Raven's Pen

Writing, Reading, and Ruminating

Month: November 2015

Beautiful Cracks: Chapter Eleven

Chapter Eleven

Keone breathes against her hand with wide eyes and tries to mumble something. She curses herself; she should have waited. She should have found out if she could to turn Keone’s conversation into something else so that she would be able to use it as she had planned. But now she has to come up with another plan that will work as well as the one that she just threw away.

Someone will notice if Keone does not walk into the town before the gates are shut and the sensors are turned on again; and she did not intend on revealing herself so quickly. Perhaps she will not have to. Perhaps she still has a way to get out of whatever she has just done. But she is clearly not a normal settler in her Hirpoun form, and Keone can see her clearly enough that changing back into her normal form will not fool it anymore. She needs another plan, and she needs one quickly.

She grits her teeth together and turns them around so that Keone has its back against the narrow wedge in between boulders, “Come on.” She leans closer to it and looks Keone straight in the face so it can be sure she is not lying, “If you move or make a single sound that is louder than a whisper, I’ll pluck your neck from your body. Is that clear?”

Keone nods frantically and she slowly removes her hand from its mouth. Keone works its mouth open and than closed again, before shrinking back from her, “What do you want?” “What do I want?” The question catches her by surprise and she leans towards it, “I want this planet to be left alone and you to stop exterminating everyone who is already living on this planet. But, because you clearly will not be able to do anything about that, I want you to tell me what is going on in town. And once you have done that, I’m going to decide what to do with you.”

Koene gulps and nods, “I don’t know what is going on in town, but no one is being killed. Someone by the name of Marie has taken over; and everyone is fixing up the houses so that they can be lived in. If there was anyone in town, they would be welcomed back into their homes. But no one seems to be around. No one has seen anyone or anything that might be alive. That I can be sure of.”

Keone’s voice is a whisper just as she asked, and she resists the temptation to slam it against the rocks and crack it open in more than one place, “Fine. What do you have to say about the graves then? But I suppose you don’t know anything about those do you? Because you don’t know anything about what is going on at all. Of course, you’re young and whoever is in change wants to keep you safe from what everyone will have to do if they want to repopulate this planet.”

She scowls and interrupts Keone before it can respond, “What do you have to say about the gangs? What do you know about them?” She moves closer and Keone looks at her with wide eyes, “I-I don’t know much, I’ve only heard that there might be a few gangs around that wouldn’t be happy about new settlers coming in. But I don’t know anything else. I just heard that one of the gangs was found dead a few hours ago. Someone ran into the fence last night and was electrocuted, but that’s all that I know. I haven’t heard anything about anyone else dying.”

She scowls and tries to push down the flood of sickness that sweeps over her, of course. Of course no one would bother to wait. And if Marie truly is in change… she will not think about that now. She will wait until she knows more and until she has a plan. She thought the town was messed up before the ship arrived, but now it is going to become a bloodbath of everyone who used to live there. Anyone who is lucky enough to be dead by now must be rising up in their graves and snarling at everything and everyone they see.

Keone gulps, “Please don’t hurt me.” Her scowl deepens, “Be quiet.” “Please.” Keone’s voice drops lower, “I haven’t done anything to you. Please. I don’t want to die, I’m too young to die.” His pleading grates into her; she is acting like the Hirpoun that she is said to be. She has a hostage… but she has a very good reason for keeping him. For the moment at least.

She is not a murderer; and she is not a devil or a demon. She is someone who is doing what she needs to do. And it just happens to put some beings in places where they do not need to be. She is doing what she needs to do, and that is the end of it.

She drops Keone’s arm and changes back into her normal form to drag it behind a boulder that is a few feet away and closer to the side of the mountain. Keone gulps again and stares at her with wide eyes, “What are you going to do with me?” Its voice starts to raise, and she holds up a hand with fingers bent in the shape of claws to warn it as she steps closer, “I’ll decide what to do with you when I decide what to do with you. Until then, you’ll stay quiet unless you want me to do something far worse than I was planning.”

She pulls it closer to the mountain, and Keone tries to dig its feet, into the ground “So, you’re not planning on killing me? Not now at least? What do you want me for?” She scowls and easily overpowers it, “I didn’t want you in this mess when I met you, but now you are in it and I might as well use you.” Keone tries to dig its feet in again, but she is far stronger even in her normal form. It turns its head towards her, “What are you going to use me for? What are you planning? Whatever it is doesn’t sound good.”

