Volume III of Legacy: Black Star, Part 1 - Cover

Volume III of Legacy: Black Star, Part 1

Copyright© 2023 by Uruks

Chapter 7: Strange Bedfellows

After months of lagging behind schedule, we finally got back on track. The lab is finished. All we need now are the samples from the designated Demihuman donors and Subject Zero. Interestingly enough, we had a visit from some Light Monks today. They said that the creature, Subject Zero, is one of twelve Sacred Animals wandering the cosmos, and that we should leave it alone, or suffer the consequences. Superstitious hacks. The government should outlaw religious nuts like them! Maybe after the project is finished, I’ll have the political leverage to do just that.

Tork never came by to see Torsha last night. She figured that he needed a little more time with Ryan. With their missions taking them to different places, it would probably be a while before they were together again as a team. That made Torsha a little sad. Here she was settling in with her new family, and already they were getting a little smaller. She guessed Ryan would enjoy spending a little private time with Éclair, but she didn’t imagine anything would come of it. Éclair seemed completely enamored with Leon, and Ryan never struck Torsha as the type who would go behind a friend’s back like that. Even though they didn’t always get along, Ryan and Leon were still friends.

There were other things worrying Torsha. Ryan’s scent was changing. He smelled not quite himself. She supposed it must have something to do with maturing. He was coming into the Dragon’s version of puberty, at least according to Tork. Maybe she shouldn’t worry too much. Although, the High Priestess herself did say that Torsha should report on any changes in Ryan’s behavior. Maybe she should...

Torsha paused as she caught a whiff of something familiar. That scent. It smells just like...

Torsha quickened her step as she entered the lab where they would receive their mission briefings. When she entered, Tork smiled at her while standing next to Ryan. They both seemed a little better, but that wasn’t the scent that gave Torsha pause. He was there hiding in the shadows, but that was definitely his scent. And he no doubt knew that she was already aware of him. He could smell her too, probably better than she could smell him. He didn’t appear hostile. She would’ve known if he was, but that could change at a moment’s notice. With predators, it always could.

“Torsha, darling. Your fur is especially radiant today,” Tork said cheerfully, scooping her up for a hug and a kiss as he hovered with her above the floor for a moment with a flap of his powerful wings.

Torsha returned the hug, but kept a watchful eye on the dark corner of the lab where... ‘he’ waited.

“My dear,” Tork said in confusion as he sat Torsha down. “Is everything alright? You seem terribly out of sorts all of the sudden.”

Torsha knew she should be happier now that Tork seemed to be back to his old self, and she was. But that scent. It brought back ... memories. Feelings. Instincts. He had to know something about her. He just had to.

Torsha tried to get Ryan’s attention towards the dark corner of the lab, nodding toward it. He just stared at her blankly. Why was he so smart sometimes, but so dumb the rest of the time?

“I’ll miss you, Little Bunny,” rang the peculiar voice of Dr. Lanchester.

“Dad! Knock it off,” complained a blushing Rachel as she tried to remove her hugging father. “Not in front of Leon.”

Although Leon seemed to be engrossed in a deep conversation with Éclair. Grafael was clapping Ryan on the shoulder and speaking merrily. None of them had noticed! None of them knew that a potentially dangerous creature was standing right there just waiting to...

“Ah, there you are, Mozar,” called the voice of Kormal as he strode into the lab. “Will you stop stalking, please? These are not your prey.”

All eyes turned to Kormal as he entered, and then to the dark corner on the other side of the room. From the shadows, he emerged. The infamous Werewolf bounty hunter called Mozar. He was large, almost as tall as Tork at around seven feet when he stood to his full height, and he was powerful. Mozar had thick gray fur covering his whole body. His head and snout were more wolf-like than Torsha’s, and his eyes were deep brown. He wore a brown cloak and dark trousers, but no shirt. His long, bushy tail swung back and forth, indicating a friendly mood, but his face did not seem friendly. His long, pointed ears were drawn back. He didn’t show his fangs, but that didn’t mean he wouldn’t bite anyone. Ryan would know that well enough by now.

