Jeremiah Mason

Mutations: Chapter 5 – Night Callers

Hard at work into the night_001

Night had long ago set over Shanghai but Dr Beck had hardly noticed, engrossed as he was with the results of his latest tests. He sat at his surgery desk and scribbled hurried notes into his journal…

So busy. The fever is spreading through Shamian’s slums and I can’t stop it. I’ve looked at the slides, I’ve been out to the houses, I’ve done everything I can think of but I’m stumped, and whilst I sit here scratching my stupid head people – good people – are dying. I don’t know what to

Beck’s train of thought was violently derailed as the surgery door burst open, kicked almost of its hinges by a tong thug, “What is the meaning of this?” Beck shouted rising to his feet.

“You doctor, you fix!” the tong ordered with a wild look in his eyes. Behind him a second thug sporting a broken arm dragged a third whose flattened nose poured blood.

Beck hated the tong almost more than the Mechs, they were predators feeding off the misery of their own, condemning decent people to a life of fear and servitude. He didn’t care a jot about his oath, these animals didn’t deserve any help and he’d be dammed if he’d be bullied into giving them any. He stepped up to the thug, looked him straight in the eye and said “I will do no such thing, now get ou…”

The punch to his stomach smashed the breath right out of his body and he doubled over and fell to the ground, his mind spinning with nausea. “You fix bastard! You fix or kill you!”

“No,” Beck wheezed. The kick lifted him off the floor.

“Fix!”

“Nnnn” he managed to say, the pain was blinding. Another kick.

“You fix or we burn!”

“No. No fix, get out!” Beck hissed through gritted teeth.

The tong animal was wild with fury. He kicked over the desk, threw supplies across the room, tore a cabinet off the wall until the one with the broken nose spoke, his voice thick and pained. He spoke in mandarin and whatever he said had an immediate effect on the wild one who calmed down and turned back to the figure curled on the floor, “You fix or we burn family, understand? We burn Chinese.”

Beck looked up at the tong and knew from his eyes that he meant it, “You bastard,” he croaked, he had no choice and he hated it.

“You fix!”

Beck struggled to his feet, “Yes, I fix, I damn well fix,” he said, “and then you get the hell out of my surgery.”

Broken nose made a strange choking sound and it took a while for Beck to realise he was laughing, “You find something funny?” he asked, furious.

“This our town” the bleeding tong said spitting a wad of blood on the floor, “Mean this place ours too. Now fix or Chang start many fire, you understand Doctor Beck.”

It was not a question. Beck nodded sharply once and reached for his leather bag…

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To be continued…
All the “Mutations” posts can be read here.

Links to other blogs and stories:
1) The mysterious callers hail from Darien’s blog here.

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Mutations: Chapter 2 – Dreams of War, Part 1

The sounds that drifted in from the night spoke of war. Men and beasts being made ready, swords and armour prepared and handed out. Countless campfires held the night at bay and filled the air with sweet camphor smoke that whipped along with the breeze and crept in through the canvas of my tent.

I opened my eyes, unsure and lost and found myself looking into the face of a beautiful angel.

At first I thought it was my angel, the one who had tried so hard to save me from the explosion and had watched over me in Babbage. The girl in the meadow who’d risked more than her life to pull me from the flames of a collapsing reality. I thought it was his granddaughter come to my aid once more, but it wasn’t. She had wings as red as blood and eyes of shining purple stars and her voice was a chorus. No, the angel I stood before me had white wings and eyes of shimmering grey, and whilst its voice may have been beautiful it was not a chorus, “My beloved?” it said. No, this was not my angel.

I looked around the tent and recognised nothing; from the writing desk to the carved wooden bed draped in animal furs, nothing was mine. The angel was dressing me in ornate metal armour, by its feet a sword lay across a shield. “Where…?” I said, my voice sounding small and far away. The angel must have sensed something, seen something on my face, for its expression changed and its eyes flicked back and forth across my own. “But, you are not He…” it started, suddenly glowing brighter and brighter, “I do not understand? Who are you?” it demanded becoming a star falling to Earth.

