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"Wildstorm: Michael Cray - Chapter Five": On a rural New Zealand coastline, a community gathers at night. A young woman gets into a dinghy and is pushed away from the shore. The community watches her, because they know that for this sacrifice, they will be rewarded. The woman knows this too.


Quote1 It would be refreshing to discover that God is just a man. But I don't think this god is. Quote2
-- Christine Trelane



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Synopsis for "Wildstorm: Michael Cray - Chapter Five"

On a rural New Zealand coastline, a community gathers at night. A young woman gets into a dinghy and is pushed away from the shore. The community watches her, because they know that for this sacrifice, they will be rewarded. The woman knows this too.

Sharks circle the boat, and suddenly batter it, smashing it asunder. The woman, panicking, tries to swim away but a webbed hand drags her under. She breaks free, but a whirlpool of activity reduces her to shocked chunks.

A humanoid jumps out of the water and lands on the rocks - the owner of the webbed hand - and utters one word, in a tone of command: "Feed". As he grabs a robe and sits down to raise a glass to a family portrait, the sharks devour the woman. The following morning, the people of the community will be able to pick up fish off the beach to their hearts' content.

In San Francisco, Christine Trelane is giving Michael Cray his next assignment. Genetic recombination is a real science, the product of a field of research going back a century and a half. The science fiction of Mary Shelley and H.G. Wells were based on such research. It was also brought to the attention of the Curry family, who made their fortune shipping tea from India, and then with their future secure, began a multi-generation quest to prove they were the children of a buried class of superior humans - "the Lost Kings of Atlantis". Each generation took a different tack - spirits, phrenology, blood - before they decided that the answer was genetics. Now, their descendant Arthur Curry is something other than human, with powers that make him greater and appetites that make him lesser. He is living in a fishing village, where the locals regard him as a god they call "the Aqua-man". And Christine wants Michael to kill him.

Musing Michael asks if she needs him alive. Christine admits she merely needs him intact. Michael wo0nders if Atlantis is real. Christine admits that neither their organization nor the Currys have been able to find specific evidence of it, and she doesn't care. Michael muses that he will take just Leon with him on this mission, as his bravado will serve the mission well. Christine asks him not to merely use Leon as bait. Michael lists his final concern - what if the intel is wrong and Arthur is just a rich fool in a mask? Christine shrugs, and says that if so, then his week will be easy... but that she trusts the intel.

Arriving in New Zealand, Leon and Michael introduce themselves to the locals as marine biologists from a prestigious American university. There is a stately house on a nearby cliff top, but the man they ask insists that he cannot see it. After they stow their equipment, they go to see the Elder, who keeps everything running. The Elder explains that the village owes its survival to a migration of a rare breed of arowana that passes here every year. They take enough fish to survive, and they sell these rare fish for princely sums. Arowana don't migrate this far anywhere else, so the Elder is quite keen to leave the ecosystem as is, and tells them so.

Michael Cray brings up the clifftop house, which causes the Elder to tell the story - it once belonged to the Currys, the British family that founded this place as a fishing village. Back in the 1500s, they took wives among the locals and showed the people how to navigate the shark-infested waters. Except that in the time of the Elder's grandfather, one day the Currys all got in a boat and put to sea. The house was left to fall to ruin.

Michael notes that the village doesn't contain a church, and the Elder says the village uses a system of private worship. He invites Michael to eat with him, and briefly leaves to sort out one thing. Michael is left to muse - only to promptly be attacked by a man with a balaclava and an axe!

Grabbing a sword from over a nearby fireplace, Michael swiftly kills the man, but three more men with balaclavas emerge to fight him. Wounding all of them, Michael runs to find the Elder, who insists it was necessary. Michael suddenly realises that Leon is also in danger, and demands to know where he is. The Elder merely repeats that it was necessary.

In a dinghy in the harbor, a beaten and bruised Leon is tied up. Sharks circle the boat...



Notes

  • This book was first published on February 14, 2018.
  • Mary Shelley's Frankenstein was published in 1818, well before the "century and a half" that Trelane refers to. It is possible that in this world, Shelley's life was very different. Or possibly Trelane is just wrong.

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