Her scowl deepens, “You’ll find out. Until then, be quiet before I make sure you stay that way.” Keone gulps again and shuts its mouth. She curses underneath her breath, she thought that she might be able to find the unnamed gang somewhere, but it seems as though they managed to find a better hiding spot than she thought.

She should stop underestimating that gang, they have a Silosc as their temporary leader after all. She pulls Keone down to hide behind a low boulder, “Listen to me and make sure that you know what I’m saying.” Keone nods its head frantically. She sighs and tries not to bite her cheek, “You’re going to walk back into town without mentioning me. You’re going to pretend that this never happened, and you’re going to go about whatever duties you have as though you went out for a walk and a meal. You will not say anything about me, or even give a hint that I exist. Otherwise I’m going to make sure that I reconsider killing you and everyone else the next time I see you.”

Keone lifts its chin, “And what if I say something” You can’t get into the town, and you won’t be able to do anything to me or anyone else because everyone will be hunting you. You will be trapped here and I’ll be free to do whatever I want.” She moves closer to it, “Are you asking me to keep you here with me? Because I could do that as well. The thing is, I want a being inside that town, and you are going to be that being. You won’t say anything because you know very well that I have a way in and I’m going to use it when I want to. Understood?”

Keone nods reluctantly, and she lets go of its arm, “Get out of here.” Keone glances back at her as it runs towards the boulders where she was hiding and grabs its bag. She scowls at her own stupidity as she watches it run back towards the town. Perhaps she should have kept it with her, but she needs to make a statement so that she can find the unnamed gang.

She can hope that Keone will leave her out of whatever thing it is planning, but she can also be sure that it will not stay quiet. Not entirely. She never thought that she would be betting on someone’s ability to break a promise, but now it seems as though she is.

She slinks back to the rocks where she was hiding and crosses her fingers that the unnamed gang will find her before Keone tells Marie everything and she is hunted down. She will end up dead before the end up the day if her plan fails. But, even then, it would not be over. Even if her plan fails, the council of beings will know that not even they can exterminate everyone.

She leans against the rocks; she will have to wait until it is dark, she only hopes that she has enough time. She can assume that Keone will not tell Marie everything the first time that it is asked. She knows that it will eventually, but hopefully it will stay quiet through the night. She is counting on something that she cannot control.

She curses again; she never should have revealed herself to Keone. She should have continued to pretend to be the normal being. But what is done has been done. And she cannot go back despite everything. Keone knows what she is, and she will have to find a way to make sure that that becomes an advantage instead of a weakness.

The sun lowers towards the horizon and she breathes carefully with crossed fingers that she will have enough time. “Well, well, well, what is this? I thought you had the sense to hide in a different place once everyone knows that something like you exists.” She turns towards the Silosc and his gang with a smile and mentally crossed fingers that she still remembers her , “I was waitin’ for ya. It took ya’ longer than it should hav’ t’ get here. But, now that ya’ ar’ here, why don’t we talk?”

The Silosc crosses his arms, “An’ wha’ would we hav’ t’ talk about? I thought we already agreed th’ we don’t hav’ anythin’ t’ discuss.” She smiles thinly and pushes herself away from the crevice in between boulders, “Well, th’ was before both of us knew th’ a ship was comin’ down t’ prepare for new settlers. An’ we both know th’ new settlers mean th’ all of us ar’ expendable an’ on a list for extermination.”

The Silosc frowns, but he does not turn and leave, “So, wha’ does th’ hav’ t’ do with anythin’? Everyone knows tha’ you’re th’ one tha’ everyone’s goin’ t’ come after. Your the Hirpoun on this planet, an’ all of us ar’ just others.” She mentally tightens her crossed fingers, “Well, I’ve brought ya’ here for a reason. It’s true tha’ everyone’s going t’ come after me first, but ya’ know they won’t stop at tha’. Your just as much of a threat t’ their perfect colony as I am. An’ that’s the same with all of ya’. I hav’ a plan, but I ain’t going t’ do it on my own unless I hav’ a reason t’. I called ya’ here because I don’t think any of ya’ want t’ die so soon, an’ I hav’ a way t’ make sure ya’ won’t. Ya’ know tha’ way things work ‘round here, why don’t ya’ figure it out by yourself?”

