A Lady's Prerogative: The Pug Mandate (Second draft finalized. A bit more art and then one more ALP short story before Singularity)

This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, business, events and incidents are the products of the author's imagination. Any resemblance to actual persons (or dogs), living or dead or super-powered or actual events is purely coincidental.

And At The End Of The Day

An elderly man, absent of hair everywhere, except perhaps for his brows, the space on either side of his mouth and the space beneath his lips, swept vigorously, as if he was playing the game of curling. There was no puck nor was there any signs of a scoreboard, though there were a series of lanes to which he was attending. The lanes or aisles of his own place of business.

The shop to which he was attending was mostly silent, with the exception of the tinny sound of an old colour tube television connected to a VHS player which looped one of his favourite (undubbed) Japanese movies, for he was a native speaker of the language. A lone Shakuhachi played a dramatic melody as the man pondered times passed.

For instance, he considered that his (now deceased) best friend, Barris Windsor, had (before his passing) insisted that the man get his VHS collection of movies, the ones about which he was so sentimental, digitized in a format compatible with most modern computers and audio/visual equipment.

The man chuckled under his breath as he recalled one such memory, where Barris upon hearing the tinny whining sound of the old television approached him as if in a psychotic rage, grabbing him by the shoulders and shaking him, declaring: that thing is driving me absolutely nutters!

To which the old man simply replied: my friend, you cannot take up a voyage driving to any destination at which you arrived long ago...

The old man laughed aloud as he finished up with his broom. He took it and placed it in a cabinet and then proceeded to the front door and locked it.

Upon hearing the noise of the lock, a small dog, a pug, came running from the back office space in the store and began barking at the old man.

"What has gotten into you Happīu~isuka?" asked the old man of the little dog.

The dog sat before him, looking up at his eyes as if trying to tell him something.

"Ohhhh. I almost forgot. Thank you for reminding me," the old man leaned down and rubbed the little dog's head tenderly.

The little dog barked twice, wagging its tail as the old man turned and unlocked the door.

He then pulled a small folding ladder from behind a bookcase, opened it and climbed it to its top. Upon the bookcase, he found a solitary key which had not had time to form dust so much as the space it occupied.

Happīu~isuka barked three times and got onto his feet, his tail wagging enthusiastically.

Sato climbed down the ladder with the key, then opened the front door and placed the key inside of a lantern just over the front door.

"Just in case you happen to find your way home Barris, old friend..." the old man said aloud as he stood under an elaborately and artistically hand painted sign: Sato's Curios And Treasures

A Visitor Bearing Gifts

Sato had already been up for several hours and yet had only unlocked the door to the shop a little over an hour prior. He'd open the store at ten ante meridiem Greenwich meantime, unlocking the door five minutes before. 

There was a bus stop near the store and much of his morning business had been that of commuters looking for reading material for their morning travels. Magazines, news and the published dailies had been available at a convenience store just down the block from his location. However, Sato did carry a large variety of second hand books, some of which were published centuries ago and yet did not quite fall into the category of protected literature or copy. 

Some of his customers were avid readers and often found something interesting in his store of the literary variety, though his inventory wasn't limited to books alone. It was packed with treasures he'd accumulated over the duration of his life and via his world travels. You'd be as likely to find a copy of one of H.G. Wells' lost manuscripts, which apparently weren't nearly as interesting as what he'd written in their absence. You'd definitely find mechanical devices designed by Charles Babbage or even Lady Ada  Lovelace herself such as the first mechanical shaving device for women, simply marketed as the Lady Ada-Girl.

There were a few of Alan Shepard's own personal paper airplanes, including the stick man doodles he'd often etch onto them depicting failed bailout attempts or just pilots outside of the canopy hanging on for dear life. There was a mechanical lighter, which Sato marketed for the purpose of lighting barbecues and candles. The truth was that it was designed by Nicolai Tesla, who at that time was a chain smoker. After using the lighter a few times to light his own cigarettes or the cigars of his investors, he'd managed to completely singe off the eyebrows of any party that used it. Shortly thereafter Tesla quit smoking entirely and was encouraged by his investors to have the design for his lighter scrapped.

There were a collection of dirty limericks written by Rumi, including one of which he'd somehow managed to rhyme Mayiladurathai (a city in India) with a particularly ticklish part of the human anatomy. There was an unpublished essay titled: Shut Up And Let Me Think, Dammit! written by Rene Descartes. A self help book titled: A Writer's Guide To Tricking The Editor Into Doing Your Writing For You by Samuel Clemins also known as Mark Twain. A copy of Sun Tzu's somewhat lesser known book, the Art Of Warbler Calls. Also a very rare copy of Miyamoto Musashi's Book Of Zen Cones, as apparently in addition to being both a master of swords and Zen, he was also quite a fan of ice cream.

Sato also had a seedy written sequel on his shelves, penned by Margaret Atwood, simply called I Spanked The Bachelor's Tail, for which she'd been encouraged by her publisher to retire (from writing) and to get out a little more often, after they rejected it.

On the other hand, you might just as easily have come across the written ramblings of Geoffrey Chaucer Jr., who with works like The Naughty Knights Of Canterbury was simply looking to cash in on his father's literary success with a steamy post medieval version of Harlequin romance novels.

It was not unusual to have someone enter the store almost immediately after he'd opened it, and this day would be no different in that regard. The only difference there would be is that his first customer was also a very good friend.

"Good morning Sato! Its been a while, hasn't it?" Nelony asked as she strode the length of the aisles to meet the elderly man.

"What, perhaps two months? It has been a while, yet not nearly long enough," Sato returned seemingly unimpressed by his guest's visit.

"Grouchy Sato today?" Nelony responded.

