The Dark Empire, Page 28-33 by Wolfenshire ()
Members remain the original copyright holder in all their materials here at Renderosity. Use of any of their material inconsistent with the terms and conditions set forth is prohibited and is considered an infringement of the copyrights of the respective holders unless specially stated otherwise.
The Dark Empire, Page 28-33
A large wolf sat behind the rock to avoid the spraying water. “Don’t you think we should go tell someone a storm is coming?”
“I’m thinking about letting the train wash out to sea,” replied Gaevin.
“Gaevin Falcon! That’s mean,” scolded Rieka.
“And what about everyone else, are you going to let them get washed out to sea also?” asked Rieka.
“I’m thinking about it,” said Gaevin.
“Gaevin, you get down here right now or I swear I’m coming up there and biting you.”
Gaevin turned around and jumped down from the rock. He walked past Rieka and ran a hand affectionately across her back.
Rieka turned and walked next to Gaevin. “Why are you so angry?”
“Papa says it’s a phase, deal with it.”
Rieka turned her head and nipped at him. Gaevin danced away and laughed. “Koael says Falcons are naturally angry. He says the Falcons are the only House that’s never been defeated in battle by anyone, even the Hawks.”
“Well, you don’t have to be angry at me,” scolded Rieka. “I’m on your side.”
“I’m sorry,” said Gaevin. “I want to fight, but all these Ravens do are talk talk talk and never say anything, and then when the fight comes, they run away.”
“Those Ravens are your family,” said Rieka.
Are the hatchlings Ravens?”
“No, Papa says they’re Brands.
“What’s a Brand?
“Papa says the Brands are woodsmen, and carpenters, and blacksmiths, and stuff. Papa says you can trust anything a Brand made. My wings were made by a Brand Wingmaster.”
“So the Brands aren’t warriors like you?” said Rieka.
Gaevin frowned at Rieka and narrowed his eyes. Rieka nuzzled against Gaevin to take away some of the sting of her rebuke. “What would you do without me, Gaevin Falcon?”
“Push the train into the ocean where it belongs,” said Gaevin.
Rieka laughed and motioned for Gaevin to get on her back. She waited until he was holding on tightly and leaped into a run for the bunker where everyone was at.
“Do you see anything?” asked Jasai.
“I don’t,” replied Raen.
“Nothing here,” said Sern.
“I don’t see any place this necklace can be matched with,” said Moeth.
“It can’t be this difficult.” Jasai wedged herself behind the computer terminals. “Nothing back here.”
“If you can barely fit back there, Aestar sure can’t,” said Sern.
Jasai squeezed back out from behind the terminals and ran a hand through her hair to straighten it back out. “I have no idea where the necklace…hey, where did Zil go?” Moeth pointed up. Jasai’s eyes went to the ceiling and she had to giggle. Zil was on the ceiling clinging to several pipes. “Zil, Hun, it’s not going to be up there, come on down.”
Zil dropped to the ground.
“I think we need a clue from Aestar on how to use this key,” said Moeth. “Sern, would you run down to the cafeteria and order something.”
“How about a key lime pie?” said Jasai.
“Sounds good, I need some food, my stomach is empty,” replied Sern.
Everyone groaned. “How can you even think of food, I’m still nauseous,” said Raen.
Sern shrugged and ran out of the room.
“Is it just me, or are the lights getting dimmer?” asked Jasai.
“Yeah, and it’s getting colder too,” said Raen.
Jasai sat down in front of one of the terminals, but the three-dimensional screen didn’t activate. “That’s odd, the screen always appears.”
“Perhaps we’ve made too many attempts and security protocols have taken over,” suggested Moeth.
“Hey Raen, that story,” said Jasai, gaggling a little. “The Song of Sixpence. I heard it’s a human story, is that true?”
Raen took a breath. “The incident is classified.”
“We’re in the Land of the Ancestors, I don’t think anything is classified here,” said Moeth. “Tell her before she stumbles across it in that Shadow Library – I’m sure there is a copy of the book there.”
Raen sat down in the other chair. “There was another human world. The Crows sent a First Contact team, and everything was going well. Then the humans presented us with what we thought at first was a gift of their literature. Our linguists took the book up to the Crow’s exploration ship and translated it – it was determined to be a historic text to teach their children the most evil of cruelties. The Crow Commander invoked Order 12 when he received the translation. No species capable of such barbarism as to cook twenty-four birds alive in a pie could be allowed to spread out into the galaxy. The planet was placed under quarantine and still is.”
“How did people on Darai find out about the Song of Sixpence?” asked Jasai.
“It was decided to release just one of the stories from that book so the Darai people would know to be cautious of humans and what they are capable of,” explained Raen. “The rest of the stories were kept classified and the book sealed in a vault.”
Jasai put her hand over her mouth and swallowed hard to keep from throwing up. “What other stories were in that book?”
Raen frowned. “Are you sure you want to know?”
Jasai nodded. She was a Jackdaw and curiosity was a trait of the Jackdaws.
Raen sighed. “There is another story where they carelessly placed an egg on a wall. We know it was a sentient egg because it had been named already. The egg fell from the wall and broke, but instead of accepting responsibility for their actions and burying the egg properly, their King tried to cover up the crime by having his men and horses try to put it back together again, presumably with glue.”
