Tjilpa's Tale

Tjilpa sat under the blazing sun, the whispering wind ruffling his long amber fur. Grains of sand
ran in rivulets around his still form, forming banks in the lee of the breeze. The cat spirit was
aware of every grain of sand, each gust of wind; that’s all there was left.
Though there is no real time in the Dreaming, it had been many phases of the moon since Tjilpa
had visited this place. Then is had been a verdant billabong, filled with life, and other spirits who
he would talk with and tell stories. Now there was only dust and sand, this pocket Arnhem Land
was dead, which could only mean that in the living world it had been destroyed, and all the spirits
had been driven away.

The tall figure stood and stretched out his feline form. He knew who could tell him what had
happened; he would seek out the young shaman from the Gooniyandi who he had talked with so
many times. As he loped across the land, each stride taking in many kilometres, the lush green of
the north returned. Here and there an odd shape would stand out, but Tjilpa knew that these were
the ghostly reflections of the temporary structures that men built.

Soon, in the distance, he could make out two figures. The first he recognised immediately as
Mamaragan, the god of thunder and lightening, his booming laughter echoing across the sky. The
second figure he could not tell, until he arrived at the pair, then he saw the familiar eyes of the shaman.

“Burnu! Has it been so long?!” Tjilpa was stunned at the change in the shaman, obviously now an elder to his tribe.

“Tjilpa, it has been a very long time since your last visit to Fitzroy Falls” The old man chuckled, “I
have grown old – you always did like your sleep.”

Mamaragan’s laugh boomed out across the land again, his dark shoulders shaking and his burning
white eyes crinkled up with mirth. Tjilpa shrugged and smiled,

“I’ve just come from Arnhem Land, the Gulpi billabong is gone.” He said, his smile fading, “What
have your men done to the land now?”

Now both the old man and Mamaragan became very serious, looking at each other in silent
conference. Tjilpa frowned at their silence, finally the old man nodded and Mamaragan turned to
Tjilpa, regarding him with his impossibly bright white eyes.

“There is a sickness in the land Tjilpa” his deep bass voice rumbling up from deep in his chest, “it
comes in part from the actions of men, but also from the evil that grows in the world.”
As he spoke, Mamaragan became angry, and sparks electricity arced around his dark form.
“And worse than that is the indifference to the evil. Good men sit and do nothing while evil
courses across all the lands, too afraid, or too indecisive to act!”

“Calm yourself Mamaragan,”
Burnu said, the old man took Tjilpa’s arm, guiding him away from the raging thunder god.
“He gets upset very quickly, but it is true what he says my old friend. The evil that has taken away
your billabong has infected many parts of the world, and the Dreamtime as well…”

The old man paused, squinting up at Tjilpa. Tjilpa frowned, again confused at his unwillingness to talk further on the subject.

“Do you know Kinjapuri?” He asked suddenly

“Of course, though we don’t talk much” Tjilpa replied, “His stories bore me”

“Yes, you prefer the funny tales,” Burnu’s face wrinkled into a wry smile, “I ask because the Coral
Trout spirit chose my grandson for a task, a task that I believe he will need help with if he is to succeed.”

“Do you think it wise to involve the cat?” Mamaragan interrupted.

“You reckon I can’t help?” Tjilpa bristled at the gods’ tone, “I’ve always been a deadly fighter and protector of my people!”

“It is not your spirit that is in question Tjilpa,” Burnu raised a placating hand. “But rather if your
powers are equal to the task that is at hand.” The elder turned to Mamaragan. “Geoff will need
help, and Tjilpa is a connection to the land, to the Dreamtime that will strengthen him in that foreign city.”

“Gough?” Tjilpa struggled with the unfamiliar sound, “Your grandson needs help, then I’ll go help him.”

“Your claws will not be enough to be of assistance any more cat spirit,” Mamaragan rumbled.
“The world has changed, and the new evil is powerful.”

“Mamaragan is right Tjilpa,” the old man sighed. “As much as you may wish to help, you are
simply not powerful enough – the Dreamtime does not have the strength that it once had. You
would have to fully take form in the world to be helpful, something you have never had to do before.”

“Then let Mamaragan teach me! He’s powerful even in the world of men.” When the god and the
old man looked at each other again, Tjilpa threw up his hands in frustration and stalked away.

… . .

He sat watching willy willys spilling across the plain, behind him Mamaragan and the old man
were arguing, the elders voice seeming frail against the crackling boom of the god. After a while
the argument faded, and it seemed that the old man had won.
He felt a hand on his shoulder, Tjilpa turned to see his old friend Burnu smiling down at him.

“I have convinced Mamaragan that you are the right choice,” Behind the old man, the god
smouldered – obviously not completely happy with the result of the argument. “He has agreed to
endow some of his powers onto you, so that you may better assist Geoff in his task.”

“When you awake, you will not be in the Dreamtime, but in the world of men” Mamaragan said,
stepping forward, “and you will have control of the lightening as I do, use the power wisely. You
cannot die, but your physical body can be injured – something I am sure you will learn the hard
way…” He looked Tjilpa up and down, “…and you are going to need some pants.”

