The Perpetual

By Charles Matthias


Part IX - continued

HuggyBear held Lovewolf close to him as the two scientists laid him down on the ground. He was nearly crying from the fright and the relief at seeing his lover returned to his grasp and out of the reach of the werewolf. He did not care that the slowly oozing blood from the wounds on his back was dripping over his legs and arms, for here he was, safe at last, freed from the danger.

Thibaudet and Jansen looked at the spectacle with slight distaste, but otherwise did not say anything. Jansen returned to standing at the desk near where Rhodes was perched. Thibaudet leaned against a small tree, closing his eyes as if to go to sleep. He then opened them up again, and stared at the werewolf, which was still glaring at them through the doorway. He narrowed his eyes slightly, and watched as the best turned tail and vanished back down the corridor. He then laid his head back against the tree and closed his eyes.

The silence in the room was not disturbed until Thibaudet, grimacing, turned to Rhodes who was lost in thought. Those moments were chilling ones, as each in their minds went over the events again and again. Within the past hour the entire structure of the Universe was turned on its head, not a single one of them could look at it in a different light, for no longer was there any way to deny the inability of science to offer a rational explanation of any event that they witnessed. The eyes that stared out into the world were now ones that questioned everything that they had been told, and were more likely to find less orthodox explanations.

"Captain?" Thibaudet's voice shattered their thoughts with its simplicity, the appeal in it plain.

Rhodes looked down at the Frenchman. "What do you want?"

"If the werewolf is real, then just what do we know about it?" Thibaudet had been wondering if there was a way to kill it, it did not seem likely since it had healed from the bullet wounds so quickly on each occasion.

"What do you mean?" Rhodes asked, his voice slightly hoarse from the excitement.

"Well, just how much do we know about the werewolf besides that it looks sort of like a wolf and a man?" Thibaudet reiterated while staring into Rhodes's face more intently.

Rhodes shrugged, "That's not the sort of question that I can answer. I am hoping that more of the legends about the werewolf are at least in some part true, in particular the part about the victim becoming the werewolf on the full moon, but other than that, my memory fails me. I just don't know much about them."

"Can it be killed?" Thibaudet asked, his voice calm and deliberate. He had seen the gunshot wounds on the creature heal before his very eyes. He had seen the creature get up when shot, and charge them again. It was not a creature that was going to give up so easily; it was invincible to their attacks.

All eyes turned towards Rhodes, each one searching his face, and seeing that he was at a loss for words; that he was not capable of giving a firm reply; that he was also determined to try whatever he could to ensure that the creature was killed, or at least rendered incapable of hurting them anymore. Rhodes sighed, letting out his breath in thought; "I guess it would be possible to kill it, I am not completely sure how. If we had silver, we could theoretically forge it into a knife or something, silver is supposed to harm werewolves. The only problem with that is I don't know whether we have any silver on board this ship, and second that I don't know how we are going to be able to safely smelt whatever we do find into a weapon."

"I have some silver in some of the superconductors that I am using, but it probably when extracted from the materials would amount to no more than a gram or two, hardly a useful supply." Thibaudet offered.

Rhodes nodded, "That's the sort of thing I was afraid of. We have barely enough to fill a thimble on board this ship. There has to be another way to kill it."

"The werewolf is male," Lovewolf called out from his prone position in a raspy voice.

"So?" Dutton asked as he lightly scratched his arm.

"You can't kill him, he's a human being beneath that fur." Lovewolf objected harshly. "He's beautiful in that fur."

"What?"

"I said he's beautiful." Lovewolf reiterated. "I've never seen anything quite so beautiful in all my life. The way he stood over me as I lay there on the ground, and knelt over me, breathing into my face, I could feel the passionate desires, the need flowing from him. I am swept up in his regal bearing, noble birth in the blood, not diluted at all. He is both man and wolf, I wish I could feel what he feels, see what he sees, be what he is. I wish..." he stopped, a bolt of pain spreading through his body.

HuggyBear leaned over him, his chubby face betraying a look of concern; "Are you all right Love?"

"I'll be fine, I just don't want to move."

