The Perpetual

Part XX continued

Darkwolf sat in the hot ventilation duct in the rather tight fitting outfit. He hated it already, but Lt. Penny was forcing him to wear it. He really didn't want to know what his friends would think. Penny was right behind him in the shaft, on her hands and knees, very uncomfortable herself. She also gave him a certain little smile that bothered him every time she looked at him. She was not an unattractive lady, a bit too old for him of course, but still somebody that was worth a look. However, that smile made him uncomfortable. She must be laughing at him about having to wear this dress. No doubt if she was with a group of girls she would be chatting away with them, and then all of them would look in his direction and then giggle to themselves; if he asked them what was funny they tell him that it was nothing or that it was girl stuff and that he wouldn't understand. That was what that smile was like.

He knew it was about the clothes though. She had been giving him that smile ever since he'd put her clothes on. They weren't too bad, but distinctly feminine. At east she hadn't asked him to wear a bra! He'd hate to have his friends think he was becoming a cross dresser or something weird like that. Not that he could say that was weird since some of his friends did it on occasion as well. He shook the sudden image of him in high heels and knee high skirt out of his mind. It was simply too horrible to even conceive of. Not only was it distinctly uncomfortable for him to do, but it would also been in extremely bad taste! Some guys didn't look ridiculous in girl's clothes. He was not one of those guys.

Because the passages were so cramped - especially that ladder; he'd barely managed to climb up it, and even then it had only been with help from her pushing upwards on his legs; he was not fat, just a bit on the plump side - they took frequent rests. He kept careful guard over her communicator, even though it was probably no longer a necessity now. Still, he wanted to be sure, just to be safe. He did not want to be wandering aimlessly up here in female attire. He hardly liked wandering with a direction up here in female attire! While they were resting, he took the time to get back in touch with the wolf. Although from what he'd seen the werewolves were dangerous, he still could not help but honor the wolf. He imagined himself as he always had, the dark furred wolf, black as jet, with proud muzzle held high. His ears were perked up, majestic, covered in that same black fur. His hands were more like paws, digging at the ground, at the flesh of his prey, at the back of his opponents. His tail was held high to signify his station. He was a proud and noble creature, covered by the thick fur, warmed by it. He was not a ruthless killer, no matter what anybody else said of them. The wolf was sweet to those it loved.

Darkwolf looked down the passageway; there was a turn to the left midway down. He looked back to Penny, who was peering, in the dim illumination past him. "Which way do we go?"

"To the left. If I remember correctly that will take us directly to the Greenhouse."

"Oh good, it's about time we got there."

"There isn't much more left. Don't worry, we'll be there shortly."

"Good. I think that's where the others are." Darkwolf pushed on ahead. They'd been in the ventilation system for at least the last half-hour. It was not easy to make his way through here. Before that he'd been in there for what seemed days though he knew it was only a few hours. There were a few places, where the fans blew that were cool, but with his body heat in this small confined space made it unbearable. There was very little to distinguish on part of the shaft from any other, so he had easily gotten lost. It was not until he'd stumbled upon Penny's room that he'd been in any luck. He'd seen a few dead bodies or spatterings of blood, but he had not yet seen anybody else on the station. To know that there was in fact at least one person on board the station that was alive was very comforting; even if she did make him wear women's clothes, he was glad to know she was there.

He reached the curve, and then noticed something. Down the left passageway he could see bright light. There was no grate over top of it. They were alive and they were in the greenhouse just waiting for them to arrive! Well they might not be waiting per se but they certainly would be very happy to see them. As he got closer, he noticed something was amiss though. It sounded like there was somebody shouting. The voice was a bit familiar too. He could pick up a subtle French accent. It might have been that guy who wanted to be an albatross, now what was his name? He couldn't remember off the top of his head, so set that aside until he could tell what he was saying. He didn't sound happy that was for sure.

