The Wonder Worlock: Sins of the Father, Part 2
created 11/30/2012 - 9:09am, updated 12/05/2012 - 6:51pm
(Cover by Tony Savage and Jasmine Steele)
PART THE SECOND
As he automatically summons the strong Shied of Synaster to envelop as many on the shoreline of the Sh’zam as possible, the Wonder Worlock looks past the primitive Baah, large-headed crustacean-like aliens who have lived peacefully in the depths of Oceanus for centuries, to the invading Docrons.
Zootalaris, but they must have some cloaking device on their vessels if both Arema’s defenses, Gar’s Neptunian brethren in orbit and my own cosmic awareness did not sense their approach, he thinks.
The Docrons are like no other creature he has encountered in the heavens and they are legion. The Dacrons are older than the Neptunians and perhaps even the Binary, according to his star-kissed senses. They are reptilian in appearance, and all male. From surface psi-scans, the Wonder Worlock learns there is a natural hatred between the species’ two genders, and they fought each other in long gender wars. Eventually, the males won, placing the females in captivity.
Gar quickly tells his friend that he has encountered the Docrons before.
“According to space legend, in time ‘twas the males who developed technology and abandoned their home planet Araitol, returning only when their mating drive makes it necessary,” the Captain of the Good Fellow says. “The males became conquerors of worlds, worse than space pirates, while the females are rumored to have became pacifists, content to remain in peace on their homeworld and ignorant of the males' star-spanning empire.
“I was the last survivor of the Pearl’s battle with the demons. They killed my captain and all his crew, save a boy – me.”
“The Baah have never attacked underwater, why would they surge above on land?” the mage asks himself. “I detect some mind-control ongoing; do the Docrons have such technology, Gar?”
“Aye, my friend, and more …”
A Docron blaster cracks the Shield of Synaster of a sudden, and quick as smoke through a keyhole the Wonder Worlock uses his space-bending power to teleport the Sh’zam further inland. As Gar’s skeleton crew blast away at both the indestructible Baah monsters in the Docrons’ thrall and the aliens themselves, the celestial sorcerer flings Bolts of Bedevilment toward the flying discs on which the Docrons ride, surrounding the party like some gang of great reptilian surfers. And …
“Zootalaris! My bolts have no effect?” a startled wizard discovers.
The Wonder Worlock freezes the calmed seas surrounding Poseidoniswith the Old Waysof Niflheim, creating a great Net of Numbness that now drops across several flying Docrons. Their energy weapons crack the net like a razor through melted butter and, as the invading land party concentrates on Gar, Rand and the fighting mer-men, the disc-driving lizard men attempt a second attack on the powerful but apparently ineffective wizard below.
I dare not become invisible, only endangering Gar and Rand all the more, the Wonder Worlock thinks, the Winds of a Thousand Worlds swirling about him and finally toppling a good number of the airborne. As they fall, the Baah fighting Rand and two of Gar’s men abruptly growl, look around and use their great claws to tunnel through the thick ice to return to their undersea home.
With the air lizards temporarily down, the Wonder Worlock rises into the air, his great ebony cape making him look like a giant bat of sorts in the setting sun of the day. His eyes fill with stars as he uses his cosmic awareness to see if this is a small scouting party of Docrons or something larger, more foul.
Hm, no more Docrons, but I do sense a nearby Neptunian presence … perhaps we are getting reinforcements already from some of Gar’s brethren in orbit above …?he thinks.
The Vortex of Vipers answers its master’s call, its winds snaking in and around the Baah still in thrall to the Docrons. He had made it plain telepathically for Gar’s men not to harm the creatures, and sure enough not a single Baah has been hurt by superior Neptunian technology … only a spear or two returned to the claw sections of three, nothing fatal.
With a great burst of breeze, the Baah are carried beyond the frozen seaof Poseidonis. With distance, their mind slavery also comes to an end and they head like a school of fish back to the shadowy depths of the ocean of GravBadar.
“Gar! What manner of ..” the Wonder Worlock shouts to his friend as the winds calm.
“I tell ye, Dark Cloak, these beasties are able to shunt their whole beings a second forward or behind in time, not to travel through it like them elves you told me about but to keep from being touched – physically, and apparently by magic either,” the captain says.
“Just like I remember,” whispers Rand to himself, wishing one of his own ships were somewhere in the quadrant.
“Trapping them seems an impossibility, unless …”
Before the cosmic conjurer can finish his statement to his loyal friends and their fighting force, the disc-riding Docrons return, blasters a’blazing, as the small party of ground forces renew their attack on the Neptunian-Oceanan mer-men.
“Creature of darkness, we come seeking the deaths of our ancient enemy, the Sh’zam!” screams a Docron dressed in finery and a tunic top. “I am Mor, leader of this party and exec aboard the Docron ship P’reelcloaked above. We have no fight with you or the Neptunians … anymore, that is. My captain has claimed this small landmass in the name of the Docron Empire and named as property the Sh’zam.”
“Property?” Rand asks.
“Slaves,” Gar says.