I tried to answer but my mind seemed slow and tired. I tried to shield my eyes, squinting against its light “Please…” I croaked dryly, “the light…”

Immediately it dimmed, dying away until I could look at it once more. The angel looked scared; it took my hand in its own, turning it over and over looking at my wrist, feeling the flesh. “This… this is not His!” I gasped as I noticed my hands were unburnt and whole again.

“I don’t understand…” I said unsteadily.

“You are the Other. This can not be! You can not be here! We need Him! We need him to find Bloodw…”

The tip of the spear that erupted through its chest tore the final word from its lips. It fell into me with blood foaming from its mouth and nose as its eyes stared imploringly into mine. I watched as they dimmed and the life behind them finally vanished. Outside beasts roared and men screamed as war erupted…

“And that’s all you remember?”

“That’s all I remember Doc.”

“And how long have you been having this dream?”

“I dunno. Two. Maybe three weeks. Since I started the cabin I guess,” I sat on a log, Beck sitting across from me with a steaming cup of tea in his hands. He looked around at the fruits of my industrious labours and nodded to himself. “And no other dreams? Just this one?”

“Just this one, at least since it started,” I answered. There had been others. Dreams of fire and pain and people with mirrors where their faces should be. Dreams of green light and monsters in flying boats. Dreams of being erased again and again piece by piece by piece. I dreamt those every time I closed my eyes, sometimes even when I didn’t, but I didn’t want to talk about those dreams.

“Well, I’m no alienist Antfarm but I’d take a stab at anxiety and painful memories rising at a time of change as you begin to rebuild your life,” Beck didn’t sound as confident as he’d have liked to. “Look at what you are doing out here? This cabin is wonderful, you are putting your life back together piece by piece just like this cabin.”

I looked around at the felled and shaped logs, each one the product of my sweat and blood, and smiled. I’d let the doc think what he wanted, but putting my life back together was far my mind; I just needed somewhere to live that didn’t flap in the wind was all. We sat in silence for sometime, each lost in a private world of memories.

Beck made the first move. He downed his tea and stood up “I’m sorry to cut this visit short, but I better be heading back if I want to be back before nightfall.” Ever since that Chinese kid had been killed he’d been on edge about the slums at night. I guess I couldn’t blame him for that, those kids were family to him. “Look,” he said as he gathered his things and packed them away on his horse, “you’re doing well but please, please! take it easy. You’re doing an awful lot of hard and dangerous work and one slip could be serious.”

“You can say that about any of the settlers out here, Doc” I chided gently. He smiled back and shook his head as he got on his horse. “How about you take it easy, eh?” I said, “It’s a tough route back now the spring thaws are here. Don’t want to have to fish you out of the river as you bob past, do I?”

“Ha! I promise my friend but with Frank here,” he patted the horses’ neck “I’m sure I’m in good hands. Or hooves.”

We said our final farewells and Beck turned to go only to stop again and look at me, “Eyes,” he said.

“Eyes?” I repeated, feigning mild confusion.

“In your dream, you describe their eyes well.” A question disguised as a statement.

“Do I? I hadn’t noticed,” I batted away, aiming for the long grass.

“Hmm,” was all he said but he fixed me hard in his gaze. I looked back into his eyes, eyes I recognised all too well. I should. They were mine. More than that, they had been my creator’s and now it would seem they were my brother’s too.

Mutations Mutations

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To be continued…
All the “Mutations” posts can be read here.

Links to other blogs and stories:
1) For more on the return of the Bloodwing, read Darien’s, Jeremiah’s, Qlippothic’s, Koen’s, Wren’s and Ama’s Blogs
2) For more on HBA and the Mason mythos, read the previous tales The Lost Journal, Lost & Found, and Far From Home.
3) For more on the death of the Chinese Boy, read about Creaky Gloom on this blog here and on the Steelhead Ning here.

