The Inheritors Chapter 10 – Resa ValJean, 211 Cavalos Era

Read The Inheritors Chapter 9 – Kyagtshagg, 2035AD

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The Inheritors Chapter 10 – Resa ValJean, 211 Cavalos Era

 
Resa stretched, anguine like, as the Librarian guided her from the Neuroscaphe. “There were some fluctuations in the Labyrinth today, Bertrand. ”

“One of your compatriot Thinkers achieved something unexpected.”

She waited but the Librarian offered no more. “Bertrand, you’ll have to learn to give more information if you want to talk to me.”

The Librarian’s eyes remained dark.

“Bertrand? ” She slowly moved her hand in front of his face. He didn’t track it. Instead he kept his dark, silent eyes on hers. “What’s wrong, Bertrand?

“A Librarian died.”

“Oh, Bertrand, I’m so sorry. Was it someone I know?”

“No, a brother another named ‘Roland’.”

“Still, I’m sorry. Was it a painful death?”

“For whom?”

But she had already turned away and her clothes insulated her from the heat of his words.

They continued through the BookShelves. Resa’s skirt swung methodically as she walked, her long, pale legs taking small steps so as not to tax the little Librarian. “I’d like to go outside today, Bertrand. Would it be possible to see the sun today?”

“The sun can not be seen near the purification plants.”

“Oh. The clouds. Of course. Can we go further out then?”

“Yes.”

An hour later they walked in the dark towards the terminus of a forgotten service tunnel. Small things scurried underfoot and Resa heard water dripping along the way. The Librarian held her hand and guided her in the dark. “Bertrand, could you give me some light? Only for a little while. I don’t want you to hurt yourself. I want to see where I am.”

The Librarian’s eyes grew hot, passing from dull red into orange, the heat he generated searing the flesh around his eyes. She felt him screaming, “If I had a mother she would have called me ‘Sonny’.”

The light from his eyes faded and he shook.

“Thank you, Bertrand. That was very kind. ” She wrapped some of her skirt around the shaking librarian.

His eyes glowed again and she kissed his forehead between them. “No, no, no. Silence. Silence now. Don’t speak. Just listen.”

She held the Librarian close and rested his head against her chest, its eyes running with plasma as they blistered and healed themselves. Slowly it put its arms around her neck and allowed itself to hang there. She rocked back and forth as if comforting a tired child. “There are thousands of creatures down here in this tunnel, Bertrand. Far more numerous and varied than any on the surface, I think. But they live in the dark. Perhaps they’ve lived in the dark for so long they’ve grown accustomed to it. I don’t know. But I do know they’ve grown to fear the light.

“Now think, Bertrand, although I know you’ll say thinking is not the basis of your kind, but think with me for a moment anyway.

“You, who were not designed to think, spoke a joke that gave light in this darkness. Some creatures feared it and ran away. Others were curious and came close. Those that came close, you’ve given wisdom to. Those who ran away ran back to superstitions they already had.”

He lifted his eyes to her face and whispered softly, “A wise thought.”

She pulled his head back down to her chest and rubbed the muscular neck. “Yes. I think so. It’s from the man I named you after, Bertrand Russell: ‘Fear is the main source of superstition, and one of the main sources of cruelty. To conquer fear is the beginning of wisdom.’ Now be quiet. Give yourself time to heal.”

She wasn’t sure how long they stayed thus, only that she’d nodded off and was woken by something making its way up her arm. She caught it in her hand and felt its softly furred surface. Tiny scampering feet forced their way through her hand until a tiny, big-eared head poked free. A long, murine tail curled around her fingers. “Cheep.”

“M. Souris? Mr. Mouse? Is that you?”

“Cheep.”

The big-eared head burrowed into her palm and she felt its nose and whiskers sniffle for crumbs in the hollows of her hand.

“Would you like a crust of bread? A bit of cracker?”

“Cheep.”

She opened the hand that held the mouse and quickly clapped it to her other. She felt the mouse crack and crunch between them as it shrieked its final “cheep”.

“Eat that, little thing. No one touches Resa Valjean unless she lets them.”

The Librarian breathed deeply, as if waking, and her voice grew soft again. “Oh, my, Bertrand. How long have we been away? You won’t get in any trouble, will you?”

“No. ” He paused, his eyes silent for a moment, then a dull glow, a whisper, “Resa, how do you repair?”

“Repair? I’m not sure what you mean.”


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The Inheritors Chapter 9 – Kyagtshagg, 2035AD

Read The Inheritors Chapter 8 – Roland Ayers, 1996AD

Note his is a work-in-progress, folks. Kyagtshagg use to be “Yu-Ping Chang.” I realized that language form was some 22,000 years ahead of her first introduction to the story hence was invalid and went with a similar meaning in the earliest Tibetan dialect I could find.

Creator and above level members can download a PDF of this chapter to read offline


The Inheritors Chapter 9 – Kyagtshagg, 2035AD

 
Fire, it seemed, was the humans’ answer to everything. Didn’t like the people? Burn them. Didn’t like the place? Burn it down. Didn’t like the ideas? Burn the books.

Oh, Kyagtshagg had seen it so many times she was sick of it. Sick of it, do you hear? Sick, sick, sick.

Even their celebrations were ceremonies of fire. New Year’s Eve in Montreal was, yes, a gala celebration, and oh, yes, the midnight sky was alight with the nomads’ fireworks. Big booming bangs of every shade and hue shuddering and shaking the ground far below.

She laughed and looked away from the key to some children holding their parents’ hands beside her. So long ago.

