With a Little Help From My Friends
The news was calling it a comet, but Engelbert knew better. He imagined most people knew better but didn’t want to think what happened last year might happen again. If it did, most people felt secure in the notion that there was a line of defense between them and annihilation. Engelbert was determined to prove he knew better on that account as well.
“There will always be the weak minded, ready to rationalize anything away,” he once said in a lecture to his A.I. and Ethics students, “That’s how Holocausts happen.”
These days Engelbert wasn’t lecturing anyone about anything, save for his cat who received the occasional admonition to not shit outside the box. His former student, Cheryl Ellers, had him ousted from academia years prior for misappropriating his Ph.D. candidates’ work. Every day since then he’s burned with hot rage and planned his revenge on his old protege. After tricking her, last year, into upgrading the Tabula Rasa protocol, he had almost all the pieces he needed to carry out his plot. Getting her to save the life of her arch nemesis, Simon Vyx, was just an extra insult to the injury.
He just needed to tie up some loose ends. Cheryl had a posse. They would need to be neutralized. For that he found himself trudging through poison ivy and thorn bushes in the middle of nowhere at three in the morning.
The beam of his flashlight swung through the dark and misty air in the dense woods off of the interstate. He knew the ‘comet’ had landed here. He was expecting it. He had invited it. His short, round body waddled through the underbrush, grunting and swearing with every step until he came upon a faint glow a bit deeper in. As he approached the glow, he noticed a small spacecraft parked and covered in hasty camouflage. It was crude cover, but sufficient enough this deep into the forest. Kneeling before a small glowing orb on a carpet of fallen leaves was a lithe figure, clad in leather, holding its hand before her in a way that Engelbert read as ceremonial or meditative. The figure seemed transfixed by the moon, as it stared up, unblinking.
“Devana the Mage Hunter?” Englebert croaked.