Even though he could see the light, it was still going t take him a little bit of time to get there. He was slow, he couldn't deny it, but he didn't really have much of a choice, the place was too cramped to allow him to move any faster. He heard another voice, though that one was softer, and less threatening. He did not recognize it at all. He pushed on forward, and began to slowly make out words, and then whole sentences. Something very serious was going on, he could tell that immediately.

"Then tell me what you know!" The Frenchman demanded.

"I'm prepared to die, are you prepared to kill me? Or is the knowledge more important to you?" the reply came. Darkwolf was shocked. What was going on? Why was the albatross man threatening to kill somebody else? There was enough killing going on already, his new friend did not need to add to it! There had to be a good reason for this, or at least some reason. He couldn't imagine the Frenchman to be so easily tempted to murder.

"Are you going to die for your orders?" The man who wished to be an albatross sounded surprised by this.

"There are many things a man is prepared to die for. This is just one of them. Besides, I think you want the information more than you want to kill me. Perhaps you can think of me as protecting my investment by not telling you. Who knows, perhaps once you know then you will kill me."

"I won't do that!"

"How do I know I can trust you?"

"How do I know I can trust you?" The Frenchman countered, quite angrily. Darkwolf looked back over his shoulder; he could see that Penny was very alarmed at what she was hearing. She noticed him looking and urged him to keep going. He tried to move as fast as he could. He was almost to the edge of the ventilation duct as it was. At least there were people alive down there, even if they were trying to kill each other. He wondered if any of his friends were there, other than the albatross man. He hoped there were, he'd hate to think that he was the only one of the eight who was still alive. He sorely missed Ascot already, he did not think he could bear the thought of having more die.

"I already told you, I do not lie."

"What if that was a lie?"

"You'll just have to trust me."

"Stop this logical nonsense!" The Frenchman raged. "No either you tell me what the Hell you are doing on this ship, or I start putting bullet holes in your chest, do you understand me?"

"I understand you perfectly, my friend." the other voice was calm, almost serene. Darkwolf found himself wondering just who this guy was and what he knew. He had to stop this insanity somehow. He hoped his mere presence would be enough to do that. No telling what his showing up in female clothes could do. At least she couldn't make him wear any shoes; hers were too small to fit him.

"So what are you waiting for? Tell me already!"

"Oh? I was waiting for you to start putting bullet holes in my chest like you promised."

Darkwolf reached the edge of the platform and looked down. He could see many familiar faces; Lassie, Pillow, and HuggyBear were all there, watching the scene almost directly below him. He saw a few others, but they did not concern him as much as seeing the albatross man with a gun pointed towards another unfamiliar face. The one whose life was being threatened was of medium build, looked to be in his middle thirties with a short cropping of dark blonde hair. He did not appear to be frightened at all. The Frenchman, Thibaudet, that was his name, was looking frantic, wild eyed and quite ready to blow up. Yet at the same time there seemed to be some restraint there, something holding him back. It was as if he was still debating in his own mind what he should do. Darkwolf knew already what that was, he needed to calm down, take a ten-minute break and just let things happen. He hoped he could do something to stop him.

He jumped down from the shaft and rolled when he hit the ground to a spot only a few feet from where they were standing. All heads turned to face him immediately. He heard Lassie give a startled yell, "Darkwolf! Darkwolf, you're alive!"

Darkwolf stood up, brushing himself off, and gave her a wide grin. He glanced over at Thibaudet who looked completely dumbstruck, "Darkwolf? But you're supposed to be a werewolf? What are you doing here?"

"That's certainly a new look for you, Dark." HuggyBear commented approvingly. Darkwolf gave him a meaningless glare and then stared up at the ventilation shaft, "I had some help. This is Lieutenant Lucille Penny, ship's engineer. She guided me here. She also gave me these clothes to wear."

Penny lithely dropped from the shaft, landing squarely on the ground when she did so. Thibaudet saw her and then looked back at the man whom he was threatening, his grip on the gun uncertain. "But I thought..."

The blonde-haired man put a gentle hand on the gun, and pushed it down. "We all make mistakes, Pierre. We all do. You were wrong about this. I told you I had nothing to do with making the werewolf."

