Raven's Pen

Writing, Reading, and Ruminating

Category: Serial Stories (Page 1 of 2)

Beautiful Cracks: Chapter Eighteen

Chapter Eighteen

Meg’s feet move forward on their own until she is standing with her toes barely hanging over the ground on the other side of the door. Keone rattles off a scrolls’ worth of excitement behind her and she tires to ignore him. A gust of wind sweeps through her hair and she suddenly wants to run as far, and for as long, as she can.

She pushes her hand into the air in front of her and stares at it; the sunlight and sharp green grass makes her grayish-teal skin appear more purple than usual. She slowly steps out of the doorway and jolts as her feet land on soft dirt. She takes off running before she can think.

Trees flash by around to her. But she cannot bring herself to stop until the ground becomes rough with vines and pebbles, and her lungs ache for air. She bends over and leans her hands against her knees with a grin spreading across her face. Who knew something so beautiful could be inside a planet covered by sand.

Her grin fades and turns into a scowl; what if and entire horizon inside a planet is impossible? What if she is not where she thinks she is? She turns around and her feet reluctantly carry her back to Keone and the Shade. Her scowl deepens as she nears them and cuts Keone off before he can speak, “How do we supposed know if this is real?”

The Shade separates into two shadows and runs a circle around them before stopping where it started, “I-I do not know. I-I cannot tell if this is real; but I think it must be. I-I have heard that this planet is far larger than it seems, but I do not know exactly what that means. I-I think it might have something to do with a scientist my masters always talked about.”

She opens her mouth to demand a better answer, but Keone jumps in front of her, “What was the scientist’s name?” She steps out from behind Keone and it carefully moves away from her, “Don’t you think this is amazing? It’s the perfect time to actually do some research.” She scowls at Keone, “What research? We don’t even know if this is real. We could be standing back on my planet with guns pointed at our heads”

Keone laughs and turns in a circle, “But wouldn’t this be amazing if it is real? There are hundreds, thousands even, if different types of planets, why wouldn’t a planet like this be possible? Look at how beautiful this is! Green grass and tall trees; teal sky and an actual colored horizon in the distance.” She opens her mouth to abject, but the Shade cuts her off, “E-excuse me, but I think I might be able to help.”

She crosses her arms, “Very well; if you want to to. Help out and tell us what this place is and why it’s, supposedly, so important.” The Shade nods and turns back to the doors that lead inside, “I-I do not know very much-“ Meg’s scowl deepens, “You’ve already said that enough times for me to loose count and stop caring.” The Shade ignores her interruption and starts to step over the door’s threshold, “M-my masters kept a room full of hard research; multiple other rooms are filled with notes and things that they have found. I-I have never been inside because I have never been allowed, but now that you have told me that I can go anywhere I want, I can take you there. I-I do not know if it will be helpful, but it might be.”

Meg rubs her forehead, “Just bring us there and shut your slick mouth.” Keone gives her a death glare and she resists the temptation to return it and slap some sense back into his face. The Shade pushes the curtain to the side and a sharp voice echoes through the doorway, “Containment door number ten has been activated. Please remain where you are until the situation has been assessed.” Meg stops as the words slide through her head and her ears start to ring. Keone yelps and jumps toward the doors, but he is too late and they snap shut.

The Shade melts into a pile of withering darkness and Keone yells for Meg to help. She tries to blink haze away from her eyes as the Shade slowly forms itself back into a human shape. Keone pulls the Shade to its feet and glowers at her, “What the blazing comets are you doing? You’re supposed to take care of us!”

She scowls and turns around to head into the field behind them, “I told you that I’d let you live; I never told you that I’m interested in protecting you. Or your friend as a matter of fact.” Keone runs to catch up with her with the shade following, “But you have. And that means that you care enough not to let either of us die.” She whirls around and grabs Keone’s throat, “You should know better than think that I have any inkling of mercy for you. You’re helpful, but you’ll be trash once that helpfulness wears off. The Shade here might be useful, but that’s the end of it. I don’t want to protect you, and I most certainly will not. Keep your sniveling mouth to yourself, and let me try to focus on finding a way to get out of her.”

The Shade floats a few inches off of the ground, “T-the doors have been locked because of a containment breach. N-no one will be allowed in.” She bares her teeth, “What is your point? And I don’t want to hear anything about your ‘masters’.” The Shade hangs its head, “I-I have heard that there are dangerous things in here; monsters that would kill everyone in the bunker. I-I did not tell you because I wanted to see the beauty that my masters have always talked about; I did not think that we would become trapped in here.”

“Well, we are. You should have paid more attention; and I am not going to help you the next time something like this happens.” Meg grabs onto Keon’s arm and starts walking, “Move; we’re going to find a place to stay until we find a way out.” Keone stumbles, “But we’re stuck. And what about the monsters that are in here? Going deeper won’t help anyone.” She stops and glowers at it, “What monsters? I don’t see any; and as far as I can tell, they’re just a rumor to keep your Shade friend from exploring; Like an order isn’t enough to stop a Shade from doing something.”

The Shade trembles in anger and Meg grins, “Do you think I’m afraid of a few monsters? As far as you know, I am the worst monster in here.” Keone gulps and obediently follows her as she leads them toward the nearest clump of tree.

The trees are tall with gray bark wrapping around their trunks, and bright green leaves interspersed with dark green veins. Dried leaves crunch underneath their feet and Keone twists his head to study her, “Where are you from? You’re a Hirpoun, but you talk like you know something about the higher end of society.” She walks faster, “Who I am isn’t your damn problem. Now shut up and let me think.” “But we’re stuck in here, and I’d like to know exactly what I’m stuck with.”

A jolting shiver crawls across her skin and she slaps a hand over Keone’s mouth before it can speak again. The Shade starts to object and she gives it a warning look. It slowly shrinks underneath her gaze and she yanks them closer to a towering tree next to them.

Her heart roughly pounds in her chest and her hands curl into fists. Something must be watching them, but she cannot tell what it is. An electric shock jumps across her fingers and she turns on the Shade, “What is supposed to be in here? And exactly where are we?” The Shade shivers at her demanding voice, “I-I do not know very much-“ Meg grits her teeth together, “Stop saying that! Just tell me what you know and be done with it. Or would you rather make me tell you? What’s your choice?”

The Shade reluctantly nods, “Y-yes; I can tell you. M-my masters always talked about monsters that do not belong anywhere else. T-they are monsters that my masters never thought existed. A-apparently, one of them managed to find its way into one of the labs not many days before my masters left and told me to stay; I do not know what happened, but my masters were not happy. I-I think they never thought something such as that would be possible. I-I think that they were always afraid of the monsters because they could not understand them.

“T-They used to say that the world out here has always existed, and that the planet on top is an illusion to keep people away. ‘W-who would want to settle on a barren planet of beautiful sand without supplies?’ they said. I-I do not know what they were going to do with the monsters here, and I do not know what would have happened if they had stayed out here for more than a few hours. T-they always kept track of their time carefully and made that they never stayed out after night started to arrive. I-I think they were afraid; but I do not know what they were afraid of.”

Keone sighs, “Great. We don’t know what we will face; and night is when all of the scary monsters come out to hunt. I guess we will end up becoming food. This is not the way that I thought my life would end. And I didn’t think that anything would end today.” Meg grits her teeth together, “No one is going to die tonight; and we’ll figure out what whoever used to be here wanted. Remember, I’m a scary monster too; and I don’t intend on letting other ‘scary monsters’ push me around. Now; is there something else you want to tell me Shade? Or should we start walking and find out where we end up?”