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Lost & Found: Chapter 12 – Epilogue

The sun rose over a city much changed to the one it has set on only a few hours earlier. Its light danced off waters now clam again after the night’s tempest. It sparkled off golden pagodas and from windows in buildings that had seemingly risen from the sea’s stygian depths in the wild ferocity of the storm, its arrival marked with a swath of destruction across the city. Yet the felled trees and damaged houses were not the reason a very tired looking Lunar, once more a tall elf now that his wife had made whole the moon she had fractured, found himself stood in the morning chill and cursing softly in his native tongue.

“You are sure she is unharmed, Elle?” he asked, turning to his equally tired looking friend.

Eladrienne sighed as she looked up at the elf, soot and grime smeared her face and clothes and she was soul-tired, “Yes, Tensai has checked her over. Annechen has checked her over. I’ve seen her and she is fine, I promise.”

Lunar nodded and glanced over at Shanghai, the dream made real that should have heralded a joyous day, but even though Ama was unhurt how could he celebrate the birth of new life when this had happened? He looked down at the scorched ground, smoke curling up in patches here and there and sharp blades of twisted metal jutting up like broken teeth, and shook his head.
Destroying Mason Lab

Destroying Mason Lab

Destroying Mason Lab

JB Hancroft’s house had borne the brunt of it when a giant bolt the size of a horse had torn through the wall and now offered itself to the sky in a mocking gesture of defiance. Past that his eye could clearly see the damage done to Polymath by the cog Darien had installed as a door and his ears could quite clearly hear what Hotspur had to say on the matter in a series of curses that would make the sailors of Shanghai blush for shame.

Destroying Mason Lab

Behind him, on the other side of the road, two more mammoth cogs (a window? Another door? He didn’t know) was buried deep into the earth of Tanarian’s kennels.
Destroying Mason Lab

Thankfully no pooch had been hurt, although most had been scared half out of their minds judging by the howling and yelping, but Tanarian was livid and would take some serious placating. He looked up at Elle who, as if reading his mind, said “Leave her to me, hm?” and moved to intercept the angry woman.

How had so many casualties been avoided? How could so much damage been wrought and only… his train of thought was interrupted by a sharp prod to his right calf. And another. And a third.

“Ow!” he said hopped round.

“Elf!”

Lunar, rubbing his tender calf, looked down into the iron-clad death stare of a very seriously annoyed knee-high cat. “Dr Alter…”

Her green eyes flashed as she looked up at him, waving her paw dismissively. “Never mind all of the greetings and such,” she said with a hiss. “Look at my warehouse! Just look at it!”

Lunar looked up and across the water to where she pointed. Another of Darien’s massive bolts had smashed into her buildings and jammed itself into the side of her smoking chimney. “Ah… Yes… Well…”
Destroying Mason Labs

She breathed in deep and slow, determined to stay calm, “That is all, is it? Hmph, I see. Well, thank you Elf, thank you very much! This will not be forgotten…oh no, don’t think it will!” She poked him in the calf with her claw again before striding away, shouting orders at her minion Cato Quan.

“Such anger for such a sweet little puss cat,” Lunar sighed. Dr Alter stopped dead, the tips of her whiskers vibrating with fury, and without turning to face him hissed “Elf. I will, for the sake of your good lady wife, pretend I did not hear that and bid you good day, Sir. Good day!” She marched off with war in her heart as Lunar allowed the corner of his mouth to curl upwards in a sly smile.

“Lunar, you shouldn’t tease her so,” Elle was at back his shoulder watching the cat stride back to her damaged warehouse.

“I suppose…” was all Lunar said before turning back to the ruins of the once feared Mason Laboratory. Smoke rose from piles of melted and twisted metal which, even now hours after the explosion had ripped the building apart, were still hot to the touch. “How is he?”

Elle looked at her friend’s face, so much worry for others made him look sad, “Not good. Tensai did what she could and I’ve sent someone out to find Dr Beck, but he’s going to have to go to Caledon. There isn’t an inch of him that isn’t burnt. Even his horns are gone. I don’t know how he’s survived this long.”

“And any idea who the poor devil actually is?” Lunar asked.

“No one knows. Ama has confirmed he is not Jeremiah though, and if anyone should know it’s her.”

“I hate to think of him dying without his name, alone here with no one to mourn him.”

