[MV] The Super Wizard From Space #68: The Taming Power Of The Small, part 1

wilalambre at gmail.com wilalambre at gmail.com
Sat Jan 13 17:13:08 PST 2018



What's that? That feeling in the room. An unexpected pressurized
nervousness, boiling up out of the astral nowhere, getting _everyone's_
hackles up. Mine included.

It starts with Melisende. She sits up, rigged straight, looking
apprehensively at her Swarm. It spreads to the Monster Bees closest to her,
then ripples outward through the hundreds and hundreds of others. Piled on
the floor, clinging up the wall, hanging off the ceiling, the whole Swarm
turn and look at her.

I'm on my feet, ready to get between her and them. Something's happened. I
don't know what it is, but it's a fuse reaching its end.

The Monster Bees explode into activity. All of them, the whole lot, up in
the air at once, all their wings beating a thousand times a second. It's a
hurricane of noise and pressure and motion, of droning beasts filled with
poison. Thiss room used to feel _cavernous_, and now it feels dangerously

And in the calm eye of it, I can just make out Melisende's massive shape,
pacing and stomping and _screaming_ at them, her voice amplified overtop
the cacophony. "Are you _happy_ now? That'z _it_! It'z _over!_"

A hand on my shoulder snaps me out of bewilderment. There's so much noise,
he has to lean right up and yell into my ear. "What is it, Vaso?"

I shout back, "General Dragutin, sir! I think it's happened."

The storm ebbs upwards and outwards as the Bees stream out through lancets
in the heights. "Wazn't thiz the _whole damn point_ of _everything_?"
Melisende shouts after them. "She'z _gone_, your perfect autocrat, _kaput!_
CollapZzsed into an abyZzs of her own anxZziety! You're _sZztuck_ with me,
now! Where ever you go, where ever you are, it'z juzt you all and _me_!"
There's a quiet emptiness left behind when they're gone. Like they took a
weight of karma with them, out the windows.

Melisende looks at her hands. The black, jagged, _horrible_ things that are
her hands now. Then stares 'cross the room at us. Hard eyes, still with
misplaced optimism lurking in them. I know the question she has for us.
Always the same question.

The sound of Maws Holloway's oily clockwork breaks the moment. A robot of
towering height, with a torso mirrored glass, and a lion head constructed
of turning gears. Wrapped up in linen clothe like so many of the Mummy
Machines, hiding corrosion and defects they're all seemingly embarrassed
of, and unable to repair.

The General steps in front of the robot, assuring it everything's all
right, that everything's under control. Maws simply strides overtop us and
continues directly to Melisende. Crouching to one knee, it asks
"Queen-Sybilla-Buzz. Our-sensors-recieved-an-audible-distress, and

"They're just upzet, the big babiez. Genofeva haz been killed."

The General perks up. "You're certain?"

"I watched the whole affair. You'll want to avoid that whole sZzwath of
zpace for, like, a few million yearz or so... but in all the wayz that make
a difference, yez, the bitch iz dead."

"And the boy? Is he alive?"

"Dezpite the circumzZstancez," she nods.

"All right. Then it's time," the General says to Maws, "With Genovefa gone,
the remaining Monster Bees comes under Sybilla's direct influence, at least
for the time being. You and I, we need to coordinate; to awaken your war
titans, to combine both armies into one, to move into Super Wizard
territory _tonight_."

Maws does not reply, and looks to Melisende.

The General's brow furrows. "Oh for... are we going to do this _every_ time
she's around?"

"Our-alliance-is-not-networked-through-you, General.
You-are-only-a-delegate. When-her-status-is-available,

"Ridiculous," the General mutters. In what's become a tired rite, he turns
Melisende. "If you please?"

She looks at the General. Looks him up and down, head down to boots. It's a
look that _challenges_. A snake, coiled up, staring down a bigger, deadlier
threat, and thinking 'bout striking out anyway. Too common a face I've seen
lately. Caused by impatience and disillusionment. Her question, still
unanswered. It's time I placate the monster. I move beside her and place a
hand on her arm. A gentle squeeze to get her attention, "Melisende, it's
time for your session."

The provocation recedes. She nods to me, then waves dismissively at the
other two. "Fine. Yez. Go ahead with...  whatever it iz he wantz."

