Chapter Sixteen

The wind from the gang’s breath is the only noise as they watch their still Silosc. He glowers at her and she tries not to curl her hands. She should have thought about what she was saying, but she has already spoken; and she meant every single word. She will take complete control if she wants to, or if her plan gets out of hand, and the Silosc continues to hide and avoid her plans. She did not think that she would end up calling him a coward, but she could not come up with anything more suitable.

The Silosc takes a step toward her, and then another, “Ya’ seem t’ think tha’ you’re still in control. But I still hold everyone’s leashes in my hands, an’ my men hav’ only been your men for these past two days because I hav’ told them t’. But I can change tha’ in a moment. Ya’ don’t hav’ any control or power here, I’m th’ leader. An’ you’re just a crazy Hirpoun.”

She forms her mouth in a grin, “Maybe Silosc, but I think ya’ know th’ some of your men can see th’ point t’ want I’m doing, an’ I’m hoping tha’ ya’ can t’. But tha’ doesn’t mean tha’ I’m goin’ t’ fall down at your feet. I’m in as much control here as ya’ ar’ an’ ya’ know it.”

She bites her tongue to keeping herself from saying more and hopes that she has not drifted over the edge. The Silosc takes another step toward her in intimidation, but she towers above him in her Hirpoun form and he only ends up glowering at her chest, “When I say tha’ I’m in charge, I mean tha’ I’m in charge. This is th’ way tha’ it’s goin’ t’ work: ya’ can keep your thing with ya’ an’ let it follow ya’ around, but I get t’ hav’ a hand in th’ plans an’ th’ orders ar’ given by me an’ not ya’. Th’ gang will follow me no matter what; you’re just somethin’ that’s in th’ way. Follow my rules if ya’ want t’ stay… That’s th’ way it’s goin’ t’ work.”

Keone shuffles its feet behind her as she scowls, “Fine. But th’ final plans ar’ decided on by me.” She grabs onto Keone’s arm and leads it out of the cave. Keone twists its head to watch her as she climb down the boulders, “W-where are we going?” Her scowl deepens, “The gang won’t have a nice ending; but they’ll survive for now. That is, if I want them to.”

Keone digs its feet into the ground, “What’s your problem? And what are you trying to do? I don’t want to be part of any of this if I don’t know what you’re planning, so… it’s time for you to share.” She turns around to face it and ducks behind the edge of a boulder. A crash echoes through the rocks from the town, and she grits her teeth together, “You’re already in the middle of this. Did you forget that we’re more alike than you thought?”

Keone tries to rip its arm out of her grasp, “You’re a murderous Hirpoun who’s trying to start a war that you will never be able to win! We’re completely, utterly, entirely different. And that is the end of it.” She forces herself to laugh, “If we’re so different, why are you so scared? You know what’s coming just like I do. But you’d rather hide, cover your head, and hope that you’ll survive. I’m more interested in fighting back. Even if I’m starting a crazy war; I know that it’s going to be worth it.”

Keone frantically shakes its head, “How could it be worth it? You’re lucky that I haven’t decided to return home and tell Marie what you’re planning.” She tightens her grip on its arm and steps closer, “You don’t know exactly what I’m planning. And you missed my point; you see the same things that I do. The only different is that I know what it means. You still seem to think that what’s coming is going to fix this world.”

Keone glowers at her, “Maybe it will; maybe that’s what everyone here deserves.” She laughs despite herself, “Maybe. But you’re still afraid because you know that you’re going to die. I’m still hoping that this war will come before everything else will.”

She moves closer to Keone and drops her voice, “The only that you’ll understand what’s coming is if you trust me. Follow what you know you need to do and do it.” Keone straightens up as much as it can, “Fine, I’ll follow what I know I need to do.”

It lets out a scream and she claps a hand over its mouth, “You just made a very big mistake Keone.” It tries to scream again as she drags it farther into the rocks. She resists the temptation to break its neck as she corners them in between two boulders. If the new beings were not searching for Keone an hour ago, they must be by now.

She tries not to throw up as the world spins around her and knocks her to her knees. She drags Keone with her, and his scream dies out as they land on golden sand. Keone’s eyes widen until she is sure that they are going to explode. She grips her arms and struggles to get to her feet. Of all of the moments for Sa to show her an alternate world, this is certainly not what she expected.

Keone turns around in a circle, “What is this place?” She grabs onto its shoulder and pulls it forward, “Who knows; but you need to shut your sneaking lips.” Keone gulps and snaps its mouth closed. She scowls as she drags it in a circle; the world around them is built out of one sand dune after another in alternating colors. The planet is so small that she can see both curves of its circumference from the same place.

