Chapter Six

The Silosc looks over his shoulder with his weapon drooping. It would be easy for her to grab it out of his hand, but the rumbling ground freezes her feet in place. She did not see this coming. She should have known that the council who sent the last settlers would come back sometime in the next few months. The patterns are written in all of the other planets that they have colonized.

The ground continues to shake, but the Silosc’s weapon remains pointed towards her face. She swallows thickly as she waits for him to move. Someone of his age and race would not be enough of a fool to stay around. Those that are human are limited to one or two, and those that follow the law could be narrowed down to someone laying in a grave. The Silosc scowls, “Let’s go an’ leave this hovel. We’ll find th’ Hirpoun latter when we don’t ‘ave t’ deal with th’ settler’s folks.”

He lowers his weapon and reaches the edge of the cave in a single bound. The rest of the gang follow him as a few toss dirty looks in her direction. She sits down where she is standing as soon as they are out of sight. She does not have a reason to try and run. It will take time before anyone ventures into the cave, and she should not dare leaving.

At least, not until she knows what the planet visitors want. She moves towards the back of the cave as the shaking ceases and she hears the popping groan of machinery. She can be sure that the gang chasing her will try to get underground as quickly as possible, and so she will have to let her plan sit. For the moment at least. Perhaps the arriving vehicles will not stay for long, perhaps they have finally decided that the small planet is not worth trying to civilize.

Even if they do try again, she doubts that any civilization besides what is left of what once was will last for longer than the previous settlers. They will be picked off like everyone else. She tries not to think about her parents as she turns to the painting of Sa. What do I do? Please tell me, what do I do? Sa remains silent, and her Sight remains motionless. But she does not need an answer even though she wishes for one.

She must hide and she must wait. Just as she is sure everyone in her race has done. Those that manage to survive and find a place to hide without being detected are lucky. And those that do not are simply added to a list of casualties.

It seems strange to think that only a few days have passed. Her previous life seems to be far away, but her future is equally as far. She finds herself praying that Sa will show her something, anything, that might tell her what to do next. It is a need for reassurance that she should not look for, but she is alone. And she feels more alone than she has for a long time.

The thump of boots that echoes through the ground. She turns and lays on the rock with her ear pressed against the floor of the cave, her vision wavers, and then she is floating in a black universe. Stars flash by her in a streak of light, and then she is standing at the edge of a different planet in teal blue and green.

Someone runs past her; but Sa does not allow her to turn her head and she is moved forwards with a gust of air. She stands at the edge of a cavernous hole that reaches down farther than she can see; a screech reaches towards her and turns into a rushing sound. She is picked up and set down on a grey cloud streaked with red as flames spurt out of the hole and shower across the world.

She is pulled away from the planet, and she turns her head as far as she can as it grows smaller and smaller. The mountains are melting into pockets of red lava. The planet shivers and shakes. And then it is gone. It collapses into itself and grows smaller and smaller until it is simply a wisp of smoke in a place without gravity.

Perhaps that is why clouds exist. She blinks and picks her head up from the sandy floor of the cave, it is a ridiculous idea. She moves over until she is leaning against the wall of the cave with weak legs. What could her Sight possibly mean? What is Sa trying to tell her? How can a planet melt into itself and then turn into a wisp of smoke?

She swallows thickly to try and get rid of the bad taste in her mouth, could the same thing happen here? Why would someone want to destroy a planet? Each of them have their own use, and even if it is a small use, it is still a use. She scowls towards the entrance of the cave, there are some crazy beings who would do anything to get what they want.

She sinks against the pale sandstone rocks behind her, why would ships have landed on their planet? On her planet? She has more of a right to be here than most of the current occupants. She is a native and the rocks are her ancestors. Why is it so hard for her to understand what Sa is showing her? She should know how what she sees relates to the world. Unless everything is simply a fluke. Perhaps she is not supposed to see the things that she sees at all. But she has seen Sa, and that does not feel irrelevant.

