In response to one thousand individual requests (give or take 998), I'm posting Part Two of the story here. This is also a WIP.
Here's the deal: Since I started Part One with an IM conversation, and Part Three with an Imperial Memo, and this new one is in the middle, I figured I should have both starters in the beginning of Part Two, as a transition or a bridge. However, it may be too much, too choppy. I'm not sure. Let me know what you think.
I hope you enjoy it. Here we go.
January 27, 2148
Department 118 Event
Keywords: Lycanthrope, Werewolf, Hybreed
Attachment: Case Study Report #216-LWH
Memo From: The Office of Raymond Collins, Overlord of Department 118
Memo To: The Office of Lisa Schall, Empress of the American Empire
RCPT limit: RCPT ONLY
Auth Code: TrebleGecko#######
Well, here you go; first of many, I hope. As promised, here are some case reports for what we’re finding on the hybreed. I wasn’t sure where you wanted me to start, so I thought I’d start with something you’re already familiar with.
The enclosed case reports include a personality profile for Christopher Hansen (the guy that turned into a hybreed at the council meeting), a species report on the hybreed including known cultural characteristics, and also the case report for that council meeting itself.
Yes, I made one for the meeting, don’t ask me why. I just thought it would be the right thing to do for some reason. Call me sentimental.
Anyway, this should give you some better understanding about the hybreed as a people and a culture. You’ll see that they don’t really want anything to do with humanity, they’re only interested in maintaining the Earth and its ecosystem, what they call the ‘Earthlife’. They certainly give the term ‘isolation’ a heavier meaning, though. In fact, they go so far as to mistreat and shun any of their own kind that can shape shift. I’ll let you read the reports for more info.
If you have any questions or concerns, though, please let me know. We got two species and countless ways of life on both sides riding on finding a mutual understanding. I’d hate for human ego or paranoia to lead to war over this, wouldn’t you? Heck, I’d hate to see anything lead to war, but that’s just me.
It explains a little of why Lord Hopkins and I are such good friends. Ha.
Anyway, here you go.
--Raymond Collins, Dep:118
P.S. Am I supposed to be more formal in these memos?
Bookworm6467: Holy Crap! It’s been over two years, you contact me out of the blue, and all you have to say is ‘Hey’?!
Bookworm6467: Ok. Hey.
Street_Fang94: How are things in Dep:118?
Bookworm6467: Rain and wind, off and on. Scott and Emily are serious. Michelle is still avoiding Jake, and Shannon’s still miffed about it. Oh – and I was seeing someone for a while but it didn’t work out.
Street_Fang94: You were seeing someone?
Bookworm6467: And why is that such a surprise, oh pseudo-stepbrother of mine?
Street_Fang94: I thought you said you were saving yourself for Ava Townsend.
Bookworm6467: lol – oh yeah; her. Well, she wouldn’t return my calls. I got tired of her avoiding me.
Bookworm6467: Man, it’s so good to hear from you! Where are you?
Street_Fang94: I’m in town. I just wanted to check if things were clear enough for a visit before I came by.
Bookworm6467: Of course! Anytime, you know that!
Street_Fang94: Anything I should know about up front?
Bookworm6467: There’s a couple of new faces. One of them is Rachel Blackwood.
Street_Fang94: Dad finally hired her?
Bookworm6467: Yeah, a week after you left.
Street_Fang94: Is that the person you were seeing?
Bookworm6467: Uh, no. Not likely. Let’s say she gives Shannon’s warm friendliness a run for its money.
Bookworm6467: You’re telling me. You should see what happens when we’re all in the same room and I start a pun attack.
Street_Fang94: lol. Well, if Dad hired her, I guess that would make her part of the family now anyway.
Bookworm6467: That’s the way I see it. And everyone else too for that matter.
Street_Fang94: So who were you seeing?
Bookworm6467: We’ve gotten a little nosey over the years, have we? Don’t worry, you’ll get all the gritty details in person. When you gonna be here?
Street_Fang94: Give me an hour, but could you tell everyone not to go into a big huff over my visit? I’m not much in the mood.
Bookworm6467: That doesn’t sound good. Everything ok?
Street_Fang94: I guess so. Things just didn’t turn out the way I thought they would.
Bookworm6467: Well, remember what Dad said. You always have a place here. He even gave you an office.
Bookworm6467: Whatever’s going on, you’re still a part of our little family, Chris, no matter what.
Street_Fang94: Yeah. That’s why I’m here. I really didn’t have anywhere else to go.
Bookworm6467: Well THAT does wonders for my self-esteem! I kid, I kid…
Street_Fang94: lol - np. Just don’t make a big deal about my coming back, okay?
Bookworm6467: Sure. See you in about an hour, then?
Bookworm6467: We’ll be here. And if it’s okay to say, welcome back.
Street_Fang94: Thanks. ttyl
As the lift doors opened, the same beige walls that greeted him over two years ago indifferently stood their ground, not barring his way nor greeting his arrival. He reflected their apathy back at them. The lack of acknowledgement sounded appealing on his way here, but now that he was facing the lack of recognition first hand, it only seemed like he deserved it. Rejection and ostracism seemed to be his intended fate. Those at Dep:118 would now take on the role of sanctuary, but they still were not his people. The love of a family seemed to be outside of his grasp from the day he was left at that orphanage. His mind began to recite the words to an old poem:
Loneliness is my companion,
We will never part.
What I know is none can mend
This my broken heart.
Love will permanently scar you.
Love’s a parody
Of happiness and Loneliness.
Love is not for me.
As he exited the lift and made his unnoticed way down the hall, his thoughts quickly reviewed the past two years. He had found a tribe of his kind, he had learned some of their ways, he had even received a hybreed name for himself, but once they learned that he could shift form, all hope died. They sentenced him to servitude, looked down upon him as incomplete, and deprived him of the basic rights to be heard or respected. And when he rejected that sort of treatment, they ostracized him. They accused him being incapable of following follow hybreed traditions, and claimed he followed the ‘Coyote Way.’ It was a demeaning term in hybreed communities; his own people were rejecting him, labeling him as less than hybreed.
