Author: GingerBlonger PM
The world is covered in an unnatural, permanent darkness by a Darkness-Weaving usurper, and the Light Weavers have been all but wiped out. As per usual, we would really, REALLY like poliiiite feedback and criticism, we can't get better if no one tells us how.Rated: Fiction T - English - Fantasy/Horror - Chapters: 5 - Words: 13,462 - Reviews: 5 - Favs: 1 - Updated: 08-15-12 - Published: 07-31-12 - id: 3046509
|A+ A- Full 3/4 1/2 Expand Tighten|
"Kamal, I swear, thing's probably long gone. Destroyed, buried or just decomposed..." Vashti sighed, sending crackling static through her brother's headset, "Is this search really worth it? I miss her as much as you do, but we've been at it for four years and nothing has turned up."
Kamal watched his glowing sister leap through the canopy above him, her light cutting out shadows of twisted roots intended to trip him. "We've focused our attention on one particular section of the globe, Vashti." He retorted, dropping low to avoid a tangled mesh of vines.
"You sure you don't want your own light?" Vashti's voice sounded concerned, "If you can't keep up—"
"—We can't waste resources." Kamal snapped, adding with a smirk, "Besides, I'm not afraid of things that go bump in the night."
"You should be. They've torn more than one of us apart. People a lot bigger than you, Kamal."
"I realize now that narrowing our search to the crash's location was foolish." He continued, ignoring his sister as he skipped around a row of bushes, "We haven't even begun to scratch the tip of the iceberg yet."
"You're not saying we're searching the whole planet? We'll be eighty before we even get off the continent!" Vashti shrilled back, causing some feedback over the headset as she came to a sudden halt, "You've got to be joking!"
"Vashti-!" Kamal kicked his heels into the dirt, just barely tipping into the pitch blackness around him. He groaned and ripped the headset off of his head, rubbing his temples tenderly as the device whined and crackled. "You have such a hard time with these, don't you…" Gingerly, he put the headset back on, "Vashti, whisper, please. These are incredibly sensitive; you're going to blow my eardrums out."
"You haven't answered my question, Kamal." Vashti said primly, swinging down from the treetops, careful to stay above him the entire time. "I don't want to go on a wild goose chase across the planet."
"We're not." Kamal stated, moving slightly to allow her a place to fall, "I've gotten John to trace out some potential crash paths."
"So it's a radial thing? How much distance are we covering now?" Vashti asked.
"About half a mile."
"Not too bad. All angles from the crash site, then?" Vashti asked, re-pinning a stubborn stand of her dark red hair and turning her headset off.
"That's the idea." Kamal turned his headset off as well.
"All right then." Vashti grinned, "Are we starting now, at four a.m. or are we going to go regroup and start again later?"
Kamal raised his eye slightly, "We've come all this way already; why on earth would we turn back?"
"Because it's four in the morning, we haven't eaten since nine, it's humid and grimy as Hell and we've been searching since noon?" Vashti suggested, "All terrible reasoning, I know." She concluded sardonically.
"Pull out a granola, then." Kamal clipped the headset back onto his head, "But we don't stop until we finish."
"You have all the food, Mr. Supergenius." Vashti grumbled, jamming her own headset on and deftly starting back up into the trees, "You just refuse to give me any."
"Go and sulk, then." Kamal rolled his eyes, starting off into the black forest once more, trapped within a circle of dim light.
"I'm not sulking, Kamal." Vashi muttered through the headset, "You're hoarding the food."
"If you wouldn't run away, maybe I could land something in that big mouth of yours."
For a little while, there was silence over the channel, before Vashti responded, her voice hushed, "K-Kamal..."
"Vashti," Kamal rolled his eyes, "We're almost done, couldn't you stop complaining for five minutes—"
"Shut up, Kamal!" Vashti snapped, "I think I see it."
Kamal nearly crashed into a nearby oak at his sister's proclamation, "Where?"
"About a quarter-mile ahead of you. Northwest of our starting position." Vashti replies, her voice cracking slightly, "Kamal, the pod doesn't look too hot from up here, I don't know if-"
Kamal broke off into a run before his sister could finish, swallowed up by the dark.
"Kamal, what are you doing?" Vasthi shrilled, "You idiot, stay out of the dark! You actually left without an emergency light?"
