A while ago I shared a story about a dear friend who calls himself DC… You can find that story here on the Tale, which I think is one of my best really… But what wasn’t told was just how it was that the Queen of the Succubi and DC met. With the help of DC, here’s that story …
Misfortune and Opportunity
By TeraS and DC Sensai
It’s often been said that misfortune and opportunity go hand in hand. Sometimes the proverb is meant as a way to build oneself up from being thrown asunder. But, in application, misfortune can give one the opportunity, say, to use a camera in an RC helicopter to gain the advantage in renegotiating their insurance so one could move back to his lair in the Smoky Mountains.
It had been a few months since Doc Strangeglove, known as DC to his friends, had his first housewarming visit from his friend Tera—who was, in fact, the only person that called him Doc. Since that event, the mind control device had backfired, as he knew it would, and he figured out how to help Ivana control most of her new urges.
Of course he would never take advantage of he. For one, he was a gentleman, and, secondly, it states several times in “the list” that in-house relationships usually lead to a downfall. However, in making “toys” to deal with Ivana’s new found urges, he created a new alloy that would get him back in the top ten “wanted” section of Justice magazine.
But this story isn’t about all of that. It’s about something much more important.
In the middle of packing up what they could—after all, moving companies for mad scientists were notoriously clumsy, and he didn’t want someone to get zapped accidentally by one of his inventions—the mad scientist and his brilliant assistant Ivana decided to take a break. The fact that one of the freak storms of the area had just picked up helped that decision along, mind you. As he rested on his couch, the one that had been with him since the days of Not Exactly Accepted Science College—from which he scored an A plus by the way—he commented: “It’s raining mauve paint and amish directories. This place has got to be the fourth weirdest place I have ever had the displeasure of being.”
Ivana, in the meantime, had managed to locate the one refrigerator that hadn’t been emptied, and had returned with a bottle of water for each of them … and an oar.
“Be careful with that, will you?”
Ivana sat herself beside him, looking at the oar with some confusion as she asked: “What is with this oar? You’ve told me that it’s one of your prized possessions, but you’ve never told the story why that is.” DC rolled his eyes as Ivana continued on: “I know it says ‘prize bludgeoning oar’ on it and you got it from an evil genius symposium, but why do you claim it’s so valuable to you? It’s just a big piece of oddly shaped wood, isn’t it?”
He sighed and began: “Well, that goes back a little while. You see, I had to shut the compound down because of a new guy I had hired, long before we met, who mistook a genetic reactor for a microwave. He put a homemade plate of calamari, with a fruit reduction mind you, and a fruit bat into it.”
Ivana’s answer to that was one arched eyebrow as she cracked open her bottle of water and waited for him to continue.
“So, as a result, that was all combined into an abomination that had the oddest taste for milk chocolate and steak. No, I don’t know why. Regardless, when something like that happens, the compound is sealed up and the only ones allowed in are some Venezuelan soldiers of fortune hired to ‘clean up’ … so to speak.”
She pointed a finger at him: “You’d better make sure that doesn’t happen with me around. Seriously. I don’t have a thing for tentacles.”
“Neither do I. Moving on with the story: as you well know, the cover for the main base is that it’s a vacation spot that I rent out for extra income and to make the place look respectable.”
Ivana choked a bit on her water, but didn’t comment further.
“It was a quiet time of the year, the place was deserted save for a group of what I thought were hippy larpers, so I thought nothing was amiss. I should have known something was up when they made comments like ‘Actually, you’ll be the one paying when it’s check-out time’ but I was trying to figure out a way to turn cheese whiz into gold and really wasn’t totally paying attention.”
Again, Ivana choked a bit on her water, but didn’t comment.
He waved his hands around as he continued to tell the story: “Suddenly, a storm started up and I turned on the TV to find out just how bad it was going to be. The news report said that six or seven different odd phenomena, depending on whether you thought that ball lightning was odd or not, had converged on a single point. I was worried when I saw that the satellite image of the storm was right over the lab. I looked out the window of the resort office and saw that there was a funnel cloud, in reverse, right over top of that cabin I had rented to those guys because they insisted on it.”
Ivana shook her head: “And this is why we do background checks.”
He looked at her: “I said this was a long time ago. Couldn’t type someone’s name and get all of the information on them there is then.”
She waved her hand and didn’t comment … again.
He continued: “I was rather perturbed, and needed to know what they were up to. I grabbed the nearest thing I had in the office …”
He paused and then reached over to where the oar was and took it into his hands carefully: “… this oar. Then I marched down to the cabin to see what was going on and deal with them.”
Ivana blinked … once. “You are no henchman; why did you do that?”
He shrugged: “Union rules. They were having a … oh, what did they call it? … ‘professional development day?’ Personally, I think they were all off playing cards and getting drunk.”