"What's all this about?" Penny asked in a very authoritative tone. "Who is in charge here?" She spotted McGee and called out, "Mr. McGee, what has happened here?"

"Ah, Lt. Penny." McGee smiled his arm cleaned from the blood. "Most of our number have become werewolves. Rhodes, Dutton, Gorecki, and we suspect even Kilpatrick as well. I myself am going to become a werewolf too, you see, I was injured by Gorecki. Have you see them yet?"

"No, not yet. Are you sure this is werewolves?"

Another man who seemed to stand a bit too close to Lassie for Darkwolf to be convinced that he was totally trustworthy called out, "It's werewolves all right, Lt. We've been bottle up in here for hours now, I don't know how long. It seems like every half-hour another crisis erupts. Don't let yourself get injured by them or you won't be human yourself."

Penny stared back at Thibaudet then, her eyes hard, "Put that gun away, I'm in charge now."

Thibaudet backed slowly away from the other man, and slid the gun back into his pants pocket. He stepped far away from the other man, his face fallen fast. His eyes completely disbelieving. The other man looked to be very relieved and collapsed to the ground as soon as the gun was back in the Frenchman's pocket. He wiped his forehead, his eyes following after Pierre, but there seemed to be no malice in them. Darkwolf wondered just how much self-control he possessed to be so restrained in the face of death. Just what were his orders, and just what was he hiding? For some reason, he doubted that he would let him in on it, especially since he would not do it at gunpoint.

Darkwolf walked over to his three friends, glad to see that at least that many were here. He wondered where the other four, correction three were. The fourth, Ascot, was dead. Black-Tiger was also supposed to be locked up in the brig, that much he knew. Other than that, he wasn't really aware of anything going on. The three of them greeted him warmly, though he knew that he should first explain himself.

"About the clothes, no I'm not a transvestite. Penny made me wear them before she'd guide me through the ducts back there. How are you guys?"

"Don't worry about the clothes, it's just so good to see you, we thought you were dead. We found your room, and saw the clothes on your floor, and thought for sure the werewolves must have gotten you," Lassie explained.

"Well, I was ah, getting in touch with the wolf again when I heard the werewolves coming down the hallway. I got into the airducts as fast as possible, I just barely made it too. I didn't have time enough to get my clothes back on." Darkwolf was relieved to be back with friends, it felt good. It was also good to get to move about, stand, stretch, and to just be out of those vents. It seemed like a lifetime ago that he had been attacked, but he knew that it was only a matter of hours. Still, he was lucky to have survived at all. It was good to be where he knew he'd be safe.

"What about the others? Where are they?"

Their faces went distant and forlorn. HuggyBear looked over their faces for a moment; his own a study in sorrow. "Darkwolf, we don't know about Black-Tiger, but both Lovewolf and Lapwolf are gone. Lovewolf has become a werewolf, while Lapwolf was eaten by one. Lap's dead."

"And Lovewolf is beautiful," Lassie echoed his sentiments.

Darkwolf grimaced, feeling his stomach lurch once more. He did not like Lapwolf, and he thought it a blessing that Pillow would no longer be saddled by that particular burden. Still, he had been something of a friend, and the fact that he was dead, eaten in fact, was more than he wanted to bear. Had he anything in his stomach he was sure that he could have puked it up then and there. But it had been some time since he had eaten anything, and there was nothing to give.

"There's nothing we can do. We're just glad you are safe." HuggyBear smiled weakly. Darkwolf nodded to him, as he looked back over the others in the room.

"So, just what is going on here. I show up and Thibaudet's got a gun pointed at somebody's heart. What have I missed?" Darkwolf addressed all of them. Pillow seemed to be glaring at nothing in particular, which bothered him slightly.

