This takes place after rpwise Ice Ray Academy has returned to Superhero City from the events of "Path to Power 2" and "The Return of Ice Ray Academy" with the help of Acidburn and her fae allies, which will be posted shortly.
Dr Vermicious is sitting on the edge of his clifftop cave entrance meditating. He loves to do so after his daily downtime, especially on a nice warm sunny day like today. Centering his self, gathering his thoughts, re-connecting. It was strange how detached he felt when he came back from a tub session, as though his very soul went away somewhere while his worms recharged themselves and regenerated his body. It would be interesting to find out where he went, especially as it would seem he had picked up a hitch-hiker today.
“Come here shade. Let me see you. Who are you?” No reply. “Shade?” Nothing. “Come here or I shall drag you here, with body or without.”
“You can see me?” It was a thought, light as babies breath and tinged with fear.
“No. But I know you are there. Come here so I can get a good sense of you.” Dr Vermicious felt the shade draw closer to him as he sent out tentative probes to determine the nature and strength of the soul it represented.
“Ah. It’s you. Can’t say I’m surprised. This place is far too interesting to one such as yourself. That and the opportunity for mischief, something I can sympathize with, believe it or not. How long have you been over there?”
“Oh, about ten weeks SHC time. About five eternities, local time. One minute I was a multi-faceted gem of a soul, the next stripped down to this. The essence of me. I’ve had plenty of time to rue my ways but you know what? I wouldn’t change it. It is who I am. I have no need now of those others, they are all in me and all dead too. I feel strange, but whole at the same time.”
“So. All very interesting but now for the million dollar question: What do you want?” The shade was quiet for some time and Dr Vermicious allowed it the luxury of the minutes it needed.
“I want to come back. Not like I was. Like you. Something more than human. Something that can give me power to match what I have learned, both in life and death.”
“I’m not sure I can do that. But I know two who can.” I felt the shade flinch at the thought of Bob and Jace and their machinations. He would of course now know who and what they really are. Fortunately he didn’t know of the mistake they had made in creating me, in particular allowing me to regain my full memories. They had no idea how powerful I could become. Nor did I. But I did know I could grant the shade his wish immediately, with a much better end result. But I had to maintain the facade so they would not report back to their superiors. Oh what a quandary oh what a tangled web. I pondered the problem and made my decision. No point hanging around. “OK. One condition though. You listen to me when I explain things. My education seems to work here and you need to learn it too so you can control your new powers. I’ll tell you where your power comes from, how it works and most importantly what you can do. And what you WILL be able to do. Whatever you do, though, keep quiet. Bob and Jace can’t read the dead, they are linked only to the living.”
“Bob! Jace! Here! Now!”
“You called oh supreme being?” Jace’s voice dripped with sarcasm, but he knew it was the only weapon he had that might even dent me. Bob understood this too.
“Ah. The dynamic duo. Bob and Jace: Two sides, two faced.” I could feel the incredulity wafting from the shade and relished the rather unusual feeling of having created that effect. Bob’s face darkened as he got the message. “Yes. Jace’s former charge needs a new body and you are going to give him one, with my help.”
“YOUR help?” Jace clutched his stomach and doubled over falling to the floor and screeching with laughter. In a flash he was before us again, composed and threatening. “You think YOU could do a better job than we did?” Bob and Jace dissolved into spheres of brilliant light, pure sentient energy which did not impress me. I had seen bigger and better in many other places.
“No, but I’ve had time to get to know this body and how it works and to be honest it is rather an amateurish affair. This is what you should have done.” I sent a thought at them which described in precise detail how they could have made better use of their resources when creating me. “See? Much better, more whole, less hassle. No hinky bedding in time, no need to screw with memories, just a seamless switchover from shade to spiritual corporation. And you can see the advantages can’t you? Oh and please, put some clothes on!” They both reformed their human bodies and stood facing me with grudging respect.
“You have been busy. Do you think we can really do this with just one worm?”
“Yes. The only problem is, we need thirty six hours of full uninterrupted sunlight so that the worms can recharge while the fission take place.”
“No problem.” With a thought, Bob and Jace had transported me and my plastic tub to the external solar observation platform on one of the many deserted satellites that had their orbit above SHC. “Give us the worm then. We’ll need to get started.” I separated a single worm from my body and it floated gently into the plastic tub. It didn’t really need to be a tub though….
“Jace?” He grinned.
