The Dark Empire, Page 51-56 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 51-56
He pulled his trousers on, then stood and stepped into his boots. The cot next to his creaked and he looked back at his wife. “No need for you to get up yet,” he said.
The woman stood and went to the boy’s cot. She pulled the blanket back over the boy that he had tossed off in the night. “Have you noticed all the demons have chores, there isn’t an idle hand among them.”
“They haven’t asked us to do anything,” said Seth.
“How long do you think they’ll let us sit idle and eat their food before they decide we might be more useful to them in a cooking pot,” the woman replied.
“What are you planning to do?” asked Seth.
“The food from those magic boxes taste like cardboard, and the cooked food they prepare isn’t fit for the hogs,” said the woman.
“You’re planning to cook for them?” asked Seth. “You do know they are demons, and they stole our farm.”
“Them being demons doesn’t mean we stop behaving like good proper folk,” scolded the woman.
“Do you have any idea how many mouths you’ll be cooking for, I haven’t been able to get a proper count of how many of them there are?” asked Seth.
The woman kissed the sleeping boy on the forehead. “I think there’s around sixty or seventy of them, but almost half of them are demon tigers and they eat their food raw, mostly,”
“You leaving the boy here alone?” asked the man.
The woman stopped at the door and turned around. “Those demons could come in here and kill us anytime they want. We can sit here frightened all the time, or we can make the best of this. I told little Seth where I’d be when he woke. I want you to go to the southern end of the island. That demon boy with the raven is trying to make sea-salt, and doing a very bad job of it, go make yourself useful.”
Seth grinned. “Yes, Ma’am.”
The woman turned and walked around the corner and out of sight. Seth looked back at the boy. “I know you’re awake, do you got your hunting knife on you.”
“Yes, Pa,” said the boy. “It’s under my pillow.”
“Good boy, keep it close,” said Seth. “Go ahead and get a few more hours sleep, then head to that cafeteria and help your Ma serve breakfast. When you’re done with that, I want you to find something to make yourself useful to the demons.”
“What if they try to eat me, Pa?” the boy said sleepily.
“That’s what the hunting knife is for,” replied Seth, reaching down and tousling the boy’s hair.
Little Seth watched from one sleepy eye as his father left the room, then drifted back to sleep. He woke again several hours later to the sound of someone calling his name.
“Are you the one they call, Little Seth?” asked a voice.
Seth blinked his eyes open and sat up. He felt a momentary panic at the unfamiliar surroundings and his parent’s empty cots, then remembered where they were. His hand slipped under his pillow and grasped the hunting knife while he scanned the dark and looked for who woke him.
“Your mother is asking for you,” said the voice.
Seth’s eyes fell on the shape of a tiger sitting at the door, and not one of the small cub tigers, but one of the big ones. “Are you going to eat me?” asked Seth.
The tiger stood and Seth pulled the hunting knife towards him.
“Do you taste good?” asked the tiger.
Seth rapidly shook his head. “I don’t think so.”
“Then I suppose that answers that question,” said the tiger, turning and disappearing around the door.
Seth hurriedly dressed and pushed the sheathed hunting knife between his belt and the small of his back. He rushed out the door to head for the cafeteria where his mother would be waiting, and bounced off the large tiger waiting just out of sight of the doorway.
He fumbled for the hunting knife as the tiger watched him curiously. A hand grabbed his arm from behind and took the knife from him. The girl lizard demon that was always talking with the older god on the picture box stepped around him. Seth pressed his back against the wall and watched the girl draw the knife from its sheath.
“Hmm, low quality, not well balanced,” she spun the knife in her hand then raised it to her eye and looked down the edge of the knife. “Unevenly sharpened, but I suppose it could be used for common farm chores, but that’s about all.” The lizard girl demon sheathed the knife and handed it back to him. “If you’d like to learn to use this properly, you only have to ask, but attempt to pull this on someone again without cause and there will be consequences.”
The demon girl walked on towards the cafeteria without another word. A few others that had stopped to watch also walked on. Why had she given him back the knife?
“Your mother said you might fall back asleep and to wait until I was certain you were awake,” the tiger informed him.
“I’m sorry,” said Seth. “I got scared. Ma and Pa say you’re demons.”
“We know, but we’re not demons. My name is Tarabeth, I come from an advanced civilization that spans a thousand worlds.”
Seth shrugged and cautiously edged around the tiger and headed towards the cafeteria. The tiger caught up and followed along next to him. Seth kept a close eye on the tiger, just in case. His eyes fell automatically to an unnatural movement the tiger was making. He was used to keeping a close eye on the livestock for problems - the tiger was limping.
“Is there something wrong with your leg?” asked Seth.
“I picked up a burr on the last hunt, but Gaevin is away and nobody else has fingers deft enough to remove it without making it worse.”
“Burrs are easy to take out,” said Seth. “I have to remove them from our hunting dogs all the time.”
The demon tiger stopped and lifted a leg. “Okay, show me what you can do.”
Seth hesitated. He knew it was one of the tigers that had saved him from the Geogg, but still, what if they were demons? He eyed the tiger suspiciously. “Is this a trick, are you going to bite me?”
“The mistrust is getting old,” said Tarabeth. “I’ve done nothing to earn such scornful behavior.”
Seth blushed at the rebuke and knelt next to the tiger. He gingerly took the tiger’s paw in his hands and inspected it carefully. “It’s not a burr, it’s a thorn, and looks deep.” Seth looked up at the tiger, then cocked his head slightly to the left to look behind the tiger. “What the heck is that?”