"No. Peaceful Sato, after his peace has been disturbed. I take it you came for a specific reason other than to deliver designer dog treats for Happīu~isuka? I think there were some chipmunks outside who are in much more need of your charity. Perhaps you should go have a word with them, nature girl," Sato responded.

"Well, if you really want to know, I just popped in to make sure that you're alright. I mean since..." Nelony began, pausing as she arrived at the inevitable memory of a lost friend.

"Don't give me that pity for an old man routine. Pity, much like pampering is a sentiment best experienced from a distance. In this case, as large a distance as possible," Sato pushed.

"Pity, yes. For a grouchy old man? No. For the furry friend that has to live with such a sour sod as yourself... Where's my little puppy friend?" Nelony pulled an environmentally friendly paper bag from the inside of her jacket.

Within seconds, Happīu~isuka had made his way from the back room of the store and was at her feet, barking happily.

"At least allow him the dignity of earning his meal before you spoil him," Sato suggested.

"Alright. Happīu~isuka? Show me where the Emily Dickinson collection is?" Nelony asked the little pug.

The little dog stopped for a moment, looking around the store as if pondering the question carefully before he came to life, trotting over to one of the shelves and stopping under the collected works of the classic poet.

Nelony followed the little pug over to the shelf. She pulled one of the books from the shelf and seeing that it was one of Emily Dickinson's collected works, she knelt and carefully handed the pug one of the gourmet prepared biscuits she'd picked up at a nearby pet store.

"Pretty good. I'll take this one for my collection. How about William Butler Yeats?" she asked Happīu~isuka.

After he'd ensured that there were no crumbs left on the floor, the little pug circled around to the other side of the same shelving unit and stood beneath the only two books bearing the Yeats name.

Nelony pulled another biscuit out for the little pug, gently placing it on the floor before him. He devoured it, chewing every last bit of it. Nelony scrubbed the little dog's head with her nails.

"There. Good puppy. Maybe, next time I should come with a plate of Sushi for you, and try the same thing?" Nelony stood and shot back at Sato.

"You'll find that I charge much more for parlour tricks like that," Sato responded.

"And a bottle of Sake," Nelony added.

"Deal," Sato agreed as the door opened to reveal a pair of lovely morning customers.

Visitors From Afar

The two women entered the store, their melodic voices and accents standing out right away.

"Kori Jonglyu recommended this store. She was here in London for a show, last year. She just has that radar for finding stores that carry the coolest knick knacks..." Monique held the door for Alicia.

"I'm just saying that we have to keep an eye on the time. We should be at Heathrow Airport by seven tonight at the latest," Alicia responded.

"You were best friends with Heylyn in high school? Have you ever seen her when she gets going at a shopping mall? I practically have to carry her out before she bankrupts herself. Loosen up Alicia. Have a little fun. Carpet Diemond," Monique remarked.

"I seem to remember Heylyn tipping me off about buying stocks in shoe companies any time you go to the mall.  You're hardly one to talk. Besides, I am having fun and it's carpe diem. It's latin. It means: Sieze the dayLive to your fullest. I highly suggest that you stick to pig latin..." Alicia joked with her friend.

"I'll o-day y-may est-bay, but I can't guarantee anything..." Monique responded to Alicia who had already become distracted by one of the store's knick knacks.

"Oh my gosh, would you look at this? Norler would just love this..." Alicia held up a desk ornament she was sizing up for her beau.

"That's better. That's the spirit..." Monique encouraged Alicia.


At the front counter, Nelony and Sato watched the two ladies as they shopped.

"Do you often get tourists?" asked Nelony.

"You're here, aren't you?" Sato remarked.

"Not from other neighbourhoods. I meant from other countries," Nelony responded.

"North America may as well be another planet..." Sato responded sarcastically.

"Watch it, Mila lives there you know," Nelony defended her friend's place of residence.

"Mila lives in Canada. Not to mention that she lives on the outskirts of the smallest town in Canada," Sato added.

"Mila doesn't live anywhere near Timbuktu," Nelony responded with the name of the only small town she'd ever heard of in Canada.

"I meant Alivale, in Ontario. I think our tourists have similar accents to Mila's," Sato said, very keenly aware of their speech.

"That they do," Nelony observed after listening to them talk for a moment.

Nelony then stood up straight and directed her attention at the two women.

"Excuse me. I hope that we're not being rude, but my friend and I here overheard your voices and we'd wagered that you were from Timbuktu in Canada?" Nelony asked politely and in her most polished British accent.

"Its quite alright, though we're from Toronto," Alicia replied politely.

"See? I told you!" Nelony scolded Sato, tapping his arm.

"Why do I even bother?" Sato mumbled, rolling his eyes.

"I think I saw you on the telly last night. Something about a delegation to the East?" asked Nelony.

"Yes. That was us. It was a follow up interview we agreed to with the BBC. The delegation was actually about six months ago. I think the interview was in relation to recent legislation in the United Kingdom favouring cooperation with the Asian Alliance where it involved matters of the sharing of medical technology, and facilitating Global Medical Sciences facilities under United Nations mandate for all continental regions. Canada, The United States and Mexico are teaming up to build theirs. The United Kingdom just put a motion through Parliament for the budget. China, Russia and India have already started theirs. Thailand, Vietnam, Malaysia and Indonesia as well. New Zealand and Australia of course. Japan, Taiwan and the Philipines are working together. South Korea has already had one for years. PAHO are sponsoring their facility for South America. Kenya and Ethiopia have already finished theirs. Dubai has theirs, which is also servicing Egypt and Sudan. In the Middle East, it has even become a grounds for peace negotions, allowing for the possibility of building three such facilities to service the region and opening the doors to trust between the local, the global population and their neighbours, so things are looking up..." Alicia commented, loving to speak about progress in her field.

"Nice to meet one so well informed as yourself," Nelony smiled to Alicia.