“On it. Here you go.” The tub warped and melted, stretched and reformed until we had a totally Gothic Perspex coffin. All skulls and snakes and dragons and wolves. Perfect cliche for a resurrection. I think I’ll hang onto it. Bob opened the lid and stood the coffin on its foot facing towards the sun. From the speed at which the worm started to fission and grow it was obvious being outside the planet’s atmosphere made things a whole lot easier. At this rate we would reach critical body mass in approximately twenty eight and a half minutes. It actually took thirty two so it wasn’t a bad guess. I sent the mental command to stop the process and we three Frankensteins' started on creating our perfect creature. The improved process had come to me after I had done my rebuild on G’Kar. I knew then there had to be a better way. The worms were a strange mix of recombination DNA and some form of organic nanites with a sub-atomic boiler house reliant on cosmic rays for energy. I had thought long and hard on this and through a combination of pure will, gene splicing and a bending of physical laws I came up with a way of blending the worms with natural DNA to form close copies of the original form a spirit inhabited. Everything leaves trace, everything can be read.
Working together we had a body in no time.
“Have you checked all the bodily functions?”
“You sure?” I said, looking closely at the almost featureless smooth body. “For goodness sake give him some dignity! He’s a human male!” And as I watched the smoothness of his groin flowed and changed, molding itself into a, if we are being honest here, an exceptional example of the human male form. “Not THAT dignified! I want a resurrected magician, not Ron Jeremy!”
The shade had been observing all of this with a highly amused air, this disappeared however as the time came to join with his new body. I sent him a question. “Is this what you really want ?”
“Yes.” Came the reply, “It looks……….. real.”
“Well it isn’t, not yet. We need you to join it.”
“I’m ready.” All three of us reached out for the entity and squeezed him down to the smallest essence of himself. Then squeezed some more. Just as it seemed there was nowhere left to go we released our hold on him and he rebounded to fill the new vessel. With a huge intake of breath the new being sat upright in the coffin. “Now THAT was a rush! No, it’s ok I don’t want to do it again!”
“OK Bob, Jace. Say thank you to the nice man for letting you play. I’ll call if I need you.” With looks of calm studiousness Bob and Jace gave bows so small as to be an insult.
“Don’t forget, you’ll need to explain how he works. It is a bit of an upgrade from Homo Sapiens v1.0.”
“Yeah, thanks. I’ve got it. Now scat. We’ve got real work to start.” My first and only mistake. Now they would realize I hadn’t needed them to get here at all. Ah well, never mind. I put a hand on the coffin and a hand on the new-born’s shoulder. STRETCH and we were home, well my home. My new friend would need his own cave (or whatever) and he could find it himself, I had done quite enough. I watched as he looked at his reflection in the mica wall, he wasn’t too bad if I say so myself. Let’s see: arms, legs, torso, head, hair and oh yes, his dignity. The skin was a bit off, a sort of sallow olive color with a very pale silvery sheen but it was the eyes that gave him away, two opalescent green orbs with no pupils and no sclera. They would come in handy though the way they seemed to shift and change as he peered intensely about him. That would be unsettling to say the least. His hair had stopped growing when it reached the top of his buttocks, a mane of blue black curls he could cut to his liking later. For now there were more important things.
“You need a name. Something fitting. But that’s for you to choose later. For now I’ll call you Inkling. You are the bright promise of a new idea. See you live up to it. Now, make yourself some clothes. Here, I’ll show you how.”
“No, I think I’ve got this thanks. My way.” A sudden wind blew up and picked up all the debris I’d left lying around. It spun around Inkling faster and faster, getting brighter as it was stripped and reformed. When the glow subsided a surprise awaited me. I had expected a return to the old look but this was so much more. A young man in his twenties stood before me, a black goatee beard neatly shaped around a strong jawline, the hair cut to his shoulders and swept back from his face. Couldn’t hide the eyes though. He had his fathers’ eyes. The black three piece Armani suit was a nice touch along with the mage robes of azure coloring. Classy but restrained. Maybe I could go in for an upgrade? Whatever, I could see interesting times ahead for SHC. Very interesting times.
It has been over a day since The Inkling was brought to life. Dr Vermicious has been pondering hard. There are two aspects to the affair that need further consideration, the first a matter of pragmatism. Inkling needs to know how his new powers work and what his current limits are (and why). The second promises to be more difficult. By his own admission he was dead for a couple of eternities and he remembers them. That is a long time to be self-aware and unable to contact any living soul, the point being who did Inkling talk too? A construct of his own making? God? Other spirits? Dr Vermicious sends a quick interrogative burst at Inkling.
