Part 13 Chapter 0X-Howling

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Sunset cast ruddy light, throwing a shadow from the wolf mask on the stateroom wall Lying in bed I nuzzled the pilled fabric of Wulfie's covering. Gagnon settled into her berth. Outside, the Fennako crew was casting off lines. A nightlight flickered on.

Footsteps paced the corridor, and a darm said, "Criminy! What's with the red lamps? Spooky, I tell you. That and all the wolves."

Another voice, maybe Hawthorn, said, "Red light doesn't blind your night vision. Better for guard duty."

Hawthorn was wrong. The red light fulfilled Noah's injunction against nighttime light brighter than the moon, nothing to do with night vision. As for wolves, they were the totem of Clan Fennako, admired for fierceness, loyalty, and devotion to their young.

Gagnon's breathing slowed and deepened.

...Politkofsky... My name hung in the stillness. Who had called out? Not Gagnon.

My neuro followed the name to its source.

"Woof!" Eyes opened and through the I saw a vision of a dimly lit stateroom, like the one I shared with Gagnon-two berths and a desk.

A figure crouched at the desk, a recording unit clutched in her hand. "Qué?" Sanchez turned toward my view. "Un lobo?" Her voice brightened. "La loba!" She nodded at my wolf-face, then returned to her work.

With a second bark, I left her alone, my attention returning to my berth.

Holding Wulfie, I dozed, lightly feeling the movement of the ship until deep sleep overtook me.

Sometime in the night, I rolled onto my stomach. I realized that I could feel the sea flowing around the ship's hull, smooth, caressing my belly. Eyes closed, I saw before me dark water silvered by moonlight, water like black satin stitched with sequins, Luna Majora above, gibbous, near round, the second moon setting. I became one the ship, cruising in the light of the moons.

Alive and free I sped through the sea, slaloming from side-to-side. I threw back my head and sang my joy to the moons, my voice a deep baying howl, the stentorian resonance of a foghorn. On my decks, my other wolf mouths answered in braided harmony.

My rudder jerked, seized by an unseen hand. Startled, I barked, and my wolf eyes flew open in the bridge.

My heart thudded. Had Gagnon heard me?

No, I'd barked up in the bridge, not in the stateroom.

The night helmsman stared back at the wolf mask, charts and diagrams glowing red behind him. "Good Danna!"

"What is it, Zakh," said a dark figure, maybe the navigator.

I pulled my consciousness back into my body, curled around Wulfie. I prayed to Danna that no one recognized I'd merged with Shewolf.

In the corridor, a darm said, "Did you hear that? Wolves!"

I dozed again.

A transmission from the bridge awakened me. Hannako Command. Shewolf here. Carrying diplomats bound for Fennako City. Request permission to travel through. A series of blips and beeps followed.

Hannako Command here. You have the codes. Your registration is in order. Shewolf? Shewolf, we have that Her Majesty Fenna is aboard! Is this true?

I'd been discovered. Depths! Depths!

The howling must have given me away. Sink it all. I was terrible at hiding my emotions.

I took a deep breath and curled into a fetal position.

You're mistaken, sent the navigator. The registration is hers. Not the signature.

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