"We need theme music."
"What?" Darkwolf asked, turning to face John who had finally risen from his prayers, a smile on his boyish face.
"Just what I said, we need some theme music. Something, tragic, yet at the same time full of hope. I can think of lots of pieces that fit that description. However, we might want an original score." John continued, smiling, enjoying the thoughts that he was entertaining.
"What are you talking about?" Darkwolf queried again. John stared at him full in the face, letting his eyes see that even one such as Darkwolf was worried. There was no reason to worry anymore. Things were going to go as intended. After all, God was in control of events, and nothing could stand in his way. Why hadn't he seen that sooner! Why had he persisted in his own rebellion, he would never know. Oh, there were still some pains that had to heal, but those would in time. He was sure of it.
"Well, you know they'll make some sort of movie out of all this. I mean, they did the same thing with the Marco Polo crash a few years back. Space disasters are favorite topics among the movie going public right now. You think they could resist our story?"
"Pillow, that's messed up," Darkwolf shook his head, a bit of the smile creeping onto his own lips as he turned away. HuggyBear chuckled warily beneath his breath. Lassie and Jansen both appeared confused by Pillow's sudden onset of cheerfulness.
"I know, but hey, not like we have anything better we can do now." John winked at his friends, and then continued to ponder. "Yes, theme music. That would be important. Let's see, I'd like something post-romantic. I wonder what we could use for the werewolves. Something viscous and carnal for sure. What pieces fit that description? We could go the Vaughan-Williams route and take excerpts from his fourth and sixth symphonies. No, not quite, too refined. Need something dirty. Brian's Gothic symphony? Not quite, but close. Gosh, this is difficult."
Jansen called out whimsically, "Who do you think they will get to play us?"
John shrugged. "I don't know, probably some unknowns."
"I'm hoping for Max Falico," Jansen replied, with a debonair expression on his face.
"You think of yourself as a Max Falico?" HuggyBear asked incredulously. John chuckled inwardly. That was a ridiculous idea, but it was probably not too far off the mark. They were both of the same build, but Max Falico had a charm about him and a tendency to look really good that made most women swoon over him. That Jansen wanted him was probably asking too much. Of course, it was still pretty funny.
"Well, I was hoping for an all-star cast and all," Jansen joshed with them. For some reason, almost certainly the return of that ring, Emil was now much more friendly and quite a good-natured fellow. Before they had only seen his ranting and raving, now he was calm, almost pleasant to be around. John liked the change.
"They'll probably cut down most of the roles, and just get people to stand in who don't say much for our parts," Lassie pointed out.
"True," HuggyBear agreed, nodding absently.
John walked about, still buoyed by his thoughts, and by the revelations given unto him. Standing at the door, he peered out into the empty halls. The werewolves were nowhere about. Presumably Penny was responsible for that, locking them up and keeping them safely away. He hoped that there were no complications, that things just moved smoothly. However, he knew that it was not to be so. He had a job to do, why he had to do it was not clear to him, and what it would accomplish was equally unclear. Yet the Lord did work in mysterious ways. Perhaps his relationship with Lapwolf as far as it was had been turned to a good purpose, getting him on this ship so he could do what had to be done.
When the doors opened, all of them, and simultaneously, he knew the time for foolish chatter was gone, and action had come. HuggyBear was stretching as he stood up. "Finally! I was hoping they would get those things locked away. I think I'll go down tot he cafeteria and get something to eat." The large man started walking for the door. John raced over, moving as fast as his feet would carry him, till he stood directly in front of the man who would be a bear. He put his arms out, palms forward.
"No, Huggy. Something's wrong!"
"They said they were going to get us out of here, the doors are open, they must have been successful. I bet we'll be seeing those three walk back in here in a moment or two."
John shook his head. "No, we won't. The werewolves will be coming in though. Now, get into that duct." He pointed at the still open ventilation shaft that Lapwolf and he had come through so many hours ago.
HuggyBear followed his arm and stared at it, and then asked incredulously, "You seriously think I'll fit in there?"
"You have no choice!" John warned between clenched teeth.
Jansen, with Lassie behind him came over. "Are you sure about this?" Jansen asked, his eyes concerned.
"Absolutely." John nodded emphatically, his eyes darting to the entrances, noting that so far nothing had come through. It would only be a matter of time.
