The Wolf woke up with a howl of complaint. The light had hurt its eyes. It flung its head left and right, trying to shake off the annoying pain.
Deep inside, dark voices whispered to it. Selfish thoughts to excite the soul, bring pleasure to the senses and stir the darkness within the heart of any man or woman. All human temptations, which meant nothing to the Wolf. It shook its head and sneezed. It had more important things to do than to listen to silly voices it could not understand. The pack was in danger.
The Wolf uncurled its body and stood up, raising its head to sniff the air. The scent of aggression and fear made its hackles rise. It looked down at the object that was still gripped tightly in its hands.
The strange weapon. It must be used but the Wolf didn’t know how.
The Argus-Alpha was gone again. The Wolf howled, its high-pitched query echoing throughout the ship, more in frustration than expectance of an answer.
The proud creature shook its head and sneezed, and looked down at the wounded Alpha. Avon was still asleep.
The Wolf knelt down and sniffed his scent. Argus-Alpha's medicine worked. Avon-Alpha did not smell as ill now. The Wolf licked his face and nuzzled his neck. He was no longer as hot. This was good.
The Wolf nudged his shoulder and gave a sharp bark. Avon-Alpha must wake. The pack was in danger. It passed its wet tongue over Avon's cheek and nose, trying to rouse him.
Avon gasped and groaned as he readjusted to being back in his own body, and the aches and pains that were his constant companions.
Something warm, close and…WET was licking his face. He struck out blindly with both fists. There was a yelp of complaint as the licking stopped and the creature's quick reflexes moved it out of the way of the blows.
It gave a short bark of urgency and remembered to form its mouth for human speech. "A-von-Al-pha. Wa-ke."
"Argus?" Avon asked in none-too-pleased surprise. He wiped the slobber from his face with the back of his hand. "What the hell do you think you're doing?"
The Wolf tried to shape its mouth more carefully for human shapes. "Wolf."
Aching joints and muscles complained as Avon tried to sit up. Strong arms surrounded his shoulders. Avon immediately reacted, hunching his back protectively and nearly struck out again before he realized the creature was trying to help. He relaxed and reluctantly let it lift him up to a sitting position. One of these days, he would accept people's help with better humour, but he doubted it. No matter what Cally said.
He cocked his head to listen as he asked, "You're the creature inside Argus?"
Had Argus lost the battle with the creature he believed possessed his body or had the Thaarn already activated the thought wave? Neither possibility was good news.
The delusion was complex, complete with the appropriate Wolf-like manner and speech difficulties for a creature unfamiliar with human speech.
This was interesting. Avon wondered how deeply this persona extended and how detailed it was. He dug into his encyclopaedic mind and tried to remember everything he could about wolves, which was miserably little. Information about nearly extinct Earth animals, or any creature for that matter - including human - wasn't required study for someone meant to work only with computers and machines.
A smile of irony lifted the corner of Avon's lips. He had found Argus, but the man still couldn't help him.
If this was a delusion and not just a trick by the Thaarn, then intensive therapy was required to bring Argus back from the beast. Healing therapies was an area Avon knew nothing about, though he had a great deal of personal knowledge about the destructive ones that had been used on him at the Detention Centre.
Cold fingers of memory played along his spine, freezing his heart with dread. An involuntary shiver passed through him like an unwelcome guest making a brief visit. His jaw clenched in concentration as he pushed down the nightmarish memories that threatened to strip him of control.
Avon suspected Argus's problems, which seemed to be growing rapidly, would take months, if not years of time in an institution of some type.
There was no more time for pointless, if interesting speculations. The Thaarn awaited defeat at his hands. The only help he had was this creature. He asked it, "You've taken over his body?"
The Wolf shook its head and sneezed. "Ar-gus-Al-pha gone."
The creature still seemed to find words difficult but it didn't matter. At least it understood him. How much, remained to be seen. "Never mind that. Do you know if he finished the disruptor?"
"Rarrr?" the Wolf asked, not understanding the word.
Avon scowled. This was not going to be easy. "Argus was building something for me."
The Wolf barked in acknowledgement and nodded its head emphatically several times. "Wea-pon."
"Yes, a weapon to destroy our enemy."
The Wolf gave a double bark of excitement and sneezed. "Yes! Now?"
Avon's eyes narrowed. "You're not all that different."
The Wolf panted and its mouth opened in a wide grin. "One protects the pack."
"Yes…" Avon said thoughtfully. "You do." He held out his hand and the Wolf gave him the box. The vibrations from the activated machine thrummed through Avon's fingers. The weapon was ready.
Maybe the time for ironies was passed, though he doubted it. "Take me to the flight deck." He extended his free hand.
At that moment several black-uniformed troopers rushed in, weapons firing.