The Museum Fiasco
You tend to see a lot when you can't die.
He sat there, inside his glass case, staring out at the people who stared back at him. He sighed, internally of course. He had no mouth, and no real body. He was a sword. His blade was the blackest void, not of evil or malevolence but of infinite beauty. The kind that you swear you could see the greatest depths of the universe within. He had a cross-guard that was intricately carved, suggesting the softness of finely molded gold but with the strength to snap lesser blades that crossed him. His hilt was fine leather and his pommel a deep obsidian.
Everyone came into the museum to ogle him. Within the reinforced glass case, he was safeguarded by laser systems, heat and humidity detectors, and magical runes and glyphs and wards to ensure his safety.
He sighed again, internally. He knew the bounds of the universe and many more universes, and he was tired of being referred to with pronouns in the universe this was written in. He had a name, and if he was to be described he would get his name. He earned it.
His name was Morphimus.
Now, that wasn't his real name. He wasn't sure what it was, nor what it could have been. It was lost to him over the many centuries of stagnancy in the adventuring world. But Morphimus had stuck, and he was content with that. It was mysterious.
And now he sat within this protected case, looking back at everyone else. He didn't see as much as he sensed; it was an all-seeing skill that allowed him to sense movement and color and life in any direction. There was, one fateful day, several things that he sensed were off.
It began with the new security guard. He had the night shift, and stopped often near Morphimus. Sometimes the guard would stand there, talking quietly to himself, or perhaps to the sword he saw in front of him. The guard was a large bear of a man, but kind. His name was Matt. Morphimus didn't care much about most humans since their lives were far too short to get attached to any of them. But he still enjoyed hearing Matt talk to him. He talked about life, goals, gossip of the day, or little things going in his home life. Morphimus couldn't talk back to him since the glass would get in the way, but he could still hear the guard's voice faintly through the barrier.
The next persons of question were a menagerie of strangers, all unique in their own strange way. It began innocently enough, as it always does, one morning. Not a fateful morning (Morphimus had lived so long that he felt himself above the strings of fate) and not Once Upon A Time (He had no way of truly keeping track of time, not that he would anyways. It bored him), but instead a calm Monday morning.
Morphimus looked out at the morning museum-goers, thin crowds of them since it was a Monday along with a morning, and whistled to himself. Internally, of course.
Just then, however, a boy of indeterminate age walked up to the case. He had pink hair, although whether dyed or natural Morphimus could not know. His denim jacket and shoes were at once both casual yet maturely worn. In fact, his whole bearing was a contradiction. He was young and innocent looking, yet held himself maturely and with suave grace. His smile was cocked to one side, and Morphimus could not see any ill will passing in his eyes.
Beside the boy floated a bubble of water, holding a small fish inside. The fish had small waterproof microchips and electronics attached to it, and a water rune engraved on its side. The fish was multicolored, shifting hues every so often as its orb-like eyes blinked slowly and looked around.
“Well, what a beautiful blade,” the pink-haired boy said with his smile still in place. The fish blinked.
“A wonderful specimen,” the fish replied in a robotic voice. Its mouth moved and puckered like a fish, but Morphimus figured that the electronics on it converted the fish-speak to human language. It gazed at Morphimus with one of its large eyes.
There was silence for a bit, as the two of them looked at the sword that lay before them. The boy's smile grew wider.
“We need this,” the boy said.
“That sounds like doing something illegal,” the fish replied.
“Did that ever stop us from anything?”
“No, not at all. Please, go right ahead.”
Morphimus would have shuddered if he had a spine. These two were planning on stealing him in broad daylight. It was a wonder nobody nearby overheard them. Now, though, they mumbled amongst each other, too low for Morphimus to hear. He also couldn't read their lips, since one of them was a fish and the other was smiling so wide that it mangled any hopes of reading them. Curses. Not literal curses, of course. Morphimus had some bad run-ins with curses. No reason to put them on other people.
The two of them examined him some more, and then left. They sat in the gift shop with the wide windows, glancing up every so often, pretending to be busy using the boy's phone. A few more plain-looking strangers came to the case until the next interesting person appeared in baggy jeans and a loose hoodie that was more robe-like than casual. His head was shaved completely bald, yet his sharp features still wore a subtle ruggedness. Morphimus sensed something from him. Power.
“You can think,” the man said. He swore under his breath. “No good leaving you here. All that power not being used.”
Morphimus sat there, saying and doing nothing. It was true, he wasn't being used to his fullest extent. But there was something hidden behind this man's words. He knew powers that might leave a slightly bad taste in Morphimus' metaphorical mouth.