The Shade bobs its head, “I-I think my masters talked about fruit trees and meadows once. I-I do not know where they might be, but I think we might be able to find them.” Meg straightens up and grabs Keone’s arm, “Good; now move it and keep your sniveling mouths shut.”

She can barely hold back a sigh of relief as Keone obediently stays quiet and both of them follow her into the trees. The sharp air fills her and she briefly wonders if it would be possible to float. She dismisses the thought as soon as she can and pulls Keone faster. Twigs dig into her feet as the trees grow denser and Keone occasionally glances in her direction to wonder if it is safe to ask one of its thousand questions.

But Keone continues to keep its mouth shut; and she resists the temptation to thank it. A headache pounds at her, and she is honestly not sure what she would do if anyone bothered to truly get on her nerves. She tries not to yelp as Keone suddenly digs its heels into the ground, “What is that?”

Its voice is jarringly loud among the tree trunks, and she yanks Keone back as it leans toward a tree with slightly greener bark, “This isn’t a tree.” She sighs heavily and gives Keone slightly more room, “What the ghastlygod do you mean? Of course it’s a tree.” Keone turns to her with a grin, “No; it isn’t! It’s a person, or a person-type thing. It’s not a tree at all. Come on; look.”

She reluctantly lets Keone pull her closer to the tree as though Keone is a toddler and she is the cornstalk maiden in charge of it. Keone points toward a gap in the bark, “Look; it looks just like a face. It isn’t an exact face of course, but’s it’s close enough to have a resemblance to a being like you or me. And look here, the bark is slightly differently colored on most of the trees, but the bark is an even color all of the way around on this one. Most of the trees here have been bleached by the sun on two sides and hidden by the shade on the others. But this one has clearly been bleached by the sun on each of the sides and hidden by the shade equally. That proves that it can move around, even if it’s only in a circle to stay warm in the sun. Also, watch the bark, it seems to move. It’s breathing; whatever it is.”

Meg scowls and pulls Keone back, “Come on; you can pray to stuff you don’t know and talk about theories later. Right now, we need to find a place to stay for the night.” Keone grins at her, “Why don’t we stay here? Come on whatever-your-name-is, you can’t deny the fact that you’re at least slightly curious. And I think that this would be the perfect place to stay. It might not be a cave, but you won’t learn anything if you stay in the dark all of the time.”

She moves as close to Keone as she can without touching, “I’m not interested; in fact, I think the only way that you’ll have anything to explore tomorrow is if you obey me. And these woods are woods; you can stay here if you want everyone, or everything, in this entire vicinity to know exactly where you are without moving a finger. I won’t stop you if you want to be eaten; but we’re not staying here.” Keone unsuccessfully tries to cross its arms, “You may be the boss back in your world, but this isn’t your world. And you are not the scientist; I am. I know what’s right right now, and I say that we should stay here.”

She opens her mouth to answer, but a slithering voice cuts her off, “Yes, yes; stay here.”

Copyright © 2016 ravenspen.com

All rights reserved.

Beautiful Cracks: Chapter Seventeen

Chapter Seventeen

She pushes herself to her feet and winces as her lungs struggle to expand. Keone coughs and wipes blood from his nose, “What was that?” She scowls and grabs onto Keone’s arm, “Do you think I would be standing here if I knew?” Its eyes widen, “You’d chase it?”

She snorts and pulls Keone forward. It starts to say something and she quickly makes shushing noises, “Do you think we’re alone? We were just attacked, and attackers always wait for another chance.” Keone gulps in fear and she curses her position. She never should have pulled Keone into this, whatever it is. But she needs it as much as it is a thorn in her ribs.

The tunnel grows darker as they move forward and she tries not to gag at the acidic odor. The floor of the tunnel is slick and she pulls Keone faster as the rock turns into concrete. Keone sniffs and turns up its nose, “Something used to be here; and something that smells. What is this place?” She frowns, “How am I supposed to know maggot?”

Keone tries to yank its arm out of her grasp, “Hey! Don’t call me that! You can call me almost anything you want, but ‘maggot’ is going way too far.” She stops and turns to face it, “Really? Because I’m thinking that it fits you better than you want to admit.” She starts to lead them deeper into the tunnel again and Keone unsuccessfully digs its heels into the ground, “Just because you think it fits me doesn’t mean that it does! Being called a ‘maggot’ is about one of the worst insults you could use.”

She stops again and hisses through her teeth, “If you don’t shut your sniveling mouth, I am going to call you far worse things than ‘maggot’, maggot.” Keone shuts its mouth and glowers at her. She rolls her shoulders in the silence and gives Keone a warning look as it opens its mouth to comment. It reluctantly stays quiet, and she tries not to jump at each footfall as they move forward again.

A shadow streaks across the wall next to them and she yanks Keone to a halt, “Did you see that?” Keone rolls its eyes, “Did I see what? I’m practically blind right now! It’s too dark for anyone who is not insane to see where we’re going. No offense, but your Hirpoun ancestry does not mean that you’re automatically sane no matter what you decide to do.”

She turns toward Keone with a sneer, “No; it means that I can pull your arms off without feeling any remorse. Now, shut up and stop complaining.” Keone scowls at her, but her attention is quickly pulled back to the wall as another shadow streaks across it. She yanks Keone to the side as a fist heads toward her face; they smash into the wall and the air is punched out of her.

Keone gasps for breath, “What the striking meteors was that?” She scowls and yanks it forward, “Move; I have no idea, but I told you it would be back.” Keone wipes its nose with its sleeve, “So now you’re resorting to ‘I told you so’? That’s ridiculous, and not very well planned. You know that I could just leave you down here and return home.”

Her scowl deepens, “You’re almost blind in the dark, and you clearly can’t leave without me. You would have already left if you could have; and so would have I.” Keone frowns, “That’s mean. You’re not very nice whatever-your-name-is.” She yanks a finger to her lips, “Shhhh!”

Keone wisely shuts up and the narrow tunnel seems to grow wider. She stops as they reach a stone-rimmed doorway, “What is this place?” Keone looks up at her, “So now you’re finally asking the most important question of the day? Or did you ask that earlier and I forgot…” She yanks it through the doorway, “Shut your mouth.”

She stops as soon as they pass through the door’s arch; dark shapes reach into the room beyond them. A circular platform in the middle shimmers as she searches along the wall for a light switch. Keone yelps as she lets go of him, “Where are you going? I can’t see a doggone thing!” Her fingertips grasp a switch and she yanks it upwards, “Be quiet. There’s something here and I don’t like it.”

Keone starts to answer, but he stops as yellowed commercial lights start to flicker before buzzing to life. The room around them is covered in dust; layers cover the floor and sink into every crevice. A raised, circular, floor in the center of the room lights up as she yanks Keone toward it. The floor is speckled with silver and blue wires that crisscross in triangles.

The room seems oddly familiar, but she cannot be sure why. A shadow darts across the wall behind her and she spins around, “Who ar’ you?” The shadow jumps to a dusty file cabinet and she stalks toward it, “Show yourself!” Keone pulls on her arm, “It’s just a shadow; come on, help me figure out what the rotten comet is going on here.” She scowls at the shadow and yanks her arm out of Keone’s grasp, “You will show yourself shadow-person! Now! Obey me, and you will not have much more to fear than you think.” The shadow darts to the other side of the room and she jumps over a rotted wooden table to follow it.