“Not really, just a spot of decorating on the new place. Would you like to pop over and have a look around?”
“That would be good. We need to talk. In the flesh as it were, face to face is easier for what we need to discuss.”
“Fine. See you in……” STRETCH.
“Dr V. I know you aren’t human but you really need to work on your social skills dude, give people time to arrange themselves.”
“Yes. Quite. But that’s not what I’m here for. I need to explain to you how your new body was created and the side effects on your existing powers. You also have substantial new powers which you will need to discover for yourself and slip in alongside your old ones. So, where is this place?”
“Look around. Don’t you recognize it?”
“It’s G’Kar’s place! How did you get in?”
“Haven’t you spoken to him?”
“Er, no. Off-world remember?” Inkling smiled in amusement, his opalescent eyes dancing in the afternoon sunlight.
“Looks like we’ll be teaching each other, Shiny. It is ok to call you that?” Dr V waved his consent and Inkling continued.
“It’s the worms. They communicate with each other no matter the distance or dimension, if you concentrate hard enough you can piggy back the signal and contact any worm you want. The only thing is that as far as I can tell you can only connect to worms with which you have a common origin. In our case that is you, me and G’Kar. Try it when you have a minute. Trollboy is having a tough time at the moment..”
“Serves him right, impetuous and foolhardy. It’s strange to think he originally came from a race known for its ponderous thought and longevity.”
“Unfortunately he was brought up by humans and absorbed their more urgent habits. Still. I’ve been giving his predicament some though and it all boils down to him being unable to absorb the energy the worms need directly. I’ve come up with a work-around that may help.” Inkling showed Dr V his idea and gave a wry grin as his shiny friend grimaced at the physical requirement.
“That is going to hurt.”
“Yes. Definitely. But at least he will be able to cope with the killing urges until we get it sorted out properly. Now then. About me?”
“About us really. You do know where we came from worm wise? Yes? OK. You will also know that we are created from the same stuff all the Gods and Demons of sentient beings are created from? The very source of Heavens and Hells?” Inkling nodded, wondering where this was going. “Each embodiment of a god, demon or whatever it is the being believes in is created from one worm. That is sufficient to imbue the thing with the powers the being believes his god or demon has. The more beings believe the greater those powers become. However there is an obverse, those powers are also limited by the beliefs of any being which believe in the anathema to that god or demon, sort of a self-restricting governor. We are not like that. We were created from millions, billions of those worms. I came from original source, each worm discreet and alone. You came from two worms that divided to provide the body you now have. In both cases we are roughly identical in the number and power of worms. We hold it within us to make or unmake any god, demon, heaven or hell constructed from a beings belief system. As far as humans are concerned we are greater than their gods and demons.” Inkling has listened to this with growing intrigue.
“That’s all well and good V but how do you account for what happened to me after death?” Dr Vermicious laughed in derision. “Haven’t you listened to a word? There ARE no gods and demons. They are simply an answer to a yearning for a life after death. Gods. Angels. Demons. Devils. Heaven. Hell. They are all real. But creations, limited in use and power by what we believe.”
“No. Your death was short and simply a transition. I was dead for three long months. Three eternities. I talked with God. Not my god. Not your god, not anyone’s god simply a powerful being. For some reason my apotheosis from my faith allowed me to exist as a soul outside, to quest, to query, to challenge. I had no faith so my god had no power. I did however get to question the being about its plans. It is not human. It does not think like us. In some ways it does not care, in others it cares too much. In all ways, although it does not recognize the concept, it loves us. It wants us to be happy. It wants us to be productive, to explore the wonders it created and is still creating. The universe is our plaything and it trusts us not to break it too badly.
Whatever we do is OUR responsibility. We perform the acts, whether they are ‘good’ or ‘evil’ is immaterial. They come from us. We do them. We cannot give It credit. It does not want it. Nor can we blame It, there is no such thing as fate, there is only life and death. Magic is real simply because it is possible, Science is just as real, because it is possible. I had a long time to consider things, to consider their workings. Thank you for bringing me back Dr V, I will be forever grateful. But I have seen more than you.
My magic and knowledge is different than yours. But both are valid. We have common areas, we have common abilities but we have different leanings and different psyches. You are not human, probably closer to It than I am. I am very human with all that brings and I embrace it all. We WILL learn from each other but to be honest not in the way you want. You need to learn of humanity and what it means. I need to learn of power and it’s use, and most of all how it will affect me.”
“And how shall we learn?”
“Together Shiny, together. But first we need to sort G’kar out and see if he wants to be Trollboy forever.”