Jansen sucked in his breath, looking at the exits, and then back at the shaft. Finally he grabbed Lassie's arm and dragged her back over there, and stood underneath the shaft. John shot HuggyBear a pleading glance and followed him over. At last, Huggy shrugged and joined the others. Darkwolf was standing nearby anyway. Jansen faced them and pointed up at the shaft, "Ladies first." He smiled at Lassie, holding out his hands for her to step into to get up to the high shaft. "Lassie, that would be you."
Lassie blushed, and then smiled as she put her foot into his hands, "My name's Angela. Angela Blackwood."
Jansen smiled broadly, "All right, Angela, you are first."
Darkwolf shook his head chuckling to himself as Jansen hoisted Lassie up into the vent shaft. John turned about to the entrances, looking back and forth. Behind one set of bushes, there was a small rustling. With a start, he realized that the werewolves were sneaking in the far end. One was in the room already, and it surely was approaching.
"Pillow, you're next," Jansen called out to him.
"Take somebody else," John replied. "I'm staying here."
"We don't have time to argue this, Pillow," Jansen pointed out, a sharp edge coming to his voice. "Get in that vent."
"You're right, we don't have time to argue about it. Take somebody else! And my name is John. John West."
Darkwolf stared at him for a moment, and then his eyes flicked out to the bushes as well. John knew that Darkwolf had seen them as well. Yet, there was something akin towards envy on Darkwolf's face; it was something that should not have surprised John, but he found it startling nonetheless.
"Darkwolf?" Jansen motioned for the thick young man to step into his palm.
"No, I'm not going either," Darkwolf replied calmly.
"Fine, HuggyBear?" Jansen did not seem to care to ask either of them. HuggyBear walked over and set his foot into Jansen's palm. Jansen's eyes bulged as he tried to lift the portly man. "Um, could somebody help me." Darkwolf walked over, and added his own strength to that of the botanists, and they lifted their friend up into the shaft together. Jansen looked back at the two of them, breathing hard, "Are you two sure?"
"Yes." Darkwolf nodded. John did the same. "Now, Doc, you need to get up there as well."
Jansen nodded, "You two take care of yourselves. I don't know what you're doing, but it sure sounds crazy to me." Darkwolf smiled as he hoisted the slim man up into the shaft.
Only the two of them were down on the Greenhouse floor. John reached into his pants, and began pulling the pillows out one by one, and dumping them to the ground, watching them reinflate as he did so. Darkwolf turned to him, his eyes a bit glazed over. "What are you doing, Pillow, I mean John."
"I'm doing what I should have done long ago."
"Growing up," John pulled the last of them out, and dropped them to the floor.
"I didn't know you wanted to be a werewolf?" Darkwolf asked, looking back to the bushes, which were still. The werewolves must be approaching, but he had no idea where they were.
"I don't. I have something I have to do though."
"Then why not keep the pillows in there? I mean, the werewolves attack, and they slash your pillows instead of your flesh. Good protection."
"No, I have to do it the right way, this way, and no other."
"What, did God tell you that or something?" Darkwolf asked skeptically.
"I guess you could say that. Why are you staying here?"
"I've always wanted this. After talking with McGee, I know it is who I am supposed to be." Darkwolf looked at the bushes again. He pushed gently on John's shoulder. "You should leave before it gets any closer."
"Darkwolf! What are you doing!" Angela screamed at him from the shaft above.
Darkwolf didn't move, he just kept staring at the bushes, "I am doing what I must do. I must be true to who I am. I will be all right." He then turned back and looked down at John, "No get out of here before it is too late."
John nodded, patting his friend on the shoulder, feeling the thick meat of his flesh there. They had eaten Lapwolf, and Lovewolf had become one of them. Now Darkwolf too would go and share one of the two's fate. By his own choice no less. For some reason, it seemed appropriate for him to do so. Darkwolf had always been this way, seeking after the wolf, but never finding. He had always been a friendly sort to any who would pass by, knowing that it was important. He had always been the friend that John had wished he could be. Yet, he had always been of wolf, and now he could find the chance to express it. That was his life search, his self coming to completion.