Rhodes looked to Dutton, the two scientists, and then back at the three Shapeshifters, "Beautiful or not, this creature has killed four of my men. He might have others too that we don't know about. There are three scientists missing, we can't talk to Kilpatrick or Penny, and there are four of your group still out there. That's nine more people that might be dead. If that creature has managed to get all of them, it will have killed 13 people, and believe me, four is more than enough. I will not let that thing kill again if I can help it. If that means killing it, beautiful or not, I am going to stop it somehow. Anybody who stands in the way of that may be responsible for more deaths, do you understand what I'm getting at here?"

Lassie grunted, turning away from the group again, her eyes passing over Jansen briefly before she looked away. HuggyBear looked down at Lovewolf who was breathing shallowly, licking his lips in agitation. Lovewolf just closed his eyes, his face contorting every once in a while.

Jansen finally spoke up himself, the brief glance form Lassie not having gone unnoticed. He had narrowed his eyes at that glance, preferring not to think about what she had in mind by it. "Why not eject it into space. I saw that you had airlocks on both this floor and the one below it. Why not use them?"

Rhodes looked to Dutton, "Care to field this question?"

Dutton nodded taking his hand off his arm for a moment, "It is doable, but it is probably more dangerous than it is worth. We would need access to a terminal which is connected to the ships computer, those can be found in several different places, the bridge, the security office, the brig, and the engine room. The one in the brig is actually right outside of it, which makes it basically useless if we want to flush the hallways. The other three could safely do it if we could get somebody in those areas. The only things that I could see going wrong is that if we leave them open too long, then we could exhaust our oxygen supply."

"We'll just have to be careful when we do it then." Jansen pointed out.

Thibaudet raised his hand for a moment, "Isn't Corigliano supposed to be at the bridge now? Why don't you call him and tell him to open the airlocks?"

Rhodes shook his head. "Won't work, Corigliano doesn't have that sort of access. Only Tembo and I had that sort of authority. There is a safety lock on the airlocks that prevents both the inner and outer doors from being open at the same time. It requires an override command that Tembo or I had to give. Not even Dutton here has the authority to give that order even though Tembo is dead. Basically, you need to get me to one of those terminals; the chances of doing that without getting somebody killed are slim."

"So you see," Dutton interjected, "we have to wait for John to get here with the munitions before we can launch any sort of plan."

"So we just sit here?" Huggy asked, looking back at them, his face a study in shock.

"Basically, yes."

"What sort of plan is that?" he yelled.

"The only one we have."

"Isn't he supposed to be on the bridge?" Thibaudet asked, his head tilted backwards, his arms outstretched.

Rhodes nodded, and then looked up at the clear sky where the full moon glared down upon them. He stared at it for a few moments, his eyes studying the scene before something came to him; something that Pierre had obviously realized moments before. The moon was still full. Corigliano was supposed to be calling Kilpatrick and telling him to change their orbit. It had been over ten minutes ago that he had told him to get to the bridge. It should not have taken this long.

Rhodes looked back at the others, his face for the first time looking extremely worried. Thibaudet stared back, "Do you think that the loup garou killed him?"

"Maybe." Rhodes stammered, pulling out his radio. He did not bother to turn his back, as all eyes were on him, watching him. "Corigliano, come in Corigliano." He held the radio there, hoping for a prompt response. There was none. He sat there for a moment, staring blankly into the multicolored foliage. He pulled the speaker up to his mouth again, "John, where are you, this is Rhodes. Come in Corigliano." Again, silence, the radio did not respond. He tried one more time; "John Corigliano, this is Captain Rhodes speaking. If you are in any condition to answer this call please do so. If you are in a stressful situation and cannot take the risk of speaking please ping me at least."

They waited a few moments, each staring at the receiver, their ears straining to hear the sound that would issue forth when Corigliano became free from his entanglement and call back to them. The moments ticked by one by one, each of them sweating, the only sound Dutton's heavy breathing, and the occasional coughing fit from Lovewolf. Still, there was no response from the radio. Rhodes set it down on the table, his sigh quite evident. He turned his back to them, and slammed his fist into the table, knocking a few pencils from their perch. He muttered something under his breath; none of the others could distinguish any words.

Dutton reached an arm over, and put it over Rhodes's shoulder, "Captain, he's dead."