The unnamed gang scuffle their feet as the Silosc scowls a her, “Ya’ want t’ start a war? This ain’t th’ place or th’ time t’ start a war.” She takes a step towards him and ignores the weapons that suddenly raise towards her, “A war would be a different way t’ put it. But, yes, I’m considering startin’ somethin’. Th’ beings like you an’ I are just somethin’ for the council to eliminate when they want t’, but they don’t hav’ complete control. An’ they won’t know it unless someone can prove it.”

The Silosc’s scowl deepens, “The races like yours who used t’ live here tried t’ fight back an’ they failed. They all died. An’ those tha’ didn’t ain’t the same anymore. They don’t live like ya’ do, they just walk ‘round. But their isn’t even many of them left now. What do ya’ think ya’ would be able t’ accomplish? This ain’t a war tha’ ya’ can even start without dying in tha’ process.”

She gives the group in front of her a smile, “Perhaps, but no one has tried for a long time. An’ I don’t think tha’ it would be impossible. No one ‘round here is as powerful as they think, but everyone would be together.” The Silosc narrows his eyes at her face, “Ya’ want t’ band together an’ try t’ fight an impossible war? This ain’t somethin’ that I’m prepared t’ listen t. An ya’ know tha’ it’s impossible.”

Her starts to turn around, but she takes a step towards him and the unnamed gang’s weapons click. The Silosc looks over his shoulder with a scowl, “We’re leaving now boys.” She smiles and leans against the rock as her legs shake underneath her, “I wasn’t finished explainin’. I’m not asking ya’ t’ join a bunch of other gangs, we would start out just like this for now. An’ then maybe add someone else in if everyone feels like it. Until then, it would just be th’ bunch of you an’ me to terrorize the ship’s beings. It could start out small, an’ no one would know that it was you’. Everyone would think it was me, because they’re lookin’ for me anyway.”

The Silosc starts to lead his gang away and she smirks at their backs, “Ya’ think tha’ ya’ will be able t’ hide. But th’ ship’s being ar’ already lookin’ for ya. An’ I know who is in charge; I know who it is, an’ I know how these beings think when it comes t’ things like this. Ya’ know tha’ ya’ won’t be able t’ hide for long, an’ I’m bettin’ tha’ your wantin’ t’ get into a fight at some point anyway. Why not now rather than latter? Ya’ know tha’ ya’ might hav’ a better chance. An’ it might even be kinda fun; spice up tha’ times ‘round here. An’ you’ll hav’ somethin’ t’ do to boot.”

The Silosc stops and turns back towards her with a frown, “But ya’ forgettin’ tha’ no one’s after us yet.” She pushes herself away from the boulder and crosses her fingers that her legs will not collapse underneath her, “Perhaps not, but tha’ won’t last for long an’ ya’ know it. I’m your best chance whether ya’ want t’ think about it tha’ way or not. Ya’ know it. An’ ya’ know tha’ it’s going t’ stay tha’ way.”

The Silosc looks at her for a moment with a tight face before waving to his gang, “Steady your feet boys, we hav’ some things t’ discuss.”

Copyright © 2015 ravenspen.com

All rights reserved.

Welcome to November

I intend on posting sooner. Much sooner. Time is flying by….

The leaves are falling.

The second week of November is almost over.

The NaNoWriMo battle is underway.

Hence the reason why I did not post last week… or the beginning of this week apparently. C’est la vie.

I am working on two novels of very different lengths. And I have written much more in these first two weeks than I thought I would.

The first week of NaNoWriMo always seems to be filled with a sort of crazed excitement. The second week is often where everything starts to go downhill; the third week is often a mess; and the forth week is where you pick yourself back up, dust yourself off, make sure that your computer has not been too mangled by your despair, and sit back down to finish that darn wordcount.

This is the end of the second week. Things are going well so far. (Shh, do not jinx it.)

Mostly.

There is still time to catch up if you get behind.

Did I mention that my parents are also doing NaNoWriMo?

Yes, they are. The NaNoWriMo elephant has snuck into the house.

Right now it is standing in the living room.

Do you remember the purple hippopotamus? Yes? It is back, and it has been dropping things into my novels that I did not expect. So far, I think the list goes something like this:

  • Secondary characters that were only supposed to have small roles.
  • Death.
  • Love.
  • Torture.
  • Questions about reality.
  • A lot of confusion.
  • More death.

Not to mention the possibility that Kohinoor’s story might not end after the second book. I am not sure how that happened.