Ivana didn’t comment. Better that she didn’t mess with the union.
“So I went down to break up whatever it was that they were doing. I kicked in the door and yelled out: “It’s check-out time!”
He looked at the oar again: “And that was the first time I laid eyes on her …
“… The storm raged outside of the door as I stood framed in the doorway and regarded what was going on there in front of me. To my right, the group that had rented the cabin were arguing with each other, which drew my attention.
‘I figured all of this out. She’s mine!’
“Well, the first thing I wondered was, ‘Who’s she?’ That’s when I saw the summoning circle to my left. I had, at one point, thought about trying magic instead of science, but found that I had better luck with science. Still, I did recognize that it was a summoning circle … but an odd one.
“The runic circles they had drawn didn’t make much sense. While the first sealing circle was in sandskrit runes, the other two were in Tolkien Elvish … and Klingon. It was obvious that they didn’t really have a clue about what they were doing and had lucked out in their summoning.
‘I do not belong to any of you … period.’
“The voice that spoke those words was not exactly what one might call happy. It was sultry, very much so, but there was a dangerous edge to it. I raised my eyes away from the circle, and it was then that I saw who was in the circle.
“It was a tall, raven haired woman with a pair of small red horns in her wild mane … stunningly beautiful, lovely green eyes … and not at all happy. I could tell that much from the tone of her voice, but more so from the way her long, red, heart-tipped tail was arced over her left shoulder. Her arms were crossed over her chest and her green eyes seemed to be warning that, when she got free, she was going to do some very evil things to the others in the room.
“She looked at me out of the corner of her eye: ‘Please leave. I will not hurt innocents.’ She looked back at the ones who had trapped her: ‘But I will make an exception for all of you, of course.’
“She gathered her power, and a wall of white hot light began to push at the barrier that surrounded her. It was blinding! I needed to cover my eyes as the light grew brighter and brighter, all while the storm raged to new heights outside of the door.
“When the light faded, she was still held in the circle, the three across from her were now looking at me, as well.
‘Maybe we have to do a sacrifice, too?’
‘Go get your knife.’
“At this point, I noticed two things. One, that the group I thought were harmless weren’t. The other thing was the reaction of the woman in the circle: ‘If you touch him, I will end you.’
“This didn’t sit right with what I knew about beings from other planes, specifically ones with horns and tails. She had told me to leave, that she would not harm an innocent. But it was the look in her eyes when they had threatened me. She took that very personally. So much so that I wondered what she was, exactly.
“There was only one way to find out. I edged toward her, the oar in my hands to protect himself from them. When I was within an oar’s length of her, I looked at her: ‘Please try not to make too much of a mess. The normal cleaners won’t be back till Monday.’
“The smile she gave me at those words sealed the deal, and, with a flick of my wrist, I broke the barrier of the circle and it flashed away into nothingness. The storm … just … wasn’t. The group were frozen and looking scared. It was deathly quiet for the longest, stillest moment, and then the quiet was broken by her voice: ‘Promise.’”
He was looking at the oar as he remembered that moment while Ivana just looked at him: “That’s how you met Tera?”
He looked at her: “How do you know it’s her?”
She rolled her eyes: “Raven hair? Red horns and tail? Seriously?”
He chuckled: “Needless to say, those ruffians learned three things. Don’t mess with powers you do not understand, don’t do rituals under the nose of a mad scientist … and how well a pitchfork can fit up certain orifices of the body.”
Ivana didn’t comment … really, there was no point … though she squirmed a bit where she rested on the couch while he resumed his story.
“I had retreated outside of the cabin, closing the door behind me as I did so. There was the occasional flash of light that poured out the windows of the cabin as … whoever-she-was … took care of the idiots inside. I then heard the door open, and I looked around the corner of the cabin to see her walk outside and look for me.
“She looked tired. Her eyes were half closed, her right hand holding onto the doorframe as she found me standing there. Then she took a deep breath: ‘Are you alright?’
“’I’m fine,’ I answered. ‘Are you?’
“She paused, her hand slipping from where it held onto the doorframe: ‘No, I think not.’ That point was punctuated when she fell to the ground in front of the cabin. I reached her a moment later.
“By the time she woke up, I had moved her to the bedroom, and left her alone. She tried to sit up, but her head spun around and she fell back onto the sheets. She told me later that, if nothing else, this would teach her that brute force was not the way to get out of a bad situation. A smile came to her when she told me that it was exactly what her mother had told her before.
“Anyway, this was when I knocked on the door: ‘Can I come in?’
“I opened the door and stood there with a small cart. I averted my eyes from the room as I asked: ‘Can I assume you’re decent?’