"Well, aside from watching people become werewolves or get eaten nothing much really," HuggyBear replied as he shrugged his massive shoulders. "That lady and McGee, as well as Anselm just got here from the research stations. Apparently the place was filling up with some poisonous gas, I think chlorine, but I can't be sure if I heard it correctly or not. Dr. Thibaudet doesn't tell us much. Anselm is the only one of them who is not going to become a werewolf too, the others were hurt. That's all it takes, being hurt by a werewolf. Whatever you do though, don't get injured naturally. They see you as food then. That's how Lap died. He pestered the Captain to bite him, the Captain had become a werewolf but hadn't changed yet, and the Captain instead shot him in the knee."

"Did he want to eat him?" Darkwolf was horrified.

"Apparently he didn't realize it till it was too late. I don't think Lap even knew what had happened to him. I hope he didn't, I can't imagine the pain of being eaten alive."

Darkwolf shuddered. He then looked at Pillow's face. Pillow looked ready to cry again. It was obvious that his death had upset him a lot. They had been lovers, although Pillow the more reluctant of the two. Lap just wanted a fuck; that was all. The world would not miss him, but apparently Pillow would. He could not imagine why. Love was odd like that.

"Anything else happen while I was gone?"

"Nothing important," Lassie shook her head. Her eyes then suddenly went defensive, looking at something behind him. Darkwolf turned around to see Penny standing there with her hand held out. She had that smile on her face again. Darkwolf cringed.

"May I have my communicator back now?" Penny asked in a very sweet voice. Darkwolf pulled it out of his pocket and handed it to her.

"Thanks for keeping your end of the bargain."

"And you yours," Penny agreed. "Now, we have to find someway to stay alive even longer. How's that plan sound?"

"Sounds great to me."

"Good, because we are going to need all the help we can get I think," Penny looked at the still grumbling Thibaudet. "I think I want to have a little talk with that fellow over there."

"He's really a nice guy, I think," Darkwolf interjected.

Pillow was suddenly livid. "Him? Because of him, Lapwolf is dead! Do you know what he did? He stopped me from saving him. I could have saved him but he stopped me!"

"Pillow, please," HuggyBear put a hand on his shoulder, and tried to comfort him. His voice was plaintive; they must have been over this ground many times before. He wondered how long ago it had been. It must not have been too recent, or Pillow would still be crying. He knew Pillow was not that emotionally strong; he did not have much of a backbone to him, so he had to have been crying for a long time. Perhaps he was growing, he certainly hoped so.

"I'll find out the truth here," Penny pointed out. Her manner seemed almost forced. It appeared like she did not want to be authoritative. Darkwolf wondered about her, but didn't say anything. She certainly had been authoritative enough when she told him how to properly put the clothes on. The indignity of it scathed him slightly. It was something however that would not need to be remembered. It was just a little event that would mean nothing in the great big scheme of things. That was what it was, and that was what he'd think of it as. He would not let this embarrass him.

Penny then started towards Thibaudet who was apparently counting off on his fingers and doing some mental calculations in his head. Darkwolf watched after her, trying to see juts what she intended to say to him. Thibaudet saw her approaching, and glanced at her for a moment before a look of complete surprise passed over his face. He started jumping up and down, smiling and screaming for joy. "I got it! I got it!" He shouted over and over, attracting everybody's attention.

"What is it, Dr. Thibaudet?" Penny asked impatiently.

"I know who the original werewolf is, the person who has caused all of our problems," Thibaudet announced proudly. He glared at the blond-haired man, he guessed that was Anselm.

"Well tell us already, don't stand there doing the jig," Jansen barked petulantly.

Thibaudet just smiled wide and motioned them all to get closer. "This is tight, and there can be no more doubt. It all adds up now, everything makes sense."

"Well who is it?" Jansen pressed.

"Why, none other than Lieutenant Commander Samuel Kilpatrick," Thibaudet broadcasted triumphantly.

Throckmorton turned to see Simmons wheeling back into MOCR. Her face looked to have been recently dried. She must have bee more upset than he'd realized. He was still kicking himself over what he'd said out there. It was too late to go back and change it now. He tried to imagine their reaction to seeing him come by again, "Oh incidentally, everything I've told you up till now has been a lie, just so you know. All the reports are true, there re werewolves on board the Pytheas. I was just trying to save our skin, that's all. Okay, can we be friends again? Don't hate me too much!" How pathetic could he get? He really didn't want to know.