Chris turned the corner at the end and approached the double doors of Dep:118, the only doors in the hall that were not translucent glass, but an opaque beige, just like the walls. He opened the one on the right and entered. Softly and humbly he approached the administration desk to the left, where Martha sat. She casually looked up and noticed him.
“Welcome back, Chris,” She greeted with her British accent. “It’s been a while.”
“Yeah,” Chris said. “Phil told you I was coming?”
Martha nodded. “He told me you didn’t want a big hurrah and to let you mope around on your own.”
Chris sighed derisively. “Oh he did, did he? Is Dad here?”
“Yes,” Martha confirmed. “He’s in his office, I think.”
“Thanks,” Chris said.
“Anytime, love,” Martha replied in kind.
Chris began to make his way around the side of the lifeless cubicle maze. As he approached the offices, he remembered what Phillip had told him about Dad giving Chris an office. He found himself wondering which one would be his, so he turned down the aisle between the back of the cubicle maze and the offices, looking through the windows of each office. The first two were empty, but the third had files in an inbox and other signs of life to it. Chris stopped to take a closer look, but could not yet bring himself to walk inside. At that point, he heard a voice address him from behind.
“Who the hell are you, and what the hell do you want?” The female voice said abruptly.
Hmm, so shifting in the world of the Hybreed is considered a bad thing, I must say that is a bit of a twist I wasn't expecting. I think you've got me hooked all over again Grayle.
lol well thank you, Wolfsong!
Personally I think this next part is cheesy and stereotypical, but here it is.
Chris turned around to face the owner of the voice. She was shorter than Shannon, and had ebony hair that was very straight, running a little past her shoulders. Her dark eyes bored into Chris unrelentingly, and her chiseled Native American features only augmented the intensity of her stare. Yet before he could respond to her question, another voice, a more familiar one, made a reply.
“Please allow me ‘the hell’ to make the introductions,” mocked Dr. Raymond Collins, affectionately referred to as Dad, as he approached. “Rachel Blackwood, this is ‘the hell’ Christopher Hansen. Chris, this is ‘the hell’ Rachel Blackwood.”
Rachel looked up at Dad in annoyed submission.
“Remember what I said about the language, deary dear.”
“‘Mister Hansen’ happens to be blocking my office door, Doc,” She explained.
“And how exactly are your references to some mythical afterlife of eternal pain and suffering supposed to encourage him to move?”
Rachel shot Dad a look that closely resembled Shannon’s famous annoyed look. Chris felt himself actually missing that look.
“No idea,” Rachel replied. “Maybe we should open up case on it.”
Chris was unsuccessful in holding back a snicker at Rachel’s remark. Phillip was right; this girl could freeze an ice queen. “It’s okay, Dad,” he interjected; then he stepped aside and gestured toward Rachel’s office interiour in a gentlemanly fashion, encouraging her passage with a mild smile.
With a sigh, and without a smile, Rachel entered her office and promptly sat at her desk.
Chris looked at Dad, who was still staring at Rachel. Rachel looked up again and stared back, then looked at Chris. “Nice meeting you,” she said neutrally, looked back at Dad in annoyance, and then devoted all of her attention to the papers on her desk.
“Nice to meet you too, Miss Blackwood,” Chris replied. He didn’t wait for a response from her; something told him that it was unlikely he would receive one. He turned his attention back to Dad. With a surrendering sigh of acceptance, Dad shook his head and gestured for Chris to join him; an offer which Chris accepted.
“For what it’s worth, welcome back, Chris,” Dad presented. “Sorry about that; Phil said you didn’t want a big reception, but I wasn’t intending for it to be that cold,” and he pointed a thumb behind his back toward Rachel’s office.
“It’s alright,” Chris replied. “She had no idea who I am, and I didn’t know that was her office.”
Dad smiled admiringly. “It’s good to see you still have that ‘water off a duck’s back’ attitude. Still, are you sure you don’t want to see the others?”
Chris thought about Dad’s offer. He remembered Phillip, his closest friend, the happy-go-lucky comic book and movie enthusiast. He remembered Shannon, the telepathic abrasive beauty, and her unofficial brother Jake, the telepathic mutant cross of human and bat. He remembered Julie, Dad’s wife, the reluctant ‘Angel of Loneliness’ that he met on a library roof in Romberg. Chris remembered how he decided to start calling her Mom instead, due to the fact that her species, an alien race called the Brevish, created his species, genetically-engineered werewolves called the Hybreed. He remembered Scott, Emily, and Jeroume, all of whom comprised the other members in this the makeshift family of which Dep:118 consisted.
It was rather unexpected to Chris that, now that he was back at Dep:118, he began to feel a pang of longing to see their faces, to find out how they were doing, to know that he could still belong with them. He decided to answer Dad’s question honestly. “You know,” Chris replied, “At first I didn’t want to. I didn’t want to cause a fuss or get in the way. But now I don’t think I’d mind seeing everybody again.”
They reached the door of the conference room. Dad looked at Chris again and rested his hand on Chris’ shoulder. Chris looked at the floor, uncomfortable with the feelings of fondness and respect that emanated from Dad’s emerald eyes. He still wasn’t used to such affection.
“I think that can be arranged Chris,” Dad said as he opened the door and Chris started into the darkened conference room. “Actually I’m glad to hear you say that.”
Chris took one more step into the darkness before the all the lights came on and he was bombarded with a wave of sounds culminating in one single word: “SURPRISE!”
Never did his eyes get so wide. He looked around the room and saw Phillip, Jake, Shannon, Julie, Michelle, Scott and Emily, and even Jeroume beaming back at him with total fondness and happiness, ecstatic to see him again. He was set up big time. Chris had never been the subject of a surprise party before, and it was too much for him to withstand any longer. The dam he was using to hold back his emotions buckled under the weight; he began to laugh, sob, and cry all at the same time.
