Where here it is the final chapters. I want to give a shout out to a special friend who helped me in editing and keeping certain aspects grounded (as much as possible) in reality. "Champ11" is member of the US army and was my 'consultant' on keeping the more military aspects of the story rooted in reality as much as possible. a whole lot of thanks goes out to him.
From the time I initially started posting till now, I have made many edits and additions. I would DEEPLY ask anyone reading this to first go back ot "Chapter 10" and read an Interlude that I added that gives a brief background and introduction to several people that you shall meet later on.
Written by Eric Fischer
Edited by "Champ11" US Army ROTC
***** ***** ***** ***** CHAPTER ELEVEN***** ***** ***** *****
That evening, far away on the western coast, Jakenenth sat and watched the sun set.
For three days Jakenenth desperately awaited the return of what he had come to think was a Trathalan built submersible. How it was built he couldn’t guess, how the Trathalans could acquire, or even understand such technology he also couldn’t imagine. But he could consider of no other options that fit what he had observed.
His records had indicated the submersible was making trips from the Liya Clan Island to the Lonti Clan Island, averaging one trip every three solar days. But now as the sun set on the fourth day, he had yet to see anything approach. He sat back on the sand, looking up at the dimming sky, and then his armband went off.
He remembered he had switched it off, fearful of anyone else tracking his movements. That someone had not only remotely reactivated it, but also sent him an encoded document. Verifying the sender as Kuajo, he quickly scanned the document. He read with increasing horror as he felt his heart sink.
The report was of a recent attack upon the islands largest populated area. The report indicated that much of the cities populace had participated in an unknown form of attack that left over three hundred soldiers in a state of physical paralysis and almost a thousand others mentally disturbed. The report went on that in retaliation, Imperial forces had moved out tanks and killed almost four hundred civilians, following what it called ‘assumed rebel plotters’ back to a near by cave and executing the survivors.
He read the report, and read it again and again. He tore off the armband, screaming into the night sky and bellowing.
“Wasted! It is all wasted! The only force that could unbalance those in command and you worthless primitives were slaughtered in your first open engagement!” He snarled and fumed, turning away form the ocean, looking up into the vast glowing sphere of Hurn.
“And you Klenthtoro! Your great plan is over! Where are we going to find allies now?” he yelled, he screamed, he grabbed his assault riffle and beat the dirt with it. His claws digging into the plastic hilt of it before his rage was finally sated. And then he felt something poke against the back of his head.
He turned just quick enough to see a group of Trathalans, each one carrying Imperial issue assault rifles behind him. A female, almost his equal in height brought the butt of her weapon down hard on his skull and the world went dark.
He slowly awoke to a strange sensation around his head, he reached to scratch at the itching but found his hands tightly bound. He blinked his eyes, trying to get feeling back into his body, which seemed to suggest it was not in a pleasant state. He found it difficult to open one of his eyes as he looked, and couldn't believe what they saw.
"Everything is important" he told himself quickly "Note every detail, let nothing escape your attention" he said to himself, repeating the mantra of the captured prisoner.
What he saw still had trouble registering in his mind.
Natives surrounded him; every last one of them carried either an Imperial Assault rifle or some other form of firearm. He noticed that many of them had bits of Imperial clothing attached to their garments. The garments, they seemed to be almost dressed in uniforms, drab grey clothing was everywhere, some of it stitched with primitive visual camouflage. Despite the clothing, their hair seemed to all be fiery red, weather natural or dyed Jakenenth didn't know. There was one other aspect that at first his mind simply couldn't notice, and then went it did he felt his heart sink. Every single native around him was wearing an Imperial Arm bracer.
The backbone of their forces that connected soldiers, relayed information, recorded and stored vital records, and these aliens were wearing them. His mind raced, surely they couldn't know how to use them, surely they were wearing them as trophies perhaps; signs of triumph? Yet the words of Kujoa came back to him, messages had been intercepted...
He looked past them and saw the glow of fire light off stonewalls, cave walls. He couldn't see an entrance and kept his eyes out for any openings he could use as an escape.
He could hear hisses and sounds from the Trathalans now as they noticed him awake. A female approached, her hair almost down to her waist, she poked Jakenenth in the chest and made him grit his teeth. He counted at least two broken ribs from the prod.
There was a hissing from her lips as she spoke to the others, what sounded like shrieks came next, which he recognized as the Trathalan equivalent of laughter. He felt his forehead touched the itching their seemed to change slightly, and then, he heard the creature speak.
"I wonder indeed if self’s mind can comprehend? Or if self is overly feral to comprehend?" Jakenenth looked up, his heart pounded.
"Y-you spoke! I heard you! H-how" A quick slap to his face stopped his words as he again heard speech without speaking.
"Do not pollute own self’s ears with your grunts and sounds off world aggressor. Self should be thankful self is still living." Jakenenth said nothing he looked around wildly. How did he possibly understand them?
The Trathalan looked around as well; she pulled a metallic ring from her forehead and fluffed her wings.
"I am surprised; I did not know these bands could let these beasts hear us as easily as it lets us hear them. It seems that the Lonti mystics were actually right for once. Still they have served their purpose well, we have learned so much from the minds of the others we have taken." she said as behind her an older Trathalan spoke up.
