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Walpole Unbound
Book Two Of The Quillogy
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ISBN-10: 1-77115-043-2
Genre: Fantasy/SF/Science Fiction
eBook Length: 284 Pages
Published: November 2012

From inside the flap

Freed from the battles and terrors of his home world, Jonathan Glauwer finds himself back in the thick of trouble when his old adversary, Walpole—the telepathic demon hedgehog of Yurle—escapes from his prison. A terrible war between the surface-dwelling hedgehogs and the merciless Empress Moleloch and her mole minions throws everyone into terrible danger and it is up to old friends and new heroes to bring peace to Yurle Prime and their spiny enemy to justice.

Walpole Unbound (Excerpt)

Chapter 1

Deep in the dark recesses of Yurle Prime, whose surface had now been ruled by hedgehogs for a millennium, Moleloch, the Dark Mistress and Empress of the mole race, raised her great hairy and loathsome head. She lifted before her the weapon that would soon mark the end of one civilization and the birth of another.

"Behold, Deep Thought."

Lord Butae, Moleloch’s Field Marshal and all-around bringer of doom and destruction in the name of the Empress, held out his paws in adoration. He was large for a mole, but still dwarfed by his mistress. His hair was graying, a sign that his cunning and diplomatic skills when dealing with the Empress were very good. His starred nose, badly scarred from many battles, twitched with excitement. Despite his hopeless eyesight, he wore a gold-rimmed monocle, scavenged from some invaded grave.

"It’s beautiful, my Dark Mistress," he declared. "It seems such a shame to have to destroy it. It’s orb of infinite darkness."

Moleloch sighed. Sycophants were so predictable. Her hairy bulk filled most of the great, dark underground central chamber, but it was needed to house the magnificent brain concealed within it. Deep Thought, a weapon of terrible power, was her own creation, a mind-linked organ that, when put into operation, would bring the very power of stars under its control.

"Try not to be a fool, Butae. The whole purpose of my exhaustive efforts is to bring this world, and all the worlds of this galaxy, under my sway."

"I am sorry, Empress. I will try not to be a fool. Now, please tell me the plan again."

An image of a screaming Lord Butae sliding down her massive throat flashed through Moleloch’s mind.

"I must have explained my scheme for planetary domination to you a dozen times," she growled with heavy menace.

"Oh yes! The plan for planetary domination" Butae said. "Of course! I have so many plans in the works. Your plan. Right-o."

She eyed him uncertainly.

"As you remember," she said decisively, "the only obstacle to our plan has been the acquisition of a space ship to deliver my wondrous creation to its destination. Well, we have been blessed with an opportunity, Lord Butae."

"Our engineers have discovered spaceflight, my Dark Mistress!" the Field Marshal crowed.

"Idiot. Those tunnel-drilling morons hardly know outer space exists. No, I have used my immense mental powers to detect a ship in orbit. More importantly, it prepares to send shuttlecrafts to the surface. We must be ready to capture one of these vessels and load Deep Thought aboard. You will then carry it to its destination."

"Oh, my. That is exciting," said Butae, sounding not at all excited. "Are you sure it wouldn’t be better to send someone your other plan to invade the surface?"

Moleloch placed Deep Thought inside a heavy metal case and closed the top, then locked it securely.

"Dear Lord Butae, I understand your enthusiasm to spread destruction among our enemy. Never fear, you shall lead the first assaults topside. Once we have established a beachhead, so to speak, then you will carry out the other part of our strategy."

Butae gazed at the sealed chest.

"Exactly how does it work?"

She blinked her tiny black eyes in the torchlight.

"I doubt you will understand, but I must tell someone. Are you listening?"

Butae snapped quickly to attention.

"You have my undivided, complete, full attention."

Moleloch cleared her throat.

"My creation, Deep Thought, is the result of my brilliant research into the power of the mole mind. Did you think the powers of telepathy, teleportation, and telekinesis were common in this galaxy?"

Lord Butae exerted some of his cunning.

"If they are, they are nothing to what you hold in your most delicate digit, my Empress."

"You are too kind. I have been able to synthesize the neural patterns, capture the forces that energize the unique skills moles carry within their tiny little heads. I have created a brain out of rare earths, forming previously undiscovered crystalline shapes that hold and amplify our supra-natural abilities. Then, guess what I did?"

The Field Marshal’s mouth hung open in real awe. He shook his head dumbly.

"That’s all right. I was going to tell you anyway. I gave Deep Thought consciousness, Lord Butae, the power to act out, to solve problems, utterly under my control."

"And what will you have it do? I thought we were going to destroy the sun, plunge the system in darkness, live free under the stars."

"No. Because, I told you, if we destroy the sun, of course it will be dark, but we will freeze to death. Very quickly."

"Deep Thought does what, then?"

