The Perpetual

By Charles Matthias

Part VI - continued

Kilpatrick settled down in one of the chairs in the engineering room. The shuttle was well on its way to the moon orbit. Penny was not very talkative at the moment, and he didn't feel like saying anything either. He had other things in mind. Home was one of those things he was really interested in at the moment. He missed Earth already. He had never missed Earth on any of his other trips into space, even the ones that had lasted many months. This trip was different, and it wasn't even the fact that people were dying. What he felt couldn't be put into words, could not be rationalized away. He needed somebody with him, somebody who would understand, and the only person who could would be Simmons.

Memories of her began to flood his mind; memories of all the times they had spent together; memories of everything that she had ever said to him; memories of every expression she ever wore; even memories of the clothes she wore. He could see her now in that little scarlet nightie that covered her midsection with a very loose front cut that he had bought for her. That had only been a few weeks ago that she had worn it for the first time when they were together. It had been a hot romantic night, the first time they had made love.

They were at his place; Kilpatrick had invited her there. It was just a few weeks after they had gotten back from their last voyage into space. They hadn't received their orders quite yet, so both were enjoying each other's company. They had been out dancing that evening at a fancy nightclub that Samuel used to frequent when he had been looking for a woman. Most of the women there were real drags, just concerned about their body, and getting into some man's pants. While he didn't mind being with that sort of woman for a single night, there was no way he could have formed a relationship with such shallow women. He was looking for depth.

He had found that in Michelle Simmons, a girl who was not only beautiful, but also intelligent and friendly. She also had a very dry wit, and had on a number of occasions bested Samuel in tongue contests. Samuel considered himself good with words, but she was better. She had several opportunities to use that tongue at the dance club when a pompous overzealous playboy had requested her presence in his private room. That had been when they had left the club and taken a walk along the tidal basin. It was very beautiful that time of year, with the moon reflecting off the water and a gentle breeze cooling the otherwise warm air. They had walked along that path for at least an hour, talking about many things, life, politics, the environment, and general questions about dreams and unfulfilled fantasies.

When they had finally returned from their walk, Kilpatrick had suggested that they finish their dance at his flat. He cleared some floor space in his living room, dimmed the light, and played a slow 1930's big band tune on the stereo. They were not dancing more than five minutes when Simmons had tripped and sent them both sprawling onto the couch. Kilpatrick had looked down at her body, savoring the rich perfume, drinking in her luscious beauty, as she lay helpless beneath him. She spread her arms out behind her, inviting him forward. He could not help but taste the fruit of their passion, gingerly slipping the halters on her dress over, pulling aside the fabric to stare at her breasts which had been concealed all night. Much to his delighted surprise, she was wearing that nightie underneath her blouse.

He remembered growling erotically at this sight, and had at her coy whimpering picked her up, and carried her off to his bedroom, and tossing her onto the bed, where she bounced once, the passion in her blood all the intensified. He jumped on top of her, his hands moving over her curves, slipping the blouse down her middle, taking in the crimson glow of the nightie, and the features that were barely hidden beneath its veils. She in turn had moved her arms about his body, gently popping the buttons on his shirt one by one. After she had popped about three, one of her hands had slipped under his shirt, and had begun to massage his hairy chest, pulling on the hair ever so gently. Her other hand slipped around the upper reaches of the shirt and moved around to his back as she pushed the collar back.

Kilpatrick slipped the shirt from his body, tossing it to the side, his eyes locked on her face, which stared back at him, the eyes inviting him inward with a ferocity that he wished to match. Hot blood! Ah yes, he could feel it already, pouring through him like some unearthly beast that was riding through the very depths of the Earth over the magma. He reached down, and pushed the rest of her blouse off, tossing it to one side. All that was left was the nightie, which beguiled his eyes and hands. He kneeled down at the foot of the bed between her legs, and began to cautiously nibble on her leg, feeling the urge to play around before getting down to business, he suspected that Simmons was that kind of girl. In return, she pulled at his hair with one hand, as if to draw him up to something a bit more enticing.