"Mistress Thyla, why do we not take his mind as well? All the others we have discarded without them ever knowing of us. This one you let sit before us, why?"
The elder Trathalan spoke as Thyla’ turned. There was a steely silence that seemed to go on for much longer then it should have. Right at the moment were one would expect a slap of rebuke, the younger, if taller Trathalan spoke.
“This beast knew we were coming. It knew where our craft was to land, it knew when, and it did not tell its own kind Thallon.” Thyla turned back to Jakenenth.
“I wish to know why.” She said and then, rather clumsily, spoke through the translator.
“Why self locate here? Why self not tell beasts kind? Self wants favor from us? Speak beast!”
Jakenenth made to open his mouth, about to begin to speak when a sharp slap to his face silenced him.
“Talk as own self-talks, let myself mind hear your mind” The Trathalan said without moving its lips. Jakenenth paused at this, he found himself ironically, calling upon some of the banned works of fiction he had read. There were a few stories that concerned 'mental powers' of reading minds or speech through thought alone. He had never considered that those works of fiction would ever matter in real life.
He tried to relax and form words in his head.
"Self name Jakenenth, rank of status, grand mythical bird," he blinked, that wasn't right. He decided to continue as best he could.
“Aggressors not united, myself speaks for faction that seeks bargain between us.”
Jakenenths heart pounded, whatever forces had been eliminated in the city, these were different. Kuajo had been right there had been two groups. And Jakenenth had somehow found the ones who had been conducting much more effective, if violent raids. This fact did not help ease his worry. These ‘rebels’ hadn’t just been hitting random targets and leaving soldiers relatively uninjured, if incapacitated. These ‘soldiers’ had used his own weapons, fired and shot his own people, attacked and done unknown mental trauma to the minds of people he knew. And now he was going to bargain with them.
The Trathalans looked at him curiously, only a few wore the odd metallic headband he seemed to have. He looked at them more directly as he tried to form words in his head.
“Old warriors want conquest and world; young warriors want home and peace. I speak for young warriors and elders who addition want home, not this world. You wish self gone, myself seeks same. Help myself and.”
He paused, from everything he knew these natives were still using primitive bows and arrows, they used explosive powders only for celebrations, yet these wielded assault rifles as if they had used them for years. There had always been odd rumors about various anomalies around the planet; surely they couldn’t have such knowledge. And yet, the more he thought about it the more it started to explain things. He started again.
“You steal self weapons and self fire explosions. Help self, and you will not need to steal more, self shall have all self needs” He said. The Trathalan in front of him seized him immediately.
“Self lies, myself know this, self can not make such promise, you are but one warrior self can not obtain such weapons.”
“Myself speaks for those that can.” He said, and he felt the uneasy sensation of ‘something’ in his head. It was the damned metallic ring he knew it. He looked at the one ‘Thyla’ wore; it seemed to glow more as she felt around in his head.
“Self speaks truth.” She said and yanked the ring from his forehead turning around quickly.
Thyla smiled as she looked down at the bound Soldier.
She was Clan leader of the Liya people, Thyla Liyapamela. And since the first day of the invasion, she felt as if she had been preparing for such an occurrence her whole life.
“Thallon, this may be what we have been waiting for. Who could believe that these beasts may not wish to be here as much as we wish them gone?” She said razing her wings as the Elder nodded.
“I could hear his words surprisingly well for a beast. He betrays everything he knows for the chance at changing those who are in control of him. He knows it will end his respect with his own people, such is his hatred for his leaders.” Thallon spoke, almost in admiration.
Thyla looked to the Jakenenth, an enemy warrior who seemed to offer ‘help’.
“It sounds similar to our own Clan Thallon. How many generations have we accepted exile and shame for the crimes our Clan long ago committed? We paid our debt long ago, yet those in charge of the other Clans seek to keep us forever living in shame at what we all know this world needs. Since a child I have been taught in the arts that the rest of this world sees fit to remain forever buried, passed down in secret through the generations, you know as well as I, Thallon, that this world needs us.”
Thallon nodded, he remembered when he had come of aged, and learned the secrets those in the high ranks of the Liya practiced. It had shocked and left him numb for days, but in time he saw the truth of what he learned. Now, with his world invaded, with beasts subjecting his Clan, all Clans, he knew Thylas word to be all the more important.
“I think Mistress, it is time we made our way to what remains of the Lonti. We know that Darnethlil and what forces he had were all but exterminated at Toric. His people will look to us to lead them to victory.” Thyla flapped her wings.
“The Lonti have much to learn in the lost arts, I doubt highly that they will welcome us with open wings. However, if we can trust this beast, he may prove key to showing them our, good intentions.” She said again flapping her wings in laughter.
“I do not know how well his plan will work Thallon, but it may not take much to turn the Lonti over to our way of thinking. And if they do indeed join with us, we shall rise up in rebellion against these beasts not just in small groups, but as a single mass. If we are successful enough that it causes rebellion among their own kind, working with such a beast shall be worth it.” Thyla said as she turned, her immense strands of hair swung behind her as deeply as her tail as she looked back to Jakenenth. She stretched her wings and ‘smiled’ at him, pressing the metallic band back into his forehead.