John had a different task. Whether he was born for any other moment than this, he did not know. Nor did it really matter. Stepping out through the nearest doorway, the one to the right of the vent, he peered down the left-hand corridor, leading towards the rear of the ship. Though he wasn't really sure why, he knew that he had to go back that way. The path was clear; there were no werewolves about. He walked calmly, his mind in prayer for safe deliverance. He prayed that God would keep him safe until he completed his job. He did not want to have to hurt anybody, and yet he did not know what this would accomplish, only that he had to do it. It was for all those dead, all those werewolves, and all those still human that he was doing this. And it was for himself that he was walking through these hallways, making his way towards the rear of the ship, passing by the blood stained walls and halls of the ship, ignoring everything else, but focusing instead only on his goal. He was growing up; he was learning what it meant to trust others.
Finally he reached the end of the corridor, and took the left turn to see something that for a moment caused his step to falter. Standing there in the hallway before him were four werewolves, each with their eyes locked upon a single door. A thick metal door blocked the far hallway. The two staircases were splattered in blood, and there was a single gun lying negligently on the floor in front of the door that had riveted the werewolves's attention. One by one they turned to face him. Their amber eyes glowing almost in the sublime light. Sparks were falling from three broken security cameras. "Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me." John's mouth and heart repeated those words over and over as he took first one step, and then another into the werewolves's midst. All four stared at him, those eyes watching him, yet not a one of them moved. They did not move a single inch towards him or away from him. As he walked down the passageway between the two staircases, he was almost shoulder to shoulder with two of them. Their fur brushed up against his arms, their breath was hot upon his face. Yet they did nothing against him. They did not attack him, but only stared. He was not sure if there was a desire for hostility in their eyes, or a pleading in them.
John did not know, nor did he wait to find out. His feet carried him back further into the ship, till he reached a T-intersection, where he turned right, and then left again. The door at the far end was closed, though there was a hole smashed through near the bottom. A few errant wisps of green trickled about in the air, and there was a faint scent reminiscent of some swimming pools in the air. Climbing through the hole, he moved purposefully, towards the right hand side of the two-pronged corridor. He did not know what he was doing, or why he was doing it, only that he had to do it. One of the first doors had a similar hole smashed through it. Climbing yet again through that, in the slightly noxious air, he saw a bare room, except for a few equipment, and a sealed box on the far table. He picked it up, and carried it back out through the hole. This was what he had come here for; this was what he needed. Glancing back at the door, he saw a name printed upon it, 'Dr. Frederick Anselm'. That was the man who would rather die than say anything to Thibaudet. He wondered about that, but did not stop to question it long.
Leaving the strangely smelling area of the ship, and walking back out to the staircases, he saw that the room was still unchanged. The werewolves were perched waiting for that door with the word 'JUDE' scripted on the front to do something. He wondered if anybody was in there, but he did not have the time to waste as of yet. The gun lay there, and a part of him was tempted to reach down and pick it up. No, he should not do that. He had no need of it, others did. It was not his own to touch. Besides, whose protection did he want to entrust his safety to, his own hands, or the Lord's? Stepping down the stairwell, moving past the werewolf that was waiting there, feeling the flare of those amber eyes upon him, John moved around and back even further into the ship. Heading down another passageway, he quickly came to another set of stairs leading down. One of the doors had been blasted open, there were fragments lying everywhere from what had happened. He carried the box through there.
Once inside, he looked about at the mess. John saw boxes filled with a green mesh littered everywhere. The door was twisted and warped and lying on the floor just in front of a large object filled with rows and columns of the boxes. Red and green lights flickered and flashed from those boxes. Peering about, he saw next to the wall of monitors a panel marked 'Air Purifier Hatch'. There was a small number pad next to the hatch with red and green bulbs over top of it; the red bulb was lit. Walking over, he set the box on the ground, and pulled up on the handle of the hatch. The system was still locked, and it did not move at all. Reaching one hand over to the number pad, he began pushing numbers, trusting that he would find the right combination. After all, he was doing what he was supposed to do. The red bulb stayed lit though, and when he tried the hatch again, it was still locked.
