The Jackal

The Waking Time
by
Rob
With Special Thanks to Mac

You wouldn't think that I would need to sleep. Would you? After all I'm now a super powered being in the body of a god-like alien. Who'd think that I'd have to get some shut eye? Not me, I can tell you. I soon discovered my error.
It was a day after I returned from space after taking care of the Czebhinn dreadnaught with Fairchild's help. I should have rested then. My body was telling me to take it easy but I ignored it. It wasn't that I was feeling any physical effects of my exertions. The fact was I felt great but I didn't think about the emotional and mental stress I had gone through. After worrying about myself, the fate of the world and a certain gorgeous blond Velorian I didn't even take time to breathe a sigh of relief. No, I had work piling up on my desk at the museum that needed my attention.
So, after saying goodbye to Fairchild I spent the next sixteen straight hours working. When my desk was cleared I went back to my ship to check up on LahrRinda and ThenEtte. When I finally got back to my place it was eight AM and I had to go back to work. Melythra was in the kitchen sipping her morning coffee when I arrived home.
"How are you doing?" I asked.
"I am well," she said with that cool manner of hers.
"Okay," I said rejecting the notion of a quick cup of coffee. "I'm off to the museum. Let me know if you need anything."
Melythra looked up from her java and her whole attitude changed in that split second. Gone was that coldly efficient Companion that I was getting used to. In her place was a very concerned woman. She stood and placed one of her cool soft hands on my forearm.
"Ross," she said, "you should not proceed to your place of employment this day. Though you do not know it you have become fatigued and are in need of rest."
At first I was too stunned to reply. I mean this was Melythra after all. Emotion doesn't come easy for her, if at all. So, the last thing I expected to hear from her was genuine concern but I'd just heard it from her own lips.
"Are you kidding Melythra? I feel just fine. This body of mine is ready go."
"I have failed," she said sitting down once more.
I knelt next to my companion and put my arm around her shoulder. "Hey. Who said you failed? You just point them out to me and I'll beat them up for you."
My attempt at levity wasn't a great success but at least it got her to stop thinking of herself as a failure. Melythra turned to look at me and took my head in her hands.
"It is not your body that I am speaking of Ross," she said earnestly. "It is your spirit. You must rest yourself in order to become completely whole again."
"Honestly Melythra, I feel just great. I just need to wrap up a few details at the office. It won't take long. Then I'll come back home and rest. I promise."
"If you are whole, as you say, then why have you not noticed that you still wear your Wanderer countenance?"
"What!"
It was then that I finally noticed that I was still sporting my jackal's head. This was really unusual because around my place I like to wear my human head just in case anyone is peeking in the windows. Yet, here I was walking around the kitchen and. . . Hell! I'd even gone out and gotten the morning paper like this and hadn't even noticed. Maybe there was something to this resting of the spirit business after all.
"So, you really think I need to take a nap huh?"
"Yes Ross, I believe it to be imperative," she replied.
There was a look on Melythra's face when she said that which made me itch to take a peek inside her head. I didn't because it wouldn't be right and because I didn't want Melythra to catch me poking around in there. I'd been upset with her for doing that to me and I didn't want to be exposed as a hypocrite.
"Well, you are the companion and Horus did say that you were here to help and advise me. So, advise away Oh Wise and Beauteous One."
Damn if Melythra didn't smile at that one. It only lasted for a second but I definitely saw it. I guess that I was making progress with her after all.
"And will you heed my advise Oh Chosen One," she said with a hint of a tinkle in her eye.
"You have the word of a Wanderer on that."
Melythra rose and took my large hand in hers. "Come," she said tugging me to my feet. She led my to my bedroom where she turned down the blankets and drew the shades. When I sat on the bed I closed my eyes about to switch heads but Melythra put her hand on my shoulder to stop me.
"No," she said. "Rest as you are now."
It sounded a little silly to me but I'd promised to follow her advise. So, I just laid back and closed my eyes. I'd never actually slept while completely a Wanderer and thought that it might prove interesting. A few seconds after I lay down I felt the bed shift as extra weight was added. I looked over to see Melythra sitting next to me. She tried to look at me reassuringly but I could tell that she was nervous about being this close, this intimate with me.
"Melythra," I said trying to ease her fears, "I'm a big boy now. You don't have to stay with me."