“Hear myself beast. We shall work with self but self must make additional promise. If beasts self’s people leave this world in time, then land we are on now shall belong to Myself Clan.” Jakenenth blinked at this; surely she could not expect him to promise something like that. How could he possibly negotiate such terms? As if reading his mind, the Trathalan spoke again.
“Do not concern self’s with this lands current leader. Ourselves are aware that he and his followers are quite died now” she said, and tapped the armband she wore.
***** ***** ***** ***** CHAPTER TWELVE ***** ***** ***** *****
Adric looked down at what he held, his eyes watered deep with thought. He held five long pressed pieced of card. All five had strange curled designs on them, and it was only with great effort that Adric could figure out which was which. His nerves trembled; he wondered if at long last he had found what he was after, if, if he was correct then he would be triumphant... He thought he had the Trathalan equivalent of a Full House.
At Darnethlil’s home, Adric found himself in the middle of what he considered the Trathalan equivalent of 'Poker'. Like much of the activates on the alien world, he had found it needlessly complicated and steeped in various traditional rules, ceremony and pageantry. Currently in accordance to the Will of ‘Crie’ who was a God who approved of gamboling, so long as money did not actually exchange hands, Adric whore a silk like embroidered scarf around his head, symbolizing some relationship with honoring the balance of work and play. Or something like that…
He had been waiting for word, any word of Darnethlils assault upon Toric. Adric had been told that there would be runners to bring back word as soon as possible and that in less than a day and a half Adric would hear from him. After the second day, Elroner had invited friends of his from the village over to keep Adric’s mind from worry. They had also been older Trathalans, and seemed to spend much of their time in the ancient art all aged wise people seemed to practice; playing cards and idle gossip.
At first Adric had welcomed fresh faces, and once more gave him opportunity to practice some of the few Trathalan words he felt comfortable speaking. Though after a few attempts Elroner assured him such gestures weren't really needed. However, by the end of the third day with no word, he felt even more ill at ease. The sense of worry was growing each day; he could sense it not just in himself but the others as well. No one wanted to mention it and seemed to do anything to pass the time till word came.
This morning it seemed Elroner, having once more invited over what Adric had come to think of the Alien equivalent of the “Red Hat Society” had decided to introduce Adric to the ancient and traditional art of playing cards. As much as Adric could work out, the cards consisted of elements, Tree, Sky, Sea, Ground, and Wind. These were subdivided into seasons, winter, spring, summer, and autumn. There were additional “Weather” cards, Rain, Snow, ‘Big Wind’ and ‘Big Rain’ which as far as Adric could figure out represented Tornados and Hurricanes, but these four cards were seldom used. Like Earth, there seemed countless ways to combine the cards in various ways. Right now, Adric though he might just have something…
“I feel I have acquired the proper cards for over taking the current amount,” he said, placing his cards down, the others studied them carefully.
“You learn quickly peeled-fruit Adric; however your grasp is countered. Sky, Tree, Sea, and Ground twice are inferior to this,” a Trathalan who looked slightly order then Elroner said; her body draped with various robes and scarves.
“Summer Sky twice beats Winter Ground twice and I posses the same seasons of Tree and Sea,” she said, with perhaps a bit more smugness then was necessary. Adric caught the telltale sizzling sensation of one Trathalan ‘speaking’ candidly to another. Elroner no doubt telling her not flaunt victory quite so much as he turned toward Adric.
Adric sighed, a bit deflated after having some small if superficial victory taken from him. The others seemed to notice the change as well.
So far, three days was the maximum Darnethlil had thus far left Adric by himself. But that had been to a special council meeting. No alien had worn the ring for so long with such constant use, but none of the old Trathalans felt like they could take it from him. Now as he looked at the calendar tapestry, he felt h hand shaking trying to hold the cards, his vision blurring as he looked at the symbols on them. What was it again? Sumer and Spring Sea could beat Ground. But Winter Air and Ground could be Sea? Adric put the cards down and pinched his nose, his head had started to throb again as Elroner finally spoke up.
"Again I must stress to you Adric, Darnethlil is Clan Leader, he is capable and highly resourceful, and we all have full confidence in his return," Elroner bespoke in almost a whisper, sensing Adric’s aching head. The other Trathalans nodded gently, reassuring him as best he could. Elroner had noted as well the increasing headaches Adric received; so far, distracting him with various games had seemed to help.
Yet all Adric could think of was Darnethlil, he couldn't get his absence out of his head at all now. The worry throbbed in it over and over, something was wrong, something was horribly wrong. It wasn’t just him. He had been feeling it for a while now, getting closer. He stood up now and looked around.
They are coming, they are hurt! Adric said as the others put down their cards. He could feel it now, he was sure of it.
Shouts from outside roused everyone’s attention. The others looked up, listening with intent. More shouts and Trathalan curses came as movement and the pad of feet was heard.
Elroner and the others ran outside, the door flying open. Moments later Darnethlil came inside, carried by Toranth. Behind them, two others came in carried by villagers. Adric, his heart pounding as he saw Darnethlil looked at him and the four others. They were all who had come back.
