Chapter 4: The Ruined Past

Chapter 4: The Ruined Past

A Chapter by StarNinja
"

The boys keep finding new and amazing things in this strange world.

"

“Hey, Phillip, look at that.”

Phillip opened his eyes and mumbled something. Then the truck hit a bump and Phillip was wide awake.

“Whoa! What’s going where?” he asked, disoriented.

“Over there,” said Omar pointing at two hills in the distance.

“I don’t see anything,” Phillip said, rubbing his eyes.

“There, between those earth bumps,” said Omar.

Earth bumps?

He squinted hard, and he finally saw what Omar had seen. There between two hills lay a massive object. Phillip thought it was a building of some kind at first, but when his mind finally registered what it was, his jaw dropped. It was a machine. A massive walking machine with cannons and guns and laser towers jutting out of it in all directions. It looked like something out of Star Wars, except this thing was black as night. As they got closer, the walker became more distinct. It lay on its side, much of its outer hull ruptured or destroyed completely. It had six legs total; two of the legs were irreparably damaged. It appeared to be made of the same metal as the alien vehicle they were in.

“Is that where the signal is coming from?” Phillip asked.

“No, the source of the signal is still far away,” Omar replied.

“Good, because we need to get as far away from that thing as possible,” said Phillip.

“We will, after we make a quick stop,” said Omar.

“Are you freaking kidding me? You want to stop there? Look at that thing! It’s freaking huge!” said Phillip.

“It is also damaged beyond repair. It poses no threat to us.”

“No thanks. I’ll pass on giant mecha robo exploring.”

“We need supplies. There might be something in there we can scavenge,” said Omar.

“Look at those guns. That thing is built for war! It’s way too dangerous. Like, what if there are still aliens in there? We could be going straight into a fight,” said Phillip.

“It does not look inhabited. There are no lookout towers or fences and I don’t see any guards. Whoever piloted this machine did not set up a base camp after it fell. I think we should be safe,” said Omar.

“I don’t know, man. We shouldn’t get close enough to find out,” Phillip replied. Omar scrunched his face in thought.

“Your points have merit,” he said after a moment’s pause. “Very well. Keep your eyes open and stay aware. We will approach this situation with tact,” said Omar.

Why does he talk like that? Phillip wondered irately.

Omar slowed the truck down to a crawl and drove cautiously to the edge of one of the hills that bordered the metal behemoth. That was when Phillip began to truly grasp the size of it. It must have been as long as a stadium and tall as a building. The “front” of it, if you could call it that, was pointed in the boys’ direction, its rear disappearing beyond the hills. Phillip wondered what the walker would have looked like had it been fully operational and trembled at the thought. This thing could have probably taken out a whole country by itself. The walker looked old; like it had been there for a long time, pounded by wind and sand until the all the metal surfaces had become dull and worn. There didn’t seem to be anyone around, so Phillip’s worries eased for a moment. Then he got really scared. There was no one here at all. Just dead silence. Now that he thought about it, how had this giant walking death machine gotten so banged up anyway? What could have done that to it?

“This isn’t a good idea,” Phillip said, his voice unsteady. Omar noticed Phillip quivering.

“What’s the matter?” the cadet major asked.

“What’s the matter? Look at that thing! I’m scared, okay? I just know something is going to pop out at us. I hate it when that happens. Just let the bad guys come out and be done with it, but no suspense. I hate suspense.”

“This area appears to be abandoned,” Omar said reassuringly.

“Look at the metal. Look at the shape. This thing looks like it was made by the same aliens that built this truck. If they can build that, then who knows what they’re capable of. Who knows what’s in there...”

Phillip had a vice grip on his seat cushion, his face the very picture of fear. The cadet major paid him no heed and hopped out of the transport. He opened his glove’s application menu and changed it to the scan setting. The glove began emitting high frequency beams from the palm generator and he slowly began sweeping the walker for life signs with his hand extended in front of him.

“What are you doing?” whispered Phillip frantically.

“I plan on taking a look around. Are you going to join me?” asked Omar.

“On foot? No way. At least take the truck. It’ll be safer.”

“And how are we supposed to get inside?”

“Um. Hey wait, there’s a hole up ahead. Do you see it?” Phillip asked.

“I do.”

“We can just drive in through there.”

“The transport will not fit, Phillip. We have no choice but to go on foot if we want to look for supplies or intel.”

The glove chirped. Scan negative. No signs of any enemy forces, hidden or otherwise, though there were a few tiny life forms running about. Omar hoped they were the meaty kind so he could stock his ration supply.

“I… I’m not going in there,” said Phillip. He looked into the darkness of the exposed interior, between the collapsed hallways and floors pancaked on top of one another. He knew that at any moment an alien slaver could jump out from a hidden crevice and start shooting at him.  In fact, he knew beyond a shadow of a doubt that they would be ambushed in a place like this. It was like, a rule or something.