He was overwhelmed with hugs from Julie, Shannon, Michelle and Emily, and even from Phillip, and Chris responded in kind. Dad and Jake took turns wrapping their arms around him, and Jeroume warmed Chris with a hearty handshake along that infectious smile of his. The crowd was joined by Martha, who also embraced him. Rachel then entered the room with a wide smile, shook his hand and introduced herself properly. After the introductions were made, he turned to Phillip.
“Not that I don’t appreciate all this, but I seem to recall saying-“
“Stuff it, Chris,” Shannon interrupted. “You’re in a building with three different telepaths. We knew what you needed.”
“You scanned me?” Chris asked.
Of course not, Jake explained telepathically. Julie felt your presence when you got to Vernon Avenue. We didn’t do a scan, but all three of us picked up on your depression once you got in our range. It didn’t take much for us to figure out exactly what you needed to snap out of it.
“This is what you needed whether you want to admit it or not, kiddo,” Julie added.
Her endearing smile wore down any defenses Chris still tried to erect, as did all of the fondness and affection from everyone in the room. Nonetheless, he still fought against their attempts at pulling him out of his emotional mire. It just wasn’t fair; couldn’t they leave him to wallow in his sorrow, lamenting the loss of respect from his own kind?
But then he was forced to ask himself: if that was really what he wanted, then why did he decide to come back here in the first place? He could have gone back to Romberg, to make his meager way on the lonely streets, or even attempt to revitalize his career as the Howler. In fact, he returned to Dep:118 because he knew that this place, these people, offered something other than that former life of solitude; it was something better. Like Jake said, this surrogate family in Dep:118 was his one chance at victory over his misery, and that’s exactly what he really needed. Chris smiled and choked back his sobs.
Last edited by Grayle (2008-05-09 19:51:24)
You are right, cheesy, but I think necessary also. I can't wait to see if Chris stays.
Yeah, I'm really not that happy with it. Fortunately it's not set in stone, but I'm not sure HOW I should change it. Oh, well;I'll get back to it.
After this next segment, the location changes and Chris relates his findings. We just got to get there first.
“We didn’t have time to make you a cake,” Dad informed him, “but I can still order some pizza.”
There were a few groans from the crowd.
“What on earth do you guys have against pizza?” Dad asked.
“The frequency,” Scott answered. Many verbal confirmations supported his reply.
“Alright, fine,” Dad surrendered reluctantly, “but it’s not like there’s much choice with our budget. Anybody got any suggestions?”
For some unknown reason, most of the eyes in the room intermittently turned toward Chris, silently asking him about his preference, uncertain if he was comfortable with the inquiry. Fortunately, the encouragement and support that was flowing in his direction helped him overcome any feelings of dismay. He looked over at Jake, whom Chris knew was very fond of fish due to his mutation, and a certain craving that had been poking fun at him for the last few days made another jab. “Well, to be honest, I’ve been in the mood for sushi lately.”
Jake gave the comment two very big thumbs up along with an enthusiastic, diabolical grin.
Dad grimaced. “Well, we could do that, I suppose.”
Chris watched as Jake’s smile dimmed, and it touched him with a different pang of distress. Sushi was expensive, and Chris correctly surmised that it was outside of comfortable financial parameters in the budget of Dep:118. Yet the people in this room went above and beyond any call to help him find out about himself, his people, and even overcome his present pain. He could not help but feel a great debt toward them, but he didn’t have to feel guilty. He had the perfect resolution for the current dilemma.
“You don’t understand, Dad,” Chris said, and all eyes looked upon him curiously as he smiled and continued. “I’m not asking you to buy it. I want to buy it. I got plenty to cover it from that E.A. you guys gave me. I want it to be my treat to all of you.”
“Now, wait a minute Chris,” Dad said as the crowd murmured. “That money is yours to set up a new life, not spend it on us.”
Chris smiled, and began is explanation. “Dad, the first time I used that thing was this afternoon, when I got into town and bought some human clothes. I got plenty in there, and I’m sure the interest from the savings has added to it as well. I want this to be my treat. I mean, you guys gave me a surprise party; I never had one of those before. You’ve done everything you could to support me. This gives me a chance to show you how much I appreciate it. Let’s all go out and have sushi.”
Dad though about it for a moment. “Well, if you’re sure…”
“I’m totally positive. Let’s have a sushi party. In fact, I insist; so there.”
“What about Jake?” Scott asked. “You can’t tell me no one will notice him in a restaurant.”
“Not a problem,” Julie said. “He can screen his own image in people’s minds so that they think they’re seeing an everyday human being, and if he has any trouble with it, I can help him out.”
Dad looked around the room. “Any other objections?”
There was a unanimous shaking of heads.
Dad looked back at Chris “Sushi it is, then,” and he pointed a finger at Chris, “but I owe you one, and I’m not going to forget it.”
I will be adding more scenes to the beginning, and possibly removing the surprise party thing. Nonetheless, here's the beginning of the next scene - it's mostly reminiscing, so I've summarized this part of it to get to Chris' part quicker. I think it works out, but let me know if it doesn't.
In a reserved private room closed off from the remainder of the restaurant, a party of eleven sat around a table. The room was darkened, the atmosphere cozy, the décor extravagant yet elegant in its presentation. Planters filled with riverbed rocks holding up bamboo shoots stood in every corner. The walls displayed a kimono and a few authentic sketches. The table itself was actually a counter that surrounded an inactive grill for cooking in front of patrons, unnecessary for their chosen cuisine. The members of the party laughed, teased, and feasted on various types of raw fish delights as they brought one of their own up to speed with the internal events of the past two years.
Gareth, who was out investigating a hybreed case, was spearheading the investigation of all werewolf sightings. Michelle was also not present but on a different assignment, and Chris knew the unspoken reason why. Jake and Michelle were a couple that was very much in love before Jake was mutated. Michelle was never able to get past his mutation and currently denied his feelings; and may be denying her own as well. The situation between the two had been awkward ever since, and Michelle was obviously trying to stay out of the office as much as possible to avoid the issue. Shannon, who considered Michelle her best friend, was often caught in the middle, but handled it as directly as she did everything else.