As he came nearer she pushed at the sides of his pants with one hand, while pushing his head into her exposed belly. He remembered fondly the kiss he had given her bellybutton; it had lasted an eternity, with his tongue fondly pushing inwards, though not too much; his lips had completely encircled it as he caressed her slowly undulating belly. He hands moved to his pants, as he slowly undid the button, and pulled the zipper down. She then with her legs and hands managed to gradually slip them off, revealing his hairy thighs, and in between them, something that he wanted to give her still enclosed by his underwear. He slid upwards, his hands undoing the hook that held her nightie together, sliding it off her breasts, which even then he could remember, firm under his grasp, so delicate, yet so lush and full.

He reached up to her face, sliding his crotch over hers, though both of their underwear was still on. He began to kiss her on the lips finally, putting one hand behind her head to hold her to him tightly. They breathed the same air for those moments when the love that they shared was so aptly exemplified. He felt himself stir in excitement beyond any previous experience he had ever had, making his muscles quiver in the anticipation of what was still yet to come. He savored those moments before the final exposition of their passion, as those were the last moments of Simmons's innocence as he was to later find out.

"Um, Samuel, are we going to plug in the new set of instructions anytime soon? You said that you wanted to do it after we were on our way." the voice of Lucille Penny interrupted his pleasant reverie, and he realized that he was about to make a social faux pass. He pulled his hand out of his pants, and turned to face Penny. She did not seem to have noticed what he had been doing, and he sighed a bit of relief at that.

"I guess we probably should take care of that now." Kilpatrick nodded, the memory of his first sexual encounter with Simmons returning to the recesses of his mind even as he spoke.

Penny sat down at the computer terminal, and began to type at the keyboard. The screen changed until they were at the familiar preprogrammed flight instruction page. She looked back at him, and he took the sheet that he had received from Rhodes via Corigliano and began to read off the flight plan. "Okay, it says that we need to make the new shift at T+ 6:36.37. That's in just under a half-hour."

"Okay, I've got the time, now what engines do we need to fire?"

"It looks like we have another set of simultaneous bursts from the forward rockets. We need to make a change of -63 degrees azimuth, and a -17 degrees yaw. After that we have a retrorocket firing in six seconds to +15 degrees roll. Then two seconds later we are supposed to fire the main engine for one second to get us the proper speed. This is going to be a bumpy ten seconds. Do you have all that?"

"Just a moment, what was the degree on the roll?" Penny said as her fingers flew over the keyboard.

"+15 degrees roll six seconds after the first two fire," Kilpatrick reiterated.

"Okay, I got it all now." Penny smiled, yawning a bit. "Now the computer is set to put us back into an orbit about the full moon in another 25 minutes."

Kilpatrick noticed the yawn, and smiled understandingly, "Are you tired?"

Penny nodded, "A little, but I've got to stay down here to make sure everything stays on course."

"I can handle it." Kilpatrick offered. "No seriously, I know basically how to use these computers, and I am pretty good at navigation. Besides, I got some sleep after we took off. You've been up the whole time, you do need your rest."

"All right, if you say so." Penny conceded.

"I do say so, you look like you're about to fall asleep right here." Kilpatrick smiled at her, patting her on the shoulder.

She smiled a weak smile, "Are you sure that you'll be okay down here by yourself. You said yourself that the murderer was after you."

Kilpatrick nodded, "I know, but I can take care of myself."

Penny sighed, "All right, I'll go to bed, but you better promise me one thing."

"What's that?"

"Please stay alive."

Samuel Kilpatrick smiled, and kissed her on the forehead affectionately, "I promise. Now you go get your sleep, you need it!"

Rhodes swiveled in his chair to see Dutton walk through the doors. Dutton smiled at McGee who was standing on duty now that the scientists and Shapeshifters were released from their rooms. Dutton then came and sat down on the steps beside Rhodes's chair. He seemed a little off balance, as if he was not sure what to say, or as if he didn't want to say something, or if he didn't know how to say it. Rhodes of course had dealt with such confusion before, and was not at all perturbed by Dutton's state. "So, Max, what did you find out about Dr. Anselm?"

"Anselm?" Dutton smiled, "You will not believe what I found out about Anselm."

"Did he have the murder weapon in his research station?" Rhodes perked up, hoping that at last the mystery would be solved.

Dutton cocked his head to one side, "Well, I don't really know whether he had the murder weapon or not. If he did kill Tembo, there wouldn't be anything that we could do about it anyway."

