The Wonder Worlock: Sins of the Father, Part 1
created 11/08/2012 - 12:36pm
(Cover by Mark Burns and Jasmin Steele.)
PART THE FIRST
The old sailing ship creaks as the waves turn it to and fro, its ancient voice singing a mariner’s song. On deck, the man in black faces northeast, motionless, his great ebony cape flapping in the wind, threatening to lift him skyward into the squall.
On the deck is a steady wheel, manned by a water-breathing alien from another world. Neptunian technology, a science from far away, keeps water pumping through his lungs and gills. This is a captain of decades vintage. He has only lost one ship in all his time sailing, whether it be the oceans of alien worlds or amid the alien worlds of outer space.
This is not Captain Gar’s world, and it is not that of the Dark Mage, the man Gar knows as the Wonder Worlock. But the wizard brought Gar’s people here months ago, and in doing so saved them from in-breeding, also saving as he did it this world’s slim native population of water-breathers.
This gem of a blue-water world, this Oceanus, now home to both Gar and the space-bending legend.
Winds whistle through the sails of the wooden ship and Gar’s few good men, of both Neptunian and Oceanan blood, correct course according to the perceptions of the wizard, as he guides them to meet their newest neighbors.
“Avast, Dark Cloak!” Gar screams to his friend from the deck. “Tell me again why it was we just didn’t ride one of those purple puffs of smoke to the land, why it was again we are pretending to be the forefathers of surface dwellers that did not survive this planet in the first place? Why was that?”
For the first time in ages, the Wonder Worlock smiles, although you cannot notice it from beneath his cowl. “My good captain, these people are just building a trust with “us,” with the sea-breathers of Oceanus,” the mage says, “just as you a year or so ago, you and yours, were building that same trust with the Oceanans of Queen Arema.
“In the case of these good surface folks, the Sh’zam, wronged long ago by the villain Vargas, there will be no symbol, no blood ties such as exists with your own, no Landry. That is why we must establish our friendships slowly and according to their ways, and this is how they traveled on their world, or so the visions I intercepted from them weeks ago said.
“The Queen would have them as allies, under her banner as agreed, rather than foes,” the Wonder Worlock continued. “Thus, we meet them along their path, on the land, and not our own … or your own, hahaha.”
“Oooooooooooooh,” Gar says, suddenly focused on the youngest of the crew, Captain Rand of the Goff starship New Hope. The lad is accompanying his friend the wizard to this world for the first time, wishing to offer the aid of the great star-spanning Goff Empire to these Sh’zam, if necessary, along with continuing an alliance and sharing of technology with the Neptunians and Oceanans first set up by the celestial sorcerer. “How be ye, ‘Captain’? Harharhar …”
“Oh, oh, I will be fine, Captain Gar,” Randsays, his face pale white and gaining green hues as he rides the rocky waves. “This isn’t my first time on stormy seas, but I am more used to the calm vastness of space.”
“Aye,” Gar says, his smile dimming as he reflects on his own dark times in the void, times he has shared with none, not even his friend, the Wonder Worlock.
A burst of wind suddenly catches Rand’s flapping necktie and somehow wraps it around Gar’s wheel, sending both captains to the deck heads-first. The old vessel steers crazy as Gar fairly chokes the boy’s neck with his hands as the wheel and Rand’s necktie continue to do likewise.
“Urk! Choke! Urrrrrrrr ...” are the only sounds that emanate from the mouth of the Captain of the New Hopeas he turns from green to blue.
I did not want to do this, not now, thinks the Dark Mage, and suddenly seven shining suns appear in the whirling clouds, from white to deepest black. These are the Suns of Synaster, and they immediately dry the deck, chase the storm clouds away and calm the rough waters of Oceanus.
Gar, the sea-breather, is the first on his feet and roughly yanks Randup by his necktie, shaking the lad like a dog might shake a rag doll. “I am gonna take me sword and cut this black thing from your neck and then wrap it around ye and hang ye from the yardarm!”
Randoffers no resistance, his arms at his side, as usual. “Urk! Choke! Urrrrrrrr ...”
A lightning bolt strikes at the foot of Gar’s feet, causing his laughing mer-men to suddenly draw their weapons. Smoke creeps from the right black glove of the Wonder Worlock.
“My young friend, Rand, is a captain and a diplomatic voyager under full protection of Queen Arema herself, and should be treated with the same respect as is afforded Captain Gar or myself!” the galactic guardian yells, as the men put away their atomizers and Gar helps the boy to his feet, trying to be apologetic as he helps Rand undo his necktie from the ship’s wheel. Frowning, Gar cannot help give the tie an extra yank, which Randwrites off as unintentional.
Rand, can I not convince you to remove your necktie even on this long, hot journey?the mage asks of his best friend telepathically.
Nope, the stubborn son of geneticist Mayrah Rand psi-says, pulling himself up amid grinning mer-men, not removing but straightening his necktie and then continuing his watch to the south.
Out of range of Rand’s hearing, on a now-quiet sea, Gar whispers, “Where do ye meet these folks, Dark Cloak?”
“That’s funny,” the wizard whispers back, “that is just what Randasked me after first making your acquaintance.”
Everyone … well, except maybe Gar … has an otherwise uneventful journey to the shores of the new colony of Poseidonis.
Almost 40 years ago, as Neptunians measure time, and the young Navy crewman named Gar had left his home colony, light years distant from that which had once been the homeworld of his race, ready for his first active space duty on board the Pearl, a new Class Omega starship.