Or no, it wasn’t.

She couldn’t remember. She’d either been a child or had a child.

Which was it now?

Another booming blast of light obliterated the full moon and hid the cosmos behind a veil of specters dancing in the midnight sky.

But the humans did this. Not spirits. When she was young, yes, she remembered, when she into a demon changed, the Dancing Skies came down and danced with her. Yes. She remembered and smiled.

A little girl holding onto her grandfather’s hand looked up and smiled back.

Kyagtshagg lazily raised a gloved hand to her face and felt whiskers there, but not the demon kind. No, now a mustache and beard, both straggly and worn, like the face and body she wore, she’d allowed herself to show some age — Not too much, though. No. Not too much — since she’d run away from the last life she’d led.

That was a good thing about a society moving so quickly while standing still; you could escape whatever prison you imagined yourself in by simply walking faster than a camera-eye could follow. So, when there was nothing more to be gained from where you lived, just walk away. People were flooded with so much information they could see your face on milk cartons, breakfast boxes, soda pop bottles, buses, trucks, garbage cans and every five minutes depending on which screen they were watching, and they’d let you be unless they had a reason not to.

Say boo to their dog when it took a pee on your foot and they’d sell you for the price of your skin, but ignore whatever they and their foolish nomad kin did and they’d keep you around just for the sport of it, just to have a place for their dog to pee.

And, oh, how she hated things that peed.

But no dogs peed on her boot this cloudless, full mooned, cold, Montreal New Year’s Eve night, no Dancing Skies came down to tweak and twizzle her demon whiskers. Tonight only this little girl smiled up at her as she, Kyagtshagg, deserter of wives and husbands and children and nomads all, smiled back down.

The booms piled up on each other, coming like rocket shells raining fire down on villages, towns, and people in wars past; the finalé. She wished it were the Dancing Skies who the humans recently renamed The Aurora Borealis.

Such a name, Aurora Borealis. Not romantic. Not even as much a carrier of the truth as the other foolishness she’d heard, The Northern Lights.

Humans had no sense of their history, of their origin. But honor their pasts? Revere their ancients?

Ha.

Screaming drew her attention. A disturbance where Rue de St. Catherine met the Old Quarter. Several police tanks came fast, their psychecannons aimed high, the radiators cool.

They don’t want people to get out of the way?

She stood, hesitating, the cold masking her unsure twitches as shivers from the code.

Move closer? Find out what the rush is all about?

Or run because just this once the damned nomad technology found her out, her face hadn’t changed enough and been seen by someone who knew someone who knew someone who knew.

She’d killed all who knew. She’d killed all who even guessed. Even if they hadn’t guessed, even if only once their eyes glistened with some intelligence, an intelligence bringing their eyes back to bite her in their thin moment lives, she killed them.

They were nomads. You could do that with. Kill them, be gone, and they hardly registered the loss unless somebody owed somebody or someone failed to line up their next pawn in the game.

The man holding the hand of the little girl lifted her into his arms.

“Where are we going, Poppa?”

“It’s okay, Resa. We have to be going now.”

Kyagtshagg, hearing the brief exchange, focused on the man and child just as the man stared back.

Poppa? Certainly you are too old to be her “Poppa”.

The man stared back, crushing the child to him. “Poppa, you’re hurting me.”

He looked away, holding the child close still but relaxing his grip a little. “It’s because I love you so much, my little one.”

He glanced back at Kyagtshagg and, catching her eye, glanced away.

Does he recognize me?

“You have a lovely daughter, Sir.”

The child smiled as the man turned away. He froze. Kyagtshagg watched steam rise from him, evaporating in the streetlights. He turned back slowly and met her eyes. He held the child close but away from Kyagtshagg, protecting the child from a sudden grab. His eyelids lowered and his lips barely moved when he spoke. “Thank you, sir.”

What are you seeing? Does you recognize me? Do I have to kill you, too? Is that what you want? Here, in this crowd, in front of your daughter? Really? Do you want me to kill you?

The New Year’s Even wind shifted slightly, blowing out the old year, blowing in the new. Kyagtshagg breathed deep the midnight Montreal cold and caught a scent of fear.

From this man holding so dearly this little girl.

Fear of Kyagtshagg.

Well, yes, of course. But how? Why?

The little girl wrapped her arms around her father. He pulled her coat and scarf and mufflers tightly around her as his gaze wandered through the crowd. “Rose?”

An elderly woman two people over waved and nodded at him. Two boys, older but each dressed warmly and snuggly much like the little girl, were attached one to each of her arms.

Broadcasters on the police tanks called to the cold midnight crowds, repeating and sending their message in every direction in Quebeçois and English, “Ayez votre Carte de Santé OMS en main. Have your WHO Screen Card ready. Ayez votre Carte de Santé OMS en main. Have your WHO Screen Card ready.”

The man carrying the little girl, the woman and her two boys, stood shaking, their eyes darting, evaluating, flight or fight, an island of fear in a sea of civilization, even as Kyagtshagg’s hand reached into her coat, even as a thousand hands reached into a thousand coats around her, even as each hand pulled out its owner’s WHO Screen Card. The lights of the last booming false fire in the sky faded, the echoes ran down streets and alleys, fleeing into the St. Laurent on either side as the crowds stood still in the streets, each face basking in the broad, pale New Year’s Eve moonlight, a city of zombies waiting for passage to humanhood.

Except for the man, the woman, the little girl and the two little boys. The man took his eyes off Kyagtshagg’s but now other eyes stared at him. His eyes came back to Kyagtshagg’s. “Monsieur – ”

“Je parle l’Anglais maintenant ici, s’il vous plait , ” Kyagtshagg answered.

