Authors: Randall Farmer
“No, no metasense. Too far.”
“Mr. Sellers, if the Monster is too far away for you to
metasense, how do you know where it is?”
“I smell her.”
“You smell her. From more than a quarter mile away?”
“No, Ann.” If they couldn’t smell the Monster, how had
these Transforms been following her? Bah. Too difficult a question to
contemplate, and far too difficult a question for him to ask. “More than 5
Ann pointed to a Transform man. “Bill, get a map. Seriously,
this Monster is 5 miles away and you smell her?”
“No, 15 or 20 miles away. Maybe more.”
Ann rubbed her forehead. “I thought you just said… No,
I don’t want to know. The Monster is 15 miles away. People, you can stand
down. We’re not about to get attacked just this minute.”
Oh, that was why his putative allies had suddenly become
so hostile. He was glad their hostility wasn’t his fault.
Bill, the Transform Ann had sent for the map, returned
with a stack of several Park Service maps and a flashlight. At Ann’s nod, he
laid them out on the ground.
“Okay, Farsight,” Ann said, referring to him. “Show us
where this Monster is.”
Sellers blinked at the maps, befuddled. Master Occum had
recently managed to recover his ability to read, and Sellers was able to read
the words on the map, but nothing else made sense. He would need to ask Master
Occum to recover his ability to read maps. He pointed north north-east. “That
way. 15 or 20 miles.”
“No map?” Ann said, sounding woeful.
The Transforms crept through the open spaces under the
pines, almost silent on the soft pine needles. They arranged themselves in
four small groups of 2 or 3 each, 2 groups on each side, attempting to herd the
Monster toward him. The Monster was only a few hundred feet away and he metasensed
her agitation. She knew they hunted her. He could empathize. She should
worry. From experience, he knew these Transforms would never give up.
She was a boar Monster, weighing 300 pounds or so, with
giant tusks capable of tearing an innocent normal into bloody shreds. She had
run twice, but each time Sellers and his small army caught up. His army of
Transforms hummed with tension of their own. This Monster was an old one, at
least a year old, and far more dangerous than some fresh female Transform
barely past her Monster transformation. Old Monsters had killed companions of
his companion soldiers in the past – he had heard them discussing it.
This time the Monster tried something different. As the
groups around them attempted to surround her, instead of fleeing again, she
charged them. Fast.
Time slowed as he reacted, or so it seemed, his mind
moving so fast his muscles acted like cold jelly. His mind, and his metasense,
placed everyone around him into a mental map. Sellers didn’t like what he
figured out. The Monster’s charge would bowl over Jim and Eileen, standing two
long strides to his left and one behind him. The Monster’s charge would rip
them to shreds.
He couldn’t allow that to happen. He forced his jelly
muscles to move, oh so difficult, and stepped himself two long strides to his left.
What appeared so slow to him, though, was instant-fast to Jim and Eileen.
Jim and Eileen both shot. In his adrenaline heat,
Sellers had forgotten about the guns. Giant, Monster-stopper guns. Jim’s
round hit him full on in the side, tearing through and leaving a chasm where
his ribs should have been. Eileen’s round hit as he began to fall, taking off
his right hand halfway up the forearm. The guns from the other soldiers in his
army shattered the silence, but the others shot from various bad angles at a
swiftly moving Monster. Two shots hit, but only one did major damage, to the
Monster’s rear right hip, and not a mortal wound.
Sellers hit the ground like thunder from the power of
the shells that hit him. He kicked
with both legs at the charging
Monster, and she flew through the air, over her attackers, and continued,
limping, into the pines.
Fury rose inside, a terrible anger at his attackers, the
people he thought he protected. Firearms had wounded him before, but never so
badly. Blood poured out, to soak the needles and turn the dirt into red mud. He
staggered to his feet anyway, ignoring the wound, in the grip of fury, and
The growl echoed through the woods and came back to him,
stronger, louder, and he added to it and sent it out again. Rage, danger,
slaughter, the beast at the throat. He fed himself to it and recognized that
even the juice inside him contributed, a growl of murder, fury, and magic.