"It is my duty as the Companion," she said.
"It's always about duty," I said with a sigh, to which she just nodded. "Okay, stay. If that's what you feel you have to do. I won't order you to leave. I promise that I won't get frisky."
I meant the last part as a joke but knew that it was out of place the moment that it left my lips. I wanted to try and help this intelligent and yet naive woman understand where I stood in all this craziness. Jokes didn't seem to be working so I decided on a little honesty.
I took Melythra's hand in mine and said, "I want you to understand what a great help you are to me. I don't think I could have kept my sanity without you to support and guide me. I know that you're going to say that you're just doing you're duty as a Companion but it means more than that to me and so do you. You're a beautiful, intelligent, and compassionate woman Melythra and you're completely selfless. That has to stop. I want, no, need you to be the woman that you are not the Companion that you think you should be. Like the business about offering to have sex with me when you weren't truly interested yourself. Fairchild told me that you were hurt a long time ago. She wouldn't go into details but I think that I understand some of it. What you did was very considerate but also very foolish. If I'd taken you up on your offer I might very well have hurt you emotionally. We're together for the long haul, you and I, and we have to be able to count on one another. That means that you'll have to be able to tell me how you really feel about things not just say what you think I want to hear. Don't worry about me getting angry at you. That might happen now and again but I'll get over it and we'll be better off in the long run. Do you think you can do that?"
Melythra looked into my obsidian eyes trying to read my expression. I opened my mind completely to her so that she'd know that I was being completely honest with her. I didn't try to read hers because I was still not that comfortable with our link. After a couple of minutes she came to a decision.
"What you have told me," she began, "goes against all that I thought my life would become when I agreed to be the Companion. When I told the Wanderers that I would abide with the Chosen until the Time I believed that it would be my last choice. I trained myself to accept this and now that you ask that I go against it I find that it is very difficult. I do not know if I am still able. All I know is that I shall try."
"That's all I was hoping for."
"The Great One spoke the truth when he said that you were truly worthy of the honor."
"I don't know about that Melythra. I can only hope to do my best, with your help."
"You shall have it Ross," she said squeezing my hand.
"Okay, now back to the issue at hand. You don't have to stay with me. If you want to go and do something else, go ahead. I promise that I'll take my nap."
"I should like to remain if that would please you?"
"Yes Melythra, it would."
"Then that pleases me," she said taking a few pillows and propping herself against the headboard.
Melythra took my large canine head in her gentle hands and cradled it as if I were a small child. Not that I minded, not in the least. I lay head back with my Companion's lap and torso as my pillow and closed my eyes. And did not fall asleep. I lay there for about ten minutes wide awake before I began to panic. I was suddenly afraid that I'd never be able to sleep again. That was when Melythra came to the rescue.
"Relax," she said directly to my mind, "let yourself go. Let your spirit float free and relax."
This helped calm me down but would not have done the trick. Melythra didn't stop there, however. Her long delicate fingers began to gently massage my temples in rhythmic circles. That did it. I was able to let myself go and finally do what my spirit was screaming at me to do, sleep. The thing was I not only slept but I dreamt as well.
It wasn't so much a dream as a nightmare. The moment that it began I wanted to wake up but I couldn't. I had to watch horrified as the entire nightmare unfolded before me. Yet, even as I was caught up in the events of my nightmare I knew that there was something different. This was no ordinary nightmare of that I was certain. And as it continued the surer I became that there was something more at work. When it was done and I woke I was sure that this was no ordinary dream. It was a prophecy.
The instant that I opened my eyes Melythra knew that something had happened to me. She waited patiently while I collected my thoughts. It took a couple of minutes but finally I thought I understood some of what had just happened to me.
"What has occurred?" she asked when I sat up.
"I had a dream. But it was more than that."
"Can you describe what happened?"
"Not really. I had a dream, a nightmare, but it was more than that. And now, it's like there's something that I have to do. I feel it in my bones or whatever I have now."
"The Call," Melythra whispered.
"That's it exactly," I shouted. "What do you know about it?"
"Not very much I am afraid," admitted Melythra. "The Call is a very important and private part of the Wanderers existence. What I do know is that once The Call had been given it must be answered."
