"A Jules and Wells Story."
In the deepest niche of time something moved. Something that should not have existed there, but it did. Something that never should have been, but it was. It had been asleep. Now it was awake. That was not a good thing.
Jules and Wells sat side by side on the edge of the Thames, watching sea gulls snap at scraps of bread a few kind sailors had tossed over the railing from their merchant ship to the always hungry creatures of the air.
"We are like the sea gulls, Jules." Wells said.
"Qui. Always hungry. Restless."
Wells looked at Jules. His friend's soft hair was fluttering at the temples of his skull, gently massaged by the incoming sea breeze from the Atlantic. His heart always skipped a beat when he looked into his friend's eyes, because he was always reminded that despite all the cruelty and meanness that humanity exhibited in the world, there were still men like his best friend, Jules Verne. Incorruptible. Kind and generous to a fault.
"I could not sleep last night."
Jules looked at Wells a moment. His friend had expectant eyes. Always looking beyond where they were. He was a dreamer, like himself. His face was serene, but stern looking. He was darker complected than Jules, and much more hairy. His dark hair complemented his looks though. He had a strong chin and powerful nose. A young man of purpose and determination.
"Nor I." Jules said sadly. "Mon Cher complained about it this morning before I left to join you here."
"How is the Madame?"
Jules gave him an impish smile. "As good as can be expected for a person whose body is exploding from the insides out." He joked.
Wells laughed at his friend's humor. "I suspect you would find tonight even harder to sleep were she to hear those words."
"Non. I speak them to her often, and she then tells me my brain is exploding from thinking too much all the time. I agree with her and she agrees with me. A mutual disarmament."
Wells laughed again. "I wish it were so simple for this world we live in."
"Que Sera, Sera."
"What will be, will be." Wells translated. "True enough, but that doesn't mean we can't try to give it a tiny nudge now and then.
The sea gulls snatching at the discarded bread crumbs suddenly tore into the sky as one, the sound of their wings deafening as they arrowed away in a cloud of hundreds.
"What has disturbed our petite friends?" Jules wondered, rising to his feet to search for the source of the disturbance.
Wells shrugged. "They're birds. They disturb easily. Nature's protection."
"Non. Not this time." Jules pointed.
Wells saw and climbed to his own feet, dusting off his black trousers with his hands as he did so. "What?"
Indeed what. The water was boiling in the center of the Thames. In a few moments the merchant ship next to them on the right and the one on the left also came to a boil, with gesturing sailors, crossing themselves and racing back and forth.
"Have we misjudged this day?"
Jules shook his day. "Non. It has instead misjudged ourselves. Come!"
Jules turned about and ran for the warehouse that fronted the docks. Their warehouse. There they kept a wonderful machine in addition to their numerous inventions and tools of trade. As they ran something huge began to surface from the Thames. It emerged tenuously at first, pressing forth large slimy feelers that struck forth from the boiling waters like wrathful slimy rods of some kind of subterranean god jousting for air, then slowly the top of a brine covered skull began to emerge.
Sailors ran for their weapons as the monstrous thing began to come clear of the water, its skull easily measuring the length of the nearest merchant ship, its eyes the size of a captain's cabin and its jaw as wide as the breadth of the nearest ship, unhinged and drooling tons of sea water and mud. The vast creature continued to rise like a legendary gargantuan of the past, a semi-god monster, whose perilous nature had been buried in the slime of the ages of the ocean floor, but was now awakening to reign over the world it had once known.
It rose further, revealing a chest as spiked and nasty as a forest creature of dubious fame who struck fear into its enemies with spines it could fling from its body. Its arms came into view and they were like vast trunks of forest trees, aged and hoary from centuries of growth. Its fingers rose into the air and it flexed them, examining them, as if seeing them for the first time. The fingers were as thick as military cannon with sharp claws at their tips that looked to be able to strike down a tree with one blow.
The creature turned its head skywards and emitted a yell that sounded like some leviathan of ancient times, a trumpeting call that surely would have panicked a herd of elephants, and did cause many a sailor to drop to the decks of their ships in absolute terror.
The braver began raising their weapons to fire.
Gods do not notice mortal man's puny efforts to contain them. But this was no god. And it noticed everything. When the first bullet struck its highly armored chest, it felt a tickle, but when a barrage of weapons fire slammed into its face, it became annoyed, as we might if we were attacked by a swarm of fleas. It did what any sane creature would do, or insane. It swatted at the annoyance, but when that failed, its mind quickly resolved the source of the annoyance as coming from the ships in front of it.
It reached a hand on both sides of its mighty body and clasped a merchant ship. Sailors screamed in horror as many were crushed by the fatal hands, while others ran and leaped to the dock or into the freezing waters, rather than perish with their vessels.
Too late, many realized they had made a mistake by firing. Had they not done so, they might have made it to safety, as some of their more cowardly mates, less brave companions had done, and run for their lives, knowing that some things man just doesn't face with puny weapons.
The two merchant ships rose out of the water, their midsections bleeding planks and water as they arose. The creature peered at the two vessels somberly a moment, then realizing that the annoying fleas had stopped biting at it; it flung the ships away as effortlessly as a child might its toys. The two merchant ships, with some sailors still clinging to their decks flew through the air, high over the warehouses, tumbling stem over stern, until they vanished in the distance, where they crashed to earth in London's outskirts, causing death and mayhem there.
The creature didn't care. Now that it had expended a great effort of vast strength, it began to feel a pain gnawing inside its stomach. At first it didn't recognize the pain and swatted at its own belly, thanking it was being attacked, but then when the pain didn't release, it gradually became aware that the gnawing inside of it was hunger.