"What do you mean? On both counts!" Rhodes demanded, this Anselm already was becoming quite a frustrating figure, and he had never even met the man.

"Well, I never got to see inside his room, and as to the other, I am not supposed to tell you."

"Not supposed to tell me? I am the final authority on this ship, you will tell me everything that he said!" Rhodes felt his bile rising.

Danielpour rolled over in his chair, "Could you guys keep it down, I'm trying to get some sleep." Rhodes didn't even turn to look at the sleeping communications officer. Dutton stared at him, his eyes empty of any reaction other than amusement. Danielpour had been sleeping ever since sending in the request for more information on Anselm and Bowman. Rhodes had finally given up on the man and had let him sleep. It wasn't like the world would end if he let one of his officers sleep on the job.

"Anyway, what exactly did he say?" Rhodes reiterated.

"Well, he told me that I did not have the authority to access his room, and well he was right."

"Did he say anything else?"

"Not really. Oh yes, he asked me personally to let everybody out. Well, that's why I did it, because he asked me to."

"What kind of authority does he have?" Rhodes asked, keeping his voice down.

"The highest on the ship. If he wanted to, he could walk in here, flash his little card around, and have us all kowtowing to him within five seconds."

"So he has a form of ID I take it?"

"Nope, can't do that." Dutton shook his head.

"Can't do what?"

"Can't take his ID from him. He won't let you."

"Dutton, what has gotten into you? Have you completely lost it?" Rhodes was seriously beginning to wonder not only about this mysterious Anselm, but also about his new head of security. Perhaps Dutton really wasn't all that tough talk that he always boasted he was. Perhaps he simply wasn't up to the challenge of investigating a murder in space where the murderer could not escape. Or perhaps what Anselm had shown him on that ID card was something so unimaginable that Dutton was trying not to think about it. It was obvious that Anselm had asked him not to tell anybody who he was, probably ordered him to. However, if that was the case, then Anselm had to be somebody very important because Dutton was not the type to withhold information from his captain. He certainly never had before; he had even refused to tell homebase what had happened to Rhodes one evening when he had gotten drunk after drinking a few too many beers while on leave.

"What has gotten in to me? Not much apparently, I'm just not feeling myself at the moment. You know how you feel when you see a really scary movie, and you realize that the guy who was killed could have been you. Then suddenly you run into a similar situation yourself not moments later, but somehow you survive through sheer incompetency or something like that. Well that's how I feel. I also feel like a prophet with my mouth taped shut. I have so much I want to say, but I cannot." Dutton rambled on, trying to shake out of his strange mood with each word. It was obvious that he was not happy with what had happened, but he could do nothing about it.

"So, tell me everything you can about him." Rhodes tried, hoping that Dutton would reveal something about him that he wasn't supposed to.

"Well, he's kind of medium build, with short hair and a professorial appearance I guess...."

"Not what he looks like, I can find that out through the computer. What does he do? What is he like?"

"Very frustrating, and completely indomitable. I don't think I want to talk with him ever again. He is also very effervescent, bubbly almost. Enthusiastic no doubt, and he says a lot without saying anything at all."

Rhodes sat back in his chair, thumbing his chin. If what Dutton said was true, which it no doubt was, then he had a real security problem on the ship. A passenger who could go wherever he pleased and had the authority to command all of his crew was just a beacon for trouble. Homebase was almost certainly not going to tell him who Anselm really was; if Anselm was influential enough, they probably didn't even know. This trip was getting worse by the minute; not hour, not day, but by the minute. A murder, the navigation console destroyed, and now somebody on the ship with more influence than Rhodes. There could only be one captain on a ship, and by the powers that be, it was going to be him.

"I want this guy watched constantly. I want somebody keeping an eye on him at every moment. With the security room knocked out, we'll need to do it physically. In fact, he might have been the one to destroy the security room, so as to hide what he was doing in his research station. Who can we pull off of detail to go watch him?"

"Nobody, he'll just order them to go away."

"Then give them instructions to ignore his commands."

"You can't do that sir, he'll just pull rank on you."

"So he is with the military then is he?" Rhodes smiled, noting a hint that Dutton had dropped.