Darnethlils head was covered in bandages, his clothes where caked in blood and burn marks. His wings were pockmarked by bullet holes, a few of the wounds red with infection. He looked at the others and recognized Toranth and Mekal, both looked just as bad as Darnethlil, wings pockmarked with holes, clothes caked in blood. It was everywhere.
For the first few minutes, he just stood over Darnethlil, his head swimming with thoughts and visions, totally numb to the swirling chaos of those around him. A watcher in the village had noticed the group while still far away and raced to meet them. By the time they had reached the village, much of it was already converging with medical supplies food and water.
Toranth had been the most lucid of the four. He had organized the village to go on watch as they helped carried the others back to Darnethlils home, recounting the horror of what had happened in Toric and after they tried to escape. As he sat down in Darnethlils main hall, he looked up into Elroner’s grief stricken eyes.
"It almost worked, it did, it almost worked. We had the minds of every being in the city in our reach, one mind, one thought. But, we didn't know, we, we didn't know its limitations," he paused, gathering his breath as he felt ointments and antibacterial agents being pressed against his wounds. He clenched his teeth as a foam-like agent was sprayed over one of his still open wounds.
“What happened, Toranth?” Elroner asked as he wrapped gauze over the congealing foam, “We had practiced the link here many times in secret; its power should have been enough to defeat every off-worlder in the city.”
Toranth sighed, "We never studied how it could be blocked. We never considered what could stop it.” He looked up and grasped the long scarf of Elroner.
“Just being out of sight, unable to see them was all it took. Their weapons, such, such weapons, once the link was disrupted we, we had no chance.” He grunted again as two others lifted him up to unsteady feet. His tail trying to keep his balance as Elroner starred at him.
"What happened to everyone? Surly more escaped then city then just you five! Tell me Toranth, tell me what happened next." Again, there was a pause, Toranth’s words coming from his mouth with a dull numbness.
"We fled to a cave outside of Toric. There we slowly gathered up anyone who had escaped and made ready to retreat," he paused, his hands trembling, looking at them as if disgusted.
"I, I suggested we head out first, to, make sure the path ahead was, s-safe. I took Mekal, Solanth, and Tyrenth with Darnethlil and me. We left the cave quietly, making no sound. And, and then…" he paused, his body trembling as Elroner eased him back into a chair.
"We heard the noise of a flying machine, a large one; it was approaching rapidly from the south. It flew over the cave and, and launched explosives," he said, his voice growing dead again.
"They never had a chance, none of them. They burned, every last one, burned," he looked up and heard silence. The faces of the others in the room had looked at him, ceasing what they had been doing for a moment as the enormity of the acts had sunk in. They looked to one another, seeking any words of comfort or solace. Nothing was said as the continued. Cleaning wounds and changing bandages in now deafening silence.
Toranth sat back his head full and swimming as he looked around and noticed Adric for the first time. The Human was kneeling over Darnethlil’s body, clutching at him tightly, the two of the seemed to be speaking to one another wordlessly. Toranth dare not listen in.
"What of our leader?" Toranth looked back up to Elroner, "What has he said since all of this has happened? What are we to do next?" Toranth paused and lowered his voice.
"As of now, we have no leader, Darnethlil, has not spoken a single word to any of us since the death of the others. He seems to simply mutter to himself," He paused and looked back to Darnethlil and Adric
To the casual glance of the others, it did indeed seem as if the two were utterly silent. Both had the translator rings on however. Toranth swore he didn’t see one on Darnethlil earlier. The two sat together in the far side of the large hall. Pain and an aching body kept Toranth from thinking too much about them. He wasn’t sure, but he felt he could sense a heat coming from the two rings, if they were speaking to one another, he would be able to hear then surely.
How long had the Human been wearing that ring? Exactly how deep had the connection between him and Darnethlil become?
"Elroner, I do not think any of us have thought of the consequences of letting an alien mind use these tools,” he said, as if the thought just accrued to him, "In the past when we spoke to the Tri-Star alliance, they used our tools for only a few hours. This Human has used his, almost constantly since he arrived here. And he has used it almost constantly with Darnethlil." The other Trathalan nodded, until now no one had thought much of what would happen for two to use the translator rings together for so long. It had never been an issue. Now, looking at the human and Darnethlil, Toranth began to curse that he had not thought of such consequences earlier.
Toranth and Elroner both fell silent as the door opened and closed with the wordless actions of the others
High atop a hill overlooking the village, soldiers looked down wrapped in total darkness. They were dressed in dark camouflage and had followed the fleeing Trathalans since they had left the city. The leader recalled his standing orders, ‘Follow all survivors, and discover a base of operations if any exists.’
For a moment, he thought briefly it might have been the cave they fled to. He briefly hopped it was all over when the place was targeted. But after one of his squad caught a group of four fleeing south, he knew enough to follow discreetly.
"Confirmed, sir. We have visual sighting of targets entering one of the subterranean dwellings, I will be alerting the waiting ground forces now," there was a pause, and the Qwintonis voice became clenched.
"I understand Nupatiet Meldregg. I, I will inform the ground forces to withdrawal at once from the area immediately, sir," he said, spitting the last words. The two other soldiers clad in dark heat absorbent material looked to the commander.