Grimacing, he leaned over, not really knowing why, and opened up the box at his feet. It was filled with a fine sparkling powder that had a strange gleam to it. Along the inside of the top flap a series of numbers was stenciled in. Blinking, he looked at the numbers. He put his hand back to the control panel, and typed in the same numbers. The light turned green and the hatch opened, revealing darkness below, a darkness that he could not see into. He picked the box up in both hands, and upended it, dumping the fine powder into the hatch. Sounds of machinery beneath him came to life, and as he moved the box back, the hatch slammed shut, and the light became red once more. He dropped the now empty box to the ground, and walked over to the monitors, where a flashing light came on. One of the monitors was flashing a message that had not been there before.
"Filtering Purifier through Ventilation Systems," John read out loud. "I wonder what that means." Not knowing, he turned back to look at the room. His job was done. He sat down on one of the boxes which was not filled with the green material, and idly watched the door, repeating the twenty-third psalm over and over to himself, "The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want."
Penny lifted open the large back section from the machine, and began pulling things out of it. Most oft hem were cleaning utensils, such as scrapers, and vacuums and scrubbing equipment. The JUDE was being cannibalized, and reprogrammed before his very eyes. Penny was working very fast, and so far had yet to explain to him any of what her plan was. The anticipation was killing him and he still had no idea how a JUDE was going to be of any help to him. Thibaudet wondered if she knew, or if she was just trying to waste time till Captain Harper arrived in just over an hour. That was too long to wait, not with almost every place on the ship a guaranteed death. Who knew what the werewolves were doing outside the door now? They had stopped pounding of course, but that didn't mean they weren't out there. Also, there was Anselm to consider. What was he up to, and how much longer would it take him to figure out what they were up to. For some reason he found it unlikely that Anselm would figure it out easily, considering he didn't have any idea what was going on either.
"Um, Penny, how is this going to help?" Thibaudet finally asked, no longer content to wait for her to tell him.
Penny looked over her shoulder at him. He was slumped up against the wall; the oxygen tank propped up against his side. "Well, you know what a JUDE is of course?"
"Of course. A Janitorial Utility DEtail. They clean up messes. I still don't know how this is going to help us though."
Penny winked at him, "That's the fun part." She reached in and yanked out something from the now spacious interior. "These things are programmed to give orders to the computer that will let it pass through any closed door on their way to get to a mess. Unless Anselm has locked that prioritization out, that blast door will open up as soon as this little guy reaches it. I'm pulling out enough of the insides so that you can fit in here. The blast door will close behind you. Once in, then you can take care of Anselm."
"What about you?" Thibaudet asked. He liked Penny, and he was sorry that the werewolf had already infected her. There was little that he could do about it though. She was gone and yet he wished it weren't so. Everybody around him it seemed, everybody that he felt himself growing close to was snatched away by those furred monsters, monsters of Anselm's design. He did not blame them, for they did not go willingly but were trapped by people like Anselm. Anselm was the one who had to pay, for not only doing this to people like Rhodes and Penny, but for trying to knowingly kill him.
Penny shook her head, "Me? I'll try to keep those werewolves distracted. I'll see if I can slip you the gun as well. I'm gone, Pierre. I can hear the wolf already. It just clicked into focus a minute or so ago. Its words are vague and indistinct, but I know it's there. You have to stop Anselm from doing this to others. Once you do, just wait for Harper. They are sure to have a doctor on board so they ca help you with your wounds. Are you feeling okay?"
Thibaudet shook his head, "I'd like to throw up, but I have nothing in my stomach."
Penny nodded absently, as she returned to the control panel to check the wiring. "Well, this thing is now on manual, so I'll just give it the orders, and then we'll be out of here. Why don't you get inside? You'll have to curl up, but don't worry, the doors are easy to open. Just roll out and come to your feet. Think you can do that?"
"I think so."
"Good, then get inside." Penny held the side door to the contraption open. The contraption was only three feet tall, but the opening looked to be sufficient for him to crawl into. Thibaudet slipped inside the darkness, curling his legs beneath him, and leaning on his palms, almost like a dog sitting he realized. He did not find the irony humourous. "Now, I'm just going to enter this things orders." Penny's voice came over the sound of her typing into the control pad. Suddenly, the machine jolted to life, and began turning about on its wheels. Thibaudet kept his eyes closed tightly, trying to ignore the stinging pain that caused, and waited while he heard the door open. The werewolves were there, he could tell. He heard the growls and howls of fury and triumph from all about him. Yet he could see nothing, there was nowhere for him to look; the entire world about him was darkness. Penny was crying out as he heard her scrambling back and forth. There was the sound of a large crash, as if something heavy had just landed on the ground and had gone bouncing back and forth. Probably the oxygen tank, but he wasn't sure.