“That is fine. You can keep watch here,” Omar said, as he started walking toward the breach alone.

“Wait, don’t leave me by myself!” Phillip said in a screechy whisper.

“You either stay here or you come with me,” said Omar.

“I don’t know what to do.”

“Make up your mind quickly, Phillip.”

“I’m scared, okay? I’m… I’m scared,” Phillip said. He didn’t care if he looked like a pansy anymore. He knew in his gut he would die if he went into that desolate place. Omar walked up to him and gave him a hearty slap on the shoulder.

“Remember what I said before,” Omar said with a warm smile.

“About what?” Phillip asked.

“About being strong? About survival?”

“You talking about when you almost got blown up by that grenade? Look, I don’t want to go in there and I don’t want to stay here. I’m begging you; drive us out of here,” said Phillip.

“Aren’t you the least bit curious about this walker? How it works? Where it comes from?” Omar asked.

“Normally yes but, and I have to stress this, I am on an alien planet a billion miles from home! We don’t know what’s in there and that’s probably going to get us killed!”

“Phillip, we have a saying in the Viridian Core. All good things are made from bad things.”

“Huh?”

“It, um… it’s a play on words. I guess it loses its punch in your language. What I mean to say is that while this may seem like a bad situation, it is actually a good situation,” said Omar.

“You mean a blessing in disguise?” Phillip asked.

“Yes, that is a good way to put it. This walker could have the answers we’ve been looking for. It may have maps, coordinates, maybe even weapons or supplies. It is a risk, make no mistake, but it is a risk worth taking if it will help us get home,” said Omar.

“I just don’t want to die, ok? Is that so much to ask? Does that make me a coward? Then fine. I’m a coward, but as long I get to live I really don’t care.” Phillip started crying again. “I want to see my mom and dad again. I want to see Katie. I don’t wanna die.”

“We can avoid death if we’re careful,” Omar began to say, but Phillip interrupted him.

“How can you be so calm about this? Why doesn’t this stuff scare you?” he asked. Omar thought about it for a second.

“I’ve been trained for these kinds of scenarios, but the truth is even with all my training I am still afraid,” he said with a big cheesy thumbs-up. Phillip looked even more confused.

“You don’t look afraid to me.”

“Being brave isn’t the same as being fearless, Phillip. In fact, if you think about it, bravery cannot exist without fear. Being brave means being the master of your fear. You have to conquer what makes you afraid and keep moving forward, even if you don’t know what is to come. Fighting for survival is never easy, but it is a fight we can win. Are you ready to be a winner?” Omar asked.

Phillip stopped crying, then unexpectedly started chuckling.

“You sound like my mom’s life coach,” he said. He dried his eyes. Was this a risk worth taking, he wondered? The answer came quickly, unexpectedly. Yes. Yes it definitely was. He had to get home. He had to do whatever it took. He had to survive. He had to. Phillip swallowed hard and said, “I’ll try.”

“Great. Now grab that rifle,” said Omar.

Phillip hopped out of the truck with the alien rifle in hand. His face was still a mess of tears and snot, but he didn’t look as scared as he had before. Omar nodded with satisfaction. He would have gotten a leadership badge back home for that display. Too bad his teachers and Core mates had missed it. Slowly, cautiously, they made their way toward the gaping hole on the side of the downed walker. Phillip thought that the hole looked too much like a mouth than he was comfortable with, its jagged edges like teeth ready to chomp down on the unwary. It was about mid-morning by then. The local star had only just started its daily climb into the sky. Omar calculated based on the current temperature that it would get uncomfortably hot as the day wore on. The wind had died down, but the sound of gravel and sand flying against the walker’s metal surface continued unabated.

The walker was buried slightly beneath the earth so the boys didn’t have to climb over the jagged edges of the breach. Omar wasn’t sure if it was because of how long the walker had been there, naturally getting covered up by the elements, or if it was because the walker’s massive weight had caused it to sink into the ground. Either way he was grateful for the easy entrance. He did a quick inspection of the area immediately inside the walker. There were so many corners, so many blind spots he had to keep an eye on that it was a tactical nightmare. Add having an untrained civilian tagging along and Omar began to appreciate just how hard a Core Teacher’s job really was. As far as he could tell, the area just inside the breach was empty. Phillip looked around in amazement.

“I knew this place was huge but now that I’m in here this place is really huge! I can see like five stories up. Look at all the exposed floors over there,” said Phillip.

“Yes. It looks like we have our work laid out for us,” said Omar.

“Isn’t the saying we have our work cut out for us?” Phillip asked.