Chris asked Rachel Blackwood a few questions about herself, but her replies were less than informative. He explained that her article on the historical events leading to Dep:118 was very helpful in his quest to find answers. Shannon took full responsibility for the document’s use, but Rachel was indifferent to the issue. Although she was more sociable than her first impression led Chris to believe, it was obvious that Rachel was the type to call things as she saw them, with little concern toward the ramifications it may have on others. Chris soon realized that her ‘driver’ social style may even be stronger than Shannon’s; but Shannon still held the higher rank, and used it to settle matters between she and Rachel if necessary. Apparently they knew each other from the Empire, but did not work together until they were both in Dep:118.
The night carried on; Rachel and Martha each left the gathering in preparation for an early morning. At long last but without much urging, Phillip shared his adventures in social interaction with objects of his affection. A woman named Rhonda from Dep:89 began contacting him via email and showing interest. After several meetings which were pleasant enough, she said a few things that caught his suspicions. Both Jake and Shannon denied his request to scan her mind due to ethical or imperial limitations, and Dad reinforced the denial by sighting political obstacles. Both Jake and Shannon referred him to their Mom, Julie, who didn’t have any problems with scanning Rhonda. She discovered that Rhonda was a plant from Dep:89, trying to use Phillip and gain access to Dep:118’s records so she could relay them to Dep:89. Phillip reluctantly severed the relationship. After a few days of mourning, Phillip returned to his normal self, but with a more open point of view on asking women out.
Jeroume, Scott and Emily eventually left for the night. This left Chris in attendance with the siblings to which he felt a closer bond, being Phillip, Shannon and Jake, along with Mom and Dad. The night continued and the topics of conversation dwindled like the sands in an hourglass. A nagging thought plagued his mind; Chris knew that soon the only subject matter left would be focused on his findings, and the air around him seemed to get closer with the thought. As they always had, this makeshift family showed their support and consideration. Finally, at the end of a discussion on the weather, silence dominated the room. It was a stiff silence that confirmed everyone’s awareness of the avoided subject.
“We can call it a night, Chris,” Dad knowingly encouraged him as he looked at Chris over his folded hands. “There’s no need to force yourself. We’ll listen when you’re ready to talk.”
Chris looked into the eyes of everyone in attendance: Phillip’s pale blue, Jake’s light brown, Mom’s mild brown, and Shannon’s dark brown. Every pair glistened with caring and concern, tempered with hesitation at broaching the subject. Lastly he looked into Dad’s emerald eyes. The child-like fascination with the world that Chris usually saw reflected in them was temporarily replaced with wisdom and empathy. If he could tell anyone of his experiences, it would be these five.
“No,” he said, “this is as good a place as any; it’s just I’m not sure exactly where to begin.”
Honestly I like the surprise party. Like I said cheesy but kinda necessary too. But then again you're story Grayle, I'm just happy to read it.
Thanks again, Wolfsong. I'm still not sure it works - at least not for me. I'll keep considering it. I think I'm going to have a lot more tinkering to do with this part that I did with the others combined.
Here's the next segment, affectionately referred to as 'Paradise Lost.'
It was the abrupt and direct Shannon Steele who gave resolution to this problem. “Did you find your parents?”
Chris sighed. “No, but I found out about them. My father was killed during a hunt. He fell off a cliff and died. My mother couldn’t cope with losing him after having to give me up, and eventually became a lone wolf.”
“She turned into a wolf?” Phillip asked.
Chris laughed uneasily. “No; in hybreed culture, a ‘lone wolf’ is a hybreed who is on their own, but they’re looking to either become a part of a pack or start one. My mother left the tribe I found to find somewhere else where she could belong. They hadn’t heard from her since.”
“Why did she have to give you up?” Shannon asked.
“Because I was born human, just like we guessed. See, hybreed can have kids by procreation, but it’s not as successful as biting intruders. If a human or a wolf gets bitten by a hybreed, they become one. That’s how their numbers grow so fast.”
That also explains the Haunted Forest, Jake commented. People go in, but they don’t come out because they’re turned into hybreed.
“Yep,” Chris said with a nod. “With me, my parents decided to try their luck at doing it the old-fashioned way. Like I said, it doesn’t always work. About two thirds of the time twins are born; a human baby and a wolf pup. When that happens, the wolf pup is given to a nearby wolf pack, and the human baby is taken to a city or town.”
“So you could have a twin brother out there!” Phillip concluded excitedly.
“Ah, no. In my case, I was born without a corresponding twin. It’s known to happen every once in a while. They dropped me off at an orphanage, put a record of me in a sort-of hybreed equivalent of a book they call ‘The Book of the Lost Ones,’ and left it at that.”
“So in essence, you were simply a latent hybreed.” Dad concluded.
Chris shrugged and nodded amiably. “Just a late bloomer, is all.”
A respectful moment of silence loomed uncomfortably as there was a delay before the next question.
You said you found the tribe your parents were a part of, Jake commented. Hybreed live in tribes instead of packs, like wolves do?
“Not exactly; two or more hybreed living together are a pack, usually an immediate family. Two or more packs living together make up a tribe, and two or more tribes living together make up a colony. Colonies are really rare. There used to be one in the Haunted Forest. It was disbanded less than a year before I got there.” Chris shrugged. “Bad timing on my part, I guess.”
“Stop with the self pity, Chris,” Shannon ordered, whining exasperation clinging to her words.
Chris looked back at her with a glare, but her stone expression never wavered under his gaze. He soon relented with a sigh and continued. “Anyway, the hybreed have this clan system. There’s an Alpha clan, which are the leaders, and a Beta clan, which are the lieutenants and expediters. Then there’s a hunter clan, healer, worker, storyteller, and a few others. You’re put into a clan according to what you show proficiency at.”
