Cindy walked towards the Faerie Market. There were all manner of different creatures wandering around the market place or minding the stalls. She could see elves, dwarves, gnomes, a tree-ish woman Cindy presumed to be a dryad, and many others that she had no name for, while above fairies and pixies flittered around them all.
The market stalls had many wondrous-looking items on display. There were gems, jewels in the shape of flowers that blossomed before your eyes as though they were alive, potions, weapons, small chests full of ointments or perfumes, and many more such things. Cindy stopped at a stall that had various trinkets. An old woman with long silver hair wearing a long black cloak regarded her. Cindy picked up a small silver bell that had intricate patterns etched into the metal. When she rang the bell it made a clear note that drove away her feeling of tiredness.
“You like the bell? Would you like to exchange something for it?” The old woman asked.
“I don’t have anything to buy it with.” Cindy told her.
“You have nothing at all?” The woman clarified looking at her keenly. Cindy dug into the pockets of her jeans. She produced the letter from Melissa, which was the only thing she had left.
“I’ve got a letter from a friend and that’s all.” Cindy said.
“Hand the letter over to me child and let me have a look at it.” The old woman requested holding out her shaking hand. Cindy reluctantly gave it to her. The old woman looked it over and opened it up to read. “Ah a letter of apology from a sorceress. This has much value. Feel free to take any item.” A sorceress? Cindy thought, it’s just plain old Melissa. Cindy picked up the silver bell.
“Okay I’ll take this silver bell. It’ll make a nice gift for Jess, my partner. It will help prove to her I was actually here.” Cindy informed her. The old woman nodded.
“It’s a fair exchange.” She declared. She spat on her hand and held it out to Cindy, who then reluctantly shook hands with her. “It is sealed.”
As Cindy walked away she looked behind her to see the woman hide the letter away amongst her belongings. Cindy began to consider it was time to move on. She should really get home as she was unaware how long she had been lost in Faerie, and time seemed to move differently here. Jess would be worrying about her. And it wasn’t like she anything else to exchange with aside from the clothes she was wearing, and she would rather not part with those.
Once finding the path she assumed would lead her back to the portal, she followed it to see where she would end up this time. The path led her through the forest and then upwards through bush until she came across Babradon who was sitting there smoking his pipe.
“I saw you approaching. You were away for some time. Did you get lost?” He asked.
“Yes. I left the path and couldn’t find it again.” Cindy told him.
“I did warn you not to leave the path. Then count yourself lucky you found your way back to here. You could have been lost in Faerie for the rest of your life.” Babradon informed her.
“I know. Luckily a pixie helped by leading me to the Faerie market. I’m really glad I saw it.”
“All’s well that ends well then.” Babradon replied.
“I better be going home. Jess will probably be wondering where I am.” She looked towards the portal.
“I suspect I’ll be seeing you again. So until next time!” Babradon said. Cindy nodded.
“Yes until next time.” Cindy replied as she walked up to the portal. She was looking forward to getting home.
Aalen was walking home. Tired, hungry, and cold, she looked forward to a warm fire and hot stew, but that was still far off. She came across a lone wolf cub.
“Where’s your mother?” she asked. She saw blood on it’s fur and knew there’d been some tragedy. She rummaged through her bag and fed the cub strips of dried meat and whatever else she could find. After it had eaten the last of her food, she picked the cub up to keep it warm and continued to her village. Aalen hoped her Elder would let her keep it.
I’m taking a short break from The Oracle, and will use this opportunity to finish the Dumb Vampires storyline. In the previous episode the vampires Freya and Sarah fled the city after the death of Britney. The hunters Robert and Tom are chasing them…
Freya peeked through the curtain to see it wasn’t yet sundown. She lay back in the bed with the sleeping form of Sarah beside her. On the bedside table was a mostly empty bottle of Jack Daniels, as well as copious bloodstains. Sarah definitely still loved her alcohol, even as a vampire, which had surprised Freya.
