his neck then slides it back into the shackles.

Walking over I grab his wrist and type in a lock command which tightens the cuffs.  Jon narrows his eyes on me.  I respond to his stare, “Well, let’s talk about this secret first, then if I think you’re not lying I’ll walk you right into the ship.  Deal?”  Jon nods and hops back, sitting on the workbench. “OK, what branch are you?  And what’s the authorization code?”

“I’m part of the Sigma group and the code is Alpha Nine Zero Delta Four Q, I never remember what’s standard for Q.”  The code checks out and the name is one I haven’t heard in a long time.  Sigma handles all of the insertion ops, placing people in dangerous locations or within extremist groups, highly trained and normally never announced.

“If you were Sigma wouldn’t you’ve been apart of the team when we shipped off?”

“Your mission was suppose to be under the radar, no flags or suspicion to draw attention off your trip.  But there’s been new Intel, someone from the outside is trying to take a weapon hidden on the Hellion.”

“What weapon?” I took a step back and cleared my throat, “I’m the Captain of the Hellion, there’s no shipments on board, nothing’s been cleared, and I know my crew.”

“How well do you know your crew? Like your second in command who served in military ops with you? Maybe Malloy with his dodgy credentials?  How about Short?” I couldn’t help but laugh aloud.  “That unbelievable, that someone with a spotless record and nearly flawless test scores could be a secret agent.”  That statement stole the laughter right out of me. “I know about your top staff, those with the power to move about the ship freely.  One of them is the plant, one of them is searching for the weapon.”

I raise a hand, “Hold on.  You’ve mentioned a weapon twice, what is it?”

“Not sure.” I shake my head, not satisfied with his answer.

“You have me doubting the integrity of my crew and the safety of my ship, mostly from your attack on the Hellion’s security systems…” he interrupts me with a shout.

“Computer!” the black screen to the left of me lights up, a complex series of line commands and code running through it in a side window.  “Run Release Hellion,” the computer runs a few different lines of code and the window closes. “Your ship is free from my hold, but go ahead and continue.”

Obviously, I want to run to the nearest window and make sure the systems on the Hellion aren’t disabled or the ship in chaos, but I don’t want to appear weak or nervous, so I continue, “As I was saying, you do a digital take over and you can’t even tell me what the weapon is?”

“All I know Captain is that without a highjack of your system, I might have been found out by whoever is the spy.  The thing I do know about the weapon on your ship is that it has a code name ‘Existence’ and it is in high demand by the tech
extremists.”  He moves a hand to draw my attention from the floor, “think about it Charles, the Hellion is a point ship, one of the first to go into a highly dangerous battle and the fastest one out in the known galaxy.  A ship like yours is never decommissioned by any military, you and your crew are unknowingly transporting one of the most feared inventions ever created.”  Jon hops down and takes a step closer, “The Hellion is at this moment the most dangerous thing to the human race.”  Jon pushes past me and grabs the helmet to his suit, “I wouldn’t recommend wasting any more time Captain, we’ve got to find Existence and put it in the right hands.”  He puts his helmet on and straps it in.  I don’t want to believe him, I don’t like the idea that my crew or ship has been compromised but the whole operation never sat well with me.

I close my collar and strap my helmet on, “Alright Jon, I’ve got an eye on you.  Let’s go.”

We go through the motions in silence. I’m too immersed in my thoughts to try and engage him in conversation.  The door opens and I see one of my crew working on the outside of the Hellion, magnetic tethers holding them over one of the ships weapons.  “Palma?  Is that you?”  I’m greeted with silence, looking to Jon I see his left hand move and touch his other hand. The speaker in my suit hums and I hear a voice.

“-respond.  I repeat, we have lost all audio communications.  Captain Johnson if you can hear us please respond.”

“I hear you.  I have the hacker in tow meet us in the lower airlock for an update and assistance,” we make a leap to the side of the Hellion and allow our boots to connect with the ship.  “Palma is that you outside the ship?”  The head turns and she waves.  “Switch to channel five Palma,” we both switch our coms and I waste no time, “the lifepod, it stays between you and me, understood?”

“Understood sir, weapons are live.” Jon and I continue our slow travel around the bottom of the ship.