Elle reached out and touched the tall Elf’s arm, “Hey, he’s not dead yet. If anyone can help him it’s Tensai and the Caledon doctors. Don’t give up on him yet,” she said quietly.

Lunar looked down at her and smiled, “You’re right as usual, Elle. Ignore me, I’m just… well, look at this…” he looked at the wreckage strewn about them. “He’s alive and that’s all that matters. Tell me again what happened, will you?”

“Well,” she replied “According to Mother Superior and a host of other witnesses across town, Jeremiah, or rather the man claiming to be Jeremiah, spent the day travelling all over town on Genie’s horse. He’d been to see Annechen over at the Consulate in the afternoon and was seen after that meeting riding about in a seemingly upset state…”

“Upset? Why? What happened?”

“Annechen says he came to ask about his past and she told him he wasn’t Jeremiah. That was about the length of the meeting as she was late getting ready to leave with Fuzz.”

“Mmmm, I wish Fuzz were here now, that’s for sure. So how did our Jeremiah man take it?”

“Not well. He rode through the town talking to himself. Gia saw him on the bridge near Dragon’s Leap that night and he was out in the storm. She says he was heading back into town and he came back here. All of this is confirmed by Mother Superior and Ama.”

“Ama?” asked Lunar, surprised.

“She had spent the day following him.”

“Gods! How many people were watching and following this poor man? No wonder he was acting so oddly!”

“To be fair Lunar,” Elle said, “he was claiming to be Jeremiah Mason and came here to find his son. Both you and I know what happened last time they met, not that long ago and on this very spot. Fuzz had to keep an eye on him and no power in the world could have stopped Ama from helping her grandpa if it had have been him.”

“Yes… yes, you’re right of course. Carry on, Elle”, Lunar said softly, rubbing his eyes with his finger and thumb.

“Well,” continued Elle “Once here, well something must have snapped inside him because Ama says he went crazy.”

“Crazy? Crazy how?”

“Smashed the place up, she said. Smashed everything and was ranting about being Jeremiah. Ama tried to calm him down, but she says he was terrified and grabbed a bottle of stored lightning, presumably to defend himself, and then…” she looked at the smouldering crater and sighed.

“And how did he get out? Surely he didn’t manage to walk out in that state?” Lunar asked.

“No, Warren was passing by and ran in to save him…”

“Warren,” he interrupted, “you mean Velvel from Shanghai? What was he doing all the way over here?”

“Just taking a stroll, he says. Maxim was nearby too, JB was in his house and Maev was over at the kennels. They all got here just in time to see Warr… Velvel pull the body from the flames.”

“And Ama?”

“The blast blew her out of the door and into JB’s new shop. She was unhurt but out cold for a while and when she came too went to fetch Tensai, which is where you come in,” Elle finished.

“Hmmm,” was all Lunar said in reply. He wandered over to where the huge cog door of the lab, until a few hours ago, had been. Now it was buried deep in the walls of Hotspur’s tower.

“What’s wrong, Lunar?” Elle said, “I know that ‘Hmmm’ too well. You think there is more to it than a simple accident?”

“The explosion, no. Darien had enough dangerous things in there and Ama saw our poor would-be-Jeremiah smash the lab and grab the lightning bottle. But Velvel… no one saw him go in? And you said they saw him pulling the man out?”

“Yes,” replied Elle, “and Gia said something about him watching Jeremiah-man in the rain.”

“Who was in the rain? Jeremiah?” Lunar asked.

“No, well yes he was, but Gia said that Velvel was stood on the balcony in the rain and she is sure he was watching Jeremiah-man ride off. Lunar, you don’t think…”

“I don’t know what to think right now, Elle. Maybe our Jeremiah can tell us if he pulls through.”

“When he pulls through, you mean,” Elle reminded him.

As the sun rose higher into the sky, Lunar looked around at the rubble and ruins about him and sighed heavily, “I rather fear it’s much more of an ‘if’ Elle. Now, let’s see about this wreckage shall we?”