“What? No, that’s weird. Why would your world come up with such a weird saying?” asked Omar.

“There’s only a one word difference!” said Phillip.

“Never mind. Eyes forward,” said Omar. He reached into his back pocket and took out the scout probe. It unfolded back into its helicopter shape and took off, hovering just above their heads. Omar changed the settings on the probe’s program to close quarters exploration.

“Oh yeah, I forgot about that thing,” said Phillip. “Hey, why don’t we just send that in there and we can stay in the truck?”

“It can’t go far in enclosed spaces like this. The signal gets easily jammed and my glove doesn’t really have a great signal emitter to begin with. My slider suit came equipped with one but we both know what happened to it,” Omar replied.

“I said I was sorry okay? Jeez,” said Phillip.

“Relax. I was not blaming you,” said Omar.

It took five seconds for Omar’s Augmented Reality Interface to connect to the probe. That was the slowest time yet. He would have to get a software upgrade when he returned to Terra. The probe’s camera became one with Omar’s left eye and he could see through it very clearly. It helped that the new probe series used artificially grown eyes for their cameras. Omar thought it was pretty creepy, but the experts said that wetware worked better with optics than glass or plastics so they had all been replaced, much to Omar’s chagrin. He started walking forward; measuring each step once he was off the dirt and on the metal floor of the walker. There was no telling how sturdy the floors were or how well they’d held up since the walker’s destruction.

The inside of the walker was as black as the outside, though less weather worn. There weren’t any lights on or any signs of activity. Omar noticed a series of pipes running along the walls and figured they had entered at the engineering level. The base mechanisms that powered the vehicle were most likely located here and the pipes would lead up to the rest of the massive vehicle. Any plans, maps or intelligence would be on the upper levels. The going was tough at first. Since the walker was situated at an angle between the hills it meant the boys would be going uphill for a bit. Not to mention that the walls, the ceiling, and the floor were all slanted thanks to the walker’s crooked position which made navigation difficult. As they went deeper into the walker, the light grew dimmer until Omar’s glove was the only source of illumination. Phillip had to stop to let his eyes adjust. Also he was out of breath.

“There’s got be… another way to do this,” Phillip said between breaths.

“You can do it, Phillip. Come on,” Omar said encouragingly.

“Yeah, just give me a sec.”

Eventually they found an open hatch with a ladder leading up beyond it. Omar sent the probe up first. When he saw it was all clear he went up after it with Phillip close behind. The rungs of the ladder creaked as he climbed and for a second Phillip thought it would break and send him falling. The next level was much like the first, though it seemed darker somehow. Phillip felt slightly claustrophobic in the small space. The halls inside the walker seemed to be designed for someone about his size, and yet it still felt too small, too cramped, like everything was closing in on him. Phillip had a death grip on his rifle. His hands were sweaty, his heart racing. He wondered for the hundredth time how Omar had talked him into this. Suddenly a noise.

“Wait wait wait. Did you hear that?” Phillip asked.

“No,” replied Omar.

“It came from behind us,” Phillip said, panicking.

Omar listened for a few moments.

“I don’t hear anything,” he said.

“I swear I heard something back there.” Phillip held his rifle up, aiming at the darkness.

“Just relax, Phillip.”

“I swear I did.”

After a moment’s pause, Omar continued forward. When they came across an intersection in the hallway, Omar sent the probe forward down the hall. He waited and when it returned he sent it left. Phillip peered around the corner to the right and saw that the floor above had caved in, blocking the way.

“Left or forward?” Phillip asked.

“I’m still determining the best course to take,” Omar replied.

“How do we even know we’re going the right way?” Phillip asked.

“I’ve been building a map using my ARI. We’ve covered everything on the floor below us and judging by the dimensions of this floor there are five more above us. I believe, this way,” he pointed left, “will lead us to the head of this vehicle. That is most likely where the command center is.”

“Right. What’s an ARI?” Phillip asked.

“Oh, Augmented Reality Interface. Data streamed directly to my optic nerve and from there to the visual cortex. It gives me additional information, such as a map of the area,” Omar explained.

“Right in your eye? Do you have a robot eye?”

“No, I have an interface connected to the optic nerve directly behind the eye. The eye itself is perfectly natural,” said Omar sounding the slightest bit offended. The cadet major couldn’t help but wince at the thought of cybernetic enhancement. A lot of Viridian Core mates opted to have these surgeries, but Omar didn’t approve. The idea of metal and flesh fused together made him queasy.

“So, left?” Phillip asked.

“Correct.”

“Okay, let’s go. I want to get out of here as soon as possible,” Phillip said, slipping past Omar.

“Fine, but be careful about the fl-”

The metal floor creaked and for a split second, Phillip felt the familiar sensation of being suspended in the air. Then everything went black. The sound of metal crashing on metal was cacophonous. Phillip screamed with fright. He was in pitch darkness and his whole body was in pain.