Tarabeth turned her head and felt a sudden sharp tug between the toes of her paw. She turned back with a snarl. Seth flinched, but was holding a thorn about an inch long between his fingers.
“Very clever, I barely felt you remove it.”
“I got to go, Ma is waiting,” said Seth.
Seth spent the next two hours helping serve food at the serving table. There was a pleasant rhythmic cadence to working the serving line – scoop, plop, scoop, plop, scoop, plop. With the electricity at full power a wall had slid open to reveal a full sized kitchen. It was here that Seth’s Ma had prepared the breakfast meal. The walk-in refrigerator and freezer made storing food a lot easier, but it still wasn’t big enough to hold more than a few days meat for so many hungry tigers.
“I’m going to have to show the demons how to preserve meat and can food,” said Ma.
“They said they’re from an advanced civilization, and I don’t think they’re demons,” said Seth.
Ma snorted. “Humph, so advanced they’ve forgotten how to feed themselves?”
“I don’t know,” said Seth.
The woman reached out and pulled Seth’s collar down so she could see the red mark around his neck.
“It’s healing, Ma,” said Seth, trying to wiggle away.
“It wouldn’t even be there if they hadn’t come to our farm,” said Ma.
“It wasn’t the tiger boy’s fault, Ma. The Geoggs are bad men, everyone knows that, they were just looking for an excuse to kill a Mekan.”
Ma eyes flicked up to make sure nobody was close enough to hear. “Don’t say that out loud, we don’t know whose side the demons are on.”
“Ma, that lizard boy is wearing a Jinn necklace.”
“I saw, you stay away from him,” warned Ma.
“If he’s a Jinn, then he’s not a demon, and he’s on our side?” asked Seth.
“We don’t know that, he could have stolen the Jinn necklace,” said Ma. “Now get the dishes washed and go find something to make yourself useful.”
“We’re on the Jinn’s side though, aren’t we?” asked Seth.
“In the first war of the gods, yes, the Mekan, the Aomo, and the Bigo were on the Jinn’s side, and the Santi, Elics, and Medo were on the Geogg’s side,” said Ma. “But, that was a long time ago, we don’t know if things have changed. Now, dishes.”
“Yes, Ma,” said Seth.
Jasai pushed the pause button and looked over at Moeth sitting in the second computer chair and scowling at Master Aestar on the second monitor.
“The security cameras recorded that three days ago,” said Moeth. “There’s been a few developments since. The boy was helping Tarabeth on watch when one of those titan sized robots rebuilding the island came up out of the ocean with another load of sand. There was a group of hatchlings playing in its path. The boy ran between the hatchlings and the robot and held his hand up and told it to stop. The robot stopped. Tarabeth says he was holding a necklace he wears in his other hand. She got a look at the necklace – two parallel vertical lines with a half-moon shaped symbol at the top.”
Aestar sighed and leaned closer to the monitor. “Those robots are the MKA-N series world builders. The symbol you described refers to the mechanical engineers that operated and maintained them.”
Moeth frowned. “Mekan.”
Aestar nodded. “Yes, time has turned facts and history into lore, legends, and mythology.”
Moeth leaned forward. Had they been in the same room, they would nose to nose now. “I think it’s long past time you tell us the truth about what’s going on.”
Aestar’s face turned red. He was angry. “I’ve already told you the truth, you just don’t want to hear it. You want to believe there is some grand conspiracy I’m engaged in.”
“You’ve said nothing of what is happening on this world, or why we were attacked, or of this facility,” said Moeth, her voice starting to rise in volume.
Aestar’s jaw clenched. When he spoke, he was shouting. “You stumbled on that world by accident. That world, while an example of why I put my plan in motion, has nothing to do with my plans. I was not even aware of the current state of affairs on that world until you told me. The Crystal Universe is the equivalent size of fifty-thousand galaxies and was intended to be governed by millions of my people. I am one man, I can’t govern something this size alone. My sphere of influence is only perhaps a hundred equivalent galaxies, and that is tentative based on how the winds are blowing that day.”
Moeth sat back. Her face was calm, though Jasai thought there might be the barest play of a grin at the corner of her mouth. “That’s the first thing you’ve said that I believe, but you are still hiding something.”
“Let me come there and help you,” said Aestar.
“Tell me what you know of this world and I’ll consider it,” said Moeth.
Aestar’s face exploded into rage and he raised his hand to cut the connection. “I withdraw my offer to help your species against the Destroyers.”
Jasai jumped up from her chair. “No, Master Aestar, wait, please,” shouted Jasai. “Moeth, you’ve gone too far, I’m taking over, your mission is Bobby, not us. I’ll handle this. Master Aestar, I’ll open a gate for you, but there’s a lock on distance. How do I over-ride the lock?”
Aestar’s expression softened slightly. “The over-ride pass code is, daughter.”
Jasai grinned. “Seriously?”
“I’ll tell you everything you want to know when I get there,” said Aestar.
Moeth stood from the computer chair without a word and walked to the door. Raen was standing in the doorway glaring at her. Moeth signed silently to Raen. ‘That’s how you do a proper interrogation, now we’ll get the information we want.’
‘I do not agree with your methods,’ Raen signed back.
‘You rarely do, but my methods work,’ Moeth replied and walked past Raen.