"I'm a Scientist. Its my job to be in the know or at the very least, in quest of it," Alicia responded.

"And I'm a fashion model. Tee hee hee," Monique responded, putting a finger on her cheek and doing her best to mock the intelligence cliche often associated with those of her vocation.

"I don't think my friend meant any ill by her remark, but that doesn't mean she isn't capable of scarring the egos of strangers and friends alike," Sato did his best to cushion Monique from Nelony's remark.

"I'm Nelony Ardbloem and this is my friend Mishima Sato," Nelony introduced them to the tourists.

"I'm Alicia Westin, and this is my friend, Monique Defleur," Alicia handled their introduction.

"Forgive me my forwardness, but its not often that you see the British and the French in friendships unless war is involved," Nelony remarked, somewhat intrusively yet without the intention of malice.

"Well, we're both Canadians, eh?" Monique responded in sarcasm.

"The French and the British get along quite well in Canada..." Alicia spoke in complete naivety of any social undertones and hidden tensions that had escaped her for her entire life.

"Who says ignorance isn't bliss?" asked Monique.

"Certainly not the ignorant," Sato backed up both Monique and Alicia, leaving poor Nelony on her own.

"I have other more consuming concerns rather than the underpinnings of social conflict and historical rivalry. While the rest of you neglect her, the Aerth does need someone to look after her," Nelony replied seemingly unperterbed by their banter.

"Perhaps you could teach British environmentalist women a thing or two about treating elderly Japanese men and their dogs with at least a shred of dignity..." Sato carefully (and sarcastically) introduced their guests to the hidden rapport between Nelony and himself.

"Watch it, lest you find yourself and your store bombarded by bird droppings on a daily basis from hereon in. Besides, I'm not here for grouchy old Japanese men. I'm here for your puppy, Happīu~isuka..." Nelony responded.

"Before you completely rob my canine best friend of his dignity by constantly referring to him as a puppy, perhaps we should ask him his opinion in order to settle this?" Sato suggested.

"Perhaps that's a good idea... At least he has a good heart, if not a tiny one. Where is he? He was right there a minute ago..." Nelony looked around for the little pug, finding no evidence of him.

For Those With Sensitive Ears

As the little pug consumed the last of the biscuit, he sniffed the rest of the floor for any remaining tidbits of the tasty snack. It wasn't so much that the little pug was hungry as much so as it was that the risk in leaving anything edible was that it wouldn't last long. At least so it was in the sense of logic possessed by the little dog. After all, dogs lived by simple rules such as, never pass up a meal and people are easy impress. Ironically, both rules often led to the same result. A full stomach. A full stomach after all was a dog's best friend, followed by friendly grooming and the need to play every once in a while.

From Happīu~isuka's perspective, he was just part of a pack of very strange looking dogs that just happened to walk on two legs. In fact, when the two strangers had come into the store, Happīu~isuka had taken up the guard perimeter, making his way around to the front door to ensure that there were no other two legged dogs of the unfamiliar variety that had come in unbeknownst to them. It was Happīu~isuka's job to protect the pack. A task he'd taken much pride in doing, having screened many potential threats to the pack with his discerning nose.

On this particular day, after the most recent strangely hairless two legged dogs had come into the store, Happīu~isuka heard something that nobody else could. It was something very familiar, but something that Happīu~isuka had not heard in a long time.

When he first heard it, his tail began wagging. He even let out a little bark, which went unheard by the rest of  his pack. As he walked closer to the front door of the store, the sound got louder, until Happīu~isuka could make it out clearly. It was a voice. A familiar voice.

"Pug-bug!? Where are you? Walkees? Pug-bug? Daddy wants a hug!" the familiar voice came.

Happīu~isuka barked again as he approached the front door to the store. The voice was calling him somewhere on the other side of the door. It was the sound of one of the members of the pack that he'd not seen for a long time.

It was the voice of Barris.

As Happīu~isuka approached the door, the latch turned as if by some hidden force and the door slowly opened. In the background, Happīu~isuka could hear the other members of the pack as they spoke to each other, oblivious of what he was up to. The little pug slipped through the open door and outside towards the source of Barris's voice as the door to the shop closed behing him. The voice he was hearing was coming from the inside of a black car with tinted windows that had pulled up to the curb.

As the little dog approached, one of the car doors opened, and Barris' voice invited him in.

Happīu~isuka's tail began wagging and he barked three times, before jumping into the car. As soon as the dog was in the car, the door slammed shut and the car sped off.

A Pug Discovery

"Happīu~isuka! Let's go for a w-a-l-k," Nelony gently exclaimed as she searched the store for the little dog.

"As a Doctor and Scientific researcher, its my duty to let you know that dogs cannot spell," Alicia responded as she searched the store for any signs of a dog.

"Alicia, you're speaking to a woman for whom Dog-ese is a second language," Sato politely replied to Alicia while intentionally attempting to insult Nelony.

"I can speak to and with most, if not all animals..." Nelony responded.

"I see..." Monique said raising her eye brows.

"Must be a British thing... You know, there's help for that kind of thing but the first step is admitting that you have a problem," Sato added, winking at Monique as he looked steadily for Happīu~isuka.

"Problem? I do have a problem... his name is Mishima Sato..." Nelony shot back.

"...there he is!" Sato yelled as he leapt for the door.

He'd spotted Happīu~isuka through the display window of his store. Happīu~isuka was walking towards a black car that had stopped near the curb.

Sato swung the front door of his store open as the little pug jumped in. He ran for the car as it sped away into the light Shepperton traffic towards London's downtown core.

"I hate to break it to you but I think your dog has been dog-napped," Monique told Sato, putting a hand on his shoulder.

"I've been prepared for this day my whole life," Sato spoke defiantly as he ran towards the back alley behind the store.