“Pretty, isn't she?” a familiar voice said. Morphimus could see Matt walking up to the case. Odd, this wasn't the night shift.
“I asked to get the morning shift along with the night one,” Matt said, answering Morphimus' questions. “A bit rough for my sleep schedule, but this sword here is so captivating.”
Morphimus realized he had never been referred to as “she”. It was odd. He had grown very used to being called male over the past millennia that being a girl was a suddenly new concept. Not that he truly cared. He was a sword, after all, not some fleshy mortal that cared about such silly things as gender. Whatever someone called him, whether he or she or they or it or thou or even “hey you”, as long as they understood his great and terrible power, he was happy. Once, someone called him a toothpick, and he made them the toothpick. As in, they were picking up their own teeth by the time he was finished with them.
“Beautiful blade,” the bald man said. His eyes passed slowly across Morphimus. “I wish I had a blade like this one for my studies.”
“Studies? What kind of studies?” Matt said.
“My name is Bobert Von Roy, summoner of the Old Order. I study the ins and outs of the parallel universes and their overarching deity, the Fractal.”
“So you're not one of those Atomic kooks?”
“The Order of Nucleic Insanity? No. I study not the insides or doings of particles, but the possibilities of other infinite universes. Macrotheology is my expertise, not microtheology. The Insane and their silly leader, Phen the Black, do not know real power.”
Morphimus would have nodded knowledgeably if he had a real head. The infinite was far more interesting to him than looking at the tiny bits of one's self. One couldn't study forever into the atom, as eventually they would run out of things to find. Parallel universes, however... Morphimus almost felt giddy at the thought.
Bobert and Matt conversed for a while. Matt was honestly interested in the powers Bobert was researching, the eldritch creations and magic of pure willpower that he could summon with a thought. Piecing together snippets of information, Morphimus learned that Bobert needed a powerful blade in order to finish his study of portalling, and if he could literally tear open a hole in the fabric of the universe, then he would be able to finish. Morphimus was reluctant to want to be part of that study, but the idea of opening another universe in the name of science did pique his interest.
“Well, it's my job to keep her safe,” Matt said with a smile. “Unless you gave this museum a ginormous amount of money, they're not giving this baby away!”
Bobert stroked his chin. “My personal budget is… thin. But I'm sure we may be able to procure it for the studies.” He turned and left without another word. The pink-haired boy and his fish both gave Bobert a look-over from their spot, sizing him up for what could be their theft.
Time passed, the crowds grew at midday and shrunk in the evening, and finally everyone cleared out as the night shift began. Matt returned (he left after the morning shift to sleep at home during the day) and loitered beside Morphimus before going on his patrols.
Morphimus commanded a wide view from his spot, and his raised pedestal was higher than the rest of the glass-encased exhibits. Being in the center of the room, there wasn't much that escaped his gaze. He was surprised, however, by motion coming in a direction he wasn't used to. It came from above him.
In the rafters, above the spotlights and weak fluorescent lights, there was a shadow. At night, anything not under spotlights tended to be so dark that even seeing the outlines of other people was extremely difficult (Matt included, despite his large frame). Yet, with the sunroof that stretched across the ceiling, the moonlight illuminated the edges of the figure. It moved silently yet quickly, and with a lithe grace bestowed to only the nimblest of folk. A light clinking betrayed the sound of metal on metal, and the figure came down on a rappel.
As the shadow came closer to Morphimus, he could begin to see its features despite deftly avoiding the edge of the spotlight. It was definitely a rabbit, or a rabbit-like person. He had a black stealth suit on from head to toe, and his face was covered with night-vision goggles. On both feet he wore combat boots with Silence Wards carved into them. Every possible inch of him was covered in pouches, straps, doodads, gear, equipment, and holsters. The only “skin” showing was his two ears, although it was more accurate to say fur than skin. Morphimus knew that this person was a professional.
He pulled out some sort of sensor device. He passed it over Morphimus' glass case for a few moments, then put it away. Still suspended in the air, he now pulled out a tube of some sort of paste, and smeared it over the glass with a metal stick. Upon touching the glass, the paste hissed and smoked, and seconds later there was a sizable hole. Now he pulled out a small canister, popped a small tab, and let smoke pour into the case. The motion lasers inside were now visible. Morphimus was surprised at the skill of this thief.
Carefully weaving his hands through the lasers, the rabbit thief slowly pulled Morphimus out and through the hole in the glass. The smoke spilled out just as Morphimus was freed, wafting away into the stale museum air. Morphimus knew that the silent alarms were already tripped, but it would be far too late to get to the scene of the crime. As he was slowly pulled up towards the ceiling, he could see Matt running into the room to see only an empty, partially melted case.