"I sort of figured that out myself," I said my body itching to get going. "I don't think that I could stop myself if I wanted to."
"When will you return?"
"I have no idea."
Melythra didn't say goodbye. Once again she was the all business Companion that I was so used to. I didn't say anything either. By now my entire being was screaming at me to get moving and I was having trouble thinking.
My first stop was the moon. I needed a spot where I could concentrate without interruptions. When I arrived I sat on a boulder and closed my eyes. Instantly I focused on my nightmare. The more I thought about it the deeper I drew within myself. Soon, I was oblivious to my surroundings and I could have been in Central Park for all it mattered to me. As I drew ever deeper within myself I let my natural Wanderer instincts take control. I don't know how I traveled as it happened without conscious thought. It just happened. One moment I was deep within myself and the next I was flowing down a tunnel of multicolored light.
When I reached the end of the tunnel my feet touched solid ground and my knees buckled. I was more tired than I'd ever been since I got my jackal's head. Slowly I sat down while my body replenished itself. It took almost five minutes before I had enough energy to open my eyes.
The first thing I saw was the large moon following a smaller one across the night sky. The next thing was the large dun brown spider like creature about the size of a terrier three feet away from me. He, she, or it was sitting on a large rock studying the night sky and hadn't noticed my arrival. I was about to cough lightly to announce my presence but remembered my jackal's head. I didn't know how the alien would react to my Wanderer head. So, before I revealed myself I switched heads.
"Hi there," I said as pleasantly as I could.
The little alien's head jerked toward me and its head began to bob up and down. It stood up and looked like it was about to bolt.
"Oh my!" the alien said in understandable but high pitched English. "My oh my oh my." It looked closely at me and then surprisingly settled down. "You're not Arion," it said and I shook my head. "Are you Terran?"
"Sort of," I replied.
"How did you arrive?"
"I just popped in."
"But . . ."
"I'm sure that you've got a lot of questions," I said interrupting the outburst which was coming. "But maybe we should get the introductions out of the way. I'm Ross Archer."
"Yes, yes of course, how rude of me. Your sudden appearance startled me. I am Ariastranodaea. Welcome to Tetra sir."
"Thank you Aria . . . Arias. Ah, you wouldn't mind if I called you Ariadne, would you?"
"No, I do not mind in the least sir Ross."
I thought about mentioning the 'sir' thing but didn't want to get sidetracked. Instead I said, "So, this planet is called Tetra."
"Yes sir Ross."
"It wouldn't have a Velorian Protector would it?"
"Of course, that would be Mistress Lillith," the little Tetrite said excitedly. "But of course you would know that. Her sister is the Protector of Terra after all."
This last bombshell sent my head spinning. I didn't know that Fairchild had a sister and I think she would have mentioned it, in passing at least. Yet, Ariadne was so certain that I couldn't doubt that she was telling me the truth as she knew it. Something had to be wrong here and I had a nagging feeling in my gut what it was.
"Oh right, her sister," I said hoping that I would get some more information. "That would be . . ."
"Mistress Kara, whom the Terrans call SuperFemme."
"Oh boy!" I said slumping to the ground.
"Is something wrong sir Ross," said the Tetrite clearly concerned about my well being. "Should I summon assistance?"
"No, I'll be fine. I just traveled a wee bit further than I'd planned."
"Excuse me sir Ross but I do not understand. Did you not come by spaceship?"
"Not exactly," I said wondering just how much I could tell her, at least I think Ariadne was a her. I looked again at that strange almost golden energy signature she had and let my instincts guide me. "You see the plain fact is that I don't need a spaceship or any other mechanical device to travel."
Now the little Tetrite was looking at me with avid curiosity. She didn't question what I'd said even though she clearly didn't not comprehend it either. The fact was I didn't fully comprehend how I'd arrived on Tetra but I was going to give an explanation my best shot.
"Okay," I said clearing my throat, "this may sound a little strange and you may not understand it all. But that's all right because I don't and I did it. I felt drawn here. So, I sort of pulled myself inside myself and followed the pull. And when I opened my eyes I was on Tetra."
Ariadne digested this information for a moment before she spoke. "You're not Terran sir Ross. You only appear Terran. Is that correct?"
"Yup, that's the long and the short of it. Although, I was once very human."
"May I ask what species you are now?"
"I'm a Wanderer."