Her only response was the crackling static of the radio, followed by the sound of inhuman shrieks rattling the very leaves on the tree she stood on.
Vashti swore, practically soaring through the trees to try and catch up to her brother, hissing insults and threats under her breath as she did so. She shot out from the treetops, catching a stray branch and tumbled to the ground, where dozens of eyes of various shapes, sizes, and colors swarmed around her, gnashing yellow fangs as they let out bloodcurdling screams. "Kamal, if you're alive when I find you, I'm throttling you myself!" She yelled into the darkness, hardly audible over its noise.
A small glow blipped into existence not too far from her location, and she pushed herself towards it, hoping her brother had come to his senses and lit his lantern. "There you are, Kamal, you idiot!" She snapped, skidding to a stop in the turned-over dirt before she noticed the metal cylinder in the clearing, the source of several pinpoints of light, "Oh... my God." She saw Kamal standing beside it, his face shadowed, "Get into the light! Have you got a death wish?"
Her brother obeyed silently, allowing his disheveled form to be seen. "Happy now?" He asked in a low tone.
"Ecstatic." Vashti said flatly, kneeling down so they were face to face, "God, look at you." She went to touch a dark, purplish bruise under his eye, but he pushed her hand away.
"I'm fine." He responded coldly, pulling his now-torn jacket up, "Couldn't quite keep their claws on me."
"Snark at me all you want," Vashti stood, brushing her pants off, "But Esther's checking you when we get back."
"She's first." Kamal pointed stubbornly to the lit up pod. There was twisted brush surrounding it, and a small rip in the outer casing that would have peeled back like a banana if the pod had slid any further. The device's metallic surface seemed to give off an unsettling glow, without any seeable source powering it. "Glass is still intact…" He murmured, brushing dirt off of the glass. "But they've covered it well; nothing could get through it." He looked up at his sister, "We need to get the cover off."
Vashti nodded and made her way carefully to the pod, running her fingers along its seams as she tried to find the catch covering the release mechanism, "Hope it's not jammed..." She muttered before finally locating it, "Ok, I think I can get this off. But, Kamal," She hesitated, "If something has gone wrong, and she's—" She shook her head, wiping her face hastily, "Anyway, promise you won't shut down. Please."
"Vashti, just do it!" Kamal snapped, eyeing their flickering lantern warily. "We won't make it back at this rate."
Vashti gave her brother a concerned look, but the sputtering lightbulb pushed her worries aside. Gripping the lid, she lifted it up with a heavy grunt. "The controls are still glowing," She observed aloud, hoping to calm her brother's nerves, "So life support should be operational."
Kamal glanced into the pod, wincing slightly at the mesh of tangled wires. "Can you…cut her out of there, without damaging her?"
"Temporarily, no." Vashti said, trying to find the girl's face underneath the pile of wires, "She'll have trouble breathing and her heart rate will be practically nonexistent." She frowned, "She'll recover, though. I'm just glad we got here before the power supply went dry; it's set to do so in about an hour." Vashti stood, "My knife is blunt from notching my path, let me use yours?"
He slipped it out from a sheath on his waist, "Hurry up. This is making me nervous."
"It must be bad if you're admitting that." His sister mused, cutting the clusters of wires half-covering the thin figure in the pod. Pulling them aside revealed a young girl's face covered by an oxygen mask. She removed that next, which had left a red line around the girl's nose and mouth from the length of time it had been there. The girl choked, having to breathe on her own, and Vashti felt for her pulse, "No!" She snapped when Kamal came closer, "You'd have a stroke and try to speed up her heart rate yourself. Let me. Interfering would only hurt her."
A stream of cursing was hissed under the boy's breath as he stepped back, crossing his arms over his chest as he tapped his foot impatiently.
Vashti sighed, "Give her a few minutes for all her vitals to go back to normal, okay?" She said as she started to lift the blonde girl out of the pod, severing any stray wires that clung to her. She smirked, "Hey Kamal, you know what I just realized?"
"You're finally older than her."
Kamal's face flushed slightly as he looked up at the pitch, black sky, "How long has it been now, then? Two, three years?"
"Four. You are now officially two years older than your noble charge." Vashti laughed.
"Fine, whatever, let's just go!" Kamal snapped as the candle blinked, "We're running out of time."