“Phillip!” Omar yelled.

“Ah! What happened! Where am I?” Phillip screamed.

“Up here.” Omar was above him, illuminating the darkness around Phillip with his power glove. “Are you okay?” he asked.

“I’m fine. I think I hurt my everything,” said Phillip.

“I’ll try to find a way down to you. Don’t go anywhere,” said Omar. He turned to leave and the room became pitch black again.

“Wait! Don’t leave! I can’t see a thing down here,” said Phillip.

“With my map, it will only take me a quick trip to get to you. Please be patient, Phillip,” said Omar.

“But it’s so dark down here,” said Phillip, scrutinizing the darkness in every direction.

“Be there soon,” Omar said as he disappeared from view, along with the light.

“Omar!” Phillip screamed. His voice echoed and he could tell this room was bigger than he first thought.

He tried his best to keep his breathing slow so he wouldn’t hyperventilate, Katie had taught him how to do it, but he was alone and in this dark place his mind was already filling in the darkness for him. Was that a figure just now? Movement over there? But how could he see if he was in total blackness? It had to be a mind trick. He tried humming to himself to stay calm. He thought about home and how great it would be to see his family and friends again. What was taking Omar so long? It felt like he’d already been down there for days, though he knew that was impossible. It was so dark. Too dark. If only he’d brought his lighter. He heard a creaking noise. Phillip wasn’t sure if it was just the natural creaking of the walls or if something was sneaking up on him. He held his rifle up to the noise, though he had no way of seeing what he was shooting at.

“Phillip?” he heard someone say in the distance.

“Omar? Is that you?” he called.

“I can’t get to you. There’s some kind of blockage in the doorway here. You may have to help me dislodge it.”

“If you can’t get through it, what makes you think I can?” Phillip asked.

“It’s either that or you wait a little longer while I navigate around it and find another way through,” said Omar. He sounded so far away.

“FFFFFffffffsshhhharrgh. Why did I follow you in here? Why why why?”

“You can do this, Phillip. Just follow my voice.”

Phillip carefully stood. He could not make out what was in front of him at all and it scared the crap out of him. There could be anything in this room. He could be surrounded by pits of acid. Giant walkers had those, right? Pits of acidic fuel, that was it. Despite all his fear, he didn’t want to wait around anymore. He had to get out of here. He slid one foot forward. Then the other. He had one hand out trying to maintain balance, the other gripping the alien rifle as tightly as he could.

“I can’t see a thing, Omar.”

“You’re doing fine. I can see you on my motion sensor.”

“You wouldn’t happen to have any flares on you, by any chance?” Phillip asked.

“No, unfortunately.”

“I’m freaking out, man. What if I fall into a hole filled with spikes or something?”

“Just step forward carefully and in small increments. You’ll be fine,” Omar said reassuringly. He sounded closer now. Phillip started moving a little faster when all of a sudden his hand made contact with cold metal.

“Oh! I found something,” he said.

“Can you push it out of the way?” Omar asked.

Phillip gave the metal a good push.

“I’m trying. It feels really heavy,” said Phillip.

“Keep trying. I’m going to plot another route for you to take just in case,” said Omar. Phillip kept pushing. Still the metal wouldn’t budge.

“Is this a wall? What is this stuff made of?” he said under his breath.

“Polyphemeral Corundunate,” said something standing directly in front of him.

“Ah!” Phillip screamed as he jumped and then fell backwards.

“What happened?” asked Omar.

“Ah!” Phillip screamed as he pulled the rifle’s trigger again and again and again and again.

“Hold on! I’m coming!” said Omar.

The rifle in Phillip’s hands clicked as he squeezed the trigger, but much to his dismay it was not spitting hot, painful death at his target.

“Are you trying to shoot me? How terribly rude.” Its voice echoed, like it was talking through a metal helmet. Phillip crawled backwards as fast as he could. “Is that what passes for manners on your world? You fall through my roof and then try to shoot me after roughing up my helmet like that? Disgraceful.”

“Stay back! I can kick and punch and stuff! And I have a knife!” Phillip said as he struggled to get away.

“Wait. No. You couldn’t possibly be,” said the voice.

“Don’t come any closer. My friend’s coming and he can kick all kinds of butt,” said Phillip.

A blue light filled the room. Standing before Phillip was a creature, an alien of some kind. It was tall but hunched over at the shoulders, and clad in a rough robe. It had long, thin fingers and was wearing a helmet with a number of glass view ports on it. It almost looked like a diver’s helmet. The blue light was shining through the view ports, giving the creature an ethereal quality, like it wasn’t entirely there. It had a tail which looked like a lizard’s tail, and hooves. Phillip couldn’t make out much more than that. The light didn’t illuminate that much of the room; just enough for Phillip to see that the room he was in was indeed bigger than he previously thought.