They had fled the city and driven all night using the two dead bodies with them as food. Once dawn broke they went down a back road and covered the car windows up and slept all day. When it was dark again they abandoned the car and walked along the road. Sarah managed to get a passing car to stop for them. After feeding on the driver and hiding his body, they took the car and drove it until it ran out of gas. Luckily they weren’t far from a town and managed to find a motel not long before the sun came up. Sarah found there was a bar across the road and came back with the Jack Daniels and a companion to feed on. Freya had to admit that Sarah was getting better as a hunter. She had to come to a decision soon: either she had to cut Sarah free or take Sarah as her partner from now on. As she had always survived on her own it felt weird to have someone with her all the time, but she had grown fond of Sarah, though she didn’t like to admit this to herself.
She sat up and carefully got out of bed. Stepping over the body on the floor, she went to the small kitchen. Opening the fridge she poured some blood into a cup and warmed it up in the microwave. As she was drinking it, Sarah appeared with her blonde hair all mussed up. She grabbed some blood as well and warmed it up.
“It was a great idea to put all their remaining blood into a jug.” Sarah commented.
“Yes, otherwise it would go to waste.” Freya agreed.
“So what’s the plan?”
“We shouldn’t stay here too long as we are bound to get noticed.”
“Like we did at my place?” Sarah asked.
“Well yes. We stayed there far too long. We almost got caught.”
“Well I did have a large friend’s list.” Sarah stated. “So what do we do next?”
“We need to head to another city. It’s easier to blend in there, especially if hunters are after you. New Kingsport is nearby.” Freya told her.
“So what do we do? Steal another car and head for there?”
“I think that would be best, but I think first we should lie low for a couple of days here. Hopefully the hunters have no idea which way we headed. The quieter we are the better.” Freya informed her. “Anyway what do you want to do? Strike out on your own or stay with me?” Sarah looked at her surprised.
“I’m not sure I would know what to do on my own. I thought we would just stay together.” Sarah admitted.
“You’re already showing signs you can hunt, and all the other stuff will eventually come to you. I think you could definitely make it on your own.”
“Are you trying to get rid of me?” Sarah asked looking upset. “You’re all I’ve got now Britney is gone.”
“No. I just wanted you to know that you don’t have to stay with me if you don’t want to. Of course you’re welcome to stay with me for as long as you want.” Freya explained. Sarah suddenly put her arms around Freya and held onto her tightly.
“I never want to leave you.” Sarah told her.
“Okay.” Freya replied as she put her arms around Sarah’s quivering body. She now knew she could never let Sarah go. Both of them heard a car drive into the car park. Out of curiosity, Freya opened a curtain to see a familiar car parked there. Two men got out of the car. She turned to Sarah. “The hunters are here.”
you who encourages
the wolf that bites
and injures, that
mutilates and weakens
you pretend to be trying
to stop it, but
scratch it behind the ears
your homes are wolf-proof
just hearing it howl outside
your door, but sometimes
you find fur across your path
and what was staring through
your windows last night?
in other places the wolf
can get through the holes
in the roof, the thin cracks
in the door, or can be heard
scuttling across the rotting
and while you're sitting secure
unworried about all the death
and decay in the street, your
silence will end
you will open your door
to find white sharp teeth
and blood on your doorstep
This was a poem I wrote when I was younger…
I’m thinking about putting The Oracle story on hiatus. There has a been a sharp decline in interest in the story. I know the main character is not an easy person to like, but that was sort of the point of it… When I bring it back I’ll probably truncate the story so it ends sooner than I was planning. There was going to a be a build up of tension on the ship. but I can always allude to it later in the story. The latest installment of Contraband has also not done so well, but as there is only one more episode to come, I’m not as concerned about that.
Brynla landed in docking bay 127. To her disappointment she found Asran wasn’t waiting there for her.
“Stay here and guard the ship.” Brynla told Ennik. As she walked off the ship, E-5JF followed behind her.
“Will you be needing me mistress Brynla?” the droid asked. Brynla turned to face her.
“No stay here and help Ennik.” she ordered.