“I beg your pardon, sir. ” The man held the little girl close to him, closer than Kyagtshagg had ever seen a father hold his child.

Kyagtshagg handed the man her WHO card. Tears came into the man’s eyes. His chin quivered. He kissed the little girl he held, kissed her fiercely, holding her face against his and rubbing his cheeks against hers as if he were a cat marking her as his own. Then he said, “Get down, Resa.”

“But why, Poppa?”

“Just get down, Resa. You’re such a big girl now, you’re a little too heavy to hold. ” The man released his grip but the little girl held him tight.

“But Poppa — ”

“Get down, Resa. You, Momma, your brothers and I. We told you this day might come.”

The little girl’s face iced in the Montreal moonlight as she slid down from her father’s grasp. Somebody bumped into Kyagtshagg from behind and she felt a rude hand search her pockets for her WHO card. “Excusez-moi, Pardon me, Pardonnez, A’scuzá a’scuzè , ” came a voice after the hands, the body feigning drunkenness as the hands searched through the next person’s pockets. Crude. Someone else, another immigrant, another nomad who came for solace and comfort and instead found a land in the throes of panic over a disease no one knew how to combat.

Yes.

She noticed but thought nothing of it. Sloppy. Weak. Let her guard down like that again and the nomads would be at her throat; She was the oldest — ha! she chuckled at that — looking person she’d seen in the crowd. For someone with gray hairs to be out on this cold a night, under a full moon and where others could see you? Such a person must have a WHO card with them, upon them.

Amazing more nomads hadn’t picked her pockets.

The man, the woman, and the two boys vanished into the crowd. Only the little girl remained, sniffing back dry tears at his feet.

A policeman came up and held out a gloved hand. “Certificate.”

Kyagtshagg lifted the little girl up in his arms. “Show the nice man your card, Resa.”

The little girl stared at him.

“Go ahead, sweetheart. He’s not going to hurt you. ” Kyagtshagg smiled at the policeman who didn’t look back, simply continued holding his hand out for the card.

The little girl handed the card over.

The policeman lifted his Reader from his belt and put the card through. The screen blinked then came up with garbage. “Damn. ” He banged it and put the card through again. Still garbage. He breathed hard into the chip reader and tried one more time. “Sucre-Deiu.”

“Jammed?”

“Damn fools sent us out on the coldest night in years and expect us to gather up HLPs. They know these Readers are only good to Zed.”

Kyagtshagg smiled as the policeman whacked the Reader again and waited for the screen to clear. “Maybe you got some Anglos in command who think zed is zero-Fahrenheit, eh?”

The policeman kept his eyes on his Reader but laughed. “You got any other papers, sir?”

“Sure. Hang on a minute. ” He put the little girl down. “Go find Momma, Resa, okay? Tell her I’ll meet you all at Chez Temporal in ten minutes for drinks and then we’ll go home, okay?”

“But — ” Resa protested.

“Shh. Hush. Do as I say or there’ll be no wine in your glass, little girl. ” She spun Resa in the direction her family fled and patted her bottom to hurry her along.

The policeman lifted the WHO card. “Hey!”

Kyagtshagg took it and pocketed it quickly. “Don’t worry. I’ll make sure she gets it when the family gets together later. Now, as for something else to show you… ” She took her wallet out of her backpocket and appreciated the absurdity of it all: money, wallets, watches, identity via drivers’ license and what-have-you, a;; all now safe. Pickpockets wcouldn’t bother with them. The new exchange de franca were WHO Screen Cards stating sometime within the last sixty-eight hours you were tested free for HLP III prions. Laser tagged and smart, the industry forging the cards was almost as preumptuate as the industry performing the tests. But forged cards were costly to make and expensive to buy and had to be renewed at sixty-eight hours from their initial use. Talk about industries spawning industries! By the time most immigrants bought their way here from wherever they couldn’t afford new cards, hence the roundups like the British cattle culls of the mid-1990’s.

Kyagtshagg intentionally let her wallet pop open to her McGill University WHO Lab pass, photo ID showing her mature, whiskered, male smiling face.

The policeman glanced at it long enough to know he shouldn’t piss her off; someday either his or his family’s test might be in this man’s hands and a slight misreading of some strip of paper or some computer screen would send the WHO guards to his house, to burn it down while they stood about cold and hard behind their environmental shields, talking amongst themselves in their environmental suits, asking did the family have any pets? Asking were there any others recently with the family? Was there anyone else recently in the house?

The policeman turned quickly away, holding his Reader like a shield over his breastpocket nametag. “Thank you, Monsieur. Sorry to take up your time.”

“Not a problem. ” Kyagtshagg smiled at the nomad’s retreating form. “We all make little mistakes, yes?”

The policeman stopped. His shoulders slumped. He hurried on.

Kyagtshagg shook her head. She evaluated hundreds of tests per day and what happened to individual nomads was of little concern to her. What was happening to them all, however…

Evaluating forms was a different power than the Demon Kyagtshagg possessed long ago. But it suited her none-the-less.

She looked around her. The little girl, gone. Her family gone longer still. The impudent fool who sought Kyagtshagg’s card in her pocket?

Ah, police already surrounded him, guided him with their tasers and not their hands, each protest met with a mild tzzzng followed with a yelp, the sound of a little dog kicked while taking a pee.

It made her smile, the sound of the tzzzng followed by the yelp and then followed sometimes by the smell of fresh, hot pee on this cold Quebeçois night..

