The Wonder Worlock: Truth Decay, Part 2
Posted by: Byron Brewer, Managing Editor
May 12, 2011 00:42 | Updated: 2 years 1 week Ago
May 12, 2011 00:42 | Updated: 2 years 1 week Ago
PART THE SECOND
It has been almost a month, as time is reasoned by the Neptunians, that the Wonder Worlock has boarded the Good Fellow. Under his starwise guidance, Captain Gar and his people are heading for the little-known world of Oceanus. On that planet, it is hoped, will be found the secret for the continuation of the Neptunian species: namely, compatible beings capable of mating and proliferation.
“This is just the type of world your peoples desire, Captain,” says the Wonder Worlock, under water, to the ship’s commander, “but it has been some time since even I was there, and I tell you that I do not recall there being any intelligent life, that which you are seeking.”
“D’ast, shaman, you and I know there are always hidden lands, secret cabals about, especially amid the grottos of an undersea world,” Gar said. “It is too good to pass up, much better than anything we have ever discovered in the four-plus years we have sailed the heavens. It’s worth the gamble!”
“Then you better be prepared for discovery time, Cap’n,” Skrill interrupts suddenly over the com, “because Oceanus is dead ahead, center, according to the mage’s coordinates.”
An Away Team is prepared, and includes the Wonder Worlock, who despite himself Gar has begun to enjoy sparring with verbally. D’ast if he has ever seen anyone in a cape under water, but then again the mage said the same thing about the captain’s pipe!
Five Neptunians and the Wonder Worlock beam down into the cold Oceanus sea, off the main underwater continental shelf. Lush greenery on the surface and underneath the waves calms Gar as he leads the team across a grotto and into a den of caves occupied by large but apparently harmless octopus-like creatures. The black-clad conjurer has a brief thought of Kat’Wallidur and shivers.
Slowly, inexorably, the six beings dive deeper and deeper into the caverns of Oceanus, the thick kelp and numerous fish life sometimes making visibility a problem. As they begin to lose sight from the surface, the mage gestures and a bobble of light appears before them, almost dancing, illuminating the way for the journey ahead … or rather, down.
At the trunk-roots of an ancient sea-growing tree, with limbs as thick as 10 Neptunians in a row, maybe more, the party discovers – surprisingly – a doorway of sorts. As small fishes swim this way and that, startled by the sorcerer’s light bobble, the Wonder Worlock uses his magicks to open the ancient gateway. As it creeks open, a troll-like figure emerges, at least fourteen feet high, very sturdy, with a tall head, and hardly any neck. Whether it is clad in stuff like green and grey bark, or whether that is his hide, is difficult to say. At any rate the arms, at a short distance from the trunk, are not wrinkled, but covered with a brown smooth skin.
“I am Tokeen,” he says.
Time itself has almost forgotten about the race of the Plantaine, a highly intelligent species of telepaths who are sessile in adulthood and resemblelarge plants. Unrelated to the Intz, these highly advanced beings grew to dominance over their humanoid counterparts in the Mantis star system.
As the population grew, evolved and spread outwards toward the stars, a space-born virus began to take hold of its members, essentially rotting the aliens from their insides. But turning lemons into lemonade, the Plantaine scientists discovered a way to regenerate this virus into a gelatinous ooze which could instead nourish the race. The only cost? Reversion to – cannibalism!
Over the course of centuries, this became common practice among the Plantaine, with the result that sects of the population lived far and between each other, eventually dotting the stars as single, very powerful entities.
Their last known member is Plantagenous. Plantagenous Rex!
The Plantaine survivor sits now in the Shirewood, gorged to bursting with energy from its plantlife … and its Intz. His telepathic senses are quiet, the rather hasty conversations between Intz now vanished as he sucks the last of their essences into his being, like a teenager sucking the last of a milkshake through a straw.
