Morning. At last. Those words were not spoken, nor even framed as thoughts. They were just a feeling that ought to have been relief, but didn't quite achieve the goal.

Nancy awake instantly from a feverish sleep, stared dully at the ceiling. She felt dull-headed, unclean with dried sweat, and her stomach felt raw. Sleep had not refreshed her, and she was too leaden limbed to get up and attend to her discomforts.

She reflected on the course of events that had brought her to this sorry state. Six weeks earlier — such short time — she had been ripped from the quiet routine of her life, and had had her mind worked over by a relic of ancient intelligence, and a subversive group dedicated to the dispersal of her clan. Unable to fit back in her old life, she had tried to make a clean break, start a new life, resume the education that had been interrupted elsewhere.

Now she could see how forlorn that hope had been. She was a different person now. The combined assault on her mind had done more than awaken the empathic traits that a first examination had revealed. They had, incidentally, uncaringly, ruptured brittle structures in her personality. Darknesses, once hidden beyond her own knowledge now seeped through to the surface.

What periods of happiness she had enjoyed seemed to be briefer, shallower than before. Even the excitement of exploring her new senses had been marred by the intervention of a malignant mentality wishing to possess her, to itself become Nancy Wolf. She had died, albeit briefly, under its attack, and yet had brought herself back to life. That had been ten days before, and in that time she had more than once found herself regretting that ‘happy’ ending.

Last night had been one such time, and she had used a party to which she had been invited as an excuse to drown her sorrows in drink. The attempt had failed miserably, with the drink and the happiness of the other revellers turning her thoughts inwards, and though the memories had been blurred in the recording she recalled long and detailed expositions of her personal woes that she had recounted to perfect strangers, until finally, puking and raving, she had been escorted to bed by the girl with whom she had been partnered.

And now, she must face the morning after. She cast away the one sheet that remained on her bed, and staggered to her feet, pausing for a few vertiginous instants as her circulation adapted itself to her new posture, before discarding the underwear in which she had slept, and heading for the bathroom. A hot bath would take care of most of her discomforts, and there would doubtless be something in the medical supplies that would be appropriate for her stomach.

Between the tasteless slurry that had been dispensed for her stomach, and the relaxing warmth of the bath, Nancy drowsed, catching up on the sleep she had lost, only to be jolted from the tranquillity of non-thought by the door-buzzer. She fought petty anger at the person responsible, but failed to stem its evil tide, and with a hate in her heart that the mask of her expression only concealed, she went to answer he call.

The tall avian steward waiting at the door did not react visibly to the towel-wrapped, dripping figure that answered

“Lady Wolf?”

“Yes.” Coldly, Nancy noticed how she filled that word with hate and spat it out.

“A package for you. Sign here.”

Anger gave way to curiosity, and it was excitement that spread her signature untidily across the form.

“Thanks,” she called, distractedly, as she shut the door again.

Asprawl on her bed, she examined the package, a small box, four inches by five, and three quarters of an inch deep. The address label was printed, and postmarked from the next system Earthwards of the current position of this liner. Nancy could think of no one she knew or had ever known who could have sent something to her from there.

She cut the seal open with her thumbnail, and scattered the contents out onto the sheets. Freed from its wad of packaging, a small pendant glittered there, a square of bright metal set with a pale-blue transparent gem. Disbelieving, Nancy looked to her bedside table where the original lay, its gem indigo, not cornflower blue. She sought explanation from the small envelope which had remained in the box. It contained a note handwritten on a sheet of cream toned paper.

'If you know this, then your time is come. I may have been delayed a few million years, but now, I have you.'

In place of signature there were three whorls of glowing gold light, like fingerprints woven into the page.

Before reading, Nancy had been sliding into mild hysterical shock, while she wove in this seemingly impossible gift. Now she was only afraid. Memories that were not truly hers, that had been planted by the indigo gem, stirred to life, memories of the previous owner. She had been Linna, High Priestess of the Earth, worshipper of light and life, the gem her badge of office, and she had known that sign of three.

The powers of Sky and Earth had not been alone in bestowing aid to their faithful: and the spirits of death and destruction had matched the powers of life in their generosity, and in the teachings of both cults there was the prophecy that at the end of time, the two factions would rise in open combat, and bring down the curtain. Was this to be that battle, her own self against the person or persons who now controlled the opposing holy relics?

Armageddon, an universal ruin across the cosmos full of galaxies unaffected by the original struggle, Nancy could not accept, but her own death seemed all too likely. Would she run? She might be able to, depending on the sequencing of the Links, but if she had been located, it would not be easy — if indeed it were possible — to shake off pursuit, and to be condemned to eternal flight. She would rather die than suffer that tyranny.

The only alternative was to stand and fight, and she would be able to choose where. Ship-board, obviously, was far too fragile an environment for any display of force, such as she could recall from Linna's memory. The only suitable place would be dirtside, on the green Earth, where her own power would be the stronger.

“Ship,” she called, “This is Nancy Wolf, Cabin 06–458. I'm pausing my journey here. Have my luggage stowed on board the Link station.”

“Decision registered. Your luggage will be collected in ten minutes. Thank you for your custom.”

Packing was trivial. One suitcase was filled from her wardrobe, the other from the incidental luggage scattered around the cabin. All the remaining trash and trinkets were dumped in the bin, and that was all. The bath, the half destroyed bed, were all the trace she would leave of her passing.

One last check, one final decision on what to wear, and she departed. She travelled light, with only a shoulder-bag to carry her minimum of supplies. Anything else, she had money enough to buy.

By the time the shuttle undocked from the link, half an hour later, Nancy had a clearer idea of what she would do. Time was her most precious resource, her two hour lead over any opponent fighting the timetables down the line from the next system, two hours that would remain hers until she stopped. Meanwhile, she would ignore the oh-so-familiar sight of the link station drifting away into the distance, and concentrate on the guidebook she had purchased, in case there might be some useful peculiarity of the world, something that would work to her advantage.

The world was called Angharad, and it was green and summery through its year of barely perceptible seasons. It was a world slightly smaller than Earth, roughly half of its surface dry land. There was only one spaceport — the population being too small to warrant more. That was the first bonus, that her pursuit would be constricted a longer time.

She continued to read, gleaning other interesting snippets of information about the world. The population, it seemed clustered in a few dozen small cities, in regions free from an almost universal jinx that seemed to haunt the world. It had been tamed long before the first Partnership vessel had approached it, and had remained so. Even the cities had been there then, and had been eagerly filled by the incoming colonists. Yet each time an effort was made to extend the settlement, every possible disaster had befallen it.