"I'll get the front door Sato. Don't mind him, he's having a senior moment," Nelony etched quotation marks with her fingers as she spoke.

"I could help them you know," Monique spoke quietly into Alicia's ear.

"I know! We both could! But we can't risk blowing our secret identities either..." Alicia reminded Monique.

"I wish Heylyn were here... She's a doer, not a thinker..." Monique responded.

"Sometimes it pays to think before we do... trust me. Heylyn does," Alicia told her friend.

"Oh to heck with this... I'm not waiting for that cranky old Japanese man anymore..." Nelony responded as she lifted off floating into the air before their eyes.

"You want to know what I'm thinking?" Monique spoke as she watched the Aerth Wytch float off in the direction of the dog-nappers.

"The same thing I'm thinking. We've been upstaged by an Nelony, wicked environmentalist witch of the west," Alicia responded in amazement as she watched Nelony pursue the dog-nappers.

A hot rod car hastily pulled up beside Monique and Alicia.

"Get in! We can still catch them if we go now!" Sato yelled to Monique and Alicia.

"You came in this thing? Nice... uhhh... I'll get in..." Alicia responded jumping in the front seat as she leaned forward to allow Monique into the back seat.

"You didn't have to do that..." Sato said as he put the car in gear, speeding off.

"What? Get in?" Alicia confirmed.

"No. You don't have to lean forward to let your friend into the back seat. Ladies, you're looking at the only three door compact car in existence..." Sato drove the manual transmission compact car like an expert.

Three Door Car Gives Chase

"Impressive, isn't it? Well what's even more impressive is that thankfully my arthritis isn't acting up today..." Sato added as he shifted gears.

"That's alright Sato. We understand. We'll get your puppy errrr... little dog back," Alicia responded compassionately.

"I think what Alicia meant to say is that we understand. Its been while since you've had a drive with two women like us to cheer you on," Monique spoke.

"Besides, we're not so helpless as we appear..." Alicia alluded to the fact that they were damsels rarely in distress.

"Don't worry about Nelony. Her bark is far worse than her bite. She's got a good heart that she protects with a wall of thorns and thistle," Sato assured them.

"That and she seems to have perfected the art of being a human kite..." Alicia observed.

"That too... You noticed? There's actually quite a story behind that, but suffice it to say that she's a special woman... that you don't want to cross. Especially if you have any ill intent for nature..." Sato agreed as he weaved the compact car between the traffic.

"We'll get to details later... Right now, lets get your Pug back... Monique, any time you're ready," Alicia turned to face her friend in the back seat.

"Here?" confirmed Monique.

"Here..." Alicia agreed.

"Okey dokee..." Monique replied.

"Sato, you might want to slow down and cover your eyes for a moment," Alicia insisted.

"Why...?  Ohhh! Owww! Ugghh! What kind of Tengu magic was that?!!!!" Sato struggled to maintain his vision as a sudden flash of light signaled Monique's transformation into her light form.

A nanosecond later Monique disappeared through the front windshield at near the speed of light. As she sped towards the dog-nappers, she aimed herself at the tinted back window of the car and attempted to fly through it. When she hit the glass, it felt like hitting a solid wall, even in her energetic light form. Monique bounced off of the glass, transforming back into her natural form as she landed on the roof of the dog-napper's car.

Alicia saw the calamity a few cars ahead of them.

"That was my friend. She has... lets just say unique talents? Uh oh... Their windows must be polarized, otherwise she'd made it inside of that car by now and the occupants would probably be blinded. She might be in trouble. We have to get the car closer to them," Alicia urged Sato.

Sato rubbed his eyes with one hand while steering with the other, before returning his grip to the stick shifter.

"Soooo... how long has your friend secretly been leading a dual life as a sun lamp?" Sato asked Alicia.

"Probably as long as your friend Nelony has been dating weather balloons..." Alicia responded.

"That long...?" Sato seemed impressed as they looked at each other and had a short laugh together.

Monique grasped for anything atop of the black luxury car in her attempt to hang on. Once she had a grip on the roof, she tranformed herself to her shadow form, which allowed her to stand atop of the roof, even amidst the air resistance afforded by their current speed.

"Alicia was right... Think Monique... how do I get in there?" Monique looked for a way to get into the car from her current position on the roof.

Nelony floated over to the roof of the car and landed beside Monique.

"Fancy meeting you here... You don't seem like the Wytch kind of girl..." Nelony spoke Monique in her shadowy form.

"I don't know, I have at least one ex-boyfriend who might disagree with you there. I thought it was a sun roof... I can't find a way in," Monique responded.

"I think we'll need a little help from the Aerth Mother for that... lets put this global warming to good use..." Nelony spoke as she focused the light from the sun, using the carbon dense atmosphere to lens the sun's beams on the hood of the car.

From the inside of the car, the only passenger in back seat spoke as he clung to the Pug.

"My dear driver, please do deal with these pesky Wytches," a small framed clean shaven elderly man spoke as he clung to Happīu~isuka.

"Consider it done," answered the tall mysterious woman driving the car.

Smoke started to rise from the hood as the metal buckled and deformed under the focused heat from the sun. The lady driving the car gripped the steering wheel tightly as her body emitted a concussive force that left through her hands and traveled the frame and body of the car, throwing both Monique and Nelony spinning into the air.

The concussive force was so poweful that it nearly tipped a double decker bus onto its side. The bus bounced to either side as the driver struggled to get it under control.

"Oi mate, d'ya see that?" a man standing beside a Bobby gestured to the bus as it approached, and a black car speeding just ahead of it.

"I'll get that sir. Halt at once! In the name of Scotland Yard!" the Bobby blew a whistle and then began to shout, running after the car.

"Stop at once! ...or I'll yell stop again!" the Bobby chased the car on foot as far as he could before running out of breath.