He had never before growled with the magic in it. The
Transforms froze, in the grip of awe and terror.
Sellers moved on his attackers, trailing blood and bits
of internal organs, slow because of his wounds but faster than the Transforms could
react. The Transforms stared as he gripped Jim’s throat in his remaining hand
As his attacker stared back at him, helpless in his
grip, a small voice of reason bubbled up from the depths of the fury gripping
him. Jim and Eileen hadn’t had time to stop shooting. They were all
Transforms together, but as Master Occum kept trying to pound into Sellers’
thick head, he was a Major Transform. A magical Beast Man. Magically quick.
The Transforms shot at the Monster, not him. They
didn’t understand they were in no danger from the charging Monster. In their
foolish ignorance, the Transforms assumed she posed a danger to them. They
tried to kill her in order to protect themselves.
Fools, but their intent was good.
He took a deep breath and tried to force the fury down.
Took another. A third.
“You will not kill the Monster,” he said.
“Yes, we’re going to kill the Monster,” he heard from
behind him, a female voice in the grip of her own fury. Ann. “We’re on a God
damned Monster hunt. We’re here to kill the Monster.”
He let Jim go and turned. Sellers’ bleeding had
stopped, and he already felt the pain of major healing in progress, but he
needed food, water, rest, and some Monster juice to complete the job,
preferably from the Monster who just fled from them.
“No,” he said. Ann glared at him from 5 feet away, fury
only made worse by the terror that held her a few seconds before.
“We had a deal, bastard. You help us hunt the Monster,
we get the bounty, you get the juice.”
“You help me capture the Monster, you get the bounty, I
get the Monster.”
“That’s not the deal, asshole.”
“That’s the deal.”
Ann glared. Sadie stood by her, almost hopping with
anxiety, but not daring to speak. The others watched silently, weapons held
carefully ready for use. Jim lay on the ground and rubbed his bruised throat.
“What the hell are you getting so excited about?” she
asked, finally. “That’s a Monster.”
Ann’s question stopped his thinking in place. He
considered, trying to ignore the dizziness and pain. The wound would heal. He
“It’s a woman.”
Ann rubbed her head and Sadie let out a sigh. “If the
Monster attacks us, we’re going to defend ourselves.”
He nodded. “If she attacks you, you may shoot. Do not
shoot if she attacks
.” Growl. He didn’t need protecting. He
Ann nodded slowly, and the others relaxed. “All right,
we have a deal, but no more changing the rules. And we still get the bounty.”
“We have a deal,” he said. He wondered if he would last
long enough to keep it. “Do you have water and food?”
The Monster didn’t go far, not even out of his metasense
range, before she found shelter under a cluster of fallen pines and curled up
to heal. She tried to run again when they came close, but her injury made her
slow and he caught her easily, even with his own wound. He shed the remnants
of his clothes as he came close and jumped on her back, starting the drain as
soon as their skin touched.
She fell and thrashed as he drew, as he carefully sorted
the élan from the juice and dross to the best of his ability. Heaven, glory,
ecstasy, she gave him gifts past imagining and he gave her ease from the pain
of her Monsterhood. When he finished, she still lived, far healthier in her
juice than the younger Monsters of his existing family.
She bit his shoulder, in the grip of the overwhelming
sensations of the draw, and he recognized her lust rising, a faint echo of his
own. He growled, this time with no magic except lust, and twisted her around
underneath him, to take her from the rear. She let lose a porcine squeal and
they passed into the realm of no thought.
He healed the worst of his wounds with the élan she gave
him, but he could do nothing for her except be gentle. Sometimes he almost
seemed to see a way to heal her, but then the insight faded before he grabbed
hold of it. When they finished, he did the magic trick Master Occum had taught
him with the élan to make them family, and she collapsed into an exhausted pile
among the branches. He rose to face his companions.