"I never said that, and you know that it was just an expression." Dutton insisted, though he gave no indication that Rhodes had been correct.

"I don't care if he's the President of the United States, his orders are to be ignored from now on."

"I don't think he'll appreciate that."

"And I don't care." Rhodes crossed his arms over his paunch. "He can come talk to me if he has a problem with it. He'll find that I am as stubborn as jackass. We are going to have somebody watch him, I don't care who."

McGee then stepped into the room, his hard features subdued in the light, "There is a Dr. Thibaudet outside wanting to talk to you Captain Rhodes."

"What does he want?" Rhodes asked.

"He says he knows about Ascot, sir." McGee reported.

"Bring him in then, let's see what he knows." Rhodes then smiled, "Oh, McGee, please go and find Dr. Frederick Anselm. I want you to watch him to see what he is doing. Try not to let him know that you are spying on him."

"Yes, sir." McGee saluted, and then walked off the bridge at a silent pace. Of all the guards, McGee was probably the only one who could sneak up on the man. Twenty years of martial arts certainly had done wonders for him. Rhodes envied him in a way, as he had always wanted to learn some form of self-defense other than brawling, but he had never had the time or the opportunity.

Thibaudet was a slightly morose character with a subtle French accent. There was nothing remarkable about his appearance, standard issue for the scientists, blue pants and shirt with short sleeves. He looked like he needed to shave, but other than that, he was immaculate. He smiled at the captain, and stared for a moment at Dutton. "Captain Rhodes, it is a pleasure to meet you in person." Thibaudet offered his hand.

"Same to you, Dr. Thibaudet," Rhodes said while shaking the man's hand.

"Call me Pierre."

"All right, Pierre."

Pierre Thibaudet then looked over at Dutton and squinted at the man, "I know I've seen you somewhere before."

"You were about to throw a pillow at Dr. Anselm," Dutton recollected.

"Oh yeah." Thibaudet nodded. He then looked at Dutton in some surprise, "I was not going to throw it at him! I was just repositioning it, that's all."

Dutton nodded, "Oh of course."

"Enough with this childishness, now what do you know about Ascot, Pierre?"

Thibaudet sat down in Kilpatrick's normal chair just before the two of them. "Actually, I was hoping that you could tell me some about Ascot. I know that he was killed while attempting a hijack. Now, it may be a bit presumptuous to ask this, but was his death the reason that we were locked in our rooms for a few hours?"

Rhodes nodded, "I figure that this is going to get around anyway on such a small spaceship, so I might as well tell you. Ascot was only part of the reason. Ascot is not the only person on board this ship that is dead. Do you remember who the head of security was?"

"Why, Mr. Tembo, of course I remember him. What do you mean was? Are you saying that he's dead?" Thibaudet looked shocked at the idea that anybody could kill such a large man.

"Tembo is quite dead. Several sharp implements slashed him across the chest and face. We don't know what yet because our doctor doesn't seem to want to perform the autopsy until the body cools off. That shouldn't take too much longer if I remember my health classes from high school correctly."

"Who killed him?" Thibaudet asked.

"That we don't know, which is why we locked you all up, we needed to search the ship for clues. I cannot tell you what we found other than to say that the murder weapon was not located." Rhodes informed him, not really caring anymore about security measures. The news of murder was probably already spreading about the ship anyway. Within the next few hours, almost all the crew would probably know about it, along with the gory details. Secrets never stayed secrets for long, especially in an enclosed place with only a small number of people.

"What was the murder weapon?"

Dutton spoke up then, "We're not really sure either, but it looks like it might have been some sort of Freddie Krueger type device. We had four parallel slash marks in both places. On his chest and the right side of his face."

"Freddie Krueger?" Thibaudet looked a bit confused.

"You never saw Nightmare on Elm Street? Classic horror flick from the late twentieth century." Dutton was a bit surprised at that.

"I don't watch many movies."

"Well, anyway, it is a set of knives or blades of some sort, at least that is what it appears to be," Dutton continued.

"But, until we find it, we can't be sure," Rhodes added.

"That is kind of freaky," Thibaudet admitted, his mind already at work. He had no choice but to admit that his mind was taking a very serious turn for the worse when certain ideas came into his mind. They were of course impossible, but one never knew how it might be interpreted. "Now, why did Ascot hijack the ship?"

