The Hero of Algol by Bad Hair Man

Chapter 3: The Resurrection of Hope

**** Interview with Myau - excerpt. AW 344, Oct. 24 ****

Interviewer: What made you decide to become a hero?

Myau: *surprised* Uh... I think maybe you have me confused with someone else. I never "decided" to become a hero.

Interviewer: Then how did you end up becoming one? Was it fate? Chance?

Myau: I just wanted to explore. I knew Algol was in bad shape and getting worse. Everyone knew that. But I felt that I needed to know more than I did. Musk Cat communities isolate themselves from other peoples, and so we tend not to hear news of the outside world too often or in too much detail. And not knowing what was going on was slowly eating me up. I needed to know whether things were really as bad as all the rumors said. Whether or not the Dezorians and Motavians really were hunkering down against the rising monster tides like we were. Whether the Palman civilization -- even with all of its incredible technology and wealth -- was slowly collapsing beneath the weight of a brutal tyranny and the blight of evil that had infected all of Algol. And I wanted to know whether or not anyone was doing anything about it.

Interviewer: So... you left home looking for answers.

Myau: I left home looking for hope!

**** end excerpt ****

AW 342, July 1 (day 25)

Well, I'm back up in the quiet starry black. Five more days of cooling our heels before we can go rescue Odin. *sigh* It's childish -- I know -- to feel this impatient. I should be grateful that the trip between Mota and Palma is only five days. It takes eight days at the wrong time of year, and used to take months! Five days of rest. Five days only, in a modern ship. Grateful. I should be grateful. I am grateful! But I'm also so restless! Childish. Is there any switch I can flip to stop my emotions from being so stupid?

Myau and I spent a lot of time together today. Most of that scrambling to jump through the hoops necessary to catch the next flight back to the Camineet/Parolit spaceport. Myau's in as much of a hurry as I am to get back to Odin. More of a hurry, actually, now that I think about it. He asked me to let him carry the Alshline, maybe because he doesn't completely trust me yet, I don't know. But I gave it to him, because I trust him, and I want him to know that. He doesn't have hands exactly, so he carries it on a cord around his neck. Myau is really not afraid to ask anyone anytime for help opening a door or manipulating something designed for a Palman to use that he just can't get a handle on. I wonder if I could be that brave and assertive if I were in his position, living in a world built for giants. I suppose I'd have to learn to be just to get by.

Noll's definitely not on this flight. I knew he wouldn't be, but... I looked for him anyway, just to be sure.

I don't really want Noll to be eaten by a sandworm. I hate what he did, but I wish I'd talked to him when I had the chance. I could have said my piece; we could have parted amicably; we might even have ended up still being friends. Now I don't know any way to contact him and I'll probably never see him again and it's all my fault! God, why did I have to behave so stupidly?! Stupid! Stupid! Stupid!

A dumb, childish girl who can't get past her own impatience and anger in time to make things better is going to bed now. Goodnight.

AW 342, July 2 (day 26)

Myau is a really nice guy. I had no idea Musk Cats were like that. Except... argh! Maybe it's not all Musk Cats that are like that? Maybe it's just his personality? Damn. I should ask him. I hate knowing so little about Musk Cats. I'm always afraid I'm going to have a really brain-dead moment one of these days and inadvertently assume something really offensive about them because I'm so ignorant. Anyway, Myau is really friendly. He's made friends of almost everybody on this flight already just by being very cheerful, very open, and very forward.

I don't think anyone here had ever met a Musk Cat before Myau, but that's okay because Myau loves to talk about himself (and about Odin). He's also very interested in what's going on in the world and in people's lives, and isn't afraid to ask anything he might be curious about. Watching him today I really envied how fearless with people he is (though he was kind of tactless at times). And kids love him! They love him! And he likes them back, too!