Subliminal also might end up being the lead in to a series. I am not sure how that happened either.

At least nothing is on fire. Sometimes the little unexpected detours can fix large problems. Or at least try:

But even then, purple hippopotamus are not always the solution to plot holes (I have many):

Everything must work out eventually:

Can you tell that I have been spending too much time procrastinating? Well… just because this is strangely fun… here is another one:

Beautiful Cracks: Chapter Ten

Chapter Ten

A pebble rolls down the boulder on her right and falls to the ground next to her. She looks at it for a moment with tired eyes and reaches down to pick it up, but a scuffle of rubber against rock makes her stop. Her heart races in her chest and she wonders if it would be possible to melt into the rocks. There is a thump and then a grunt, and she tries to hold her breath as someone, something, lands on the other side of the boulders protecting her.

She can hear her heart beating in her chest as she waits as tries to pretend that she is invisible. But she knows that she is not, and whoever, whatever, is on the other side of her hiding space will see her with one more step. She resists the temptation to close her eyes or turn back to her natural form and flee. Whoever is on the other side of the rocks takes another step and she sees short loosely-curled fuchsia hair sticking up on a strangely round head. She scowls and shrinks backwards as whoever it is whistles something to itself and turns towards her.

She tries to hide her scowl as the being’s mouth opens in surprise; the being jumps and stumbles backwards a few steps, “Oh, I’m sorry. I-I didn’t realize the anyone was here.” The being’s almond-shaped mouth turns downwards as it leans in closer, “Wait… why are you here? If you live in town, shouldn’t you be with everyone else?”

She swallows thickly and tries to pretend that she is normal. But it has been so long since she had a usual conversation with anyone besides Marie that she is not sure what normal is anymore. “I-I’m here because I am here. Why are you here and who are you?” “Wait,” the being lifts a hand, “I came on the ship that arrived yesterday, but I asked you first. And you sound far too educated to have lived on this planet your entire life. Are you from the same ship as well?”

She scowls despite her wishes, “Does it matter where I’m from? I asked you who you are and you are avoiding my question.” The being swallows and looks her up and down, “My name is Keone. What is yours?” Her scowl deepens, “What are you doing here? Shouldn’t you be back in town?”

The being frowns with its hair bouncing on its head from a sudden gust of wind, “Well… I don’t see you heading towards the town. So, why are you here?” She tries to resist the temptation to reach over and tear the beings ears from its head, “I’m here because this is my special spot. I come here to watch things and there is only room for one being.”

The being scowls, “Well, it looks like more than one being could fit around here if we squished, but I get your point. The ship hardly landed a day ago and you have already chosen a special spot? Why did you choose this place?” She bites back her retort, and trades it for an equally misplaced one, “Because I won’t have to listen to beings like you talking and ruining my day while I’m here. Now, are you going to leave or not? Because I was actually having quite a nice time before you showed up. And every moment that you stay is another moment that I’m wasting on a pointless conversation with someone that I don’t even know.”

The being’s scowl deepens as it steps back with slightly raised hands, “Fine, I’ll leave, but you might want to get back to the town sometime soon. I think they spotted something on one of the scanners last night and they will be closing the gates and turning on the fence earlier than usual.”

The being turns and leaves with squelching footsteps echoing against the ground. She scowls and sinks against the boulders; she never should have spoken a word. At least it does not know her name. If anything, that may end up being one of her main defenses. Keone. What in the name of all the universes does Keone mean?

She should not care. Whoever, whatever, that being was does not matter. Her plan will stay the same. And yet, perhaps she could use Keone in her plot and for her own purposes.

Someone knowing that she is alive and exactly where she is hiding is a problem. But it will not be nearly as much of a problem if she uses Keone’s own words against itself. She is not powerless: This is her world and she can treat it as such.

She scowls at the ground; she wishes that she could find a different place to hide. But she will have to wait until it is night to move again. She would be seen far too easily. And yet, perhaps that would be a good thing. But she will wait. She will choose to be seen when it is time. Until then, she will stay in places where the sensors cannot reach her.

Artimus dips towards the middle of the day. She sits as far back in between the boulders as she can. The sun beats down on the ground to create golden sand that would lure any ship to land. Everyone seems to be searching for riches, and that might be one of her advantages. She knows where things are, and she knows how she can use them.