“Your friend; is he like you?” the alien asked, pointing one long finger at Phillip’s face.

“What?” Phillip asked.

“Your friend. Is he also a Keeper?” The alien asked.

“What the heck are you talking about? Hey, stay where you are or…”

“Or what? You’ll shoot me? In case you hadn’t noticed, your weapon still has the safety mechanism engaged,” said the alien.

“Safety? This thing has a safety?” Phillip asked.

“Besides, I have no intention of harming you, Great Keeper. Your presence here is a welcome sign. Though I admit you are a bit early,” said the alien.

“Early? What are you talking about? Who are you?” Phillip asked.

“Ah forgive my manners. And here I was chiding you. How silly of me. My name is Qu-ni of the Far Clan. I am but a humble researcher and ancientologist.”

“Ancien-wha?”

“I study ruins like this. Relics left over from the old times. This ruin, for example, used to be a war machine before it was hit by an anti-vehicle mine from a war long forgotten. Killed it in one blow I imagine. Ruptured it from stem to stern. Marvelous. My studies in this place have been quite fruitful, and yet I never imagined I’d meet a Keeper here.”

“You mean me?” Phillip asked.

“Of course,” said Qu-ni.

“I’m not a… a Keeper.”

“But you are. Your hair, face structure, bone density, it all matches up to your species’ phenotype,” said Qu-ni.

“I’m human,” said Phillip.

“Hu-man? Is that the name Keepers use to describe themselves? Marvelous. I must record this finding.”

The alien turned and hobbled over to a metal box sitting on a bench. It pressed a button and the whole room lit up. The room was massive. Giant cylinders lined the walls connected to tubes that disappeared into the ceiling. Phillip thought that this place sort of looked like an engine room. In fact, the cylinders reminded him of pistons in a car engine. Qu-ni grabbed a small pad lying beside the box and started poking at it like it was a keyboard. There was a makeshift bed and sacks filled with cans and jars and more pads all clustered together near the bench.

“Is this your home?” Phillip asked.

“Of sorts. I was using this room as a base camp while I studied this ruin. Let me see. Hu-man. Yes that sounds about right.”

“Huh. Okay,” Phillip said, confused as ever. This alien didn’t seem hostile so that was a plus, but he wasn’t sure if he should keep talking to it or leave before anything bad happened. Then he noticed the debris from where he’d fallen through the floor. “Sorry about the mess. And about your roof,” said Phillip.

“Worry not, friend. It is an honor to meet-”

“Hold it right there!” Omar shouted. He grabbed Qu-ni’s arm and held it in a lock behind the alien’s back. “Make a move and you lose this arm,” he warned.

“Wait wait! It’s okay,” said Phillip.

“What is?” Omar asked.

“He didn’t hurt me. He just surprised me, okay? Let him go,” said Phillip.

“Where did you come fr- Ah! Another Keeper! Oh what a glorious day,” said Qu-ni.

“But you sounded like you were dying,” said Omar.

“I know, I’m sorry but it’s okay. I’m fine,” said Phillip. Omar released Qu-ni from his grasp.

“I apologize,” he said to the alien.

“No need. It is understandable given the situation,” said Qu-ni.

“Yes well, in any case we’d better… Did you just speak Inglace?” Omar asked; surprise plastered on his face.

“Is that your native tongue? Marvelous. I must record this finding,” said Qu-ni, typing on the pad again.

“What kind of tech are you using?” Omar asked.

“It has a long and complicated name. Nothing you’d be interested in I’m sure,” said Qu-ni.

“You are translating my speech without buffer time for analysis or anything. It’s almost like you’re doing instantaneous translation as I talk,” said Omar.

“Yes?” said Qu-ni.

“How could I not be interested? What you’re doing should be impossible!” said Omar.

“Nothing is impossible. Not for Keepers. I found this translation module on one of my many treks throughout this land. Hidden in an ancient ruin, untouched for eons, it laid waiting for me.” Qu-ni pointed to a small protrusion on its helmet where Phillip imagined its mouth would be. “It attached to my voice box and began working right away. Truly modular. Truly amazing work, Keeper tech is.”

“Keeper?” Omar asked.

“Humans, I guess,” Phillip said.

“The dimensional human equivalent! You found that item in an ancient human ruin?” Omar asked.

“Yes, that is correct. Very old. Very ancient. Possible dating back to before the wars,” said Qu-ni.

“If human equivalents developed tech like this then it is highly likely they have also warp capability,” Omar whispered excitedly to Phillip.

“Really?” Phillip asked, also excitedly.