They watched, shocked and in various states of arousal.
He smiled, still interested. Except for low juice, nothing ever dampened his
interest. He suspected he could go for days, if he had enough women. Someday he
would like to find out.
He moved toward Ann. She was the leader. If she came
to him, the rest of the women would follow. He nodded toward the trees.
She met his gaze with hot eagerness, but then she turned
away. “We need to get the Monster back to Bartlett to claim the bounty.”
He suspected if he pushed her, she would agree anyway,
but he did not. He wouldn’t add difficulty to a person struggling to live up to
her responsibilities. He nodded. There would be other occasions.
She looked regretful at his acquiescence, but turned to
her people. “Okay, people, let’s get this Monster…” She stopped.
Sellers examined the wounded Monster, who panted in
misery. She wouldn’t be walking anywhere on her own. His companions had planned
to bring a Monster’s head back for the bounty, not an entire Monster, and they
lacked the gear to transport a creature of her weight.
He sighed and returned to crouch by her. He wiggled his
arms underneath her and then, with a groan of effort and grinding pain in his side,
stood, carrying all 300 pounds of wounded Monster boar. She nuzzled him, glad
to be in his arms.
He took a heavy step. Then another.
It would be a long walk back to the truck.
Master Occum called it a vigil, and said a thing done
right needed doing completely right. A prospective knight should do a vigil
before he is knighted.
He sat cross-legged in a corner of the dark basement and
meditated on the changes the quest made within him. He had guessed such a deed
would matter, but he was still surprised when the changes actually occurred. He
had grown stronger, more stable, and the chaos in his mind had eased some. The
rigor of his achievement gave him structure.
He had done well.
After the long walk back to the vehicles, his companions
drove them to Bartlett, a small town surrounded by dense forest. Before they
entered, Sellers soothed the Monster so they could put shackles on her, before
hiding himself under piles of blankets and tarps. He listened as Ann argued
vigorously with some town official. The official expected a dead Monster, but
Ann claimed they were taking the Monster back for research, and capture was
sufficient to earn the bounty. After several minutes of discussion, she
prevailed, and his companions claimed their bounty.
The Transforms were pleased with him. This Monster,
nearly two years old, was the oldest Monster they had ever hunted, and none of
them got hurt, except for Jim with his bruised neck, and they were willing to
forgive him for that. They even offered to send him some clothes that fit, to
replace the ones he lost during the hunt. Ann had suggested they might do
another hunt. She called him Farsight again.
They spent the rest of the day in the National Forest
and then dropped both Sellers and the Monster off again at Mystic Lakes. Sellers
and Hoskins carried the Monster home on a stretcher.
He didn’t have any luck seducing any of the Transform women,
but maybe he would next time, when they got more comfortable with him. He
looked forward to a next time. He had been worth something with his hunt, to
the Transforms, to the Monster, and to Master Occum when he brought the Monster
home. Master Occum named her Suzie, and said she would be a big help to his
Master Occum came to him as Sellers felt the wakening of
dawn outside the abandoned factory they called home. The whole family gathered
around him, all the Monsters, Master Occum, and Jeremy Hoskins.
“Kneel,” Master Occum said, and Sellers knelt. “Repeat
Sellers swore the oath. “I hereby swear fealty to the
Household of Boston Chimeras, to be ever a good knight and true, honest and
generous, shield of the weak, true to my responsibility, courteous at all
times, champion of the right and the good. Thus swear I, Robert Sellers.”
The words took hold as he said them, making firm the
changes he had sensed in his vigil.
“In recognition of your success on your quest and your
prowess as a Chimera, I find you worthy to become a knight,” Master Occum said.
“Know that to hold this obligation will demand your effort all your life. A
knight must respect those who are weak or defenseless, love and defend his
household, and face his foes with courage and fortitude. His word must be true
beyond question, and always and everywhere, he must be the champion of the
right and the true.”