“This is the place,” said Lucien suddenly.
“What?” Katie quickly slowed the truck.
“Thank you for your service Katie, you won’t be forgotten,” Lucien spoke quickly as he simultaneously reached into his coat pocket and opened the passenger door of the still moving truck..
“You are strong Katie, you might be able to help me again if we ever meet. Here, take this,” he handed her a pendant on a cord that he had prepared for just such a purpose.
Before Katie could respond Lucien was out the door of the rolling vehicle and disappearing around the corner of a dark alley. The young girl was amazed and bewildered. The pendant was made of flat metal smooth on the edges with a warm luster. It was shaped like a spiral with six points each engraved with a unique symbol.
Katie drove home that night and was met by her father at the door. The tall man was more slender and lean than looked healthy. He was dirty and always wreaked of smoke and alcohol.
“Morton tells me that you were out driving with a somebody. Who was it?” he started before she even entered the door.
“No one,” she quickly entered and made for the stairs.
“No one eh? Who gave you that pretty necklace then,” he stepped closer and Katie stopped in her tracks and stared at the floor with her back to him as her face flushed and her heart began to pound.
“Answer me girl!” the shouts filled Katie’s ears so that her mind was consumed with them until she could not respond.
“I bet he was real nice to you. I bet you were real nice to him too, ya little slut. Did you think he would take you away from me? No, no little girl, this is where you belong, you’re only good for one thing. Now tell me who it was!”
Katie felt his strong hand grip her arm violently. At the same time the pendant on her neck began to feel like it was on fire.
“GET AWAY FROM ME!!” she yelled, and returned her fathers force with a shove that sent him off balance and against the kitchen counter.
Katie was instantly gripped with fear. She had never fought back before. She hadn’t meant to do it. She hadn’t meant to do anything. She could see the rage in her father’s eyes and at the same time she felt the increasing burning of the pendant in her hand as she clutched it and backed away in fear.
The evil man’s rage poured out of his mouth as he cursed her. When he had stumbled backward his hand had landed on his hunting knife that lay on the kitchen counter. He took the blade from its sheath, and cursing moved towards Katie who still held the now scorching and smoldering pendant tightly in her fist.
“You’ll never make another mistake like that again little girl, NEVER AGAIN!”
Further away, Lucien stooped in the back corner of an alley as the rain diminished. No other human could have detected the smell he noticed from the truck, but any man could have seen and identified the immense print left in the city grime at his feet. It was wider than two of his fists, and the claw marks reached well beyond the four toe prints where they sunk deep into the mud.
Lucien was scared. This was an immense creature, and it carried with it the smell of human blood. He understood more clearly now, the companion of Mercury was Artos a pagan god of animals in times past, and his plan involved reviving a little of his former might and giving Lucien some power related to this massive rogue bear.
“You have done well Lucien,” a voice came, projected by his CAIN. His cyberneural implant was interpreting it from of the rustle of nearby leaves. Lucien recognized the signature pattern of Artos hidden in the chaos.
“And now what do I do,” Lucien asked the leaves as he looked at the immense paw print filled aninch deep with fresh rain.
“I suggest you draw out my knife. I have been feeding this child of mine on man flesh for this full year in preparation for his sacrifice. He is tired of the tough sinewy meat of the lame; he desires fresh strong prey. Beware, he will not go down easily.”
“You mean for me to kill this thing?!” He rose quickly to his feet from where he crouched and un-slung his pack to retrieve the ancient knife. He had thought that he was somehow meant to tame the creature, not fight it.
“Is the Great One afraid?” mocked the macrobe as its invisible pattern flowed through the environment.