"Hmmm, strange," Ariadne mused. " I have never heard of a race called Wanderers."
This only served to confirm my suspicions and I said, "I wouldn't expect that you had. I don't think they exist in this dimension."
"Oh my!" said an excited Ariadne. "You are truly from another dimension."
"That's the way it looks to me."
"Amazing! There are so many things I should like to learn from you. What your Terra is like? What the people there do and think?"
I could tell from the enthusiastic way that Ariadne was speaking that if I let her she would interrogate me all night. While there was nothing more that I'd like to have done I did come here for a reason. I was going to have to get on with it before I was completely sidetracked.
"I'd really like to meet your Protector," I said interrupting Ariadne's litany of questions. "Why don't we talk on the way."
"An excellent suggestion sir Ross. I shall lead. It is not that far, fifteen perhaps twenty Terran miles from our present location."
"Sounds like a plan to me. Let's go."
Ariadne may not have been able to set a very fast pace but she seemed tireless and so, we made good progress. My reason for being on Tetra was important of that I was certain. I thought I had time, however, and so, I didn't push the pace or put on my jackal's head to travel even faster. Oh well, I guess everyone is entitled to one mistake as long as it's not a big one.
As we walked I tried to answer Ariadne's questions. Her first was why I had chosen that particular name for her. Oh, by the way in case you're wondering Ariadne was female. When I told her about the myth of Ariadne and Theseus this led to a long and probing talk about Greek mythology with comparisons to Norse, Celtic, Summerian, and of course Egyptian.
I was just finishing reciting a large passage from the Book of the Dead as the sun began to rise. What I saw turned my blood cold. Just ahead of the rising sun were three moons each slightly larger than the other in a perfect triangular pattern just on the horizon. It was straight out of my dream.
"Ariadne," I said interrupting another question, "is that formation of moons common or unique?"
"Oh, why it's quite rare sir Ross. Such a formation only occurs every two years."
"Damn!" I cursed not even realizing that I'd just used the Voice. "Damn, damn, damn. How could I be so stupid!"
"What is the matter sir Ross?" asked a concerned Ariadne.
"Your Protector, Lillith, is in grave danger. How far is it to her home?"
"Approximately five miles."
"Too far," I said preparing to switch and fly the rest of the way. I had just closed my eyes when I remembered something. "Ariadne, you said your people are telepathic."
"That is correct."
"Could your give me an image of where we're going, right down to the last detail."
"Certainly."
"Ok, in a second I'll need you to do just that. But first I'll have to change into my true form and I'll need you not to get frightened by it."
"I shall endeavor to do my utmost."
"Great," I said just before making the switch.
Ariadne didn't run. She didn't even twitch. She just stared at me with overpowering curiosity. I would have congratulated her because she did better than everyone else had when they first saw my jackal's head. Hell, she did better than me when I first saw myself but I didn't have the time. I knelt next to her and laid my hand on one of her delicate legs.
"Ok, show me."
Ariadne didn't say anything but sensing my urgency set right to work. Within a fraction of a second we were both enveloped in a warm golden glow which she generated. The moment it surrounded me I was there. I could see the habitat the Tetrites had built for Lillith and her mate. I could hear the various sounds from Lillith's rich melodious voice to the yips and barks of an immense blue dog and I even experienced the scents which encompassed the area. The whole experience took less than ten seconds and when it was done and I rose to my feet I turned toward the north toward the dwelling.
"I have to go," I told Ariadne. "I just hope I'm in time."
"Time to do what sir Ross?"
"Prevent a cosmic disaster," I replied just before I jumped.
I translocated myself to a small knoll just a hundred yards from the habitat. My jet black eyes turned toward it and right there was the ultimate case of dejavous. My nightmare had come to life right before my very eyes. In the center of a group of eight Arion Primes was an eight foot high polished metal X and strapped to the X was a naked blond vision. It could only be this planet's protector Lillith. She was bound to the Arion device by bands of green and blue energy and around her waist was a length of gold chain with links an inch thick. Clearly these guys were taking no chances with this lady. Yet, as desperate as Lillith's situation was it was not my primary concern.