"Slow down! I think that bus might tip over..." yelled Alicia.

"Do you want me to get you closer to the car or closer to bus?" Sato asked Alicia as he fought with the standard transmission of the little car.

"This is good here!" Alicia yelled as she opened the door and leapt for the bus.

Alicia On The Bus

She landed just barely grasping the top of the bus as it tipped to the side, throwing her up and onto the roof as the driver adjusted his steering drastically to counter the momentum at it teetered.

Alicia got up and cartwheeled the length of the bus with her impeccable balance, stopping as she plunged over the side, grabbing the rear mirror frame beside the driver's open window.

"Stop over steering or its going to roll for sure..." Alicia yelled to the driver.

"Look lady! The only thing keeping this bus from tipping over is my steering!" the driver careened as the bus once again leaned in Alicia's direction.

She hung on for life, bracing against a neighbouring Lorrie with her feet as the bus bounced to the other side.

"Trust me! I'm a physicist!" Alicia yelled at the driver.

"Well I'm the bloody driver and I'm tellin' you that I'm keepin' this bus from going over..." he suddenly steered, countering the momentum to prevent the bus from going over again.

"Careful of that wall ahead!" Alicia yelled as the bus careened inwards toward the sidewalk and pedestrians who'd be pinned between the bus and a nine foot wall.

"Alright! Alright! I'm losing control though..." the driver yelled as the bus mounted the sidewalk.

Alicia weighed her options as the bus bounced over the curb onto the sidewalk. Several pedestrians were directly in the bus' path as she braced for impact with the wall. She grabbed onto the roof and the window frame, bracing her back against the bus as it approached the wall at an angle. Before the front corner collided with the wall, Alicia's feet touched down as she ran sideways, using all of her athletic strength to keep the bus from hitting the wall. The immense weight and momentum of the bus bore down upon her as pedestrians averted their deaths just beneath her between the wall and the bus.

She continued her wall run until the bus finally lost its side to side momentum and the driver had control of the bus. As the bus pulled back out onto the road from the sidewalk, Alicia lost her grip, exhausted from her sudden exertion. Valerie Aspen would have found Alicia's feat very trivial, yet it was the most ambitious way Alicia had used her unique abilities to date. Her grip completely gone, she braced herself to roll as she fell towards the pavement.

"I gotcha girl!" Monique flew, speeding up to catch Alicia before she hit the pavement. 

"Good catch! I thought I'd be taking an early nap on that pavement..." Alicia responded to Monique.

"What are friends for?" Monique winked.

Alicia waved to the bus driver as Monique flew past. The driver waved back as he stopped the bus, giving her a thumbs up and then wiping the sweat from his forehead.

After checking on his passengers' safety, he then pulled a cellularphone from his pocket and dialled the emergency number. After calling for assistance and notifying his dispatcher of the situation, he dialled another number.

"Honey, you and the kids are never going to believe what I saw today..." he began.

This Chapter Is For The Birds

Nelony stopped herself from her mid-air spin and cursed under her breath.

"So, you want to play dirty, do you? Cocoooihhh" she let out a primal call.

From either side of the road, an immense cloud of birds of all varieties enlisted themselves in her army.

"Alright my feathered friends. Let's give them a show," Nelony flew forward with a dense cloud of birds on either side as she caught up with the black sedan.

"Let them have it," Nelony directed her hands towards the luxury sedan.

The birds converged upon the car, covering its windows and body completely as several thousand of them hovered over it in a circling cloud.

"Sir, it must be the Nature Wytch," the mysterious driver spoke to the man holding Happīu~isuka.

"It would seem. What about the other one? I've never seen one with weave of that nature," asked the man.

"Nor have I. Perhaps the Sanctum enlisted new members?" the driver responded.

"Regardless, we have to deal with this before we arrive at the London portal," the man insisted to his driver.

"Perhaps a predator of some form?" asked the driver.

"That sounds like it might do," the man agreed.

"Alright. Coming up," the lady driving the car once again gripped the wheel of the car, channeling her energies through the chassis and body of the car.

Almost at once Nelony cloud of birds began to disperse, fleeing in all directions.

"What gives my friends?" Nelony approached the sedan from the air.

As she approached, she saw the hawks emerging from the car's paint and into reality. They pursued Nelony's birds, culling their flock one at a time as the rest fled for the safety of nearby trees.

"Alright. Its my turn," Sato dropped a gear down to sacrifice overall speed for acceleration. 

He floored the compact car, which jumped ahead aggressively slamming into the sedan's back bumper.

"Not Sato again! Look, is there a way we can deal with the old man without hurting him?" asked the man in the luxury sedan as he held Happīu~isuka.

"We're running out of options and they're only leaving us with lethal means. Perhaps you've forgotten that there's much more at stake here than the life of one old man," the driver urged the man.

"Sato and I go back a long ways and I cannot be his undoing," the man reminded his driver.

"But I can," the driver insisted.

The old man looked at Happīu~isuka and then over his shoulder out through the opaque one way glass at Sato's determined face.

"Do what is necessary, but only in the event that we have no options left," the man ordered the driver.

"Its about time," the driver agreed, struggling against the man's reigns.

Monique dropped Alicia onto the front hood as she flew ahead of the car readying herself for what was to come.

Nelony lowered herself, opening Sato's passenger door and climbing in.

Nelony And Sato Make Amends

"Ssssoooo... how's your day been?" asked Sato.

"Don't even ask..." Nelony cursed under her breath.

"Nelony, I just want you to know that I appreciate everything that you've done to help me... us get Happīu~isuka back..." Sato spoke the difficult words, but not for himself.

He spoke for Nelony.

"You know. I was thinking of something that just might work," Nelony calmed herself and had her first sincere words with Sato since Barris' passing.