Suddenly the light blazed from the right as the hatch was lifted open, even as the JUDE rolled on towards the blast door. He peered over, and saw the gun held out imploringly in one hand. He grabbed it, snatching it up, and held onto it tightly. He hoped that there were bullets still left in it. It had just been fired a lot, who knew what was left in the chamber. The hatch slammed closed again, and he knew that was the last he had seen of Penny, quite possibly for a very long time. She had felt the wolf. He wondered what it first looked like. Was it as if on a distance, perched standing proudly at the summit of some distant mountain with the sun behind it casting a long shadow over the world? Or was it padding into a clearing, coming out from hiding amidst the trees of the forest. Perhaps it was different for everyone. Whatever it was about, he really didn't know, nor did he want to find out.
The sound of the struggles continued behind him, but it was the sound ahead of him that caught his attention. The blast door was rising; the sound of the metal against metal was too familiar for him not to recognize it. Then there was a gasp from a voice that was all too familiar to him. It was Anselm's voice. The JUDE continued forward, and he quickly slammed into the right door, rolling out of it, even as the blast door came back down again, sealing the two of them off from the rest of the ship. Anselm was standing at the control panel, his mouth hanging agape in shock. The JUDE came to a stop, and then just sat there, looking as confused as a mechanical device could. Thibaudet stood to his feet, the burns and sores in his flesh aching through him. The pounding headache from his eardrums nearly bursting out in space and from the constant irritation of his flesh from the chlorine was a constant reminder of what this man had done to him. Pierre lifted the gun, leveling it at the man, his puffy eyes never moving from him a moment.
Anselm stood open mouthed, looking at Thibaudet and down at the gun and back again. His arms were held out in front of him, empty as he stood behind the console. "Pierre, I..." the man stammered uncontrollably.
"I made a promise to you Anselm. The next time I saw you, I would kill you. I'm here to keep that promise."
"You look in bad shape. You're going to die if you don't get medical attention." Anselm stalled, his hands falling to his sides, his eyes filled with the sudden fright and madness. "I know my way around medical supplies, I can get the proper implements to treat your wounds."
"Captain Harper will be arriving shortly. I'm sure that will be a doctor on board who is more competent than you are. Besides, it's your fault that I'm suffering like this. Now, shut up and die." Thibaudet was scared of his own voice, wondering if this is what it took for one man to kill another. He had no intention of letting him live.
Anselm nodded, "I see. I really didn't wish any of this on you, Pierre. I wanted to be your friend. The wolf is nice, you would have liked him too."
Thibaudet smiled then, his finger on the trigger. "You see, that's what you don't understand, Anselm. I am not meant to be a wolf. I want nothing to do with the wolf. I am an albatross."
Anselm blinked, his left hand sinking below the console to where he couldn't see it. "An albatross? But they are bad luck!"
"Some myths are wrong. We are bad luck only to those who cross us." Anselm stared at him, and then suddenly his left arm came up so fast that Thibaudet barely saw what was in it. He pulled the trigger, firing into the Anselm's head. The bullet hit him square between the eyes, and Anselm fell backwards, though another shot rang out, from the gun that Anselm had just picked up. Thibaudet was spun about as it struck him in the shoulder, knocking him against the wall. Pierre gritted in pain as the gun flew from his hands, sliding across the floor. He put his left hand upon the bleeding wound, and slowly came to his feet, peering past the JUDE at the prone body of Anselm upon the floor. Anselm was staring open mouthed up at the ceiling, his eyes wide, his expression one of shock and surprise. His arms were splayed out to either side, the gun held negligently in his left hand. The bullet wound in his head was bleeding, the backside of his head gone completely, spattering bone and brain matter about. This was one wound that would not be regenerating.
Thibaudet stepped over cautiously, and kicked the gun out of the man's hands. He took a deep sigh of relief, staring down at what he had done. He had just killed a man. He had killed this psychologist willfully, and wholeheartedly. Finally he turned away, and kneeled o the ground, closing his eyes, and wishing that it all would just go away. Anselm was dead, and they were finally safe.
End Part 2 of Part XXVII
Concluded in Part 3 of Part XXVII