Part 1 - Malfus Wraps It Up
There were many signs and portents to be read that day, but Malfus saw none of them. Instead, he sat drearily behind the control console of his Yohache' Shuttle. Luna, as he called her, was a small, but suitable and reliable spaceship. With a white exterior and standard, drab-grey interior, it was nothing flash; but for Malfus it was home. He had picked it up used from a second hand shuttle dealer the last time he had spent time in the Ynedys System. The story, or so he was told, was that an old trader previously owned it and apparently had a business in transporting some unknown commerce goods. Malfus wasn't sure he really wanted clarification on what those goods were. While the interior had been stripped and the shuttle thoroughly cleaned before resale, there was left-over, some random hint of a smell that reminded Malfus of something not completely unlike the combination of a hospital waiting room mixed with Orange Tang. Malfus had planned on taking an extended wander around some of the local systems and even potentially some of the farther out reaches to be found in this section of the spiral galaxy. The Yohache' shuttles were renowned for their durability and ease of repair. Also, with millions of them floating aimlessly around the galaxy, Malfus could remain importantly inconspicuous. So, with the help of a friend and religious icon, he converted the shuttle's interior into a comfy, one bedroom sitter complete with kitchenette and refurbished toilet services. The toilet had been of particular pride, as it was found in a salvage operation conducted on a luxury liner commissioned to transport the best of today's Inner-Systems' Runway Models. Two things could be assumed with regards to this toilet; one, since the fashion industry continued to be a source of great wealth, this unit was top of the market and secondly, with models' distaste for actually digesting anything, there was little chance this toilet had seen any real bum-time. Also, since the inception of the Gastro-Vac portable, purgers rarely needed to visit an actual toilet to get rid of their last meal. This baby basically still had the plastic wrap on it when he yanked it from the floating hulk of the blasted luxury liner.
But that was a year ago and far from where he sat today. The dark, talon-like claws on Malfus's left hand drifted across the comms interface. He flipped through a few new messages mainly consisting of unsolicited offers; most of which related to the improvement or enlargement of one appendage or another. As he hit the delete button on a message espousing the benefits of greener antenna and just how to achieve this in less than thirty days, another new message passed through the inbound security scanners and triggered the new mail notification. "Message for you, sir.", the comms system chimed with a distinctly tinny, yet vibrant voice. Malfus sat upright in his chair and pushed away the bowl of grapes, which his markedly less taloned, right hand had been drifting over. His focus now fully on the comms system and the newest arrival to his inbox, he hoped that this was the message he had been waiting for. Show only unread; sort by date and there it was, his official confirmation to attend a White Lighters circle.
"Beloved Brother and/or Sister, we are glad to extend a formal invitation for you to join the White Lighters in their monthly celebration of Mumavinsky. Location coordinates are attached. Please be sure to review and follow the dietary requirements. Also, please observe the dress code requirements as detailed in previous messages. We look forward to sharing your energy and the love of Mumavinsky.Malfus was overjoyed that his wait was finally over. Although the opportunity to attend a White Lighters' circle had only just recently appeared before him, there was a level of anticipation for something new, that Malfus had not felt for a long time. The White Lighters were, in the cosmic scheme of things, a fairly new group of devotees to an ancient practice. Their particular bend on this practice had them all dressing in white, singing songs of love and devotion and generally blissing out on the affects of Mumavinsky, a liquid concoction of somewhat secret origins. What was known about Mumavinsky was that a key ingredient revolved around a particular spider species which made their homes only on one particular vine and only in one particular section of one particular forest. All attempts at propagating both the vine and the spider species met with failure and even on a few occasions, with catastrophic consequences. The Mumavinsky also needed an enchantment to enable its full affects. This enchantment was also a well guarded secret. Malfus hoped that by attending a White Lighter circle, he may not only get the opportunity to experience it for himself, but might also gain some insight into how the potion was made and finally enchanted. Those who held the secrets, kept a tight grip on them. This of course created a narrow channel for the availability of Mumavinsky and a near monopoly on its distribution. If Malfus could get his hands on some of these secrets, he could go a long way in setting himself up as another lucrative guru type. Spiritual transformation was one thing, but profit was another story all together.
In Love, Light and Liquid - Petrov"
Malfus popped another couple of grapes into his mouth. The sweet juice splashed across his tongue as his teeth bore down on the crisp outer skin. Generally he loved grapes, especially the seedless and sweet ones, but after three days of fasting on nothing but bowls of grapes and bottles of water, even he was losing his taste for them. Perhaps the restriction was unnecessary, but the fasting guidelines which the White Lighters had sent through previously were so obscure, confusing and contradictory that he figured his best chance was to pick one thing and stick to it. Malfus was known for his behaviour in this fashion; when in doubt, obsess and over-indulge. It seemed to to be a somewhat functional way of going about things. The slender, smooth and well manicured fingers of Malfus's right hand, dipped back into the bowl once again and deftly grabbed a few more grapes. He tossed these into his mouth as he set about translating the location coordinates contained in the White Lighters' invitation and entering them into Luna's navigational system. He had to do this manually and grumbled at the task, "What bloody comm system doesn't have a copy/paste function, in this day and age?" Some simplicities were just beyond the grasp of Malfus's reasoning of how things ought to be.