"I'm open to suggestions at this point," Sato replied hesitantly as he drove.

"Well, I could try speaking to him telepathically. Only he'd hear it and we might be able to get him to act on it," Nelony suggested.

"You mean get him to liberate himself," Sato's eyebrows raised.

"Or at the least, put him in a very favourable position to be rescued by us," Nelony clarified.

"I trust you," Sato told her hesitantly but truthfully.

"Try not to crash. I need a few moments of undisturbed concentration," Nelony closed her eyes and she began focusing her mind.

Showdown On The Hood

Alicia in the meantime stood on the hood of the car and leapt into the air, her right foot landing solidly against the windshield, sending hairline fractures up through the impact resistant glass.

Two more hits like that she'll be through the windshield," the driver told the man.

"Deal with it when it happens unless you have a better idea," the man told the driver.

"That I do. Deal with it before it happens," the driver opened the door, flipping herself up and onto the hood of the car, leaving behind a ghost copy of herself which continued driving the car undisturbed.

"I know most of your kind, yet I've never seen you or your friend. You must be new in the Sanctum Secularum?" asked the driver as she unfurled her long blonde hair.

"Sanctum? Never heard of it. I'm guessing that the dog-napping business must be booming for you to have a car like this?" asked Alicia of the driver.

"Or those clothes. They're pretty spiffy duds you've got there..." Monique landed on the hood of the car beside Alicia.

"You're not Wytches. You're tuned mortals. Altered by some kind of blasphemy of the weave. Probably science," the driver nearly spat her words at them as she readied herself in a fighting stance.

"Wytches or not, betcha haven't seen this trick?" Monique signalled Alicia, who quickly shielded her eyes as Monique exploded into a thunderclap and bright flash of light, blinding the blonde woman confronting them.

"Keep her busy while I get through the windshield," Alicia shouted as she wound up for another spinning kick.

Monique instantaneously moved behind the woman, solidifying her body enough to sweep out her legs from under her. She fell on the roof of the car, tumbling backwards onto the rear hood and bouncing off the car onto the hood of Sato's car.

"Sorry 'bout the bump. We just have some unwanted company on the hood," Sato notified Nelony who was in deep concentration.

"Just a bit longer. Almost there..." Nelony told Sato.

The blonde haired woman was on her feet again, leaping back onto the luxury sedan. As she had contact with the car, the metal body of the car liquified, forming a mould around Monique's feet, holding her in place.

"Uhhh... Alicia? Heads up! I'm stuck!" Monique warned Alicia as the blonde haired lady tumbled over the roof to block Alicia's kick, keeping it from breaking through the windshield.

Having caught Alicia's leg, the lady twisted her foot, forcing Alicia to follow in the same direction. With her other foot she jumped, using the momentum to kick the blonde haired lady, then landing on her feet with her superior dexterity.

Monique reached over to grab the blonde haired lady by her face, simultaneously transforming herself back into light form, once again blinding the lady.

Alicia wound up with her spinning kick, smashing the windshield which fell in pieces onto the interior floor of the car.

Pug Leap Of Faith

Happīu~isuka had become startled with Alicia's first kick on the windshield, and since that point had been struggling against the strange man's grasp.

"Pug, I know that you don't understand why we're doing this, but this is for the good of your world. By comparison, all of our lives mean little considering what's at stake," the man's words made little sense to the Pug, as most animals were attuned more so to emotion and their positioning rather than language.

Also, Happīu~isuka seemed oblivious of the man's words simply because the pug had become aware of the presence of another. It was once again a familiar voice. This time Nelony's.

"Come on little Happīu! You've got to break free and come get a biscuit!" Nelony urged the pug from a short distance away in the direction of the opening through the windshield though in reality, Nelony sat in the passenger seat of Sato's car behind them.

The blonde haired woman had regained her sight and began an onslaught against Alicia, as Monique struggled to restrain the woman.

"She's waayyy stronger than me Alicia, sorry..." Monique transformed into a black shadowy cloud, attempting to obscure the woman's vision as she readied herself for combat with Alicia.

"Its alright. I'm ready for her. I can take her," Alicia balanced herself on the hood as she heard the sound of barking from within the car.

Ahead of them on the road on the other side of a roundabout, a tremendous portal opened up, folding space and time into a cacophony whirlwind and tunnel as the air pressure between London and the portal's destination became balanced. Air rushed inwards into the portal, filling the lower pressure destination and letting out an ominous humming sound from the resonating geometry of the portal itself. Like a tremendous wind instrument played by giants.

"We're almost at the London portal sir," the Ghost driver addressed the man.

"Good. This is going to be close," the man struggled to keep hold of Happīu~isuka.

"Come on puppy! Come on!" Nelony spoke from the passenger seat of Sato's car.

"Come on Happīu~isuka! Come on puppy! Come see daddy!" Sato even urged.

Happīu~isuka, realized that he would not be able to see Sato or Nelony if he didn't free himself from his captor. Another one of the strange two legged dogs. In order to free himself, he realized that he would have to do something that he'd been told never to do. Ever. And yet, if he didn't, he realized that he might not see them again.

As the car approached the portal, Happīu~isuka opened his mouth wide and bit down on the most sensitive part of the man's hand.

"Arrrrrrgh! You little devilish beast!" he screamed as Happīu~isuka freed himself from the man's clutches.

As the car collided with the portal, Happīu~isuka leapt out through the windshield and into Nelony's arms. Nelony at that very moment portaled herself back into Sato's car, handing Happīu~isuka to Sato.

"I'll be right back!" she said as she disappeared again, this time, on the other side of the portal through which Alicia, Monique and the dog-nappers had traveled into another realm.

Sato stopped his car as the portal disapppeared, numerous car alarms around him going off as a result of the electromagnetic interference caused by the portal.