Vashti groaned, "Sure, fine." She laughed, shifting the nightgown dressed girl in her arms as she added, "So maybe she'll imprint on you this time around?" She said as Kamal tossed discarded wires back into the pod, closing it up to make it seem almost untouched.
A colossal waterfall brought the gang to a halt. Water crashed and pooled, branching out into the forest's main stream. Sunlight refracted off of the droplets, causing fleeting images of color. A mist had begun to rise, covering the pools of water.
The water started to hit the blonde girl's face softly. She wrinkled her nose without waking up at first, but slowly opened her eyes, her jaw dropping at the sight of the waterfall. She squirmed and covered her ears, trying to worm away from Vashti. The girl squealed, finally succeeding in getting away and stumbled unsteadily, staggering and collapsing to the ground, staring at the group in a panic.
"Hey-!" Vashti started, trying to keep the girl within the dying lantern light, "Kamal, control her, please!"
Kamal nodded, reaching into his own pack to produce a smaller lantern of his own. "Oh, now you wanna use it," Vashti grumbled as hers began to sputter, "Right when we're next to the damn hideout."
With a few twists, the lightbulb lit up within the glass lantern, encircling the three easily enough, regardless of its small size. Any pair of eyes that had been persistent in following them was no match for the bulb, and faded away in its glow.
"Sorry for blinding you," Kamal apologized, placing a warm smile on his face as the girl blinked furiously, "But this is a better alternative than the dark." He took a step forward, his smile fading as she took a step back. "Please," He glanced nervously at the light's ring, holding the lantern out from his chest, "I wouldn't step back any farther. This is a small ring we're allowed."
The girl stopped, staring distrustfully at him, she leaned forward and showed that her hands were empty before making a series of signals, -Why? Who are you? What's happening?-
"Could you be a little more vague, please?" Vashti asked as she moved closer to the waterfall, pressing a stone near the edge of the lake it was filling so a path extended around it, textured metal, somehow protected from rust, "C'mon."
With a nod, Kamal shifted his arms and started towards the waterfall, feeling the girl tense slightly. He gave her a reassuring smile as they entered the mouth. Rows of electric lights were strung up across the walls, glowing in an array of colorful, artificial light as they dimly lit the chilled cave.
She squinted as she tried to make her eyes adjust, uncomfortable with the sudden dimness. She didn't bother signing her worries, assuming no one else could see yet with Vasthi and the brightest light in the lead, and shrank in on herself, by extension drawing closer to Kamal. On occasion, she could swear a pair of eyes or a crooked grin was following her, but it was snuffed out as they passed under the string of colored lights. Their walk was brief, for soon, a girl appeared in their path, standing under a row of red-and-green lights. Her chestnut brown hair covered a good portion of her face, leaving a small smile visible on her paled face.
"So," She started in a light, airy voice, "You found her then?"
Vashti nodded, "Yep, and she's fine." She said simply, "But I assume you're here to make sure of that, Esther?"
The girl tucked her hair behind her ears, a pair of dull, grey eyes shone dimly with the lights. "I'm not sure. I was told to come here, but I'm not sure what to do now."
Kamal sighed impatiently, "Esther, for once, could we not play this game? Can't you just decide on your own?"
"Oh, but that would be catastrophic." Esther reached for her ear, where a coin-shape earing dangled. She began to fiddle with the clasp, never once taking her sight off of the crew, "Could you ever imagine that? Stepping off the path pre-determined for myself? Oh no," She held the coin in her hand, "I would never be so bold to disobey My Lady."
Vashti laughed, "You're the medic, kid. You tell us." She said flippantly. The girl scrunched up again in Kamal's arms, nearly frightened to death of Esther gaze.
"So I am here," She began in a questioning tone, "And now an option is to help. But I wonder if that is where I must go?" She moved the coin in-between her fingers, positioning it neatly upon her thumb after a few moments, "Shall we see, then?"
Vashti grinned, "Well, you can either walk back down to the infirmary and prep for us, or you can run back down to the infirmary." She said jovially, while the girl in Kamal's arms continued to cower, unsettled.
Esther nodded, flipping the coin up into the air and allowing it to fall into her palm. With a nod, she started walking down the corridor, waving behind to the crew as she disappeared into the dark.
The girl relaxed when Esther moved out of sight, but grimaced up at Kamal for answers, while Vashti just started after Esther's retreating form.