Colonel Edward Throckmorton saw her pull back up behind them on the railing and stop. She looked back and forth over his and Major Brucker's face. She sighed, "I'm sorry for what I said. I was wrong; you did what you thought was right. Please forgive my foolishness, sir."

"It wasn't foolishness, Simmons, it was indignation. I lied to you and to everybody else. I only got myself in worse trouble. Please forgive me for not listening to you both before. You were right, and I was wrong. I probably have done even more harm than before. There is nothing I can do about it now. That is done and over with, unfortunately. If I had a chance to do it again, I know I would do it differently." Throckmorton did mean all of it too. He was ashamed of his actions, ashamed of who he was. He was lying to everybody, including himself. Who was he but a computer programmer who had joined the military?

"I still shouldn't have yelled at you."

"Look, let's just let it rest all right. We are both trying to do everything we can to save our friends lives, and it seems like we are failing. Don't worry, they're going to be all right. Captain Harper is capable."

Major Brucker snapped out of his silence then and looked to him clearly, "Captain Harper and his team are in place and are ready to begin the launch sequence, sir. Sorry, I forgot to mention it before."

"That's all right, begin the sequence, the sooner they get up there the sooner our men are safe." Throckmorton pointed out.

"Do you forgive me though?" Simmons interrupted.

"Of course I forgive you," Throckmorton smiled to her, trying to show her a cheery face. For one as chiseled as he, it was not easy, but he thought he had an honest smile. "Do you forgive me?"

"Yes. Thank you, Colonel," Simmons replied softly as she bowed her head.

"Don't mention it."

Brucker called out a few orders, and a clock suddenly appeared in the center of the top screen. The readout read "30:00.00 minutes till Hyperion Launch". Throckmorton then gave him the nod, and Brucker called out the last order, and the clock began ticking off the seconds. In two more hours, the Hyperion would connect up with the Pytheas and they would finally be able to retake control of the ship. It would be a good feeling when it was over. He just hoped that there would be people left to save when it all came down to the final analysis.

Throckmorton turned back to Simmons, "Are you going to be all right?"

Simmons nodded, her brown curls falling over one eye. She brushed them back with one hand, her nose sniffing slightly. "I'll be fine, as soon as we get them all back."

"I can sympathize."

An orderly came running into the room through the doors and straight towards them. Throckmorton noticed that he had a frantic look on his face. That could only mean a few things, none of which he wanted at the moment. "What is it?' Throckmorton asked him. He hated surprises.

"Secretary Blumenfield's limousine just pulled up, sir." The out-of-breath man replied.

"Wonderful," Throckmorton muttered. He knew it had to happen sometime. He hated having to deal with that woman, especially since he had given her his word he would resign his position after this was over. That could be only a few hours from now, a thought that he did not care for. He liked working here, and did not want to have to step down in disgrace, as it appeared he would have to. Then again, he had tied this noose for himself. It would just take Secretary Blumenfield's initiative to put his neck through it. "Send her to my office, I'll meet here up there when she arrives."

"Yes, Colonel." The man saluted him and then ran back out the doors.

"Well that's just great," Brucker intoned solemnly. "Do you think the President could have picked a more obstinate woman than her?"

"Not likely."

Throckmorton turned back to Simmons and sighed, "This is the part that I hate."

She laughed a bit, though it was tenuous. He should have expected as much, it was not likely that much of anything was going to cheer her up, at least not until she knew that the others were safe. He still wished that he could do something more than just passively stand on the ground and make a fool of himself in front of the press. He looked at the timer again, already two minutes had ticked off it, and it was moving fast. Before too much longer the shuttle Hyperion would launch and then all their hopes where in Harper, the stripe's hands. He hoped his judgement to select him had been wise.