The next question was unavoidable, and the answer had tormented Chris for a while, silently eating away at his heart.
“So, what’s your clan?” Phillip asked.
Chris looked down at some of the remaining sushi and took a breath; he might as well get it over with. “Omega,” he announced. Chris looked around the room. “You guys know what that means?”
Everyone present was asked by Dad to research wolves, in case hybreed cultures used components from both sides of their heritage. Everyone present knew that Omegas were the lowest-ranking member in a wolf pack, often used as scapegoats and jesters; always the last to feed, always the last for any privilege. A hybreed clan called Omega could only mean one thing; everyone at the table knew what it was, and nodded toward Chris in dreadful confirmation.
“Well, you probably haven’t added in the human aspect yet. Omegas are nothing more than a clan of slaves. They have no rights, no respect, and no hope. If a hybreed refuses that position, they’re broken into submission or forced leave the pack.”
“Why would they do that to you?” Mom asked in astonishment.
Chris shrugged. “Well, quite frankly, because I can shift form and they can’t. Most hybreed can’t shift form; they’re hybreed all the time. Those that can shift are considered impure, untrustworthy,” and he looked down at the table, “less than hybreed.” He took a breath and continued. “Any shifting hybreed is automatically labeled as Omega, no questions asked. Once they found out I could shift, everything I told them about what I learned from Mom was dismissed as unreliable. Any talents or proficiency I showed were ignored. If I had stayed, I’d be just a scum-of-the-earth Omega.”
“Jeez, Chris,” Phillip remarked.
Last edited by Grayle (2008-05-12 17:56:54)
I like the new section. It is kinda depressing that he would go from defender of the city to the low man on the totem pole like that, but it does make the story feel more real in my opinion. I can't wait to see what's next!
Thanks Much, Wolfsong! It's really go to know that it feels real. That's really really good to know, actually.
Here's the next segment.
Pretense invaded the mind of Chris, and apparently overflowed into his facial expression. Shannon apparently noticed; as Chris stared at the ceiling, resisting the urge to roll his eyes, she asked the next question.
“They didn’t just let you leave, did they?”
Chris laughed contemptuously. “They said I was Omega and I didn’t have a choice. I said I have the choice to leave. They said if I didn’t take my place with them, I was following the ‘Coyote Way’. That meant I’m rejecting all hybreed ways and following my own. It means I think my ways are better than theirs, and it’s just about the only thing that’s worse than an Omega in their eyes.”
“But you weren’t doing that,” Phillip protested. “You weren’t rejecting all of their ways; you just didn’t want to be an Omega.”
“It didn’t matter; they already saw me as worthless. After that, they just gave me a summary judgment and started making fun of me, calling me ‘Coyote’.”
“Well, at least it couldn’t get any worse,” Phillip commented, trying to be optimistic.
Chris raised his eyebrows and cocked his head in disagreement. “Yeah, well, it did. Once I rejected the position and they started taunting me, one of them started attacking me. I fought back. After that, they chased me out of the forest. They literally hunted me down and chased me out! I didn’t have a chance to get my stuff, or even stop for a drink of water! That’s one of the reasons I had to buy new clothes when I got here: no supplies.”
“This is ridiculous!” Phillip whispered in bewilderment. “Is it possible we were wrong about the…”
Phillip’s sentence faded away from his lips as he turned and looked at Dad. As all took note of the cutoff, they looked at the source of Phillip’s attention, which turned out to be Dad himself.
Dr. Raymond Collins sat leaning back in his chair with arms crossed. He was staring at Chris - no, he was staring through Chris. His face was strained, as if it was holding back a flurry of emotions. Nearly every muscle in his body seemed to be rigid. However, it was his emerald eyes that won the concern of Chris and everyone else around the table. Those eyes that so often proved open and considerate, playful and wise, were now almost literally on fire. The burning rage glaring from them nearly made Chris unwilling to look at him. At that point a restrained, calculating, cold voice emitted from Dad’s throat.
“Shannon,” the voice said, “I require your assistance.”
Shannon redirected her attention, and reinforced it with all sincerity.
“I want you to get your craft and I want you to leave for Idaho as soon as possible. I want you to find Gareth and have him contact me directly.” Dad’s face did not move, but his raging emerald eyes shifted to look at Shannon. “I have questions, and I am going to get answers.”
After only a few silent seconds, perhaps consisting of telepathic communication, Shannon responded with one word: “Done.” She did not excuse herself, but stood from the table and promptly exited the restaurant, and Dad’s eyes followed her departure.
“Julie?” the strange voice from Dad’s throat called.
“I’m on it, babe,” Julie replied as she looked upon him with concerned understanding.
“Thank you, my love,” Dad said. His burning eyes shifted their gaze until they set upon Phillip. Chris could have sworn he saw Phillip flinch under the sudden movement. “Phil, tomorrow I want you to update your list for the Romberg candidates. Jake, I want you to help him, and both of you prepare to leave for Romberg as soon as Michelle gets back with the jet.”
Both Phillip and Jake nodded silently. Even though they obviously did not have a full understanding of what was going on, their stares at those emerald eyes told of the utmost loyalty and trust, and perhaps a little intimidation.
Chris rightly had no idea what was going on; but it didn’t stop an ominous feeling of alarm from latching onto his mind when those raging emerald eyes shifted back in his direction.
Ooo, I think that Dad is pissed. I just wonder what questions he is going to have for Gareth. That reminds me, at this point in the story Chris and Gareth have never met have they? I can't wait for the next section!
Heheheh... funny you should ask that, Wolfsong...
I believe that by this point Chris has met Gareth once or twice, in between the time of his discussion with Julie and the time he left for the Haunted Forest.
However, the audience will never meet him.
My plan is to use him as a gimmick, someone that all the characters refer to often, but he's always out on assignment or something. He's never officially present in the scenes or even in the entire story itself. Of course, I may at some point be forced to change that plan, but that's how it stands for right now. That being said, I do have plans for a short story or two focusing on his making contact with hybreed packs.