Now, few people left the cities, except to travel by monorail to another city and the only other mode of travel used was to go afoot. Inevitably the environment would be little different from that aboard ship, unsuited to a showdown, unless she were to choose the unlucky outside. Final judgement could await access to a decent library.

The landing field was a seemingly endless expanse of concrete, uncomfortably bright in the bright sunlight. The sky was too dark by Nancy's prejudices, the clouds too wispy, and the gravity perceptibly lighter than the shipboard value. Planets seemed a little primitive after a long time away, despite her atavistic desire for a blue sky and bright sun overhead.

She shrugged, more with her face than her shoulders, and followed the other passengers into the reception hall, a bright white construction of corrugated metal where a few officials waited to supervise the newcomers. Nancy chose a queue randomly — there was none perceptibly shorter than any other — and resigned herself to the wait.

The formalities were thankfully brief, and soon she was at the head of the queue. The rodent-like creature at the desk sounded bored as he asked to see her passport, and asked for a few other bits and pieces of information for the files.

“The purpose of your visit?” he asked.

“I'm expecting to meet someone here.” She had none of her usual lies ready against that question, and so answered with almost the truth. She was greeted by an expression that clearly thought this world an unlikely place for rendezvous.

“How long will you be staying?”

“A day, maybe two. If I survive.” She symbolized a gun with her right hand, held it to her temple — suicide; that was surely what it would be, should she meet her death. The official's expression conveyed the opinion that he didn't care to deal with the mentally unbalanced.

“Too bad. Peace be with you.”


As soon as she left the hall, she headed directly for a public terminal, and requested the statistical analysis of the jinx that the guidebook had mentioned. It was there, and it was large, and probably psi-related as it only crippled complex non-organic structures.

So she would just have to choose a city. She requested a map, and jabbed her finger randomly at it to decide her final destination. The resultant choice had only its name to distinguish it from any other possible choice, so there could be no underlying drive to choose any other — only some ramifications of the planet's luck manipulating effects.

Nancy withdrew her credit card, and looked around the reception area for signposts. She strolled away from her corner, watching for any to appear from behind stairways or ornamental greenery, though the hall, easily a hundred yards long, encouraged her to patience: if she could not see a sign now, there was plenty of opportunity for one later.

She paused at one of the shops that lined the hall, and bought a few books and magazines to read during the journey, bundling them into her shoulder-bag, and moving on to a snack bar, where she bought a hot meat pasty and a chocolate milk shake. She breakfasted as she walked, following the sign that she now could see in the distance, directing her to the monorail terminal, up a flight of stairs to the catwalk level. She discarded the cup as she climbed, letting it drift into a trash-can below.

There was another receptacle by the ticket machine, where she deposited the napkin which had wrapped the pasty, and wiped her hands, before tapping the key labelled Halcyon. The plastic tab that would permit her the random journey clattered into the receiving dish. She picked it up, hesitantly, as if that could delay the inevitable. A travel plan appeared on the dispenser screen, giving her a choice between the first departing train, and the more direct one that would reach the final destination first. She decided upon the second, despite the half hour it would hold her at the spaceport. She went through to the waiting area, a scattering of chairs and tables, with continuous windows on two sides allowing a view out onto the field.

Nancy had no eyes for the comparatively uninspiring aspect, nor did she notice the bar, just the clock above it. She sat herself down where she could just look up to see the time, and began to read one of the books she had bought.

Once aboard the train, however, she had no taste for reading, or for the magazines in her shoulder-bag. She had never travelled so fast so close to the ground, and the increased perception of speed drew her attention. Out of the city, the line passed through forest, and the continuously changing aspect of sun, and trees presented a hypnotic display of light.

The outside air had been cool, but inside the carriage, the sunlight was warm. Imperceptibly, Nancy felt her eyes grow heavy, beyond her capacity to hold them open.

Dreams came to her, interwoven with her intermittent glimpses of objective reality. And amidst the dreams, there were threads of her false memories.

So when she walked again the woodland path down to river that she had known only, yet repeatedly, in her dreams, she was at times not herself, but Linna, so that when she turned a bend in the river's course, she came across the temple where she had trained. There was a sense of the sky darkening as she approached, a threat above her. In the distance, behind her, something glowed red, and she knew it for the witchfires of the devil cult. Nancy forced herself into control of the dream, forced herself to levitate, to speed her travel, fighting the unaccustomed resistance she met.

It was all she could to to lift herself a handsbreadth from the ground, and half walk, half drift along, but it brought her to the temple itself ahead of the threat. She screamed with her mind as she raced along the central path, calling for people long departed, the fires of devotion cold, their ashes scattered onto the floor

That shocked the Linna-structure, and Nancy, freed from its moulding of her dream ducked out. She stood on the riverbank under the sunlight, where it was crossed by a broad belt of grassland, between two halves of an old-fashioned city. Two young black women stood nearby, at the door of a small rickety shanty.

“Where is the spaceport?” she asked them.

“But this is Halcyon.” The reply was unnecessary; she knew where to go. She struck away from the river, along the highway of grass.

Something startled her awake, and she forced her eyes open. A few moments of disorientation went by while she adapted herself to the time of day, and realized that the monorail had reached the first stop of three en route to Halcyon.

She ordered a jug of sparkling water to help remove the stale taste in her mouth, and a somewhat unimaginative lunch to occupy her mind for at least part of the next leg of the journey, and while she waited she looked around to see her fellow passengers. They were a mixed bunch, none of them human — an Ayassa female in traditional kilt, a troupe of shaggy blue spider-monkeys, a number of huddled beings in all concealing robes, and some strange being in a heavily armoured environment suit. None seemed likely to strike up a conversation; and at that moment, she would have welcomed anything to take her mind off the reason for making this trip at all, and to prevent her dreaming about it. She had been unable to think of anything that she could do for herself, and so she wished now only to forget what was going on, pretend that nothing was wrong, at least until it happened

It was evening, now. As she looked out of the window Nancy could see at last the city of Halcyon, its white spires gleaming in the golden light. The monorail itself formed a jewelled thread, reaching out from the city, curving wide around the low hill that still hid the mass of the city, and out to her

She gathered together her belongings and turned, impatiently to the window, as if she could hurry her arrival by the force of her will, although she knew that it would nearly three hours before her pursuer could arrive. The same emotional disregard of her cold reason left her meagre luggage in a storage locker at the station, so being ready for combat. Now all she carried was the key, her credit card, and holstered in her right boot the small gun that she carried out of habit.