Lying on the ground directly in front of Lillith was her mate, whom Ariadne told me was William. He had been placed on a slab of Vendorian steel with another sheet of the substance four times thicker on top of him. On top of this was a large box. I knew from my nightmare that this was a gravity generator which could increase the weight on William's chest to unbelievable amounts. I'd read about the Salem witch trials and knew exactly what was happening to William. He was undergoing a high tech pressing. Eventually, he would succumb to the weight on his chest and he would die. When that happened Lillith would lose her will to live and the cosmos would suffer because of that. This is why I had to come, to stop a tragedy of untold significance and there was no time like the present.
"Hey there," I shouted out to get everyone's attention, "I seem to be lost. Could anyone direct me to the nearest tourist information booth."
As I was speaking I walked slowly down the knoll toward the Arions and their prisoners. Everyone was pretty stunned by my appearance and the use of the Voice which worked out perfectly for me. I wanted to get as close as possible before I had to act. If not, William could end up looking like strawberry jam. Just as I reached the edge of the circle of Arions they took their first offensive move. They raised their weapons and leveled them on me.
"Hey," I said raising my hands and trying to look as innocent as I could with a jackal's head, "no need to get hostile. I didn't realize this was a private do. I just wanted to get a look at the party favors."
A big stocky Prime stepped forward and looked right into my chest. Damn, it can be fun being 6'10" sometimes. He was trying to intimidate me and doing a lousy job of it. Finally he had to crane his neck in order to look me in the eye.
"Who are you?" he pat at me. "And why do you speak English."
"Oh, I'm just a passerby," I said giving him a really toothy grin. "And as to why I speak English. Well, you wouldn't understand my native language shorty. So I chose this one."
This guy was totally flabbergasted and didn't know how to respond. Arions no matter what dimension they're from just can't handle flippancy. It doesn't compute with their jack booted mentality. The rest of the Primes with him were just as stunned. So I decided to push my luck as far as it would go.
"Wow!" I exclaimed pushing past the Prime. "Whose the babe? You wouldn't think she'd be into bondage but then again it takes all types. So boys and girls when do the whips and candle wax come out?"
As I was talking I kept walking toward Lillith. I tell you if looks could kill I'd have been a charcoal briquet from the glance she shot toward me. I wanted to let her know that I was on her side but I couldn't because one of the Arions might see me. When I was a dozen feet away from Lillith a female with more guts than her leader spoke up.
"Leave now alien," she demanded with just a hint of a quaver in her voice.
Damn, I really must have spooked them. Arions don't give warnings. They're the poster children for the shoot first ask questions later policy.
"Sweetheart, don't get your knickers in a twist," I said still advancing on Lillith. "I just want to know when the fun's going to start. So which one of you guys has the nipple clamps?"
By the time I was done speaking I was just a couple feet from Lillith. She looked like she could bite a nail in two. Her chest expanded and her cheeks contracted as she prepared to hock a super powered loogy at me. It was then that I winked at her. The look on her face as she swallowed her saliva was priceless.
"Damn but your a big gal, " I said leering at her chest and at the same time inching my right fist toward her midriff. "Only seen one set bigger. Damn pretty. Course, I'm a butt man myself. Say shorty, you'd better hope this contraption tilts otherwise you're gonna need a box to stand on so you can have some fun."
While I was speaking my fist got steadily closer. I stopped when it was about a foot away. My fingers tensed and a foot long force knife shot out and punched a neat little hole in one of the gold links. I took a quick glance to see that there was just a fraction of inch holding the heavy gold chain around Lillith's waist. Just as I looked back at her face with its confused look I heard the sound of energy weapons charging.
"Enough!" shouted the Prime leader.
"You got that right buster," I said spinning on my heal. "Time to rock and roll."
Twin force bolts shot from my eyes and hit the gravity generator at an oblique angle. It was blasted off the Vendorian steel sheet and struck an unfortunate Arion square in the face. The large metallic cube disintegrated in a spray of shrapnel and sparks. The Prime howled and clutched his face but I knew that she was more stunned than injured.
Things got a little crazy after that. The entire area dissolved in a cascade of disruptor fire. Most was aimed at a recovering William but I jumped forward and took most of the shots. I had just enough time to kick the steel plate off him before I began returning fire. I kept the Arions moving so much that they didn't even think about Lillith. They quickly realized their mistake when the gold chain parted under its own weight and she was able to throw her entire strength at the energy bonds which confined her. Over the sound of crackling energy I heard the triumphant cry and knew that Lillith was free.