“She laughed a bit: ‘If you mean “Am I dressed?” Yes, I am. It’s quite safe for you to enter.’
I pushed the cart into the room, leaving the door open as I did so. ‘Can I offer you something? I haven’t much to share right now, the staff is all away.’
‘I wouldn’t want to be a bother.’
“Her voice was lovely and concerned as I chuckled: ‘You’re not.’ Then I offered her a small plate of cookies: ‘My niece is with the Girl Guides. They had their cookie drive this past week. I had to buy a truckload of cookies.’
“She tilted her head to the right: ‘A … truckload?’
“I shrugged: ‘She’s very persuasive. Her brother has a paper route. He’s even more so.’
“She smiled while she nibbled on one of the cookies and mumbled: ‘It’s nice to have family.’
“I nodded and we both ate our cookies in silence for a time, until I said, ‘I suppose I should introduce myself. I’m Doc Strangeglove. Friends call me DC.’
“She took another cookie and tapped it against her lips, as if in thought: ‘Then I think we have a problem.’
“She smiled: “I do not, as a rule, call others by anything other than their first name. So, if you don’t mind, I will call you Doc.’
“I raised a cookie to her: ‘Absolutely. It would be an honour.’
“She smiled as she told me: ‘My name is Tera.’
‘Nice name. Oddly, it suits you.’
“Now it was my turn to smile: ‘Not sure, exactly. Just does.’
“Her tail rose in the air behind her, the tip of it seeming to look directly at me as she asked, ‘Ever watch “Casablanca”?’
“I was intrigued: ‘Been a while. Why?’
“She moved the covers to the side and settled in beside me, taking a bite of the cookie as she did so: ‘I think this is going to be the start of a beautiful relationship.’”
Ivana was looking at him. Just looking and saying nothing.
“What? She had been through an ordeal, and I would never take advantage of someone like that, and I had just bought a huge order of those cookies. I couldn’t finish them all by myself!”
Ivana rolled her eyes, but didn’t say a word. His ability to eat cookies was legendary. So was his putting hot sauce on them, but she didn’t comment about that either. She knew better.
“Tera stayed for two weeks. She often asked me to let her know if she was in the way or a problem, but everything went fine. At least it did until she came a bit too close to a fortunately no-longer-needed piece of equipment in the lab and it exploded in a shower of sparks. That was the beginning of operation ‘Keep Tera away from the Lab!’
“It was one evening when we were sitting on the back porch of one of the other cabins—Tera never went back into the one where she first appeared. Not ever.
“She asked me, ‘It’s nice to have friends, isn’t it?’
“I looked at her: ‘If only for a little while.’
“She turned to me: ‘How do you mean?’
‘I know you have to leave, that you have a Realm to look after and other places to be. Don’t get me wrong, it’s been a great time with you.’
“She held a cookie up: ‘Cookies do that. I don’t get the hot sauce, though.’
‘Don’t change the subject, Tera.’
“She put the cookie in her mouth and chewed on it, allowing me to continue: ‘I don’t have a lot of people that I call friends. It comes with who I am, after all.’
“She swallowed: ‘Who you are is a good man, Doc. I knew that from the moment I met you.’
“I guess I allowed a small smile: ‘Yeah, well, I knew that too.’
“She leaned against me, looking up at the stars: ‘It’s better to have friends for always.’
“I looked up as well, a shooting star, hopefully not a crashing satellite going overhead, a silent wish in my thoughts: ‘It is.’
“Tera replied, seeing the star above and making her own wish: ‘It is.’”
Ivana watched him as he looked at the oar, the memories flooding up in him as he did so.
“We made a promise to each other to keep in touch, and she left the following morning, taking about twenty boxes of cookies with her when she did. My niece is thrilled to have a Queen buy cookies from her every year, too.”
He then put the oar into a large wooden box marked “Treat with care or else!”
Ivana asked: “How do you and Tera keep in touch? Some kind of talisman she left or some mystical orb you searched for?”
He looked at her in bemusement, a trick that Tera had shown him: “No, we use Twitter.”
She shook her head: “Of course. I should have realized.”
He smiled and turned towards the seemingly endless packing: “That’s why the oar is precious to me. I used it to help my friend, and we have been there for each other. To listen to each other and be there when we needed each other. Some may call her ‘Queen,’ others their nightmares or fantasies incarnate, depending on who they are. She can be anything to anyone, but to me I am honoured to call her ‘My dear friend.’”
As the two returned to their packing, the room fell quiet. The air was still, until there was a puff of cherry-scented smoke in the room and a slim figure with raven hair, red horns, and tail appeared beside the box that held the oar. Her hand touched the oar, gently. She smiled before closing the box and then she left as she had arrived, knowing that her friend … knew.