Rhodes pushed Dutton off, his gut jiggling as he did so, "I know he's dead, damnit! I know he's dead. That's five of my friends who have died within the eight hours since launch. How many more? How many more am I going to have to lose to this thing?"

"I don't know, but if we don't do something, you're going to lose everybody. We still have McGee and the five scientists, and Ziegler is in his room. Kilpatrick and Penny should still be in the engine room. There are five scientists in the research stations, and there are seven of us here. We are not lost yet." Dutton pointed out.

"Not yet, give me a little more time and I'll manage to kill them off too," Rhodes remarked darkly.

Dutton grimaced, "Sir, we need you, we have to go on. Don't make their deaths in vain."

Rhodes sighed, his eyes sweeping the room, and the doors, then back at the full moon, which seemed to b laughing at them through the glass top. The rotation of the ship would take the moon from their site in a few more hours, and in half a day it would them out from a view of the full moon for a brief period of time. If they had to, they could last that long, but he'd rather take action to stop these creatures.

His eyes finally rested on something that was just over their head level on opposite sides of the greenhouse. He stared at them for a moment, noting their peculiar quality, seeing them for what they were, and recognizing their potential immediately. He smiled a moment, and then shook his head, laughing idly to himself.

"What are you laughing about?" Jansen sniped, as he glowered at Lassie who had turned her back to him.

"I have been so silly. All this time we had the perfect method for moving about unscathed, and we just haven't taken notice of it." Rhodes laughed a bit harder, shaking his head in dismay as he did so.

"Well what is it?' Jansen asked impatiently.

"That." Rhodes pointed with one finger at the far wall. All eyes turned, each following the flow of Rhodes's finger. They gazed upon the grate-like structure that stood just out of reach in the center of the wall at the far end.

"Is that the ventilation system?" Thibaudet asked as he stood up to get a better view.

"Yes, it connects with almost every part of this ship. We cannot get into the reactor rooms from here, or the research facility, but we can get to the engine room. How, I don't know, I've never had to go in there before."

Jansen idly poked him in the stomach, depressing the gut an inch or two, "I don't think you could fit either."

Rhodes swatted the impertinent man's hand away, and shrugged, "I should be able to maneuver through there, but you are probably right. I might get stuck, and that would be bad news. We need some smaller people, people who know something about navigation."

"Well, I don't think that you're going to find too many here fitting that description," Jansen retorted.

"Emil, do you have to be so rude?" Thibaudet asked on a whim, smirking at the feisty man.

"Knock it off you two!" Dutton scolded them. He pushed the two scientists apart; Pierre grimaced at the touch, but said nothing else. There was really only one person on the ship he'd like to fight anyway, and that person was not here unfortunately. Then again, that might be a good thing. Anselm would probably have gone off about how right Fulton Swiley was, since here was actual proof that science could not solve all problems. There had to be a rational explanation for what was going on, there had to be a scientific reason for the werewolf. However, there was just no theory behind it yet. If he knew more about biology, he might be inclined to take that hunk of flesh that he had chipped out of the werewolf and test it, but biology had never been his field.

Lovewolf climbed up to a sitting position, "I know a little bit about navigation."

All eyes turned towards him. Rhodes was the first to speak, "You do?"

"Yes, Huggy and I are both at the Academy, so were Ascot and Darkwolf. Ascot was training to be a navigator, but since he's dead, I probably know the most after him," Lovewolf said in a strained voice. Huggy held him from behind, giving him the support he needed.

Rhodes shook his head, "You're injured, I can't risk you getting yourself into worse trouble in those shafts."

"Why not have somebody go with him?" Thibaudet suggested.

"Are you volunteering?" Dutton queried.

Before Pierre could answer, Lassie stood up, "I'll go with him. I'm small enough to fit easily, and we know each other."

Jansen nodded sagely, "Wise decision."

Rhodes nodded as well, though this time with a bit of reluctance, "I guess I'll have to trust you two on this. If you see Kilpatrick and Penny, tell them what I want, and they will do it. If you can't find them, then you'll have to do it yourself. Now I don't know the directions to get you there, but I do know one thing: you need to go two floors down, and keep heading towards the rear of the ship. You'll need a flashlight, Jansen go get one from that utility closet. Does anybody have a magnet?" He looked at the others present, his eyes searching.

"Not on me." Pierre shrugged.