William had fully recovered by this time and the Arions didn't stand a chance. I did what I could and so did William but truth be told we were almost superfluous. Lillith was magnificent. She was a Protector possessed. Her gloriously nude body flashed from Arion to Arion. The air rang with the sound of her supersonic blows and I'll never forget one of her kicks in particular. It caught the charging Prime leader right between the eyes. He was picked off his feet and went somersaulting into the early morning sky.
As soon as the fight was over and the last Prime disposed of Lillith swooped down out of the early morning sky and landed at William's side. They embraced fiercely as if neither one would let go of the other. I couldn't see William's face from where I stood but I could see Lillith's clearly. There was such a look of love and devotion on her face that it brought a lump to my doggy throat. Not for the first time I found myself wishing that I had someone who would look at me like that. For the very first time since I had had my nightmare I was thoroughly convinced that my subsequent actions were correct.
The lovers reunion was interrupted by the arrival of a five legged Tetrite. The new arrival was dancing with joy hopping from one side to the other but quickly settled down when he realized that neither William not Lillith even noticed his arrival. So, he settled back and waited and so did I. When they finally relaxed their embrace I turned my hypersensitive ears toward the group. So, I'm a snoop, sue me.
"Lillith, are you all right?" William asked.
"I am well my love, now that you are safe. How are you feeling?"
"Peachy, all things considered. Though I wouldn't have been if whoever and whatever that guy is hadn't stepped in when he did."
"Yes sir," the Tetrite chimed in. "His appearance was most fortuitous."
"You can say that again Phil."
"Very good sir. His appearance . . ."
"Phil."
"Yes, sir?"
"That was an expression."
"Indeed sir. I shall endeavor to remember it in the future."
"Anyone injured Phil?" William asked deftly switching the topic.
"No sir. The Arions concentrated all their efforts upon yourself and the Mistress and ignored everyone else."
"Lillith."
"Yes, Will'm."
"Have you ever seen or heard about anyone like him?"
"No."
"Phil?"
"I am certain that no Tetrite has ever heard the thoughts of such a being."
"I guess we'll have to ask then. Let's go say hello to our mysterious benefactor."
The trio turned and slowly walked toward me. I stood ramrod straight arms folded across my chest trying not to look intimidating and failing miserably. When they stopped William was the first to speak.
"Hi, I'm William and this is Lillith and Phil."
"I know," I said struggling to keep the pomposity out of my voice. "My name's Ross. And I like to apologize for the things that I said. It was the best I could come up with on short notice."
"There is no need for apologies," said Lillith. "Your actions spoke for you. You have my gratitude for freeing me and my love."
"That goes double for me," said William.
"I'm just glad that I could help out."
"Ross huh. That's a pretty pedestrian name, if you don't mind me saying so."
"Well, I used to be a pretty pedestrian kind of guy," I said realizing that I was eventually going to have to explain my origin to them. Maybe I should get some pamphlets printed so I could hand them out instead.
I decided that the way this conversation was going I might as well do in a form that I found more comfortable. So I said, "This is how I used to be." I switched to my human head and got the standard assortment of oohs and aahs and holy shits. When the noise settled down I let them have the Readers Digest version of my origin.
"I do not recognize your race," said Lillith after I was done. "Where are you from?"
"The fact is," I replied, "that I'm a Wanderer. And the reason you don't recognize me is that I'm not from this dimension."
I'll say this for them. They all took the news in stride but then again they could hardly deny the evidence in front of their eyes. Plus, there was the fact that they probably deal with weirdness on a daily basis.
"So," said William, "how'd you know to come here?"
"I saw it in a vision."
"Okay fine," he said shaking his head.
"Excuse me sir," said Phil speaking to me at last, "but have you crossed the dimensional boundaries many times."
"Nope, first time."
"Then how will you return home?" asked a concerned Lillith.
"It shouldn't be that hard," I said hoping that my guess was right. "I should have some help. Isn't that right?"
They were startled by the sound of the Voice. Phil even stepped behind Lillith's long legs. What happened next, however, shocked them. From nowhere a rich feminine voice began chuckling. Heads began searching for the source of the voice and Lillith's bright blue eyes shone intensely as she too tried to discover where the laughter was coming from.