Mozar padded along the floor, his clawed paws barely making a sound as he walked. Even when revealing himself, he seemed to be sneaking ... stalking for a kill. His every mannerism indicated that he was probing for weaknesses, waiting for the perfect chance to pounce.

Torsha felt her fur stand on end as she watched him with mixed feelings. A hint of fear, a dash of aggression. And perhaps a few other emotions she would’ve rather not acknowledged. He was the first male Werewolf she had ever met after all, and he seemed far too comfortable shirtless.

“These pups of yours are too soft, Kormal,” Mozar commented in that deep, mistrusting voice of his. “Only a few of them noticed this one’s presence.”

He wasn’t looking at her, but she knew he noticed her. He knew something about her. He had to. Why else would he have saved her? Someone like him didn’t bother saving anyone without a reason. He mostly only concerned himself with whom to kill next.

The mood in the room had changed as everyone regarded the Werewolf warily. True, Mozar had been an asset last time they met, but he had also been a threat to Torsha and Ryan at some point. At least Kormal seemed at ease as he casually strode to the Werewolf and clapped him on the shoulder.

“You’ll never change, will you? Still that crotchety old dog always snapping at everyone. Are you that afraid that others might find out that you’re really not that fearsome underneath all that growling and posturing?”

Mozar growled, showing his fangs at the Sage. “And you’re still the pompous fool who talks too much!”

Kormal laughed at the growling Werewolf.

Torsha knew enough of Werewolf culture to know that such displays could lead to violence. Why is that Sage not more afraid of that animal? I know they must’ve been friends, but an enraged Werewolf is nothing to joke about!

“Kormal. May I ask what ... that is doing here?” Leon asked, giving Mozar a sideways glance.

Torsha figured that with the Lurranna’s telepathic abilities, he probably already knew of Mozar. Éclair most likely did as well with her sensory abilities.

Kormal then gestured for Mozar to take a seat, and the Werewolf surprisingly obliged. “Mozar is our contact for Nirvana. Or, more specifically, he has an arrangement with our contact.”

“Arrangement?” Tork asked as he seemed to instinctively draw closer to Torsha while watching Mozar.

The Werewolf drew his cloak around himself as he sat down behind a desk among various laboratory equipment and experiments.

“A Space Pirate Captain named James Morgan owes this one a favor,” the Werewolf explained quietly. “He will help our team maintain their cover as they navigate Nirvana Station.”

“What was the favor?” Ryan asked half sarcastically. “Did you promise not to eat him or something?”

Then the Werewolf smiled. His grin was both creepy and intriguing. “Or something,” he answered vaguely.

“So I take it that you’re coming as well, Kormal?” Leon asked.

The Sage nodded as he came to stand by the chair where Mozar sat.

“Yes. Though I admit, my personal affairs dictate I be elsewhere.” Kormal glanced at Ryan, then shook his head in slight frustration. “Still, Saria is very convincing. You have lost two members of your team to another mission, so she has replaced those two members with Mozar and I to act as overseers. Besides. The Minister prefers that I be here to keep an eye on...”

Kormal didn’t finish, but Ryan did as he said with a grin, “To keep an eye on that grouchy old fleabag so he doesn’t take a bite out of anyone again.”

Torsha half expected Mozar to go into a rage, but he simply smirked at Ryan. “Keep it up, half-breed. Your blood may yet tickle these fangs once again.”

Ryan’s grin widened as he showed off his own teeth with canines that were a match for Mozar’s. Some of Ryan’s behavior lately reminded Torsha a little too much of Werewolves.

“Mozar means well,” Kormal went on as if nothing happened. “But as you can imagine, he does not work well with others. Not since leaving the Packs behind.”