Suddenly, the lights all turned on in a flash. There was a thundering crash as all the main doors into the room burst inwards, sending wood and metal flying out. Small metal grenades bounced in – one, two, three bounces – before flashing brightly. Morphimus, being a sword, wasn't blinded by the flash, but Matt fell onto his behind from both the blast and the light. Police rushed into the room, some with submachine guns, some with shotguns, and some with powerful wards and spells twisting around their hands. They were clad head to toe in tactical police gear and powerful wards.
“Everyone, hands in the air!” a policeman with four arms said. He held two shotguns, and his two heads swiveled in both directions to scan the room. Matt groaned on the ground. The rabbit thief held his hands up in the air, still suspended by the rappel and holding Morphimus.
“Drop the weapon!” the two-headed policeman said with both mouths, magnifying his voice in the echoing room. He pointed both shotguns at the thief.
“Belay that order. Move aside,” a gruff voice said.
A tough, scraggly man sauntered into the room. He wore a brown leather trench coat and had a cigar cocked inside his mouth. He was lean-muscled through the coat, and he had a double-barreled shotgun in his hands. His dark hair was close-cut, and his stubble was less that he hadn't shaved that morning, and more that he hadn't shaved for years. His six-o'clock shadow just solidified in its current state. He pointed his own double-barrel at the thief.
“We can't afford to damage that blade, officer,” the coated man said.
“Who in blazes are-” said the four-armed officer, but upon seeing this gruff intruder he shut his trap instantly.
“Judging by your sudden loss of speech, I take it you already know who in blazes I am. The name is Dune. Dune Everson.” He whipped out a small card and handed it to the officer. “My card. I'm a private eye and bounty hunter.”
“W-Well,” stammered the officer, sweat coming down both of his foreheads. “You still have no jurisdiction over this operation, and no right to be here!” The officer puffed his chest out a little.
“I do have a right, for your information,” Dune said, pulling out a few documents from his coat. He handed them over, and the officer looked them over. A few other officers piled around to look at the documents. They began conversing amongst themselves, pointing at words and phrases and discussing whether or not Dune could be there.
The rabbit thief sighed. “What a bunch of idiots.” He lowered his arms, probably from fatigue. Hanging there from his back, he slowly and helplessly spun. He flicked off his night-vision goggles and raised them off his eyes. Morphimus could see his eyes, both a deep green. They looked tired and bored. His mouth was covered by the mask, but Morphimus could still see his chin moving, as if he was whispering or chewing his lips.
Dune looked up, and whipped his shotgun up in a shouldered position. “Hands up!”
“Hard to do in this position, Dune. Arms are tired.”
Dune sighed, and lowered his shotgun slightly. “Just... stay there. You're surrounded, so don't try anything.” He was silent for a moment before yelling “And don't call me Dune! We're not on a first-name basis here!”
“Ah, hell, Dune. You've tracked me so often, we might as well be.”
“Usagi, you're not making this any easier!” Dune yelled.
The rabbit thief, evidently named Usagi, laughed. “Right. Anyways, how are the wife and kids, Dune? Still healthy and happy?”
“I'm unmarried, you dolt.”
“Ah, yeah, forgot about that. You don't get around much when you're chasing someone better than you.”
Dune gritted his teeth. “Someone cut that lagomorphic, sticky-fingered idiot down!”
Above the roof, a few officers rappelled down. One pulled out a combat knife and swung over to Usagi to try to cut him down.
“Dune, I know you're not THAT dumb. Come on now. Cut me down from here and I'll fall.”
Dune said nothing, and returned to talking about the papers.
“I'm worth more alive than dead!”
Dune clenched his teeth, looked up to the heavens as if asking for some sort of divine providence, then rubbed his temples, shotgun cinched in his armpit. “Fine,” he said. He pointed to the tethered officers in the ceiling. “Let him down. No funny business.”
“Funny how you think my business is funny business,” Usagi replied. “You're not laughing, so it's probably not funny.”
Dune glared at him.
Usagi rappelled down again, untethered himself, and stood next to the melted case. Officers quickly surrounded him, and he put his hands in the air again, holding Morphimus up high. This was good, at least for Morphimus, since he could now see a door opening in the far corner. Out popped the head of the pink-haired boy from earlier. It seemed that he had hid inside the restrooms until after hours.
“You there! Hands up!”
The boy smirked, and came out with his hands up. The fish bobbed beside him.
More procedures followed, with the pink-haired boy being patted down (Usagi wasn't, as per Dune's orders) and the two of them putting their hands (or fins) in the air. One officer scanned the two with a magical swipe of his hand.