The riches that she needs are easy to see and much harder to find, but she is so close to turning them into something great. And perhaps they will become more powerful than any that could be gold. She grins at the rocks around her; her mother never should have showed her what the lava rocks will do when used properly. She will use Keone, and she will make sure that she stays hidden for as long as she needs to. A plan is easy, but she will need a lie as well.

She will need a lie to fool anyone.

She looks down at her hands, her appearances could fool almost anyone who knows what they expect to see. And she knows how to speak as though she is from a different planet; but she needs a reason to be hiding in the boulders. Perhaps she is not hiding at all; perhaps she simply leaves early in the morning and returns late at night in the last moment before the gates to the town shut. Perhaps no one knows her face because she was hiding from someone on the ship and now she has found a place to hide during the day as well.

She will twist her own words as far as she needs to get what she wants. And she will make sure that what she wants is possible. She simply needs to find out where the unnamed gang who followed her to Sa’s cave is, and then she will have a simple conversation and see if her plan is possible as it is.

And if it is not possible… then she will simply have to come up with another one. She will go through as many plans as she needs to; eventually one of them will work, and that day will be something that no one will ever forget.

“Goodmorrow!” She gulps in surprise and jumps to her feet as she sees Keone staring down at her with a smile. She scowls and crosses her arms over her chest, “What are you doing here? I thought I told you that I don’t want to see you around here. This is my space. And it is going to stay that way.” Keone removes a small bag from its shoulder and drops it on the ground, “Well… I happen to have some time before I need to be back in town to work on whatever the taskmaster has decided to assign to me for the night. Anyway, I thought that I would come around here to see how you are doing. Besides, I’m wondering why you find this place so fascinating that you would rather hide in the rocks than be on top of them. You know you could actually be able to see this planet if you climb up.”

She scowls again, “And why would I want to be up there? I like it down here enough that I’m actually considering spending the night.” Keone’s face turns to a look of fear as it leans closer, “You can’t honestly mean that. Do you have any idea how dangerous this place might be at night?” She bites her tongue at her mistake, “I was joking. Since you clearly don’t know me well enough to recognize my joke, you might as well leave. You shouldn’t try to learn anything about me. Especially around here.”

Keone sits down on front of the boulders and reaches for its bag, “Fine. But what if I am able to find you in town, would you let me spend time with you then?” She crosses her arms again with a sharp look, “No, you should just leave the conversation at being a complete disappointment. Not like you would want to know anything in the first place.” Keone shrugs, “Maybe you want me to know you. Why don’t you join me on top of these rocks and we can actually have a proper conversation?”

She scowls again, Sa, where did I get this idea? “No. How about I stay right where I am because I want to, and you can return to the town and do whatever kind of work you’re supposed to be doing.” Keone opens the bag and she tries to squish the alarm bells that ring in her head, “What is that?”

Her voice comes out pleasantly sharp, and Keone gives her a look of fearful surprise, “What kind of planet are you from? I brought some food because I haven’t had my midday meal yet and I thought you might want to join me. I grabbed an extra portion. If you are so intent, on staying right here for some strange reason, I thought you might have forgotten to come back to town for lunch.”

She bites her lip. She would appreciate a meal, despite the fact that she is sure she would easily be able to find one of her own at any time that she wishes. Her stomach grumbles and betrays her, “Fine, I will join you for a meal. But that’s it. And you’re going to return to the town once we are done eating. And I’m going to go back when I feel like it.”

“Right, and when will that be?” Keone hands her a cellophane wrapped square, and she barely manages to wait until it bites into its own to tear the package open. Keone chews and watches her, “So, what planet are you from? And why won’t you join me on top of the rocks instead of down here in the dirt.” She scowls and takes another large bite, “That is no one of your business, and I am going to stay right here because I want to. That’s it and it’s final.”

Keone screws up its face, “But why not? It isn’t like you need to hide from someone or something, and, even if you were hiding, this would be one of the most dangerous places to hide. Right? And this place seems lonely, although I’m here now.” She scowls, “Of course I’m not hiding, I’m here because this is my spot and I’ve claimed it. Besides, I’m not lonely and you don’t get to stay. I haven’t invited you and you should remember that.” Keone’s face turns to match her own, “Why would I want to stay?”