"That we don't know. He has a perfectly normal psychological profile. We suspect that seeing the body of Tembo killed must have set something off in him, as he had Tembo's gun with him. I'm sure you can see that the Navigation console is in pieces. That was Ascot's work. He took us on a joyride to Venus before he was finally shot in the back of the head. We can find no rationale for why he did this, it seems completely absurd."

Thibaudet dwelled on those words for a minute, trying to think about what he was hearing, and about the things that had been said between Darkwolf and he. Also, Anselm came to mind; he seemed to have an instinct for pulling puzzle pieces together and reaching right down to the heart of the matter. Darkwolf and his friends' perceptions of reality were quite skewed, regardless what their psychological profile reported. However, their beliefs could certainly effect the way that would react in certain situations. Perhaps something of that could be applied in this case.

"You look like you've got an idea." Rhodes commented. "If you do, we'd love to hear it, because we are running short on them."

"What I'm thinking is that Ascot saw the body and came to a conclusion that he thought logical that to us would seem absurd."

"How so?"

"Well, you said that Tembo had slash wounds on his chest and face. Perhaps Ascot saw them and thought that they were caused by something other than blades."

"Like what?"

"Like claws."

"Claws?" both Dutton and Rhodes intoned. Rhodes was beginning to wonder whether Thibaudet was completely all-together as well.

"I'm not saying that it was claws that did that, but that Ascot thought they were claw marks. I mean, can't they be, the way they are shaped?"

Dutton nodded, "I guess they could theoretically be claw marks, but where are you going to find an animal up here big enough to make them? We certainly didn't bring any of them with us."

"Who said it had to be an animal?" Thibaudet was now sure that he was on the right track, and he felt quite satisfied with himself for being able to come up with a solution to their problem in a few minutes time that they had been deliberating for hours.

"What else is it going to be?" Dutton objected.

"Why not a Shapeshifter?"

"Are you crazy too?" Rhodes asked curiously.

"I'm not crazy, I personally don't believe in that sort of thing, but Ascot might have. He might have suspected a werewolf or something was on board the ship and during the full moon couldn't control the wolf or whatever, so had killed Tembo. I mean, what else was he supposed to do but get the ship out of its orbit to prevent others from dying too." Thibaudet concluded. "Frankly, if you take their particular beliefs into account, it almost makes logical sense."

Rhodes sat there considering. His original estimate that Thibaudet was also a loon was certainly no longer a seriously held belief. This man had come up with an explanation that did make sense. Why couldn't the Shapeshifters think that real transformations were possible? Ascot probably would have wanted to change himself, but of course it helped to be alive. Get them into an orbit in which the full moon could not affect them, and then everybody would be safe. He thought it a little ironic that in just twenty minutes they would be back in an orbit about a full moon. Ascot's work had been for nothing.

"Pierre, I think you've hit the nail on the head with this one. How did you come up with this theory?" Rhodes asked after several moment's reflection.

"I was talking with one of the Shapeshifters before I came over here, and I guess the ideas just sort of rubbed off."

"What, are you a Shapeshifter now too?" Dutton asked, still befuddled by the theory.

"Hardly, but not everything they believe is so terribly bad anymore I guess. Some of it is actually quite attractive. Of course, I don't go in for worshiping celestial bodies, nor do I believe that transformation is possible. However, I think that they are in touch with something along the animal level, not that I can tell what though," Thibaudet admitted, not really sure if he liked what he was saying.

Rhodes smiled, "Would you care to stay up here for a while, I think that you might be of great help to us in solving this little mystery. Unless of course you happen to be the killer."

"I couldn't kill anybody. You can search my room for the murder weapon if you wish, I have nothing to hide," Thibaudet told them blatantly. He would not be intimidated by these fellows, especially not after he had solved their puzzle.

"Fair enough. Now, what can you tell us about Dr. Frederick Anselm? I understand that you two are roommates?"

Dr. Jansen was happy to have finally gotten back to his Greenhouse. He felt much refreshed from the little nap he had taken, and was all prepared to get to work again. However, when he returned to the Greenhouse, there was already one of those stupid Shapeshifters there already. It was the sole female, and she was digging around the dirt as if she were looking for something. He reminded himself that they had free run of the place, and nothing he said or did would change that.