“Alien, can you tell me where the nearest human settlement is?” Omar asked.

“Ah, that is a tough question. Truly, I do not know as Keepers don’t exist in any great number. Not anymore. I had thought they were all extinct, myself. Well, until you showed up, of course,” said Qu-ni.

“Extinct?” Phillip echoed.

“Curse. That doesn’t bode well for us,” said Omar.

“I am Qu-ni, by the way. Qu-ni of the Far Clan. Pleased to meet you, Keeper,” Qu-ni said, graciously bowing to Omar.

“I am Omar. This is Phillip,” said the cadet major.

“O-Mar and Phil-Ip? Marvelous. I must record this,” said Qu-ni.

“Is there a name for your species?” Omar asked.

“No. We are too few to have a name. We are just travelers. A few scattered clans going where the winds blow,” Qu-ni said ruefully.

“Do you know what happened to the humans who inhabited this region?” Omar asked.

“Dead, gone, both. Gone where the winds blow I imagine,” said Qu-ni cryptically. Omar looked to Phillip who shrugged.

“I have many questions I want to ask you, if you don’t mind,” said Omar.

“Please, ask away. I would like to help however I can,” said Qu-ni.

“Is there any record of what happened here?” Omar asked.

“Are you looking for a history lesson? I would think that Keepers would know their own history better than I,” said Qu-ni.

“Well, we’re from, uh, far away,” said Phillip.

“Ah, travelers then. Like me,” said Qu-ni.

“Yes, something like that,” said Omar.

“Very good. Very good,” said Qu-ni as he typed away on his pad. “Records are scattered and fragmentary. It is hard to get a clear picture of what exactly happened to this region but every day takes me one step closer to it.”

“What have you found so far?” Omar asked.

“From what I’ve been able to gather, there was once a thriving Keeper civilization centered here. As you can tell from this ruin, their technology was quite impressive. A marvel to behold. Oh if only I could have seen it firsthand!” Qu-ni exclaimed.

“Are there any other ruins close by?” Omar asked.

“One or two. Nothing special about them,” said Qu-ni. 

Omar held his gloved hand out before him and a holographic projection of the probe’s map appeared, adding a splash of green to the blue lighting the room.

“I detected a message coming from Set. Do you know what is out there; if there is anything at all?” Omar asked.

“Ah yes, I know that region very well. Why do you seek the Tower?” asked Qu-ni.

“Tower? What tower?” asked Omar.

The Tower. Where the Guardian of the World lives,” said Qu-ni.

“The what now?” Phillip asked.

“The Guardian of the World. Keeper of the Tower. There he stands vigilant against the forces of darkness that wish to oppress sentient life here. Have you not seen it? The Tower?” Qu-ni asked.

“No, we haven’t,” said Omar.

“It is quite a sight. Visible from a long ways away. I’m surprised you missed it,” said Qu-ni.

“Well, we’ve been running from slavers who were trying to kill us or blow us up or something,” said Phillip.

“You speak of the Groneen? Yes, they are a terrible race, the Groneen. Content only to pillage and kill as they please,” said Qu-ni.

“Groneen? Even their name sounds weird,” said Phillip.

“This Guardian is also a Keeper? Like us?” Omar asked.

“Why yes, he is. The last of his kind, or so I thought,” said Qu-ni.

“I thought you said Keepers were extinct,” said Phillip.

“A single specimen does not a species make,” said Qu-ni.

“That is a good point,” said Omar.

“Ah, but you did not answer my question. For what purpose do you seek the Guardian?” Qu-ni asked. His tone had an edge to it that got Omar’s attention.

“Our reasons are our own,” Omar replied.

“Sorry, I did not mean to pry. It is just strange that two Keepers would be looking for the Tower but not know what the Tower is,” said Qu-ni.

Omar gave Phillip a look. Phillip had no idea what information Omar’s look was meant to convey. Worry? Concern? He mouthed ‘what?’ back to Omar. Frustrated, Omar shook his head.

“Well, thank you for the help, Qu-ni, but we best be on our way,” said Omar.

“That is all? I was certain you had more questions than that,” said Qu-ni.

“Yeah, don’t we have any other questions?” Phillip asked.

“No, we have to go,” said Omar, hoping Phillip would catch on.

“Are you sure there is nothing else you wish to learn?” Qu-ni asked.

“I guess not,” said Phillip, still confused.

“A way home perhaps?” The silence after that was deafening. Phillip looked to Omar who looked back to Phillip. “Ah, so you were lost ones,” said Qu-ni, clicking his nails together.

“Who are you?” asked Omar.

“I told you. I am Qu-ni of the-”

“Who are you?” Omar shouted, he energized his glove and aimed it right at Qu-ni’s face.

