Colonel Edward Throckmorton sat dumbstruck in his chair as he stared back and forth from Secretary Blumenfield's disapproving glare to Fulton Swiley's open greeting. He could not fully comprehend what was happening about him. Here he was sitting in this very room with the director of the Hasmoneans; an organization that he was told should probably never mess with him, but if it did, look out. He knew that they were into esoteric studies, but he had never would have guessed until today that they were involved in real werewolves. What had they done; what had Fulton Swiley done? Fulton Swiley, a futurist of some renown, was the head of the Hasmoneans. Fulton Swiley, a man who was famous for the one book that he had published, 'Cycles of the Universe: Science Rediscovering Myth', was responsible for this whole mess. That it was a man that he had respected only made things worse. How could he have used the lives on board that ship so recklessly? Then again, why had he been in the pressroom disguised so and why did he badger him with those questions. Just what was he doing?
Throckmorton had no idea, but whatever it was, he didn't like it. Anybody who used those under his command and endangered their lives needlessly was not a man that he wanted to trust. He certainly did not want to be congratulated on a job well done from one either! He shifted uncomfortably in his seat, glaring back at the pipe-smoking charlatan. Fulton Swiley seemed not to be concerned with his anger, though his face did droop a bit, and he sighed, glancing back at Blumenfield for a moment, before putting the pipe back in his mouth and puffing it a few more times; thin wisps of smoke were trailing from the corners of his mouth.
It appeared that Simmons was also confused as well with her hands resting in her lap and the one scratching underneath the cast on her leg. Her face did not move from Swiley's resting on it with worry and tension. He could see the lines creasing across her brow, her hand feverishly scratching at her leg to relieve some of her diffidence. Throckmorton wondered just what it was that the werewolf was worried about. Did she suspect that Swiley knew and was going to expose her? Well, it made sense, otherwise why would he have personally requested her presence. Just what would her life be like if everybody knew that she was a werewolf? There was that fame issue again. He had given fame to Havergal Rhodes and the others on board the Pytheas. They would be known as werewolves now and what more could he do in their lives? Would they be forever bugged by requests of young fools wanting to be werewolves too, without realizing what this would mean for their lives? Or would they be hated and shunned by every neighborhood and community they lived in; worse yet, would they be stoned or run out of town because people would fear them? His stomach curdled at the thought. He did not want to be responsible for such misery and rejection. How could anybody live like that?
Then again, it wasn't really his fault. This man, this one Fulton Swiley, sole director of the Hasmoneans, a secret government agency that is sanctioned by the Presidential Office itself, was ultimately responsible for this entire tragic affair. That was the truth, and that would be what he would tell himself no matter what happened.
Swiley held the pipe in one hand, glancing at it, turning it over, but not spilling any of the powder in the cup. Glancing back up at Throckmorton, the scientist smiled a wide grin, "You know, I wasn't sure if this would work, but I was determined to do what I could. You really helped me out there. I must thank you for it. Without you, I never would have been able to do it."
Throckmorton could smell the scent of the tobacco and blanched. What a disgusting habit that man had. "If you mean in turning all those people up on the Pytheas into werewolves, than I am sorry. I want no part of it."
Swiley pulled a small pouch out of his coat pocket, and up-ended it a bit into the cup of his pipe, and a black powder filled it up a bit. He then put the pack back, and drew out a small brass stopper and began tamping the powder down. He then flipped the top of the brass stopper up, and pressing a small button ignited a tiny flame. He held the flame into the cup for a moment, and then closed the stopper up again and put it back into the inside pocket of his tan coat. He took another deep breath of the pipe, and then blew a ring of smoke into the air. He smiled at seeing it and then remarked, his eyes still on the gaseous torus, "You know how long I've been practicing that trick? I think I'm finally getting the hang of it." Throckmorton didn't say anything, noting that Blumenfield was glancing at her wristwatch and Simmons was still scratching at her leg.
Swiley turned back to him finally, "Now, back to the topic at hand. I didn't come here just to congratulate you, and I certainly am not here to argue with you over the ethics of what has been done and who is to blame for it. I am here to bring you solutions to your problems, and possibly answers to your questions. You are probably wondering what is going on, and why werewolves really exist. Does that not strike you as something odd? Have you ever entertained the thought of werewolves being real before?"
"Maybe when I was a kid. I certainly haven't since then. That is until today. Now I don't think there is anyway to deny it."