She wandered restlessly, waiting out the time with growing impatience. Occasionally, she opened the defences about her mind. to ease the chafing, for all that it forced her into overly intimate contact with the swarms of other minds around, and left her unclean as she retreated behind the barriers, but there was never a trace of hostility directed at her.

Two hours brought her roughly back to her starting place, having traced a path through most of the city. She had decided to have one last meal, before… She realized that even the prospect of imminent death did not fill her with the fear that, even a month ago, it would have done. But then, she remembered wryly, she had died once in that intervening time. She choked back hysterical laughter, hanging grimly on to her own version of sanity, and forcing her conscious thoughts to the location of a place to eat.

She chose the first restaurant she came to, its one small dining room already crowded, and sat down at a corner table for two, slightly apart from the general huddle of diners. Their conversation came to her, in isolated snippets, intruding into her consciousness while she studied the menu. She felt herself despising the people to whom she could attribute the dialogue, for only so acting out stereotypes. There was one group who were obviously tourists, a couple, obviously a mated pair, having a soap-opera argument and a number of persons of a very non-human race gossiping most intensely, within arm's reach. No one else seemed to be dining alone. The bitterness that now seemed to be her constant companion welled up inside her, tearing her apart, when she resisted the temptation to tears or anger.

“Hi! What'll you be having?” The arrival of a waiter, a casually dressed feline woman, turned her attention outwards again. Nancy ordered, her choice made off the top of her head.

“Fine. Thanks.” the girl smiled at her before going off with the order. Nancy sighed. That girl had been happy in her hobby, and friendly: why could people be so open precisely when she could not follow that openness up? Was it because of the intimacy associated with the provision of food, or a cynical professional openness, possible only because any interaction would be transient? Nancy could not choose one answer over the other. Hope chose the former, so she denied its choice. She felt a tear form at the corner of her right eye, and affected an itch to hide the reason that she tended to the eye.

Was this screen of lies that she hid behind something that everyone did? Even cynicism could not answer that. It could only remind her of her feeling of her own essential hollowness behind her facade.

She didn't even interrupt the train of thought while she faked a sorrowful smile for, and accepted her first course from another waiter, a human male, who smiled back at her as well. She bore the pangs of despair within herself until she was unobserved, and could relax her expression. This time her face contorted itself in preparation for tears, and, she forced her feelings away, trying to return to the good old days before emotional issues arose to complicate things, before she had had to feel for herself.

She sighed, half in regret, half in appreciation of the cold tangy taste of her drink, and began to eat greedily, which at least beat thinking for entertainment.

Too soon for Nancy's liking, she could eat no more and would once again have to face outside reality. She felt mentally tired as she went to pay her bill, too tired even to raise a wan smile as she did, and she fled as soon as the transaction was complete.

The darkness on the street, the jazzy lighting, rolled unnoticed off her back, Night, as far as her mood would allow her to be concerned, was merely an inevitable fact and the city lights were an immediate corollary. She knew that her time of reckoning came soon, and some primal impulse decided her to seek out a hidden place beyond the city. Later in her wandering, she rationalized her choice as being motivated by a desired to protect lives and property but at the time, it was pure whimsy upon her part.

The construct city of small squares, organic-seeming towers, elevated boulevards, ended abruptly; beyond the perimeter, only the empty land. Her route had taken her south, across the line of the monorail, and the final ramp that led her out of the city faced south-east. Across to her left, she could see, by the lights in it, the last sweep of the monorail into the city. Turning slowly, she saw in the east a faint shimmering of light behind thin clouds, and a paling of the sky that foretold the rising of a moon. Directly in front of her lay a bare grassy hill, and then past it, a swirl of pale mist, and the dark shapes of trees. A river; the only interesting terrain in the vicinity. Unhurriedly, she walked in that direction. She knew she still had enough lead over her pursuit to reach it.

As she passed, she felt, rather than saw, in the starlight, the terrain change underfoot, the grass become longer, heaped into irregular mounds: that formed an almost impossible surface to walk, before merging into a uniform calf-high blanket on the ground. In the growing light before moonrise, and her growing adaptation to the dark, she could now see to guide her way past obstacles, fallen, blasted trees, now only bleached shells, stripped of leaf and branch. and between the main avenue of their yet-living brothers along the mist-curdled river. There was a chill dankness to the scent of the air, and the utmost calm, yet without the sense of impending storm — ironical in the face of what must surely come to pass.

Between the trees, the earth was bare again, save for the debris of the last autumn, and the darkness folded her in its cloak, hiding her rather than engulfing. Her arcane senses, loosed as she passed beyond the city, detected a thread of a call from ahead, as from a welcoming beacon, her Linna memories endorsing the faint message. In her flight, she could not have been as random as she had thought, had instead been following an unconscious hunch to a place of possible sanctuary.

She stared forward into the gloom, to the pale curtain of light ahead that was the river. There was no sign of the beckoning place; merely the swirls of mist. She hurried forwards to the river, as much as the poor seeing allowed, and did not find the crumbling earth of a normal riverbank, but a path leading both ways. She followed it to her left, and soon ahead a bridge loomed out of the mist, a spar of the same not-quite-rock of the path, and she crossed it.

There was a similar path on the far bank, but she spurned it and stumbled her way through the trees there, and out into the open, spurred on by a feeling of the closeness of her unknown goal. The open land came suddenly upon her, and she stopped at the edge of its extent. Above her, paralleling the trees, and ultimately the river, a line of pylons extended in both directions, as far as she could see. Beyond that line, a low hill with a handful of trees on its slopes, one standing stark, blasted and dead on the skyline at the left, at the contour of some darkness, be it a wall or hedge she could not tell. At the summit a number of slender stones were arranged in what she guessed was a circle. Pale blue fires played around their tips. She now knew what she had been seeking, a safe place of the powers allied to Linna's cause. She felt their call, and knew that it offered safety for her; and in that same instant she felt the hellfire breath of the aura of her pursuer.

She walked calmly up the hill, knowing. that pursuit could not catch her before she had gained the summit, and at the darkness, a low wall of dry stone, she turned and looked back to the city. A mile away, it did not seem diminished by distance, rather it seemed merely to have been given context. It, and the intervening terrain, gave no sign of any life, and it did not surprise her that she did not see anything. That could wait until she had gained the summit.

“Hold!” Nancy wheeled to find the source of that cry, and saw, halfway between herself and the summit, a figure indistinct in the darkness, and seemingly wreathed in dull red fire, and felt the gem at her breast surge into life. She recalled the first time she had worn it, how it had caught her up in triumphal song, never since to waken. This was like that time, yet weaker, and she too bound to her immediate conception of reality to let herself go.