Her hand slams into the shadow’s neck and it trembles underneath her. Keone hooks its arms around her waist, “Come on; let it go.” She shakes her head and narrows her eyes, “Who are you? Tell me now; and perhaps I will consider letting you live.” The shadow shakes violently, “I-I…”

The voice tinkles with tiny bells in a hallow room and she scowls, “You what? You attacked us twice, and now you refuse to tell me why? Who are you?” The shadow’s thin hands pull on her fingers, “L-let me go. I-I don’t… I-I didn’t want to hurt you. T-they told me to keep this place safe.”

She hand loosens slightly, “Who told you to keep this place safe? Where are we?” The shadow’s head tilts backwards, “L-look around. Y-you are standing in the future and the past.” She lets go of the shadow’s neck, “Great. We’re apparently standing underground on a forgotten planet with a shadow who seems to be immortal.”

The shadow presses itself into the wall and shakes a head, “N-not immortal. I-I am just here for as long as I need to be.” Meg turns on it, “I think that means your immortal; or, at least, close enough that you clearly intend to stick around.” Keone’s eyes narrow slightly, “What are you? I mean, I’ve heard of shadow people. But I thought that they were just myths.”

The shadow shakes its head, “I-I am not a myth. I-I exist, but it has been a long time since I talked to someone. Y-you are the first beings to come here in centuries.” Meg clenches her hands, “What are you? And why did you agree to protect this place?” The shadow shivers, “I-I am a Shade. I-I did not agree to protect this place; I was told to and so I have. A-and I will forever more. T-this is my home. I-I am a slave to what I am told to do; just like it has always been for my kind.”

Keone’s eyes narrow farther, “Wait; you’re a slave? If so, where are your masters?” The Shade hangs its head, “D-dead. I-I have not seen anyone for a long time. I-I do not think that anyone will ever come back for me. B-but I am never supposed to leave; I am supposed to protect this place for my entire life. P-perhaps I truly am immortal. A-and if I am, it is my masters’ doing and not mine.”

Meg scowls, “Fine; tell me what your masters were doing here. What are you supposed to protect?” The Shade’s head hangs farther down, “I-I do not know. I-I was never told what is here; I was only told to stay, and I always follow my master’s orders. I-I am always alone.” Keone sets a hand on the Shade’s shoulder, “You’re not alone anymore. We’re here; but you need to tell us how to leave and what was happening here.”

The Shade lets out a billowing sigh, “Y-you will not hurt me? Y-you’re friend is not very kind.” Keone smiles at the Shade, “No; we will not hurt you. And my friend- or companion as it is- might not be very kind, but she will help you get out of here. Where is your home?” Meg tries not to hiss and the Shade’s head sinks even lower, “I-I told you: I do not have a home besides this one. I-I was told to stay here and so I have. I-I can tell you what is here, but I do not know very much. A-and I would end up in trouble if my masters ever found out that I showed you the building; but I doubt that any of them will ever come home. T-they left in a hurry and told me to stay. I-I have never dared to disobey them and look outside; I know that there are wonderful things outside because they used to talk about them, but I am banned from exploring.”

Meg crosses her arms with a snort and Keone gives her a warning look, “Well; from now on you’re our guide. And you are not banned from going anywhere. Does that work for you?” The Shade rapidly nods, “Y-yes; I am happy to be your guide. B-but your friend must promise not to hurt me. I-I don’t like to be touched.”

Meg scowls and Keone gives her an expectant look, “Well, are you going to promise not to hurt our friend? Or are you going to be stubborn and make us stay down here forever without a guide?” Meg tightens her crossed arms, “You have my word. I won’t hurt you unless you attack either of us again. Understood? I hope that works for you, because that’s the best deal that you can hope for.” Her voice is gravelly and Keone grimaces.

The Shade nods in agreement and grabs Keone’s empty hand, “Y-yes; I accept. B-but I can’t promise to show you everything without getting lost. I-I was not allowed in any of the restricted areas before you showed up. I-I have always followed my orders until now. B-but I am not afraid anymore.” The Shade pulls on Keone’s hand, “C-come on; I will show you where the food and supplies are.”

Meg takes up the rear and scowls at the floor, “Finally; something that will be useful.” Keone gives her another warning look and she morns the current events. But she is glad to finally have a guide, even if she is clearly the least liked being in the group. At least she still has her head, and she most certainly intends to use it.

Keone practically has to run to keep up with the Shade as it excitedly talks about everything that they pass. Meg tries her best to pay attention, but she finds herself staring at the walls the majority of the time. The rooms that the Shade shows them are unremarkable; the supply closet is exactly what it sounds like: a cinderblock room with shelves of tasteless packaged food and squeezable bottles of water. The bunks are next; a long room with bunk beds lining the walls and pale army-style bedding. The rest of the rooms are either filled with rusted parts from one mechanism and another, or plain supplies with long-gone expiration dates.

At least she can be glad that none of them will be able to starve for at least a few decades. But she most certainly does not intend on staying on this sand filled planet for decades. She intends on leaving as soon as she can. She scowls at the Shade and Keone’s linked hands, perhaps she will leave Koene behind when it is time to return home. It certainly seems happy enough.

The Shade stops in front of a set of shinny double doors, “T-this is the exit to everything that is outside. I-I have never seen through it. B-but my masters used to talk about how amazing the world is. I-I can show you more of the restricted areas if you want to return home now, but I want to see this. A-and I think you should too.”

Meg’s scowl deepens, “Than get on with it and open the door.” Keone gives her an angry look, but she wins their silent battle as the Shade pulls open the door without complaint. Keone snatches the door from the Shade as soon as it can, “Here; let me take care of that.” The Shade nods as it pulls open the second door and brushes aside a curtain of cloth beyond the steel.

Meg can barely hold back a gasp as fresh air rushes into the hallway; and neither the Shade nor Keone try.

Copyright © 2016 ravenspen.com

All rights reserved.

Beautiful Cracks: Chapter Sixteen

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.

Copyright © 2016 ravenspen.com

All rights reserved.

Beautiful Cracks: Chapter Fifteen

Chapter Fifteen

The rest of the gang is waiting for them as she climbs into Sa’s cave on the Causoki’s heels. The Silosc opens his mouth, but she cuts him off and she turns toward the assembled beings, “Th’ new settler’s won’t be able t’ leave th’ planet until they ar’ able t’ contact th’ council of beings. We need t’ make sure tha’ they can’t.”

The Causoki rubs his arms and moves toward the rest of the gang members, “But they know that we’re here. And whoever that was- Marie- seems to know you. How are we going to be able to do anything?” The Silosc opens his mouth to berate her, but she cuts him off again, “Marie may think tha’ she knows me, but she doesn’t know anything. An’ that is our advantage. We need t’ make sure tha’ they can’t call th’ council of beings for help. An’ they need t’ know tha’ they’re not safe. They shouldn’t feel safe, no matter what they attempt t’ do. We will be waiting an’ watching for th’ next time t’ attack. We need t’ destroy their radio.”