Its huge eyes, veiled by thick membranes of slimy red skin fluttered like gigantic shutters over the slitted yellow eyes of the creature and it let out another trumpeting roar. This one was so loud that many of the shops and warehouses nearby lost their windows and glass as the fragile membranes of them broke in a crescendo of horrible sound.
Hunger drives man to accomplish miracles. Hunger would drive this creature to seek food. It saw none where it stood, but its gigantic nostrils caught faint hints of food from distant chimneys. Its nostrils flared and its stomach roared inside. Food. Nourishment. Desire. Feed! Those were its feelings and its emotions. It was not a creature of rational thought, but rather an engine of long ago nature that had slept too long and now must feed and feed quickly or die.
It lifted a gigantic foot from the Thames, trailing the debris of the ships from deluges of water sloshing from it, as it splashed down on the dock, which shattered immediately, tumbling the creature backwards into the depths of the Thames.
Citizens and Constables rushed to help those trapped by the disaster, thinking...hoping that the worst was over. The creature might have become discouraged when it didn't appear again right away, but then the dock exploded skywards in many pieces as the creature grabbed hold of the more solid part of the land and pulled itself upwards to shore.
At that given moment the warehouse of Jules and Wells opened up on its roof and the Master of the World, a splendid, golden flying machine powered by the science of Threads, an almost mystical power source discovered by Jules a long time ago, rose on powerful beams of energy, its mighty shape glistening in the morning sun, challenging the air for domination, but getting no complaints or resistance as it slowly turned on its axis of powerful rays and pointed towards the incoming creature.
The monster sensed, rather than saw the Master of the World at first, then its eyes managed to see it, and it trumpeted a challenge to the mighty machine, which while not as massive as the monster, was large enough to anger it at the interruption of its search for food. It spit out the few humans it had been chewing on, then headed for the Master of the World, thinking, hoping that this massive being in the air was something tasty.
It was wrong.
Dual rays of intense energy struck the creature in its chest from the prow of the might Master of the World, sending the creature plunging once more backwards into the Thames. But this time it did not stay under for long, it arose in an explosion of fury and hunger, trumpeting a battle cry as it lunged for the nearing Master of the World.
Inside the craft Jules delicately maneuvered the craft above the creature, where it couldn't easily strike at it. But he was wrong.
"Jules!" Wells warned from his station at the weapons controls.
Jules flung the ship in a tight arc, but not before a massive fist of bone and flesh struck its underbelly, sending it flying against its own power source. Both young men were flung about like puppets for a moment as alarms sounded throughout the vessel. Jules worked the controls of his station frantically, attempting to right the craft, which was now in a direct line of impact on the great Tower of London.
Royal Guards at the Tower looked on in horror as the golden craft hurtled towards them. No chance or possibility of escape. Not enough time. But at the last possible moment, the ship righted itself and shot skywards. The Guards all instinctively ducked as a massive wash of air slammed into the structure, blowing off their fancy hats and lifting their coats high over their heads.
Inside the craft, Jules set the controls once more for the Thames. "I think we might be needing to take on another passenger, Wells."
"My thoughts as well, Jules."
Wells launched himself across thee control cabin to the panel which they had used only once before. He couldn't remember if he had checked it recently, but right now at that moment, their lives and those of London depended on it working. He hurriedly, but calmly in his own manner, went over the controls, activating this switch, closing that toggle, and as the panel lit up, he looked over at Jules. "Wish us luck!"
"Luck!" Jules hollered.
The creature was climbing back onto the shore again and as it did so, it crushed more warehouses and structures, searching for the tiny creatures that wouldn't satisfy its hunger, but would at least soften it somewhat.
Then it heard an eerie sound from the sky. It looked up as the Master of the World descended towards it, and then a huge blast of radiant energy erupted from its glistening belly and surrounded the creature.
At first it stood there stunned, not understanding, but when its entire body began to rise into the air, it screamed horribly and struggled to break free. The mighty Master of the World lurched from the intensity of the creature's battle to free itself, but then stabilized itself and shot away from the shores of the Thames and towards the Atlantic.
Hundreds of sailors and citizens, Constables and tourists screamed cheers and applauded as the vast creature vanished from view as it was towed towards the cold sea.
No one knew what happened next. Jules and Wells were not cruel. They knew the creature. They had seen it once before. A long time ago and knew it didn't belong in our time, in our world. So they had taken it where only they could. Home.
The creature stood in the midst of a vast primordial jungle, its nostrils flaring in desire as it smelled...food. It stormed off through the massive trees, heading for its first meal in many a long year, its annoyance and anger with the Master of the World forgotten as it found its food just ahead of it. It roared triumphantly and struck.
Jules and Wells watched the food gathering from above in their ship.
"So many lives lost."
"We could change that."
"We must not play God."
"We could have destroyed the creature. That is what we will be told."
"Non. It was not at fault."
"We could change that."
Jules looked at Wells; his face blanched a pale white. "Non! We must not disturb that which we found."
Wells gave his best friend a searching look. "Some must die."
"Qui. Some must. But we can pray for them. And with our fortunes..."
"Help those who have need."
"But we will still be blamed."
"Qui, for a time. Memories are short."
"Yes. They are."
Wells sighed, then settled back into his co-pilot chair and buckled himself in.
"Anon." Jules said.
So having made their decision they activated the String Engines of their powerful craft and flung their golden ship back across time and space towards Victorian London, the place they now called home. The focal point of all String universes. The one place they must protect at any and all costs. Even their own lives if necessary.
And somewhere in the deepest niche of time something woke further.