How she hated things that took a pee.

But without things that took a pee, would she not be in the lab and so close to understanding what the BrainStone had done?


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The Inheritors Chapter 8 – Roland Ayers, 1996AD

Read The Inheritors Chapter 7 – Reginald Seth Van Gelder, 1635AD – 1644AD

Creator and above level members can download a PDF of this chapter to read offline


The Inheritors Chapter 8 – Roland Ayers, 1996AD

 
The sunset cast rainbow-like orange, crimson, and rose rays west to east through the sky. He heard guidebouys clang in the harbor and gulls squawk on the roof above and in the streets and alleys below. Soon the breeze would change and instead of riding the temperature gradient from sea to land they would ride one from land to sea.

An hour and a half by time zone changes away, Ceilly and Leila would be singing Hungarian Gypsy tunes as they walked home from school. Almost half a world away, beyond where night became day and day became night again, Coyne, Kawahara, Sekiely and Emilikoff were freezing and being eateny alive by mosquitoes.

He lifted a cup of thick, strong, almost burnt coffee to his lips and sipped, wiping off the drops which collected on his dark, walrus mustache, taking a moment from the present conundrum ISU had handed him – the bones of a white man discovered in Washington Sound. Not unusual, no, except the best dating for the bones put the caucasian in Washington Sound circa 9300BC, long before any caucasian had a right to be in the New World, let alone Washington Sound, and chronologically right between the Na-Dené and Aleut-Eskimo migrations, as if somebody had an extra white man they had no use for and dropped him there rather than have him continue on.

Strange.

He shrugged it off. Leave it for a another time. He sipped his coffee and kept his eyes on the few gulls aloft, waiting for the brief moment of anxious flight when the thermals changed. It was a little thing, he thought, yet so much science took place in that moment of transition. Somehow the universe flipped a switch and the direction of airflow changed. Somehow the gulls knew it was about to change and started moving their wings slightly in preparation. Somehow turbulence caught them but only for a second or a little more and then their directions were set, their courses laid in anew, and they continued as if nothing happened, this was the way it was suppose to be, this was God’s Master Plan and they were only players doing their small part in it. There was nothing mystical about it at all, but deep inside he knew there still had to be the mystic. The mystic was in his blood and in theirs.

Only they didn’t know it.

Or did they?

The phone rang and he knew it had already rung in his kitchen an hour and a half time zones away, bouncing off the pink formica countertops and pink refrigerator and pink stove and pink dishwasher and pink everything that Momma and Ceilly had picked out for him when he bought the house twenty years ago and hardly lived in since, had already rung in his Jaguar XKE classic, forest green with black leather and wood panel interior, would next find its way to his office at the Institute for Psychology of the Hungarian Academy of Sciences in Budapest, where blackboards and greenboards stood heavy with equations which might be solutions to problems he’d heard a Mr. Fernberg ask his brother when both he and Tommy spent two weeks at a special school which never existed, and if he didn’t answer the phone on this desk in this room by the tenth ring it would begin shaking the mobile cellular in his breastpocket and then, as a last ditch effort to find him on a planet growing constantly smaller, chirp the pager on his hip.

He had another cellphone but only the ISU had the number to it and they called him thrice in all his time with them; once when the Martian bacterial spores had been found in the Antarctic meteor fields, once when the SME satellites’ imaging systems detected something moving on the far side of the sun, and once for the white man’s bones.

The first two turned out to be natural anomalies and didn’t concern him. The third? Ehh. Who knew?

He kept his eyes on the gulls and absently reached for the phone, letting it ring while waiting for the gulls to change.

Eighth ring. The turbulence began but only noticeable to those who knew to look for it.

Ninth ring. The gulls opened their wings little more and flapped once, twice.

Tenth ring. Winds changed. Wings filled. Gulls twisted. a little thing, unnoticed by most, but the universe had slightly changed and he had witnessed it.

He lifted his coffee. It tasted good and he licked off the drops clinging to his mustache.

The phone stopped ringing. He lifted the receiver and tapped a starcode in. Somewhere a computer recognized that he’d answered just a little too late and rerouted the call back to the now silent phone. When he heard the line become active he said, “Ayers.”

“Roland?” It was Ceilly and she didn’t sound good.

His heart sank into his stomach. What was wrong? Why hadn’t he picked up the phone on the first ring? “Ceilly? What is it?”

Cold silence answered him on the phone.

“My God, Ceilly, no. No.”

Her voice broke. The phone shook in his hand. She couldn’t talk, only hysterical screams and sobs made their way through the lines.

“Ceilly. ” How could he calm his sister against their greatest fears? “Where are you now? Are you home?”

Two sobs. An old part of him remembered a joke he and Tommy use to make when Ceilly was upset: two sobs for yes, one sob for no. It was hell but maybe an old joke joked best for her now?

“You are home?”

She shrieked words he hadn’t heard since Poppa touched the hot electric ground coming into the house when he strung the Feast of Magda lights. “Goddamn you, Ro , ” she finished.

Okay. Not now. “What has happened, Ceilly?”

“She hasn’t come home from school , ” she sobbed.

He checked his watch and added the time difference. “How long?”

“An hour, maybe two.”

The ISU phone chirped in his pocket.

“Ceilly, I — ”

“Ro, little Leila. You don’t think…”

The ISU phone chirped again. First all of Poppa’s family in the Camps, then Tommy gone when he was a boy, Uncle Reynard five years later, then Poppa, then Momma, and now…

It was too much agony now. He couldn’t do this over the phone. “Ceilly, I’m calling up a plane. I must go.”