“Let's see, you're on the registry,” the magical officer said. His eyes were closed and he had one glowing hand pressed to his head. Morphimus realized he must have been telepathically connecting to some bureaucratic office somewhere else.
“Abel Canis,” the officer said, pointing to the pink-haired boy. “You don't have a criminal record, at least not yet.” He now pointed to the fish.
“You are... not in the registry. We need to make a spot for you.”
The fish blinked.
“Uh... name?” the officer asked.
“Vik Fisher,” the fish said in their electronics-enhanced voice.
“I'm a fish.”
“It's a fish,” Abel replied.
“Gender!” the officer asked, annoyed.
“IT'S A FISH,” Abel, Dune, Usagi, and all the other officers said in unison.
The magical officer cursed under his breath.
“Occupation?” he asked.
“Burglar, extortionist, con-fish. Gave political bribes in the last election, unlawfully swayed a jury to acquit me of murder, and I ran a prostitution ring for seven years,” Vik replied.
The interrogating guard stood there, unable to comprehend the absolute amount of crimes he has just heard. Abel's smile left his face as he turned to Vik.
“You're not supposed to tell him all that!” Abel said.
“But he asked.”
The magical officer shook his head, returning to consciousness from his stupor.
“How could you have done all of that?” the officer asked incredulously.
“Hard work and determination.”
“But... you're a fish!”
“Yes, that is one of my major traits.”
Dune gathered Usagi, Abel, and Vik into one group before the interrogation went even further south, and the police all covered them with their guns. Morphimus could see Matt still laying on the ground, stunned so badly by the initial assault that he was now sleeping.
“Alright, well, time to take you all down to the precinct so we can process you,” Dune said. He waved a finger around in the air. “Clear the rest of the area. And wake up that security guard.”
A rumble shook the ground. The lights flickered and dimmed, and strange cracks formed in the ground. Many police ran for cover, screaming about earthquakes or something. Morphimus knew it wasn't that. He sensed power. Magic.
The cracks widened, emanating purple light. Black tentacles creeped outwards, and symbols appeared in the air and on the walls. A surge of raw power knocked everyone off their feet, and Morphimus clattered and skittered away from Usagi's grasp. Smoke rose and rubble crashed down, and the silhouette of someone levitated into the air out of the chasm below. Morphimus was half expecting evil, maniacal laughter, but instead heard strings of curse words.
As suddenly as it had appeared, it left. The chasm closed with a bang, the tendrils snapped back inwards, and the smoke dissipated. Bobert was the one floating, but now he crashed to the ground with an oof.
“Blast it! I asked for teleportation, not a dramatic entrance!” Bobert said, grimacing. The police all looked stunned by the blast, some knocked out entirely. Bobert stood with several groans, stretched his sore body, and scanned the room. His eyes locked on Morphimus, and he made a beeline for him.
“Stop!” Matt yelled. The blast had the opposite effect on him; he seemed awake now rather than unconscious. He began stumbling over officers and rubble to intercept Bobert.
“Hey, I called it!” Abel said. He and Vik were already up, racing towards Morphimus. Dune was up too, jumping over smashed pillars trying not to trip over tangled bodies. Usagi vaulted to his feet, quickly pinpointed Morphimus, and streaked towards him. Everyone was on a collision course for the blade they coveted.
Just as all of them were about to reach Morphimus, the ground made a tremendous shaking, knocking them all down again. This time, greenish-yellow light poured out of new cracks in the ground. Tendrils made of a sickly green creeped out, and another figure floated into the air, laughing maniacally.
“Oh come on,” Dune said.
“What a cliched entrance,” Abel added.
“He's stealing my style!” Bobert added.
“He looks like a loser,” Usagi added.
“He's got no taste in evil magic,” Vik added.
“I think we need to get out of here in one piece,” Matt added.
Everyone paused, and nodded in agreement with Matt's statement.
“Yeah, let's roll.”
“Settle this when we're alive?”
The whole group bolted for a side door marked “EMERGENCY EXIT”. Light flashed, smoke rose from the ground, and more things fell from the ceiling. They burst into the alleyway, huffing and puffing. Matt closed the door and used his staff key to lock it, and all of them sat on boxes, rested against walls, brushed off dust, and Abel offered everyone a sip of water from his water bottle.
Inside, the smoke cleared, and floating in the room was none other than Phen the Black. He was quite literally black, just a human-shaped shadow with demonic wings spreading from his back. His evil laughter subsided.
“Fools! I claim the great blade Morphimus in the name of the Order of the Nucleic Insane! I shall use his power to... to...”