"Why would I have a magnet?" Jansen asked rhetorically as he retrieved a medium sized flashlight from the closet, handing it to Lovewolf, who passed it along to Lassie.

"Well, then you'll have to guess. Dutton, Thibaudet, Jansen, get that grate off the shaft. Lassie, Lovewolf, get ready to climb up in there. Are you sure you can do it Lovewolf?"

"I'll be fine." Lovewolf stood on his feet with a little help from Huggy, who seemed a bit perturbed by this course of action.

"How are they going to get back?" Dutton asked, as he and Jansen hoisted Pierre up to the grate. Thibaudet began to remove the locks alongside the grate, unscrewing each bolt as he went. The thing slipped off into his hands, not very heavy being made from polymers, but it was quite unwieldy being three feet wide. Dutton and Jansen carefully lowered Thibaudet to the ground. Pierre lost his grip on the grate and it fell to the ground with a resounding crash. He dusted his hands off, smirked apologetically, and then stepped out of the way.

Rhodes looked a little startled by the question, but Lovewolf replied nonplussed, "I'll just use my blood to mark the turns."

Jansen had a queasy look at the thought of that, but made no other comment. Lassie handed the flashlight to Rhodes as she stepped over towards the air duct. Dutton nodded, and then took Lassie's foot into the nock of his palms. The two of them thrust her upward, and she grabbed hold of the siding of the shaft, and pulled herself up. She kneeled at the edge and looked down as Huggy helped Lovewolf into their hands. He gingerly stepped into their palms as well, and raised him up. Lassie grabbed hold of him behind the shoulders, and hoisted him into the shaft. He sat down on the floor, breathing heavily for a moment, before giving the group a thumbs up.

They all stood back looking up at the two figures in the cramped air ventilation shaft. Lovewolf's blood stained shirt smeared the wall as he leaned against it, and Lassie's short hair poofed when it touched the top of the shaft. She put a thick hand to keep it down, and then breathed deeply, "I guess we'll see you all when this is over."

Rhodes nodded, tossing the flashlight up to them. Lassie caught it in both hands. "Don't forget this now. Good luck to you."

"Don't worry about us." Lovewolf smirked, "We'll get there." He turned then, and began crawling on hands and knees out of sight. Lassie sighed, "Lovewolf, you need the flashlight to see!" and then looked over each of them, and then turned and began to follow after her companion. Within moments they were gone from their sight, and only a minute later they could no longer hear the scraping of their hands and knees on the sides of the shaft.

"Well, once again, we're waiting," Jansen remarked dryly.

"Oh I don't know," Thibaudet shrugged, "it could be worse I suppose. What if the werewolf figures out how to use those passcards?"

Rhodes shook his head, "Doesn't matter, mine will keep us locked up here safely. Nobody can unlock a door I've locked."

"Except an Anselm." Dutton grimaced visibly, sitting down against the wall, his face sweaty.

Thibaudet shook his head, "I know we're safe. I'm talking about everybody else. What about the scientists up in the research station, they're depending on a security guard to keep them safe."

"McGee can handle himself, he has four different blackbelts last I checked." Dutton immediately came to the defense of his fellow security guard.

"That's not what I mean. Danielpour's security rating was higher than McGee's wasn't it?"

Rhodes shrugged, "Yes it was."

"Well, then we have a small problem, Danielpour doesn't have a very good grip on his card anymore, who knows what the werewolf could do with it. You need a better security measure than just McGee and his four blackbelts."

Dutton gave Rhodes a sidelong glance, "He's right you know."

"How in the world are we going to get a higher security measure when the only person with the authority is McGee. What you are asking is impossible." Rhodes pointed out.

"No, just improbable." Thibaudet smiled a bit at his own wit. "Once again I separate the impossible from the improbable. You forgot completely about Anselm, he's up there."

"Eight hours a day, huh?" Dutton smirked.

Thibaudet nodded, "That's me."

"All right, I'll see if Dr. Frederick Anselm will be cooperative. His past record so far has not been to favorable." Rhodes picked up the radio, and began to call out. "McGee, this is the Captain speaking, are you there?"

After a brief moment of tense silence, a reply came, "McGee here. What do you need, Captain?"

"Is everything stable down there?"