She interrupted him with another barrage of hysterics that struck him like cannon fire over the phone.

“Ceilly, Ceilly, you give me an hour and a little more and I will be there with you. have you called the police?”

“What will they do? They will do nothing unless she’s been gone for a day or more.”

“No, no. Ceilly. I don’t want you to call them.”

Slowly her sobs abated. Ro kept his eyes on his watch and counted the cell-phone’s chirps. He didn’t know what would happen if he didn’t respond to the ISU. He always had before.

All three times.

Each time as soon as it rang.

That’s what the SPD’s Chief Investigator was suppose to do.

Ceilly, the words still stopping in her throat, said, “You don’t want me to call the police?”

He dropped his watch hand. It had taken a full minute for Ceilly to calm enough to speak. The ISU phone continued chirping. “No. I’ll take care of it. I’ll be there soon. ” All the friends and neighbors would be mobilized by the time he got there, he knew. Ceilly would stop men and women in the street to ask if they’d seen her daughter.

“Okay, Ro. I’ll be waiting.”

“Ceilly, I have to tell you to do something. It’s very hard, I want you to know.”

“What?”

“I want you to do nothing. Stay home. This is something you must do.”

“Roland — ”

“Ceilly, it is something you must do.”

She paused. How much longer would the ISU phone chirp?

“Okay, Roland. You know what’s best.”

“I do, Ceilly. I do. Now good-bye. I will be there soon.”

He dropped his office phone without looking to see if it hit the cradle and snapped the cell-phone open. “Yes?”

The line pulsed with static. He couldn’t recognize the voice and barely understood the words. “Roland? You okay?”

“Yes.” The ISU didn’t use such dirty lines. He ran out of his office and up the access stairs to the roof. Pigeons and seagulls scattered and cawed at his approach.

Still dirty.

Strange. ISU phones used a satellite based priority acquisition, line-of-sight mapping technology, not standard cellular methods. The line couldn’t be this dirty.

Was it possible there were no satellites passing overhead?

“Roland, this is Emilikoff.”

“What are you using? The line is dirty as hell.”

“Same as you, ISU cell-pack. The dirt your hearing is why I’m calling. We ran into something and we think you should see it before we go any further.”

He forgot to ask Ceilly if she’s told her husband, Yves, about this. No matter, he’d be there soon and make amends. “Can this wait a day?”

“A day? Roland, it’ll take you that long just to get here and that’s flying suborbital.”

“Yes. It can wait two days, then?”

“It’ll have to.”

“Then can it wait three days?”

“What is this, God talking to Lot? Roland, something has happened. Something you should see.”

“Yes, yes. I understand. I will be out there soon. I will need a day to deal with something else.”

“Roland — ”

“It is important.”

“Okay. It’s your call. We’ll shutdown ’till you get here.”

“Three days. That’s all. ” The ISU phone signalled off.

His strength was the understanding of mysteries, he knew. So did the ISU, which is why they hired him. Like the mysteries of stationary gulls effortlessly riding the winds of flight, gulls seemingly stationary until you knew how to look and what to look for, it seemed Ceilly and Emilikoff’s calls were related.

Connections were wonderful and he was good at finding them. They made understanding easier. Tommy’s gift to him, he knew, the ability to understand mysteries, to recognize connections.

Perhaps their time in the womb together caused some of Tommy’s genius to rub off on him?

But he could think like Tommy when he had to. He couldn’t do it long and he couldn’t do it hard, the way Tommy could, but for a few seconds he could have insights like his brother, insights leaving him weak and exhausted for days with a mind hellishly in fugue, fighting for his sanity amidst the möskeström of chaos.

How Tommy lived there day in and day out Ro didn’t know, although he muchly appreciated the hell his brother must have lived in all those years, seeing things and understanding things no one would know or understand for years, maybe centuries even. Fortunately, his thought processes didn’t make themselves known for several years after Tommy’s disappearance.

But now, here, as he listened to the gulls and watched the setting sun’s rainbow burn itself out like a too hot photograph across the sky, he felt the tweak and twitch in his left eye, the weakness along his rightside, and knew that mysterious connection engine inside his head at work again.

He spread his arms and asked God to help him fly.


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The Inheritors Chapter 7 – Reginald Seth Van Gelder, 1635AD – 1644AD

Read The Inheritors Chapter 6 – Yu-Ping Chang, 1985AD

Creator and above level members can download a PDF of this chapter to read offline


The Inheritors Chapter 7 – Reginald Seth Van Gelder, 1635AD – 1644AD

 
Seth sucked on his tongue and choked on the blood flowing there.

“Clean yourself.”

“Yes, Father.” Seth reached for some aprons the maids laid out for him.

Joseph Van Gelder lifted his son’s face and inspected the blood dribbling out the corners of his mouth, focusing on it mixing with spit and tears. “Is it true what they say, that you have fits?”

“No, Father. It was a spectre that overpowered me.”

“Tell me.”

Seth rested on his knees. “There was a ghost in the hall — ”

His father pointed at the floor. “Clean.” He watched Seth scrub. “When?”

Seth didn’t raise his eyes. “I do not know, Father. It was there when you and Addie left.”

“Damn.”

“I’m sorry, Father. I didn’t — ”

“What did it do? Did you see?”

“It did nothing. Nothing until I came here to bathe. It seemed prepared to go away until I noticed it flickering there.”

“Flickering? It wasn’t a steady light?”

“No, Father. It seemed ready to leave until I spoke.”

“What did you say?”