"I think we're safe now Happīu~isuka," Sato scrubbed the dog's ears as he jumped up and licked the old man's face.

"We just have to wait for our friends," Sato continued as he put the car in gear, pulling it over to the side of the roundabout.

Midspace Mirror

A portal opened from a small fist sized hole into a large, adult sized doorway through which Nelony waltzed non-chalantly as if taking a walk.

"You are quite done, I take it?" Nelony asked the man, who had stepped out of the car and was brushing off his suit.

He was much shorter than he appeared while sitting. Perhaps just slightly shorter than Sato.

"You have no idea what you've just done, Nelony, last Wytch of the Order Of The Aerth Mother," the man addressed her.

"Do you think that if I asked Heylyn nicely, she'd confer me with a title like that?" asked Monique.

"You mean literally being a supermodel isn't already enough?" Alicia responded.

"I just like the sound of that. It has a nice ring to it," Monique replied.

"We're dealing with a situation here, Monique. Let's talk about this after. Sorry for interrupting. Please do go on," Alicia turned to Nelony and nodded and she continued.

"I do know that I stopped a malicious dog-napper here," Nelony admitted modestly addressing the man.

"If you honestly believe that's all this was about, then you are truly a fool," the man shook his head.

"Why other than a simple act of cruelty would you steal an old man's best friend?" asked Nelony.

"You even damaged my Golem. Gallea. The first of her kind. Of the essence of air, she was. Do you have any idea how much knowledge and craft she took to build? To give her life?" the man seemed oblivious of his crime.

"You grieve over something you created that had no life of its own, and yet you show no remorse for your theft of an old man's best friend. Something that was given nature's gift of life from the start?" Nelony became impatient, even angered.

"Within that dog, there is something that is part of a much bigger game. A game beyond your ability to comprehend. Men build machines all the time. How long do you think that humankind has grappled with the effort to build people from scratch? You with your knowledge of the weave should know this," the man reasoned with Nelony.

"Don't patronize me. You're the one that has no concept of the value of life," Nelony shook her head.

"If you only knew, but that is knowledge not for your being, for with it, you'd be become a pawn of something much bigger than yourself. Bigger than the Sanctum. We'll meet again and when we do, you'll be dealt far less civility than we've shown you thus far," the man finished his monologue.

"If you so much as harm a blade of grass on our Aerth, you'll be contending with a force far greater than your ability to create such blasphemies of life itself," Nelony warned the man.

"I need not etch such harm upon your Aerth, when so many of you are already doing it so readily and willingly. I do believe we are done here," the man waved his hand and the three ladies were suddenly in Sato's shop, standing beside Sato at his counter.

"I take it there's a reason why I'm no longer behind the wheel of my car and now standing here in my shop wearing only my silk underwear when I was fully clothed only moments ago?" asked Sato.

"I must admit that it was not a secret fantasy of mine," Nelony spoke, returning to their earlier rapport.

"Don't look at me..." Monique shrugged.

"I'm practically a married woman, without the ring," Alicia seemed amused.

"Alright. If none of you will admit it. I'll just assume that it was all of you," Sato stepped into the back room, grabbing himself a hakama and gi, donning them both.

"That was an adventure in itself. We'll have to tell Kori that she has good taste in these little hidden treasure trove stores..." Alicia agreed with Monique.

"Here's my card. In case you're ever in Toronto, or you ever need our help again..." Monique smiled for Sato as he arrived back at the counter.

"Me too. If you're ever in Toronto and need a hand or even just some company, don't hesitate to ask," Alicia gave them her card.

"I think we could bestowe a title from the Sanctum upon you. I'll get it finalized through Yirfir and Jasmer. How does Honorary Members Of The Order Of The Thaumaturgist Sanctum Secularum sound to you?" asked Nelony of Alicia and Monique.

"Its definitely a start and it has a nice ring to it. I can't wait to tell Heylyn," Monique was elated.

"Thank you ladies. For your courage. For your help and for your compassion in saving my best friend here..." Sato gestured to Happīu~isuka who barked happily for them.

"It was an honour to be of assistance. Glad we could help. Glad to have made some new friends, too. See, British people and French people do get along," Alicia looked to Monique who shook her hand in agreement.

Happīu~isuka looked up at the trio, his eyes sparkling as a multitude of thoughts ran through the pug's little head. Most of them not his own, for what they'd not known is that he'd had a piece of Barris' consciousness running around in his mind. In fact, it was doing some thinking of its own at that time.

"How do I get out of here and where is the rest of me? Speaking of rest, I'm getting a little tired of having to go for a walk every time I have to use the lew..." asked Barris.


Bryce Maxwell Introduces Lecture
"As many of you know, we've been looking for the secret of life and consciousness. That spark that starts it all, from a series of electrical voltage drops originating within the axon, traveling to the soma: one end of a neuron to the other with neurons being the individual cells within the nervous system. This voltage then leaves through the soma and triggers another axon, perhaps two or four of them. Maybe more. Depending upon the nature of information it is propagating. This information channel cascades through the scope of the brain and nervous system in the same manner through each neuron and from within this process, and how it happens, lies the mysteries of consciousness. To tell you more about this and what the future holds, I give you the brilliant Mathematician and one of the founders of the field of Computational Biology, Zheng Ni Wong," Bryce gave the introduction to the lecture.

"Thank you Professor Maxwell. Good evening to my associates and peers within this exciting field. We certainly live within an exciting time, where the secrets of the universe are slowly revealed to us after millennia of systematic research, built literally on the backs of giants, all from nothing more than rudimentary materials we found in the dirt, and through the rigorous process that didactic reasoning afforded us by way of the scientific method," Zheng paused for a moment before continuing as Bryce made his way to the side of the stage.