Kamal set her down, steadying her with one hand as he did his best to sign with the other. –Esther is a friend as well. She's our medic, and a very good one at that.—
-She's frightening.- The girl answered slowly, -Do we have to follow her?-
-Well, she is going in the same general direction we need to head.- Kamal smiled apologetically, picking her back up and starting off after Vashti.
-Why are we here? Everything is thunder...- The girl signed as she looked fearfully at the ceiling of the corridor, -It's not stopping like normal thunder, either...-
"Safer." Kamal said, making sure the light caught his lips.
As they approached, Vashti looked back, "Eventually, you're gonna say 'safe' so much it won't mean anything." She laughed as she reached out to touch a glowing panel on the wall, which illuminated a bisected door, "This way, oh knight."
Kamal felt the girl shudder in his arms as he stepped into the room. The doors slid behind them as the ground below them trembled, then began to descend.
Once the doors opened again, they were greeted with an odd assortment of lights in many different colors, shapes and sizes; a few more of the stringed lights were bolted to the walls, while multiple lanterns dangled from their chained spots in the ceiling. Multiple cords seemed to be taped to the wall, some of which were failing. Illuminated by the lights was a small girl, no older than ten, with white-blonde hair and grey eyes, "Vashti, Kamal!" She squealed, "You found her!"
"Indeed we did." Kamal allowed a small smile to play across his face as he set the girl back down onto the ground, supporting her with his arm.
"Miss Aurora will like it here, right? She didn't meet my big sister first, right? You taught me how to sign right, right?" The girl started a series of rapid-fire questions. The girl, apparently named Aurora, looking confused as the younger girl spoke too quickly for her to read. Vashti simply laughed and moved towards a doorway located on the other side of the room.
"Nana, Nana, slow down!" Kamal chuckled, holding Aurora up as she swayed slightly. "I'm sure John wants to have a word with her first."
"Oh." Nana Marie looked disappointed, blinking as she stared at Kamal, "Whoa, you're eye's all purply! And your clothes a ripped! You hit a tree?" Without even waiting for a response, she darting after Vashti, "Jooooooohn! Joooooohn, they brought Miss Aurora back and she's by the elevator!"
"I heard, I heard." A voice called from inside the room Vashti had stepped into not moments ago, "Just give me a moment to untangle myself."
"C'moooooooon!" Nana Marie whined, "Kamal said you had to talk to her first and I wanna talk to her!"
"Alright, I'm coming!" A young man stumbled out of the room, covered in a tangled mesh of wires and cords, while a pair of headphones dangled from his shoulder. Kamal bit back a smile, balling his fists as the man staggered over towards the two. "Sorry about the mess," He chuckled, his face reddening in the dim light, "I hadn't the time to straighten myself up, because someone," He added as Nana Marie appeared sheepishly behind him, "Wouldn't let me straighten up."
"I wanna talk to Miss Aurora..." Nana Marie pouted. Aurora giggled before registering the number of wired hanging off the man, her eyes widened slightly and she shuddered, looking down at herself and tracing the line the oxygen mask had made around her mouth.
"Are you alright?" The man asked, trying to pull off wires as he spoke, "You look a little wobbly still. Kamal, perhaps we can talk when we can confirm she's settled in? I've still got a few things to do around the control room; perhaps you and Nana Marie could take her to Esther? She walked by a little bit ago." He paused, staring at Kamal as he added, "You might wanna see her too, Kamal."
"I'll take care of it." Kamal responded darkly, his good nature fading away, "You have your own problems?"
John smiled sheepishly, "Vashi, wanna help untangle me?"
Vashti smirked, "Of course." She said brightly.
Nana Marie squealed happily, "I get to lead Miss Aurora?" She asked, bouncing up onto her toes, "I can lead Miss Aurora to my sister, okay? I'll talk to her on the way there, right, I can do that!"
"Alright Nana Marie," Kamal started, "Lead the way."
But Nana Marie was frowning, she ducked to see Aurora's face, "Miss Aurora, we're going to go see my big sister, okay?" She said, slowing down so that the older girl could see her face. Aurora seemed to snap out of her stupor and nodded, leading Nana Marie to grin widely and take her hand, "C'mon, okay?" She said, almost seeking approval before starting off.