“I called out asking if anyone was making fool of me.”

“You spoke nothing from the Solas?”

“How could I, Father? [[I’ve not seen the book]] until this day.”

Father grunted the truth of it but the sound did not please Seth or calm his fears.

“What has happened, Father? What have I done?” What have you done to me?

“It would seem those who Speculate do more of the Operate. Jebulon hear me.”

“Father?”

Father’s attention focused back to Seth but his gaze didn’t give the boy pause. “Finish this. Clean yourself. Then bring yourself to me. We have reason to talk. ” He closed the door, leaving Seth alone in the bathing chamber.

Seth dropped the aprons beside the tub, shrugged out of his robe and slowly sat in the lukewarm waters, careful not to let any pass the lips of the tub and splash the floor. Today, less than an hour old, was not a day Seth hoped any day to be: his jaw ached where Father thrashed him, Addie and another housemaid mocked him, things came from him no one warned him of, and his privy ached with a pressure never felt before. For the first time in his life his body sickened him and he didn’t know why. It sickened him to the point he feared touching it, any part of it, his body a new and alien thing set to consume him if he gave it a hint he existed.

He felt this before, when the spectre approached; a sense of something about to consume him. Something he couldn’t stop. Something he couldn’t fight off. Much like Father when Seth misspoke during a meal.

But now… Now he loathed his own flesh and it frightened him so. He lowered his face into the still waters and cried.


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The Inheritors Chapter 6 – Yu-Ping Chang, 1985AD

Read The Inheritors Chapter 5 – Thomas Ayers, 211 Cavalos Era

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The Inheritors Chapter 6 – Yu-Ping Chang, 1985AD

 
She looked out the train window, grateful for both the ‘soft’ seat and ‘soft’ bed she’d purchased before leaving Beijing. She could change her butt to take the other regular train seats, but it would take too long and where could she hide while she did?

But the ride from Beijing to Harbin was too much to bear. From there to Khabarovsk and finally Vanino, not much better but at least the Soviets were used to train travel and had a few more amenities. She could, at least, eat cheese here without being considered a western fool.

Ah, but this time she was a western fool. She’d spent the last seventy years as a middle-aged Frenchman, Yvonne Givet Salon Dupres, penis and all, and fought the last three wars as such before becoming an expatriate studying at the Institute of Zoology after the French gave Viet Nam over to the communists.

All things return, as must she to home now and again. The French missionaries and priests and colonialists left Msr. Dupres to the Chinese because of his unorthodox and completely uncivil ways. The Chinese kept him happy, clean, and comfortable for thirty-five years because he knew the ways of the West. They even gave him a position to keep him happy and safe, which was wonderful, Yu-Ping Chang thought, because with the advent of photography and then radio and that damned television machine she was no longer safe staying in one form with one face for several hundred years.

And now, with computers and satellites and who knows what else these damn nomads might dream up, she didn’t even feel safe in one body with the same face for a single lifetime.

But also now, with the opening of the communist lands to the West, the French and British and Israeli and Americans looked up Msr. Dupres to plumb his mind and call upon loyalties they insisted he must surely have.

Nomads. All of them. And fools. She grayed her temples and added some hairs to her face and they never knew, satisfied she aged well among the heathen Chinese.

The sun rose over the Sikhote-Alin Mountains. She wondered if they were older than she. They, she believed, were permanent. All mountains, she believed, were permanent. Many islands, but not all. Rivers were children who hadn’t made up their minds which way to the sea. Oceans. Now they were ancient, older than she and wiser. She’d been a fish once. But, oh, what a big fish she’d been. She doubted she’d ever spend her time as a creature of water again. Too cold. Even at the equator, for her liking. Too cold.

Everything else around her was a speck in the mirror of time. Even what others considered the most ancient of trees sprouted, grew, withered, and died before she took a breath. Anything living and breathing, walking, swimming, flying, or burrowing into the earth was a fleeting nomad, something around her so quickly she’d long ago lost the ability to recognize a face or hear a voice unique, one from another.

If it were not for people’s scents…

Something she promised herself to always be aware of…

From long, long ago.

She would take the train half way up the Amur River valley, then over to Vanino, and from there she would ride upon the sea, the Sea of Okhotsk, stopping in Petropavlovsk-Kamchatskiy and Ust-Kamchatsk and finally changing ships at sea to once again come landward at Anadyrsk, where her Soviet comrades would take her west to the foothills where the Gydan and Anadyr Mountains met, just north of the wild plains of the Anadyr River, to study the flora and fauna in the land of her off again on again home.

The hunger would come soon. It would come and in about five hundred years it would consume her and drive her mad until like some dumb beast she made her way crawling back to the cave where Tiger and Bear gave her birth.

She laughed. She transformed into a beast – albeit not a dumb one – once in order to get to her beloved whispering brainstone.

When was that?

She’d long stopped counting years. It made no sense.

Yet she remembered it all and her stomach roiled when she did. To die, to escape, to be released from this living death which impaled her on its smooth, stoney horns every thousand years, forcing her to return to the land of her birth?

She had been, what? eleven summers old when she found the Whispering stone and it first breathed its life on her? She stayed in that body thirty summers, a child’s body but with cat’s eyes, not realizing her youth and eyes as pieces of the Whisperer’s gifts, gifts she’d never thought to repay.

But they were fools back then. A child with cat’s eyes walking down from the mountains? A god, they called her. What else could she be?

A demon, the offspring of a demon and some unfortunate maid, Liu Tze Wan said when it became obvious she could not carry a child for him, when she no longer suited him.