Tjilpa smiled his thanks to the old man and readied himself; suddenly Mamaragan took him by the
throat, lifting him from the ground. Struggling against the grip, Tjilpa could feel the gods’ power
building, the air crackled with energy, suddenly dry and still as just before a huge storm. Huge
turbulent clouds roiled in the sky above, flickers of chain lightening coursing across their
darkening underbelly.
Then the lightning arced down from the clouds, piercing Tjilpa through the chest, he cried out as
the searing heat burned through him.

… . .

As suddenly as it had occurred it was over. Tjilpa lifted his head; he was crouched in a shallow
depression of scorched earth. As he looked around he recognised that he was in an alley, lit by a
weak and distant sun. Standing up he could see that the bricks on either side of the alley had been
burned away, creating the impression of a bubble in the middle of the alley.

Examining himself he could see that he looked the same as he had in the Dreamtime, although now
he wore tight trousers and boots.

“Hey Randy, check this out!” a voice rang out from the mouth of the alley behind him.

“Well, looky here, we got a pussy cat”

Tjilpa turned to see two men walking down the alley toward him, one was light skinned, the other
dark, but of a tribe he had never seen before.

“Hello whitefella, hello blackfella.” Both the men stopped.

“Hey man, what the hell did you call me?” the dark skinned one said.

“Blackfella,” Tjilpa replied, “Where you from?”

“Oh I love this,” The pale man said, “you gonna take that Leroy?”

“No way” The one called Leroy was obviously upset, “No goddam stinkin cat-freak calls me
names and gets away with it!”

Suddenly the dark skinned man had a knife in his hand, and the other a slender wooden club.
Tjilpa ducked both attacks, surprised at their reaction, but then his instincts took over and he
swung at the man with the club – as it connected a massive burst of lightening enveloped Tjilpas’
fist, electrifying his attacker so that he collapsed twitching to the ground.

“Deadly!” a vicious grin grew on his face, the dark skinned man lunged forward, his blade biting into Tjilpa, “Oouch!”
He responded by backslapping the thug, again the electrical charge burst from his hand, sending
his assailant flying down the alley way and into a pile of garbage.

“FREEZE!!” Tjilpa spun around to see two uniformed police officers at the alley mouth, he
relaxed instantly, finally someone could tell him where he was.

“G’day constable” He smiled, “I just got here, don’t s’pose you can tell me where I am?”

The two police looked each other, one edged past Tjilpa to handcuff the two thugs while the other
stood looking the tall cat man up and down.

“Tell you what buddy, you need to go to City Hall and register yourself, they’ll answer any questions you have.”
He looked past Tjilpa at the two limp figures in the alley, his partner was comparing the size of his
own fist to the scorched imprint on the pale mans’ face.
“Nice work on those two Helions, I’m Sergeant Randy Winkleman – welcome to Paragon City.”

“Cheers Sergeant Randy, do you know where I can find Gough?”

“It’s big city buddy” the policeman frowned past his mirror shades, “go to city hall, they’ll sort ya out.”

… . .

After much confusion, missed trains and a very bored desk clerk, Tjilpa finally found himself
standing outside non-descript door, that looked as if it had recently been repaired. He pressed the
button and waited – the door opened to reveal a strangely coloured man. He seemed to be made
from bronze, but his skin was not metal.

“G’day, I am Tjilpa”

“Hi there, call me Saint Bruce”

“I am looking for Gough ?”

The man turned back into the doorway, and called out.

“Hey Moe, we got any Gough’s in here?”

“What?” replied an Australian accent, “Nah mate… unless he means that new bloke frenchie
picked up, Terra Australis, I think his name is Geoff.”

“Yes, Gough, that’s who I am looking for.” Saint Bruce turned back to Tjilpa, “His grandfather
sent me to help him.”

“Right,” The bronze man frowned, “well your going to have to work on your pronunciation my
friend” the door opened fully, “come on in.”

Bruce led Tjilpa into the first room; an old, beaten couch dominated the room, facing a television
that was showing midday soaps. The man sprawled on the couch was introduced as Moe he waved
over the back of the couch not taking his eyes off the screen. In the next room Tjilpa could hear
two people arguing, one was female, the other a man with a completely unintelligible accent.

“Don’t worry about that,” Bruce said, “That’s Ms Taken and the Breton Bowman arguing about
‘The Base’ again,” he tapped the side of his nose knowingly. “Things have been a bit run down
here of late, be good to have some fresh blood.”

He stopped to answer a phone that rang at his hip. After a couple of questions he hung up the
phone and turned to the man on the couch.

“Hey Moe, we got business, let’s go”

“Oh com'on mate I’ve been gone for two friggin months” Despite his complaining, the man got up
and donned a dark mask, pulling on two heavy duty leather gauntlets, “When am I gonna catch up
on all the TIVO with all this buggerising around?”

His last words emanated from a strange blue light that had appeared in the corner of the room that he vanished into.

“Don’t worry about him either,” Bruce said, he’s just grumpy ‘cause he missed Marrisa dying, he
really wanted to see that.” He waved from the edge of the blue light, “Make yourself at home,
Geoff should be back soon – he calls himself Terra Australis now, can’t miss him, big man looks
like he is made out stone.”

With that the room was empty.

Tjilpa looked around, the arguing in the other room had stopped and there did not seem to be
anything else around. Sitting on the couch he found that is was far more comfortable than it
appeared. Sending a light spark of power from a fingertip he changed the channel on the television
until he found the news.
Settling back he waited for his new friend to return and began to learn about this place called Paragon City.

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