Author Archive

First Chaos – Second Chapter – Sarah

Posted: July 14, 2013 by sarahwroteitdown in Chaos #1
Previous: Chapter 1 by Kella || Next: Chapter 3 by Christina

horizontal-rule 1

Ike clenched his teeth, dug his fingers into the earth (lowercase earth, not actual Earth), and forbade himself from screaming as the local used his utility knife to dig her arrow out with excruciating slowness. With his luck, she’d probably mistake any noise for a demon mating cry and knife him in the back. And Ike’s luck was looking especially bad today.

Scouting was a dangerous, thankless task. That’s why only guys like him took the job: men and women from the wrong planet or with the wrong parents or perhaps had one or two of the wrong indiscretions on your record. But how many scouts got shot twice in one day – first with a targeted EMP cannon, and then with a damn arrow?

From the look of the local’s weapons, he’d made planetfall in a pre-industrial culture. They probably hadn’t conceptualized their solar system yet, let alone that there might be alien races out there beyond it. And here he was, making first contact. With his ass. He could just picture the statue.

The Council of Worlds was going to have him executed for landing here. And probably they’d shoot the girl too, to avoid ‘contaminating’ local culture. Assuming they found out. Assuming he survived. Assuming he ever got off this rock. Ike groaned out loud. The local stopped mid prod.

“Did that hurt you?” she asked, her voice tinged with the metallic twang his Cyrex gave translated voices. Information bubbled from the bracelet right into his inner ear: item: three cracked ribs, item: torn knee ligaments, item: minor abrasions, item: no CWS ship in range of emergency beacon.

“Oh, no. No, I’m great,” Ike said. “Do you think you could possibly, maybe, hurry it up just a little – ?”

With a yank, the alien girl wrenched the projectile out of Ike’s muscle. Ike couldn’t help it: he howled.

“Be quiet!” the local hissed at him again, tucking what was left of her arrow into a pocket on her sleeve. Ike reached past her for his kit. She pulled it back out of his reach, dumped it out on the ground.

“Gimme that,” Ike said, trying to scoot around. Now that the arrow was out, he was feeling oddly lightheaded. “There’s bandages, medicines, in there.”

“Stop squirming,” she said, smacking his hands away. “You’re losing a lot of blood.”

“Yeah, whose fault is that?” Ike muttered. But he held still.

From the angle he was at, half on his side, he could see the local frowning in concentration as she put together a field dressing from his belongings. She was definitely a humanoid adult female. Her coloring was dark – he guessed a medium brown, for both skin and eyes, with a shock of silver hair tied back neatly into a long tail. She was slender but very tall, and she was strong. She’d taken the full force of the explosion on her back and it seemed to have barely phased her. He had no doubt she could kill him very dead in a number of different ways.

But she hadn’t yet. And a local female, brave enough to stick around after an explosion, caring enough to patch him back together… This might be the first lucky break he’d had all day.

“What’s your name, sweetheart?” he said, then mentally kicked himself as she gave him a strange look. God only knew what the local courtship rituals were. For all he knew, flirting was punishable by death. Or marriage.

“Kyri?” the alien said slowly after a long pause.

“Kyri, I’m gonna be totally honest with you,” Ike hitched himself up a bit, gave her his most serious look. “I’m on a mission from God.”

Her eyes narrowed. Ike hurried on. “C’mon! You can see I’m not like you, and I’m obviously not a demon. I’m the opposite of a demon!”

“A messenger?”

“Yes,” Ike agreed without hesitation. “I am the messenger Isaac Gibson. And I was going about on God’s business up in the sky when I was attacked. And, uh, cast down. Point is, I am not supposed to be here and it would be very, very dangerous for me to come into contact with any more of, um, you. So what I need you to do, right now, is get me somewhere safe and hidden so I can heal.”

And then figure out what the hell I’m going to do next, he thought. The Cyrex would not shut up: item: ship not found, item: blood pressure dropping, item: possible concussion. Please remain awake until medical assistance arrives. Item: medical assistance not found…

The local was staring at him in outright suspicion. Ike didn’t blame her. This was his fault. His fault for taking this job. His fault for crashing here. His fault all those years ago for smuggling that little box over the Terne border and not asking any questions…

“Your wounds… are beyond my ability to heal,” she said finally. “If I do not get you help, you will die.”

Ike shook his head at her fiercely, then regretted it when a wave of nausea took him to the ground. “No,” he gasped. “Can’t tell anyone I’m here. For your sake. They’ll kill you.”

The alien – Kyri – frowned at him. “Your ship, your… things,” she said. “Are these weapons from Terne?”