As to the situation that's got Dad fighting to keep from losing control over his anger, let's see if he can explain it to us in a civil tone. And no, it has nothing to do with Gamma radiation.
“Dad,” he asked carefully, “What’s going on?”
“While you were gone, Gareth made contact with some hybreed packs, and even set up a dialogue with a few of them. What you’ve told us confirms some of his findings, but not a single report cited this brutal treatment of Omegas. If this is normal behaviour, it means the hybreed haven’t mentioned it because they know it’s wrong. If it’s not normal, then it means something else caused that tribe to treat you like that, some outside influence. It could mean there’s a hidden agenda trying to subvert hybreed culture or change their beliefs away from their instinctive calling. If that’s the case, then we need to find that influence, and remove it.” And the anger in his eyes flashed once more as he finished his statement.
“Couldn’t you be overreacting?” Chris offered tentatively.
“Perhaps; I hope I am. But Human history is rife with government coups and cultural shifts, and many started with symptoms like what you just described. I won’t let your people suffer the same sickness if we can do something about it.”
“But you don’t even know if that’s really what’s going on,” Chris said.
“You’re right; that’s why I’ve asked Shannon, Gareth, Phillip and Jake to help me prove my hypothesis by getting the facts.”
Chris stared at Dad for a moment. The fire in his eyes had died down, and now reflected the embers of passion glowing from deep in his heart. This man, regardless of the things Chris had told him, still believed in the hybreed – not only their existence, but also their potential, as well as the calling they were created to follow. And yet why should he not? His wife confirmed his theories on the hybreed calling two years ago. Dad stood fast to that belief, using the strength of his convictions to provide the momentum while still keeping hold of the reins. Chris began to see how resolute Dad’s intent on supporting the hybreed really was. What’s more, the others followed his lead with integrity and loyalty. Chris began to realize that trusting and relying on Dad’s intentions was something he could do without any misgivings.
“And now I could use your help too, Chris,” Dad said. “I don’t want this to eat at me like it is right now. Can you tell us anything else that could be more along the lines of good news?”
Chris thought about it for a moment, and then nodded. “Yeah, I think I can; before I caught up with the tribe my parents were part of, I met a ‘lone wolf’ named Luumen. He took the time to show me some things before he pointed me in the direction of the tribe.”
The attention of all was renewed, and focused again on Chris’ recounting.
“First off, he showed me how to life-link. It’s very important to all hybreed. Life-linking is when you become one with the ‘Earthlife’ – that’s what hybreed call the Earth’s ecosystem. When you life-link, you sense the Earthlife in as many ways as you can. You listen, feel, smell, and see as much as you possibly can, and then identify the sources by what your senses tell you.”
“You ‘experience’ the Earthlife, in as many ways as possible,” Julie surmised.
“Yes,” Chris confirmed. “Is that something the Brevish intended?”
Julie smiled admiringly. “No; your people learned that on their own. Good for them; it shows a lot of promise toward their calling.”
Chris guessed that her comment was more inclined to set Dad at ease. Even if it wasn’t, it did seem to have a calming effect upon him.
“Anyway, I’m not much good at it, but I love doing it. And another thing he showed me was how to get a hybreed name, and I finally got one.”
“Cool!” Phillip said. “So, what’s your hybreed name?”
“Graman,” Chris said with a shrug.
Would you like us to call you by that name? Jake asked considerately.
“You don’t have to,” he replied. “I’m more used to ‘Chris’.”
“Graman, Graman…” Phillip repeated. “It kinda rolls off the tongue, doesn’t it? Hey, can we call you Gra-maan?”
“Oh; can we call you ‘Gra’ for short? You know, like ‘What up, Gra’?”
“How about ‘Top Graman’?”
“Only when I’m cooking,” Chris said with a snide look, and then reconsidered the issue. “Actually, since I’m supposedly following the Coyote Way anyway, maybe I should just stick to ‘Chris’ for now, at least until I figure out what I’m going to do about all this.”
Last edited by Grayle (2008-05-14 15:08:41)
Wow! I can't beleive I've been missing such a great story. I've finally finished my exams, so I have time to finally catch up.
I looooved how you described Dad's eyes burning. It sent a chill down my spine because he's usually the sort of upbeat and laid-back character. But I'm guessing he's disapproving of how the Hybreed treated Chris. That scene was executed perfectly.
Also, I liked the party scene. I think it was necessary to lead up to that one moment with Ray.
I wish I could write half as well as you...I'm still thinking about those burning emerald eyes...He has such compassion for the Hybreed, which really says alot for his character.
I also enjoy seeing how you reconstruct the werewolf mythos - like how they procreate and their lifestyle.
I'm completely engrossed, Grayle, and I will do my best to find time.
I like the new section. I really hope that the way Chris was treated was not the norm for the Hybreeds. Oh you and your gamma rays. lol
Oh, ha. Punx, don't kid yourself. Both your writing and your story are actually better and more engaging for a wider audience than mine. You have the ability to make the reader find themselves rooting for Alex, unable to put the book down until they get to the end. I love your story, and I intend to get it autographed by the author as soon as I buy a copy. I mean it.
Also, I appreciate what you said about the party scene being a counter balance to the scene with Dad's anger. I never thought about it from that viewpoint. That might be what Wolfsong meant by saying it was necessary (not to be presumptuous... Hi Wolfsong! ). Maybe I'll just play around with re-writing it if I get a chance...
Thanks again for mentioning your hope, Wolfsong. More detail will be added to the circumstance, but later on.
Here's the end of the restaurant scene.
“Hold on a second,” Dad announced.
Chris looked over at him. As he looked at Dad, he noticed the glimmer of wisdom had returned to those emerald eyes, though their usual child-like fascination with the universe had yet to arrive.
“If you want to stick to your human name, Chris, that’s fine, but you’re wrong about your following the Coyote Way.”
“What? What do you mean?”
“You said the Coyote Way is when a hybreed rejects hybreed ways in preference of living their own ways, right?”