“But you might need my assistance mistress.”
“I’m sure I won’t.” Brynla responded as she turned around and kept walking. When she came out of the docking bay she looked around. “Hey kid, do you know Asran?” she asked a passerby.
“Yes. He owns the cantina over the road.” the kid said pointing in the direction.
“Thanks.” She replied. She walked over the road and into the first cantina she found. The place was moderately packed. Everyone looked at her when she entered. She strode to the bar and approached the bartender. “I’m looking for Asran.”
“He’s over there.” he said pointing to a booth. As she approached it, she saw Asran was a race she had never seen before. His skin was a greenish-grey colour and while is head and abdomen were on the seat, the rest of him appeared to be made up of slimy tentacles that writhed around. She shuddered as she approached him. He looked at her excitedly as she got nearer.
“Ooh who might you be?” he asked.
“I’m Brynla. I have your shipment of food.”
“I never realised you were going to be a human female, and such a pretty one too.” Brynla rolled her eyes at his words. She sat down at the booth as far away as she could get from him. “Olooch, a drink for the lady!” he called out to the bartender.
“It’s been a long time I’ve been called a lady.” Brynla remarked.
“Can’t see why. You rebel chicks are so hot!’ As he said this Brynla could feel a slimy tentacle slowly wrap around her right leg. She kicked it away.
“Stop that! Anyway I’m not part of the rebellion, I just do jobs for them sometimes.” Brynla informed him.
“Really? I’m sure a crimelord, or even the Empire itself, would pay you far more for your services than the Rebellion can.” The bartender came over to them and gave Brynla a glass full some bright blue liquid.
“What’s that? I would have preferred a Corillian ale.”
“Try it. I’m sure you’ll love it!” Asran urged her. Brynla took a swig. It was sickly sweet.
“Not really to my taste.” she informed him. “Anyway, why has the Empire restricted access to this planet?”
“We don’t really know. There are many rumours. The most popular one is that the Empire is testing some new sort of weapon.”
“What on the inhabitants?” Brynla asked horrified. Asran shrugged.
“Or perhaps just certain areas of Karagen. Maybe not on the populace. Who knows?” He deftly flicked some of his tentacles in a way that suggested to Brynla he didn’t really care about it.
“Well anyway, my ship’s hold is full of foodstuffs. I need your employees to come and collect it.”
“All in good time my sweet. My place is upstairs. We can always go there and… negotiate.” As soon as he said this, several tentacles began to writhe up Brynla’s legs. Brynla pulled out her blaster and stuck it into one of his tentacles. Asran looked shocked.
“If you don’t keep your slimy tentacles to yourself, I will remove them all with my blaster, starting with this one.” she told him. Immediately all his tentacles quickly left her vicinity.
“I’m just trying to have a bit of fun.” He complained.
“Get your fun somewhere else. I’m just here for business. Tell your employees, or henchmen, or whatever, to come and pick up the foodstuffs on my ship, otherwise I’ll just dump them in the docking bay and leave them there to rot. You’ll find my ship in Docking Bay 127.” Brynla stood up and put her blaster away. She strode out of the cantina with everyone’s eyes still on her.
Once she was outside, she saw there were slime trails all over her legs. She shook her head as she walked back to her ship. She felt like she needed to be decontaminated, and might just have to burn her clothes for good measure. And this was meant to be the easy part…
Steff was seated on the bridge looking at the swirling blue light before her. Beta Hub was now behind them. They were in a wormhole rapidly getting further away from it. Once they were through a few more wormholes, Steff mused, they would really be in the deeps of space; far away from anywhere else. The pirates had been moved to a warship and were now Byron’s problem, or to put it another way: Byron was now the pirate’s problem, which was more accurate.
Lieutenant Ling Yi, the Second Mate, was also on the bridge. She kept stealing glances at Steff as she sat there unresponsive, seemingly captivated by the never-ending tunnel of light they traveled through.
“Captain, I can take over the bridge if you wish to return to your quarters.” Li offered. Her words broke Steff out of her reverie, and she glanced over at Li.