“Whoa! Omar, take it easy!” said Phillip.

“Yes, please. I meant no offense,” said Qu-ni. His hands were raised, yet he didn’t sound all that worried.

“He knows about us. He isn’t telling us the whole story,” said Omar.

“That doesn’t mean we have to blow his head off. He just said we were lost,” Phillip stressed.

“He called us Kamensah. He knows we are not from this world. How would he know that unless he brought us here in the first place?” asked Omar.

“Did you?” Phillip asked Qu-ni.

“I do not know how you got here. I only know that you are not from here. There is so much warp residue hanging off you two that I detected it the moment you set foot in this ruin,” said Qu-ni.

“Why should I believe you?” Omar asked. Qu-ni gave a chuckle.

“Because I am a traveler like you. Every one of the Far Clan is,” said Qu-ni.

“That doesn’t mean anything to me,” said Omar.

“Omar, would you put your… glove away? If he’s a traveler, maybe he can help us get home,” said Phillip.

“I am sorry, but I only travel using natural warp collusion,” said Qu-ni.

“Why does everyone assume I know what any of that means?” Phillip asked, frustrated.

“The next alignment won’t be for several years. Until then I am stuck here,” said Qu-ni.

“Years?” Phillip asked.

“Yes,” replied Qu-ni.

“Think, Phillip. How did he know we were looking for a way home? Why didn’t he assume we were just regular travelers like him? Explorers or surveyors? He could have assumed that but instead he jumped right to lost and looking for home. Doesn’t that strike you as suspicious?” asked Omar.

“Hey, you’re right. What’s your deal?” Phillip asked Qu-ni.

“Perhaps if you powered down your energy weapon I would be more inclined to talk with you in a relaxed fashion,” Qu-ni said.

“Give me a good reason why I shouldn’t just blow your head up and be done with you?” Omar asked.

“Other than the fact that it would be terribly rude?” Qu-ni said with a laugh. “What I have to share with you might be your only chance of getting home, Keeper.”

“And what of this Guardian? It sounds to me like he might know a bit more about this world than you since he is its protector. And since we already know where the Tower is I think we have everything we need from you,” Omar said threateningly.

“Oh, then you know about the other Keepers who fell to this planet not one day ago?” Qu-ni asked. Omar hesitated.

“Others?” Omar said finally.

“Yes,” said Qu-ni.

“Others like me? Dressed like me, with gloves and slider suits?” Omar asked.

“Sit and I shall tell you everything I know,” said Qu-ni.



© 2016 StarNinja


Author's Note

StarNinja
Same drill as before, I post it you rip into it. Find the typos, the flaws, the plot holes and together we can rule the galaxy. I mean make a great book. Yeah. That's what I meant.

My Review

Would you like to review this Chapter?
Login | Register




Featured Review

There didn’t seem to be anyone around, so Phillip’s worries eased for a moment.
*Alternative: Besides Omar and himself, there was no one else here. Not a single soul. This eased Phillip's worries for a moment.

“Phillip, we have a saying in the Viridian Core. All good things are made from bad things.”
“Huh?”
“It, um… it’s a play on words. I guess it loses its punch in your language. What I mean to say is that while this may seem like a bad situation, it is actually a good situation,” said Omar.
*Comment: I post this quote everywhere. I love it so much...

He wondered for the hundredth time how Omar had talked him into this.
*Alternative: How did Omar talk him into this?/ How had Omar talked him into this?

“Huh. Okay,” Phillip said, confused as ever. This alien didn’t seem hostile so that was a plus, but he wasn’t sure if he should keep talking to it or leave before anything bad happened. Then he noticed the debris from where he’d fallen through the floor. “Sorry about the mess. And about your roof,” said Phillip.
*Alternative: "Huh...um, okay, I guess?" Phillip said, scratching his head/ shrugging/ his eyebrows creasing. The alien spoke in a friendly tone, so that was reassuring. But they had better leave before something happens...Something bad always happens. Phillip's feet shifted awkwardly as he eyed the chunks of debris from where he'd fallen through the floor, "Sorry about the mess, and about your roof." Phillip stuttered/managed to say a bit sheepishly.

“Why should I believe you?” Omar asked. Qu-ni gave a chuckle.
“Because I am a traveler like you. Every one of the Far Clan is,” said Qu-ni.
“That doesn’t mean anything to me,” said Omar.
*Remark: going back the chapters after having read a few times, Qu-Ni does sound sickeningly sweet at times.. And I recall a scene where he puts a boy through a lot of pain, as a part of scientific experimentation... So, you did an excellent job foreshadowing Qu-Ni's shady character without revealing to much. The reader at the end of this chapter considers the possibility that Omar was a bit paranoid of overly cautious...or was he? Only you know, Dan.

