The Wonder Worlock: Blue Planet, Part 1
created 12/05/2013 - 7:23pm, updated 12/05/2013 - 11:17pm
(Cover by Sash Scott and Jasmin Steele)
The long, black cloak of the Wonder Worlock swishes and sways in a weak current flowing through the dim glow of All Souls Grotto, an ever-lasting illumination that marks this memorial to fallen heroes.
Here lies Skrill, native of the planet Neptunia, right-hand man in the service of Captain Gar. Here also lie Ybom Kcid, an Oceanan in Gar’s service, and Br’vort, the first scout to record the necessaries of the waters of this wondrous world. Heroes all. Dead on Gar’s watch.
Now Augustus Gar, captain of the Neptunian starship Good Fellow, pride of Oceanus, husband of Nef and step-father of the babe that is the cosmic gem Landry, comes to join his fellows after having been mortally wounded in the battle against the Children of the Norn.
A pre-recorded variation of Flowers of the Forest blares over a perceptibly old sound system as Admiral Shad, supreme officer of the United Forces of Neptunia and Oceanus, himself folds the blue and green Battle Flag of Oceanus and hands it to Queen Arema, who stoically gives it to the ebony-clad Nef, his widow.
Nef weakly hands the baby Landry to her special caretaker, Prima Dona of the Star Blazers, before receiving the tribute flag. She is assisted by General Doz of Gaza Prime.
“He was not of this world, yet here he found comfort, he found love, he found family, and he found a peace few of us ever know,” Shad eulogizes. “It will be in his name that this proud experiment represented by the infant Landry continues, as the citizens of Neptunia and the citizens of Oceanus become one. One proud people. Captain Gar would want it no other way. Rest well in Neptune’s garden, dear friend. Know that those who are left behind to mourn shall carry on your dream. We will not fail you.”
The Wonder Worlock, standing separate from the crowd with the boy Arion, the last to see Gar in life, says nothing. It is during this time that many spot a large black manta taking flight over Gar’s grave, its wings outspread like a giant cape -- a sign of luck in both races’ mythologies, as it happens. They then note that Arion is by himself.
The Wonder Worlock is gone.
That was weeks ago.
PART THE FIRST
“You know I must do this by myself, love,” the Dark Mage says to his companion Arema in her Royal Bedchambers. “I owe it to Gar, and I owe it to the troubled souls of She’ol.”
“But beloved,” the Queen protests to no avail.
“Arema, over 80 percent of Oceanus’ sea is more than a mile deep and it forms the planet's most mysterious habitat. But its water is constantly moving in a complex and unending cycle, shifting between solid, liquid and vapor, moving between Oceanus’ sky, its surface and the not-so-solid ground.
“Water is on the move in the atmosphere. Water vapor invisibly moves heat from the equator toward the poles. Where warm, moist air rises to meet cold air, swirling white clouds form. Water vapor transforms itself into droplets or icy crystals, and falls planetward as rain or snow, supporting life on the large continent and its many smaller land neighbors, sculpting landscapes as it moves across the limited surface of this water world.”
“Is this the weather report …?” a frustrated Arema says.
“Beloved, I have been here, lived on this jewel of a world for almost a full cycle now, but I have yet to explore its mysteries,” he says. “I know more about Goff, Niflheim and the Mephistoff Nebula than I do this world on which I live.”
“And how many times have I wanted …”
“No, this is no picnic, beloved. I go to satisfy a curiosity within me, a scientist’s wonder, and also to rest my soul – all of them – about the death of our friend, Gar.”
“Beloved,” she says, stroking his shoulders softly, “again, Gar’s death was not your responsibility. Nef does not feel that way. The past and present crew of Gar’s own starship Good Fellow threw you a banquet but a fortnight ago. You had a good time, as did Nef, whom I see more and more in the presence of the airbreather Doz …”
Feels wrong, the Dark Mage thinks, but says nothing.
Then: “Arema, I am gone. Please keep my side of the bed warm. Vortex of Voyages …!”
The blue woman kneels before the transparency of her great tower, looking out at her blue planet. “Blessed Creator! I wish you success, Son of Survok. Pray you return safely.”
With a logic frighteningly Terran, the Wonder Worlock begins his trip of discovery by teleporting to the northern Arctic cap of his adopted world. In a mystic bubble that will travel on its own through the powers of currents (sea and air) and also intangible and invisible, he is free to be “the scientist,” to observe and experience what he seeks: knowledge of Oceanus’ waters outside of the Golden Gates of Oceana. The Wonder of It All!
The winter in the Arctic brings temperatures of minus 50°C and frozen seas. However, there are polynyas in the Arctic which are free of ice owing to the pressure of currents on either side, and such places do provide refuge for some living species, like the bull-warbler (not a bird but a waddling walrus-like beast) and the bowhead mosok, large as an Earth whale. He notices a pod of belugas, their movements limited to a single hole in the ice and therefore putting them at risk of attack from the bull-warblers. Dinner is served this day for the latter.