The sudden sound of the radio coming to life caught his attention. He picked it up before anybody else could reach it, intent on finding out what was happening up there in space, up there with the werewolves. "This is Colonel Throckmorton."

"Colonel, this is Lieutenant Lucille Penny. I am still alive, and we have distressing news for you." The sound of her voice brought a bit of relief to his ears. He had been wondering about her and Kilpatrick for some time. Perhaps they weren't dead after all. Simmons seemed glad to hear that she was alive too, her face lighting up like a Christmas tree. Brucker just smiled.

"What is it, Penny? Good to hear that you are alive though."

"Thanks, but we do have one mystery solved for you finally."


"We know who the first werewolf is. We've been able to identify him."

Throckmorton looked to Brucker's and Simmons face, his own having gone cold. They knew who it was that had started this whole mess? That was great news, it was simply wonderful, because then he would have some bargaining chip with the Secretary. It may do nothing for him, but it was better than nothing. Brucker looked startled, his smile having disappeared. Simmons looked completely white, her whole body frozen stiff. Throckmorton whispered back, "Who is it?"

"You're not going to believe this, sir, but we've counted everything up, all the evidence points to him."

"Well who is it?"

"Kilpatrick, sir." Penny's voice sounded weak itself. It must have been a blow to her as well.

Throckmorton felt even more devastated. That bargaining chip was gone now. He had thought that the werewolf would have been one of the Shapeshifters, at least then he could pin the blame on her because she had authorized them to go on the flight. He'd had nothing to do with that decision. Now that it was Kilpatrick, a man that he had put into position, he was responsible. He looked to Brucker and Simmons. Brucker seemed even more shocked, mouthing various words in consternation. Simmons was a study in white, her whole body shaking, and her eyes beginning to water once again.

"How do you figure that?" Was all he could ask. He wanted to know the details of this.

"Well there is a lot of evidence pointing to it, we've just finally been able to pull it all together. Actually, Thibaudet did it, but he claims to have picked up on it from counting heads. First off, there have only been two periods of our ship being in the path of the full moon. We can account for everybody but Kilpatrick, Darkwolf, and most of the scientists during this time. Until recently, nobody knew where Darkwolf, Kilpatrick, or I were. Darkwolf has shown up now, and so that leaves only Kilpatrick. The rest of the scientists have either shown up dead or are still missing. However, Thibaudet assures me he knew where two of them were when the full moon was up. That left one, but there are still other reasons that we have for Kilpatrick being the werewolf.

"Kilpatrick was of course supposed to be sleeping at first, but he wasn't in his room. Dr. Xenakis said that he saw Kilpatrick heading to the Greenhouse just after Ascot was killed. Lassie says that she thought she saw somebody in the Greenhouse with her when she was there by herself. Apparently she was looking at Jansen's ring, a silver engagement ring. The ring disappeared after that, and only just recently turned up. It was in the Engine Room. We think that Kilpatrick knew what he was, and deliberately took it because he was afraid of being killed by it.

"I was also in the Engine Room with him, and he deliberately did everything he could do to get me out of there before we arrived at the moon orbit again. I left, only by his direct order, and I went to my room. He closed and sealed the door after I left. At the time I thought his behavior odd, but it now makes perfect sense. He knew he was a werewolf, and did not want it to spread, so he locked himself in the engine room. Anywhere else and he might have had a chance of getting out of, but he destroyed the handle on the inside of the door, making it impossible for anybody to leave the room once it was closed."

"Wait a second, you're telling me that the reason that my good friend Captain Rhodes is now a werewolf locked himself up in the Engine Room?" Throckmorton could tell something was wrong about this, yet he didn't know what.

"Yes. Lassie saw him as well when she went to the Engine Room via that airducts. One of the Shapeshifters was with her, Lovewolf. He held Kilpatrick at bay while she escaped with the silver ring of Dr. Jansen."

"Something doesn't add up here. How did the others get infected with the lycanthropy if Kilpatrick was locked up?"

Penny was startled. "I don't know sir."