“Who are you?” she called in counter challenge, her voice weak in her ears.

“My names are many, as well you know, priestess of earth, as indeed are yours. They are all irrelevant. Now is our hour.”

“I don't suppose you're open to reasonable persuasion?” Nancy felt the weakness of her voice change to tiredness as she made her final play. The reply was only laughter, floating on the slightest of winds.

Fire gathered in her challenger's darkness, and roared at her, passing unnoticing the blue fire that guarded her, and her clothing and her flesh, to strike at her spirit. It broke like a storm against her mind's defences, and sent pain lancing through her whole existence. She screamed in a scream that tore at her throat, in pain, misery and fear.

When she had come to this place expecting death, it had merely been the concept of annihilation that she had accepted; she had given no though to the many roads that might lead to that end, and how many lead through pain. That was what she could not accept. She had to struggle, to fight her way clear; and yet she had no resources available. The gem she wore had power but it was not hers to command, and the time spent in surrender to it was not left to her.

But her body, working far below the level of her conscious mind, without the confusion of the two different sets of memory to impede it, had already made its own decision.

From the holster in boot, her gun flew to her hand, sending its nerve-deadening effect along a purple tracer beam that reached directly, to the flame figure. Such an attack had stripped the influence of the gem from her on the night she had acquired it. Yet even against the full power of her handgun, the flame burned undiminished, and its voice mocked her.

“Your toy is irrelevant here! it explained, Watch!”

It held forth one hand, and the flame gathered about it, brightening, and in the instant, leaping forth to touch the weapon. she held. It exploded as the flame touched, the blast sending its fragments deep into her flesh. She watched the shredded remains of her sleeve, the destruction that had been a hand, waiting for the pain to come, a pain she knew would last for the rest of her brief life, and looked to her opponent.

She wanted to call out asking that her death be brief, yet remained silent as another attack was prepared. She yearned for it, the brief explosion that would tear her from this agonized shell of flesh, and yet, while the bolt was on its way, her body betrayed her once again, and she threw up her good hand into the devil horns gesture that she knew had been supposed to turn the evil eye, and watched the attack break against that defence.

“That cannot succeed. Eventually your arm will tire, and you will be too sluggish to block my attack. You will soon…”

The voice halted:, suddenly, in the midst of its boast, and a deep stillness came across the hill. The figure in flame seemed to be distracted by some event behind where Nancy lay sprawled and off to her left. She turned to see what it was and saw the moon all sliver, without a hint of maria, rise from the clouds. Without rhyme or reason, that sight brought reassurance to her and… No pain. She looked at her hand and saw that it was healed without scar. As, in retrospect, had she healed once before, under the light of the rings of her home world, Wyvern.

“The moon may be with you, Priestess, but will not save you.”

“Time will tell, Fire-holder.”

The demon did not speak in reply. It had grown silently, and now released the gathered fire at Nancy, who spread her arms wide as if to greet the attack. Golden flame lapped about her as it struck, instantly to be engulfed in blue; and while it jolted her, the jolt was more than merely physical, carrying her in a flare of ecstasy into the altered state of awareness that she had known once before.

She was now fully herself, though engulfed in the blue flame of the gem, and yet more than herself. She felt with the plants and animals of the region, could taste the night wind, and touch the patterns of its motion. She moulded the fire now, sending a streamer out to meet the onrushing lance of red-gold that had been launched at her, and dissipated it. She prepared a counter-blow and held it ready to launch when the idea struck her that there might be more than this one use to the flame she possessed.

Gently, she released the stored power, letting it strengthen the veil about her, and then drew that veil into herself. There was another transition, a moment's eddying of darkness, before she stood again on the hill, her fire gone out. Equally, she knew that she had lost nothing of the flame state, and had possibly gained. Not so her enemy, for she heard a contemptuous laugh as another vortex of fire rushed towards her. With equal if silent contempt, she caught it in her hand, a hand, she noticed with quiet interest, that was gloved in silver, and crushed the golden glow. The demon form hesitated, and then ran. Nancy would have run after the creature, reversing the pursuit that had led them here, had it not been that her newly refined senses hinted of a better way.

She had, even in the flame phase, been able to feel the stresses of the air. Now, she reached out, altering their patterns to her own will, guiding them about herself until she could fly. A hop, a step, and she was carried aloft upon the winds, clumsily at first, and then with mounting confidence, as she soared to what she judged as fifty feet of altitude, stooping before beginning a long slow plunge towards her demon quarry. In her hands of silver, she gathered the lighting, like a fluorescent jelly that dripped slowly away from an over-full grasp, and released its power at the fleeing figure. It howled, but did not drop and staggered into the safety of the trees.

Harshly, Nancy pulled out of the dive, climbing nearly vertically to lift herself above trees and pylons for another attack run, the next time a target would present itself. Her mind reached out to track that hellfire mentality, touched it, and felt it go out. There was no barrier, just emptiness. Wary lest this be some elaborate trap, she let herself descend gently, and almost to the ground and went into the trees afoot, albeit with six inches separating her silver shod feet from the soil. She lit her way with lightning-bright flashes that seared the retina, and lit the wood like day, yet found no-one, and despite her straining for it, there was no sign of the demon mind that had pursued her, fought her, and vanished from her grasp.

She gave up the search, after what she guessed had been half an hour, and soared out of the oppressive woods, descending to earth just outside the city. Though it irked her, she decided to walk henceforth, for flight, unlike the new attire she had acquired, would attract remark. Yet in the end, her indecent haste in wishing to walk about half as fast again as the main flow of people attracted its own share of attention from those offended by her ungracious passage. Yet what reason was there to hurry, without a destination? That sudden quiet thought stopped her as she stood, dissipating the frustration that had driven her, and in her pause for thought, she realized that at some time past she had lost the fleeting calm that the gem induced, was again reduced. She accepted the fact resignedly, and dismissed it. All she could do now was find a bed for the night.

Her hand went to her pocket, and touched only bare flesh, diverting her attention from the location of her credit card to the clothes she now. wore. Silver were her boots, with blocky soles, form-fitting: to mid calf, and silver too her gloves, which were fine enough to show her fingerprints, and fitted like a second skin halfway up her forearms. In contrast, the skin-tight suit covering her torso was deepest blue, silver-marred only at the throat, where the gem was set in the tight collar, and at the waist, where a silver sash broke the uniform field of colour. And were her arms and legs not bare, Nancy realized, she would have called this outfit a spacesuit. There was also a second and more serious deficiency. No pockets, and as consequently, no credit card, no locker key. She swore under her breath This was going to cause hassle.