Phen stopped what would have been a very embarrassing monologue. He couldn't see Morphimus anywhere, just police officers strewn about.
“Blast, I never get to use my evil entrance!” Phen said. He glided down to one of the officers.
“You know where the blade is?”
All the conscious police officers shook their heads.
“Who are you?” the magic officer asked.
“I am none other than Phen the Black! Great Leader of the Order of the Nucleic Insane! I command great powers, powers nobody can even fathom! The very atoms that make up our bodies and houses and world are at my fingertips, and I will do anything for greater power!”
“Mhm,” the officer said. He put his glowing hand to his head. “And your gender?”----------
“So, looks like we avoided certain death,” Vik said.
“Success!” Abel said, a smile on his face.
The group was seated in a bar, in a booth for more privacy, where dim lights and sour liqueur made up the majority of the atmosphere. The few other patrons gave them curious glances, but a sharp look from Dune usually stopped that. Abel was drinking a cola, Dune some whiskey, Matt something cheap and watered down, and Usagi some tea. Vik was floating in a glass of water, replenishing his “old water” bubble. Bobert declined a drink, citing his religious beliefs.
“So, now what?” Dune said after he downed quick shot of his whiskey.
Usagi had his mask off now, to allow him to drink his tea. His eyes were closed as he took a long sip, his breathing calm. Slowly, he set down his teacup. The steam swirled around him. Everyone instinctively leaned forward in anticipation.
He opened his eyes to see everyone staring at him.
“What?” he asked.
“Well... we were expecting you to say something!” Abel said.
“Something important,” Vik added.
“What? Hell no, I was just drinking my tea,” Usagi said.
“I think I need to take the sword back,” Matt said.
Abel, Vik, Usagi, and Bobert all gave Matt a dirty look.
“I stole it, and I plan to follow through with it,” Usagi said.
“And sell it to who? It's not gonna be easy to pawn that off,” Abel replied.
“I'll buy it,” Bobert said.
For the next few seconds there was a cacophony of noise and arguments, where everyone tried to get a word in but failing miserably, every opinion mixed in with everyone else's, and voices raising higher and higher, until –
“Has nobody thought of asking my opinion on this matter?”
Everyone went silent. They looked around, pointed noiselessly at one another, questioning looks on their faces.
“Who was that?” everyone asked in unison. There was a pause.
“Not me,” everyone said in unison again.
“It was me.”
Everyone was silent again. Suddenly, Dune whipped out a pearl-handled revolver, pointing it straight at Usagi's head.
“I think the sticky-fingered thief here knows who it is.”
“Oh... you mean him,” Usagi replied. He opened up his backpack and pulled Morphimus out and placed it on the table. Dune lowered his revolver.
Everyone stared at Morphimus.
“Open sesame?” Abel asked.
“Do I look like a door?” Morphimus replied.
“Maybe 'abracadabra' would work better,” Matt said.
“You do realize that the sword's talking right now,” Bobert said.
“The bald man is right. I'm talking.”
Everyone shut up and stared at Morphimus.
“Now that I have your attention, may I say a few things?”
“Go ahead,” Vik said.
“Thank you,” Morphimus said. He cleared his throat, or at least he made the sound of it. “My name is Morphimus. Many have held me, but few have kept me. I have lived longer than all of you combined, and many more times longer than that, and longer than that. I have seen nations rise and fall, and I will have final say on what happens to me.”
“Then why did you end up in a museum?” Matt asked.
Morphimus was quiet for a moment. “I – I guess it was a case of bad luck.”
“An unlucky sword? That's not optimal,” Vik replied. They blinked slowly.
“Lucky or no, we gotta listen to him,” Dune said. Everyone turned to look back at Morphimus.
Morphimus sat silently for a second. The black blade seemed to shimmer slightly. He took in his surroundings again. A mostly empty bar, a bartender of the best kind (he didn't care about what happened in his bar or what gossip happened. All he cared was that they paid for drinks), and one or two quiet conversations from other dark corners of the room. Luckily, Matt and Dune's imposing frames blocked Morphimus from being seen easily by everyone else.
“Matt will take me to his house for the night, as he is my guardian. Tomorrow night, at this same exact time, I will have my answer. Hopefully this time will let you mull things over as well.”
“Alright, but no stealing!” Abel said, pointing at Matt.
“Hey, don't worry. I'll make sure he comes back in one piece,” Matt replied. He picked up Morphimus, grabbed yesterday's newspapers from another table, and wrapped the blade up to avoid gathering attention.
“Tomorrow night, then,” Vik said.
“You all better be back,” Dune said. Everyone got up, nodded their goodbyes, and left.