“Yeah,” Chris nodded in agreement.
Dad smiled. “Then from what you’ve told us, no one can say that you’re following the Coyote Way. You honestly want to follow the ways of your people, it’s just that you don’t want to be forced in to being an Omega while doing it, just like Phil said. In fact, it was that tribe who rejected you; you didn’t reject them. On top of that, you’re still looking to belong with a pack. That makes you a lone wolf, not a Coyote. We simply need to find you the right pack.”
At that point, Chris honestly believed that there could not be any other way to gain more respect for Dr. Raymond Collins. “How do you do that? How do you take a terrible or complicated thing and make it so simple and easy?”
“Oh, that; it’s just something I learned from Shannon,” Dad explained with a wave of his hand. “It worked so well that I incorporated it into the charter of Dep:118.”
“To understand the unexplainable…’” Phillip quoted with a melodramatic voice.
Without warning, Chris felt a wave of fatigue wash over him, and he attempted to rub it out of his eyes, but it only manifested itself again as a yawn.
I’m beginning to feel agreement with that sentiment, Jake replied, making Chris smirk.
“Do you have a place to stay yet, Chris?” Julie asked him.
“The foothills,” Chris replied.
“You’re kidding, right?” Phillip said. “If you just weren’t able to get a room, I can put you up on my sofa.”
“No, I’m not kidding,” Chris said. “I really like sleeping out there in my hybreed form. It’s very fulfilling. I might need a shower in the morning, though, and I’ll probably be pretty hungry.”
“You’re forgetting something, buddy,” Phillip reminded him. “This is Culmna City, and there’s a storm moving in. You sleep out in the foothills and you’ll get trashed with wind and rain. You’d better take my sofa.”
After considering the point, Chris relented and accepted the offer.
They consumed a few last pieces of the night’s meal, Chris paid the bill, and then they all said their farewells until tomorrow.
As always, I like how you gave Dad such a round personality. He has wisdom, he can be feirce, understanding, inteligable, child-like (without being immature), and much, much more.
It's good to know that Chris was rejected, which makes the hybreed more of the 'coyotes' than him.
You have awsome dialogue, which I need to incorporate more into my story.
Awsome as always, Grayle!!
Thanks again, Punx!
Well, time for a bit more mysterious history and character development.
It was when the lift doors opened that the hall became noisy. Two good friends were talking a mile a minute, with the subject switching from comic books to movies to philosophical debates almost faster than the common mind could comprehend. Laughing and joking with conflicting opinions, their presence was announced before they even reached the doors of Dep:118. The two barged in, not skipping a beat in their conversation yet they still greeted Martha as they passed by. Once they turned the corner of the cubicle maze, they saw Julie standing several paces away, leaning her back against the wall with her hands folded behind her. The present conversation came to a hiatus as they approached.
“A little late, aren’t you,” She greeted, “as in three hours or so?”
“That was my fault,” Chris offered. “I wanted to catch up on BloodWing and see the movie.”
“That’s a load of bull,” Phillip protested. “He mentioned he wanted to see it, and I insisted on seeing it this morning.”
“No you didn’t; you wanted to watch it last night, and I suggested the morning. Either way,” and Chris looked over at Julie, “since he had to show it to me, I’m the one that made us late.”
“What if I say I was planning on watching it today despite your sudden return?”
“I’d say that was a load of bull.”
“No it’s not! You’re forgetting the undeniable lure of Miss Townsend-”
“-Whom you are no longer pursuing.”
“Says who? I’m a strapping young lad who’s both single and available; just what she needs.”
“And yet she still doesn’t return your phone calls…”
“You’re just jealous.”
“And you’ve got delusions of grandeur.”
“You know that sofa you used last night? I want it back!”
“Yeah, well, get a haircut!”
“Go chase a tennis ball, wolfboy!”
“Alright, alright!” Julie said through her laughter. “Time out, you two.”
Both men flaunted insincere frowns, challenging the other to continue. However, they were soon replaced by smiles of undiluted friendliness; it was all in good fun.
“Anyway,” Phillip said as he calmed down, “I already called Dad and let him know we’d be late.”
Julie nodded. “That would probably make everything okay, I’d imagine. Anyway, he was hoping to see Chris once you guys got in, and don’t forget that he wanted you to start updating the Romberg candidates today.”
Phillip nodded confidently. “On my way,” he said, turned to Chris. “See you later, buddy.”
Chris smiled and responded in kind, but stayed with Julie as Phillip departed for his office. The reminder of Phillip’s assignment also caused Chris to recall the events of last night. His stare peered into the unfocused distance as he reminisced, and his smile dimmed as he remembered Dad’s emerald eyes, holding the reins on a blazing rage as he glared across the table.
“So what’s that?” Julie asked.
The question temporarily brought Chris back to the present, but with the echo of last night still fresh in his mind. He barely recognized that Julie was referring to a set of papers that Chris was holding. Her noticing them took him a little off-guard, and he had to look down into his own hands to remind himself of what was there. Chris wasn’t necessarily ready to advertise their contents quite yet, even though he had the papers in his hand for anyone to see.
“Oh, uh, nothing much; it’s just something that I thought Dad might like to know about.”
Julie smiled knowingly, but acquiesced to his evasion nonetheless. Chris took the opportunity to ask a question.
“Mom… about last night…”
Julie smiled. “You mean about Ray’s display of restrained fury?”
“Yeah; does he get like that often?”
“Hardly; but he has a very strong conviction against the mistreatment of individuals, especially the underprivileged. It comes from his time with Dep:82, I think. Still, that wasn’t the only thing that set him off.”
Chris looked at her curiously.
“Let me put it this way: the only other time I’ve personally ever seen him like that was when Dep:82 tried to label Jake as just another experiment and take him away for their own purposes. There’s a few over there that still regret trying it.”
"Go chase a tennis ball, wolfboy."
That was my favourite part. They're such a finny dynamic duo.