It did. In fact it took half an hour for the public service network to research her finances and associated data, delete the old card and issue the new one, and now, ten minutes later, sleep seemed very attractive indeed. She closed the hotel room door behind her, and headed for the bed. The gloves and boots she discarded easily, leaving them shrunken on the floor, and then, after a few minutes struggle to locate its fastening, her leotard joined them, while Nancy settled down to the warm invitation of slumber.

And yet, as she lay there, gazing at the puddle of moonlight on the floor, her mind remained awake and active. Things had happened to her this as day like had not happened to her, to anyone, things that seemed only to have come into existence for the day, without proper context in the enduring scheme of things, without even a self-consistent logic of their own. And all were focused about the entity that had fought her, and then gone away, without the merest trace, when the tables had turned. Teleport? All the physics she knew denied the possibility so deep in a gravity well. Illusion ? if so, one more subtle than her mental defences could block

Incoherence, and then sleep, claimed her thoughts before she could rationalize everything away. Her dreams were full of flight, soaring in the interstellar emptiness, or down the corridors of non-existent wings of the Castle that had been her home.

Morning came, bright and clear, with sunlight streaming through the open window onto Nancy's bed. She fought to remain asleep despite the hurtful glare in her eyes, tossing and turning as she transposed fitfully between wakefulness an dream until sleep finally abandoned her. She lay a long while as the sluggishness left her limbs and she felt ready to stir.

She pulled on her minimal attire, the wrinkled shrivelled material of it seeming to acquire new life as it stretched to fit. Clothes would be a definite priority for the day's activity. After breakfast.

Whatever had happened to her body on the previous evening and during the night had taken lot more out of her than she had realized at the time, goading her to a sickening hunger that hastened her steps to the restaurant.

At this time of the mid-morning, the restaurant was remodelled as bar, open to the patio, a swimming pool, and a large lawn. Everything was a bright white, and the air was pleasingly cool. More important, now there were few other people eating and thus less delay likely for her own meal. She would begin, she decided, with a large mug of chocolate, and a stack of pancakes in syrup, and work on from there when the time came to make further decisions, but not before.

In due course, the meal arrived, and she drank deeply of the chocolate, before greedily attacking the stack. Even as she ate, the appeasing of her hunger, was noticeable, and as its all-pervasive influence declined, another element of disquiet became distinguishable. There was a presence about the area that compelled her attention.

Nancy looked up from her plate, eyes, as well as more subtle devices, attuned to the task, seeking its cause — and finding it. The psychic unrest that had attracted her attention seemed to centre about a young woman, with dusky skin and blonde hair, towelling herself down at the poolside. Their eyes met, and held as some discharge of psychic effect passed between them, and was gone.

Impulsively, without a clear idea of her intent, Nancy beckoned the woman to her table. She in her turn hesitated, as if to make sure that it was not some other who was being summoned, and, wrapping her towel around herself for warmth, followed the invitation.

“Hi,” she said as she sat down on the chair next to Nancy's, “I'm Suzi, Suzi Bergmann. Which one of us did whatever happened?”

“Nancy Wolf — Clan Wolf. I don't think it was me, at least not consciously. Are you psychic? I can telepath a little.”

“I'm a weak sensitive, not enough for the Guild to be interested. Are you Guild?”

“No, I'm still a free agent, making my way slowly Earthwards. You local?”

“No, I'm just wandering too. But,” A troubled frown passed across her face, as if she were uncertain whether to continue the sentence she had begun.

“Well?” Nancy asked in encouragement.

“No, I was just wondering what it might be that brought both of us here, thousands of miles from the spaceport, from halfway across the Partnership. It was as if somehow we were meant to meet.”


“Well, not predestination on any rubbish like that, but some kind of affinity between us, though what, or how…?”

“You wouldn't happen to be a depressive self exile?”

“No, I go in for memory lapses myself.”

“You realize,” Nancy said, in an effort to change the direction of the conversation, “that we're both being amazingly frank about ourselves.”

“It must be that affinity, whatever happened when I saw you. Are you alone here?”

“Until now. It's that in a way that which brought me here. I was thinking of dying here, only self preservation won.”

“Wow. How were you going to do it?”

“Fire,” she half-lied, caught off-guard, without a cover story ready.

Suzi's expression as uncertain, as if she wanted to continue the conversation but could not find the lines she wanted. Silence continued long enough for Nancy to take advantage of the break and cut herself another mouthful of pancake.

“Where are you staying?” Suzi asked after a minute or so.

“Room 609. You?”

“420. I'll go and change now. See you around. Bye, Nancy.”

“Bye, Suzi.”

Nancy watched her as she went, uncertain of the decisions she had made, each time she had chosen to be open and truthful, laying herself open to emotional harm from this woman she did not know. And when Suzi was gone from her sight, Nancy stood up, abandoning the cold remains of her meal, and walked out into the city, out among the crowds.

She window-shopped for half an hour, intent more on putting distance between herself and the hotel than on actually buying. Eventually, she did stop to buy a few outfits, most of which she had delivered to her room, except for a long green dress and white blouse an a wide-brimmed hat, all of which she wore directly over the outfit she already wore, and in her shoulder-bag she carried a respectable handgun for the sense of security it gave to her.

She lunched in a street café, on a none too imaginative choice of ethnic cuisine, and a tall glass of lager, and watched the sunlight sparkling from the waters of a fountain in its pool in the little rock-garden in the middle of the small square. Consciously she tried to act the part of a tourist, to keep her mind from stagnating in negative thinking about everything that had happened since she had arrived in the system. She half minded to leave, unable to think of reason why not, until she decided that events had not been resolved, so all her original reasoning still held.

Yet she had done all that there was to do and, still did not want to return to the hotel, to face her chance acquaintance. She walked restlessly after leaving the restaurant, trying to lose herself in the mess of people, and failing. That left her, she reluctantly concluded, only one place to go. Out to visit the site of last night's conflict, maybe to find something that could help… well, just to satisfy my curiosity, she thought in correction.

In daylight the scene was changed. For one thing, she was not alone. The open land down to the river was crowded as any park, and their stares seemed hostile and intrusive to Nancy as she walked past them, trying to ignore their presence.

Beneath the trees, however, she felt safe, the moist green shadows enclosing her protectively. She slacked her pace for a while, until impatience hurried her on. Sunlight dappled the grey-brown mould that scattered in dry clods underfoot, making it warm, a comforting warmth that she could feel through the soles of her boots. The seclusion made it almost seductive, tempting her to roll naked on the good earth.

