A Chapter by Natasha Reams

I woke to feel cold stone beneath me. The sound of rushing water nearby thundered louder than anything else I had heard before. A coolness permeated the area around me, clearing away the memories of fever and blood-sweat. It was not nearly as cold as my home cave, but it was enough to keep me content. My sigh as a cool breeze brushed over me caught the attention of a voice.

“You scared us good, girl,” Alb’s gravelly voice brought a smile to my lips.

When I opened my eyes he was leaning against the mouth of a dark cave. Beyond him falling water created a curtain over the entrance. Moss grew in patches throughout the interior of the cave and moisture clung to every surface. Slowly, so as to test the level of soreness in my muscles, I stood and joined Alb at the entrance. Droplets from the waterfall splattered against my scales. The cold water was very refreshing.

“Looks like the cat was right,” Alb gave me a lopsided grin. “Cold was what you needed.”

“You mean the female alien?” I tried to peer through the waterfall for signs of the others. “Where is everyone?”

“They’re back working on a way off this planet. Those Shyrians won’t escort us over here very often, and it’s too dangerous for us to go alone. Zev will be over sometime tomorrow for his turn of guard duty.”

“I see,” Too many questions stormed through my mind. I tried to sort through for the more important ones, but that was difficult to gauge with how little I knew of this world.

“They’re both fine, if you hadn't already guessed,” He answered one of the questions without my asking first. “None of us got more than a few cuts and bruises in the crash. Probably because of you.”

At my confused expression he chuckled. “You went kinda overboard on the ice: froze over the entire ship. The impact broke the ice that had covered the three of us. We were still disoriented when we came to and stumbled outside the ship, so we thought you were right behind us. Then the Shyrians came and got us back to their village. Only they hadn’t tried looking inside the ship for more survivors.”

I frowned, “The ice over you three must not have been thick. It took me several minutes to break free of the ice that had been over me.”

Alb shrugged, “Don’t really understand it myself. Just telling you what Zev chattered on about.”

“So where are we now?” I still felt confused and dizzy.

“Just a few hours north of the village. Three hours to the east is a spaceport where we’re trying to sell my ship for scraps. Hopefully it’ll be enough to get a new ship and we can get out of here before that Vasnova shows up.”

“What about the Shyrians?” The name of those aliens felt odd to say. “Do they have any way of helping?”

He shrugged again, “They’re helping get us to and from the spaceport and here, and they let us stay in the village and eat their food. I’d say they’re doing plenty.”

“Food…,” I only just realized how hungry I was. I doubted Yuein would be common on a jungle planet. Alien food might be enough to hold me over, but I would have to find a way of procuring some eventually.

Alb offered me some dried fruits that the Shyrians had left for him to eat. It was awfully sweet and chewy, sticking to my teeth and gums. I tried to freeze them so they would at least be crunchy like Yuein, but found I was still too weak to produce any cold. As soon as I had finished the awful fruit I lay back down on the stone floor to rest.

Two days passed slowly while I lay in the cave recovering. Zev told me that made nine days since our crash. Tension spread through me as I thought of staying in one place for that long. The Vasnova could discover us any day now and we would have no way of escaping this planet. Not to mention we were putting the Shyrians at constant risk. Sh’Kena, the female that had discovered me at the crash site, visited often and brought more dried fruit. Zev and Alb both seemed friendly towards her which effectively wiped away my own wariness.

On the tenth day after the crash Sh’Kena brought both Jace and Alb to visit at the cave. I had already tried asking Zev several times to let me leave and see the village, but apparently my companions had decided it best for me to stay in the cold cave until we were ready to leave. Upon seeing me awake and lively, Jace seemed to visibly deflate. Alb noticed and chuckled. I tilted my head questioningly, but Alb only shook his head.

“We found a ship,” Jace announced as the five of us stood in a circle in the cave.

My eyes lit up, “When are we leaving then?”

He rubbed his chin thoughtfully, “Well, it’s not exactly one we can have….”

“We’ll be commandeering it,” Alb interrupted. “On official navy business.”

I frowned, “Only Jace and Zev are in the navy though.”