"We've had no problems so far. Dr. Johnson fainted when I told them what you told me to tell them; about the werewolf that is. Nobody has freaked out as of yet; tough we have had the door pounded on once or twice. How are things at your end, Captain?"

"Gorecki and Corigliano are dead. We're afraid that this creature may figure out how to use passcards, and there are a few high ranking ones out there, higher than yours at any rate. I want you to find Anselm, do you know where he is?"

"Yes, he is in his research station, he's been there the whole time." McGee's voice betrayed no angst or fear. It was cool, collected and completely at ease. It was quite a difference from what they had been used to in the last hour.

"Get him out of there, and get him to use his card on the security lock for the man access hatch to the research stations. I don't care what you have to tell him, just do it. I don't need you dying to."

"Give me a moment, Captain." They waited in silence as McGee went to talk to Anselm. Thibaudet snorted, amazed that the man actually would find a use other than to annoy him with his recitations of Fulton Swiley's foolish book. Even though there was a loup garou, Thibaudet still considered the notions of a magical world of science silly and preposterous.

McGee finally returned, though they could tell that from the subtle change in his voice that he was slightly irritated at the man, "Anselm won't come out sir. I've told him the danger, but he won't listen to me. I don't know if he is still in his room even."

Rhodes rubbed his belly thoughtfully. He then looked over at Dutton who was laying out his thick legs on the ground one by one as if they were hurt. "Dutton, I'm afraid that you are going to have to tell me what Dr. Anselm really is."

"I'm sorry, Captain. I can't do that." Dutton replied, his face having gone white at the memory.

"Why not?"

"Because I'll simply disappear. I will never exist if I tell you anything. I don't want to have to face that." Dutton replied, still in shell shock.

Rhodes could see that he was going to have to approach this carefully, "Max, I need to know. People lives are at stake. If you don' tell me, if we cannot get Anselm to cooperate, then all of those people might die. What did Anselm show you?"

Dutton lowered his head, his loyalties coming into play, he had a duty here, and he needed to help save lives. His self-preservation was secondary. He finally looked up at Rhodes, his lips set firmly in place, "He's a Hasmonean."

Rhodes took a step back, the radio nearly falling from his hand. His own face went white at the thought of what had been unleashed on board the ship. He wondered which would be worse, the werewolf, or a Hasmonean. He fell into the dirt, his rear settling into place quickly, and his face staring off into the unknown. HuggyBear walked over to him, and waved a hand before his face, "Are you all right?"

Rhodes snapped out of it quickly, "Yes, I'm fine. I just had a shock."

"What's a Hasmonean?" Jansen asked, a look of confusion spreading over his face.

Thibaudet spoke up as if reading from a textbook, "The Hasmoneans were the proper name of the Maccabeans, a Jewish family that made Israel independent again by overthrowing the Greeks who ruled through Antiochus IV. They were finally defeated in 70 BC when the Romans conquered them and took up occupation of the land. Didn't you ever go to Sunday School?"

"I didn't peg you for the religious type."

"My parents were Catholic, I had to know this sort of stuff when I was growing up."

Rhodes looked like he had a sudden insight. "McGee, are you there?"

"Still here."

"Good, tell Anselm that if he doesn't help out, then the Israelite people are going to die. Tell him that, nothing more, nothing less. If he asks who is going to kill them tell him the Romans." Rhodes said in an excited conspiratorial whisper.

"What good is that going to do, Captain?"

"Hopefully get him out of his room."

"I'll give it a shot." McGee replied. "I'll call back when I'm finished."

"Good."


McGee walked back up to the door that stood before hi. The name Dr. Frederick Anselm was engraved on the door. It stared back at him, as if to mock him. He had been mocked before, and this was probably less imposing than most of the other times he had been ridiculed. The vexatious Anselm was not coming out of his room, at least not yet. He doubted that what the Captain had told him to say would make much difference, but the Captain probably knew more than he did. It was obviously some knowledge that would trigger a reaction, or at least it was hoped that it would.

McGee rapped the door lightly, standing before it, his feet shoulder width apart, his hands and muscles loose, but ready to spring into action at any second. As before, there was no sound from behind the door, no hint that Anselm was even there. However, he had to be there, as McGee has seen with his own eyes that the man had entered the room. He had not yet left. Perhaps he had taken a different exit. It was possible for him to have climbed out through the airshafts, but that would get him nowhere, as they did not leave this section of the ship. No, it was most likely that he was in his room.