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In a nearby house, Ama and Tensai bent over the horribly burnt figure laid out on a spare bed. They had both done what they could, applying aloe extracts, wrapping him in gauze and keeping his blackened flesh damp, but his burns were the most severe either of them had ever seen. Tensai whispered reassurances to him like a mother to a child, telling him it would all be alright and he would be well again, but in her heart she knew it wouldn’t be alright and he would more than likely die very soon. “Try to rest,” she said as she listened to his ruined lungs wetly gurgling for air. “We’ll get you to Caledon soon, Jeremiah,” she added with a glance to Amarantis who gave a small nod of understanding.

The man on the bed, the man who had claimed to be Jeremiah Mason, jerked and went rigid for a second. Here it comes Tensai thought, and began to prepare a prayer. His lips, or where his lips used to be, opened a little and a wheeze of air escaped. She bowed her head at his dying breath and mourned as his soul moved to pass.

Except it didn’t. The wheeze continued. She looked back up and saw he was trying to lift his head from the pillow, his mouth trying to form words. Shocked she quickly moved closer until her ear was directly over his exposed teeth and she listened with all her being.

“nohhht jhere mhh iiia”

Her eyes grew wide! Not Jeremiah he had said!

“iiihhhhmmm hhhhedd hhrrrroo hhaannnt hhhaarrrmmmm” he sighed and fell back to the bed, his wheezing lungs refusing to give up…

The End?
All the “Lost & Found” posts can be read here.

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Links to other blogs and stories:
1) Tanarian alerted the Steelhead Ning here.
2) Dr Malegato alter reports on the damage to her warehouse here.
3) The cruelly exiled Dr Darien Mason detected the loss of his old lab here.
4) The hero of the hour, Velvel Danielovich explains how he pulled the burnt man out of the fire here.
5) Rhianon Jameson reports on the damage here.

Lost & Found: Chapter 10 – The Truth At Last

Jeremiah had stumbled through the dark doorway and down the stone steps looking like a man possessed. His clothes were soaked and dirty whilst his fur streamed water around him. He repeatedly swiped at his face, trying the claw the rain from his eyes so he could see. His face was terrible to behold, locked in a state of terrified panic with eyes wide and wild. In here, he thought, there must be something to prove I am me, there must be something that leads back to my family! His mind whirled in circles, demons inside him, murder in his heart, cruelty pumping through his veins. He was Jeremiah Mason! Jeremiah Sawyer Mason! Jeremiah Darien Mason!

Outside a storm raged, flinging itself at the city as though it were trying to tear it apart. Inside Jeremiah began to do the same to his son’s laboratory.

He tore open drawers, ripped off cupboard doors and upturned every box, crate and table he could find. Papers and books were trodden into the rain-soaked floor, glass syringes and medical instruments shattered and clattered beneath his boots. A lifetime of research and study was being torn apart in seconds. Blood seeped from his hands where sharp metal or broken glass had sliced into them, but still he continued. He began to shout, barking out demands that wherever it was hiding it had better come out now. Did it not know he was Jeremiah Darien! Mason! He was Jeremiah Mason! He was Mason Darien Demon Mason!

He tore at pipes, the room began to fill with steam and smoke. He kicked and smashed at flashing control panels. He lifted the operating table high above his head and flung it across the room into shelves of glass bottles. The air became thick with the acrid scent of chemicals, sparks crackling and jumping from exposed wires. He bellowed into them, he was Jeremiah Mason! He would not be denied! He was Jeremiah Killer! He would have answers. He spat that the glowing pentacle in the floor, He did not fear it. He did not fear it. He controlled it. He was Jeremiah Darien Demon Killer Mason!

“No, you are not.”

Her voice stopped him dead. Her tone firm, but gentle and with an odd harmony behind it, almost as though she spoke in several voices at once. He turned to face her and gasped. Her wings of translucent skin and clawed bone slowly folded behind her, their magnificence framing her extraordinary beauty. Her red skin and horns, the colour of cooling magma and texture of silk, almost glowed in the gloomy darkness. Beneath hair of pure white, eyes that seemed capable of boring through steel fixed upon him. She wiped the rain from her brow with the back of hand, rivulets of water ran from her dark leather clothing and folded wings. “I’ve been following you,” she said, “I saw you here with Lunar. I saw you with mama. I saw you with the poor horse. I saw you come in here, my home, and I saw you do this,” she gestured at the broken chaos scattered around them.