Brucker gasped then, "I think I know."

"What is it?" Throckmorton asked, holding the radio out to him to speak into as well.

Brucker licked his lips, "Tembo was killed by Kilpatrick, right?"

"Yes," Penny confirmed.

"I don't think Tembo is dead. I think he became a werewolf too, and that is how it has spread. Those killed by werewolves also become werewolves it seems."

"That's right!" Throckmorton whispered, so that Penny would not hear him. "Danielpour was dead too, but we saw him become a werewolf as well."

Brucker nodded back, "That's got to be how it worked."

Throckmorton took the radio back, "Thank you Penny, is there anything else?"

"No, we called just to let you know that. I'm not sure what good it does us, but we do know who the werewolf is. I can't believe it's Kilpatrick. I've served so many years with him, I thought I knew him. I guess I did not," Penny rambled on, her voice weak.

"Don't berate yourself, nobody would have guessed," Throckmorton sighed.

"Well, I better get back here. I have some planning to do."

"Understood. Good luck to you, Captain Harper is coming up in the Hyperion shortly. We're preparing to launch soon. They'll arrive in just over two hours. Thibaudet can fill you in on that."

"Thank you, sir. Good luck to you as well," and then Penny was gone. Throckmorton put the radio down and looked back at them, his own face still carrying the shock. Simmons was slowly regaining her colour. Brucker was rubbing his chin thoughtfully, his eyes wondering.

Throckmorton sighed, shaking his head. "Why would somebody who knew they were a werewolf get on a shuttle that would be facing the full moon for two months. It doesn't make sense."

Brucker then remarked, "Well it does make some sense that he would have been with us at least."

"What do you mean?"

"Well, suppose you are a werewolf, and you do not like shapeshifting at all, or at least you don't like what you do when you shift into the wolf form. What would be the perfect job for you? Flying up in a space shuttle, that way for very long periods of time you never have to see the full moon. Think of it, you could, if you got scheduled just right, go for years without ever having to see the full moon. The curse might not be gone, but you've beaten it. What better job could you have than to fly on a space shuttle if you were a werewolf and didn't like it?" Brucker seemed satisfied with his explanation.

Throckmorton had to admit that it did make a lot of sense. Still, it bugged him that after all this time, Kilpatrick would make such a stupid mistake. Wouldn't he have tried to find someway to get out of it this time, that way he wouldn't have to be up there for two months completely shifted? After all, if he hated it, why didn't he do something to keep himself from going on that ship?

Looking at Brucker he shrugged, "I guess it makes sense, but still. Why was he on this flight?"

Brucker shook his head, "I don't know."

Throckmorton sighed, and then looked at the doors, wondering when that orderly would run back in to let him know that the Secretary was waiting for him in his office. That orderly had better be careful, running that fast through this place was dangerous, what with all the staircases about the place. One wrong step and he could hurt himself pretty badly. Throckmorton then suddenly had an insight. He let his gaze slowly roll over to where Simmons sat perched in her wheelchair, her leg still in a cast from where it had broken the day before. She had fallen down the steps and broken her leg the morning of the flight, thus making it impossible for her to go. Somehow, it seemed almost anticlimactic to him now, but it was so obvious that he couldn't deny it.

"Brucker, good analysis, but wrong on one point. I don't think Kilpatrick knew he was a werewolf when he got on that ship. Somehow he figured it out while up there, I don't know yet, but I'm willing to bet that if you check his personal messages that you'll find one that is warning him about what he might have become." Throckmorton was smiling, his eyes never leaving Simmons. She stared back at him, her own afraid, almost pleading.

"Why do you say that, sir?"

"Because the original werewolf did not get on that flight. She broke her leg the morning of the launch and is sitting in a wheelchair in front of me. Am I not correct, Lieutenant Simmons?" Throckmorton said it with such alacrity that he was not sure how she would take it. She just glared back at him, her fear turning to anger once again. He gazed back, sadly, but inevitably.

End Part XX

Charles Matthias