"There, you see? Now, if all formalities have been observed, Maws and I
have logistics to figure out before our forces cross the Rubicon nebula.
Solider, when you're done with this, come an find me; I've an assignment
for you." With that, the General follows the Mummy Machine out of the
room.  An assignment. Finally. Feels like I've been cooped up for years.
I'm looking forward to anything more arduous than _babysitting_.

Speaking of which. I motion for Melisende take a seat while I fetch my
medical equipment. Some of it still has an unfamiliar heft to them; still
too new, or too hastily made. Nothing like my original tools, but tolerable
enough for field work. And more than adequate for these charades.

When I get back to her, she's already extended her arm, with her hand
flexing open and closed and open again. "We're gonna draw blood, just three
samples, like always. And you're gonna let me know if you feel any
discomfort." Feeling along the inside of her elbow, I find the overlapping
carapace segments and lift. Once I've access, it's a simple (if slow)
veripuncture procedure to extract the vials of haemolymph.

"Thank you," she says, once the last vial is stoppered.

"For what?"

"For before, with the others. For treating me like a person rather than a
_resource_. You're different from your General. He's a lot more...
_focused_ than you." I glare at her. "See? There you go again. He always
know what he wants. But you, you go back and forth, between solider and
social worker. It makes it hard to figure you what you're supposed to be."

"Seems you've been thinking a lot, lately."

"Lately, I've been given a lot to think about."

"Hmm." Putting the vials away, I bring out a magnetic bottle. The contents
give off a cobolt-coloured glow that quiets her immediately. She inspects
it with child-like wonder as I explain, "This is blue plasma. It's
generated by the fluorescent antibodies of a sentient ocean, to purge
itself of mithyalectrics. It's stronger than what we've been using up 'til
now, but we're expecting it to have better results. We'll start with small
doses and monitor any change."

I inject her and wait for the plasma to move through her system. I know
it's reached her brain when she whines. "It's gonna sting like that for
some minutes. The light given off by the plasma pinballs with your
synapses. It'll pass, but 'til it does, you're gonna to want to keep you
eyes closed." She covers her eyes with her hands as I pack my equipment and
leave. She grimaces, but she's determined not to admit another sound.

When I'm out of the room and well from earshot, I vaporize the "blood
samples" with fusion fire and search out General Dragutin.

I find him in his war-room, a make-shift planning space in a lecture hall.
The center is taken up by a holographic map of the universe, with borders
of the super-races' territories marked in thick red lines. Dozens of
feline-faced Mummy Machines are continuously updating the map, silently
communicating through cables attached to their necks. They work like
metronomes, with precise regular motions that translate to shimmering
adjustments to supply lines, army positions, and enemy locations.

The General sees me and pulls me away from the map. "So, how is our

"I got her on a regular schedule of placebos. She's comfortable in the
routine. She doesn't yet  suspect nothing."

"You don't sound confident."

"Part of her believes we can _cure_ her. Part of her's more cynical than
that. You _must've_ seen it. It's dangerous to rely on someone so screwed
up in the head."

"Circumstances don't allow us to change course. You heard Maws. This
alliance hinges _completely_ on her. We can't accomplish out objectives
otherwise. I need to trust you. To keep a soft touch with her. Make sure
she holds out hope. For as long as this operation lasts."

"Ain't I coming with you? If you're starting the offensive, I'll want to

His hand leaves my shoulder and he looks down on me. "This is _not_ a
matter of _want_, solider."

"No, sir. Sorry, sir."

"I've an assignment for you: you'll take our queen bee out for walkabout. I
can't have Maws Holloway or his subordinates waiting for Sybilla's go-ahead
on every one of my orders. Nor can I risk her second-guessing my decisions
during one of her flighty episodes."

"Where'm I supposed to take her?"

"I don't care. As long as it's not near me or my command. Keep her busy.
Keep her happy. Keep her _away_." This wasn't up for further discussion. He
turned and went back to his map.

I walk back slowly, using the time to work past my frustration.

Melisende's waiting for me when I return. I can see blue glow lingering
around her eyes, which tells me she didn't follow my instructions. Already,
I'm not looking forward to another round of daycare. Melisende's been a
pain at the best of times - both of them have - never mind the grousing
I'll have to endure dragging her all over. Not even sure _how_ I'll
convince her to be going _anywhere_.

And before I can bring up the subject, she says, "I want you to take me on
a pilgrimage."
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