“I… I…” was all he could manage.

“You think you are my zaide, but you are not.”

“Zaide? Who… who is zaide?” he asked.

“My grandpapa, my zaide. You are not him. I can feel your bloodline and it is not his.”

“My bloodline? You can feel…?”

The girl took a step towards him, a petri dish cracked beneath her boot and Jeremiah took a step back away from her. “Please,” she said, ”I do not know who you are but I am willing to help you.”

He couldn’t stop looking at her eyes, her terrible, beautiful eyes. Her gaze sliced in to him. He could feel it stripping him away layer by layer, peeling him away to expose his core, to reduce him, to render him to nothing.

“NO! STAY BACK! I’M DANGEROUS! A KILL…” he was ranting as he reached out for nearest thing he could defend himself with. His hand, wet from the rain and soaked with a cocktail of chemicals, closed around the top of the large bottle of stored lightning.

A strange lucidity settled across his mind and a single second expanded into a lifetime as he watched his own death unfold. The bottle released its precious charge in one almighty arcing streak of white fire. The air screamed as a ball of plasma hotter than the sun roared into every corner of the small, enclosed room. For a brief moment he hung in the centre of a star before, with pain beyond measure, the world around him exploded into all-consuming fire and Jeremiah Mason, genius, father of geniuses, killer of Demons, repentant soul and unforgiven sinner died for the final time.

To Be Continued…
All the “Lost & Found” posts can be read here

Lost & Found: Chapter 9 – Adrift in Steelhead

The horse flicked an ear in irritation. The furry man hadn’t moved at all on the journey back to the scary old laboratory, just sat there mumbling to himself, so he’d decided to keep walking. Now, as a fine drizzle set in, he was regretting his decision. Oh to be in his mistress’ warm, dry barn with some hay to munch and no furry men making him miserable. He snorted loudly and swished his tail just to show how angry he was. The furry man didn’t seem to notice, just kept on mumbling.

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Jeremiah sat on the swaying horse oblivious to the world around him. The day wore on into its afternoon. Leaden clouds gathered overhead and began to empty themselves on the quiet city below. Despite the rain Jeremiah simply let the horse take him where it wanted as he tried to make sense of the last few hours. The news he was a killer, or rather a would-be-killer, had hit him hard and he was struggling to deal with the emotional turmoil it had left him with.

He rode past houses whose occupants were slowly returning to evening meals and warm fires. Those that saw him pass nudged each other and pointed – Steelhead had a gossip mill second to none and news of the stranger claiming to be Dr Mason’s father had travelled far in the few weeks since his appearance. Jeremiah saw none of them, his mind fitfully jumping around thoughts he was rapidly loosing control of, and he rode along talking to himself with eyes edged with confusion and panic.

“But who?… a demon… why?… must be… monster!…”

Cobbled roads gave way to wooden boards and then to dirt trails as he passed out of the city and into the rolling foothills that lay beneath a soaring mountain range. The rain was falling in earnest, soaking through Jeremiah’s clothes and matting his fur against cold skin. Still he did not seem to notice, he just sat the saddle and muttered half sentences through chattering teeth.

“Must be… me?… kill them?… must remember… can’t…”

The evening grew dark around him. Creatures of the night brave enough to venture out into the rain watched the strange figure babbling to itself. A peel of thunder and sudden bolt of lightning sent them scurrying for cover and Jeremiah looked up, blinking into the rain as he seemed to finally become aware of his surroundings. He looked at horse, slick with rain and shivering in the cold, “Where…?” he asked in a daze. The horse whinnied pitifully. “I… I’m sorry…” was he could say in reply. “To… to the lab,” the horse went rigid beneath him but he didn’t notice, “I have to see… I have to know… I have to know what kind of monster I am. I have to remember.”