The river when she came to it, flowing leisurely, peacefully along, its waters clear, and bright in the sunlight, offered her much the same temptation, to be herself, free from any of the restraints that convention placed upon her spirit. With the same regrets, she withstood its allure, sad, even annoyed at herself for letting her overactive fear of attack and dislike of getting cold in the river dissuade her. What right had such mundane matters to intrude in situation owing more to poetry?

The bridge was close now, and as she set foot upon it, she finally fought down the call of the wild, and strode along purposefully, without turning her head. Beside, she was now almost at her intended destination, too close to be distracted.

At the edge of the trees, she paused, and listened, with ears and mind alike. People, random sounds of talk, which, half-noticed, had prompted her to actively listen. She moved out of the cover, and saw them, a small group in a huddle among the standing stones at the hill-top. They were tourists, being given a guided tour of the local oddities, and one of the minds had a familiar feel. Instantly, on that touch, Nancy clamped her mind shut. Suzi had been among that group, and she did not know how to react to the girl. She faded back into the trees, and followed the edge of them around the hill, and waited, and watched.

After a time that she could place no value in minutes or seconds to, the party finally moved on, down the flank of the hill furthest from the city, and almost directly towards her. For her part, Nancy retreated into the trees, retracing her steps, and every so often, checking the progress of the tourists. It seemed that they intended to follow the line of pylons a way. Maybe there was some other site of relics along that way. She would see later, when the sightseers had moved on.

When at last she deemed the group to be suitably far away, about two hundred meters along the line, halfway to where a spur of trees cut the line, Nancy left the cover of the trees for the open land, heading directly up the hill. A stagefright feeling gripped her as she walked, as if eyes were trained upon her from every concealment, watching her, just watching.

She crossed the dry stone wall at the base of the blasted tree she had seen the previous night, clutching at its white, dry wood for support as she passed. No figure of flame rose this time to bar her way, and she crossed the last twenty meters to the stones.

Gently she reached out one hand to touch the nearest, a rough near-cylinder, ten centimetres through, and about two hundred fifty tall, its tip looking like it had once been twice as tall and had snapped in the middle and its texture was a dull dusty white, yet…

As her hand drew close blue fire awoke about the silver glove she wore and an answering fire woke in the pillar, its dusty white woken to clear crystal. Her skin crawled, under the glove first, then up the arm, up the side of her head and across her body.

This intrigued her, so carefully she withdrew her hand the thrilling subsided, as did the flame, leaving the sleeve of her blouse eaten away up to her elbow. The pillar glowed for a little longer before the fire faded.

She took off her new-bought clothes, packing them into her shoulder-bag, and stood once more before the pillar, her feet planted solidly on the slight incline, and took the stone between her two hands. Blue flame engulfed her poured up the pillar and struck across the gap to the adjacent pillars, until the whole complex was alight. Her mind readjusted itself into the more tightly integrated mode that the gem had before induced, and her thoughts were filled with something that wasn't a map but served as one. It sparkled with yellow points that she knew were people, civilians and one point that burned red. Enemy, her instinct insisted.

The flame burned out with a thunderclap and she stood alone with a cold. hate in her mind

“No!” she yelled, trying to deny its alien insistence. But she was outvoted, two to one. Both the installation, and the memories that had come with the jewel at her throat insisted the necessity and the right of the hate she felt for the devil enemy.

“No!” quieter this time, barely voiced, a blunt denial of something that revealed itself as external to her, that seemed to need her acceptance, her volition, to move. And using her override, she channelled the aggression she felt into raw power, and raising her arms to the heavens, poured it out in a gout of blue fire that dissipated harmlessly.

She felt weaker after that, but the other thoughts were still. However, the map was still clear in her memory, and something that was an enemy to the faction of Elder Gods among whom she had thrown her lot, might bear investigation, in regard to last night. The hate she did not need, it did not suit her temperament, but enemies and attempts to murder by pseudo-magical means did tend to have some connection.

A fragment of stone was cruel under her left foot, and she bent down to look at it, and saw that she was naked save for the amulet on a chain about her neck. Well, thrice could be the charm. She embraced the warm stone again, and fire struck from it, engulfing her in a gauzy layer of azure and indigo. Left foot. She concentrated her attention on the flame, and it gathered to her will, and knitted into a silver boot. Right foot this time. A gathering, a coalescence, a boot upon the foot. Glove now, and at the thought it appeared, and then… the thought could not be framed before the transition was complete.

Now she had been shown the way, she knew how to handle the transition, as a minute's practise showed, taking the change from gem to uniform, and back at will. She would have to put that together with the lessons she had learned under fire the night before, and the device she had encountered as some kind of votive talisman gathering dust under museum glass would be fully revealed as a combat weapon of undetermined, but probably extremely great, capabilities, something distributed to primitives by gun-runners among the Elder Gods

And she had nigh worshipped the selfsame thing, albeit at the behest of the memories burned deeply into it by the generations of ignorant owners. In her mind she saluted the broken-down installation, and then with the cold fire about her, she turned away, her thoughts overrun by her adjusting to her new realization of her situation.

So enwrapt was she in her thoughts, that she took little heed of the direction in which her feet were taking her, more concerned with what to do about the murder machine she had become part of, restraining the reckless temptation to take apart everything to the horizon for practise. For all its vast power, she would, have to regard the device as no different to the gun she carried in her shoulder-bag.

And when she surfaced a while later, to look consciously at the world again, it took more than, a few seconds to figure out where she was, that she was following the line of pylons in the direction that the guided party had taken, and the same direction in which she had been advised that one of the enemy still remained. Two opposed installations, so close?

She walked on, curiosity winning over her frantic self-analysis. She crossed through the row of trees that at a distance had looked much denser than they now seemed, and saw that they marked the end of the pylons, and through the trees she saw why. The darkness she had taken at distance to be the shadow of a deeper mass of woods was revealed as a square of totally black substance that felt glassy when she reached down to test its inscrutable surface. There was something disturbing about it, though what caused the feeling, and which of her triune selves had triggered the alarm were not clear. What was clear was that indeed it was the enemy, and possibly their equivalent of the stone circle.

Respectfully, she backed away, senses extended, waiting lest her presence had been revealed to that which hunted her. Assured that there was no-one in sight, no sign of the unmistakable though pattern of her pursuer, Nancy gathered the flame closely about her body, and, risking the overt use of the combat-suit's power, took to the air, skimming close to the ground, barely a meter above the dry earth, at all the speed she dared, until she had regained the shelter of her own base. There, she deliberately collapsed the flame into the gem, and retired into the cover of the trees.

