Enclosures: “Bulwark” (2022)

A preamble on the enclosure backstories:

Not all of Earth’s monsters were myths, and not all of them remained on Earth when they had the opportunity to escape. Of all of the great menaces from humanity’s distant past, a few managed to leave the solar system and find new lairs, where they hid and dreamed of greater days. Others found welcome among similar and complementary horrors, where they were promptly consumed. A few had dedicated hunters tracking them through the universe, with the news of a Grendelius or Sonmet finally cornered and beheaded becoming a source of joy and celebration to their victims. One, though, escaped the dragnets and the snipers, and almost came out better than before.

Scylla tries Montfort was, even for an energy vampire, an impressive force for despair. Charisma and presence strong enough to get victims close enough for easy draining, cunning to find the best locales for feeding, and an entourage of sycophants willing to risk being in the monster’s gaze if it meant getting first shot at scraps of wealth or power, Scylla at one point indirectly ruled a full third of Earth’s surface by the end of the 22nd Century. As is usually the case, though, greed competed with narcissism and hubris to dull survival instincts , she set off suicidal despair in family members of people with the knowledge and means to do something about the situation, and her true nature was revealed on international newsfeeds with almost no chance of escape afterwards. In any other story, at any other time, her psychic net would have been shattered, her defenders destroyed, and her head on a very tall and very sharp pole, with her remaining conscious and aware just long enough to look upon her works, ye mighty.

However, a series of events conspired to remove her from her assailants’ grasp that could not have happened at any other time: one of her entourage was the spouse of a senor engineer working on experimental space-corridor technology, and she was more surprised than the security guards when her wife was leading the herd of interlopers tearing through the facility corridors toward the test device. Scylla didn’t break stride in draining the test device’s operation knowledge as the body shriveled and crumbled, and managed to get her crew and herself through the gate before the first of her pursuers appeared at the end of the corridor. A quickly dropped explosive device destroyed the controls on the corridor gate, and the rest of humanity was left wondering forever as to Scylla’s destination and her future plans.

Scylla’s victims on Earth and their relations never discovered what happened to Scylla and her herd, but they had huge plans. They discovered themselves in an unknown part of the universe: Scylla had little patience for any followers who knew more than she did unless that knowledge was advantageous, and until her escape, she had no patience for astronomers. The world was enough like Earth, though, to neutralize any homesickness, with a comparable rotation, gravity, and atmosphere, and its life was so much like Earth’s that Scylla knew her flock wouldn’t starve. Her flock looked up in the sky, looked at the mellow red star overhead and the beautiful nebulae filling the nighttime skies and found it good, so they started immediately on building a kingdom suitable for their queen, even if it killed them. If they failed, it would kill them.

Things were progressing nicely on that front, with a small town forming and lots of new babies to feed Scylla’s ever-raging hunger, when they all regretted not having an astronomer among their number. The nebulae in the night sky were ones through which their world’s star was passing, That red dwarf star produced lots of ultraviolet light as the dust and gas of the nebulae impacted the star’s photosphere, which rapidly sterilized all of the worlds in that stellar system. Scylla spent her last weeks in a cave near the corridor wreckage, slowly starving as the last of her immediate entourage died from massive melanomas, and cursing them out as they expired. Far too late, she learned a hard truth of the universe: bootlickers and livestock make really, really poor weather forecasters.

Dimensions (width/height/depth): 12 1/2″ x 13″ x 12 1/2″ (31.75 cm x 33.02 cm x 31.75 cm)

Plant: Drosera capensis

Construction: Glass enclosure. polystyrene foam, found items.

Price: $150US

Shirt Price: $125US

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