He shrugged, “It’s our best excuse for stealing it.”

Zev sighed as if he had expected this, “There was nothing worth trading for?”

“It’s a small spaceport, so every ship was spoken for,” Jace explained as he tried to hide a grin. “We’ll return the ship to its owner once we’ve finished what we started.”

“And what is that, exactly?” Sh’Kena spoke up suddenly, drawing all of our attention.

I looked around at my companions. “None of you have said anything to the Shyrians?”

“It’s your quest we’re on,” Jace nodded to me. “You decide who gets to know about it.”

My hearts thudded inside my chest. I felt like I had gotten lucky having Jace, Zev, and Alb believe in my vision so readily. They seemed to trust me even though I was a complete stranger to them. Yet I knew I couldn’t expect such trust from everyone. Especially when the Shyrians had been so afraid of me when I was found at the crash site; how much more afraid would they be if they knew what I was?

Sh’Kena approached me solemnly. “My people have never seen one of your kind before. At least not for many generations. We have stories, though, that speak of winged people like you coming with warnings of the future. Tell me truthfully: Why are you here now?”

Our eyes met, both golden and slitted. Hers held no fear in them like they had when we first met. Now they were simply seeking the truth. A truth I had left my home for.

“I am pursuing a vision I had,” I started softly. “I saw the death of this galaxy while a dark cloud consumed it all.”

“Dark cloud?” Her expression did not change.

I frowned at the memory, “Yes. It blotted out stars and planets completely. There was also… a strange red light in it. Like seeing flashes of thunder in storm clouds.”

“You didn’t mention that before,” Jace noted.

“I… I saw it when I had the vision a second time. When I fainted as we escaped Regalion.”

“Never heard of a cloud with red lighting,” Alb stared off towards the cave’s entrance.

Zev had pulled out his datapad, which had miraculously survived the crash, to make more notes. “It must be some sort of space anomaly.”

I stared at him, “Why do you think that?”

“Well, a plain black cloud in a vision about death could simply be symbolic. Black clouds signify death in many cultures on many planets. If it has specific qualities, however, it is likely you were seeing exactly what will destroy the galaxy.”

I understood what he was saying, I think. The vision I had was more literal than symbolic then. Odd considering Vis visions were almost never literal. Others always spoke of strange things in their visions, which the Elders had to explain what they were in order for us to understand the meaning of the vision. The few visions I had had when I was younger often depicted death as a black cloud or smoke in the shape of what caused the death. Realizing the darkness I had seen was physically real sent a shiver along my spine.

“So what are you all doing then to stop this vision from happening?” Sh’Kena gathered everyone’s attention again.

Jace gestured towards me, “We’re taking her to the Barre Cluster. It’s where she says the cloud comes from.”

She sighed, “So you are inciting further violence with the Kies by invading their territory.”

“Technically, the Kies invaded us first,” Zev interjected.

“What is your plan when you get there?” Sh’Kena ignored Zev’s comment.

“Find the source of the cloud, stop it, and leave,” Alb spoke simply, as if it would be easy.

Again, Sh’Kena sighed, “Vechs and Nacrians…. Your violent natures are the main reason this war has lasted so long.”

Jace’s fists clenched in irritation, “Yeah, it’s the main reason we aren’t all slaves to those beasts!”

“Stop,” I faced the four aliens in front of me while they all glared at each other. It was apparent that Sh’Kena, and likely her people as well, did not trust the Vechs and Nacrians. They also spoke of war which made me uneasy. Despite whatever sides they were on, however, I needed their help to stop something much worse than war.

“I know nothing of the war that is going on among your peoples,” I spoke slowly, softly so that they had to pay attention to hear me well. “I also do not know which side any of you are on. What I do know is what I have seen: something dark and real threatening this galaxy and every lifeform in it. I set out thinking I could prevent my vision from happening on my own. Now I see that I cannot. I need all of you to set aside your war so that we can save everyone.”

My companions stared at me. It must have surprised them to hear me speak so much at once. I was surprised at myself honestly. My words had only been the truth, and yet it had felt like I needed all my strength to speak them. I realized I had sounded like a general boosting my soldiers’ spirits before a great battle. Such an image made my stomach turn, though, so I pushed it away.