“But they’ve seen us!” The Causoki’s voice is disbelieving, and she turns her scowl into a smile, “Of course they hav’. But that doesn’t mean tha’ we can’t go an’ steal th’ radio right out from under them. They still don’t know tha’ there ar’ so many of us, an’ we can use tha’. This i’ just th’ beginnin’ of what we’re doin’. But it might as well be called th’ end if they contact th’ council of beings now.”

She pauses, but no one responds. She frowns and meets their eyes, “This is goin’ t’ become a war… an’ it won’t be a war tha’ any of us can win if they hav’ their radio. Ya’ are either in or you’re out, but ya’ should make a decision soon ‘cause I’m going t’ send each of ya’ i’ your different directions as soon as I know tha’ you’re in. Your leader is still your leader, but this is my plan an’ so I’m goin’ t’ tell ya’ where t’ go. Is tha’ clear?”

Someone mutters and multiple beings nod. She tries not to sigh with relief and clenches her chest shut, “Good. An’ now we hav’ things t’ do.” She turns toward the Silosc. He scowls at her with a murderous look and she grins back, “Ya’ shouldn’t look so worried, they’re still your men. I just hav’ a reason t’ use them. If ya’ want t’ be directly involved in my plan, ya’ should make sure tha’ I hav’ a reason t’ include ya’. For now, ya’ should keep your Causoki with ya’.”

She turns and motions the rest of the gang toward her, “Get over here, there ar’ things t’ do.” The Causoki follows them with a frown, “Aren’t you going to wait until it’s dark?” She scowls, “An’ then walk right in when they’re expecting us? I hope not. No, we’re goin’ t’ go in now an’ make sure tha’ no one gets their hands on th’ radio before us.”

She waves the Causoki away and he walks back to the Silosc with a dejected frown. She is sure that the Silosc is already plotting against her, but she has other things to focus on. He may try to kill her, but no one is a friend to anyone else. Everyone is on their own whether they realize it or not. Her plan may not last, and she may end up dying soon, but at least there is a chance that she will understand what Sa has been showing her beforehand.

She doles out her instructions with a warning glare to each member of the gang, before sneaking out of the cave behind them. Moving during the day is a supremely stupid thing to do. But she cannot come up with anything better. The old radio was installed along with the first settlers that died decades ago. She is sure that it has been decayed with age, but she can be certain that Marie will try to fix it.

It will take at least an hour to get the old radio to work and at least half that has passed. They do not have much time left, but she will have to hope that it is enough. And she does not care enough for what will happen if her plan fails to worry more than she absolutely must.

Death will be a lucky side effect of being caught; she is thankful that it is also the most probable one. Hopefully Keone has thought about her words. Her plan will be much easier if she can relay on Keone to be overly curious. She can only hope that she has bothered it enough for it to consider breaking some of Marie’s rules and learning if anything she said was true.

If Keone is anything it seems to be, she has a chance of recruiting another being to her side. And if not… than she will end up in more trouble. Far more trouble. But the war that she is starting might as well be interesting if it is going to be a war at all.

She follows her barrowed gang closer to the town’s fence. Her feet sink into the soft ground, and she scowls at the marks that they are leaving. But they will be gone long before anyone finds their footprints if her plan goes as she expects. Marie would not threaten her without being able to follow those threats with something worse than what she mentions. But Marie will also know that Meg will not show herself without a good reason. And the reasons for revealing herself so quickly are piling up.

Along with all of her regrets.

The regrets that she has can be fixed. Right now, she needs that radio, and she needs it quickly. One of the gang members slices through the fence with clawed hands, it sparks on his fingertips, and she holds back a grim smile. This is a day that she has been waiting for far too long. She intends to make the most of it.

The gang fans out just as she ordered them to. She joins the Varroke who sliced the fence as they head toward the center of the town. The town feels different, perhaps because it is no longer home, or maybe it is simply because she is finally herself. The streets are empty and far cleaner; the storefronts are starting to be peeled away to make space for new buildings; and the houses are being handed to the new residents moving into a town of criminals.

A grim smile pulls her lips together. Marie might know what the town has turned into, but anyone who arrived on the ship would not. Not even Marie will be able to prepare them for their new world. The Varroke yanks on a chain across the doors of the old town hall and snaps it in half. The floor is covered in layer after layer of dust that has piled up over the years since the town was an official establishment.

She walks down the center of the room and smashes the glass in front of a red and gold lacquered tollbooth. An alarm sounds with a shrill warning. It is surprising that a security alarm has lasted after all of these years, even though everything else has fallen to shreds. She grabs the small black radio box sitting on the center of the tollbooth’s desk with shuffled papers surrounding it.

One of the gang members shouts for her to hurry up without bothering to use words. She wraps the cord of the radio around her hand and turns away from the old town hall with the alarm buzzing in her head and making her ears ring. She never thought that she would love coming up with plans this much. And she never thought that she would want to start a war that no one has ever managed to win.

The gang races in front of her as they speed toward the fence. She jumps through the opening that the Varroke made and crashes to the ground on the other side. It takes a moment for her to realize that she has landed on something other than the hard ground.

She scrambles to her feet with a glower, but the glower fades as she finds herself looking down on Keone. It stands up with a shuffling step and swallows thickly, “I-I was looking for you. I guess you’re in the middle of something though.” She scowls despite herself and grabs Keone’s arm to drag it toward the cover of the rocks, “Come here, you’re with me from now on. Why did you want to find me? Have you finally made a decision?”

Keone swallows again as he nods. Her scowl deepens and she resists the temptation to slap it, “Well? What have you decided? Are you here because you want me to be caught, or have you finally realized that it will not matter?” Keone gulps, “I-I think that you were right: I have to choose a side. I asked a few beings in town about… a few things. And I was wrong. Marie and everyone who arrived here on the ship- which is named the Cyrus by the way- are planning on killing everyone who used to live here.”

He swallows again, “I-I just don’t want to be part of that. I’m not saying that I agree with anything you want to do, because I don’t. But I think that Marie, and everyone who believes in her, is wrong. So… I’ll stay around here for now. But I won’t be a part of anything that I don’t want to be. Alright?”

He rocks back and forth on his feet and she tries not to let her scowl deepen again, “Fine, but you’ll stay where I tell you to stay. And you’ll be killed extremely slowly if you try to change your mind or decide to betray me. Is that clear?” Keone nods and she turns away from him to move farther in the rocks.

She will have to find a better hiding place soon; before Marie decides to invade the mountain. No one will expect her to be foolish enough to stay the night after an attack, but that only gives room for one night and she needs a more permanent place. She grips the radio tightly and settles down behind a large boulder; the Qhloe joins her just as she requested and Meg passes the radio to her.

Keone crouches down next to her and watches as the Qhloe tears the radio into pieces. She rips the memory card and wires into small twigs that blend into the dirt like sand. Meg straightens up and leads the Qhloe and Keone back to Sa’s cave. The Silosc is waiting for her with a scowl, “Hirpoun, ya’ seem t’ think tha’ you’re still in control. An’ I should let ya’ now tha’ this is still my group an’ I give them my orders.”

She ignores the look that Keone gives her as she approaches the Silosc, “Ya’ seem t’ forget tha’ we made a deal. An’ I intend on keep tha’ deal. You’ll hav’ t’ find ya’ own way t’ fight if ya’ don’t want t’ listen t’ me. Do ya’ not want t’ be part of this deal anymore Silosc? Ya’ better let me know before we move.”