The Yohache' shuttles came with a standard 2.4 phase Slack-Drive and nominal set of anti-grav thrusters. The Slack-Drive operated under the principal that the entire universe was generally too uptight. The reason it took so long to get from point A to point B, was simply because there was so much deliberation and difficulties on deciding just how to get there in the first place. The Slack-Drive employed a technique of harnessing the potential within the universal concept of reciprocal force. By creating a field of Slack around the shuttle, the universe would in turn respond by going Slack, making point A and point B closer together, somewhat like the way a piece of fabric bunches up. In turn, bringing point B closer to point A and thus making it quicker to get to.
The engines fired up immediately as Malfus hit the ignition sequence, but he knew better than to take off right away. Luna always had an issue with anti-grav stalling before her engines were fully warmed. As he waited the few required minutes, he double checked the location details against what he knew of the area. The circle was to be held on a small backwater moon about three hours from his current position. He had gotten lucky with where he had chosen to stop and wait for the final message. The location details of these events were always hush-hush until the very last minute and they always moved from one event to the next. Not only was Mumavinsky a well kept secret, it was also highly illegal. There was little doubt that the White Lighters had to stay on top of their game to remain one or two paces ahead of the Galactic Fuzz. Malfus knew he was taking a risk by attending this circle. Not only a risk of running afoul of the Space Coppers, but also the inherent risk of falling victim to the cult-ish grins of these hopped up White Lighter types. He had spent some time in a cult before and didn't relish the thought of being caught up in another one. While the sex and food weren't to bad, the months he spent there were far to regimented and the compulsion over orange robes had nearly done his head in.
When the read outs for internal engine temperature indicated a more favorable outcome than one ending in a stalled free-fall, Malfus pulled the flight controls from the shelf beneath the navigational computer. He held the comfortable and familiar control unit in his hands and leaned back in his chair. His thumbs set to work, adjusting the primary thruster angles while his index fingers controlled the thrust and momentum. Luna creaked and shuddered as she lifted off from the dusty surface of the asteroid Malfus had been using as a rest stop. Her white, bread box shape slowly gaining distance from the rock strewn surface. Another few taps from Malfus's fingers and Luna was well clear. He tossed the control unit back onto the shelf and began the process of switching from local maneuvering to a fully engaged Slack-Drive trajectory. The four, corner thrusters parked into their housings; the front and rear gates of the primary Slack-Drive opened. Malfus clicked in the last of the navigational sequence and engaged the engines. A shimmering field appeared around Luna as she shifted from normal space to a phased existence in Slack. A whooshing sound would have been heard, if such things were possible in the vacuum of space, as she leaped forward at horrendous speeds towards the location of the the White Lighters latest hide away. With the ship now on auto-pilot, Malfus could focus on preparing for the evening to come.
Another whooshing sound could be heard as Malfus finished emptying his personal, biological waste systems and hit the button labeled "Resolve". Relieved, washed, dried, pampered and fragranced, he stepped out of the small toilet room. He stopped and observed himself in the full length mirror. He scoffed and snorted at the ridiculous sight of himself in head-to-toe, white clothes. As a general rule, he didn't wear white and had gone through quite a lot of trouble sourcing some cheap, suitable clothing when the details of the dress code were made apparent. "God damn White Lighters", he thought to himself as he adjusted the off-white pants and white, but slightly stained, long sleeve shirt. He was, for the most part, unremarkable. He wasn't particularly tall or short. He wasn't particularly fat or muscled. He wasn't particularly broad or narrow. On the whole, he was particularly average and not unhappy with that in the slightest. The one stand out feature were his eyes. Malfus grinned as he looked into the eyes staring back from the mirror and saw the flash of bright green which gave hint to the devilish nature of his humour. Malfus finished off his outfit with a few non-white items, for which he was unable to find suitable, white coloured alternatives. A pair of soft, black boots and a black, knitted skull cap completed the ensemble. He then turned his attention to wrapping the potentially problematic appendage that was his left arm.
It had been nearly three months since Malfus had participated in a rather extraordinary, magical event. It was known as the "The Marriage of Heaven and Hell" or also called "The Infernal Union". Through meditation, mystic symbology and a touch of useful self-awareness, Malfus had endeavored to unite the two halves of self. Together, the Light and the Dark would form to create a more whole and realised individual, whatever that was suppose to mean. However, unknown to him at the time, this process would also have some physical manifestations for which, he was not quite prepared. Since the night of the ritual, he had watched his left arm change. At first, it had simply been a slight change in skin tone as darker hues of deep red flesh began to appear. Over time, the texture of skin changed as well, becoming more course and leather-like. This wasn't the end of the changes either, in addition, the fingers of his left hand had elongated and the nails had become darker, longer and sharpened to razor-like claws. While he wasn't actually displeased with the result, he felt others might not be so tolerant or understanding, especially not in the midst of a White Lighters' circle. He needed to hide the ever-more, demonic form of his left arm from the "Happy Happy Joy Joy" types that would be present at an event like this one. He finished wrapping the arm in white cloth, tucked a small, empty glass vial into the wrappings and then scoffed at his reflection once more.
"Damn White Lighters", he muttered as he turned back towards the control room and checked on the progress towards the moon in question.
(to be continued ...)