“Palma another thing, I appreciate the initiative and hard work.” I round the edge of the bottom and pull myself quickly up to the airlock.

I hear Palma stuttering slightly and then take a deep breath before speaking, “The weapons were made to look decommissioned, they’ve been hot since we left.  I uh—I’m just fine tuning the calibrations, I didn’t really have to do anything. I’ll be inside in ten.”  Before I can consider what this means the airlock opens.  We float in and they seal us up, changing the pressure and filling the small space with breathable air.  The door opens to Short and Keshav, weapons ready and in hand.

I loosen my helmet and toss it aside, Jon takes his off and looks back and forth between Short and Keshav. “What, no hello?  How about a cup of coffee maybe a glazed doughnut?”  Short and Keshav look at each other and then back to Jon, then over to me.

“Don’t worry about it, he’s got a weird sense of humor.  Let’s take him up to the brig and then I need a little time to sort some things out.”  We walk to the lift and take it up.

“Sir,” of course it’s Short to question me first, “what is going on here?  Is this the right course of action bringing him on board?  He did after all commandeer the Hellion from us.”

“Better we can keep an eye on him Short.  You know what they say, keep your enemies close and what not.”

Keshav quickly commented, “I say we dump him out the airlocks without his suit on.”  Short turns her head with a look of disbelief on her face, “what?  Problem solved.” The door opens and Irish is waiting for us on that floor.  He nods and signals for us to walk with him.  On the way to the brig Lieutenant Short opens her holocom and lets out a sound of frustration.

“I don’t understand.  This was just working a minute ago.”  Irish stops suddenly.

“Wait,” we stop and look back while Jon looks the other way.  “Short, walk to me with your holocom on.”  She takes a few steps and the screen slowly straightens itself out.  “Holocom’s displays in a frequency outside of what basic ships communicate on, so they don’t interfere with the systems and vice versa.  Only something operating on the same signal could interfere,” Irish looks up to Jon, “I’m guessing the technology in his synthetic right arm is broadcasting at that frequency.”  We turn to Jon, who smiles pressing a finger into the back of his right hand.  The ship lurches suddenly sending us all to the ground, with the hallway switching to the emergency lights.  Jon shoots off into a mad dash, throwing the shackles off to the side. Keshav guns after him.

I get to my feet and turn to Malloy, “Irish, how did you know that he had a synthetic arm?”

Irish shrugs, “Honestly I just took a guess, he kept touching his arm.”  If I had time I’d be impressed, I turn from Irish and run down the hall, after Keshav and Jon.

“Get everyone on the ship battle ready, full alert!”  I shout as I round the corner on Keshav’s tail.  After a while of running I surmise where Jon is going, he’s heading towards the detention center.  “Keshav gun!” without looking he tosses it up and over his shoulder, I manage to catch it without breaking stride.  We reach the split, the intersection leads into the two different cell blocks, Keshav throws up a few hand signals and checks for my approval, I nod and he goes right while I go left, weapons up and ready.

I enter the first hallway and walk into the long stretch of cells.  The door shuts behind me.  “Please tell me it’s not locked,” I touch the console next to the door, it’s unresponsive.  “Of course it’s locked.”  Walking deeper in I find Jon, he’s got the floor panel removed for the cell all the way in the back.  I take aim and slowly approach, he’s consumed in his work with the wires in the floor, with a clear shot I squeeze the trigger.  The gun clicks and nothing happens, I pull again.

“I think you know I’ve got a jammer. I’m not an idiot.”  I pull the trigger another time, then decide to holster my gun.  “You never thought it was odd that this wing of the detention cells has an emergency detach, to separate and fire it out into space.”

I answer, inching myself closer to him, “This wing is for the more dangerous criminals, the release is to drop our losses if they break loose.  Jettison them and any dangers off the ship.”  I loosen my suit and make enough room to reach the knife.