The Silosc glowers at her for a moment before flicking his tongue over his teeth, “I think I’ll stay in for now. But that’ll only last for as long as I want it t’. I intend t’ get ya’ in trouble Hirpoun, ya’ an’ your ridiculous plans. I’m still in charge ya’ know.” He turns away from her, and she tries to put on a look of satisfaction. Her heart pounds in her chest as she turns away to look at the town, “We can’t stay here for much longer. Th’ latest anyone can be here is th’ middle of th’ night. They’ll come lookin’ then.”

The Silosc spreads his hands in mockery, “Than why don’t ya come up with one of your perfect plans? Where do ya’ intend t’ go Hirpoun?” She frowns and turns around to face him, “Ya’ seem t’ forget tha’ this ain’t just about me now; you’re still on th’ list of previous residents an’ you’re still not dead. It’s th’ same for your men an’ everyone else too. I’m just th’ one with th’ plans, an’ ya’ needed my plans th’ last time I checked. This is not th’ sort of arrangement where ya’ can say tha’ you arn’t involved, everyone here is being hunted an’ ya’ know it. Start acting like it Silosc. Because this ain’t just about me even though ya’ want it t’ be. This can be about ya’, an’ ya’ shouldn’y forgot tha’. I’m in charge here for as long as I need t’ be unless ya’ start acting like you’re a leader an’ not cowering in th’ corner.”

The cave is frozen by the time she stops talking.

Copyright © 2016 ravenspen.com

All rights reserved.

Beautiful Cracks: Chapter Fourteen

Chapter Fourteen

She climbs back into Sa’s cave with dust burning her eyes. The Silosc is waiting for her with a scowl on his lips. She takes a seat on one of the large rocks and leans back; the Silosc’s scowl deepens as he sits across from her, “Well? What do ya’ hav’ t’ say about yer reasons for leavin’ th’ cave again when we ha’ more things t’ discuss?”

She swallows thickly and wishes that she had something to drink, “Th’ plan has changed again. I still need th’ combustible rocks though. Where ar’ they?” The Silosc motions behind him with a displeased gesture. She steps around him when he does not move and looks down at the two armful sized piles.

“Well? What d’ ya’ need now?” The Silosc’s voice is impatient and she tries to hide a grin, “Now, I need some rope for a few of these. Some from one of yer old clothes would work.” The Silosc leans down to brush her neck with his chin, “I thought ya’ said there was somethin’ t’ do tha’ actually mattered.”

She turns around and twists the Silosc’s arm until he is bent toward her, “Ya’ should know t’ keep yer space. An’ these rocks ar’ important. If your goin’ t’ follow my plan, you’ll hav’ t’’ be patient when it counts. I hav’ things t’ do. I expect ya’ t’ have some rope or cloth when I get back.”

She shoves his arm away from her and jumps out of the mouth of the cave. Her knees crack underneath her as she lands behind a boulder and turns toward the ship’s landing pad. She stops behind a large boulder before she reaches it and sinks to the ground; she is the master of her plan and the being who is in charge. But she does not feel as though she is in charge at all.

She grits her teeth together and tries to get rid of the tears that fill her eyes; she needs to find a way to make sure that no one ever tries to disobey the things that she says. The next time that someone, especially the Silosc, attempts to befriend her, she will break his arm. At least she caused him some pain with a joint lock.

But it was not enough. She takes a shaky breath; the Silosc does not matter. The only thing that matters is her plan, and her plan needs her. She stands up again and wipes her eyes before turning to the landing pad. No one will bother to be around the ship during the day unless they have something to grab. No one would be enough of a fool to try and tamper with a ship when the sun is out.

But she is a fool. She sinks behind a boulder next to the narrow, overgrown road that used to lead to a depot on the other side of the planet. The ship’s landing pad is across from her with metal talons sinking into the soft dirt. The ship groans even when it is resting and waiting for its next command. But the sound is strangely comforting.

A human walks toward the ship and whistles a tune that make her want to leap out of her hiding place and haul his arm from its socket. The man opens a small door in the side of the ship and removes a metal box. She grits her teeth together as she waits for him to leave.

They will not have much time to set the rocks in place; and there is no guarantee that what she is planning will even work. But her point will be made whether the ship is destroyed or not. She smiles thinly and tries to memorize the way the ship is crouching on the ground. I can reach you anywhere.

It does not matter if her claim is true or not. She would rather die fighting than running. And a fight is exactly what she expects. The ship is the first of her targets, but it is the only one that will immediately determine what happens next. Something clanks inside the town as she slinks back toward Sa’s cave.

She could easily complicate her plan and make things even more difficult for Marie. But she does not want Marie to know that she is working with a gang everyone is hunting for. Her advantages are in the things that she knows. And she knows just enough to make her nervous. If Keone truly has been seeing things that are similar to what Sa has shown her, than something must be falling apart.

She has always paid attention to disasters. And she has seen enough of them in her mind to know that it might be possible to see the future before it happens. But she has never understood what she sees, and nothing has ever bothered her as much as the things that Sa has showed her in the last few days. It seems like time is running out.

Keone must know that something drastic is going to happen, but it does not seem to be nearly as afraid as it should be. If the exploding planet that Sa showed her used to exist, then the dry taste in her mouth must be there for a reason.

She has never thought of herself as someone who believes in chance, but now her existence is be based on chance. Will her plan work the way that she has it set? Or will it change in the middle of a sentence?

The Silosc is waiting for her when she climbs back into the cave. He scowls at her and steps to the side as a gang member hands strips of cloth to her. She takes them and runs her tongue over her teeth as she chooses eight of the medium sized rocks and ties them into two haphazard bundles.

She triple-checks the knots, before straightening up and turning to face the Silosc and his gang, “It’s almost time t’ go through with th’ second part of my plan. Th’ rest of th’ rocks will be split into four piles an’ set behind th’ ship’s landing gear an’ out of sight. I’ll take th’ two piles an’ put them under th’ ship.” She dares the Silosc to challenge her as she looks him straight in the face, “Yer Causoki will light th’ rocks when it’s time.”

She pauses and turns around in a circle to meet everyone’s eyes, “Does anyone hav’ any questions?” The Silosc scowls at her and a small Feliku cat-man hesitantly raises his hand, “Ar’ ya’ sayin’ th’ we’re goin’ t’ attack th’ ship i’ mid-daylight?” Tha’s crazy.” She smiles grimly, “An yer right, if ya’ want t’ die. Crazy is th’ thing tha’ no one will expect. It might be crazy, but it’ll work better than any good plan.”

The being shuts its mouth as she turns toward the entrance with the two bundles in her arms. The sun is high in the sky, but the sky is clouded and strangely dark. She swallows thickly as she tries to moisten her mouth. The sky almost looks like something that Sa showed her, but it must be a coincidence. It must be, because anything else would be disastrous.

She watches carefully as the gang divides the loose rocks between themselves The Causoki stays away from everyone else with his hands shoved in his pockets and his shoulders hunched downwards in an attempt to hide. She turns to the Silosc, “This is my plan, an’ I’ll give th’ orders for it. Ya’ can come along, but th’ Causoki is goin’ t’ do what I ask.”