****

As the clearly miserable horse finally set off back into town with Jeremiah swaying in its saddle, an equally miserable and wet, cold, uncomfortable nun emerged from her surveillance place in the undergrowth. She set off in clandestine pursuit and, although she would never admit it to Mother Superior, found herself having some distinctly uncharitable thoughts about her mark.

In the skies above them all huge, winged shape swooped through the violent clouds and arced down towards the Dragon’s Leap Saloon. It vanished behind the structure and a few moments later a tall, elegant woman emerged from behind the bar and into the quiet lounge. Seeing no sign of her barman, she called his name. A swarthy man in a bowler hat came in from the balcony that overlooked the valley and river below, rain running off him in thick rivulets, “What are you doing out there, Warren?” she asked. “Nothink, vatching the storm,” he replied in a heavy Russian accent. She peered past him into the night and, riding through the rain and across the bridge into the city, she saw the horned man claiming to be Darien’s father. She turned to Warren, but he was already across the room with his back to her wiping the bar in slow, deliberate circles.

To be continued (after a short break)…
All the “Lost & Found” posts can be read here

Lost & Found: Chapter 8 – Genealogy Part 2

Frau Lowey’s office was a large, efficient looking space with a rather fetching view over the street below to the Steelhead town hall. Jeremiah had heard from Genie that weekly town meetings took place there and he mentally made a note to try and attend at least one in the near future. Frau Lowey took her seat behind her spotless desk, only a few items of writing paraphernalia, a photo of a small boy and a single rose, decorated its surface. “Please,” she said indicating a well padded chair across the desk from her. Jeremiah sat down as Frau Lowey pressed a button on a small wood and brass box. Moments later a servant brought a tray of refreshments through and began to serve them, “Tea or coffee sir?” he was asked and surprised himself when he answered “Tea please, no sugar but milk and quite strong thank you,” without the slightest hesitation – he didn’t remember preferring tea, but clearly he did.

Frau Lowey broke him from his thoughts; “So what can I do for you, Herr – well, that is the rub is it not? Herr ‘what’ indeed?” she said as she sipped her own drink.

“May I take it you don’t agree with the others that I am Jeremiah Mason then, Frau Lowey?”

She looked at the, well, man for want of a better description, over the top of her steaming cup. His flame-red eyes and curving horns could easily have been Jeremiah’s. Or Darien’s or Marcus’ for that matter. Flaming eyes and horns reeked of the demon, but the rest? His strong features were softened by the white and tan fur that covered his face and were nothing like the many lives that had gone before. Steam and brass fused with bone and blood were the mark of the Masons and their curse. This creature was more animal in nature; magickal maybe, but not the twisted dark powers of Jeremiah or the others. She found herself wondering who in their right mind would claim to be part of that most troubled lineage. She removed her glasses and pinched the bridge of her nose between thumb and finger, “Sir,” she began as she placed her glasses back across her tired eyes “In all honestly I do not know who, or indeed what, you are – but I can, with the upmost of certainty, say you are not Jeremiah Mason.”

Jeremiah looked across the desk at her, blinking rapidly, “I see,” he was struggling to swallow down a wave of emotions he barely understood, “may… may I ask how you can be so sure?”

Frau Lowey placed her cup and saucer on the desk, gently cleared her throat and looked the stranger claiming to be Darien Mason’s clone father directly in the eyes, ”There are two factors that lead me to such a conclusion. The first is the simple fact that the Jaegers, the sheriff and Amarantis all tell me you are not him. To put it bluntly, your scent and aura are simply different. Whilst that in itself is more than enough to tell me you are not Jeremiah, I also have the advantage of knowing a little of Jeremiah’s nature due to the simple fact that in one incarnation he – or as you would have it, you – tried to kill me and several of my friends. He did not succeed.” A small, tight smile played across her lips.

Jeremiah’s mouth fell open and he felt the bone china cup slip from his fingers to crash and shatter on the floor.

“Hmm, luckily that wasn’t one of the consulate’s best sets,” Frau Lowey said as the same servant who had brought the drinks returned to clean up the mess at his feet. “I’m sorry to tell you in such a blunt fashion,” Frau Lowey was looking at her visitor again “but as I am sure you are not Jeremiah…”

“Kill you?” he interrupted.