Zheng Ni Wong's Lecture
"One of those secrets for which we've long sought the answers is the secret of life and the mind itself. That thing within us each that makes us tick, though its much more than just a clock or a circadian rhythm. Its that force within us that drives us to think, when there is or isn't a motivation involved. That process is sometimes referred to as the thinker of the thoughts. The driver of the vehicle within us all, where our bodies are the vessel for this consciousness, or at the very least, the organic and electro-chemical processes from whence it emerged," Zheng stopped and took a drink of the water on the podium.

"Initially, this effort to understand these processes and to put them to work for us began perhaps fifteen hundred years ago, when Alchemists and Magicians sought to animate the clay statues they'd crafted, hoping to create a work force. An army. Friends and even companions. To them, it was a matter of getting that spark within their statues to start that process and to ignite the life and mind inherent within all matter. A long held belief established by the likes of Aristotle," Zheng took another sip of her water to sooth her dry throat before continuing.

"This is also a concept that lies at the core of many South East Asian philosophies, where a thing, even inanimate things can develop and possess conscious awareness. Perhaps the source of all anthropomorphism lies within our loneliness, as we and many species on the Earth are so far as we know, amongst the only conscious beings as per our own demonstrations thereof within the known universe. Perhaps our striving to create it, consciousness, is an attempt to prove to ourselves that we aren't alone," Zheng paused, looking around the room as someone coughed.

"This effort would continue forward until in the eighteen hundreds a woman by the name of Mary Wollenstonecraft Shelley would write one of the greatest classics ever. Frankenstein. The devices of Alchemy and Magic had been replaced by science and medicine, and this time electricity replaced the aether as being the driving force for re-igniting the life back into seemingly dead, inanimate objects. All once again just variations of the same Aristotlian beliefs and superstitions. The idea that cold dead matter somehow held within itself the secret of life and that anything could be given it simply by the application of the correct impulse of energy," Zheng stopped once again as the coughing died down.

"Recently, thanks to funding from a conglamerate headed up by MindSpice, Cheerify, GMG better known as Globenet Market Group and ERG better known as Engineering Research Group and including some of the most influential technology corporations the world over, we've discovered the missing link between our biology, our concept of life and the mind and consciousness," Zheng stopped as the room broke out into a mass of chatter and confusion.

"...Could you please calm down and remain seated... I know these claims seem very incredulous and until we've published the paper and our findings, you're just going to have to bare with us and through this presentation in which I'll touch upon some of the discoveries we've made, the key technologies involved, and where we'll be going with this research over the next year," Zheng started her presentation with MindSpice Red presentation software.

At the back of the room, a short well dressed man sat beside a large muscular red haired beauty.

"Do you think they've really discovered it?" asked the lady.

"It is possible, Rya. They do possess ingenuity even amidst their arrogance," the man listened to Zheng's presentation.

"That's not what I meant. Do you think they've discovered your way. The Alchemical way," she asked.

"I don't think so. They're looking in the wrong place and with the wrong lenses for a discovery of that nature. You seem concerned?" the man asked Rya.

"Would you be concerned if someone had uncovered the secrets that make your mind tick?" Rya asked him.

"Yes. And I am. That's why we're here," she reminded Rya.

"If they've uncovered nature's way and not the alchemical way, then don't humans have more to fear than I?" she asked the man, blinking twice as she did.

"Rya. The fact that they're dabbling in something so fragile. So elaborately connected to the scaffolding of all that they hold dear and that they're playing with it like its somehow separate from them is quite frightening, though it isn't nearly so frightening as what they're about to unleash upon themselves. You see Rya, the lady on stage clearly stated that there were no successes recorded in history. That only asserts the fact that their successes if they indeed occurred, simply weren't recorded. As we all know, there are some things in history that were never recorded, yet that did not mean that they didn't happen. Just that there are some things in history that were missed, or forcibly kept secret. Never written, only spoken, and only in the presence of others with such knowledge," the man explained to Rya.

"What is there more to fear than their dabbling?" Rya asked.

"Remember when I spoke to you on your birth table? When I told you that there are those who do not understand the importance of alchemy. Of Golemcraft. Those who would perma-sleep you if they knew that you existed?" asked the man of Rya.

"Yes, I remember. The bad people... there is one mind..." 

"...and only one kind. There is one mind, and only one kind. That's their motto and that's why we have to keep you secret Rya..." the man looked at her compassionately.

"Now that the humans have found this secret, what will the bad people do?" Rya asked the man.

"They will perma-sleep many. They will perma-sleep any that get in their way," the man told Rya.

"Golems only?" asked Rya.

"No, Rya. They'll perma-sleep Everyone," the man told Rya as they turned to listen to Zheng's lecture.

To be continued in A Lady's Prerogative III: Singularity.

[Note: The original story line for A Lady's Prerogative III: Singularity will still be (mostly) present, with some of these newer elements that actually tie in with the premise. Don't worry, we'll still have Barris stuck somewhere in ancient Albion, caught between the two warring parties vying for rule of the land. That by the way is one very small aspect of the whole story, and that literally is giving nothing away. Besides, we have to get Barris back in time to geek out for all of these upcoming movies...]

Artwork: Amy WongWendy Pusey, Ghastly, Brian Joseph Johns

Tools: Daz3D, Corel PainterAdobe PhotoshopLightwave 3D, Tender Loving Care...

Reference: Wikipedia, Shepperton Studios (Shepperton by the Thames is where you'll find Sato's Curios And Treasures), Japanese Mythology - Britannica, (Monique's Romantic Women's Wear Favourite) La Vie En Rose - (And of course, the legendary song by) Edith PiafUnited Nations Foundation Channel, Google Maps, Bulfinch's Mythology

Brian Joseph Johns



I'm an Atheist that leans towards Buddhism and Taoism.

Copyright © 2021 Brian Joseph Johns, Shhhh! Digital Media