She holds back her Hirpoun form and glowers at Keone, “Why would you want to stay? Exactly, you don’t want to stay and so we should be saying goodbye right now. I’ll walk into town tonight when I feel like it. Until then, this is my spot and I’m not going to move from it. These rocks are far too interesting for me to go anywhere else, and your company is ruining even this place.” Keone works its month for a moment, before blurting, “You’re hiding aren’t you? That’s the only thing that would make sense. The thing is, I have no idea what you would want to hide from around here. The only things on this planet that would be worth hiding from are the things that live here permanently. And you’re not one of them.”

She stands up and claps a hand over Keone’s mouth with a snap as she changes into her Hirpoun form, “Maybe not.”

Copyright © 2015 ravenspen.com

All rights reserved.

Beautiful Cracks: Chapter Nine

Chapter Nine

Artimus starts to rise above the hills as she sneaks around the side of the bolder and waits until the moon is a fist above the horizon. She leaps onto the bolder just as one of the search lights starts to flicker. Her mouth is dry and her throat is choked, but the air is fresh and clean and makes her feel as though she is standing in the middle of the tornado Sa showed her.

The groan of machinery aches across the rocks, but she does not duck as she sneaks forwards with her heart pounding in her chest. She can only pray that she is as fast as she thinks she might be; otherwise she may be walking into her own trap.

The search lights start to flicker again as the wind shifts direction. Artimus glows in a shade of pale shined pewter as it rises higher. She watches the moon and swallows thickly as she waits for the moment when the search lights will vanish before rebooting. The wind shifts again, and then the fence surrounding the town is dark. She jumps forward and leaps to the nearest rock, before continuing towards the fence. She uses the boulders as stepping stones as she counts the seconds.

She can only hope that she is fast enough. And if she is not… The words die as though they have never been spoken. The snap of the fence reaches her as she stands on top of the nearest boulder on the northwest side of the town. She has never hoped that she was wrong more than she does now. But the open space in front of her that used to be a graveyard for the exterminations could kill anything with a single blow.

There is an open plot dig in the dark ground. And suddenly it does not seem to matter if she was right or not. There is a rushing sound from the search lights and she tears herself away from the old graveyard. She jumps off of the boulder just as the lights flicker back to life. They chase her as she runs away from the town that used to be her town and towards the home in the plains that she never had.

She stops as she reaches the side of the mountain with Sa’s cave. She finds a place wedged in between two large boulders that could easily cover her and sinks down to the ground. She cannot stop the tears that flow down her cheeks or the harsh breathes that remind her that she is suddenly not alone.

She will not look for revenge in her plan. She is not going to fight for everyone who has already lost. But to see them, to see the place where they were buried with heads smashed together and feet sticking up through the ground. They may have been considered devils and demons and criminals, but does anyone truly deserve something so horrible?

Dead is dead. But dead and hated is something different. She has never thought about life after death or any such thing, but belief creates belief. Who is so willing to place so many bodies in one grave? But anyone who would does not see their victims as beings anymore would be willing to do so; their victims are simply something to be put in the ground in as short an amount of time as possible. Why should they be buried on their own?

She wipes away her tears, but more flow and stick to her face. She still cannot be sure what the ship’s beings are planning, but the grave that she saw could explain some of it. If they are not planning on exterminating everyone, than perhaps they are simply choosing the criminals. But everyone is a criminal. The only honest beings in town work for a criminal, and anyone who is not honest is great.

No, everyone will end up being the waste that is dumped out of sight if the council of beings are planning on bring new settlers onto the planet. And it would only make sense that they are. She cannot remember reading about a time when they have simply let a possible planet sit without the ‘right population’. And their planet, her planet, would not fit the council’s qualifications for a proper planet.

A planet of criminals would be pointless. If the council would only wait for a few decades, it is quite possible that most of the current population would die on their own. Many would be destroyed, and some would survive. But there would not be many. At least, if things continue the way that they were before the ship arrived.

Her tears turn into anger as she rocks back and forth. Who is in control of life? Who gets to decide when someone is going to die? Who gets to decide what to do with an entire race or an entire species? She should have a choice and live for the rest of her days instead of being hunted like the monster that she could be. But everyone is a monster. And she is less of a monster than the council of beings who decided to exterminate the races that lived in this planet long before any other beings found it.

She knows what she should do. She hopes she knows what she should do. If only Sa would tell her if she is right. If only someone was standing next to her to let her know that her plan is not impossible. If only she still had her parents hovering around her and Marie watching her with an expression that could be a mix of fear and disgust.