Swiley nodded, his smile gone, his face thoughtful, "Well that is good at least. I did not think that you actually believed those things you told us in the press room." He leaned forward, holding the pipe in his left hand. "That was certainly the most inventive lie that you could have told though. I was taken aback at your ingenuity to come up with a rational explanation. I hope you realize though that nobody believed you."
"I saw the polls. Eighty-five percent believe in werewolves now. Have you seen the price of silver lately?"
Swiley nodded again. "Yes I did. It has gone up nine-hundred points since your speech."
"Nine-hundred points!" Throckmorton couldn't believe it. He'd never heard of a stock going up more than two hundred points in one day. Nine hundred points was simply unbelievable. Then again, if silver actually killed werewolves, then there had to be a significant demand for silver now. It was astronomically significant, silver was now probably the most expensive mineral on the face of Earth."
"It outpaced gold within the first ten minutes," Swiley continued. "Platinum within the first thirty. Of course, I suspected that it would happen from the very beginning. You made me quite a fortune, I must thank you for that."
"You're not welcome." Throckmorton had to admit to himself at least that he was a bit jealous. Had he thought of it, he would not have hesitated in buying up silver stocks either.
"Touchy. I'm sure you'll change your mind once you realize the significance of the events of this day. I think it might be worth starting a new calendar, but then again I'm biased." Swiley set the pipe between his teeth and picked up a briefcase and set it on the table, he popped it open and looked inside, holding the back to the rest of them. He was obviously sorting through some papers, but he did not say what. He then shut the briefcase closed again, and pushed it to the side.
Throckmorton wondered just what event could be more significant than the birth of one whom almost one half the world's population considered to be the Son of God. He was sure that something was going on here that was beyond his comprehension. Something that was even greater than the werewolves. Certainly he didn't think the appearance of werewolves was more important than the Nativity, but then again, Swiley said he was biased. Still, he could not fathom that it would be that simple. However, he would not know unless he asked, "So, just what is going on here? I am lost, I admit. I found out that there were werewolves today, and frankly, I am not happy about it. I want to know how you did all of this. I also want to know why. My neck is on the chopping block here, and I put it there to save people's lives, the ones up on that ship. Now you come here, and I don't know what to think anymore."
Secretary Blumenfield glared at him, "Don't worry about your neck, Edward. That is my department." Throckmorton ignored her. He knew that Swiley was the one with the real power here now. He was the one who could determine whether he kept his job or not, and whether he would be the subject of public censure or not.
Fulton Swiley shrugged, "There is so much to say, I do not quite know where to begin."
"Almost anywhere will be fine for me, I know very little."
He laughed for a moment, "True, you have been left in the dark. As have you, Lieutenant Michelle Simmons. Believe me, I hated having to use you. Still, it was necessary."
Simmons glared back at him, "How did you know?"
"How did I know? That you were a werewolf you mean?" She nodded. "Well that is really very simple. We suspected you were a werewolf form the first day that you signed up to be in the Space Force. You knew that the Space Force personnel would do a background check on you, and well the circumstances of your past triggered a few things in our computers. We did not know until later. You see, we found the necessary evidence in your house. The cage in the storage room was convincing, especially since you don't have any pets. Your parents did not betray you; we did not ask them. I thought you might like to know that at least."
"So you spied on me?"
"Basically, yes," Swiley agreed.
Simmons crossed her arms and fumed for a few moments. Throckmorton stared at her. It must have been painful to realize that somebody could so easily uncover her history and figure out what she was. They had known she was a werewolf all along. She had only been deluding herself that she was escaping her fate. That must have been hard to admit to herself. Throckmorton however, wondered about something else. "Now, did you want to have a real werewolf on the Pytheas for this trip?"
"Yes. That was part of our plan."
"So Simmons breaking her leg did not concern you?"
"We were expecting her to find some excuse to get out of going into orbit. What she didn't realize, because she was adopted, is that for some reason, the ability to become a wolf is transferred through almost any transfer of fluids. It is a well-known fact of the recently sexual nature of Lieutenant Simmons relationship with Lieutenant Commander Samuel Kilpatrick. We counted on him being our werewolf. I personally did not think that Simmons would have the guts to tell him until the last possible moment. You did try to warn him didn't you?" Swiley looked at the glowering werewolf, her hands shaking and her eyes flaring. Throckmorton hoped that she did not lose control. He still wasn't sure if emotional extremes could trigger a change. Some of the stories he had heard claimed that they would, but then again, they were only stories, who knew what a real werewolf would do? Apparently, Dr. Fulton Swiley did.
Taking a deep breath, Throckmorton continued, "So it was sex?"
Swiley nodded, "Ironic isn't it?"