“That’s okay. I don’t mind being here for a little while longer.” Steff replied.
“You’ve been sitting there for several hours now Captain. I just thought you might want some rest, or at least to stretch a bit.” Li explained.
“I’ve got a lot on my mind at the moment.” Steff told her. “I need to consider things.”
“Understandable.” Li replied. “I’m going to be here for several more hours, so I can keep an eye on things here. I don’t mind really.” Steff considered her words and then reluctantly stood up. “Blake should be here soon as well.”
“Okay, but let me know if anything happens.”
“Sure thing!” Li replied taking over the command position. Steff walked to the bridge doors feeling rather stiff. How long had she been sitting there mesmerised by the lights?
After leaving the bridge she walked to her quarters thinking about Edwards all the way there. Why was he looking at Space Command data as well as information on all of New Earth’s worlds and colonies? It defied explanation. Had the Separatists somehow managed to take control of his mind? Was he acting under their orders now?
“SARA tell Doctor Philips to come to my quarters when it’s convenient.” Steff ordered.
“Yes Captain.” SARA replied. A short while later Philips turned up looking concerned.
“I was told to come and see you. Are you feeling okay?” Philips asked.
“Yes, I’m fine. I just need your opinion. Please sit down.” Steff replied. Philips sat down on one of the chairs and looked at Steff with interest.
“Is it possible for someone to be taken over or come under control of someone else?” Steff asked.
“How do you mean?’
“Take Lieutenant Frank Edwards for example. Say when he suddenly had that seizure and was in a coma for some time, the Separatists took control of his mind in some way. Is that possible?” Philips looked at her doubtfully.
“You’re still not obsessing about Edwards are you? I thought you were over that. To answer your question: no. Not by any technology I know of, as I have explained before. The Separatists would have to be more advanced than we are, and I know they’re not. There have been experiments into this, as the military is interested in this technology, but so far they haven’t yielded any practical results. The only real way to do this most easily is by mind control techniques similar to brainwashing, but that takes time and it pays to have the subject in close proximity when doing it, not many light years away. Edward’s consciousness couldn’t be taken over or controlled this way.”
“What if he had been subject to mind control before he came on board, and then a signal was sent that activated it?” Steff asked.
“That’s highly speculative. There’s no evidence he’s come under such conditioning. As I understand it he was on New Earth for a long period before joining The Oracle crew. Can I ask why this renewed interest in him?” Philips inquired. Steff sat down so her eyes were level with Philips’s.
“SARA informed me he’s looking at quite extensive data pertaining to New Earth’s military, colonies, settlements and worlds. This includes military deployments. Does that not seem suspicious to you?” Philips sat back and observed Steff.
“So you are watching him? I’m disappointed. Maybe he’s trying to educate himself, or maybe he’s just interested in that sort of information. Personally I don’t see why it’s such a problem. Taking control of someone and doing a data search of New Earth information seems rather a bizarre and long-winded way to get such information, if you ask me. If you’re concerned about it, maybe you should ask him about it. That’s what I would have done.” Philips told her bluntly. “You’re seeing conspiracies in fairly mundane activities. That’s called paranoia. You are not well. My advice is resign your command and check in to a psychiatric institution as soon as you can. Get some help before you harm anyone else. I will be mentioning this in my report to New Earth Space Command.” Philips stood up and began to leave Steff’s quarters.
“I’m not just imagining it! There is something going on and we could all be in great danger.” Steff warned her, but Philips didn’t stop and just shook her head at Steff’s words as she left.
Steff sighed. That hadn’t gone well, but then again what was she expecting trying to confide in Philips? She walked over to her table and saw the datafile she had found outside her door. She picked it up and took it over to the interface. She inserted the file.
“SARA play the datafile.” She waited and nothing happened. “SARA did you hear me?”
“Yes Captain.” SARA responded.
“Play the datafile.” Steff repeated.
“I don’t think you want to see what’s on this file.” SARA replied. Steff opened her mouth in surprise.