She should not think about Marie. Marie is probably sitting around a table in town with the ship’s beings telling her stories of the news from other planets and pouring each other expensive drinks confiscated from someone’s old cellar. She should not think about Marie. They are nothing alike; she is a Hirpoun and a hunted criminal, and Marie is a human who ended up working for the wrong family.

Things are different now. They have changed positions; Marie is now the top of the top and she is being hunted. At least Marie was never hunted. At least she does not have anyone to compare her feelings to. She is alone, and she will be alone. Even if she manages to find her parents again, she will still be alone with her own thoughts. And yet, she always has Sa. Or Sa always has her. She may be alone, but she is never entirely alone.

Especially when she is not entirely sure what is real. Where she is seems more real than most things, and the wind that is now biting into her with cold teeth will not let her find shelter. She should not need shelter, she is someone of this planet. Her planet. And she has a plan that she will use as soon as the sun starts to rise again.

For now, she should use the time that she has to think. She should decide what she wants if nothing is impossible. For now, she needs to figure out where to find the unnamed gang who was looking for her. Her plan will be easy enough once she knows where to find them.

She will not continue to hide, especially once she knows if her plan will be possible. She will find a time to reveal herself. She simply wishes that it will be on her terms. If only she knew where her parents are. But she does not and she should respect that. She may never know where her parents are, but she has things to do.

The sun starts to come above the edge of the hills. She stays where she is with her hands pressed into her face and her back wedged in between the two rock behind her. She swallows thickly as she removes her hands and looks down at her legs, she should try to be safe. She should try, but she does not like the idea of letting go of her natural body for a moment.

A thunk snaps her out of her thoughts, and she sighs as she settles back into her normal form. She will be able to taste the wind again tonight when she knows that no one will happen to find her. She doubts that any of the ship’s beings would be stupid enough to travel around the planet on their own during the day, but she cannot be sure while she knows that the sensors saw her.

She is trapped in this other skin whether she likes it or not. At least, for now. She will be free again tonight. Perhaps now she should consider finding a way back into town to search for the unnamed gang. She could start with a different gang of course, but it will be much easier if she is searching for a group who is also searching for her. And she will welcome the things that are easy right now.

Her past life of pretending to be something else ‘more normal’ while living in a dying town seems to be from a long time ago. It almost seems to be something that Sa showed her. Her parents faces are still real. And Marie’s face is far more real than it should be. But her memories are hazy and old. She supposes that the memories of where she is now will feel the same way in a few decades. If she manages to live that long.

She does not know how she would ever be able to forget the way the wind smells or the way her feet curve around the rocks when she is in her natural form. But unexpected things happen. And she will be a bringer of unexpected things soon enough.

The ship’s beings must think that they are walking around on a planet that they failed to turn into a viable home, but they are the very intruders that they are hunting. If they are hunting at all. She does not know why they would not be. If they plan on settling, then she is sure that they will not want to live in a town that is filled with criminals. They will have to kill them. They will have to exterminate them.

Her race is just another pebble in a long, long line that may never end. There will always be someone who is ‘not good enough’ or a ‘savage’ who could never be part of some sort of perfect galaxy. And she is just one being with a crazy plan that may never work. But her point is not to make it work. Her point is to be crazy enough to consider the fact that she can bring on an idea.

It does not matter if she fails. She does not know if she would even care if it fails; she might be horrible for a few days. But she will not have very many days left to feel horrible if her plan fails. Even if it succeeds, she may never actually be able to say that it did.

She knows that she should try not to think about things that may never happen. But the sun is still coming up and she does not know what else to think. There is another thump from the town, but it does not concern her so it will not matter. Not yet at least. If everything goes well, there is a point where everything that happens on the planet will matter. But that time is not here yet.

She wishes that she knew what Sa wants her to do. Perhaps she should never attempt something that she is not entirely sure that she believes in. But the graves that she saw assures her that she knows what she is doing. Perhaps it is a false hope that she is creating to reassure herself, but she has been right about other things as well. And she has some time to think. She has some time to wonder if she is truly considering the right things.

But there are not any right things. Everything is wrong in one way or another. At least, this way, she will be able to choose which idea she should follow. Perhaps there was such a thing as the right decision at some point, but that point seemed to fade away along with the sinking town that Sa showed her.

Her life has been something different since then. But she is not entirely sure how. Perhaps the way that she is thinking about things now is the way that she has always thought about things. Perhaps there is such a thing as destiny. And perhaps this is hers.

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