"The Maria"
Book 3, Prolog

By : Socks
© 2004 Socks Furrotica

 

"Are we growing together
Or falling apart?
The ghosts of the past
Have infected our dreams.
What's the damage, what's the cost
Are we destined to repeat
?"
-Taff Russ
"This Love is So Strong"


"Amen".

Rev got up off his knees, and slid into bed.  He tucked his sheet under him.  "Maria?  Light?"  The lamp on his nightstand dimmed and went out.  "Thank you Maria."  Rev rolled over in his bed, and let the light rocking of the ship lull him into sleep.

Clang.  "Hmph!"  Rev opened an eye as the intruding sound.  He was surprised to see a candlelight in his quarters.  He bit his lip, and as quietly as he could rolled over to see who was there.  He saw a figure sitting in his chair, looking at something on the table.  "date…  date…  What is the date?"

Rev caught a glimpse, it was his journal that he kept.  "Can I help you?" Rev asked aloud.

"No, I've got it." The figure said.

Rev began to get out of bed.  "That's my journal, you know."

"Yes, yes…  I'm familiar with them all." the figure said.  "I just need to know what day…"  The figure pointed at the page with a finger.  "It's not too late!  He said it would work but I didn't believe him!"  He put his hand to his forehead.  "But here I am!  And there you are!  I mean you know you're here but I didn't think I'd make it here!  Maria is amazing sometimes, isn't she?"

Rev raised an eyebrow.  "Indeed." He said.  "I seem to be at a disadvantage, you know who I am, but you're not familiar to me."

The figure picked up his candle and stood up.  "That makes sense.  There's no way you would know."  Rev could see the feline features of the figure, black fur on his whole body.  One hand was white, the other black.  He had a widows' peak of white on his forehead that covered his pointed ears, dipping between his green eyes.  "My name is Teufel.  I'm the ship's minister for the Maria."  He squinted once.  "No, that's not right.  I will be the ship's Minister.  But that's not really important right now."

Rev rubbed a finger on his chin.  "Toy Full?" He repeated phonetically, thinking about it.  "But isn't that German for…"

"Yes." Teufel interrupted.

"Who would name their child that?" Rev asked.

"I named myself." the cat said quietly.  "We all carry our own cross."

Rev nodded.  "It's a pleasure to meet you, but did it have to be this time of night?  I was just getting to sleep."

"Correction." the cat said, pointing behind Rev.  "You are sleeping."  Rev turned around and saw a white rabbit in his bed, breathing softly and looking peaceful.  "And I must comment you do look so nice when you're sleeping, I'm sorry to have woken you.  Or gotten your attention.  Or something.  I expected to find Robert, not you."

Rev looked over his guest.  The cat indeed wore the collar of a Minister, and had a golden cross around his neck and a black shirt.  The cat wore a dark green jacket and pants, a necklace with metallic oval tags on it, and his feet were bare.  "What manner of dress is this for a man of the cloth?"

Teufel sat down again.  "Things have changed, unfortunately." the cat said.  "It's why I needed to come back.  In my time there is someone who is like Robert, a seer.  Except my…  friend can project.  He couldn't explain it, but he told me he could work with Maria to bring be back to see someone here."  He ran his paw along the chair, and smiled.  "I still can't believe it worked."

Rev nodded, and walked over to his table.  "Well, since you're here, can I take you on a tour of the ship?  Unless you already know it as a resident."

Teufel stood up.  "She's not the same ship you live on.  But yes, I'd love that!"  Rev reached for his clothing, but his paw went straight through it.  He looked at the clothing awkwardly, trying again.  "It won't work." the rabbit looked up to the cat.  "You're dreaming.  You can't take real things.  I know, I've tried.  Just think of your clothing, it should work."

Rev stopped, and tried it.  Instantly his clothing formed around his body.  He looked up astonished to the cat.  "But how can you have a candle that works?  And how did you read my Journal?"

"You left it open on your desk to let the ink dry." the cat said.  "And I went to sleep holding the lit candle."  Rev shook his head and walked to the door with the cat.  "We should be able to just go right through it."

Rev closed his eyes, and stepped into the door.  He stepped through into the hallway.  Teufel followed.  "So we are ghosts?"

"In a way." Teufel said.  "But you'll wake up.  Maria doesn’t have ghosts.  I've been reassured that." The two walked down the hall.  "Wow." Teufel said.  "She's different.  So much quieter."

"I've noticed all ships are quiet." Rev said.  "There's a peaceful serenity to the ocean I've found inspiring."

The cat nodded.  "I know, some of your most powerful writing talks about the ocean."

"You've read my journal?" Rev asked with some surprise.

"All of them, yes." Teufel said.  "And let me tell you that you're doing more good than you think.  You really should stop beating yourself up over Randy and Fang.  There's only so much you can do for those convinced of their misery."  The cat stopped, closing his eyes.  "There was a fight recently, with a merchant ship?"

"Yes." Rev said.  "I thought you read my journal?"