“Horses are sentient on that human world?” asked Jasai.
“They could find no sentient horses,” said Raen. “It was presumed they must have presented a threat to the humans’ domination of that world and killed them all.”
“That’s barbaric, I don’t want to hear anymore,” said Jasai closing her eyes. She was almost asleep when Sern’s voice roused her.
“Master Aestar says to hold the necklace next to the keypad at the door,” said Sern, returning from the cafeteria.
Jasai spun her chair around and looked at Sern, she saw Zil’s eyes widen and realized he hadn’t known the chairs could spin around. She knew he would be in the chair spinning the moment she vacated her seat. “We did that already. I’m done, we can start again tomorrow.”
“I’m starting to wonder if this place is too old, maybe it’s just broken,” said Raen.
Jasai started to get up and saw Zil edge towards the chair. She sat back, just to tease him, then got up and hadn't taken two steps when Zil leaped into the chair. She didn’t bother to watch him, she could hear him already spinning in circles. She was just headed towards the door when the lights suddenly went out. Shouting protests from the hatchlings at the end of the hall were immediate.
“Oh, now what!” said Moeth.
“The lights were getting dim before they went out, we have a power problem,” said Raen. “Sern, would you go check the cafeteria and see if the food processors still work.”
“You got it,” said Sern. “Do you want me to message Aestar?”
“Yeah, order umm… how about a breakfast energy bar,” suggested Raen.
“I’m taking the hatchlings back to the train for the night,” said Moeth.
Moeth was nearly run down by Rieka and Gaevin as she stepped into the hall. “Slow down,” scolded Moeth.
“Have you seen my Papa?” asked Gaevin. “There’s a huge storm coming, the front of the train is almost under water.”
“We have to get everyone back to the train,” shouted Moeth.
Boae came through the main door of the bunker and soaking wet. “There’s a storm coming.”
“We just heard, help me get the hatchlings together,” said Moeth.
“I was just out there and saw Gaevin and Rieka headed this way,” said Boae. “The wind is already at least sixty miles per hour. Gaevin wouldn’t have made it if he hadn’t been on Rieka’s back. You aren’t going to be able to get the hatchlings back to the train.”
“We can’t lose the train,” said Jasai. “Rieka, can you get me to the train?”
“I can get you there,” said Rieka.
“I’m coming too,” said Zil.
“Zil, you stay here,” said Jasai.
“I can carry both of you, we may need Zil’s strength,” said Rieka.
“Okay, I’ll gate jump the train away and come back when the storm is over,” said Jasai.
“Hold on, now I understand why this bunker has that kind of hatch on the front door,” said Raen. “Storms are probably frequent here and this bunker was designed to be underwater when the storms flood the island, but we have no power here, which means no light, no food, and no water. We could be trapped in here for weeks.”
“There’s no way we’re going to get the hatchlings to the train,” said Boae.
Raen knelt down and put his hand on the ground. “This hallway is huge, and look at these scrapes on the concrete.”
Boae knelt down. “You think the train has been in here before?”
“Those could have been made by heavy equipment,” said Moeth. “Perhaps they stored earth moving equipment in here while they were building this facility.”
“I’m telling you, this hall is big enough,” said Raen. “Jasai, can you open a gate and pull the train in here?”
“I’ll have to back the train up to get away from the waves, then get the gate aligned, but yes, I think I can,” said Jasai.
“Okay, get going,” said Raen. “Everyone else, get all the hatchlings in the cafeteria, we don’t need the train running anyone over.”
“Hold up,” shouted Maseth coming out of the dark with Tarabeth at his side. “I’ll carry Zil, Tarabeth will carry Jasai.”
“I can carry them,” said Rieka.
“They aren’t trained Riders, and you’re not a trained Sherata,” said Maseth. “A Rider shifting the wrong way can cause you to lose balance if you haven’t practiced for it, and if the storm is that bad, you’ll never make it.”
“Rieka, he’s right, you don’t even have a saddle, let them carry Jasai and Zil,” said Gaevin.
“I can do it,” insisted Rieka.
Maseth growled and Rieka lowered her ears and tail. “You’ve only carried Gaevin, and he’s been making it easy for you because he’s a trained Rider. You will remain here and help with the cubs.”
Rieka lowered her head and nodded.
“Let’s go,” said Maseth, looking at Jasai and Zil. “When we get to the top of the ladder, Tarabeth and I will lie flat on the ground so you can mount. Make sure you wrap the safety strap around your waist and fasten it.”
When they had gone Roael turned to the others. “Maseth could have handled that better with Rieka.”
“Roael, where is Nineveh?” asked Moeth.
“Oh my Goddess, she’s on the train!” shouted Roael. Raen had to physically restrain Roael from running out into the storm. “How did I forget her?”
“She’s with Tarlock Malic, she’s safe,” said Raen.
“I’m the worst father,” cried Roael.
“I gave hatchlings ice cream until they puked,” said Raen. “You left your infant with a responsible Tarlock, I got you beat hands down on bad parenting skills.”
“If she’s with the Tarlock, she’s safer than any of us,” said Moeth. “Let’s get this hall cleared, and seal that door hatch.”