Does the council of beings think that they can try to repopulate the planet again? Do they think that they have the perfect solution to their previous problem? She wants to yell at them and shake their brains from their heads. She would run across the universe if she could and jump off od the seventh moons to reach them and prove that the previous occupants of all of the planets that they have tried to ‘reform’ have not forgotten.

She stops and pushes herself to her feet, why not? She could make a statement, she could prove that she has not forgotten even though she was born long after most of the exterminations stopped. She could prove that she is not powerless, and that even one Hirpoun can do things that many beings of a different kind could not.

She could prove that she is still living, and that their race is not extinct. But her parents… and Marie must be added to the list as well. The debtors will not have a reason for letting them stay alive even if they run, and she will be next. The arrival of a ship makes sure that they have less time than they want. And so they will search for what they desire with another half of their power.

She will not only become more of a fugitive than she is, she will become caged. Even if they do not find her, the entire planet is filled with her enemies. At least, most of it. But the plains where she might be safe are days away. And she would have to make sure that she is not seen. Anyone would be able to see her on the rocks if she leaves the cave, even if she bends down as far as she can and crawls on her stomach.

There is a reason why the council of beings decided to place the settlement where it is. It is almost impossible to sneak up to if beings are watching each of the vulnerable areas. And if what she heard truly are ships, then they will have beings watching the entire town as though it is their crown jewel. She will not be able to leave during the day unless she can become invisible to both a naked eye and the fancy sensors that surround the town and have not been used for decades. Even travelling at night will be difficult, but she is not sure if she has a choice. Not anymore.

There is a thump from the ship she knows is anchored towards the small machine-made plateau towards the south of the town. She grinds her teeth together with frustration as she tries not to peek out of the cave. Someone would see her, and she cannot risk it. But not knowing what is happening almost seems to be worse than the idea of being caught. She slumps against the back of the cave next to Sa’s shrine; being caught will have far more effects than not knowing what is happening.

At least she can be relatively sure that her parents have managed to get out of the town. Marie could be anywhere, but hopefully she is safe. Besides, if the council of beings has landed a ship, than Marie would be safer in the open then in hiding. Her status as a human makes her vulnerable on the planet, but it places her in a position of power the instant that a ship lands.

She presses her fingernails into her palms, she should have known that this day would come soon. Perhaps she would have been able to prepare herself for it. But she was so used to living inside her own mind and the visions that Sa shows her, that she forgot that Marie could never entirely be her friend.

Perhaps she could. Perhaps Marie will decide the stay on her side for as long as possible. But it is doubtful. Marie is human after all. And she- well, she is something else. She can pretend to be normal for as long as she lives, but she never will be. Most of the beings who are not entirely average only have one strike against them at her age, but she already as two.

And that two could easily turn into three. Would she ever wish to not have her Sight? She is not sure. She doubts that she would. Perhaps the things that she sees will come in handy at some point. And she will probably need every advantage that she is able to find or create. She is a fugitive of everyone now.

There is a mechanical groan from the town, and then another crash that makes her skin crawl. She clenches her teeth together with her Hirpoun form begging to be let free. She wishes that she could, she wishes that she could run out of Sa’a cave in the way that she ran in. She wishes that her race was not thought of as devils or demons. She wishes that she could be considered a ‘being’ just as everyone else.

She licks her lips with the memory of the way the air tasted when she turned to her natural form. She would never wish to be normal. Even if she could only taste the air that way one more time before she dies, she would still not wish to be a normal being. Her race has never been registered as anything but a threat. A threat to anyone and everything.

And perhaps she should play off of that fact. Perhaps she should act the way that everyone believes she should act. Perhaps she should play the demon and the devil to get free. But then the hunt for her would only grow larger, and she would only end up dying on the spot in whatever way the council of beings’ executors wished. No, she will have to pretend that she does not exist. And when it falls dark, then she will see if it is possible for her to leave Sa’s cave without being caught.

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