See you again soon!
Never stop writing.
~Aysha.


Posted 5 Months Ago


1 of 1 people found this review constructive.




Reviews

There didn’t seem to be anyone around, so Phillip’s worries eased for a moment.
*Alternative: Besides Omar and himself, there was no one else here. Not a single soul. This eased Phillip's worries for a moment.

“Phillip, we have a saying in the Viridian Core. All good things are made from bad things.”
“Huh?”
“It, um… it’s a play on words. I guess it loses its punch in your language. What I mean to say is that while this may seem like a bad situation, it is actually a good situation,” said Omar.
*Comment: I post this quote everywhere. I love it so much...

He wondered for the hundredth time how Omar had talked him into this.
*Alternative: How did Omar talk him into this?/ How had Omar talked him into this?

“Huh. Okay,” Phillip said, confused as ever. This alien didn’t seem hostile so that was a plus, but he wasn’t sure if he should keep talking to it or leave before anything bad happened. Then he noticed the debris from where he’d fallen through the floor. “Sorry about the mess. And about your roof,” said Phillip.
*Alternative: "Huh...um, okay, I guess?" Phillip said, scratching his head/ shrugging/ his eyebrows creasing. The alien spoke in a friendly tone, so that was reassuring. But they had better leave before something happens...Something bad always happens. Phillip's feet shifted awkwardly as he eyed the chunks of debris from where he'd fallen through the floor, "Sorry about the mess, and about your roof." Phillip stuttered/managed to say a bit sheepishly.

“Why should I believe you?” Omar asked. Qu-ni gave a chuckle.
“Because I am a traveler like you. Every one of the Far Clan is,” said Qu-ni.
“That doesn’t mean anything to me,” said Omar.
*Remark: going back the chapters after having read a few times, Qu-Ni does sound sickeningly sweet at times.. And I recall a scene where he puts a boy through a lot of pain, as a part of scientific experimentation... So, you did an excellent job foreshadowing Qu-Ni's shady character without revealing to much. The reader at the end of this chapter considers the possibility that Omar was a bit paranoid of overly cautious...or was he? Only you know, Dan.

See you again soon!
Never stop writing.
~Aysha.


Posted 5 Months Ago


1 of 1 people found this review constructive.

“But you sounded like you were dying,” said Omar.
“I know, I’m sorry but it’s okay. I’m fine,” said Phillip.

Ahaha. : ) Poor Phillip, still adorable with all the tears, runny nose and shaky feet and all that. And I never get enough of Omar's cool unfamiliar technology.

Why do I keep picturing Qu-Ni with a British accent, reading spectacles and a civil smile?

Although I did not quite grasp completely what that 'massive ancient machine' looks like, it was fun to try to imagine it and just feel with my hands for obstacles or monsters hidden in the dark. So more humans existed in this godforsaken nowhere! And there is even a live sample somewhere in a tower. Well, that's good news isn't it? I'm having suspicions about Qu-Ni's true intentions and where he plans to lead the boys. I'm glad you've finally made Chapter 5 public and accessible to readers! See you on the next page!

-Rain.

Posted 7 Years Ago


StarNinja

7 Years Ago

Thanks for the review! I can't tell you how awesome it is to have someone not just like and review b.. read more
I was glad to be back with Omar and Phillip. Great pair! There seem to be some typo's and grammarical mistakes to look out for. I'm not sure, but there seem to be a repeat of the story. I'll have to go back and check. This is becoming involved and interesting, even though the plot is moving slowly. That's a fine line of skill. I'm enjoying this and really connecting to it. I like what you did with the last paragraph. Interesting technique. What's with that video game? Hmmm.... Again, great work.

"and the planning of the village an afterthought." - This sounds a bit awkward.

"He opened his glove’s main menu and changed it to the scan setting. He slowly swept the village for threats with his palm extended in front of him." - I love this.

"In face(t)(,) they were barely hovels.

"He cried for a long time before finally succumbing to sleep.

“Hold on a second. There’re..." - Did Phillip suddenly wake up?


Posted 9 Years Ago


Yea, it was really long. I did enjoy it though, great write! :)

~Bookers~ (Lizzard)

Posted 10 Years Ago



Request Read Request
Add to Library My Library
Subscribe Subscribe


Stats

585 Views
4 Reviews
Rating
Shelved in 1 Library
Added on February 18, 2011
Last Updated on June 2, 2016
Tags: sci-fi, adventure, fantasy, alien, planet, cave, preparation, life, underground, 4, 80s, project


Author

StarNinja
StarNinja

WA



About
I like lots of things. One of them is air. Another is writing. So... let's get right down to it! more..

Writing
Stufff Stufff

A Story by StarNinja



Related Writing

People who liked this story also liked..