"Hey, stop digging in the dirt, you're going to mess up my plants!" The least he could do of course was to stop her from rooting about in the soil. At least that much he knew he could do. Too bad none of the security was around; he might need them when the other Shapeshifters arrived, which he was sure they would.

The girl looked up at him, her brown hair a tangled mess. She stood up, putting her dirty hands behind her back, "Sorry, I was just looking for something. I thought I dropped it here on my way out, but I guess I must not have."

"What was it?"

"Oh, nothing important, just one of my rings." she said, looking very guilty and silly indeed. She also looked like she was kicking herself.

Jansen just shook his head, and walked back over to his desk, "Well, don't dig around any of my plants, I need them undisturbed for my research."

"I understand sir." she nodded, and then went to scouring over the ground nearby.

Jansen sat back at his desk, and began to look over his computer. He turned it on, and waited a few seconds for it to come online. He then pulled up the last of his entries, and began to scan them to see just what exactly it was that he had been doing. He had been setting up his database to record his observations, and it was nearly complete. It wouldn't be too much longer before he was finished and he could start taking measurements.

Every few minutes he took a peak at the girl crawling around on the ground. She was dirtying her clothes as well as her hands and face. She looked like she had been doing this for an hour, and who knew how long she would have kept at it if he had not come in and stopped her. She probably would have dug up that bush completely if he hadn't stopped her and he certainly didn't need that.

It didn't take him too much longer to finish creating his database. It was not the most complicated creation in the world, but it would help him track the various foliages progress over the course of the next two months. He pulled the portable-typing instrument out of the computer, and checked to make sure the connection was working. It was functioning properly, so now he could type the measurements in as he took them and they would be stored into the computer automatically. He pulled open his desk drawer to get the tape measure, when noticed something out of place. The small velvet case was on the wrong side of his drawer. He reached in and pulled it out gingerly, his heart skipping a beat as he opened it. Empty. The ring that he had never given was missing.

He fell from his seat, crying out in anguish. What he had kept with him for all those years was now gone in the matter of hours. He pulled himself up in the chair, rifling through his drawer, checking to see if the ring had somehow fallen out of the container. He found pencils, notepads, pens, a pocket calculator, a tape dispenser, a stapler, and an eighteen-inch ruler, but no sign of any diamond ring. He set the velvet case back into its proper position, his hands still trembling. He then looked out at the rest of the Greenhouse, his mind pondering something. The girl had said that she had lost a ring, perhaps she had stolen his ungiven ring, and had then lost it?

Dr. Jansen stood from his seat, and walked slowly over to the kneeling figure of the girl. He stood over her, his skin twitching in fury as he looked down at her, his lips squeezed tightly together, to keep back the rage. She stopped searching and peered up at him, her eyes beginning to water at the sight of him. She began to shiver, "I'm sorry, I didn't meant to lose it."

"Why did you take that ring?" he demanded through clenched teeth.

"I don't know!" she wailed, tears streaming forth from her face. "I just wanted to feel like somebody special. Nobody has ever given me anything before."

"Do you know what that ring meant to me? That ring has never been worn by anyone!"

"I'm sorry! I didn't mean to hurt you! I planned on putting it back."

"So where did it drop?" Jansen felt his anger cooling off to a simmer now, but he was still not going to forgive this girl.

"Over by that bush," the girl pointed her finger at the bush that she had been digging around.

"I should have guessed." Jansen muttered as he groped about the bush on hands and knees, peering everywhere for the ungiven ring.

Darkwolf was sitting in his room, watching the screen as the moon approached closer and closer. Within a few moments, it would be full again, and they would be back where they were supposed to be. He had howled for many minutes after the Frenchman had left. He wasn't sure what to think about the guy, he seemed sincere, and quite friendly. Perhaps he could be convinced of the accuracy of their beliefs? Perhaps not, but at least he had been willing to listen; most stopped after he told them that he was a werewolf.