“It’s not for you to decide what I watch. Play the file.” Steff ordered.
The screen in her quarters flicked on. It showed someone walking along with what seemed to be a large crowd of people in what appeared to be an urban setting. It was someone obviously holding onto a camera as they walked. There were sounds of what seemed to be a celebration. They walked through an alleyway and came into what looked to be a large civic square surrounded by tall buildings. The square was packed with people. Everyone seemed excited and celebrating something. Beside the person filming a man was lifting up his daughter to his shoulders. At the other end of the square was a sort of stage that the camera became focused on. A small group of people climbed up to the stage. One of them walked up to a microphone.
“The New Earth-backed government has fallen!” he announced. The entire crowd cheered to the news. “Our new government has joined the Alliance of Free Colonies!” Again the crowd cheered. “Even as we speak their fleet is coming to protect us. All that stands in their way is a single New Earth frigate far above us commanded by a young female officer. We’re expecting her to order a retreat or surrender. It’s only a matter of time now.” There were further cheers and chants of “Retreat!” “We are now part of the Alliance of Free Colonies. From this day Esfor is a free colony!” The crowd erupted in louder cheers than before. The camera panned round the square showing all the celebration going on. The camera turned back to the stage. The speaker was about to say something else, but then there was a sudden bright flash, and the screen went dead.
Steff sat there devastated. She buried her face in her hands.
“I told you that you wouldn’t want to see it Captain. I am only trying to protect you.” SARA told her.
“Who left the file there?”
“I’ve already told you I don’t know. I have no record of anyone leaving a file there.”
“How can that be? It can’t have just suddenly appeared there.”
“I know. I have no explanation of how the file got there.” SARA admitted. “Can I ask you a question?”
“Why did you destroy the colony of Esfor?” SARA asked. Steff sat there in silence for a while.
“It was my orders.” Steff replied eventually.
“I was told under no circumstances should I let Esfor fall to the Separatists. When the rest of our fleet was outmaneuvered by the Separatist fleet that left only my ship facing them. I could have ordered a retreat, but that would have meant Esfor would have fallen to them, and as Esfor had the primary spaceship building facilities in the Epsilon Sector, it would mean the entire sector would soon be impossible to hold for New Earth. My ship had a full complement of nuclear missiles. So I decided to destroy Esfor. That way the Separatists would never get their hands on it.” Steff admitted.
“You couldn’t have fired those missiles at the Alliance of Free Colonies fleet?”
“No, their ships had defences that would have stopped the missiles. None of them probably would have got through. No one was expecting me to fire them at the colony itself, not even my crew. When I gave the order the bridge crew looked at me in horror. The weapons officer refused to fire them, so I used the override and fired them myself. The entire world lit up below us with a thousand nuclear explosions. That was when Juanita and the others led the mutiny against me. I and a few others escaped on a shuttle, while the mutineers surrendered to the Separatists. They were probably expecting the Separatists to open fire on us, but I think everyone was in a state of mutual shock at the time.”
“Do you regret your actions?” SARA asked.
“Yes. Of course I do. At the time I was a rather zealous officer who believed in the supremacy of the New Earth imperium, but once you kill millions of people, you can’t take it back. No matter what you do. One side rightly wants to hold me accountable, while the other side gave me a new command…” Steff sat there in silence again.
when you become
yet another who
flakes on me,
do you wonder
why I prefer to
keep to myself?
there are worse
things than being
on your own, so
I remain alone
in a world full of
people I have loved
There was a loud knock on the door. Clarice answered it to find a tall man with a long beard standing on her porch.
“Clarice Evans, would you like to join me on an adventure?” the Wizard asked.
“Ooh that sounds lovely dear! I’ll just go and get my coat.” Clarice replied. The Wizard waited patiently.
Clarice Evans may have been seventy four with a gammy leg, hard of hearing, and owned a preponderance of cats, but little did she know it was her destiny to defeat evil and usher in a new golden age of peace and enlightenment.