“These people are all under the protection of Arema, Queen Prime of the World Oceanus, Ruler of the Seas Eternal and all Lands touching same, Empress of the City-State of Oceana and Keeper of the Grotto of Gaspar,” the mage responds. “I am her protector and theirs.”
“Then your black body will be in All Souls Grotto by midnight!” Mor says, and his troops unleash a powerful onslaught that not even the esoteric shields of the Wonder Worlock can hold forever at bay.
A half-hour later, the Battle Horn of Sh’zam sounds across the melting ice of the sea near Poseidonisas they come to the aid of their comrades. The Sh’zam have already made farming beasts of burden of the native ses’rohs, a tropical cross between a camel and horse, and now Shazettascreams as she rides to the beach, a broadsword in both hands and her charge appearing like nothing if not one of the Valkyries of the Aesir. Behind the warrior woman is a war party of more than a hundred strong.
They are too late. Nothing left on the beach but a few dead and dying mer-men, who are seen to or carried off by the Sh'zam, and an unconscious Captain Rand.
The Wonder Worlock and Captain Gar are … gone, as are the Docrons.
In the bowels of the cloaked Docron starship P’reel, the Wonder Worlock and his friend Gar come awake, once again in an atmosphere suited for water breathers. Their hands are in cosmic-energy cuffs that, at least at present, even the wizard is too woozy to break. He tries turning his hands intangible, but gets the response predicted: nothing.
Before the chained duo is a great Captain’s Chair, holo-screens fizzing in and out, voices on dozens of coms reporting on the situations at Poseidonisand in the depths of GravBadar, where the Baah have been successful in driving out the resistant Docrons with their sheer might and numbers.
“How will we take the Sh’zam without those clawed simpletons, without their strength?” moans a voice most un-Docronian and familiar to Gar. “Our power cells drain, our rations are low and the mating fever will not give up on my men. What are we to do?
“Perhaps you have an answer, Gar? You used to have a solution for everything when you were a lad.”
Captain Gar starts. “That voice! It cannot be! Cap’n? Captain Kurry??!”
The chair slowly turns around to reveal the almost burnt-beyond-recognition face of Gar’s mentor, the presumed-dead Ar’tur Kurry. “Aye, ‘tis meself, the same captain of the good ship Pearl, after which this Docron barge is named, the same captain you abandoned when the going got tough!”
“It’s not true!” Gar protests, rattling his shackles. “You were dead, all the men were dead …”
“By the Pearl’s account, yes, but did you not think that a race that could conquer a Neptunian starship might just be able to play mind games on you with their tech? The men were dead, sure, but your captain had already been taken prisoner. ‘Oh, Gar will be after me,’ I thought. ‘No more loyal soul than he.’ They laughed at me and spit on me as their port viewer showed you swimming away faster than a murk turtle on Herbaroa IV!”
“There’ve been decades for ‘buts,’ Gar, decades for me to find myself quite at home on Docron, ye see. Now I am a captain again, captain of the P’reel, and I agreed to help them take the returning Sh’zam … oh yes, wizard, the news of that race’s miraculous return and the death of Van Wyck is wagging on all tongues between here and the Mephistoff Nebula!”
“Sir, I … I …” Gar sheds tears for the first, maybe the second time since his friendship with the Wonder Worlock. The rare sight is enough to shake the galactic guardian back to reality.
“As I told your man Mor, this world is under my protection!” the shaman screams, finally gathering his wits and turning his hands and Gar’s hands intangible simultaneously, avoiding the cosmic energy of their shackles as they fall off and onto the deck.
As Gar grabs an energy weapon from his nearby stunned guard, the Wonder Worlock summons a vortex which whips the water out of the P’reeland into another dimension. Bolts of Bedevilment fly at Kurryas his men rush to aid him, only to find the deck deprived of life-giving H2O.
As Kurry is bound by the Rings of Randak, Gar sees to his water needs with his own Neptunian tech.
Laying a hand on the gulping Kurry’s main ship controls, the wizard uses his cosmic awareness to decipher that which is needed. Then, envoking the Hex of Energy Nullification, the Dark Mage robs the computer banks permanently of its cloak as the P’reelsuddenly flashes into being and is soon surrounded by seven Neptunian warbirds.
Having used their time-manupulation technology, Mor and the Docrons escaped into hyperspace after their starship was taken into custody by Arema’s troops.
Over the course of months, former Neptunian captain Ar’turKurry is tried by a naval board of his peers and, in a first, is sentenced to the mysterious Ghost Sector, a pocket dimension in which that race’s worst are sent for all time, sentenced to view the good accomplishments of their fellows from afar.
And in the Royal Chambers accorded to Captain Gar, the mariner checks on the loves of his life, wife Nef and baby Landry.
“’Tis a strange universe out there, my love,” Gar tells his new wife. “Kurry was like a father to me. It broke my spirit and almost my body when he ‘died.’ But I think what me and the wizard went through weeks ago, that was so much worse.
“I will do anything to keep that kind of heartache away from you, dear, and this little one too. Cooch cooch …”
“Pap … papapapa … Papa!” Landry girgles.
Smiling slyly, Nef responds: “I just think it was gas, dear, that’s all. <Giggle>”