"He has ordered another air-strike. The whole village is to be, eliminated." One of the soldiers turned to look at the village and smashed his riffle down.
"Shooting up a city full of civilians… I guess wasn't enough, after bombing the cave full of the rebels. I guess he has a new preferred method of dealing with, issues."
The others gave a curse of agreement as the commander slowly began to withdrawal from their position.
"Gods, I hate this war."
Less than a few miles away, a group of about thirty or so Trathalans, and one very miserable Qwintoni, marched toward the village. Jakenenth had spent the last three days bound and marched though the rock hills and dense woods of the island. The others had so far seemed to take him at his word to offer assistance. He assumed this as after leaving the cave they had stopped beating him. Only their leader, Thyla, seemed to have truly accepted him at his word while the others continued to view him with contempt. He was beginning to feel the same way. There was a cry and the marching stopped.
"Mistress Thyla! We just received a message nearby. The military has followed the Lontis! They are sending air forces directly to where we are headed!"a Trathalan, holding a mangled but still operation radio reported. Thyla cursed with a hiss.
"How long? How much time do we have?"
"Not long, barley enough time to get there." Thyla looked to Jakenenth
"Self still maintain your plan will succeed? That there possibility of end to aggression when self’s tribe sends machines to deal death to small population?" Thyla relayed, her own anger making the translation even more fragmented. Jakenenth said nothing, he felt equally horrified that such order had been given, and could think only of what news of a direct civilian attack would do to moral.
"I restate own self’s promise. Your forces in conjunction with Lonti forces will drive out those that keep war continuing." Thyla looked at him carefully before checking the timer on her stolen armband. She said nothing but gave a single to the others. Within moments, the entire column of Trathalans had begun to run at a staggering pace.
Back down in the village, a hastily called council had been called by Toranth. The villagers had met together in the central courtyard of Darnethlils house, many of them still in shock from news of what had happened in Toric. Rumors ran among them of Darnethlils state as even now, their Clan leader sat next to the Human Adric, each of them silent.
"It is over! We have tried and we have failed, I will no longer let this exercise in madness continue. Darnethlils father tried this path and was killed; Darnethlil himself tried this path, and brought about the slaughter of our people!" a cry rang out from the crowd.
"What are we to do? Our world is no longer our own!” Another spoke up.
“Why must we resist, other clans have aided these off-worlders and met with approval. We should learn to share this world if we cannot drive out these off-worlders,” the voice said to a chorus of nods. Toranth looked out; he felt both disgust and shame. A part of him knew this was what was needed. The religious teaches of a lifetime told him, peace was better than conflict, that to accept the occupation was better than to die resisting it.
“We can no longer continue to break the word of Crie and reject the teachings of the ages. We all know the fate that befell our ancestors; we cannot let such acts condemn us again.”There were more waves of wings from the crowd and mumblings. Toranth regarded that they seemed more resistant then he imagined. What was it about this notion of fighting, what seemed impossible forces that seemed to, inspire them? The spark of defiance had been lit, Toranth could see this, and they wanted to be free. They still now seemed to want to fight. But at what cost?
If Darnethlil was indeed lost in his mind, he would become Clan Leader, and if that were so, he would make sure that the rebellion would end. He would not see his people go extinct.
“We shall tend to the wounded tonight, tomorrow, we shall see what can be done to live in peace with the off-worlders,” he paused; there was s something in the air.
Hurn as always lighted the night, and by its light, others began to look into the sky. Far away, riding a low rumbling sound, a dark shape moved toward the town. Mekal raced forward.
“Toranth, there are the minds of off-worlders high above, I can feel them, they, they are flying towards us!” The youth spoke in both fear and confusion. Toranth heart sank. It was a craft, similar to the one that had destroyed the cave, but nearly three times as large. The others could see it now, a deep row rumbling came from the black flying wing as it hung in the sky. Toranth looked around, surely, surely they wouldn’t dare.
“RUN! Everyone run!” to his surprise it was Mekal’s voice. His eyes were on fire with terror. The young Trathalan could hear their thoughts even from such a distance, even without seeing them, he could hear them, and he knew what they were doing.
“RUN!” he yelled again as dark shapes began to fall like rain from the bottom of the craft.
The world sudden went white as the night was lit with the fire of exploding bombs. Shockwaves blew the crowd from their feet as they began to flee in all directions. Toranth looked to Darnethlil and Adric, who for the first time, seemed to be moving. They looked at one another as if waking from a dream.
Behind them, an immense fireball erupted into the sky, wood thatch and the combustibles of all things in a house went with it as more bombs went off. The immense concussive eruptions were coming closer, as the populace fled wildly in all directions. Mekal grabbed Toranth, who grabbed Darnethlil and Adric. The four of them stopped running just long enough to look up; the immense craft easily outpaced them. It had flown out and had turned back around. Half the town was aflame, and soon the rest would be gone as well. Darnethlil looked to Adric as the two hugged,
“I am sorry, you were right all along ,” he said out loud in his native voice as another light raced overhead.
This light however did not come from the large bomber; it went toward it. The Trathalans bellow watched as a fiery streak raced up and impacted into the bomber. In a titanic explosion that shook the ground bellow, the craft erupted. Immense jagged chunks of burning metal cascaded downward as Toranth considered this sudden intervention.