After my little speech the others had calmed. Sh’Kena and Jace still spoke roughly to each other, but no longer looked ready to start a fight. The five of us sat on the floor of the cave discussing the attack on Regalion and where to go on from here. Assuming we could ‘commandeer’ the ship Jace and Alb had found, we had to choose our course carefully. The Vasnova proved we were being pursued. Why we had no idea, but it meant we would have to be careful since the Kies had spies everywhere. Jace suggested our best bet would be sticking to the space within the Solar Arm. Nacrians, Skandians, and Vechs all had their home systems in the Solar Arm, making it the safest area for enemies of the Kies. Sh’Kena disagreed, claiming Fringe space would get us to our destination faster and we would less likely be questioned. There was some debate for a few minutes before Alb spoke up.

“As I am the pilot who was originally going to get us into the Tarki System, why don’t I let you in on my course?”

He pulled a familiar device from his pocket. It was the galaxy map we had looked at in the bar on the Regalion Station. Alb turned it on and a sphere of stars filled my vision.

“I’ve made plenty of runs into the Barre Cluster without getting caught. Course is always the same, so I consider it foolproof! We start by going down here,” He pointed at the far end of the Solar Arm. “And pass through the Fringe to the border of the Barre Cluster. From there we’ll just skirt the outside until we get to a perfect little hole in the Kies defenses.”

“A hole in their defenses?” Jace sounded skeptical.

Alb just shrugged. “Only one I’ve ever seen, and trust me I’ve looked. For some reason Kies patrol ships don’t go near this section of space on their border.”

I stared at the spot he indicated. It was on the Lunar Arm side, and looked to be straight across from the circle labeled as the Tarki System. Curious, I stood and traced a path from the unpatrolled section to the star system. It truly was a perfectly straight line.

Seeing what I had the others looked nervous. There was a general agreement that it was suspicious.

“You’re sure you never got spotted going through there?” Zev frowned. “No surveillance set up or anything?”

Alb seemed less sure now. “Er… yeah. Not that I remember.”

“I think we are agreed that we need a different route,” Sh’Kena said simply.

“I still think staying in the Solar Arm is best,” Jace insisted. “Kies and Vasnova ships are immediately turned away when they enter this space. Staying close to the Nacrian and Vech systems will be the easiest way to avoid a space battle.”

Sh’Kena folded her arms over her chest, “If that is true, why did a Vasnova assassin manage to attack a space station inside the Solar Arm?”

Jace shot her a glare, “Obviously he’s a sneaky one. He can’t stay that way when we get closer to the systems housing the Nacrian and Vech fleets. There’s more space traffick out that way, so he’ll be spotted for sure.”

“Why don’t we let the one who had the vision decide?” Alb interrupted suddenly.

All four of them turned to me. I blinked in surprise and looked worriedly at the galaxy map. Why have me decide when I know so little about this galaxy? Alb as a pilot and Jace as a navy captain were much more qualified to choose our course. My only thought was getting to the Barre Cluster, not which way we went.

Since they wanted me to choose, however, I thought about staying in the Solar Arm like Jace wanted. He said it would be safer even though it might take longer than cutting through the Fringe. I recalled the attack on Regalion and suppressed a shiver. I wanted nothing like that to happen again. If that meant we added a few extra days to our journey, then so be it.

As I was about to speak up another Shyrian hurried into the cave. The young male rushed up to Sh’Kena and spoke quickly in their language. Immediately, she sprang to her feet motioned for us to follow.

“Come,” Her voice was strained like she was suppressing her emotions. “You have been found.”

© 2017 Natasha Reams

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Added on June 6, 2017
Last Updated on June 6, 2017


Natasha Reams
Natasha Reams

Anderson, AK

Hi, thanks for reading my stuff in advance. I LOVE wolves, and supernatural romances are my favorite books. I have two dogs (one of which is named Samwise Gamgee so I'm pretty nerdy) and I used to own.. more..

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A Chapter by Natasha Reams