Ike drew back sharply. “Weapons from Terne?” he exclaimed, pushing himself up. The Cyrex was going crazy, item: heart rate spiking, item: blood loss increasing, please remain prone, item: Terne, Empire of, current governing body of second largest interplanetary alliance. “How the hell have you heard of…”

“Lie down!” the girl exclaimed, but it was too late. The world did a little halfway spin and Ike felt the too-heavy gravity pulling him down, down, down beneath the dark.

***

When he swam back to consciousness, the gravity was still weighing him down, pushing his face into the bed.

The bed?

Ike jerked awake – and nearly panicked to feel himself restrained. But another moment and he realized his hands and upper torso were free. Somebody had strapped his waist and his legs down so he wouldn’t roll over. The air was filled with unfamiliar, yet not unpleasant smells. The pain in his ribs, in his backside, had considerably lessened in his sleep. Though it wasn’t nearly as low as it would’ve been in a proper hospital, hooked up to a morphine drip.

Summoned by his thoughts, his Cyrex hummed to life. Years of dirty fighting and a stint in the corpsman dormitory had taught Ike how to wake up without giving himself away. Keeping his eyes shut and his breathing steady, he waited for the bracelet to finish booting. “Cyrex, physical report,” Ike subvocalized, forming the words in his throat but not putting air to them.

Physical report: item: wound in posterior muscles, bleeding stopped, please seek medical attention, item: cracked ribs, currently aligned, please seek medical attention, item: torn ligaments right shoulder, please seek medical attention…

Ike hushed the Cyrex with a guttural grunt. He knew from experience once he got hurt, it would keep giving him the ‘seek medical attention’ bulletin until he’d actually been scanned and cleared by a CWS medico. Like there was a CWS medico within five lightyears. He gave an experimental twitch of his posterior – and flinched. Better, but still not great.

“Ah. You are awake.”

Ike jumped guiltily. For a moment he considered playing dumb, but then shrugged off that idea and opened his eyes.

It was a clear day, and warm. Sunlight filtered in through closed shutters across the spotless wooden walls, wooden plank floor. He was on a long, narrow bed – hardly more than a cot, really, just canvas stretched over a wooden frame. The walls were hung with woven… fabric… thingies. Tapestries? Tapestries. The voice had come from behind him.

Gingerly lifting himself up on his elbows, Ike turned around. For a second he thought he was seeing double: the alien girl with the pointy ears and silver hair standing next to herself. Then, squinting, he realized his mistake. He was looking at two locals, the second clearly older and wearing finer clothes than Kyri’s hides and leathers.

In fact… Ike squinted closer. That didn’t make sense. The alien matron was wearing intricately patterned robes, held together by a metal clasp. Yet the girl last night had shot him with what he was certain was a stone tipped arrow. Why would a culture that could work with metal use inferior stone weapons for their hunting?

The alien matron stared back at him just as openly, her hands folded over her stomach. Or stomach area. Who knew, maybe that was where she kept her heart? “You are the messenger Isaac Gibson?” she addressed him with a raised eyebrow.

“Damn right I am,” Ike said, cupping his chin in his hand. “And I told you to hide me,” he added with a stern glare at Kyri. She shot a nervous glance at the older woman, who made a soothing gesture to them both.

“Kyri brought you to me under the cover of night, to tend to your injuries, oh messenger,” the local said serenely. “None but she and I know you are here. And should you be discovered, she will claim you as her ginasuran.”

Kyri’s jaw dropped. “Mother!” she exclaimed in horror.

“Now, dear,” the elder alien chided gently. “It is a messenger of Rell. We must be prepared to make certain sacrifices.”

Ike blinked. “Sorry, her what?”

“Her ginasuran,” the alien lady repeated with a perfectly straight face. “Perhaps messengers don’t have such a term among them?”

Too late, Ike remembered he was supposed to be an angel or whatever. “No. Right. Ginasuran. Great plan, ladies. So I’ll just rest here today, tonight you can guide me back to the crash site, and I’ll be out of your hair. And may God bless you with… blessings.”

It wasn’t the best lie he’d ever told, but damn it, everything still hurt. And his throat was parched.

As if reading his mind, the alien matron reached for a pitcher and a wooden cup on the table, pouring out what looked like water.

“Kyri, dear, will you go and refill this?” she said. Kyri, after another guarded look at Ike, slipped out silently with the pitcher in her hands. Her mother sat at Ike’s bedside, held the cup to his lips. A tentative sip confirmed it was water. Praying for the billions of inoculations running through his blood to work, Ike gulped it down hungrily.