"I have." the cat said, resuming his pace with Rev.  "But after the first three I tend to move things around, and I wasn't sure."

"First three?" Rev asked.

Teufel snorted.  "I wasn't supposed to tell you that." He shook his head.  They walked up the stairway together.  "I'm sorry if I'm being dodgy here but there are many things I can not tell you."

"Things of the future?" Rev asked.

"Yes."  Teufel said.  They had reached the main deck and were walking through the door.  Rev shivered as they simply moved through it.  "It took me a while to get used to it myself."

"You've done this…   before?" Rev asked.

Teufel nodded.  "My mate has native heritage.  He's helped…"  Teufel looked to Rev, drooped his ears and looked away.  "I'm sorry.  I shouldn't tell you that either."

"You already started." Rev said.  "You took a mate?"  The cat nodded.  "What's wrong with that?"

"You of anyone should know." Teufel said quietly.  "It was one of your first entries.  About how most men of God would find a ship like this an abomination, but you saw it as you new flock."  The cat looked to the ocean, and leaned against a railing.  "I didn't come here to tell you this, but if I don't I don't know if I'll ever be able to tell anyone.  And if it's all for nothing then…"  Teufel looked across the endless horizon.

Rev joined him on the rail, testing it to see if his weight would be supported.  It was.  "I do have a reputation as a good listener." he joked, holding one of his lop ears in his paw.

Teufel laughed.  "Touché."  The cat looked blankly across the ocean, and sighed.  "It must be nice to be able to not see anything out there on a night like tonight."  He turned to face Rev.  "I envy you, you don't have to live in my time.  I'm sorry to speak in vague things, but I can't tell you what's going to happen."  Rev nodded.  "In my time there is a lot of bigotry, hatred.  I know you see some here between the Jackrats and the Howlers.  That's nothing compared to the mass genocide I've seen and heard.  It's also nothing compared to what the church has become.  The Lord has taught me to be tolerant, to love my brother." 

He looked down to the water below.  "The Lord taught me that lesson too well.  I realized long ago that I was different.  I fell in love with a boy at school, and when it was discovered I was sent away to parochial school.  It didn't curb my feelings, and one night I decided to break one of the laws of God.  I would take my own life, hoping that in heaven I would not be persecuted."

Teufel turned around and looked at the sky with a slight laugh.  "But the Lord…  Well you know the rest.  He has a sense of humor, doesn't he?"  Teufel looked at the Maria, then to Rev.  "I was like you when they found me.  Confused, lost, I had no idea what was going to happen to me.  They discovered I was a man of God, and they let me be."  He nodded to himself.  "Your influence is greater than you know."

Rev perked his ear, but chose not to say anything.  Teufel continued.  "But when I grew into my new self, I found that my feelings had not changed.  I met another, a wolf they called Arrowhead, and he introduced me to other teachings, his religion if you will.  And one thing became another, and we mated."  Teufel looked to the sky with a smile.  "I'm convinced God made things beautiful so that you'd notice them when the rest of the world was so bleak."

Rev nodded and let the moment linger.  "What about this genocide?" he asked.

"It's one of the ugly things in the world." Teufel said.  "And I can't tell you about that.  I tell you, and you might change the future.  What you think is for the better can end up making it worse."  Rev nodded again.  "Which is actually what brings me here."

"I was going to ask about that too." Rev said.  "If you can't tell me about the future, then why are you here?"

"I can't tell you what leads up to why I'm here." the cat said.  "I can tell you some things.  If I read your journal right, and memory serves correctly, Maria will need your help more than she's ever needed it before."  The cat knelt down on his knees and traced into the wood grain of the deck.  "Try to picture time as…  water.  Yes, that will work."

Rev knelt with the cat, looking on the wood as the cat traced into the air.  "A river flows one direction, and it can't go back.  But sometimes, rivers merge and either become stronger, or weaker, or they collect into a basin and it becomes a lake.  Right?"  Rev nodded.  "Sometimes rivers can flow next to each other, and if one floods, or the banks are weak, the two rivers merge.  But if they're not meant to merge it can pollute both rivers."

"So what does that have to do…."

"I'm getting to it." Teufel said excitedly.  "See, let's say this river is your river, and you are here."  The cat tapped the deck.  "And I'm on the same river, and I'm here."  He pointed further up the deck.  "And let's say that right here…"  He tapped a point just before his spot "…another river, a parallel river, floods into our river.  The backwash is forcing water back upstream, as well as downstream."

Rev nodded, trying to grasp the concept.  "But what does that have to do with us?  With me?"

Teufel sighed.  "Don't take this personally, but Robert would understand more.  He's seen what I'm talking about."  Rev opened his mouth.  "I can't tell you that either."  Rev sighed and nodded.  "But let me tell you why I'm here."

The cat pointed to the deck again.  "Very soon, the disturbance from the flooding will be upon the Maria.  And in that time, water from my part of the river and your part of the river will mix.  When that happens, we all need to do something very heroic, and very dangerous.  For me, it's already happened.  And we failed.  I'm gambling now that if I prepare you, or anyone from this Maria, we won't mess up again."

