Raccowrimo

The Super Wizard From Space #45

"The Red Hand Of General Dragutin, part 2" by

Its less than a day later, and Vaso and I are half a galaxy
away, on a grey airless moon. By cupping our hands over our
brows, we can scoop up stray light waves reflected from the
planet and get a broad look at the surface below.

Vaso sneers at the world below. "I don't trust Sixth
Columnists, General. They're an unstable bunch, every lot of
them. And they splintering apart. Hard to be sure what bent
their worship takes."

"Don't worry. They rarely a threat. Religious kooks. Beggars
and dreamers, mostly. Not the most reliable sort, I'll give
you that, but at least they fight for what they believe in.
And given our available resources, we'll not be getting
better intelligence reports." Truth be told, the *only*
advantage to the Sixth Column movement was how spread out it
was. Keep popping up all over the universe, as
underdeveloped species encounter the super wizards race. The
various cults usually waver somewhere between foolish
adulation and obsessive stalking. But there'll always be
strategic use for people who'll literally do *anything* you
ask.

"Still. I'd rather we had reinforcements." He pauses, then
adds, "We can call back for Trifko, sir."

Ah. This at last. "No, Vaso, we can't. Someone had to stay
behind and watch the prison. Too many monsters and crazies
frozen in those cells. Couldn't leave them unguarded.
'Sides, if we try to send a message that far, there's a
chance it'll be overheard, and Hoag will learn I've violated
the terms of my exile."

"If he's discovered there..."

"Trifko *understood* the sacrifice I asked of him. As did
*Cvjetko*. They recognized a greater good than themselves
and did their duty. Like *soliders*." Sharper than I meant
to make it, but I need to nip this insubordination in the
bud.

Vaso looks shocked. Not insulted. Embarrassed. "Sir. Yes,
sir," he replies.

Better to move this along, give us something productive to
worry about. I point down to the planet, "This is Volsci. A
world on the border of Mummy Machine territory. They've
barely managed space travel. I don't think they've even made
it up here to their moon yet. But they've some decent enough
observatories, and we've made sure the Sixth Column
believers amongst them have been watching the skies for us.
We should be able to get a general report on Planet M. Or at
least, we'll find out if the boy's made his way there yet."

Vaso nods. "Should I take point?"

"No. You stay in the bird's nest. I'll do it myself."
There's a worried look on his face, so I reassure him with
smile and a pat to his back. "No judgement on you, Vaso.
I've been stuck in one place for a long time with little but
frozen inmates for company. The old man just wants a chance
to stretch his legs."

"Yes, General."

I stand up and draw my fusion over my shoulders, the
protective red light settling around me like a comfortable
pea coat. "Stay low. Be ready to cover me," I say, then I
launched myself at the surface.

Volsci's a planet of thin green skies and rolling blue grass
hills. Water speeds 'round in millions of twisting rivers
but never settles into anything bigger than a narrow lake.
It means the bipedal humanoids here don't want for a
transportation system beyond sleek and clever watercraft. On
past visits, it made the horizon look like a living thing,
with innumerable coloured points whizzing along arteries of
stream and creeks.

But not now. The rivers are empty. Not a single ship on
them. The night airwaves are quiet. No radio waves. No
cellular signals. The world isn't dead. Farms look to be
recently tended. None of the structures look overgrown or
ruined. Unlit. Maybe abandoned. No accidents, no
disasters... so where *is* everyone?

Make my way to the tallest peak on the planet's equator. At
the top is a scientific facility with a magnificent stellar
observatory. Its walls are decorated with massive murals of
glowing stellar gods... unsurprisingly. The people of Volsci
always had been curious astronomers, but when they'd visited
by Super Wizards From Space, that curiosity had turned into
cultural dogma. Awed by our immense power, they developed a
research-based religion and a determination to learn
everything they could about us. To emulate us. And if
possible, to become us.

All good reasons to go for a dramatic entrance, then. I hold
up a closed fist to the night sky, a signal for Vaso to hold
his position. Grabbing the shoulders of my illuminated coat,
I fling the red light out thin and wide. Its bathes the
entire mountain top with its blood hue. Should give
everything a theatrically appropriate menace. I glide into
the observatory's main dome, passing a gigantic telescope
and touching down in a dim cavernous room.

The only light is the one I cast myself. The floor's an
impressive mosaic of blue and gold triangles. Half the
instruments are powered and operating. Piled up printouts
and flashing displays are long ignored. No one at their
stations. Not a good sign.

But I'm not alone.

I can sense movement Keeping to the other side of doorways,
staying down the long black halls where my light does reach.
A clumping shuffling mass hinting of a large group trying to
stay hidden. Someone. or several someones. Maybe they can
fill me in on what's happened here. "I can see you there.
Come on out and meet me. I mean you no harm." I can feel the
increased agitation. Nobody show themselves. I start
marching toward them, calling out, "I'm a visitor to your
world. You *know* my kind. I'm a *Super Wizard From Space*."

I step in something... wet. Uh. Looking down, I lift my boot
out of a viscous liquid puddling across the floor. Looks
like blood. Cold and congealed. No, that's not right.
There's too much  across too large a surface.

"Wizard...?" The first thrumming voice from the darkness.

Stepping back, I can see its my own light that giving the
puddle the red hue. It's more of a gold. A golden yellow.

"Wizzzard? SZzzuper WizzZZard?" Other voices joining in. A
growing droning mass. A familiar buzzing noise. Surrounding
me.

The puddle shifts. Bubbles and boils up into form and
substance. As the gel rise, I can see its semi-transparent.
Oddly geometrical lines weaved within. Circuits caught in
honey.

I retreat several steps. Pull my light back around myself,
harden it into a shield between me and the growing liquid
mass. Damn. Damn.

The shape bulges and compresses in waves, piling up in
uneven fits.

The circuitry within flickers to life, emulating a complex
nervous system in a growingly humanoid form.

Then it screeches. Loud static and louder feedback. Audio
systems screaming before they're fully formed.

"...wiizzzaard wiizZZAArd WIZZZard..." the buzzing's a
discordant dirge. The sound coming  from everywhere now. The
halls, the doors, the walls, the floor.

Its a rumble. Its a crash.

Its an *ambush*.

The gelatinous clump settles into a small female form. A
feeble shape, with bits sized wrong for her scraggly frame.
Tiny hands on long arms. Big feet on thin legs. Short
mannish hair on a ball of a head.

The encircling cacophony dies with a punctuated, threatening
introduction. "SZzzibylla. SZzwarm. And QUEEN!"

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AUTHOR'S NOTES

One of the things that kept this arc from being posted
was me overthinking it. Not that there's anything wrong
with plotting and and planning and outlining, but it was
getting in the way of actually *writing*. I had started
this series to get into a habit of writing regularly, and
as such, was going to let the plot come out by the seat
of my pants.

If I don't make a reasonable weekly schedule, then please
remind me to just sit down and get words to paper.

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Wil Alambre, follow me at http://twitter.com/wilalambre