From there, she went on foot, but as fast she she could, and. now, though naked — she had no wish to burn away the only clothes she had with her should she come under attack — she found it trivially easy to ignore the lure of nature. Only at the far eaves of the wood did she pause to put on the long green dress, and hat, leaving the seared blouse in the shoulder-bag, along with the redundant gun she carried. From now on would be almost safe; she would be among people and to some degree hidden.

Suzi was in the front lounge as Nancy returned to the hotel, and greeted her like a long-lost friend, hugging her tight, and kissing her on the cheek. Nancy tried to shrink away fearing what might develop into a compromising situation, glad when at last she was freed from temptation as she was released. She was about to explain the situation to Suzi when the girl suddenly went blank faced, and started to collapse. Nancy caught her as she fell, and drove a probe into her mind. And found nothing — not an absence of abnormality, but a total absence of all function on any of the few surface levels she could reach in such manner. Then, still mind-blank, she gained animation, wriggling her way from Nancy's hold, and walking towards the elevator. Nancy followed her, and in the privacy of the elevator cell blasted her with the stunner she carried, and when it stopped at Suzi's floor, sent it on to her own, where she dragged the inert body into her room, and lay her on the bad.

She took a beer from the fridge, and drank it slowly, while she waited for Suzi to recover from what had come over her, and from the stunner.

It was an hour later when Suzi finally struggled back to awareness, after another stun shot to keep her under after first awakening in the same robotic state. To pass the time, Nancy had in the meanwhile bathed, and changed into another outfit, a heavy blue shirt and blue-jeans, and a pair of white leather boots. From there she had gone on to grooming her hair, and with nothing else to attend to about her person, had returned to the watch.

Well, actually that was what she called it; in point of fact she spent as much time staring out of the window as watching Suzi, and so missed her actual awakening

“What happened?” Suzi managed to ask that question first.

“You switched off all your mind, and then started walking away. I followed you into the elevator and gave you a quick burst of this.” She held up the gun.

“One of my attacks. I get them every so often — usually end up a hundred lites away from where I went under. I had one earlier this afternoon, I'm told, only that time I just went berserk and it took a couple of Hrulgani to restrain me and I'd only just snapped out of it before the group got back to the hotel.”


“Guided tour of some Q'l-hrui remnants. We'd gotten to a place where there was; a big black slab just set in the ground, and then something went off in my head. You seen the local relics?”

“Yeah, I walked round there earlier. What happened this time round?”

“You'd just backed away from me, and then for no reason I can discern, everything went red. Yeah… you certainly looked worried for some reason. I just didn't notice anything else — I was just looking for a shoulder to cry on after what had just happened.”

“It felt like you were coming on seriously at me. I wouldn't mind that, but I'm not sure that that was what you were meaning.”

“Oh. I'm sorry — I'm glad that came up right now before I could do anything else stupid. That wasn't what I was meaning, I'm sorry.”

“No, that's all right. I've had too many other things to think about than lust for you.” However, it had been a long enough time since she had held another person. If only Trish were here with her, if only they could be once again as close in spirit as once they had been, before all this. She thought of writing to her cousin, asking her to join her, but dismissed the idea at once. Their unity had been broken the night she had acquired the killer thing that hung cold against her breast, and could never be reforged. That wound was still raw, worsened, if anything, by her brief involvement just a few days earlier. She did not dare admit to herself the secret hope that he had held that Suzi and her 'affinity' would fill that gap, and now.

She looked wearily at Suzi, who for her part was staring disinterestedly out of the window. Conversation had died, and she could think of no gambit to resurrect it, and time yawned emptily for the next three hours until dinner.

She felt suffocated again, as she had done in her time aboard ship, and until Suzi seemed ready to depart, convention tied her here, denied the solace of restless wandering. It was a time that was designed for sleep, but she was wide awake.

At last, after maybe ten minutes, spent mainly in keeping her eyes off Suzi, and trying not to brood on her own boredom, she finally asked, “Have you any ideas of what better things we could be doing?”

A pause, presumably for readjustment to the here and now.

“Not really. I can only think of getting something to read, or watching the Tree-V or…”

You, Nancy thought to herself, supplying the word she wanted to complete the sentence

“…listening to some music, perhaps?” Suzi concluded after her brief hesitation.

So much for idle curiosity, Nancy thought. Well, she'd just have to live with that. Suzi wouldn't be tempted. At least she had supplied some excuse to get out and away from each other.

The fragment ends here

Whatever happened to Nancy Wolf?

At this point I stopped writing, because the damned gem was taking over, and she was becoming more a Jean Grey as Phoenix than the original Telzey Matuchek character I had intended.

How the story would have finished

Suzi is, of course, being piloted by the opposing gem. Cue some more Andre Norton style Forerunner bits, an obligatory fight scene, and Nancy triumphant, a full time super-heroine. Does this develop the character? No.

If I were to try and finish this today, the story would have to end with some form of renunciation of the gem, now revealed as some Transcendent-tech enabler (rather than being a Power itself, it helps bootstrap a human-level being, as well as having some nifty abilities). That would move the character on in some degree.

Suzi — well she ruled herself out as Nancy's life-mate; but I think she survives, albeit traumatized, and not entirely certain of what happened. She can recover her life and vanishes from the tale.

What Nancy did next

I stopped writing about this time, as I got into cosy domesticity, and RPGs took up more of my hobby time. After exhausting the immediate charms of D&D, and the high fantasy genre in general, we thought about trying super-heroes as a genre. Given that the state of the art then was Superhero:2044, and Villains and Vigilantes, we opted to free-form, meaning I could bring in a version of the Nancy-as-Phoenix called Silverwolf. Imagine the original Jean Grey Phoenix, but with the appropriate shift of colour-scheme, and a wolf-mask instead of the bird outline.