“Good,” the lady said, satisfied. “Now. Tell me more of your mission, honored messenger.”

Ike swallowed hard. “No can do, lady. Sorry. Strictly confidential stuff.”

The alien arched her brow again. “But do not the holy scriptures say that Rell withholds no secrets from his children?”

“Well. Yeah, but…” Ike swallowed again. “That, uh, doesn’t mean he’s gonna be running around telling everybody’s secrets.”

“Ah.” The local nodded to herself. “So you are as the divine appointee to the people of Derm?”

“Sure,” Ike said weakly. The local was staring at him a little too fixedly.

“Forbidden from speaking your holy message aloud to anyone but to the children of Yeleta?”

Ike nodded. “Mm hm. Pretty much.”

“Mother?” Kyri reappeared from behind the tapestry over the doorway, the pitcher still light in her hands. “We’re out. Should I go to the well?”

“In a moment.” ‘Mother’ took the pitcher back, brushing out her skirts as she stood back. “First, dear, would you kindly stab this blasphemous creature in the leg again?”

“Wait, wait, wait!” Ike yelled, trying to scramble for cover. But he’d been strapped down more securely than he’d realized, his legs pinioned to the bedposts. Before he could reach the knots, Kyri had a stone knife drawn and was coming at him –

But the lady held out a hand to stop her daughter. “Perhaps you’d like to try your story again, creature?” she said.

“There’s no country of Derm or people of Yeleta, is there?” Ike said sheepishly, his eye on Kyri’s razor sharp blade, inches from his butt cheek.

The lady shook her head. “There is. In the popular children’s story.”

“He is a demon!” gasped Kyri.

“No,” ‘Mother’ corrected her gently. “A demon is evil, but not so stupid to have fallen for such a silly trick.”

“Hey!” Ike protested, then shut up as Kyri brandished the knife.

“This is something else,” the elder local said thoughtfully. “But he can be wounded. Keep your knife handy.”

She sat again at his bedside. “You will speak to me, creature. Tell me what you are, why you have come, and the meaning of the great fire in the sky?”

Ike groaned and dropped his head onto the rough blanket.

“Everything I told Kyri was true. Except the part about your god,” he added hastily. “I’m sorry, that was… rude. But the rest of it was true. I was travelling through the sky, I was attacked, and I fell here. The lights were my ship. None of this has anything to do with you or your people. I just want to get out of here, and you can forget you ever saw me. Your lives will be a lot simpler if you do, believe me.”

“You have already complicated our lives,” the alien matron said severely. “If your.. conveyance caused the fire in the night, then explain the second sky fire.”

“The… what?” Ike gaped at her.

She gestured impatiently to the window. “The second fire, that burns even now. Explain it!”

Ike’s blood ran cold in his veins. “Let me see,” he said.

She looked suspiciously at him a moment, then sighed.

“Mother…” Kyri said in warning tones, but the elder alien waved her back.

With a small grunt, she squatted down next to the bed and hauled the whole thing, Ike and all, closer to the window. At any other time, Ike would’ve been impressed by the casual show of strength. Right now it was the last thing on his mind.

Ike propped himself up on his forearms and craned his neck. Outside the elaborately carved windowsill, he could see the shingled rooftops of other homes, spread out a comfortable distance from each other. Rising from the street he could hear the susurration of many voices, conversing with one another in tones of alarm and confusion.

And there, up in the sky, was the bright fireball glow of an object piercing down through the atmosphere at exactly 37.8 degrees.

Ike’s Cyrex whistled at him. Item: heartbeat spike. Do you require –

“Shut up!” Ike barked out loud. He twisted around, started fumbling the knots at his waist. Kyri stepped forward, knife brandished.

“Don’t touch those ropes,” she started.

“You shut up too!” Ike snapped. She blinked at him. “Get your valuables, get your neighbors, evacuate this village. Now. Run. Away from where my ship crashed, that’s where they’ll start. Shit!” He pressed his thumb to his Cyrex, then hesitated. “Cut me loose. I’ll lead ‘em away from you, they’ll be tracking me on this. That oughta give you enough time to get away.”

Neither woman moved. “Don’t just stand there!” Ike yelled. “Hurry!”

“What is it that thing?” the elder said, her eyes wide.

“Is that one a demon?” asked Kyri, considerably more skeptical.

“Worse,” Ike said in a voice hoarse with fear. “It’s the Terne privateers.”

horizontal-rule 1

Previous: Chapter 1 by Kella || Next: Chapter 3 by Christina
Advertisements