A Tale of the Ringbearers, by Brother Grimace
One of the ongoing concerns that I've been compelled to address, when dealing with my liaison/counterpart to the Corps of Ringbearers, is his near-childlike adherence to a set of beliefs beyond those he follows in his stated duties. If at all possible – and despite the possible problems that his actions may cause to the timelines – his first instinct is to help the particulars in a situation to the utmost of his ability. While this may seem appropriate, failing to do this correctly (or even the attempt, in some instances) could have catastrophic aftereffects. I have already stopped him from this twice – the Camp Grizzly incident, and his attempt to find an appropriate candidate for a Defender Ring amongst the survivors of D-517 upon their resettlement at the resolution of the Apocalypse scenario.
(NOTE: despite several requests, it has been difficult to find out further information about the Sky Vaults, which we learned about during The Agency's initial encounter with the Ringbearers. At present, all we know is that only six exist – the Giza, the Tesla, the Anduril, and the Masada. There are two others in existence; we have been unable to even find information on the names of these constructs. As per orders, I will continue efforts to garner more intelligence on the constructs.)
My liaison/counterpart has become unexpectedly diligent about following the specifics of the non-interference directives (as they apply to areas under direct Agency observation) and even in his dealings on worlds under Ringbearer observation and protection. This has actually allowed him (and many of his associates, who have begun to follow his lead) to become more effective in their involvement with the native populations, as they have become less direct in the way they interact with the natives – and incredibly more clever and circumspect in the manner in which they choose to do so.
(NOTE: The creation of the Silver Circle Foundation on many worlds in their jurisdiction is an example of the new direction that the Corps has taken in their Whisperer operations, and in the execution of the organization's secondary purpose – that of acting as a source of humanitarian relief. Early projections from our intelligence division, based upon current redeployment of Whisperers and the increased recruitment of 'gifted humans' (humanoid beings given metahumans abilities through Ring endowment) leads us to conclude that almost fifteen percent of the Ringbearers of the Line have been reassigned to Whisperer operations with the Silver Circle – as are almost all of the 'gifted humans'.)
There is a saying that my liaison/counterpart is fond of quoting, one that originates in the days of the American Westward expansion movement. "Beware of the man who has only one gun. He probably knows how to use it." I am beginning to suspect that, by our insistence upon adherence to the Agency's non-interference protocol while in our jurisdictions (and influencing them to consider that protocol in other areas of operations), we have begun to make the Corps of Ringbearers a much more effective force... possibly, much more effective in their work than we would have preferred.
I do not believe that we will have need to concern ourselves about other Ringbearers (such as William Dorn) trying to actively engage in political or even military actions again on worlds they have engaged in operations upon. The new adaptations placed upon the 'morality interlock' by the Ringmasters have vastly decreased the chances for another William Dorn to receive a Ring, or arise from the current ranks of the Corps. (Also, only individuals who could normally receive a Defender Ring themselves are being chosen for 'gifted human' status; this is another provision set in place to keep another William Dorn from rising from the ranks.)
However, we should keep a closer watch upon the Corps of Ringbearers. They have learned how to work within' the letter of the law'.
-from a report submitted by Agency Hyperspace Supervisor ******** ********* (redacted for security purposes)
"History is usually accurate, but it is never truthful."
-Robert A. Heinlein, Friday
"Just this once, Rose – everybody lives!"
- The Ninth Doctor, from Doctor Who: 'The Doctor Dances'
Earth (Dimensional Location: D-316)
The young black cat poked her white nose around the base of a dumpster
behind the student residence hall of Boston Fine Arts College. The autumn air
was cool, even in the mid-afternoon. The warm breezes of summer were gone,
along with her childhood.
Amid the smell of stale beer, rancid pizza and decomposing ramen noodles, she followed the scent of a mouse. With slow, patient steps, she advanced one white forepaw, then the other toward the mud and rust covered wheel of the dumpster, and the prey's tail visible just beyond.
The sudden, agonized shriek of another cat stopped her advance and panicked the mouse, which scampered away. The cat turned and bounded back down the alleyway to the student-parking garage. Just inside the entrance, she ran past a red car waiting to get onto the busy street. She then stopped at the sight of her sister's twisted body thrown against a concrete support. After a plaintive meow, the black cat carefully went to the other and nudged the tortoise-patterned fur on her sister's face with her white-furred nose. Fur that was just like their mother's. The limp roll of her sister's head told the black cat what she feared; the last of her family was gone.
Unable to face the pain of seeing her dead sister, the black cat let out a soft, sad meow, looked a final time, and darted away to find someplace to be alone.
"Poor thing," a voice said, and a pair of hands gently lifted the lifeless cat from the sidewalk. "Let me help you."
Unseen (unnoticed, to be more truthful) by anyone, the nondescript African-American man in the immaculate white suit ran a finger across the cat's form. A thin, faint blue glow enveloped his finger as he did so, and almost immediately, the small feline lifted her head to look at the man who held her.
"Mrroll... meow..." What happened to me?
"You were hit by a car, " the man said, and the thin blue glow surrounded the cat; she stretched in his grasp, feeling strong and agile as she hadn't in a long while.
"Wrrow? Meow!" A – car? That's what they're called – what did you do to me?
The man rubbed just beneath the cat's chin, making her purr with delight. "I've healed you." He said, as the cat pressed her head against her hand, eager for him to continue. "Hey – you're feeling energetic, aren't you?"
The cat suddenly began to struggle in his arms. "What's wrong, girl?"
"Mew! Mew! Mew!" My sister! Where's my sister? She can't be here alone! I have to find her!
"Hey – easy, girl!" The man held her firmly, and the cat felt herself becoming calm, even though her concern was as strong as ever. "Your sister is going to be safe – I promise you."
The cat immediately stopped struggling. "Mrow?" She is – how?
"By the end of the day, your sister is going to find a home," the man said; as he spoke, he could feel the tension and fear flow out of the cat like water. "She's going to be a part of a family that loves her and takes care of her, and she'll love them as well. She's going to be all right."
The man turned and began to walk into the parking garage that had stood behind them.
"Mrrroooool. Meoorrrrwww." But - what about me? What about me? Where will I go? I don't want to be alone!
The man raised his right hand, and the cat drew back in fear as a ring of purple light suddenly appeared in front of them. "You will not be alone," the man said, as they walked through the ring. "You will never be alone."
End Part One