"Dr. Frederick Anselm, I need you to come out of here and help me immediately. If you do not, then the Israelites will all die," McGee did not really feel silly for calling it out, but he did feel a trifle odd. It was certainly not the thing that one would use to get people's attention, but apparently, it worked.

The door opened a crack, large enough for Anselm, who stood just behind the crack, to peer out and look at him, his face one of confusion. He looked at McGee, searching his expression, trying to understand what was going on, what it was that he had missed. "What did you say?"

"I told you, the Israelites are all going to die if you do not come to help us."

Anselm's usually cheery face grew sour. His eyes turned distant for a moment, and then he looked squarely at McGee with a very deadly gaze. McGee returned his expression, finding that the cold rapport between them quite refreshing, this man would be a challenge. "The Israelites are always in danger of dying. If you'll excuse me, I have work to do."

Anselm moved to close the door, but McGee had a hand on the door before he was able to seal it. Anselm looked at it as if he had just been slapped by it. He pushed on the door, but found that he could not move it against the strength of that one hand. Anselm glared at him, his eyes full of death, "Remove your hand from my door now."

"I'm sorry, I am following orders. You are to get out of your room now."

Anselm was not surprised at that, but smiled a moment, "Your orders have been rescinded, remove your hand from my door."

"Sir, if you do not come with me, then the Romans will conquer the Israelites." McGee gazed hard at him, not sure what he was saying, but knowing that it would have some impact on him. The effect was immediate. Anselm lowered his own hands, and just shook his head, laughing silently to himself. The door opened the rest of the way, and Anselm stepped out. Before he could get a clear look into the room, Anselm shut the door again. However, he had seen some strange grayish rock that had bee set on a small table underneath an examination glass. Wasn't he supposed to be a psychologist, not a whatever-scientists-who-studied-rocks-were-called?

Anselm sighed heavily, "So, what is it you need me to do?"

"I want you to lock the main entrance to the research station with your passcard," McGee pointed.

"Really? Didn't you already lock it?"

"Your security rating is higher than mine. You lock it."

"And how did you know that?"

"Simple, I tried using my card on your door, it didn't open."

Anselm shrugged, 'I guess that would make it pretty obvious. All right, I'll lock the door for you." He walked over, pulled out his card from nowhere it seemed, and swiped it through the slot. He pressed the red button, and the door made a small beep at him, and then moved back to the lock position. He turned back and smiled at the middle0aged security guard, "There, it's locked with my card now."

"Thank you," McGee said simply.

Anselm returned to his room, sliding the card through his doorway slot. The door opened for him. McGee watched his mind calculating many things, factoring many possibilities, considering many paths that he could take. There was one thing he could do that might just save lives, and prevent him from having to worry about this upstart Anselm again. He suddenly pushed his palm squarely into the back of Anselm. Anselm slammed into the doorway, the breath quickly knocked out of him. He gasped as he stood there, his hands hanging limply at his sides, the sudden attack coming completely by surprise. McGee then grasped the man's hand, and bent it backwards, swinging him yet again into the doorframe, smashing him partway into his room, while breaking the hold the man had on the passcard.

McGee saw the passcard fall from the man's hand onto the floor of the hallway, his objective reached. He pushed harder on the man's arm, hurtling him into the room, only to see him crash upon the floor in a tangle of limbs. He pressed the button to close the door to his room, and then adroitly picked the card up and swiped it through the lock, containing Anselm in his own room, without his card.

He heard Anselm pound on the door once or twice, "You can't do that!" he heard quite audibly. He looked at the card, grinning broadly; now he had the control.


Rhodes paced the area right in front of the solitary desk that stood at one end of the Greenhouse while the other four looked to him. He was the one with the radio, he was the one who would be receiving the messages, and he was the one who could save them. All this they each knew. Of course, a good part of that survival depended upon Lovewolf and Lassie making it to the engine room, but he imagined that it was going to take them some time before they got down there. Between now and then, many other things were going to be happening that none of them were going to be able to predict. None of them had been clairvoyant enough when they launched to realize that a werewolf was among them, and that it would kill for blood.