Keone spits sand out of his mouth and she curls her empty hand into a fist, “We’re going back.” Keone’s eyes widen, “But how are we going to get back? We don’t know where we are; there isn’t anything around; and I don’t know how to fly through space. I doubt that you do either.” She grits her teeth together as its voice grabs against her eyes, “Shut up! Sa always brings me back; but there has never been anyone with me that exists at the some time.”

Keone looks up at her with wide eyes, “You’ve been to other planet’s before? Like this?” She tries not to pay attention to Keone as she starts walking, “You should learn to be quiet; I’m tired of hearing your voice. And I’m extremely tempted to leave you here on your own.” “Wait; no!” Keone wraps itself around her and she shoves it back to disentangle herself, “I said “I’m tempted to”, not ‘I’m going to’. Now close the squabbling thing on your face and be quiet. We won’t know where we are until we walk around this entire planet.”

Keone gulps again, but it wisely stays quiet as she drabs it forward. She tries not to think about everything that is wrong, but she can barely choke back her thoughts. The planet they are on is far too reminiscent of one of the first things that Sa showed her. She woke up screaming for a week after the first sight that she was placed inside of. She barely remembers what the first one showed, but the second and third are far too lucid. She bites her tongue to stop herself from yelling as Keone hums under its breath.

It only takes them a few hours to walk around the entire planet. Keone collapses in relief as they stop where they started and she tries not to punch the air, “There must be something here.” Keone sifts sand through its hands, “It looks like I’m the only one who is looking at reality right now.” She laughs, “Looking at reality? Keone, we’re on a planet covered in sand; and we’re only here because an ancient goddess dropped us here. There’s no such thing as reality in this life; and I’m still the only one who is using a brain. The only reason that Sa would leave us here is if she’s making a point; something must be here. And we’re supposed to find it.”

Keone shrugs, “Fine; but you’ll have to look yourself. I think I’m going to sit here and watch the solar system. Maybe I’ll even wait for someone to come around and rescue us.” She turns away from Keone and stalks onto a patch of pale green sand. A slight breeze pulls though her hair and ruffles the sand at her feet.

Something glimmers in between her toes and she digs through the sand underneath her. The glimmer starts to fade and she digs faster; the sand rises up to her wrists and her fingers brush against metal. She leans back on her ankles and lets loose a breath; a slightly rusted hatch has been sunk into the ground with large rivets in each corner. She takes a deep breath and grabs onto the handle. It barely moves even as she throws her entire weight into it, but a groans sounds a moment later and she is thrown onto her back.

She stares at the black sky until she is sure that she is still breathing. She crawls back to the hatch and peers into the empty tunnel underneath it. A small rusted ladder barely hangs onto the edge of the vertical tunnel, and she starts to climb downwards before reluctantly dragging herself back to the surface.

Keone groans as she yanks it to its feet, “Come on, we have somewhere to be.” Keone wipes sand off of his face, “Where could we possibly need to be? We’re on an empty planet without any supplies and without anything around us; except for space.” She grits her teeth together as she pulls Keone to the hatch. Keone quiets as she starts to climb downwards. She stops when Keone continues to stare at her instead of following, “Well? Are you going to follow me, or will I have to drag you down myself?”

Keone gulps and hesitantly joins her on the ladder. The ladder rocks underneath them and she tires to quell her fear. The only way to find what Sa wants her to see is to search; but she has never liked dark places underground. At least the darkness will give her a chance to be herself; that is, if Keone manages to keep his mouth closed.

Her feet hit solid ground just as she is about to order Keone to turn back. Keone yelps as he tumbles down the last few rungs of the ladder. She scowls at the noise and both of them jump as the hatch slams back into place above them.

She scowls at the darkness and Keone sighs, “It looks like we’re really are trapped now. Good job Meg, or whatever your name is. You’ve officially put us in more trouble than we were in an hour ago. And you managed to disrupt my distress signal at the same time.”

She finds Keone’s arm in the darkness and waits for her eyes to adjust. A narrow tunnel slowly comes into view. She tightens her grip on Keone’s arm and pulls it forward, “Come on; we might as well see what’s down here.” Keone reluctantly follows her, “I doubt there’s anything good to look forward to.”

She opens her mouth to respond, but Keone cuts her off, “Although, it is not like this day- or night- could become much worse. I’m stuck on a foreign planet with a Hirpoun and a bunch of sand.” A crash rings through the tunnel ahead of them and she slaps a hand over its mouth. The tunnel is silent, but she is sure that something is closing in on them. Fingernails slide against concrete and she is knocked onto her back.

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