"Wisely reasoned my brother," the disembodied voice said when it ceased laughing. "When did thou begin to suspect?"
"Oh, pretty much from the beginning. I had the feeling that I had company when I was dreaming. You came along for the ride, didn't you?"
"Not merely myself but all thy brothers and sisters knew that the Waking Time had come upon thee and heard the Call it placed upon thee."
My sister's voice was still coming from nowhere and everywhere and the effect it was having on the others was beginning to show. Phil was spinning in circles trying to locate the source. William was looking confused and a little bug eyed and Lillith was going to start suffering eyestrain if she didn't stop searching soon.
"Psst," I said under my breath, "you might consider putting in an appearance here. You're kinda scaring the straights sis."
The heat haze effect that I was so used to by now appeared to my right. It quickly coalesced into a 6'6" woman with the head of a falcon. She was dressed much as Melythra had been when I first met her, only now the fabric seemed to glow from within. I may not have met her before but I would have been a lousy Egyptologist if I hadn't recognized her. This was Isis in the flesh.
She faced the trio and bowing low said, "Thou has my humblest apologies for any distress which my appearance may have caused thee. My purpose was not to cause alarm but to bring enjoyment to my dear brother."
All of them, even Lillith, were too startled by Isis' words to speak at all. Actually, so was I and I thought I was immune. She seemed pleased with their nods of acceptance and everything was smoothed over.
While we both waited for everyone to recover their composure Isis turned toward me. There was the warmest smile I'd ever seen on her face and it filled me with such a feeling of love and acceptance. It was then that I realized that I wasn't in trouble for breaking the Wanderers non involvement policy.
"So, I did good huh," I said grinning like an idiot.
Isis turned and taking my hands in hers said, "Verily my brother. Know that thy brothers and sisters are most pleased with what thou hast wrought this day."
"That's a load off my mind. But I thought . . ."
"Nay my brother," she said caressing my cheek with a feather touch. "For look thou the Waking Time is precious to us when that which was, is, or may be is revealed unto us. Tis then that the Call may come and when it is given it must be heeded."
"Excuse me," said William. "But I don't understand any of this. What's this 'Waking Time' and 'Call' business?"
"I'd like to know that as well," said Lillith.
"I must admit," said Phil, "that I too am most curious."
Isis looked at me and I nodded. After what had just happened I felt that they deserved to know what was going on, or as much of it as they could understand anyway.
"Very well. Look thou the Waking Time occurs when I and my people take the rest which our spirits crave. Then are we completely free to commune with the universe."
"You speak with the universe," said Lillith in an awed hush.
"As do thee my child, as do all sentient beings. Thou are still too young to hear what it says to thee. The Gentle Ones," she said looking at Phil, "listen more clearly than dost thee and thine though their understanding is limited. Yet, in time they shall hear more of that which the universe wishes them to hear."
Isis walked forward and knelt in front of a trembling Phil. She placed both her hands on his fuzzy face and a shiver of pure joy shot throughout his body.
"Never fear gentle Phil," she said caressing his furry face, "for though anger and violence doth touch thee it hath no place in thy spirit."
"Oh my goodness," said Phil when Isis got to her feet.
"Same here Phil," William said.
"What about the 'Call'?" asked Lillith.
"The Call is a cry for succor from the universe. For there is a purpose to all things though it is not writ in stone. When the purpose of the universe is threatened it calls to one of us so that we might redress the balance."
"And it called you," William said looking at me.
"Yup."
"Why now?" Lillith asked. "Will'm and I have faced danger before but no one ever appeared before."
Isis looked at me again and again I nodded. I couldn't see any reason why they shouldn't know the truth. My sister must have agreed with me because she continued.
"Afore now thy demise was never assured. Yet, had not my brother intervened thy heart's reason would surely have perished and thus robbed thee of thy will to live. Then would thy end be a surety. That the universe could not allow."
"I always knew that you were special Lillith," said a proud William. "Now, we have proof."
"Thy pride does thee credit William. Yet, it is misplaced. Thy beloved is but the vessel not the fruition."
I knew precisely what Isis meant but then again I knew it before she said anything. After all I was the one who got the Call and had the inside track. Lillith, William and Phil weren't so fortunate. I think my sister's last statement confused them more than anything else that had happened up to that point. It was up to yours truly to act as interpreter.