So the nomads wasted the few spears and rocks and stones they had piercing and breaking her body, pummeling her tiny eleven year old frame until she no longer cried out her pain, not knowing although her eyes closed and she could no longer breathe she was conscious still, felt each bone-shattering blow, each tightly coiled fist, each fur covered boot splintering and resplintering her ribs, her hips, her jaw, her face, her skull, heard Liu Tze Wan call out to bring him her eyes to eat because her power lay there and now it would be his.

They didn’t know she felt the sharp-edge flint penetrating her skin, felt the frightened hands shake holding them, felt the shaking so great those hands couldn’t cut and instead gouged out the eyes which had warned them of ambushes in the reeds and hills and snow, the eyes which had seen from afar the deer and bear and mammoth, the eyes which had seen him with another lover and sought to tear out his own.

They shit and pissed on her then brought over their animals to do the same.

My how she frightened them.

But it didn’t matter. She could walk again in less than a year, her body grown stronger, grown taller, longer, with legs designed for running rapidly over snow and ice fields and tundra and swamp, feet that could splay to support her now considerable weight on any surface, lungs able to leech oxygen into her blood from even the highest mountain airs, and covered demon head to prehensile toes with a fur that shed water and cold like tears of ice from eyes able to see far further than she ever see before, eyes which would see Liu Tze Wan into the grave.

And all simply by her thoughts of what she would do when she found her people again.

Her people.

But she didn’t know any of this until, rising, she went to the pond she could smell in the distance, a year’s thirst cracking the fibers of muscle lining her throat, and saw her reflection before she drank.

“It is true , ” she whispered, a taloned claw rising up and gently stroking her face, brushing itself tenderly through the thick, fine golden mane shaking like a faulty crown as she wept to see herself revealed in the water. “I am the Demon they thought me to be. ”

She looked into the water and the demon’s brow furrowed as it wiped chilly tears from its eyes. “I am not the demon they thought me to be? ”

She cowered at the water’s edge, tucking herself into a tiny quaking ball suddenly realizing what it was she saw. “Oh, great water demon, forgive me for seeing your grandeur and thinking it my own.”

But the demon didn’t kill her. When she looked up again it simply stared back at her from the ripples in the water there. “Demon?”

Its lips moved when she spoke. What could this be? was it possible that she…

But her hands looked normal, as did her longs legs and wide, long toed feet, their huge nails curving down and tearing into the moist earth by the water’s edge.

The demon inspected its hands and legs and feet even as Yu-Ping inspected her own.

She pointed at her reflection in the pond. “Demon?”

Then she laughed. The demon pulled away from the pond and held its belly as she rolled on the ground with laughter.

Of course her hands and feet and fur looked normal to her. She’d grown new eyes even as her body healed. Everything those eyes saw looked normal to her; they’d seen the subtle changes to her form each day so it never shocked her.

But it wasn’t until this day that she thought to speak. It wasn’t until this day that she’d had cause to hear her own voice, and now to hear little Yu-Ping Chang’s voice coming from the behemoth reflected in the water?

It was too good not to laugh.

It was sweeter than the cane her parents had traded for her younger brother when she was a child.

Wouldn’t it be funny and sweet, Liu Tze Wan hearing gentle, kind, loving Yu-Ping Chang’s voice whispering her love for him as she ate through his belly, tasted the sweet digestion of his last meal – His last meal! She laughed! Her little voice rifled from that demon’s mouth! – and spit and pissed his bowels out on his still living eyes?

Yes, that would be something to make the demon laugh. Really that would.

So she set out after Liu Tze Wan, delighting in using nostrils that would have made wolves jealous, eyes that would be the envy of sharp-eyed hawks, ears that heard conversations in the wind spoken by fools yet many days away.

She detected their spoor, followed their camp, walked through villages Liu Tze Wan had looted and destroyed, and both pitied and eaten those that remained. They had a year’s headstart but that didn’t matter. She knew they planned to go to Next Place, to Heaven, to follow the migrating herds before the Great Waters conquered the land again.

She knew and followed. By night, by day, by dusk, by dawn, it didn’t matter. How she delighted in this body the gods made for her. Even tiger and bear cowered before her, ran from her, cuffed their young to follow and flee when she broke into their dens and lairs.

She could have not thought this power possible in poor, little, Yu-Ping Chang.

But as the demon?

Ha!

It took her two years and a day. Their spoor had been strong for almost a moon now and she came upon their fires not many days cold.

But she worried. What if Liu Tze Wan left them? Or if they tired of him and his ways as he tired of her?

It didn’t matter.

Many of them humiliated her, tore her eyes from her, pissed on her still warm flesh and led their animals to piss and shit on her, then left her so other animals could come by and do the samyye, or worse.

Since the pond she’d made it a point to kill every scavenging beast she found, holding them down while they still lived and lifting out their entrails one small piece at a time.

Perhaps Liu Tze Wan would share that same terror.

She would make it a point to look into his eyes.

And if not him, then those who worked with him and helped him when he decided her time had come.

Yes, that would do nicely.

Halfway between one moon and the next she smelt him walking away from the camp, his smell distinct and ripe and separate from the scents of his guards around him, the scent of his new bitch, his new slut, clinging to his thighs as he sought relief from too much wine in an abditory dungpit.

The demon laughed and tender Yu-Ping Chang’s voice came out. Did Liu Tze Wan think himself to special to shit and piss where others had?

All the better. She would have him all to herself when her moment of joy arrived.