Mozar growled softly, glaring at Kormal, but said nothing. Then he turned away, muttering something that not even Torsha could make out with her sharp ears. It sounded like a curse in another language.

“But you need not be concerned,” the Sage went on. “If it comes down to it, even I would trust my life in his paws. I have before many times. He may not seem like it, but our Werewolf friend here is really quite the pushover at heart. I’m sure you’ll all agree by the end of the mission.”

“If he lets us live that long,” grumbled Grafael under his breath.

“Uh, Master Sage,” said Dr. Lanchester nervously as he stepped forward. “Do I ... do I do the presentation now?”

Kormal sat down on the opposite end of the table and gestured to where various unfamiliar equipment sat. “Of course, Dr. Lanchester. I hope you can forgive our dramatics.”

Rachel’s father nodded and then walked over to the table. His droids buzzed around him, gathering all manner of gadgets and such from around the lab. Torsha had to admit that, aside from a few subtle similarities in the shapes of their faces, she did not see much family resemblance between Rachel and her father, so she guessed that the young Elemental took mostly after her mother. His pudgy face and half-shaven stubble seemed a far cry from Rachel’s more graceful features that made her look like a younger version of her grandmother. His messy black hair was long for a human male. He wore a white lab coat over a green T-shirt, along with black pants. Like the Ogre, Thisimius, whom he was temporarily replacing as the team’s equipment specialist, Dr. Lanchester enjoyed wearing flipflops. One other thing that made him similar to Thisimius was his large waist, though not half as large as the Ogre mechanic’s.

Dr. Lanchester started picking up a few datapads around the lab table, but stopped when he drew close to one that sat in front of Mozar. The Werewolf watched him curiously. Torsha sensed that Mozar’s temperament was bemused, not hungry, but the human Doctor certainly did not know that.

“Uh, excuse me,” Dr. Lanchester said, his voice straining to stay calm.

He reached a shaky hand towards the device slowly. He seemed to be very much aware of how close his hand was to Mozar’s snout.

The Werewolf gave a derisive snort. “Don’t move so erratically. It makes you look too much like a wounded animal. You wouldn’t want to awaken this one’s hunting instincts.”

Dr. Lanchester froze in pure terror, his hand hovering over the datapad.

“Try it, dog breath!” Rachel exclaimed heatedly, coming to her feet as her body briefly sparkled with small crackles of electricity. “And it’ll be the last thing you ever bite!”

Then Mozar smiled widely, showing off his glistening white fangs.

Dr. Lanchester seemed to regain control of himself as he snatched the datapad, and said, “Maybe it’s best not to talk of biting right now, Little Bunny.”

Dr. Lanchester quickly scuttled away out of range of Mozar’s teeth. Rachel sat back down, but continued glaring at the Werewolf. Mozar leaned back while looking quite pleased with himself. Torsha knew he was just bluffing. If he meant to attack, his scent would’ve changed. Still, his bullying was getting on her nerves.

“Uh, before we begin,” the doctor said. “I did want to ask how the test run went during the training exercise the other day. Did the new Spatial Inhibitors produce the desired effect?”

“They worked marvelously, doctor,” Éclair said encouragingly. “I didn’t think it was possible to limit the teleportation of a Wielder of Eramar’s caliber so drastically.”

Rachel’s father nodded excitedly. “Normally, it wouldn’t be. There are many different methods for discouraging teleportation of Spiritual Types., but none for short-circuiting it save by suppressing the psions of the individual’s body completely. Certain shield frequencies on facilities and spacecraft will prevent any incursion either through teleportation or Gateways. But if the Jumper gets inside the shields, there’s usually nothing more to be done. It is possible to confine a Jumper to a certain area so that he can only make short distance jumps of up to a mile, but nothing to the degree that we did. Eramar was limited to only a few feet. I doubt we’d be able to disrupt his teleportation completely. He’s simply too powerful, but these results are indeed encouraging for my continued research into the integration of technology and Elemency.”

The source of this story is Finestories

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