"It will use the power of the sun, Lord Butae, to fuel the amplifiers. My synthetic mind will begin to send telepathic waves outward, waves that will take control of each mind it encounters and make it my slave. First, Yurle Prime will fall, then the outer worlds of this system. Then, using the very powers that let starships jump across vast distances, I will take the galaxy in ever widening waves of telepathic energy, until I am empress of it all!"

Butae wiped the drool from his mouth.

"And I will be your Field Marshal."

Moleloch yawned.

"Odds are. If you survive your trip to the Sun. I regret the necessity, but the special crystalline structure of my device will only activate under heavy particle bombardment coupled with fusion-level heat energy. Still, you will be a hero never to be forgotten by the new mole empire."

"I thought you were going to teleport me home," he pouted.

"Oh, I will. If I’m not too busy. Never fear, Lord Butae, I would miss you. No one else among these miserable minions of mine can throw the flattery my way like you. Hopefully, once we are free of this oppression underground our minds will grow and form into the greatness I have dreamed of."

She looked about her.

"Now, let us think of other things for a bit."

The shadows of several moleairs-elite guard moles sworn to serve and lay down their lives for the monstrous female mole mother-queen-danced off the walls of the dank cavern. Selected from the population for their size and fierceness, the moleairs wore steely sheaths over their long digging claws and hard-root helms that protected their fleshy noses, with tiny crystals of glass that significantly magnified the power of their terribly weak vision.

Moleloch took in the guards as they stood at attention near the entrance to her central lair. Something new had been added to the fighting sheaths and visual aids in the last few weeks. Her researches had developed ray weapons powered by radioactives harvested from the earth around them, making them an even deadlier opponent for the hedgehogs to face. The dark queen liked her new soldiers very much. Their numbers had been increased steadily for a long time, at the cost of resources to other areas of her queendom, and now they must pay off.

Beyond them, hundreds of smaller moles, Moleloch’s loyal minions obsessed with seeing their almost legendary queen, peered into the main chamber from several narrow tunnels that wound their way toward the molechite refinery rooms beyond. In these subterranean chambers, Moleloch’s excreted material was put through an early process before being sent to the surface to those in her pay among the hedgehogs.

Moleloch panted with delight whenever she thought of the stupid hedgehogs who served her and what fools the rest of them were to believe that their greedy little leaders couldn’t be bought. The Consortium had been her animal for many years, enriching themselves while enslaving their own population to Molephine, pretending that she received nothing but a pittance for her contribution to the substance.

"And now that the vast majority of the hedgehogs are under the influence of Molephine I will arise and take it all from them: their land, their wealth, and their freedom, if not their very lives."

The other moles cringed as their queen shuddered and hissed with delight.

"Yes, you should cringe. Never forget that everything you have here I have given you through my generosity. Your very existence depends on me."

Moleloch considered the other passages leading to the multi-chambered nursery where newborn moles were raised and assigned their place in the complex mole social caste system. The young moles would be indoctrinated in the ways and tenets of moleocracy and moleology as defined by Moleloch in the "Declaration of Moles." All were part of her very being, her seed. Her substance fed into each of them so that they could be nothing but devoted to her.

A loud clang took her out of her reverie.

Two of her largest moleairs used a sledge to drive a thick steel rod-sharpened at both ends-into the hard packed dirt floor of the web-work cavern. A group of young moles appeared and began dancing around the empty pole, chanting in wild bloodlust. They were part of a cult devoted to her godhood. She liked them.

"Kill the hedgehog! Pull its quills! Break its spines! Destroy the sun!"

Bring me a sacrifice, Moleloch ordered mentally. Bring a hedgehog!

The young moles stopped dancing suddenly. They bowed to the one they worshipped. They rushed from the dark chamber, completely dedicated now to the completion of the mission.

"A sacrifice, how lovely," Lord Butae grinned. "We never have enough of those. I hope it is young and tender."

I long for the day when we will sacrifice Grumpole, that great, ugly hedgehog, Moleloch thought. Grumpole, that insufferable old bag of spines, will not give up control of Yurle Prime without a fight. Only he might stand in our way. His people still think he has special abilities, as laughable as that idea is.

"We have many special moleair units searching for that rogue," Butae affirmed. "We believe he is hiding in the mountains. Despite his exile, there is no doubt some of his former followers are giving him refuge."

I am out of patience. The fleshy tendrils on her hair-covered snout quivered in the dank, cold air of the chamber. We will wait no longer for his apprehension. You will put the invasion plans into operation immediately.

Butae looked disappointed.

"But I thought there was going to be a sacrifice."

Are you not ready?

The Field Marshal knew better than to equivocate.

"We are ready. We have analyzed their military strengths, both personal and as a unit. They have not been preparing for an invasion. They are oblivious to our plans and are open to your powers due to the widespread use of Molephine. We will destroy them with ease."

Moleloch raised up her head, her mouth opened, bearing a mouthful of long, pointed teeth.