And this too. Such descriptiveness: "Dad’s emerald eyes, holding the reins on a blazing rage as he glared across the table."
It seems as though Dad has compassion for Chris and his predicament. He's so caring.
Anyways, Great piece! I hate to sound like I'm repeating myself, so I won't rant on and on
Just got caught up. Very nice, I love the almost brotherly love between Chris and Phillip. Very awesome. I hope we get to learn more about Dad's time in Dep:82, I just wonder what exactly happened. Great stuff Grayle, as always.
Thank you both for your comments. I like writing friendships - it makes the world a little more tolerable when you see the loyal camaraderie between friends. Dad's a lot of fun to write, too. He's so anti-stereotypical to his position as Overlord of Dep:118 that you wonder how on earth he got that position. I'm very glad you both like those characters; thank you.
Here's some more.
“I see,” Chris said, still pondering the information. So, was Dad’s anger spawned from feeling defensive of Chris, or from the mistreatment of Omegas?
“I’m pretty sure it was both,” Julie said in answer to his internal question.
Chris looked at her with surprise, wondering why she was reading his mind without permission.
Julie offered an explanation before he verbally asked. “Sorry about that, but try to think of it from a telepathic point of view. For Jake, Shannon and I, ambient questions as thoughts are really tough to avoid picking up. It’s like when you’re in a crowded room; sometimes you hear parts of a conversation that you didn’t intend to. Everybody in Dep:118 has just gotten used to us answering questions once in a while when they didn’t say them out loud. Private thoughts take effort to read, so they’re pretty safe. But if it bothers you, all you have to do is be careful what kind of questions you consciously ask in your head when you’re around us.”
“I’ll do my best to remember that,” Chris said suspiciously.
Julie smiled with pleasant sympathy. “Don’t worry, you’ll get used to it, and we’ll be discreet. It’ll be all right – just don’t try to mentally undress Shannon.”
Chris laughed. “Okay; deal.”
“By the way,” Julie said as she began walking toward the front of the cubicle maze, “I’ll be gone for a while; I’m not sure when I’ll be back. Ray’s in his office when you’re ready, and he’ll be glad to know.”
Julie turned back toward Chris, smiled once again, and pointed to the papers in his hand. “That.”
Chris looked down at the papers, and then looked back at where she was standing only a second ago, but Julie had disappeared. He shook his head in mild bemusement as he turned and headed for Dad’s office.
After a left, a right, and a few more steps, Chris found himself in front of the office where, two years ago, Dad explained to him that he was not alone. He paused for a moment and read the name plaque on the door: Dr. Raymond Collins. The added Imperial title of ‘Overlord’ was covered by a hand-written paper sign that read “D.D.E.” It appeared to be written in Jake’s penmanship, but it was Philip who once explained to him that the letters stood for ‘Department Dad Extraordinaire.’
After a quiet knock on the door Chris heard Dad give permission to enter, so he turned the knob and did so. Upon his entrance he saw the room exactly as it was before he left, but with a few maps and other items splayed across the table in the background. He closed the door behind him and approached the desk, behind which was Dad. Dad was typing in some notes on a case file that was projected on the wall across the room. Once he looked up and saw Chris, Dad’s face brightened. There it was; the child-like fascination with the universe around him had returned to those emerald eyes. It comforted Chris, and gave him confidence to continue.
“You’re here! Great! I got a call from – oh, wait; what did you think of the movie?”
Chris nodded; he was getting used to Dad's train of thought skipping tracks while in motion. He suspected that it was more of a deliberate distraction for his audience than a symptom of absentmindedness, but he wasn't about to test the theory. Chris found it more entertaining than suspicious.
“It was pretty good, not too much action, not too little. They stayed pretty true to how Bloodwing’s portrayed in the comic book; I liked that. I don’t remember General Maxon being the leader of the Buccaneers, though.”
“Ah, yes; Phillip was telling me about that – in between his intricate analysis of Ava Townsend’s performance.”
“Or Ava Townsend herself.”
Dad chuckled. “That too.” He gestured to one of the chairs in front of his desk. “Have a seat, Chris.”
Chris complied, keeping hold of his set of papers in his right hand. Dad laced his fingers together and then continued.
“I wanted to let you know that I got a call from Gareth a couple of hours ago. He was able to confirm that shifting hybreed are normally made Omegas, but they aren’t the only ones exclusively added to that clan. It’s not that they think shifting hybreed are impure, per se, but apparently they can’t see any other reason for that ability than deception. He said that some packs believe shifting hybreed have ‘fallen short of the mark,’ like there’s something wrong about them that needs to be righted, and they’ll earn the stability of one form at that point. It’s kind of like it’s part of a religion, of sorts, but not all packs hold to that belief.”
“So I might not be impure, but I'm still untrustworthy.”
“Well, that’s their viewpoint, yes, but only because they can’t see any other reason for these few hybreed to have that ability.”
“They don’t understand it, so they look down upon it and segregate it.”
Dad nodded amiably. “Exactly, Chris; exactly. Now, which one of your people’s two heritages do you suppose that might come from?”
Looking into Dad’s emerald eyes, Chris knew the question was rhetorical. Mistreatment of those that are different was practically a human tradition. It may be stunted in growth by the Empire’s vigilant eye, but it survived nevertheless. It was something Chris witnessed many times while he was on the streets.
So then the question is how different is Hybreed society from Human society? Very thought provoking Grayle.
Ooo, so the Hybreed race is similar to that of humans because of their own mistrust of someone different than them.
You gave another great explaination of the telepaths and hybreeds. It just keeps getting deeper and deeper!
Great job Grayle! I'm totally caught up with this now. I love how you've created this world that's so involved, so detailed, both the Human and Hybreed societies, and keep revealing it, at a bit at a time. Your timing is perfect, it's not too much information so your audience knows everything, but not too little, so they're lost. That's a fine line to walk, and you're walking it well.
I would be in a ridiculous amount of trouble if I worked with people who could read my mind and answer my internal questions.