Before Midnight: Part 2

“I’ll know him?” Joe looked up at Gunther, mouth in a straight line, “I’m going to need more information than that.”

Gunther shook his head, “No, you won’t. You’ll need more information than that to find it, but not more when you’ve got it and need to hand it off.”

The creature’s information had always been good even if “his” true motives weren’t obvious. If this thing that Gunther lost explained what Gunther was doing on Earth, Joe could live with it. He didn’t enjoy having that hanging out there as a potential surprise.

“So…” Joe glanced out the window, watching the snow fall on the city. The kids were sleeping at their grandparents, “when would this happen? Not tonight, I hope.”

Gunther laughed, “No, but soon. I don’t want to pull you away from the party.”

Joe’s lip curled, “Since you bring that up, tonight would be fine, but I think everyone else would like some time to relax.”

Gunther grinned, “I know the latest bout with Dr. Madness got to everyone, but you have one reason to relax. Now that you’re all over the age of 30, you’re immune to Evil Beatnik’s influence.”

Joe sighed, “30 seems arbitrary. Why does it work that way?”

Gunther shrugged, “Magic. Evil Beatnik is a creature of chaos. All the rules will seem arbitrary.”

Checking his watch, Joe said, “I don’t have much time before Romy comes looking, but I’ve got a question, you’ve made references to friends before and how I’m descended from one of them. Who are they? Are they here too? Am I partially alien?”

Gunther’s smile made Joe think of the reptilian entity in the magic circle, “You’re all human—physically. We can assume the form of other creatures and so far as anyone can tell, that’s all we are. I know that I have a few weirdnesses, but they’re intentional. In a world where humans with strange powers exist, I’m just one more.”

Then Gunther stopped, frowned, and stared out the window himself, leaving Joe to wonder why.

Before Joe asked, Gunther said, “But here’s the problem, when we create a body for ourselves, we still need to connect to our core—which means that we need to create a body that can do what we can do. That means that if we have children with one of you, the potential to tap into our powers exists. You can’t live long enough, but one of you might be the right kind of accident.”

Joe laughed, “And then one of us finds your device and becomes a god?”

Gunther stopped and met Joe’s eyes, “It’s possible.”

Thinking back over the years that he’d known the creature, Joe had a hard time remembering when Gunther hadn’t been making light of the situation no matter how bad. At the very least, he’d always seemed amused. He did not seem amused at all.

“And if that happens,” Joe watched Gunther’s face for hints, “what next?”

Face impassive, Gunther said, “It depends. If he’s powerful enough to control it, then he becomes the most powerful of us and maybe kills the remaining members of my species. After that, he might as well be a god because he’ll rule this planet and as much of the universe as he cares about.

“I don’t think that’s likely. To understand how to use it, he’d need training and none of us would train him. What’s more likely is that he’d barely be able to use it and attract the attention of the remaining members of my species. The best you could hope for there is that the Live faction would come here, destroy him, and leave with the device in their care. The worst case is that the Destroy faction would appear, kill him, take the device, and use it to hunt down the Live faction and any other species with potential, starting with yours.”

“Live and Destroy,” Joe shook his head. “It’s good that they don’t hide what they’re about. You’ve told me about them before. Live wants to teach younger species and bring them up to your level over time and Destroy wants to destroy all sentient life except for your species. There was a writer who I liked. I even wrote him a couple of times as a teen and he wrote back—H.P. Lovecraft. It makes me think of his stories. They were about mad gods that would destroy humanity if they ever woke up and they might not even notice they’d done it.

“As bad as this sounds, there’s no Live faction in his work. It’s nice to know that in reality, we’ve got a better chance.”

Gunther did smile at that, but a slow smile that grew gradually wider, the kind Joe suspected many creatures had seen in their last moments.

“Yeah,” Gunther said, “and even better than the Live faction, I have plans to prevent all of that and they include you.”

3 thoughts on “Before Midnight: Part 2”

  1. Hey so this is the last book, is the last book starting with an extended flashback? Or is this a very short flashback? Or is this just an interlude, and the final book starts somewhere else?

    1. There will be flashbacks throughout the book–all (most?) of them short. This is the first one.

      The original League’s history set the stage for the current League. Some of their experiences are better seen than alluded to–at least I hope so.

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