Jansen finally, began to rant into the air, speaking to nobody in particular, just talking as if he had to. They all understood his need to talk, the fear each felt for their own lives made them think back, recollect on past events, determining whether it was really worth it, what could have been done. "You know, I could have stayed on Earth, I'm a botanist after all. I could have just made my inquiries into another field; I did not need to examine the effects of this artificial contraption. I could have worked on the first biosphere, and made just as much if not more money.

"But no, I had to go for the outlandish job, the one that could do special research; the one that got me the trip into outerspace. This isn't a shuttle; itís a deathtrap! I should have known something was going to go wrong when I found out that the Shapeshifters would be on board, but no, some told us that there wouldn't be a problem. We've got a werewolf on the loose now, oh no, no problem at all!

"A botanist, I'm just a damn botanist; I study plants, I study flowers, I figure out why chlorophyll works. I'm the guy you talk to if you want to know what a cell wall is. Now somebody just pinch me and wake me from this nightmare. Werewolves, who would ever have thought? I certainly didn't tell myself when I got on this ship, 'Emil, you're going to be killed by a werewolf much later today' I didn't say that at all! All because of some damn loonies who just had to come along to worship the moon!"

HuggyBear finally couldn't stand it anymore, and began to stare at the man intensely, enunciating each word carefully "We didn't do anything."

"Oh sure, you're only caterwauling in here for a few hours, no nothing wrong with that at all!" Jansen sarcastically remarked.

HuggyBear's eyes began to burn intensely, "You don't want to make me angry."

"What are you, the Incredible Hulk or something?"

Rhodes finally snapped, "All right you two, knock it off. We don't need any fisticuffs here. We need to work together to survive; I won't let you kill each other."

Jansen sneered, "You didn't have to put up with them screaming their heads off."

"And you didn't have to watch one of your closest friends die," Rhodes retorted, his annoyance at this petulant scientist wearing thin.

Jansen just shook his head, "You don't know what you are talking about." He turned away from him; the will to fight apparently drained from him in one quick moment. He stared up at the ventilation shaft that only minutes ago Lassie and Lovewolf had disappeared down. He muttered something under his breath, and then stalked off to a far corner to sulk.

Rhodes was about to say something else that he would probably regret later, when the radio rang out, "This is McGee; Captain Rhodes, are you there?"

"This is Captain Rhodes speaking. Was Anselm a problem?"

"No, he cooperated nicely, though a bit reluctantly. I now have his passcard as well." McGee didn't even sound smug about that, just his normal calm voice.

"You have his what?"

"His passcard. I managed to wrestle it from him. He's locked in his room right now, he won't cause any further mischief."

"Excellent, that's one minor inconsequential worry out of the way. McGee, once we figure out what to do, I'll call you back. In the meantime, see if you can find out what you can from each of the scientists. Figure out what they are doing, what their supplies are, anything that might help us in our fight with this werewolf. Do you got that?"

"I shall discern what I can, Captain."

"Good, I'll talk to you later." Rhodes said, before hearing a pounding. He looked to the door, only to see the werewolf once again in the faceplate, glaring in at them. He turned from it, no longer concerned by it. There was no way it could get through the door. "McGee, don't do anything stupid now."

"You can trust me, Captain." McGee seemed very sure of himself, but being as experienced as he was, he probably was right in being so confident.

Rhodes put down to radio, and looked over the four other people in the room with him. Jansen was off in a far corner sulking; HuggyBear was still a little steamed by Emil's rant, though he did look much saner; Dutton had his head between his knees as he sat down next to the opposite wall; Thibaudet was staring out the face plate, his eyes squinting as if peering at something. Rhodes turned to see the werewolf pacing back and forth before the door, occasionally falling to all fours while doing so. The werewolf, large, imposing, with small splashes of blood on his arms and chest.

"What is it, Pierre?" Rhodes finally asked. Something about the werewolf seemed somehow more sinister than before, he wasn't sure quite what it was either.

Thibaudet finally turned to look at Rhodes. His face was confused, lost, hopeless, but still scientific. "Is it just me, or wasn't the werewolf's chest completely covered in blood stains before?"

Onto Part X!

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