"How will I know?" Rev asked.  "You aren't telling me how I will know when this will be?"

"If I tell you directly, it's possible I will never board the ship." Teufel said.  "The future is in motion, your future is my past.  That's what Arrowhead taught me.  I can tell you the signs, but I can not tell you how they will manifest."

"All right then." Rev said, placing his hands on his knees.

Teufel closed his eyes, as if remembering.  "When the clock tower falls, and the seeds go into bloom, Maria will double to fight off her doom.  Two ships as one, but one ship as two, the new is the old, and the old is the new."

They sat in silence a moment.  "Those are the signs?" Rev asked with a hint of sarcasm.

Teufel nodded.  "I'm sorry, but I can't be specific.  If I tell you what will happen, Maria could be steered away from it or worse deeper than has already happened.  I can very easily cause myself to not exist if the ship deviates too far from course.  Like a lot of the crew on this ship, it was random luck Maria found me drifting.  Had she not, I would have died in the ocean."  Teufel closed his eyes, and rested on his haunches.  "And if this does not work, I die anyway."

Rev took Teufel's paw into his own, and could barely feel it there.  "Pray with me."

"There isn't enough time." Teufel said.  "I can feel I'm fading.  Go back to your room, lay in bed, you should wake up in the morning remembering this.  And if you do, and you see the signs, you need to get the crew of the Maria to help herself."

"I don't understand" Rev said.  He then realized that he could see through the cat.  "Teufel?"  He put his paw through the cat's chest, and it passed like a shadow.

"My time is up." the cat said, a tear rolling down his face.  "Arrowhead was right.  It doesn't hurt."

"Time?" Rev said, in almost a panic.  "Hurt?  I don't understand."

"Tell Yars that he did the right thing." Teufel said.   "Or he will.  Tell him that Greyclaws is just hard headed and Yars has to be persistent.  Greyclaws admires anyone who sticks to their guns.  Make sure Yars doesn't back down.  Do that for me."

"What?  Greyclaws?" Rev asked, looking at the vanishing cat before him.

"And believe me, you've touched more lives than you know.  Remember that." Teufel said.  He looked down to himself, then to Rev.  "Can you do that for me?"

Rev nodded.  "I will do that for you, Teufel."

Teufel smiled.  "Brian." he said.  "My real name is Brian."  Rev nodded as he watched the cat fade from his vision.

Teufel's body relaxed in the arms of the wolf as his last breath drifted from his muzzle.  Arrowhead closed his eyes and shed a tear for his mate.  He kissed Teufel on the muzzle, then let out a long, mournful howl.  In the back of his mind, he knew it would be painless for his love, but it didn't make their decision any easier.  He heard banging on the bars of his cell and someone yelling in German.  His howl was forbidden by his captors, and Arrowhead knew that it meant his own death for breaking their rules.  But if Teufel was right, it wouldn't matter.  Arrowhead knelt with his mate, and howled from deep within his soul, crying as he heard the opening to the gun ports slide open.

Rev awoke with the sunrise, blinking his eyes a few times.  A restless night, to be certain.  He suddenly remembered the dream, and something told him it was vitally important to write something down.

Silver knocked on Rev's door.  "Rev?  Are you ok in there?"

"is… the… new…" Rev said as he wrote.  "Yes, I'm fine."

Silver opened the door slowly.  "You weren't at breakfast." he said.  "I got worried, and figured I'd…"  The fox looked on the desk.  "Divine inspiration?"

"In a manner of speaking." Rev said, looking over the paper.  Such bare notations, would it be enough?  "I need to see Maria today."  Silver's ears flicked back and he kinked his tail.  "I'm sorry about breakfast, but I'll see you at dinner?"

"Yes…"  Silver said slowly as Rev began to walk out of his quarters.  "Clothing?"

"No time." Rev said, walking out only in his nightshirt.  "I'll see you tonight!"  Silver watched the rabbit walk down the hall towards the stairs that went down to Maria's cabin.



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Curator: Socks the Catt / E-mail: <sockscatt@gmail.com>
DISCLAIMER : All stories in this archive are Copyright 2000 - 2003 Socks Furrotica Press. Distribution is permitted in electronic format, as long as 1) the entire text (including this disclaimer) remains intact and 2) My e-mail address remains on the work (sockscatt@gmail.com) Permission is also given to print this text out for personal use. If you wish to include this story in a web site or for publication, e-mail myself (sockscatt@gmail.com) and we'll talk it over...
This is (unfortunately) a work of fiction. It depicts sex. Lots of quite graphic sex between several genders and arguably a few species. Af any of this offends you, or anything vaguely pornographic bothers you, don't read this, and don't send me your nasty e-mail (I may enjoy it, you know...) Being a work of fiction, none of the characters herin are based on a real person (Save the narrator and one other person...) And similarity to any person alive, dead, undead or unalive is coincidental, totally. However, if you see yourself or someone you know in a character be honored. You've been immortalised.