"Sorry 'bout that," I said. "My new family speaks cryptic fluently. It's the way they are. Allow me to explain. I had to save you Lillith because if you died then your child, your daughter, would never be born."
"You know about our child?" said Lillith.
"Yes, I knew about her before I woke up. I can see her right this second."
"How?" asked William.
"I can read a person's energy signature, their aura. Your daughter's is one of the brightest I've seen so far."
"Oh Will'm, did you hear that."
"I sure did sweetheart."
"How I wish that I could see her as you do."
I looked at Isis. The question was in my eyes and didn't need to be spoken aloud. She nodded at me and I knew what to do.
"Give me your hands both of you" I said switching back to my jackal's head. When they had I said, "Close your eyes."
Slowly I established the link to them. The moment that it was firmly established I created the image of Lillith in my mind and shared it with them.
"Will'm, do you see it?"
"Yes, I do."
"Isn't it beautiful?"
"The most beautiful thing I've ever seen Lillith."
I keep the link going for a couple minutes so that they could both fix it firmly in their minds. When I was sure that they would always remember I slowly dissolved our bond. When it was gone William removed his hand from mine but Lillith kept hers right where it was. She looked at me with tears of joy in her eyes.
"I shall never forget this moment for as long as I live," she said. "I don't have the words to thank you."
"You already have Lillith."
I would have like to stayed longer but knew that I could not. I had my own world to watch out for and it was time to get back. I would never forget this moment either. It was one of those rare events which made everything that I'd gone through since getting my jackal's head worth while. I switched back to my human head and lightly kissed Lillith's hand.
"I'd better get going. Take care of yourselves and your daughter."
"Will we ever see you again?" Lillith asked.
"I'm not sure. You never know though."
Lillith turned to look at William and then turned back. "Would you wait a moment?" she said.
"Sure."
Lillith rushed back to William and Phil. She began speaking rapidly. Whatever she said must have pleased William because he was smiling broadly when he looked at me. I was tempted to eavesdrop on them but figured that I'd find out soon enough. I was right because less than five minutes after she began speaking Lillith stopped and together with William and Phil came back to where I stood.
"Will'm and I would both like to honor you for saving our daughter's life," she began. "There is a Terran custom which he has told me about which we both feel would be perfect. Would you be our daughter's godfather?"
You could have knocked me down with a feather when she asked me that. I didn't know what to say. I looked at William and he nodded at me. Even Phil was nodding for me to agree. With that much support I couldn't say no but before I could agree Isis spoke up.
"Is this what thou truly want?"
"Yes," said William and Lillith together.
"Dost thou wish it as well my bother?"
"Yes, I do. It feels right."
"Very well," said my sister placing her hand on my shoulder and imparting an important piece of knowledge to me.
I switched once more to my full Wanderer form and said, "Lillith may I touch your stomach for a moment? I promise I won't tickle."
"Of course."
I knelt in front her and tentatively placed my hand on Lillith's rock hard abs. It's hard to believe considering that Lillith was nude but she actually blushed when I placed my hand on her tummy. I reached out with my spirit and touch the growing life within her and felt it respond to my presence. My hand glowed bright white for just a moment and then it was done. When I got back to my feet Lillith was looking at me curiously.
"What happened?" she asked. "I felt something."
"My brother has sacrificed a fraction of his essence and placed it within thy child. There it shall remain separate yet joined til the end of their days."
William looked at Lillith and asked, "It won't hurt her?"
"No William," I replied, "she'll be just fine. All that it means is that your daughter carries a little piece of me with her."
William stood next to his mate and placed his hand over her stomach. Lillith looked at him with the same love and devotion I'd seen and envied before. William looked at her with a look which mirrored hers. They gazed at each other for a couple minutes before they looked back toward me and my sister.
"Thanks," said William.
"You're welcome," I said realizing that it was finally time to go. "Well, it's time to hit the road so to speak."
William and I shook hands and Lillith gave me a bruising bear hug. As she released me she rose up and kissed the tip of my cold nose.
"Goodbye," she said when she touched down. "We'll miss you."
"Oh, I'll be back. After all I have a goddaughter to check on now."

The End