Simmons was absolutely livid by this point, "How dare you abuse my love for another! How dare you, you monster. You don't care what happens to my friends, you made them suffer the same fate as I! How could you do it? I hate you!" He was sure that is Simmons could have, she would have strode over and slapped him in the face or kicked him in the shin.
"Suffer? You really think you suffer? Why is that?" Swiley seemed genuinely astonished.
"Because I almost killed my mother, I wanted to, I wanted to hurt her!" Simmons was bordering between tears and flames again. Throckmorton tried to inconspicuously rub his temples. She seemed to go through this roller coaster every few minutes. How messed up must her mind and her whole psyche be at this point? How much more could she take before the strain finally snapped her mind in two? Throckmorton hoped that he wouldn't have to find out.
Swiley set his pipe down, taping it thoughtfully on the table a few times. He then looked back up to Simmons, his countenance apologetic. "I'm sorry about that. There are some things we do not know. I am glad we did not ask your parents now." He looked over at Throckmorton for a second and then returned his gaze to the nearly weeping girl, "Most werewolves I've known have found their condition to be quite enjoyable. They practice caution of course; but then again, they were raised by other werewolves. There is a significant population of them. It is very, very small, but we have been able to find a few."
"How can anybody find enjoyment in it?"
Throckmorton coughed a moment and then added, "Simmons, I think I know what he is saying now. You remember that you admitted that you liked romping through the woods when you were younger, before you had your incident."
Simmons stayed silent for a moment, the emotion draining from her face for a second. Then her sorrow came back in full, "But I was foolish! I did not realize how much of a danger I was to those I loved."
Swiley leaned back in his chair a bit, "All you had to do was to make them werewolves too, and you could have as a pack run together out in the woods."
"That's horrible!" Simmons gasped.
"Not really. Don't you think that is what the wolf wants?"
"The wolf wants to torture me," Simmons replied, her lips firm.
"Perhaps when you look at it from your point of view. What do you think it really wants though? Look at it from the wolf's perspective, it only wants to help you. It wants to make a pack. Wolves live in packs you know."
"Yes I know."
"What did the wolf do when you were sleeping with Kilpatrick?"
Simmons went red in the face, and even Secretary Blumenfield had to shift uncomfortably in her chair. Throckmorton grumbled, "Just what does this have to do with your plan?"
"Not much, but it means everything to helping her," Swiley replied tartly. "I want her to realize that the wolf is not to be shunned, but loved and embraced as well." Throckmorton sighed, hoping that Swiley's intentions were that noble sounding. Whether they were noble or not, he couldn't tell. He did not have a wolf inside him telling him what to do and stuff. He really wasn't sure what it was like, or what it could possibly be like. Was there this image of a wolf talking to him all the time? Or was it just a presence, a second voice that felt like a wolf? It was almost academic though. With a simple scratch from Simmons's nails, he knew that he too could be among the furry kind on the full moon. That was not a prospect that he wanted to embrace.
Swiley gazed into her eyes again. She was looking down at her cast, refusing to even acknowledge him. Swiley spoke softly, his calm voice soothing the very air about them. Throckmorton wished he'd put that stupid pipe out, but he certainly was not about to tell him to do so. "I am only trying to help you realize what the wolf wants to do for you. Now, what did the wolf do when you were sleeping with Kilpatrick? Was she enjoying it too?" Simmons shuddered, but said nothing. Swiley licked his lips again, leaning forward a little bit. "Simmons, please, be honest with yourself, and me. I am not going to hurt you. I am not going to let anybody know that you are a werewolf unless you want them to. Your secret is safe with me. Nobody in this room will repeat it either. Now, what did the wolf do while you were sleeping with Lieutenant Commander Kilpatrick a few weeks ago?"
Simmons looked up at him, her eyes afraid, her whole body quivering. Throckmorton was amazed at how many emotions she could display in such a short period of time. "She howled."
"After it was over, she groomed herself. Her eyes were looking into me again, congratulating me on finding a mate. She spent a lot of time howling." Simmons voice was weak, and unsure, and she stumbled a few times as well. Throckmorton wanted to reach out and put his hand on her shoulder for support, but he dared not move.
Swiley set the pipe down on the table, and leaned forward, "What did you feel?"
"I don't know. I wanted to be scared, but I wasn't."
"Why weren't you afraid of the wolf? Was it the howling, the grooming, or knowing that you now had a mate?"
Simmons shook her head, "I don't know, I just can't remember exactly. I was so exhausted. I wasn't really thinking clearly."