The Silosc scowls and nods, “Fine, but they’re still my men an’ I don’t trust ya’ anymore than yer race says I should. Which means I don’t trust ya’ at all.” She bites back her retort and turns to the gang spread around the cave, ”All of ya’ will follow me t’ th’ ship. Try t’ keep up. An’ ya’-” She stares at the Causoki’s face, “Ya’ will stay back until everythin’s set in place. Than you’ll come out an’ burn th’ rocks. After everythin’ has been set, ya’ will get back t’ th’ boulders an’ I’ll follow ya’. I expect ya’ t’ follow my plan exactly.”

She glowers at the faces of the gang, “Do any of ya’ hav’ any questions?” A few of them shake their heads and everyone else stays uncomfortably silent. She smiles thinly and jumps out of the mouth of the cave. It takes a moment before everyone else joins her. She winces at the noise caused my their feet as she leads them toward the ship.

She tries to swallow, but her mouth is drier than it has been before, and she ends up feeling like she is choking. Her heart beats faster as they reach the last line of boulders across the road from the landing pad and she waits for a moment with crossed fingers. No one is around, but she can be sure that it will not stay that way. Her plan suddenly seems incredibly foolish, but she cannot back out.

She tries to swallow again as she ducks her head and relies on her legs to carry her across the old road. She ducks behind one of the ship’s clawed landing legs and shimmies underneath the ship itself. The rest of the gang sneaks across the road behind her and sets their of rocks at each of the ship’s legs.

She pushes her wrapped bundles underneath the large maintenance panel on the bottom of the ship, and motions the Causoki out of is hiding place behind one of the legs. She can see him swallow as he follows her orders and she turns him around to face the ship.

She cringes as she hears footsteps and shoves the Causoki behind her before he can object. A group of beings walk around the side of the ship to face her. She curls her hands into fists despite herself as Marie looks at her sharply. The ship’s beings are armed and well dressed, but they hang back and wait for Marie’s command.

She does not attempt to change into her normal form as she keeps the Causoki behind her. She had been waiting for this. But she is starting to wish that she had planned what she was going to say. Marie lifts her brown chin and catches her with brown eyes, “I thought you were hiding around here somewhere, but I did not expect this. What did you think you were going to do? You do not have power here; you are the preyEveryone is waiting for someone to bring your head back into town.”

She bites back the temptation to swallow and smiles instead, “The clothes fit you very well Marie, but I doubt you’re going to kill me right now. You’re too curious about what I might be planning. You know that I see enough to know what might happen and you are right. You also know that Hirpoun are known for putting up a fight.”

The words sound strange in her mouth. But Marie’s eyes narrow just as she wished, “What it is that you think you can get away with Meg?” The use of her childhood pet name surprises her, and she forms her face into a smile, “Now.”

Marie jumps in surprise as the single word echoes. Meg clenches her hands as the Causoki gulps behind her. He stays where he is for a moment, and then he turns toward the ship and screams.

Flames rises up on the rocks and the ship’s beings watching Marie scurry away from the flames. Meg’s smile turns into a grin as the last of the rocks catch on fire and she grabs onto the Causoki and jumps to the side.

They land on the other side of the road just as the rocks overheat and sink before exploding in white hot stars. She stands up and meets Marie’s furious gaze as she carefully stands out of the reach of the ship-sized bonfire in the middle of the landing pad. She gives Marie one last smile before walking behind the nearest large boulder. And she feels like singing as she follows the Causoki back into the safety of the hill.

Copyright © 2016 ravenspen.com

All rights reserved.

Beautiful Cracks: Chapter Thirteen

Chapter Thirteen

The sun rises in the sky with a pale light. She crosses her arms and cringes as she changes into her normal form. It does not take long before she hears something scrambling along the rocks and Keone turns the corner of her boulders with a scowl.

It crosses its arms as well and drops its bag next to its feet, “You put a combustible rock in my bag!” She uncrosses her arms and moves towards it, “Of course I did, I wanted to make sure that you knew I was serious.” Keone tightens its crossed arms, “Well, I won’t have to tell anyone about you because Marie, or whoever it is, saw you on the scanner and knows that there is still a Hirpoun around here. They’re hunting for you just as you know. And there’s no where that you’ll be able to hide.”

She smiles with satisfaction, “Of course they’re looking for me. But you forgot one thing Keone, that’s exactly what I want.” Keone opens its mouth to respond; but it stops as she changes back into her Hirpoun form to tower above it, “Why else would I let you know what I am?” Keone scuffs its feet along the ground, “Well, it seems as though you’re already dead and you know it. The townspeople won’t allow you to live for much longer. You’ll be lucky if you have until tonight.” Her smile turns into a grin that makes her feel as though she is floating, “I’ll just have to move up my plan then.” “You have…a… plan?” Keone’s voice is a squeak, but it quickly drops back to normal, “If you have a plan, then why are you telling me that you have one? Because I might as well tell everyone and make sure that you can’t get anyway with anything. Everyone will know that you’re coming. If you’re playing a gamble, then you’re playing a very bad one.”

Keone turns around to leave, but she latches her hand onto its shoulder, “Oh, you’re not going to tell anyone. You see Keone, you’re part of my plan and you’re going to stay that way for as long as I want you to.” She mentally crosses her fingers and hopes that she is right, “I know that your ship’s people wouldn’t care about one life that’s lost, but many lives will be something different. And everyone knows that your life isn’t simply one life. You’re the thing that everyone asks when they want to know something. And you see that the universe is falling in the same way that I do.”

The words come out of her mouth on their own before she can stop them. Keone blinks and shakes its head, “No, you don’t know anything and I don’t know anything. Besides, what are you going to do with me? You can’t take me wherever you’re going to run to because it would be too easy to catch you. You can’t kill me because everyone will know and you’ll be in much more trouble. And you can’t use me because I’ll tell everyone about you.”

She smiles at his false words, “Of course you won’t tell anyone about me. You see things the same way that I do. And I could kill you without getting in trouble because I’m already in trouble; and I already have more power than you ever will.” She bites her lip briefly, “I’m going to let you go Keone; the same way that I did last time. But I’ll destroy you and everyone else if you tell anyone about me. Until then, let your ship’s beings know that they should have a good hunt.”

She grins again, and then she turns and leaps onto the boulders with her heart beating in her chest. She does not need to pretend that she does not exist anymore, and her new information will change her plan again. Keone is no longer the being that she thought it was. And now she has an actual asset for her cause.

She climbs into Sa’s cave and walks up to the Silosc, “My meetin’s over. Now we hav’ some things t’ do before th’ end of th’ day. Tell some of your beings t’ get an armful of those explodin’ rocks and bring them back here. We need at least an armful of th’ good ones. An’ tell your men t’ be mindful of where they step.”

The Silosc scowls at her, but he turns to his gang and divides her orders among them without complaining. She turns back to the entrance of the cave and tries not to look smug. Her heart roughly beats in her chest as she stares towards the town. She should have known that Keone was different, and she should as known that it would refuse to admit it. But she has been too busy planning to focus on anything else. She can only hope that Keone will come back and admit that it is like her.

But she doubts that it will. Even if they are similar, she is still an enemy and she will stay that way. She does not intend on trying to prove that she is any different than the demons and devils that her race is associated with.

Her plan will start a war if it goes the way that she hopes. Perhaps it will even do more than that and create something that will not be cast away easily. Keone would never forgive her for something such as that; but she does not care what Keone thinks. She is something that no one will be able to touch, and her abilities are far more complex than even she thought. No, she is not something to laugh at. And her plan’s name is destruction.

