The Wonder Worlock: Escape from the Planet of the Dragon, Part I
Posted by: Byron Brewer, Managing Editor
July 02, 2012 16:12 | Updated: 46 weeks 5 days Ago
July 02, 2012 16:12 | Updated: 46 weeks 5 days Ago
A year or more ago, the great Dragon of Gaza IV returned to its home, a wondrously lush planet amid the Gazasystem located in the Small Magellanic Cloud, companion to our own Milky Way.
With that return came a destruction the world had never known before: almost certain death by fire!
As Gaza IV burned, on SmaugIsland, in the Unilateral Citadel of Science, the many big brains of the planet tried to out-speak each other, sounding rather like a Congressional filibuster. Roj-Le, one of the most respected minds in the Gazasystem – and beyond! – now has the floor, and his thoughts and concerns do not even involve the Dragon.
“My calculations show that this planet, our world is having internal stresses,” Roj says. “Its tectonic plates are sliding at an angle that seems outside the realm of possibility, meaning something has effected either our planet’s axis or our sun Gazaitself. We must forget this Dragon nonsense and ready crafts to evacuate our world before it explodes under our feet! Mr. Chairman --”
“Now now, Roj, my boy,” the Elder Chairman says, “you come up with this theory once a decade. The last time it was because your downstairs neighbor had moved a vibrating freezing unit into the basement of your dwelling. We must concentrate on the Dragon’s attack. With all spacecrafts, both military and personal, dedicated to battling the coming of that monster, our personal nightmare, I doubt anyone will be leaving Gazaanyways soon.”
“But Mr. Chairman --”
And Roj-Le remained quiet. That was a year ago.
PART THE FIRST
The Unilateral Citadel of Science today stands quiet, isolated by location from the hustle and bustle of a futuristic world. But beneath the Citadel, in a makeshift bay, exists a vehicle unlike any other: Voyager! Designed by the scientist Roj-Le, it ismainly jet-powered, but also has backup rockets for smaller jaunts. It has special landing gear to keep it upright in nearly any terrain and is capable of VTOL and hovering. In air, its top speed is 1200 mph for a range of nearly 21,000. Underground, Voyageris almost like an ice breaker and can slide through rocks using a molecular disjointer of Le’s invention.
Today, Roj-Le is joined by Doz, supreme general of the planet’s largest landmass; the Elder Chairman of the Unilateral Citadel of Science; and the Wonder Worlock. It was much at the cosmic wizard’s insistence, after talking at length over months with Le, that this covert expedition takes place.
As Le smiles at the wizard, he pulls a handle on Voyager’s control panel and a journey to the center of Gaza IV has begun in earnest!
“Everyone get comfortable,” Roj-Le says. “This ship is designed for this sort of task, but it has never been done before so things could get a bit hairy.”
“We could have simply burrowed straight down,” Doz says, a scowl plastered on his face.
“No,” says the Wonder Worlock before Le sets into one of his usual scientific diatribes. “Drilling down would have collapsed the specific cavern we seek and also lies on a fault line – that could trigger another cataclysmic seismic event, so we are taking a safer approach. And I’ve been this way before in intangible form after Le first contacted me. This path is true, I tell you. We are heading to -- the edge of the underworld.”
Down into the substrata of Gaza IV does Voyager descend, using technology that frankly fascinates the Wonder Worlock. Is man’s science finally eclipsing his quantum magicks? The ship slices through soil and rock without any digging device on its nose, and affords comfort like the Forward Deck of Rand’s starship, New Hope. Fascinating!
Deep within subterranean Gaza, much later, Voyager floats above a civilization of underground beings. Yellowish of skin cast with big bug eyes much like the Neptunians, they go about their simple chores, it seems.
“This is astonishing! We have no knowledge of underground races on Gaza IV. Even the Dragon never mentioned these beings. Are there more?” the Elder Chairman asks.
Roj-Le just grins at the Wonder Worlock.
The large cave is riddled with stalactites and stalagmites of awesome proportions. Colorful crystals along the cave walls seem to blossom like tropical flowers from the rocks. It is here that the dark mage puts to use his space-bending powers, keeping the cloakless craft invisible to subterranean eyes.
“Beautiful, isn’t it?” says Le. “Our world has so much to offer and so many mysteries yet to solve. If only the Science Council had listened to me --!”
“We did,” says the Elder Chairman. “Once each decade since my sire was Elder Chairman. Your stories always had the ring of fantasy, Le, and your sciences --”
“Would you now like those words on white bread or wheat?” Le snaps back, uncharacteristically.
Voyagercontinues the long journey ahead of her in silence.
After a time, multi-colored caverns full of strangely glowing rocks come into view. A different folk, these of reptilian scaling and humanoid form, seem to be angling for blind fish while their young ones play some game involving blind crickets. The peaceful silence and serene scene reminds the Wonder Worlock of his own blind cricket friends on the faraway world of Za, they who gave their lives to sustain him in hour of peril and later soothed his tortured soul with their songs.
The ship then comes to an abrupt stop at a seeming impasse. All the caverns have converged into a sort of boulder shaped like a bottle’s plug.
“This is the end of the line?” General Doz asks.
“Oh no, we will be going much deeper,” Roj-Le says.
A powerful stream of anti-matter particles shoot forth from the nose of Voyager. The beam leaves the rocks surrounding the “plug” undisturbed but disintegrates the cork forthwith.
“Based on one of your old ideas, Mr. Chairman!” Le laughs.
“Er uh, yes, yes, I recognize the science. I -- I, er, just never followed through -- Good man, Le!” the Chairman says, smiling for the first time on their journey.
Into the cavern city known to its inhabitants as Trophy’moi they travel. Beneath that, through the fabulous and dreamlike underwater city of Mermanus. (“Water-breathers living on Gaza?!” the Chairman gasps.) Then to their final destination: The former incubation chambers of the extinct dragons of Gaza IV!
As the foursome exit the ship after an hour of environmental testing, a strange aura is perceived by the cosmic awareness of the Wonder Worlock. The only crew member not “suited up” in Roj-Le’s custom protectives made of unstable molecules, the dark mage travels swiftly as tremors are heard in the background. They do not have much time, it seems.
Suddenly, the party is thrown off their feet as lava spews everywhere from an underground blow-hole. Voyager is protected by its integrate shielding and the cosmic wizard erects esoteric shields around his friends.
A bubble of gas rises from the direction of the volcanic burst, the same direction in which the mage was headed.
The bubble grows larger and larger, taking form, taking shape. And the shape it takes horrifies even the dark mage. The bubble has transformed into a doppelganger of -- his face!
The men are face-to-face with the head of the Wonder Worlock!
TO BE CONTINUED --