"But you remember what the wolf did?"
"Yes. That is about all I can remember of that time."
Swiley nodded, taking a deep breath. "Do you want to leave Kilpatrick?"
"No!" it was emphatic and quick. "I love him, I could never leave him."
"And I'd wager that he would never look at any other woman but you with any real intent."
Simmons laughed a small chuckle, "Sam was always hitting on all the women. I can't imagine him ever changing."
"But you knew that he loved you and you alone?"
"Then, here is something to think about. Was the wolf happy that you two got together?"
Simmons sat silent for a moment, her face blanching again for a brief second. "Yes, she was. She was delighted that I had finally found a mate."
"So, the wolf is happy for you. Perhaps your hasty evaluation of the wolf was flawed? Can you not see that she is only looking out for the best for you?" Swiley reasoned his thick face one of concern. The futurist held both hands in front of him, clasped together tightly. It was obvious that he really did care in some way. Throckmorton wondered about him for a moment. Perhaps his evaluation of the good Dr. Fulton Swiley had been premature and hasty. Perhaps the head of the Hasmoneans was really a kind man, and had not meant to hurt anybody on board the Pytheas? Perhaps he really did have their best interests at heart? He could not imagine that werewolves being a recognized phenomenon was in their best interests, but then again, he was just a computer programmer. He liked having everything in its place, and so far, werewolves did not really fit anywhere. As such, they pestered him with their singularly unclassified nature. They were shapeshifters, he could classify them as such, but then again he had nothing else to fit in that category, and nowhere to place Shapeshifters either. He wished that there was an easy solution to this, but he knew that there wasn't. Still, all this talk of the wolf and how wonderful it was to have a wolf inside you was making him wonder just what it really was like, and just how it would reorganize his classification systems.
Simmons sighed, "But why did it attack my mother?"
Swiley nodded sagely, "Ah yes, that would make it difficult to see." He leaned back in his chair and picked up his pipe again, taking a few puffs of it. He was staring at the ceiling, lost in thought. Throckmorton looked over at Simmons, and gently put a hand on her shoulder. He finally had to do it; he could not stand to see her suffer anymore. She glanced back at him, and smiled weakly, though she did nothing else. His throat was dry, and his nose hurt from the smell of the smoke. Some hot cocoa would be really nice right now, but it probably wouldn't be cosure to get up and make himself some at this point in time. Blumenfield looked to be singularly left out, continuously looking back over the forms she had brought with her, and then glaring at him again every once in a while. He wondered how she was taking all of this. Certainly she must have known that something was going on, but wasn't the revelations she was hearing now more than enough to unhinge her stolid skepticism? Or perhaps she had been in on the plot all along and was only playing the skeptic in the past to hide her affiliation? Frankly, he didn't really care, since there was absolutely nothing he could do about it either way. He doubted she would even bother to tell him either.
Fulton blew another smoke ring as he sat there, and then staring at it, he smiled and turned back to Simmons. "We often cannot see the good of something because of one incident that seems to be so big that it covers all of it in blackness. We have to realize what this blackness is, and know that it is just the penumbra of a much smaller event that we are looking at. Because we focus on it only, it obscures everything else with its shadow. I am not saying that you attacking your mother was insignificant, I'm just saying that its reasons are not as horrible as you may think."
"Why did the wolf make me do it then?" Simmons insisted.
"Because, the wolf was lonely. It knew that if it just injured her, but not killed her, then it would have another packmate."
"But she was already my mother, and I loved her dearly, why did it have to do that?"
"Because, wolves need other wolves. Werewolves need other werewolves. Whether you know it or not, you feel that need. You have repressed it for so long because you did not understand what you had done. I think you need to realize that yes, you can be a danger to others, but if you have a pack with you, a pack that knows how to act responsibly, than you will never have reason to worry. Most of the werewolves I've met in my time have never had a problem, once they understood what they were and how they could fit into both societies. It is a very troublesome thing, but you would be amazed at how happy they are, and how well adjusted to their condition. Would you like to meet them sometime?"
Simmons stared into his face dumbstruck once again. Throckmorton was a bit surprised by the offer, but it didn't really shock him. "Yes, I would like to meet them," she replied enthusiastically. Edward hoped that it was for the best. That she seemed to want to know how to live with the wolf now was amazing. Before she had been running from it. How much we can change in a few moments, he pondered. Lifetimes were usually used to change even the slightest bit, but such monumental things as this happened in moments. Adaptation was the only way to survive at these times. He did not want to change, he was old, and he was firmly set in his ways. Yet did even he have a choice? Did the Colonel who ran MOCR have any say in this matter? What say could he have? The damage was already done, and eighty-five percent of the American population believed in werewolves. He wondered what the rest of the world thought of this, but then realized that frankly, it didn't matter. If the United States admitted the existence of the werewolves, then so too would most of the other major powers, at least after the evidence became impossible to ignore.