From the edge of the woods, Thyla lowered in Imperial surface to air missile casing and tossed it aside. Jakenenth watched, gritting his teeth as he watched the wreckage of the Jahli-3 Bomber fall from the sky. They had a minim crew of twelve, and as many as fifteen for long missions. He glared at the Trathalan who waved her wings in a ‘smile.’
“Self beasts make good weapons, only know such weapon from history, thank self for giving myself chance to use one,” she said crudely to Jakenenth, who looked back at the three captured Qwintoni soldiers. The Trathalans had got to them before they could get word back to the command base of what happened. A part of him wished they had sent for help.
No, he had already crossed a line. He knew it, and he couldn’t go back. He had aided in the death of his own people, and if he was to see this through, there would be many more. He cursed Klenthtoro again. Had he known what it would take to carry out his plan? Had he sent him, knowing that deep down that Jakenenth was just ‘free’ enough not to give in to what ‘should’ be done, but continue with what ‘must’ be done. His purpose was to show, that those in charge couldn’t control the native uprising. This was only the start.
“Do not revel in your destruction so deeply, there is much more to come,” he said without noticing his mind replacing ‘your’ with the more clumsy ‘self’ he had been using till then. His mind was on fire.
In the town, the villagers had returned and were wildly attempting to put out the fires. Well over half the town had been burned and destroyed in the bomb blasts. There had been over twenty killed in the first explosion, and Solanth had told his brother there were another twenty currently ‘missing.’
Toranth looked up. Darnethlil seemed to be talking with Adric, the two of the communicating quite animated now. He remembered earlier when they had seemed so quiet. It was as if a damn had burst and now both were speaking quickly. Toranth blinked, they were speaking, not bespeaking to each other’s minds, but physically speaking, both in each other’s native tongue. He couldn’t think about it now, too much was happening.
He looked around and took in the depth of how much had been destroyed. Despair truly came over him as the smell of charred wood and flesh was everywhere. Those not trying to put out the fires looked to him; they all desperately wanted to know what was next. He had thought that abandoning Darnethlil’s mad war would bring peace. But how could there been any peace with such creatures that would do this. Would ‘bombing’ people who had no part in the deeds he had committed, no blame, and no guilt. He looked up, no longer able to hold onto his emotions and cursed Crie aloud.
The silence that followed was deafening. It was broken by a voice breaking from the woods.
“Such words from an elder Lonti Toranth. You are lacking in your so holy teaches to defile our great Crie ,” a voice said, sharp, clawing, and with a sense of self-importance. Toranth heard the murmurs and gasps as he turned, fearing what he would see. He knew that voice, and it was impossible.
“Thyla! Clan Leader of the Accursed Liya. What are you and your heretical followers doing here?” he demanded before the true horror of their appearance gripped his senses and he saw how they were all dressed.
“So it has happened. You have given up any pretense of the Teachings of Crie, you, you carry the weapons of the off-worlders, you have even used them!” he spat.
“Why yes Toranth, and if I had not used that ‘accursed’ weapon, your little town would be nothing but burning fire by now. Well it would be more on fire then it already is. Isn’t that so?” she said, with defiantly too much satisfaction in her voice.
“Do you think that will help us? It shall only bring more death; it will only enrage the off-worders all the more, Thyla! Or is that what you want? When our world first collapses it was YOUR Ancestors that tried to revive the forbidden arts at Trinasaki. Your ancestor’s tired to make war again, after our people were all but dead. You stole what was buried at Trinasaki and for that the other clans banished your kind,” he said, the others around him looking shocked. Some things were not meant to be discussed. Even those behind Liya seemed genuinely shocked. As though suddenly self-consciousness of the explosives and assault rifles they all carried.
“But that was not enough. Since then your Clan leaders sought out those arts. You kept alive knowledge, far beyond the arts of pain we all know. You taught how to kill, how to wage war. All this time haven’t you?!” he said, anger pouring from his mouth, his wings fully unfurled as all of the stress, the emotion, the hate of the war, the deaths, and the fighting came out from him.
There was silence. A few of those in the back put down their guns. But Thyla seemed to rally, she was done apologizing for her clan, she was done hiding.
“Yes.” She said simply.
“Yes Toranth, because the words of Crie can protect us for only so long. You do slander us; we have not abandoned his teachings. Only, altered them. For 7000 rotations my ancestors did indeed practice the art of war. We kept alive how battles were fought. We studied those few documents that were not burned at Trinasaki, those few items not taken from us after, the incident.” Toranth snorted
“Incident!” he scoffed, but Thyla pressed on.
“And in all that time Toranth, we never used them. We never once struck out against you or the others. And know that we could have. Oh yes, we could have. But that is not our way. What you do not understand, could never understand,” she paused and looked around, eyes glaring at those from the village, many of whom looked genuinely frightened at the sight of Liya Clan members so close to themselves.
“What none of you understand, is that it is not us you need fear, but off-worlders. Thirty turns ago when those of the Tri Star came, we first became fearful. They did not seem hostile, but we would not take that chance . For the past thirty turns we have prepared for this,” she said and picked up a smolder piece of wood, the remains of part of a holy relic.