Something moves among the rocks, and she cannot hide her satisfaction as she sees Keone standing in between two boulders and waving its arms towards Sa’s cave. She smiles as she jumps out of the mouth of the cave and across the boulders in the path. Keone scowls at her as she lands next to it and grins, “So you came back did you? I knew that you would. You know just as well as I do that our differences are irrelevant.”

Keone’s scowl deepens as it crosses its arms, “I don’t agree with you and I don’t think that you have any right to do anything that you might be planning. I don’t even know if you’re telling the truth about us being similar, but I think that I might have something that you need. And I think that you’ll pay to get it. Whatever the cost is going to be.”

Her grin falters, “And what would that be? What could possibly be so important that I would risk something, anything, for it? What do you think you know that no one else could? You couldn’t possibly be that brilliant or that special.” Keone lifts its chin, “I see things, and the things that I see concern you and whatever sort of rebellion you’re trying to plan. Which is not going to go very well by the way.”

She grins again, “No, it won’t because everyone will be dead soon enough anyway.” Keone works its mouth open and closed a few times before turning its scowl into a demanding glower, “And what would you possibly know about that? You don’t have a prophesier in that group with you. That would be impossible because all of the prophesiers around the universe have been accounted for. At least, almost all of them have been, and I would know if there was someone else.”

She steps closer and looks down at Keone, “You would know if there was a prophesier, but you wouldn’t know if I’m around. You think that you know everything Keone, but the things that you see are just the beginning. I see everything else.” She mentally crosses her fingers that it will not see through her jest.

Keone moves backwards slightly, “Right, what does that mean? Are you saying that you are some sort of special being that can see the future? Or are you saying that I don’t know what I’m seeing? Because I can assure you that I do and whatever you happen to be seeing is wrong. I know what’s going to happen and I’m being nice enough to come and warn you that it’s not going to be good.”

She closes the distance in between them with a single step, “You’re wrong Keone, I know things that you never could. And the things that I’m seeing are things that you’ll never be able to imagine. You can take your deal and your offer to a different place, because I won’t be taking it from you. And I’ll most certainly not be paying. I know what I want and what is want is something that you’re going to give me whether I ask or not. I already have everything that I need, and the only thing that you need to decide is where you stand. Goodbye Keone, next time we see each other, I’ll either use you or kill you. The choice is your own, but you should think carefully because I won’t bother to give you enough time to decide.”

She turns and leaps behind the nearest boulder with her heart racing in her chest. She was right, after all of this time, she was right. She is not the only one who is seeing things, and she is also not the only one who can tell that things are not going to go according to plan no matter how firm her plan is.

She climbs back towards Sa’s cave. She has something that no one else does, and that is proof that things can be changed no matter how unlikely it is. No, she is stronger than she was an hour before and now she has everything that she needs. She only wishes that Sa would show her something.

She stumbles as her mind seems to melt and she wipes drool away from the corner of her mouth. It seems as though Sa is being nice and her wish is granted. She stumbles again and falls onto her back to stare at the sky. The sky changes into a dark galaxy, and then she is staring at Sa’s strange face.

Sa watches her, and then she is falling and falling without moving at all. Sa catches her hand and pulls her onto a planet with red dust. She looks across the flat ground and then she falls again; she lands in a haze covered town where everything is burning with a strange yellow light. The light tears through sheets that are hanging on a line and burns through the side of a wooden house with white slats. She runs without knowing why, and then she is standing in Sa’s cave with her feet blistering underneath her and the lines across her legs bulging. She tries to hide from a gust of wind that sends a flood of sand into the cave, but she ends up back in the endless galaxy with her hand clutched around Sa’s.

She wants to open her mouth and ask what she is seeing. But her mouth does not open when she wishes and Sa shakes a strange head. She falls back and back; until she is laying on sand covered rocks and her plan is running through her head. She has things to do. Too many things to do.

Copyright © 2015 ravenspen.com

All rights reserved.

Beautiful Cracks: Chapter Twelve

Chapter Twelve

She tries to hide her smile as the Silosc approaches her with the rest of his gang close behind. “What kind of thing do ya’ hav’ planned?” She smiles at the Silosc again, “First, I want t’ make sure tha’ everyone knows where they stand. I’m as much in charge here as ya’ ar’ if we’re going t’ do this. Ya’ can give tha’ orders, but I’m tha’ boss too.” The Silosc scowls and spreads his hands, “Fine, but ya’ better hav’ somethin’ t’ offer.”

She smiles again with her legs steadying underneath her, “I hav’ somethin’ better than tha’, I hav’ someone. An’ someone tha’ I can use. In fact, I hav’ already set the beginnings of a plan up, an’ the only thing t’ do now is make a deal. Do we hav’ one?” “We might, if ya’ hav’ somethin’ t’ offer tha’ ain’t just a promise. I don’t deal in promises girlie. I only deal in things that I know can be useful.”

She smiles again with her stomach tightening, “Very well, than why don’t ya’ follow me back t’ th’ cave where ya’ met me tha’ first time. I hav’ somethin’ t’ show ya’ if ya’ want proof.” The Silosc waves to his gang for them to move in closer, “How do I know tha’ what your wantin’ t’ show us agin’t a trap?” She smiles again, “Because I hav’ many way t’ trap ya’, an’ I asked ya’ t’ come here instead of dragging ya’ here. Do ya’ doubt what I can do? Because that’s just another reason for ya’ t’ follow me. I think ya’ might be pleased when ya’ see what I hav’ already.”

The Silosc purses his lips and regards her for a moment, before waving her forwards, “Fine, but ya’ goin’ first an’ ya’ leadin’ th’ way as well.” She grins, “I wouldn’t expect it t’ be any other way.” Her feet slip slightly on the rocks as she crouches. And she crosses her fingers that her plan will work as she leads the gang back to Sa’s cave. She stops as she reaches the entrance and smiles back at the Silosc before stepping inside, “Ya’ hav’ nothin’ t’ fear in here. Th’ ones who hav’ t’ fear are the ones in town.”

The Silosc frowns as she motions towards the entrance of the cave and looks towards the town with her heart beating in her chest. It should not take much longer. “What do ya’ hav’ t’ show us? I ain’t plannin’ on playing games here girlie, an’ I hav’ th’ mind t’ kill ya’ before we leave this place.” She looks over her shoulder with a grin as she sits down towards the mouth of the cave and pats the ground next to her, “I don’t think tha’ ya’ will want t’ kill me. Th’ thing I want t’ show ya’ ain’t here, but this th’ best place t’ watch. Come on, join me and wait for a few moments, I’m sure tha’ it won’t take much longer.”

The Silosc frowns in disbelief, but he joins her at a safe distance and stands with his arms crossed, “I don’t see anythin’ that’s makin’ me want t’ change my mind about your existence.” She leans back on her hands and crosses her fingers tightly. If she was wrong, than she will die sooner than she thought she would. But at least she will not end up dying by the council’s settlers hands.

She can still hope that she was right; and she can hope that the settlers will turn the fence on soon. The fence sparks, and then it flares to life with a snap that turns into the ringing of electricity. The Silosc turns towards her, “I don’t see anythin’ girlie.” She smiles thinly and watches the town with her heart racing in her chest, “Wait for a moment Silosc, this ain’t th’ right time yet.”