“Yes,” she replied, her voice even and calm.

“But why?”

“I am afraid that is a long story…” she was interrupted by a small chime from her pocket watch. She took it out and gave a small tut, “..one that will need to wait in the telling. I am sorry, you really have called at a very busy time. Perhaps you could return again in a few days and we can discuss any other questions you may have…” she was already stood up and moving to the door.

Jeremiah felt his legs working but without his conscious effort. They led him downstairs and to the front door. Frau Lowey talked to him but he heard nothing. He walked past the sniggering guard and along the path to his horse. In a daze he climbed into the saddle and just sat there.

The confused horse stood for a few minutes before slowly trotting off to the last place the furry man had visited, the scary old lab…

************

To be continued…
All the “Lost & Found” posts can be read here.

Lost & Found: Chapter 7 – Meeting Frau Lowey

The horse plodded his charge through the city’s streets and alleyways in silence. A strange mood had come over the furry man since he had come out of the scary building. The horse wasn’t surprised, that place made all the animals nervous. He’d never met a single animal that had been inside. Sure some said they had but he knew full well were lying and he’d never met one, not one who’d actually been in and come out again – the whole place smelt of a strange, wrong sort of death. A shudder ran down his spine and he tried to put it from his mind as he trotted on to the Consulate, there all he to worry about was the sharptooths who eyed his sort hungrily. He wondered how they would take to the furry man and found himself snorting in amusement.

****

As he left his son’s laboratory behind, Jeremiah settled into the rhythm of the horse beneath him and allowed his mind to drift, only the occasional shudder or snort from his steed pulling him from his thoughts. He was slowly gathering himself again, repairing the fragile links undone by his time in the lab, and by the time his mount stopped outside the Consulate he was once more in charge of his volatile emotions and feeling, if not normal, then at least a little better.

The Europa Consulate was an impressively austere block of stone and columns set in its own formal grounds. The horse trotted up to the gate but steadfastly refused to enter, eyeing the Jaeger guard with more than a little nervousness. Jeremiah hopped down and walked the short distance to the door which was guarded by a single Jaeger who stared at him with casual disdain. “Vat hyu vant here? Ve not vant heny pegs or lucky hever!”

“I’m here to see Frau Lowey,” Jeremiah replied ignoring the insult, “please be so kind as to tell her Dr Jeremiah Mason is here and would very much like to speak with her.”

The green-skinned guard leered at the upright antelope but remembered well the last broom handle the Frau had broken across his back for being rude to a guest. “Hyu vait here, vurry man,” he said and slipped inside for a moment before coming back as if nothing had happened and pointedly stared off into the distance. Jeremiah looked around, unsure what to do next. He cleared his throat deliberately. The guard ignored him and began to quietly whistle an off key tune to himself. Jeremiah coughed again. “Huh? Hyu schtill here? Hwy hyu not gone hin, bud?” the guard said at last.

“But you never said anything,” Jeremiah said, exasperation clear in his voice.

The Jaeger gave him a toothy grin, all malice and self-satisfaction, “Hy didn’t? Zorry bub, must have schlipped my mind, huh? Hyu’ll be kheeping ze Frau vaiting und sche hates dat, bub.”

Jeremiah shot a furious glare at the creature and pushed passed to enter the Consulate. As he strode angrily through the door, he almost knocked over a women coming the opposite way.

“Oh! I’m sorry…” he stammered but the woman cut him off, “Sir!” her voice was exquisite steel “Please be a little more careful, this is not a race track after all!” She straightened her small, round glasses and patted her hair to ensure the bun had not come loose. Jeremiah proffered another apology and looked down at the handsome woman, “Frau Lowey?” he asked.

“Yes, and I can take it you are the man claiming to be one Jeremiah Mason?”

Jeremiah smarted, “Madam, I am Jeremiah Mason, I do not claim to be him.”

Frau Lowey looked the tall figure in front of her up and down, “Hmm. Please follow me to my office. We can talk more there rather than on the steps like this,” and she turned on her heel and headed up the stairs.

To be continued…
All the “Lost & Found” posts can be read here