“This is war Toranth. It did not come from where we expected it, but it came. Our people have prepared themselves and are here now because of it. We have the enemy’s weapons. We have their ears and eyes. We even have one of them promising allegiance to us,” she said, punctuating the last statement loud enough for all to hear, which seemed rather effective as others began to whisper to one another.
“The teachings of Crie teach us, above all other things, that we shall no longer make war against each other. That was Crie’s fundamental law... But these beasts are not of our world, our race, and our people. If there is a time to make war, it is under such circumstances that it is needed!” she yelled, now nose to nose against Toranth. The world seemed to grow silent; Toranth could see the fire in her eyes, the blazing emotional intensity. She was mad, he could see it, and surely, the others could see it. But it was madness, that had become so focused, so refined it had crossed into a form of utter conviction that he knew he could not match.
“Your people are scattered, and the enemy shall indeed soon send others to discover what has happened here. You have no choice, you must join my people, or you will perish under the off-worlders.” Toranths heart raced, he felt his wings slump. He couldn’t agree to this, he could barely agree with what Darnethlil had proposed, attacks small and non lethal. She, she was proposing war, full and total war. He couldn’t, do it, he opened his mouth. Even if it doomed them, he would not agree to such a thing.
Toranth looked up. He had heard the worlds, but they were not his own. He turned, along with the others. Darnethlil, leaning unsteadily against Adric had gotten up. He grabbed at a stick as he steadied himself on his tail and good leg.
“We accept Thyla Liyapamella. As Clan Leader of my people, I, Darnethlil Lontimanolla, agree to ‘War,’” he said, the gasps from those around him met with unbelieving looks from those behind Thyla. Thyla for her part, surprised Darnethlil was not dead, felt things suddenly shift. The Lonti were traditionalists through and through. They respected ceremony. She bowed dramatically, pulling her wings in.
“I, Thyla Liyapamella, welcome and wish to have met you under better circumstances. I, offer my clans full and utter support in war against these off-” She paused, and saw Adric for the first time. Had Darnethlil been a moment slower, Adric’s face would have been sliced open by the sudden downward swipe of her claws. Again, there was the sudden tension between Clans as Darnethlil spoke up.
“He is not of the enemy, nor is he of the Tri-Star races. I, as Clan leader, vouch for him,” he said quickly to Thyla, his voice deeply protective.
“It is his council, among the disasters visited upon my people, which have finally led me to see that peace cannot be had with these off-worlders. That,” and he turned to look at Adric, as if recalling a very long discussion.
“That as you say. We shall not make war upon each other, but at such a time, we shall make war upon others,” Thyla nodded solemnly in agreement, as she examined the strange creature.
Adric could feel her mind as it tried to probe his. It was coarse and sharp, not at all like those of the Lonti Clan. It didn’t seem nearly as well trained. He glared at her and focused, shutting her out.
Thyla hissed in a bit of shock, but said nothing. Instead, she flicked her wings in amusement.
“If he is the only one of his kind here, then he is quite harmless. I shall have no quarrel with… it… provided you extend the same courtesy to my guest,” she said and at an unspoken command brought forth from the shadows Jakenenth.
It was Darnethlil who had to be restrained now, along with a few behind him. The two sides exchanged the Trathalan equivalent of ‘trash talk’ for a while before Thyla seemed to get their attentions.
“He has betrayed his people! He has sacrificed his life to see his own kind leave our world,” she said loud enough for all to hear, “He speaks for others that seek not to have this world, but only return to their own.” She looked to Darnethlil, and then quickly to Adric.
“I, as Clan Leader of the Liya, vouch for him.” This seemed to settle both sides down now, the quiet only interrupted by a word from Eleroth behind Thyla.
“Mistress, the enemy devices speak again. More of the bombers are approaching; it says there are seven of them this time. They will be here in sixty eight units of the enemy’s time,” he said as Thyla looked at the display on her own armband.
“Indeed, I believe it is time we left here as quickly as possible. Lonti Clan leader, your home will not survive this night. I suggest you take what you can and come with us,” Thyla finished, watching with a hint of satisfaction at the look of infuriation and contempt Toranth gave her. Darnethlil however had a different look to his face, his wings were drooping.
“It is as you say Clan Leader of the Liya. This night we shall go into exile as well, and join your Clan together.”
Darnethlil looked to Adric and then to the village. It had been his peoples home for almost two thousand years. There were artifacts and tomes of books that could never be replaced, memories of his peoples past that he would never find again. He took in the small collection of ancient homes and gathered his breath,
“People of the Lonti, tonight we mark an ending, but it will not be forever. Gather what you can, take with you only what are most precious and dear to you. Tonight, we will join the Liya Clan in exile. Tonight, we shall make war,” he said as he turned to Adric and spoke softly though the ring.
“You were right long ago. I truly had no concept for what war was like. And my people have paid for it dearly, but so long as I live I shall not let such a mistake happen again. I have come to accept what both you, and the Liya Clan leader, say,” Darnethlil lowered his head a bit, moving it to be level with the Human’s face.