He put a hand to his bare chest, feeling the dark fur that was there as he saw it. His clothes had been abandoned once again, this moment was too much for him, and he needed to experience it as he came into the world. He felt the howl building in him, coming to a climax that he always found thrilling. His flesh quivered as forced himself to be the wolf once more. The moon shined brightly upon him from the screen, the face upon it not the one that Earth saw, but a face that he had never before glimpsed. It was still the moon though, and it spoke to him now as it always did.

He lifted his head and let his voice loose in wolfsong. He laid his ears back, held his arms out, as he stood on digitgrade legs with his tail stock stiff behind him. He was the Darkwolf, not just in name but in being, and in truth. There was no more fundamental truth to him than this; he was more than a man, and more than a wolf, but both, with each strength and each weakness. A being of higher moral quality than both humans and wolves; a being of more power than both humans and wolves; a being of greater intrinsic value than either humans or wolves. He was a werewolf in mind and spirit; the physical was just the manifestation of what he knew to be true.

He howled to the moon, his body bursting with ecstasy as the moon began shine brighter and brighter with each passing moment.

Dr. Philip Xenakis nearly fell out of his chair when the engines fired again, changing the course of the ship one more time. He scooted himself back up in his seat, and turned the page of his book. Chapter two was almost memorized; it was a very captivating material. The chapter discussed the role that the moon had played in the development of the mind of man and of his understanding of reality. The moon was at one time a goddess, at others a spirit, then it was a guiding light and the path to truth for many men of science, and at last it was a frontier that was begging to be tamed by man. Most recently, it had become the symbol of magic again, as cults popped up all over the place with bizarre notions of the purpose of the moon. Throughout most of those times, writers always treated the moon with a sort of reserved reverence, as if it was a holy object worthy of veneration. Xenakis chuckled at that thought, there certainly were some on this ship who agreed with that last estimate.

He casually glanced at the thermometer, Tembo: 98.7, Ascot: 77.3 Well at least Ascot was cold. However, Tembo’s inability to cool off was really bugging him. He should have started dropping by now, no matter how large he was. There was no way that he could still be so warm. He'd have to be alive if that were the case, but he had no pulse!

Just to make sure, he reconnected the life sign monitors to make sure that his earlier estimate had been correct. He saw nothing unusual in a dead body, no life signs what so ever. All of his vital functions were complete flatlines. He sighed, turned the volume down to get that awful beeping noise out of his ears, and went back to reading his book. Swiley's prose was so captivating that he couldn't help but read it over and over again. He certainly would be happy that he had memorized this book. However, the way he was eating it up he would probably be done in two weeks, leaving him a month and a half to go. He was sure that he could find something to memorize. Perhaps he could download a few novels from the computer. Though the preferred style was still book format, computer reading was getting to be more popular as time went on.

Suddenly, he saw a flicker out of the corner of his eye. He stared at Tembo's life signs, which he thought had flickered briefly. Nothing, there was nothing there at all. He sighed, that hope crushed quickly. Out of morbid curiosity he continued to watch it for a few moments. It stayed flat line, with no activity whatsoever for a good while, though not more than a minute, when suddenly there was a sudden flurry of brain activity. Not that much, but just enough to glue Xenakis to the monitor. Over the course of the minutes, he watched in amazement, as the brain activities became more frequent and varied. Before too much longer, every one of the lifesigns was operating again, albeit a bit erratically and quite strangely.

He felt a sense of wonder at this miraculous turn of events. Never before in his life had he ever heard of such a thing, outside of The Bible of mythology, but here it was before him. Somebody who had once been dead was now alive. However, his euphoria was fleeting, as the lifesigns were most certainly not normal, and were repeating at cycles nearly twice that of a normal human. This was most peculiar, and he was about to turn to look at the body when he heard the noise. It was a gurgling sound, coming from directly behind him. It made him freeze in his seat, unable to move, or even think about looking behind him. It had started out slowly, but like the brain activity had picked up rather quickly, until it seemed to be a chorus of people gargling water. Then, something caught his eye. It was the thermometer, which was showing something else equally bizarre. Tembo's temperature was rising, and rising fast: 99.4, 99.8, 100.3, 100.9, 101.5, 102.0. He stared at it for a few more seconds before his curiosity finally got the better of him, and his irrational fears. He quickly turned around in his chair.

A moment later, he screamed.

Onto Part VII!

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