Speaking of Odin, Myau brags about being his closest friend, but comes off sounding like the guy's biggest fan. Myau is really impressed with Odin's strength and heroism, but even so he stops short of calling Odin the next Perseus. It seems Odin may have ambitions in that direction, but Myau thinks he has a ways to go to get there. (See the Medusa debacle, for instance.) Actually, I'm not sure but, from what Myau's said I think Myau might be more optimistic about Odin's potential than Odin himself is.

Anyway, hearing all this talk about slaying monsters, rescuing damsels, and helping out towns in trouble has me as excited as ever to meet Odin again. But... augh! Still four days until we land!

Goodnight Nero. Maybe tomorrow something useful or interesting will happen. (Yeah right.)

AW 342, July 3 (day 27)

I talked with Myau a bit more in private today. He said that he is a lot more adventurous and "gregarious" (his word, I had to ask him what it meant!) than the average Musk Cat. He said that -- unlike most Musk Cats -- he generally likes Palmans, but that when interacting with us he has to be socially aggressive and bold in order to prevent people from treating him like just a talking pet or (sometimes) like a monster. I tried to apologize to him on behalf of all Palmans for some of us treating him that way; he said "thanks" but thought I was being silly.

I also found out that Myau and Odin's real names aren't 'Myau' and 'Odin'! Well... sort of. Apparently 'Myau' is the closest a Palman tongue can get to pronouncing his real name. It seems the Musk Cat language has a lot of subtle sounds that Palmans can't distinguish very well. I asked him to say his real name for me slowly, but it pretty much just sounded like 'Myau' (or possibly 'Myaul'). I tried to pronounce it correctly but he said I was butchering it, and that I should just stick with 'Myau'.

And Odin's real name is actually Tyrone! Myau said that Odin (or Tyrone(?)) chose his new name when he decided to become a hero because he wanted to be known by a name that sounded less mundane and more legendary. I guess I think he succeeded. Odin is a pretty boss name to be known by. I feel kind of worried now though (well, I already was worried, but now even more so) when we finally de-petrify him, will I be meeting a great hero named Odin, or just a guy named Tyrone with pretensions of grandeur? Myau says he's the real thing, but Myau doesn't sound entirely unbiased.

Oh well, time will tell. Whether I waste my time worrying about it now or not.

Goodnight.

AW 342, July 4 (day 28)

Still two more days. Ughhhhh... this is such a long flight! I am remembering now why I behaved so stupidly on the last one. There's nothing to do in space! Myau spent a lot of today talking to some of his new friends: an older, wealthy couple who are going to help smuggle him through customs at the Palma spaceport.

Meanwhile I was left all alone with no cute boys to have inappropriate and ill-advised summer romances with. Oh, there are a few hot guys in their twenties on board. They see me as jail-bait of course, assuming they've looked at or thought about me at all, which they probably haven't. The boy closest to my age in this five-day community is named Jeride, and he is either twelve or thirteen. I suspect his parents would not be too happy with me were I to sneak him into my sleeping cell and teach him the fine art of getting to third base. Or second base. Or any base really. And I kind of creeped myself out a little writing that. Seriously, the kid's even shorter than I am.

I did catch him staring at my armor today though. Which sounds a little lecherous until I clarify that I wasn't wearing it at the time. (Which also sounds rather licentious if one were to make the unwarranted and incorrect assumption that by 'my armor' I meant 'my clothes'.) Er... anyway, he seemed to think my armor was "really cool" and wanted to hear all about my "adventures" slaying sworms and scorpions and slimes and wingeyes in the grisliest possible detail. I even showed him my sword when he asked to see it. (Yeah... even my mind can't quite wrangle that into a sensible double entendre right now. (If only he had a sword that I could have asked to see.))

*sigh* Can you guess what I have on the brain right now? My day in summary: Boys are cute, I am lonely, this probably will not be changing any time soon. Anyway...

Goodnight.