“I made you a promise long ago, that I would keep you safe while you were a guest on this world. I know now, just what I will have to do to keep that promise,” he said as Adric rubbed his eyes. He didn’t know how long he had been crying, but knew it was something in Darnethlils ‘voice’. It felt so full of sorrow in his mind. Adric leaned up.
“Life is all about learning form mistakes, you big Dragon. I think all of us are about to learn a great deal,” he said a best he could. Around him the others had spread out. Carts were being silently loaded as the Trathalans gathered up whatever they could carry; most seemed full of books. Adric smiled. Faced with the threat of their town being bombed into cinders, books it seemed were always of top priority.
“Darnethlil, what, will happen? Is there anywhere else we can go that will be safe?” Adric asked, the question having been nagging him for a while.
Darnethlil turned to Thyla, he had known an answer but had hoped it would not come to it. Now as flying machines loaded with destruction approached, he knew he could no longer afford his pride.
“Thyla Liyapamella, I as Clan leader request, sanctuary, within your lands.” He sighed deeply, there, it had been said. Thyla did her best to act surprised.
“If that is your wish Darnethlil, I shall honor it by Clan laws. Naturally, the manor of compensation for such generosity, shall be postponed for the time being,” she said in a rather overly amiable tone to Darnethlil, whose shoulder was gripped a second later by a firm claw.
“Darnethlil, how can you do this to us. First you agree to war, then you place our salvation in the hands of this…heretic! How can you think of entrusting her with our peoples’ safety?!” Toranth said, no longer able to hold back from speaking his mind.
“We have no choice Toranth. By dawn, we will no longer have a home.” Toranth glared.
“And what of the rest of our Clan? What of those in Toric? In Helnas? In Drenf? This home may burn Darnethlil, but there are other places we can go.”
“NO! I will not subject the others to harm by my own actions. Anywhere we may go in these lands shall be at risk. The only place we can go that will keep our people safe is to leave them. They are strong, they will endure,” he said, turning his back and beginning to walk off with Adric at his side.
“Then leave Darnethlil! Go and live among the heretics, I shall stay here!” Darnethlil stopped.
“You would stay? You would leave me, after all we have been through? You have been with me since we were children Toranth.” Toranth was quiet, not wishing to look Darnethlil in the face.
“Someone must stay, if you really shall make war, then, then someone must stay and prepare our people,” he said and, for the first time in a while, raised his wings to smile.
“You are a brother to me Darnethlil. I do not always see wisdom in your choices, but I shall respect them. Let us not part with no ill feelings. Go with the Liya, and I shall stay with the Lonti.” he said as the two embraced with wings outstretched.
Adric checked his watch. The half melted piece of plastic seemed to continue to function despite all logic. Currently, it was about forty minutes since he and about seventy Lonti Trathalans had gathered what they could and left their home with the Liya. Adric had walked along side Darnethlil for much of that time, the two mostly quiet. Occasionally, Adric would look over at the other ‘guests’ of the Liya Clan. The one known as “Jakenenth” seemed to be quietly talking to the other three that were chained to him.
Adric had obviously heard about the alien invaders, the twin races known as Qwintoni and Tejlini. Darnethlil had described their appearance to him, but it still hadn’t quite prepared him.
His initial thought was “Werewolf” or wolf-like in shape. But it wasn’t quite right. The creature was wolf like in the same way Humans were ape like. There was a vague similarity, but nothing more. The other features however seemed, unsettling. His head had two sets of ears, one atop his head, and a pair on the side. Down his spine and shoulders were, what seemed to Adric, boney fins, and the tail. He swore he caught it once or twice not just picking something up, but also moving it as if there was a hand at the end of it.
Adric realized a bit too late he was staring. Jakenenth and the other Qwintoni eyed him back, saying nothing as they walked on, yet sharing a similar thought between them. Aliens among aliens.
“It is almost time,” Darnethlil said softl,y as he halted the marching Trathalans. Together as one, they turned and looked back. Far away were the fires coming from their village. Adric turned to see the Liya Clan leader looking though what seemed a pair of binoculars.
“They are coming Darnethlil, for what it is worth, I am sorry for your people,” She said, genuinely sympathetic now as Darnethlil nodded.
Together near the coast, the group of Lonti and Liya, of Human and Qwintoni watched in silence as a wing of Bombers approached. There was a distant rumble from their engines, a moment of whistling, and then, light. Adric held up his hand as the village erupted with burning yellow light. A moment later, his head exploded with cries of despair. He fell to his knees for a moment, realizing though the translator band he could feel the shared sorrow and loss of the Trathalans.
They did not weep, they did not cry out. They simply stood and watched as their village burned. Nothing needed to be said aloud; between their minds they shared the pain and loss together wordlessly. Adric rubbed his eyes, feeling just a small part of the sorrow.
The lights lasted just a few minutes before the bombers turned and headed back south.
Darnethlil waited a moment before speaking silently to the others.
“It is done, the past is burned yet again, but as before, we shall endure,” he said. The others nodded as they made their way to the beach.
It was dark and near dawn. Adric checked his watch again, it seemed it was a Thursday. He started to laugh, then to cry, and thought of home.
Praying is another way of doing nothing helpful
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