He must set forth soon, a cosmic shark swimming in the black ocean of space, constantly seeking lush planets to plunder, always on the move. There is no shame here, no remorse. He does what he has to in order to survive. This was the way of his people, the way of the Plantaine, the way … of Plantagenous.
Tokeen, getting his bearings in the underwater atmosphere, quickly becomes animate – but not hasty! – and explains the fate of his people, a plague now threatening a universe. He tells the Neptunians and the Wonder Worlock about Plantagenous and the course of genocide toward which he seems to be heading.
The Intz, aside from Tokeen that is, are no more, he said. But because of his age, his experience, he had learned from the Old Ones the gift of transference, a gift he was to pass down to Boughbo but now never will.
Tokeen – and other Intz, if the talent had been developed correctly -- has the ability to transfer his astral form to any place where plant life exists. He can form and inhabit a plant-like simulacrum of his body out of the destination planet's local vegetation. His destination moments ago had been Oceanus; he felt the energies of a being recently familiar to the Mephistoff Nebula, the Wonder Worlock, in that vacinity. That … and other reasons.
Through his simulacrum, Tokeen now tells the wizard about the death of the Shirewood, the death of the Intz and the threat to the known universe in the form of Plantageous.
“I have heard of this being, this Plantagenous,” the mage says, “but right now, I am on a mission of life-saving importance, Tokeen. We seek to save a race, these Neptunians, from extinction.”
“Known,” Tokeen says, very slowly. “Perhaps your answer lies over that cliff facing?”
The empathic nature of the Intz has not failed him, or the Neptunians. For over the underwater cliff facing, beneath a transparent fencing apparently rigged to nullify enegies – even psionic – swims the remaining population of Oceanus mer-people, ruled by Queen Arema.
The Neptunians have weapons drawn as they approach the spectaculer underwater city, golden buildings rising to touch the fencing amid ornate shellish designs of every kind imaginable. Fish species swim freely in and out of the netting; it prohibits energy, not life. Abruptly, those weapons turn hot and the Away Team is forced to drop them. It is then that the spear-bearing troops of Arema make themselves known.
“Welcome, strangers and Native Son,” the queen says, addressing Tokeen. “I welcome your return to Oceanus, Tokeen of the Intz.”
“Thank you, Your Majesty,” Tokeen says, without missing a beat. “I regret to inform you the Shirewood Expansion Program is, quite literally, dead. More on that later, Your Highness.”
Courtly courtesies were observed between Queen Arema and Captain Gar, a veteran diplomat as well as warrior. But despite the mixing of mer-people (no fish tails, by the way) and the queen’s promise to begin scientific experimentation to see if the Neptunians were indeed a match to Oceanus genetic compatibility, Arema made no secret of the fact that she was fascinated – enthralled, some thought – with the Wonder Worlock!
Here he was, in all appearances a surface dweller, speaking words to be heard by the ear, not in the head – and under water! He seemed to require no surface atmosphere, as some of the mammalian aquapeds do – and, as she later found out, he ate only out of courtesy, not need.
The attention was a curiosity to the mage, whose solitary life was one of adventure and exploration, not romance. But since he was dedicated to seeing through the plight of the Neptunians as well as the threat of Plantagenous, the sorcerer allowed himself to fall into what he called “mutual attraction” with the undersea queen – if not love itself.
They walked the Golden Grotto arm-in-arm, shared secret nose tweeks amid the spirals of a bustling Oceanus market. With guards excused, Arema even brought the caped conjurer into the Royal Bed Chamber. No gossip among the Oceanus populous was allowed, but the crew of the Good Fellow had some high times with the prospect, one relating to Earth’s legendary King Arthur and his magician friend, Merlin …
But now, with the wisdom of Tokeen telepathically passed onto him, the mage set forth out of the ocean, out of the atmosphere of Oceanus and into open space, an ebony-clad antibody set out to cure the virus to the universe called Plantagenous.