But what began as happy times for the lad wore on into boredom and banality. He wanted to explore, he wanted adventure. Instead, it was the same old grind: A search for a like race to extend the boring life of his peoples one more bleem, one more cycle. Forsaking his former clean-cut appearance, Gar becomes somewhat rough, appearing more a space pirate than an ensign in the great Neptunian navy.
Following his discoveries – or lack thereof during mission after mission – Gar withdraws from the world for a time, taking an extended leave on the almost abandoned Neptunia itself, one from which he does not return. Gar’s captain, the legendary Ar’tur Kurry himself, searches and finds his ensign weeks later, with his scaly hair and beard grown long, brooding in a cave amidst the Ankton Sea.
Gar returned with Kurry to the Pearl, and soon after lost his left hand in battle trying to save his vessel and captain. It was the vengeful Docrons that had attacked and, while forcing Kurry to watch, stuck the lad’s hand into a pool infested with piranha-like fish.
This causes the seaman to become somewhat unhinged, and he began having prophetic dreams, and then, in need of a "symbol", later attached a harpoon spearhead to his left arm in place of his missing hand. After the destruction of the harpoon by mercenaries raiding the Pearl, Gar has it replaced with a cybernetic prosthetic.
Gar was the only survivor of the Pearl’s last battle with the Docrons, and his bravery made him a legend and a revered officer in the Neptunian navy. And after Gar hears the full story from the Wonder Worlock of the rogue Kat’Wallidur, the captains Krik and the bravery of young Rand, the aquaman realizes he and the boy have more than dark seas in common.
Time has passed, but for the memories of those people called the Sh’zam, it still seems a tale of childhood.
The celestial sorcerer known as the Wonder Worlock was in battle with the powerful cosmic being known as Van Wyck, a collective creature carrying within it the life patterns of the Sh’zam culture.
Before Van Wyck could recover from the magicks of the galactic guardian, the Vortex of Viruses wafted around him. Caught in the whirlwind, the alien felt his insides being pulled outward. As he suffered, Van Wyck heard the low chanting of his opponent. Then an explosion of energy without light around his frame.
As a veil of purple smoke cleared, standing on the surface of Ufratus under an artificial atmosphere provided by the Wonder Worlock was the Sh’zam, a thousand or so strong. Confused, tired, they looked to the ebon shaman for explanation. He bowed his head low.
“It is done, good folk of the Sh’zam,” the Wonder Worlock said. “Behold! You are returned to life and the collective called Van Wyck is no more, his sole purpose having long since died as Vargas was imprisoned – by his own people, by the same ones against which Van Wyck was about to release untold wrath!”
“What does all this mean for us, O Sir?” spoke finally a dazed Y’llb Satbon, leader of the scientists that formed the collective. “Our land is …”
“Forgive my interruption, but there are many landmasses of such size as to sustain you on the world beyond, called Oceanus,” he said. “Queen Arema is willing to meet with a delegation of Sh’zam even as we speak to welcome you to her world. You would live under her banner – her folk are water-breathers – but as an allied colony. Is this fitting?”
“If true, Sir, you have freed us from a slavery the Sh’zam brought upon themselves,” Satbon said, to the roar of an awaking throng.
It was not too long before the arrival of hundreds of air-breathers to the world of Oceana, thanks to upper-end Goff and Neptunian technology, the product of a science-share effort started by the Dark Mage, one Rand is determined to see become permanent. On the Good Fellow and each Neptunian craft in orbit about the water world are uber-transporters, allowing instantaneous transportation to and from anywhere in the universe via a “Continuum Cortex.”
As the hue’aurad’Gar – the friends of Gar – helped the Sh’zam settle and old racial hatreds themselves decayed, Satbon and his fellows decided rather undemocratically to call their new colony Poseidonis, in honor of Queen Arama and her burgeoning nations.
This day, it is that same Satbon, along with his daughter Shazetta and a handful of Sh’zam scientists, who greet the Wonder Worlock, captains Gar and Rand and their party as their wooden ship docks at Port Selrahc on the northern edge of the main surface continent.
“Greetings, Satbon, and what beauty do we have here?” the Wonder Worlock asks, embracing Satbon and his scientists in the ancient tradition of the race, as taught to him by Satbon himself.
“This is my daughter, Shazetta, who has already taken to this world and its climate,” Satbon says. “In truth, you may see her in Oceana itself because unlike her father she loves these seas. Swims like … well, like a resident of Oceanus!”
The nervous moment is broken by the laughter as the Dark Mage and party dine with the Sh’zam officials before meetings at sunrise between Satbon, Gar and Rand. During the feast of octopeds, aqualixes and a marvelously cooked triplax (three ways!), Y’llb Satbon takes note of his daughter’s fascination with Rand.
“Tell me, Captain Rand, the Goff? Do they often make one so young a leader of men?” Y’llb Satbon asks.
“No sir, they do not, but … my captain …”
Again the universal horror story of Kat’Wallidur and the fate of the crew of both the Hope and the Wave are retold, and when they are Randis held in high esteem among both the scientific and warrior class of the Sh’zam, as Gar before him.
As Satbon rises to toast his guests and their new land, suddenly a simple wooden spear pierces his chalice … and his heart!
“By the Golden Grotto!” Gar exclaims, his bulky body covering Randas Randcovers Shazetta. “’Tis them! Them!!”
It is a horde of primitive Baah – big, muscled, strong like Rock Trolls, able to breath under water and above the waves, and armed with spears – being herded ashore Poseidonis by …
“… The Docrons!!!” screams the Neptunian captain, in a tone his mer-men have ne’er heard from his bristled mouth before.
TO BE CONTINUED …