Hours pass, days. Traveling below the Great Arctic Circle, a sperm mosok descends 1,000 metres to look for food. The Wonder Worlock follows. On the way down, the Dark Mage sees a number of unusual creatures alien even to the Golden City, such as transparent squid- and jellyfish-like swimmers, whose photophores, he notices, give pulsating displays of color.
In such dark places, both being able to see (or sense movement) and the means of quick concealment are equally desirable, he thinks. To that end, some of these small creations seem to use bioluminescence as a means of detecting food or evading predators.
A descent to the very bottom of the ocean -- some 4,000 metres -- reveals life even at such cold temperatures, much of it unknown to Oceanan science. It is dominated by echinoderms that sweep the sea bed; however, there are occasional large hunters, such as the very large-mouth orl’goc, whose teeth are so large the creature cannot close its own mouth. In addition, six-gilled musk sharks he sees seem to grow up to eight metres in length and, as a fact, have remained unchanged for 150 million years. They are literally living fossils.
As the eventual continental slope flattens out, it joins the abyssal plain, which can form huge trenches. At seven miles, the deepest is the Korr-thaa trench, named for Queen Arema’s great grandsire; fish have been found there right down to the very bottom.
More hours, more days. The mystic sphere of the Wonder Worlock approaches what Arema and her people call “marine deserts,” seas that are furthest from the “Center of All,” the Golden City of Oceana. Such waters contain the swiftest and most powerful of ocean hunters, including the usually peaceful Baah in the shadowy depths of the Grav Badar Ocean.
As he passes into this murky realm, the galactic guardian notices a feeding frenzy as striped oscas, tuna-like formel fish and a Sei mosok pick off a shoal of “sardines,” for lack of better ID, until all within it have been consumed. Huge mantas mirroring the ebony body and cloak of the Wonder Worlock himself gather to eat the eggs of spawning formels.
Accumulations of plankton correspond to ocean boundaries and, consequently, schools of fish seek them out, he thinks. This in turn attracts predators, such as the ajafish above me, its long sail looking more fit for air than these deepish waters. The only escape for smaller fish is to put as much distance between themselves and their pursuers as possible!
Bluefin formel heat their bodies by a great oval sinkhole as he passes; he theorizes it allows the fish to hunt in colder conditions than the others of their species.
Off the coast of the minor island Shelbain, an undersea volcano, likely the parent of the bluefins’ sinkhole, has formed a temporary island of its own and the nearby currents sweep many things – including the sphere of the Wonder Worlock -- to it, again creating huge feeding grounds. Another seamount is surrounded by shark-like animals, akin to hammerheads, but not to seek food: they are there to allow other fish to clean them of parasites!
However, others that are on the lookout for prey arrive in vast numbers, the celestial shaman observes.
A large pod of dolphins – on Oceanus regarded as their own type of intelligent entities -- is too big to feed all at once and so splits up into smaller expeditions. One of these ends up near the Kaptanes undersea mountain range with a shoal of mackerel in its sights, but they have to compete for their quarry with an attendant flock of shearwaters and a group of adult yellowfin formel.
One week in, now two, maybe more. At the southern pole of the water planet, in the Antarctic, winter is harsh, but king niugneps (large walking birds that mirror humanoid appearance) and Yupa seals stay throughout. This fascinates the scientist in the Wonder Worlock no end, as his translucent bubble bobbles intangibly over the ice sheets and under the frozen waters.
Under the sea ice, krill shrink in size and revert to their juvenile form in order to save energy. Helmetstrap niugneps overwinter to the north, beyond the ice, but return during the spring to breed. Having managed to get ashore, they walk a great distance to find a nest site, and the most favored, to his observance, is Vodovskiza Island, an active volcano whose warmth keeps ice from forming.
Further south, as the sea ice breaks up, humpback and le’artc mosoks appear, their target the abundant krill. The superior catlin seal is the Antarctic's top predator. It is most effective underwater, and king niugneps propel themselves at speed through its territory. Nonetheless, the mage sees, it almost invariably makes the kill.
More days, more weeks. The souls of She’ol are now at peace in the creation known only as … The Wonder Worlock.
The millions of molecules of the Binary beast have been drifting through the seas of Oceanus like some invisible plankton, hard to attract others of its kind together, harder still to retain enough of its memory after having been bastardized by the alien being Vargas.
Vargas, who remade the living energy of the Binary motherworld into some type of, of Silent Ghost!
Now the molecules are back together, energy seeking a host on this water world, this marine desert. It spots a Sei mosok eating on a shoal of sardines. As the shoal shrinks, the energy surrounds the startled giant.
“We are alive! WE
“We are back. We are alive. We are … BINARY!”
And its first real thought? Revenge -- or as it sees it, justice!
“Where is Vargas? Where is … the Wonder Worlock?!”