AW 342, July 5 (day 29)

It didn't seem like it yesterday, but I think Jeride has a crush on me. He followed me around all day today, bugging me and asking questions, and I caught him staring at me more than a few times too. When they played The Wrath of Medusa on the big screen in the dining room after dinner Jeride sat next to me and Myau rather than with his parents and little sisters. And he sat really close... for the whole length of the movie. I seriously kept expecting him to yawn and stretch and then suavely put his arm around me at any minute. But he never did. He did tell me that he liked my hair though earlier in the day, while yanking on a handful of it. So maybe I was expecting a little bit much in the way of sophistication from this kid.

After the film he and Myau both wanted me to explain the details of the film's historical inaccuracies that I'd been complaining about. From basic things like the anachronistic armor styles (armor from the correct period wasn't nearly as flashy as the somewhat more modern style that the studio decided to use), to more fundamental mistakes like modern pop culture's tendency to portray Perseus as some bad-ass one-man-army who did most of his fighting alone. He didn't. Though not a whole lot is known about them individually, it's generally believed that Perseus had a small cadre of companions and allies who stood by him and helped him achieve almost all of his most important victories. Perseus may have been the greatest hero Algol has ever known, but that doesn't mean he fought his battles alone! This sort of thing drives me crazy! (Not that I think The Wrath of Medusa is a bad movie or anything. It's a fun, popcorny action flick that just happens to push my buttons a bit.)

Ugh... This is what I get for writing that stupid research paper last year. Too many useless facts about an ancient-historical-figure-cum-modern-fantasy-legend banging around in my head. Maybe that's why I keep dreaming about him, too much fourteen-year-old-fangirl blood still running through my veins. (Though if that's the case, I'm not sure why all my dreams about him are nightmares.) Oh well.

Tomorrow we land. Myau's going to go through with his crazy scheme to get smuggled past the robotcops at the Camineet/Parolit spaceport, and then we can get back to doing big exciting scary important things. I know I keep complaining about the days of inactivity and rest these spaceflights forced me to endure, but I'm already starting to miss them.

Here's hoping my fake IDs stand up to another round of casual scrutiny. Goodnight.

AW 342, July 6 (day 30)

Mid-day entry:

Well, we're sitting on the tarmac, waiting who knows how long for who knows what before we're going to be allowed to disembark. Riding in a VTHL spaceplane means the landings tend to be even more scenic than the takeoffs. I didn't get to see Gothic Labs this time, but I did get a tremendous view of the Great Castle. It really does look spectacular from the air, with all its gleaming white towers and parapets and crenelations and sprawling gardens and orchards and things. I really wish it were still open for tourists to visit, I'd love to get a look at some of it up close. It looks like such an amazing place, standing so tall and proud at the top of Waizz Hill. God only knows what King Lassic and his cronies and priests and toadies are doing in there now.

Though I was only gone for two weeks, it feels good to be back on a planet where the land is green and the sun is friendly. Though -- to be fair -- I never really gave Motavia much of a chance. Maybe someday I'll go back and see what sandy, sun-baked Mota has to offer in places other than just Paseo, but it probably won't be for a long while. I have way too much stuff to do here at home to be taking any more vacations in the near future.

God, what is the holdup?! I'd like to get home sometime before dark if at all possible!

AW 342, July 6 (day 30)

Evening entry:

It's almost midnight and I'm not at all tired yet. Stupid space-lag is going the other way this time. Being at home always makes me feel melancholy now. All my adventures away from home lately have kept me distracted and stressed, but being home I can relax, albeit surrounded by memories. I miss Nero. I miss him a lot!

...

But anyway, today wasn't all just collapsing onto my bed and crying. The plan went off without a hitch. Myau somehow snuck off the ship, out of the spaceport, and into Camineet without being intercepted by any robotcops. My passport and roadpass worked just as well as before. We never were told what that hour-long delay was all about. Stupid bureaucracy. I'd say I hate flying if it didn't let me visit such interesting places. I hugged Jeride goodbye at the spaceport and eventually met back up with Myau at my house.