Nancy also made an appearance as a PC in an all-weekend gaming session for high powered favourite characters run by Phil Masters back in about '83. As a mostly-GM, rarely player, I had no really suitable characters of my own, so handed Phil a copy of Moving Day, and he produced a set of Champions stats

Skip tables

Nancy Wolf, human form

Value Char. Cost
23 STR 13
20 DEX 30
20+5* CON 25
11 BODY 2
20 INT 10
23 EGO 26
10+10* PRE 5
12 COM 1
7 PD 2
10+1* ED 6
4 SPD 10
9+1* REC
40+10* END
38+3* STUN 5
  Total 135
  +Powers 277
  Grand Total 412
* Enhanced state only
(+1 disadvantage) — only in appropriate
circumstances, destroyed by energy attacks
OCV: 7 DCV: 7 ECV: 7
PD: 7+2 ED: 10+1+5  
PHA 3,6,9,12  
Move: 7 Run    
Skills & Powers
Pts Skill/Power END
6 2 levels, single shot stun  
5 1 level all guns  
5 Gadgeteering 13-  
5 Programming 13-  
15 4 Climbing 17- (2)
4 2PD, 5ED Force-field at 0 END*  
Stun Gun OAF 100 pt battery + spare:  
46 127pt Multipower reserve  
4 122pt fixed slot, 7D6 NND 1/8END (1)
5 125pt fixed slot, 4D6 NND Autofire 1/64END (1)
4 120pt fixed slot, 6D6 NND Burst fire 1/16END (3)
5 127pt fixed slot, 5½D6 AP RKA (25)
Blaster OAF 6 uses + 2 spare magazines  
40 4D6 AP RKA  
33 Alternate form, 332 pt wolf  
6 STR 1/2 END (2)
2 +1 running (to 7 ) (11)
13 2D6 EGO attack, IAF necklet (4)
7 -15 EGO Defence (11pt) 14-  
Elemental Control Telepathic power, 1/3 innate 2/3 IAF  
44 1. Telepathy 9D6 1/2END 4
22 2. Mind scanning 9D6 1/2 END  
3 1 BODY regeneration 8-  
3   1 BODY regeneration under moonlight  
277 Powers Total  
Balancing Disadvantages
Disadvantages 100+ ctd. +
Unusual looks 8- 5 No control over shape-shift 20
Fear of injury/death 20 Stress+moonlight triggers, leaving clothes and weapons 0
Disdain for cargs 15 Bonus 207
Hunted: Matts 11- 25 Total 412
Hunted: Free Traders 8- 20      

Nancy Wolf, wolf form

Value Char. Cost
23 STR 13
23 DEX 39
30 CON 40
11 BODY 2
8 INT -2
23 EGO 26
15 PRE 5
8 COM -1
20 PD 15
12 ED 6
6 SPD 27
11 REC
60 END
38 STUN    
  Total 170
  +Powers 162
  Grand Total 332
OCV: 8 DCV: 8 ECV: 8
PD: 20 [10] ED: 12 [[6]]  
PHA 2,4,6,8,10,12  
Move: 12 Run    
Skills & Powers
Pts Skill/Power END
41 Human form  
6 STR 1/2 END (2)
10 Damage Resistance vs. Physical ranged and all HTH KAs  
20 2 BODY regeneration  
18 +6 running to 12 all 1/2 END (1)
2 +1 swimming to 3  
19 1D6 HKA 1/2END (1)
  = 2D6 w/STR 2
15 Tracking Scent  
10 Ultrasonic hearing  
4 +4 Hearing (-1/7 )  
7 -13 EGO defense (11 pt) 14-  
5 Stealth 14-  
5   +1 to all Perception rolls  
162 Total  
Balancing Disadvantages
Disadvantages 100+ ctd. +
Unusual looks 14- 5 No control over shape-shift 20
Animal mentality 25 Shifts in daylight  
Berserk if cornered 11- recover 14- 10 Hunted: Matts 8- 20
Berserk in HTH 8- recover 14- 15 1.5* stun from fire. 10
Functionally mute 15 Bonus 77
No hands 25 Total 332

Another guest appearance followed some years later in what started as Phil's UK based Champions campaign (which provided the basis for some of Kingdom of Champions), but became a community project where everyone tried GMing at some point. When martial arts super-heroine Pushover needed a make-over, she received a healthy pension from a mysterious Wolf Foundation, and changed her name from Carolyn Wilson to Christine Wolf (and her nom d'heroique to Masque). And yes, there's also a reference to Christine Spar, a.k.a. Grendel's grand-daughter in there, too.

At this point Nancy's motivations were that, having managed to get back to a critical point in the past, to make sure that things turn out better. In '98 I wrote the following tiny fragment to start another episode, set c.2003, nearly 15 years after Pushover's retirement from the superhero business:

Cold wind and rain lashed the streets as Carolyn left the conference centre to return to her hotel, tired after a day of frustrating meetings. What point, she wondered, was there in trying to make any sense of a development policy for the third world at a time like this, when the whole world had suddenly become an underdeveloped country, at least according to the enigmatic Woman from the Future?

It was hard to think that it was only a few days since the announcement that had cut across all broadcast channels and spammed every newsgroup and mailbox, that the future was flawed, and that things would have to turn out differently this time, followed by a torrent of sightings, enigmas and hysteria. There were large structures in orbit, confused reports of halts or interruptions of fighting in the Balkans and in Africa, and all sorts of religious outbreaks, and continued random broadcasts of various technical data.

in which her motivation is to make sure that the Singularity happens before significant migrations into space, so there aren't folk such as herself left behind. She has become a one-woman Peace Authority (as per Vinge's The Peace War) ; before I encountered Jenny Sparks and her Authority beginning to tread a similar path to a finer world.

I'm developing this into a new story called Castles in the Sky, available as a work in progress locally.

Meanwhile, back at the future

While preparing this page, it became obvious that Nancy had become one of the ways I externalized growing up and leaving home. Almost twenty five years on, I know I'm different; so what would happen to Nancy?

I have this image of her, maybe fifty years later. She is sitting at a table, alone, after a meal, a nearly empty glass of red wine to hand. She looks slightly older, a little softening of fat over the sinews and muscle, and is lazily content. The night sky arches above outside a great dome. She is content, and looks back at her youthful folly and exuberance with faint amusement. She has never gone home.

Distinctive Appearance

Besides looking like a black and white photo, with some grey pigments instead of haemoglobin and melanin, of course her fingers show the distinctive mark of the werewolf (long ring finger, IIRC).

Her hair is silvery, as are her irises. Her eyebrows are gun-metal and of course meet in the middle, and fan out at the sides almost merging into the hair at her temples. Her eyelashes are also gun-metal, and are long and thick. She has a noticeable and uniform fine silvery down over her entire body from neck down, thinning, but present, on the palms of the hands and absent only due to wear on the soles of her feet. Not enough to be furry, it would, if darker or coarser in texture be noticeably hairy; a common add-on to the Clan phenotype, to improve the retention of warm air close to the skin — a useful feature on icy worlds.

But see Castles in the Sky for more detail.

© Steve Gilham 2000