Demon Yu-Ping Chang rested that day and covered the remaining distance under the stars, using the moonless night sky and her wonderful new eyes to give light to the path her nose told her Liu Tze Wan walked.

The night of her great joy she waited until the winds shifted. For a while the winds moved along the barren lands she’d walked towards Heaven and Yu-Ping Chang carefully moved with them, patient because so her plan demanded. The Demon Yu-Ping Chang walk with each sussuration of the grasses across the plain, staying in the wind’s bore, making sure her scent never entered the camp, waiting until the winds changed fully, until she knew the camp’s dogs and goats and men and aurochs couldn’t detect her scent.

She ranged across the tundra and ice until she found a salt pit near the Great Waters edge and bathed herself, removing any scent revealing where she’d been and covering herself in the winds coming from Heaven. She found dung thrown by the camp animals and covered herself, like a dog, so she could walk among the camp’s pack animals and take what she needed from them.

She moved through them undisturbed. Any animal carrying the scents of the men and women and children who’d harmed her she moved to the center of the herd then sliced their throats quickly, cleanly, and quietly, her razor sharp demon talons her only tool.

She fought back laughter. Wouldn’t they be surprised to see Yu-Ping Chang now?

She left enough animals standing so the guards would suspect nothing, would not see the slaughter in the center of the herd. She had to move quickly, though. Soon the dogs would scent out the escaping bowels of Yu-Ping Chang’s abbatoir and bloodlust would overcome them.

She flattened herself to the ground. Under the darkness of the not yet risen moon she climbed the mound behind which Liu Tze Wan privately relieved himself, and waited.

With the heavily lidded eye of the moon rising up from Heaven, she met him as she intended, after he had pleased himself yet again with another new bitch, after too much wine made his manhood forgetful and he’d beaten another woman-child because he could not produce children, after his own water pushed so strong within him he needed help to make it to his private dungpit to relieve himself.

His men held back a bit, affording him the privacy allowed no one else in the camp. He belched and sighed and farted as his water escaped him.

“Wan? ” she whispered, her petite, young, fragile and frail Yu-Ping Chang voice no different than the last time he had her.

His eyes barely opened as his waters splashed the ground around him.

“Wan, my love, can you hear me?”

“Huh?”

“Wan, it is I, the child you said would be your queen.”

He vomited, but not out of fear. He always vomited when he drank too much. Wiping his mouth with one hand he pissed again. “Come back to haunt me, little bitch?”

She rose from the mound quietly, carefully, making sure none of his men heard and came up behind him, letting her breath warm the nape of his neck.

He smiled.

It always pleased him before.

“To haunt you? No, my lord, my Wan, great king. I have returned only to serve you in death as you begged me to serve you in life. I come to eat you and do to you with my tongue what so delighted you before. You still like that, don’t you, my lord?”

His smile broadened. “Even the ghosts fear and honor me , ” he grunted.

“Oh, yes. Yes, they do. Come, turn, bring yourself here and rejoice as this demon ghost sucks you in.”

Obediently Liu Tze Wan turned. Yu-Ping Chang kneeled but even so her head blanketed his naked chest. “Your eyes are closed, Lord Wan. Don’t you wish to see how a demon ghost drinks in your lust?”

He laughed. “Yes, that would be — ”

He screamed.

Yu-Ping Chang’s fangs tore through his thighs. He almost smiled as her tongue wrapped itself around his scrotum like a lariat, tightened, and pulled until his testicles popped.

His guards came. She rose with Liu Tze Wan’s limp body dangling from her mouth, a cat hurrying home with a little bird prize, and finished them before they raised their spears to her.

Liu Tze Wan dropped from her mouth onto his own private dungpile. She nudged him. He groaned.

“Not dead? Just asleep? Wake up, my lord. Wake up.”

Liu Tze Wan groaned again. His eyes fluttered. She slapped his face. “Wake up, pig-fool.”

His eyes opened and fixed upon her.

“Nothing to say, Lord Wan? Do you not remember little Yu-Ping Chang whom you loved?”

He shook his head, no.

“Nothing to say to someone who offered to carry your child?”

His lips parted and blood bubbled out.

She lifted him by his head, a great taloned paw on either side, and stood up quickly. “Talk to me, human-dog.”

He shook, his eyes fluttered again then opened and fixed on her. His breaths weakened.

“Ugh , ” she said. “I grow tired of these games. You will not talk? Then let me give you one last kiss before you die. ” She held his lips close to her own. Her demon tongue slapped his face and probed his throat, nose, and eyes. Then, before he breathed his last, she slowly squeezed his head, squeezing down and forward, until his brains shot through the roof of his mouth and into her own.

“A man you were not, but a leader you could have been. Now the best of you is in me. ” She dropped him onto his own filth then covered him with her own.

The next morning, while the camp still slept and before the animals called the coming of the sun, she devoured the rest. True, some hadn’t taken part in her debasement, in her slaughter, but she’d gone a long time without food to find Liu Tze Wan, and he’d often boasted of raiding other camps and taking spoils, so wasn’t this part of her prize?

She guessed from the smells and color of the sky she wasn’t more than six moons strong march from Next Place.

What was it the old ones, the seers and skywalkers said of Next Place? It would be Heaven? A place of great joy and plenty?

It couldn’t be Heaven. Heaven lay around her in the half-eaten bodies of those who thought her weak. This place, rigtht here, brought her great joy. And wasn’t her belly full? Wasn’t right here a place of plenty?

Still…

Perhaps she would go there.

Just to see if Next Place was everything the old ones and seers and skywalkers claimed it would be.

What else was a demon to do?


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