Welcome to my serial science-fiction/fantasy adventure, The Only City Left. This is the story of Allin Arcady and his adventures through a dying, planet-sized city called Earth. (Click here for the Table of Contents.)
At the end of Part 80, Allin refused to speak the passphrase that would transform him into a werewolf (and which would allow his uncle Doyle to perform a hostile takeover of Allin’s body).
The Only City Left: Part 81
Doyle didn’t lash out or yell at me. He simply held me down, grabbed the coil, and said, “Not much as famous last words go. Now get out of that body. I need it to always stay alive.”
Time slowed down. Doyle released his grip on my coil and I could see moonlight burst forth from it like a splash from a puddle. Then the light hit me and I could immediately feel the transformation begin to take over. My own transformation, though, concerned me less than Doyle’s. He was turning to smoke before my eyes, the same as when I cut his arm off with the steel door, or when he pretended to slap me earlier. This smoky, wispy version of Doyle held its form for a moment and then started to flow toward me.
Still halfway between human and werewolf, I fought against my bonds. I could feel my wrists straining against them as I grew stronger moment by moment, but I feared that strength would come too late to save me from Doyle’s onslaught.
I snarled my contempt for this shadow creature that thought he could evict me from my own body. I was a creature of flesh and blood, a werewolf, and no ghost could stop me. I roared and snapped the ropes binding my wrists at the same moment that Smoke-Doyle reached me and enveloped my head in a suffocating darkness.
I could feel the fine grit of his nanoswarm filtering into my eyes, ears, mouth, nostrils, even into the pores of my skin. I couldn’t roar, or breathe for that matter, as I drowned in a torrent of nanobots. Fight, I demanded of myself. If there’s any chance his plan might work, you need to stop him somehow. Don’t let him take you over. Better to die.
I started to black out from lack of oxygen when all of a sudden a bright yellow and orange light pierced the shawl of nanobots that covered my eyes. I felt Doyle retreating from me at great speed, pulling me with him so that I fell forward. My feet were still tied together at the base of the table and I barely got my hands in front of me in time to take the brunt of the fall. Still my forehead bounced against the floor and I grunted in pain. That was nothing compared to the next instant when a once-again-solid Doyle gripped me by my hair and lifted me up to face him.
“What is this?” he barked at me. “How did you turn off the coil?”
Turn off the coil? That’s when I realized I wasn’t a werewolf anymore, and the coil hanging from my neck was not emitting any light.
“I don’t know what happened,” I said, spitting out the words between gasps of pain. It felt as if my scalp was going to pull away from my skull.
Maybe Xerxes or one of the other ghosts had come up through the floor and siphoned off the coil’s moonlight. Xerxes had said he would know when Doyle and I were together, and if I had ever needed the ghosts’ help, now was the time. There was a problem with that idea, though. If it had been a ghost, why wasn’t the moonlight back on now that the ghost wasn’t holding on to the coil anymore?
The question was answered a moment later when the door burst open and a disheveled-looking human with a lantern coil around his neck barged in.
“Lord Commander, the coils! Something’s wrong. Everyone’s changed back!”
Doyle snorted in disgust, pushed me back against the table, and reached underneath it to rotate it to horizontal once again. Free from his grasp, I sighed in relief.
“What nonsense is this?” Doyle asked. He was still a werewolf, albeit a ghostly one.
“I can’t explain it, my lord. Our coils flared up and then the moonlight cut off. Several slaves have escaped in the confusion and others have fought back against us. If we don’t organize resistance soon, we’ll be overwhelmed.”
Unless Doyle had lied, I had only been unconscious for an hour. Tumble couldn’t have made it back to Pudlington yet and, even if he had, we had agreed to not turn the coils off. Not that I was complaining. However it had been accomplished, it was having the desired effect on the werewolves and, as a bonus, had saved me from Doyle, too.
“You’re still stronger than them and you have weapons,” Doyle said. “Form groups and kill any slave who dares to challenge you. Now go.” He looked down at me and called out to the now-human guard before he could leave. “One more thing. Task someone with escorting Doc Needles here.”
“Form groups. Kill slaves. Doc Needles. Got it,” said the guard, who looked relieved to have firm orders. “Your will be done!”
He sped out of the room, leaving me alone with a very unhappy Doyle.
“So your friends in the Skunkworks took the initiative and destroyed the satellite even without Banshee’s orders.”
I tried to keep my face blank, but inside I despaired. Banshee thought he was playing Doyle with false reports all these years, but it looked like Doyle had been on to him the whole time. If Doyle knew about the Skunkworks and Professor Copper’s coil project, it meant one of the scientists was talking to the wrong person about forbidden topics, or worse, was on Doyle’s payroll.
“You don’t have to keep it secret, Allin. The cat, as they say, is out of the bag. Fordham promised me he would cancel the project, but apparently I can’t trust him as much as I thought I could.”
Fordham! He was working for Doyle.
“Sorry they ruined your plan,” I said, dripping sarcasm. “I guess you don’t need me anymore.”
“On the contrary, I need you now more than ever. And if I can’t bring the moon to you, well…”
A silver-haired man who looked freshly woken came into the room, carrying a leather bag.
“You called for me?”
“Yes. Sedate the boy. We’re going on a trip and I don’t want him getting too excited. After all, it’s not every day I make someone’s dream come true.”
* * *
9/1/13 News: Can Allin take advantage of this sudden turn of events? Will he be happy to have his dream come true? Neither one seems likely. Tune in next week to see what happens next, faithful TOCLites!
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