“Or maybe it’s to get rid of all the evidence.”  He touches two wires together and the square of floor in front of him starts to slowly rise.  “This is it, finally it.” I pull the knife out and aim it at his head, then press the slide back, but nothing happens.  He turns around and I manage to put the knife behind me before he sees it, running my hand over it and mentally kicking myself about the safety.  “Do you see what this is?” I look at what’s slowly coming up behind him.  “It’s the next step, project Existence.”  It wasn’t a bomb or a gun, it was unexpected, it was humanoid.  Made of metal resembling human by shape and form, with various plates and wire veins, some sort of clear skin tight material bound over it’s arms and legs.  “This technology is useless in your circle, but this is what we’ve been waiting for.” He grabbed the side of the machine, a handle pulling free from the side of the casing.  “Natural progression Charles, we advance into godhood.  We become immortal and shed our flesh, fuse ourselves into the machines that have taken us this far into the unknown.”  I press the safety down, “Captain, it’s a new day, I’ll be the first person to break the barrier, to become both man and machine.”  Jon turns to me and smiles, “You on the other hand, you’re going to die out in space.”  The thought alone turns my blood to ice.  He touches his wrist and I lift the ballistic knife to his head and fire.  Jon’s head jerks back and he crumples to the ground.

It’s done.  I take a deep breath, glad that we hadn’t been jettisoned from the rest of the ship.  The lights return and I walk to the door, it was still sealed.  Keshav was on the other side.  I try to work the controls but nothing responds. “Keshav, get this door open.”

The PA system comes on and I hear Short.  “The computers are running without our control, if anyone is in the high risk prison quarters you need to evacuate, Malloy says it’ll be detached in five minutes and counting.”  Keshav and I look at each other, then we scramble for the panels.  But none of us have tools.  Keshav tries to fire his gun but it doesn’t fire.  “Four,” I turn and run back to Jon’s body, looking for the controls to the door, but it’s under his flesh and not visible.  I need to get the knife blade out so I can strip his fake flesh off, see the buttons underneath.  Lifting his head I search for the blade from the ballistic knife.  “Three,” the knife is embedded inside of his eye with barely enough to grab, I try to grip the flat of the blade but it’s slick with blood, so I wrap my fingers around what I can, and pull as hard as possible.  I feel the edge slicing through my flesh and into the muscle in my fingers, screaming I pull harder. “Two,” I open my hand but see that the blade hasn’t moved.  I look around the room, it’s clear of any weapons or tools, then I look at the machine.  Project Existence, he was going to use this to survive, this was his way out.  “One,” I stand up and walk to the handle of the machine and grip it tight.  It stings and burns, little needles protruding from the handle, some unseen thing flowing through my veins and arteries and pumping into my heart.  I lose muscle control and collapse on the floor, my vision leaves me, and then slowly sound trickles away into nothing, “Zero.”

I don’t think anyone truly understands what an out of body experience is like, I never did.  Standing behind glass, looking down at my lifeless body, watching it crumple and cave in, and then everything inside the room is sucked out, fired into the blackness of space.

I spent most of my time staring at my hands, the light from my eyes illuminating my metal fingers from the emptiness.  Someone came, maybe minutes or hours, I’m not really sure.  They found me in the glass.  They couldn’t hear me, I’m not really sure if I was thinking or actually speaking.  But after a few visits they brought me in, sealed in the tube with what remained of the machine.  Once inside I could hear sound, what came from me and what came from others.  “I’m Captain Charles Johnson of the Hellion, I’m telling you this is me.”

Short looks to the others, they seem as clueless as she does.  Keshav raises a hand, “I’m second in command and now I’m Captain of this ship, I’ve got a solution to this…”

“You can’t just dump me out of the airlocks Keshav!” I interject.

Keshav raises an eyebrow, “Both the Captain and the highjacker were there to hear that, how do we verify it’s you in there?”

Looking around to everyone there, I decide to work through the list.  “Palma likes to bake pies, Irish has an unusual addiction to knives and unsanitary eating habits, Short hates it when I call her Katie.”  Lieutenant Short makes a bitter face at the mention of her first name, “and Keshav you’re like family, always have been and always will be.”  Keshav walks over and pulls the release, the tube opens and gives me a bit of room to move.  “So what do we do now, how do we handle this?”

Keshav looks at everyone else and then turns to me, “You’re the Captain, you tell us.”

End of Part 3

The End of the short story.  Not the last of the Hellion.