Dr. Fulton Swiley nodded, his smile reassuring, "I will see to it that you and your friends when they get back have an opportunity to meet other werewolves."
"Yes, your friends. They will not be sacrificed for any reason, they are people too you know."
Throckmorton finally cut in, "Dr. Swiley, I have to know, what are your intentions. You seem to want to help them, yet you ultimately are responsible for their condition. You never asked them if they wanted to be werewolves, you just sent Kilpatrick up there so that he would make them all werewolves. I don't understand what you are trying to do. Would you please help me to understand?"
Swiley took a glance at Secretary Blumenfield who returned the look coolly. "I don't think that the presence of werewolves on the Pytheas is really my fault. After all, it was Mrs. Blumenfield who set the schedule for the Pytheas to go up at that time. With or without me, the crew and passengers on board the Pytheas would have become werewolves. I had nothing to do with it."
"How can you say that? You admit you knew that she was a werewolf and that Kilpatrick was a werewolf. How can you say that you aren't responsible?"
"Weren't you listening? I said that they would have gotten on that ship with or without my help. Don't you think that if I really wanted to make sure that the werewolf was on board that I would have arranged to make sure that Simmons would get on board regardless what had happened to her?"
"You wouldn't send somebody with a broken leg up in a spaceship! You could kill them." Edward was aghast at the suggestion. Perhaps Swiley was telling the truth; perhaps he wasn't really responsible for that. Still, he was responsible for something, and he wondered just what it was. He had taken an interest in this at the very least. He had kept valuable information hidden; he was guilty of that too. There were lots of things that he could be criticized for. However, he doubted that Swiley would accept responsibility for them either. Just what had he done aside from badger him in the pressroom?
With a sudden start, Throckmorton realized just what it was that the futurist had done. He had somehow gotten somebody on board the Pytheas to download film from the security cameras. That was all that he had needed to do. Why would he want to do that though? Was he trying to prove that werewolves existed? Well he certainly had convinced the American public of that. Or at least Edward had made the public believe he was a liar and thus believe that werewolves existed. Either way, that was what had been accomplished by all of this. Making Fulton Swiley rich off the silver market was just a byproduct, though one that he wished he could share in.
"Broken leg?" Swiley seemed startled. "Simmons, is your leg really broken?"
"Of course," Simmons replied defensively.
"How long till it heals then, a couple days?"
"I guess so."
"A couple days!" Throckmorton was incredulous.
"Oh yes, don't you know about the werewolf's regenerative abilities. Like the rest of their powers it waxes and wanes with the moon. If you shot a werewolf in the chest during the new moon, they would probably die unless they received medical attention. However, if you shot them near the full moon, or while they are changed, the wound will heal itself within a matter of minutes. It is a waxing crescent right now, so of course it will take sometime before she heals."
Throckmorton shook his head, "This is all too strange." He then peered back at the man, "So, all you really wanted out of this was to convince the American public that werewolves do exist? You are responsible for that tape playing on the air. It has to be, I mean, how would you have known that there was going to be such a thing before it happened? I mean, that prerecorded tape of you talking about the werewolf. The prerecorded bit sort of gave it away."
"I had to prerecord it because I wanted to see what you said personally." Swiley pointed out.
"Ah yes, in the press room."
"You are right though, that is what I am responsible for," Fulton admitted.
"So this was all about proving werewolves exist?"
"What do you mean?"
Swiley took another deep breath of his pipe, and then set it back down. "The werewolves were the easiest way to make my long term goals a possibility. Plus, it was something that was not going to be called smoke and mirrors when people saw it. About all you could say about the werewolf would be that it was a guy in a suit. That is until you see the shapeshift. Oh some could claim it was Hollywood, but when you admitted that the footage was real, for most people that was all that they needed to hear to believe."
Throckmorton shuddered as he listened. "What are your long term goals?"
"That is a bit tricky to explain, but I shall try. The werewolves are nothing more than a prelude to what is to come."
Swiley looked very pleased with himself. "Yes, Colonel Throckmorton, a prelude. This is just the beginning of a new era. Everything you think you know is going to be changed. The werewolves are just the beginning."
End Part 1 of Part XXII
Continued in Part 2 of Part XXII