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Chapter Fifteen: "Point"
In the wake of all the sky-high loudness and weirdness at Raider Stadium, the Bay Area, the State of California, the U.S. West Coast, and to some significant degree the whole nation was somewhat abuzz about unidentified flying objects. Technically speaking, for the Oakland incident, the term was a misnomer because the object was clearly identified by the werewolf hunters and their police escorts as a mothership for a species of land-ambulatory space-faring sharks. Nevertheless, most who saw it were unable to identify it for what it was, so their use of the term “unidentified” is generally understandable.
The universe is a big place, so it had become clear to the team that they needed to compartmentalize their cartographic efforts, and still remain relatively local, at least at first, in order to mitigate local dangers. There was also the apparent implicit need for a constant local attention, since Sol was essentially their watchtower to staff until further notice.
After phoning the Berkeley Astronomy department, Rainy and Dusty went to fetch some map materials from some of the graduate staff. Most of the content immediately at-hand was online, so they had to make a special request for the sort of analog topographic materials of a style which one might have studied 20 years ago before climbing a mountain.
“Local intergalactic scale, big enough to cover up the top of a dinner table,” Dusty explained. “For the finer-grained deep-space stuff, we're just interested in recommendations for quality open-source deep-space planetarium software, if you don't have accessible hard-copy formats at the ready.”
The department was happy to accommodate them, although he made them pay a significant cash price for the topog maps, and they returned to the rest of the hotel carrying an armload of maps rolled into long cylinders.
Dinner time Tuesday evening (well, it was more of a late supper on Tuesday night) found OPD's Sam Wilson back at the hotel headquarters of his out-of-town spiritual advocates-slash-volunteer public defenders. Also, Crimson and Chapel had returned, ambulatory and willing, from their naps and the entire gang was standing around looking at the star charts spread across the table top in the suite's kitchenette. With a highlighter pen, a map of the Local Solar Interstellar Neighborhood was shaded and marked with the words “cleared, for now.”
“This reflects the results of our meditations and astral projections which indicate to us that no bewitched space sharks are locally preponderant,” Becca said. “But just like local Sol, there could have been some problems similar to ours at various nearby system platforms—e.g. Sirius, Tau Centari, Aldebaran, Vega, and the like.”
“Talk about extra-local jurisdiction,” Wilson mused.
“But truly it is right next door, chief,” Becca quipped. “Local-galactic is apparently also free and clear of werewolves. Relatively,” she continued, “but we all sense something fishy, pardon the pun, in some of the farther reaches of the keep, which we presume are minor remnant outposts. We nevertheless consider those to be dangerous toe-holds and feel that they need to be cleared, post haste. Andromeda and Triangulum are, like our local spiral, clear. But the shadows are on all local doorsteps. Farther out, the Fornax, Eridanus, and Virgo clusters' orbits seems to be clear, as do the Virgo III, Leo II, and Grus groups, though with some minor remnants evident in some limited and/or obscure locations thereabout.
“Beyond that, moving out toward the red-shift, there are some more minor spots, but no large strongholds in the known epoch,” she said. “But I expect they tend to manifest anywhere where there is darkness, backwater, or relative cover for them to take.”
Rainy interjected: “Whether or not another crop of dogs pops up here on Sol-Charlie will tell us much about how the phenomenon proliferates, as well as how it reacts, as a class, to organized opposition and eradication efforts such as what we are endeavoring tonight,” she said. “Tonight, another hunt. Except this will be much more like going to church or the local zendo. And we won't have to muck around at Raiders' Stadium this time.”
“Thank God,” Chapel said. “Regular sporting events may not be as gross as that business last night at the coliseum, but seeing all of those teenagers and young adults on pharmaceutical drugs is just as evil as murderous werewolf women with enslaved space sharks. Maybe not as fancy-sounding, but it's just as bad.”
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