The Silosc opens his mouth to answer, but he is cut off as an explosion sounds through the air. A ring of fire leaps into the sky from the center of the town and dissipates in the dark sky. She turns towards the Silosc with a smile as he watches the ensuing fire leap onto a ring of buildings, “What do ya’ think about a partnership now? Does it interest ya’ any more than it did? I can still go my own way, but yer the first group t’ get my offer.”

The Silosc turns towards her with the flames from her fire reflecting in his eyes, “Very well, I think we might hav’ th’ beginnings of a deal. But tha’ still doesn’t prove th’ ya’ have more of a plan.” She stands up with a grin, “Why would I do somethin’ like th’ if I didn’t hav’ more of a plan? No, I hav’ more of a plan, and I hav’ many more plans after that.”

The Silosc scowls in disapproval. But he turns towards the center of Sa’s cave and finds a place on a large fallen rock that looks like a stepstool. The rest of his gang watches him as they stand around the cave with their weapons in their hands. She tries not to fiddle with her fingers as she waits for him to say something. And she cannot hold back her sigh when he points towards her, “I think we hav’ some things t’ discuss. This doesn’t mean tha’ I’m in, but this does mean tha’ ya’ get t’ hav’ a change t’ prove ya’ know what your doin’.

“Th’ beginnings of a deal still stand, but I’m th’ only one who gives orders t’ my boys. Ya’ get to come up with some of th’ plans, but that’s it. I get total control an’ that’s goin’ t’ be final.” She nods and stalks towards him, “Perhaps, but I get t’ call things if anythin’ goes in a different direction than expected. I get t’ make th’ decisions if somethin’ goes wrong. An’ tha’ is final as well. Ya’ might hav’ control, but I’m still th’ ones who’s makin’ th’ plans.”

The Silosc scowls and looks across the faces of his followers, “Fine. But everything goes through me first. Tha’ is th’ way tha’ it’s goin’ t’ be, an’ it’s goin’ t’ stay tha’ way.” “Very well,” She finds a place on another rock across from him, “Than we might as well begin with somethin’ t’ do tomorrow. I hav’ a plan tha’ will work well for tomorrow, but there’s someone tha’ I hav’ t’ meet to make sure it will stay.

“There’s a being from the town tha’ came on th’ ship an’ I think it’s goin’ t’ come lookin’ for me again. Ya’ will stay out of sight an’ I’m goin’ t’ hav’ a conversation.” The Silosc scowls, “Why don’t we just take it and use it like everyone else? Ya’ forget tha’ I’m in charge.” She stands up and looks down at him with the gangs weapons clicking towards her again, “An’ ya’ forget tha’ I’m th’ one who’s goin’ t’ come up with th’ plans. An’ this being happens t’ be part of a plan tha’ I don’t intend on lettin’ ya’ mess up. I’m in change for now, ya’ can leave if ya’ can’t handle tha’. But ya’ know tha’ this is a war that’s goin’ t’ happen at one point or another whether ya’ like it or not. An’ I happen t’ have a way t’ get ahead of it without ruining our chances. Right?”

The Silosc scowls, but he does not object. She turns her attention to the gang surrounding them, “As I was sayin’, I’m goin’ t’ hav’ a conversation with this being. An’ your goin’ t’ stay out of th’ way. I’ll tell all of ya’ th’ next part of my plan when I’m done.”

The Silosc’s scowl deepens, “Tha’ ain’t th’ deal. Ya’ just don’t want any of us t’ be able t’ follow your plan without ya’.” She smiles thinly, “Perhaps not, but I also told ya’ tha’ I need t’ hav’ this conversation before I know which version of th’ plan I’m goin’ t’ use now. Your goin’ t’ follow along with my conditions because ya; know ya’ hav’ t’, an’ I’m right despite what ya’ might say t’ yourself.”

The Silosc glowers at her, but he relents and turns away after a moment to speak to his gang. She tries to hide her sigh of relief as she glances towards the town; she is in a lot of trouble if Marie truly in in charge. It will not take long for Marie to realize what she is. And Marie already knows that she has a Sight.

At least, now she is not alone. And she will quickly have an advantage if she is right about the ship’s beings. Until then, she can only hope that Sa will show her something before she is forced to move onto the next part of her plan. She stands up and moves to the front of the cave to cross her arms.

Now she is living with her enemies, but it is one of the safest places that she could be. She is sure that Keone will come looking for her again, and she will be waiting when it does. Keone will either try to destroy her or ignore her, and she will happily take either. She can still use it again if she needs to. And she will need to.

She needs to find out what Keone’s abilities are so that she can turn it into her own weapon. She was right about the rocks, and now she will need something even better. She has an entire group of beings to command now. They may not follow her orders without the Silosc telling them what to do and they will not die for her, but the possibility of a mutiny only makes her job more interesting.

She will use the tricks that are played on her against her enemies and she will make sure that she always has a backup plan. No one will catch her when she does not want to be caught if she can help it. And Marie… Marie is a variable that she does not like. But Marie is not her friend anymore; she became an enemy the instant that the ship landed.

If there is one thing that she can accredit to the settlers, it is that they always know who has their loyalty. Her loyalty is to herself, and that is the way it will stay.

She turns away from the town with a frown; it is time to become the devil and demon that she is called. It is time to become the seer and the prophecy. She is sure that someone must have delivered a prophecy to the council of beings at some point. They would not have tried to ‘reform’ her planet without it.

Regardless of what the prophecy might say, she will create her own version and bring it down on their heads. Perhaps she is starting a war simply because she does not have anything better to do. But it feels right; her plan feels right. And that seems to be something that only Sa could give her.

She turns around and faces the Silosc again, “I’ll leave for th’ night, ya’ stay here an’ I’ll check in th’ mornin’ before I hav’ my meetin’.” The Silosc scowls and opens his mouth to object, but she steps off of the cave’s ledge before he can say anything.

Her legs catch her as she lands in between two large boulders towards the bottom of the mountain. She might not be invisible, but the sensors can only move so quickly. She can assume that she is safe for the moment. She jumps from boulder to boulder to find the spot where Keone found her.

She wedges herself in between the two large boulders and watches the sky as she waits. She has not slept since she turned to her Hirpoun form, but she is not tired. Her natural form seems to have even more advantages than she thought it did. And now she will have to use all of them.

She listens to the wind that rushes in between the rocks as she leans against the boulders. What if she is wrong about Keone? But she will not be, she knows what to expect. She can guess for her entire life, but now she is the master of a plan and she needs to know instead of thinking.

She will create the things that she needs and she will learn the abilities of each of the beings in the Silosc’s gang. She will use them as she will use everything else around her; and perhaps they will be lucky enough to live for the next few days. The Silosc was right, this is not a war that anyone will be able to win; but she is going to try. Even if it is only to prove that she can.

She chews her nails, she might be her parent’s daughter, but she is different in too many ways. She has always been living inside a dream world with Sa watching over her, and now it is time for her to be a Hirpoun. This is who she is supposed to be- this is what she is supposed to be. And Sa will have to tell her when it is time to stop. The family that watched a city sink is here, and she is watching them. The time is coming for things that are impossible.

Copyright © 2015 ravenspen.com

All rights reserved.

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.

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.

Copyright © 2015 ravenspen.com

All rights reserved.

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