It took little more than half a bleem for the decay of the Shirewood and a hundred thousand other worlds consumed by Plantagenous to fill the cosmic nostrils of the Wonder Worlock. Like a fine hunting hound, the sorcerer cues in on the scent and teleports to the jungle world of Shirewood even as the Plantaine survivor prepares to depart, his “stomach” finally empty enough to traverse the stars.
“Ho, Plantagenous, a word with you!” the mage shouts, interrupting the plant-man’s process of harnessing the biosphere of the Shirewood to achieve lift-off. “You cannot be blamed for that which is your nature, Plantagenous, but you must find a manner in which to perform this eating ritual of yours without endangering intelligent species both plant and animal. The Wonder Worlock has himself been a hunter for food, but it is said you do this with a vicious joy belying any need of nutrition.”
“Whoever you are, you meddle in matters not your own,” the conjurer’s foe answers. “So discover who it is you deal with, caped man. Plantagenous Rex!”
It is then the tendrils of a hundred plants from worlds surrounding the two figures seem to abruptly grow wild, ensnaring the caped shaman in their grasp. One of those plants, the Sageus Fl’kbug Plant of Ceta Alpha V, therein begins to yawn open its venomous jaw like some great abyss, threatening to swallow the Wonder Worlock whole.
Fire shoots out of the crossed hands of the mage, melting most of the plant tendrils and evaporating the Sageus venom before it touches his star-kissed form. Bending space around him, the shaman becomes momentarily intangible while at the same time summoning the Seven Suns of Synester! These seven orbs, ranging in color from white to deepest black, heat the area and begin to literally wither the Plantaine.
Thorny leaves grow from his limbs and he swipes at the caped marvel, unbelievably piercing the Wonder Worlock’s physical and psionic shields while at the same time diverting his concentration as the suns burst into nothingness.
The cosmic champion floats in the cold of space, injured gravely. But then again, we are talking of a being that can heal living organisms, raise the dead (in a limited basis) and proven capable of revitalizing and evolving organic life on a planet-wide scale! It is no time at all before the thorns are being mystically removed from the mage’s body and thrown instead at Plantagenous -- with deadly accuracy!
Before he can recover, the Vortex of Viruses wafts around Plantagenous. Caught in the whirlwind, the alien feels his insides being pulled outward. As he suffers, Plantagenous hears the low chanting of his opponent. Then an explosion of energy without light around the Plantaine’s frame.
“It is done, Plantagenous,” the Wonder Worlock says. “Behold! You are cured of the space-born virus that gave rise to the cannibalism among the Plantaine. You may return to a more normal taking-in of nourishment … although, if I know my cosmic biology, you may just find that by using your talents to convert matter into energy, as you brought thorns to your limbs, this will sustain you.”
“If true, cloaked one, you have freed me from a slavery the Plantaine brought upon themselves,” Plantagenous says, and with that demonstrates the correctness of the cosmic legend’s hypothesis.
A joy unknown to him in his entire existence fills Plantagenous. “No longer am I the bane of others’ existences, a devourer of worlds, a galactic amoeba absorbing the dregs of rotting jungle worlds!!” he screams, soaring past his savior with a wave en route to … where?
The Wonder Worlock visits the world of the Shirewood II from time to time. Plantagenous has become absolutely obsessed with peace and quiet there, and with his lush garden. Living side-by-side with his former foe is the troll-like Intz Tokeen, who has begun a new genetics experiment for Queen Arema. It is his goal to, with the aid of Plantagenous, recreate the Intz population.
“I am afraid I must go, my friend,” the mage tells Tokeen as he bids farewell. “But as usual, I shall return to check on you and … our friend. His garden seems to be coming along quite well, I must say.”
“Oh, Plantagenouswill be fine, caped one. My advice this day is for you, my friend,” Tokeen says just as slowly, as succinctly as ever. “Leave if you must, Wonder Worlock, but please …
“… Don’t be hasty.”
-- FINIS --