I let Suelo know I was back and she made such a big deal about coming over and helping out that I'm wondering if she thinks I'm not capable of cooking dinner on my own or something. (Not that I'm keeping anything other than canned and dried food around anymore. Everything perishable has long since perished and not been replaced.) Suelo wanted to hear all about Motavia. Since I didn't feel like talking about Noll in front of Myau, there was less to tell about my fourteen day trip than she was hoping, since only four of those days were actually spent on Mota and the other ten were all in cramped spaceships.

Myau gave the enthusiastic sales-pitch for Odin that he does. He's really looking forward to seeing and saving his hero tomorrow. I'm still trying to reserve judgement, but no matter what else Odin (Tyrone?) turns out to be (great hero, boastful Hunter, or something else) it's pretty clear that he is -- at the very least -- Myau's hero. I was hoping to be able to sleep in tomorrow, but Myau says he's leaving at the break of dawn with or without me, space-lag be damned. (I'm not sure how he would open the bottle of Alshline without hands, but whatever.)

Myau is already curled up on Nero's bed. Apparently he can sleep anywhere, anytime. I, on the other hand, am too space-lagged and excited about tomorrow to be sleepy yet. I think I'll go see if we have any herbal tea I can make. I've got to at least try to get some sleep.

Goodnight. (I hope.)

AW 342, July 7 (day 31)

Oh my God. Today was so looooooong! I'm too tired to write right now.

Day's high-point: seeing the happiest cat that ever there was in the entire history of both happiness and cats. I envy Odin for having a friend like that.

More tomorrow. Goodnight.

**** Interview with Odin - excerpt. AW 344, Nov. 10 ****

Interviewer: What did you think of Alis Landale the first time you met her?

Odin: *smirks* Hmm... Our very first meeting? My first thought was that Medusa had transformed herself into a normal-looking girl. See, one moment I was staring down the Queen of Serpents herself -- and I'll admit that's not the brightest move I've ever made -- and the next, from my perspective, Medusa was gone and Alis was standing in almost the exact same spot, empty bottle in hand and looking at me expectantly.

Interviewer: The bottle of Alshline.

Odin: Mm-hmm.

Interviewer: And did you really think Alis was Medusa transformed at first?

Odin: No, not really. I figured out pretty quick what had happened. Being turned to stone and back isn't quite instantaneous, there were a few moments of paralyzing pain going each way. And though the cave itself didn't change during the month or so that I was out, the sudden appearance of new light and shadows from Alis's flashlight made it look like it had. And if that wasn't enough to let me know the situation had gone from bad to better, the next thing that happened was I was being practically strangled by an ecstatic furball, who is stronger than he looks, by the way.

Interviewer: *smiling* Myau was happy to see you.

Odin: That would be an understatement. Myau's not terribly prone to big emotional displays, but I guess seeing me get killed and then a month later brought back to life is a pretty decent excuse for that sort of thing.

Interviewer: About Alis though, what impression did she make on you at first?

Odin: I thought she looked too damn young for where she was and what she was doing, that her parents should be horrified to learn that their daughter was deep in Medusa's cave carrying a sword and shield that had clearly been getting heavy use. Alis and Myau were both spattered with dead slime at that point.

Interviewer: Alis's... parents.

Odin: Yeah, fortunately I didn't say any of that out loud. She was really shy and quiet at first, apparently overawed by my reputation. So Myau of course took it upon himself to explain all about how enterprising and altruistic and generous she was, what a skilled swordswoman and combat healer she was, and how she had traded away a fortune just to help Myau save my ass and that all she wanted in return was for me to listen to and consider her dead brother's final request.

Interviewer: That's quite the introduction.

Odin: Yeah, when Myau lays it on, he lays it on thick. I could tell by the look on her face as he was telling me all this that she thought she was being over-sold. A state Myau had inflicted upon me a number of times as well, so I could sympathize, though I'd like to think I hide it better than Alis did. At any rate, after a guilt-trip like that, what choice did I have but to be properly grateful and hear out her poor dead brother's dying wish?

Chapter 4: The Second Sidekick