More Notes from the Abyss – Part Two, Chapter Two – Space Operatics
April 3, 2012
This took a lot longer than I thought it might, but the next chapter of Notes From the Abyss Part II is ready now! Yay!
Hunter and I found a nice table at the spaceport’s little restaurant and shared a drink. It was quite interesting for me, a normal human Metrisite with a decent talent for the arcane. I wasn’t dressed in anything too threatening, just a pair of khakis, a nice buttoned shirt, and a pair of sailor’s sandals. Nothing complex, it’s hot on Metris right now. On my belt was Rothfus, my silver dagger, in its scabbard along with a small pouch of ritual materials and my wallet-statue. The dagger obviously had Hunter on edge, as he kept eying it, but he couldn’t have been as nervous as me. Which, I think, makes perfect sense – he’s a werewolf, or a hexenwulf as he sometimes describes himself. A controlled lycanthrope who is well versed in arcanology and the differences between standard practices and those with atypical arcane phenotypes. But this is the least frightening thing about him.
Let me repeat, he’s a werewolf.
Hunter is a tall man, broad of shoulder, and easily eight and a half feet tall if he’s an inch. His face is a mixture of human and wolfen features, including a short muzzle full of gleaming teeth (slightly yellowed by years of coffee), triangular ears that seemed to dart around to pay attention to his surroundings, and large, bright orange eyes. In darker light, his eyes seem to slide down toward red (and, I imagine, very deeply into red in darkness since he is still a wolf on some physiological level). Where most werewolves are trapped in their form shifts based on classical lunar cycles (spending five days on average out of every twenty-eight in wolf-form), Hunter pioneered a ritual that allows the werewolf to merge their forms together more regularly, so that they’re always halfway between wolf and human. This doesn’t eliminate the cycle, though. During his high wolf phases, he apparently gets larger and more aggressive and has a hard time dealing with other people because of it. The rest of the time, though, he sits in his slightly taller, slightly broader, and much stronger and faster form. To accommodate the changes, though, he does have to wear a rather interesting set of garments. Particularly, a black one-piece flight suit that wraps around him like a second skin, allowing his fur to breath and that stretches and contracts as his frame does. It’s a resilient fabric, as good as armor, so he doesn’t need to wear boots or shoes at all with it. The only other thing he tends to wear is a wide toolbelt with the various tools for keeping his ship maintained, including a pair of wicked looking steel claws made from iron mined from a fallen meteor. They’re covered in runes and each knuckle is encrusted with a different set of gems to help focus his power when he’s repairing the temple-ship’s spells and enchantments. Oh, and his grin. He wears what can only be described as a wolfish grin at nearly all times, even when he’s sipping tea.
“So, about this trip you need to take, what’s the whole deal? Who’s coming, what do you have to take, will you bring that silver thing with you, that kind of thing.”
I smiled a little sheepishly, “Well, the dagger I have to take. It’s my primary ritual implement and it’s my side-arm. But it’ll stay in the locking sheath unless I need it.” He grumbled at that rather loudly, which forced me to pause before continuing. “Anyway, it’ll be me and Jennifer, the woman inside who is checking out your ship’s details. We need to take a very, very long trip to the center of the galaxy. Specifically to the outer rim of the axis black hole.”
He pursed his lips and set his cup down, then looked me hard in the eye. “The black hole? The one in the center of the galaxy? What in the blazes do you need to do out there?”
“In simple terms, I need to recreate an old spell to track down someone who is potentially carrying a dangerous weapon. The Gates family is picking up most of the tab here, so don’t worry about compensation, but the only environmental power source strong enough to trace the spell is the black hole itself. I’m going to have to probably head to an orbiting body of some kind around the singularity itself and tap into the vortex. Dangerous for me but, off the ship, it should be safe for everyone else. We don’t want to take a large ship mostly due to the relative risk involved. That and you’re one of the best pilots from what we’ve been told.”
He chuckled, “Well, yes, best and perhaps foolish. Well, you haven’t scared me off yet. Given our position in one of the spiral arms it could take several months to get there since there aren’t arcane way stations between here and there. I’ll have to map the jumps manually. More importantly, you’re Jarvis Mac Callan, yes? The detective and Name-Speaker?”
I nodded, “One and the same.”
“And you’ve got no current problems with the Alliance of Atypial Arcanomorphs?”
“Not that I’m aware of, though I have had to tango with a few overly-aggressive Naga and chattle-herders before.”
He shrugged, “Most Naga don’t fit in with the triple-A anyway, and chattle-herders are considered KOS in less managed sectors. They destroy the mind of their arcanomorphs without really becoming one themselves, so it’s a double whammy of unethical magics. Well, I think we can at least go into the deeper planning phases. For costs, I’ll need half up front. Probably on a quarter-million thaums, but I’m worth every iota.”
I nodded slowly, “I think that can be arranged. That include food?”
He nodded, “I’ve got great generation spells that can convert raw thaums into good food. Nothing amazing or gourmet, that would take a lot more equipment than I can afford normally, but good enough for diner food.”
I nodded and set my cup down, then reached my hand across the table. “Well, I think I’ve made up my mind. If you’ll have us, Captain, we’ll be glad to fly with you.”
I’d like to say that I held up my own in the ensuing handshake, but my shoulder’s continuing soreness prevents me from lying like that.