Author: John Mercer PM
"I will take her from you. You know I will." He started toward us. I threw a hand out. Then I threw everything I had into crushing that man into bloody pulp. And ... ... Nothing happened. The man was immune to psychokinesis. Impossible. But he continued to be so right up until he flicked that black, folding blade back out to full length and drove it right through my stomach.Rated: Fiction T - English - Adventure/Horror - Chapters: 62 - Words: 64,764 - Reviews: 4 - Favs: 5 - Follows: 4 - Updated: 05-09-13 - Published: 03-07-13 - id: 3106801
|A+ A- Full 3/4 1/2 Expand Tighten|
Another awkward moment or two passed - me, just sitting there playing with my hands. I looked to Ev again, and so did Jules. Then he looked at me.
I shrugged. "I told you when you first landed," I grumbled back. "Right before you hit me in the face with your gun."
"No one could've understood that mess coming out of your mouth."
"Whatever. Fine. I told you," I began again, slumping over against my knees with both hands buried back in my hair, "Ev's ship got attacked ... and her Dad's dead now. They jettisoned down here, soooo I followed them."
"In that shuttle?"
I nodded my head in my hands.
"I kind of borrowed it from her Dad when he was done using it."
"I shouldn't be surprised you destroyed my ship too."
"Hey you were the one flying it."
He leaned back, ignoring me for a minute or so, but staring nonetheless. Trying to read my face or something I guess. It was a little uncomfortable, and I glanced away. The wind picked up - cold. I twisted around and put my back to the cliffside again, getting as close to that fire as I dared. Jules didn't move from where he was.
"Those pirates that attacked us," he said after a little while longer sitting in silence. "They followed your beacon like I did. I had planned on being ready for them."
"So, really," I dropped flatly, "you only came after us to find pirates?"
"But - well, wha," I sputtered a bit. "Where the hell is anyone who's actually coming to rescue us? I mean - what the fuck are those things for anyways? It's a distress beacon, right? And all we get are pirates ... and you." I threw a hand over his way. "Somebody has to come. Right? That's how it's supposed to work!"
"Calm down. You'd be surprised," he told me. "But I doubt anyone would lose any sleep over a blip on their sensors around here." He glanced around. "Probably come eventually, but your friend would've been dead. You too maybe. You were lucky I happened to be in the area."
"... Looking for pirates."
"That's right." he bobbed his head. "I found an old cruiser dead in the water about twenty million klicks out from here. That wouldn't've been yours, would it?"
"I don't know. Maybe. So you were just waiting to ambush them in our shuttle?"
"You've got it all figured out now, don't you?"
"But wouldn't they have just blasted it to pieces like they did yours?" I remembered them painting the sky with his ship well enough. He probably did too.
"No." He shook his head, though. The bitterness was still there, peeking behind his stone-dead eyes. "They would have strip-searched it for salvage first. Do as much to you too," he added a second after that first bit. "Probably worse. But the perennium is what's important."
I shook my head. "Why perennium?"
And he gave me a funny look. "Are you serious?" The demand came without nonsense. I shrugged my shoulders at him and he barked another of those humorless laughs that reminded me of scraping gravel back in the gardens.
"You two must've run away from somewhere really comfortable to not have the slightest idea what I'm talking about."
"Hey, we didn't run away-"
"Perennium," he began anew, clipped and condescending. "You do know what that is, right? You're not a complete fool."
"What the fuck ... Yes, I know what perennium is!"
"Well, then you know it powers almost everything anyone ever uses. Ship drives. Life support. Weapons. Planetary atmospheric control regulators," he dripped with some sarcasm. "Very important."
"Yeah. I know ..."
"Then imagine it stopped working," he continued. "Imagine that comm on your wrist stopped working."
"It's dead down here anyways ..."
"That shuttle you crashed," he pressed on and over me irritably. "If it had lost power on entry, you would have incinerated in the atmosphere."
"That atmosphere - too far away from the sun to keep this little rock warm enough for you to still be breathing right now - melted away into space."
"Okay. Whatever. I get it," I cut in. "It's really important. So what's your point?"
"My point is that the entire sector is in a shortage right now."
"So?" I shrugged. "It's not like that stuff runs out fast or anything."
"No," he agreed with a twist of his lips. He took a long draw from his canteen. "But it has been lately."
"What do you mean?"
He shook his head. "I mean it hasn't been lasting quite as long as it should. Not long at all."
"Really? That's kind of weird."
I looked over at him.
"So, uh ... why did they just blow up your ship then," I asked, careful about how sensitive he might still be to that whole business. It's not like it was really my fault, though.
"You know ... instead of salvaging it."
"They recognized it."
He said that. And I waited for something more - an explanation or something. After a few seconds of nothing, though, I gave him an eyebrow and waved a hand. He just glanced toward Ev.
"Your friend is doing better."
"Yeah. Thanks," I mumbled back.
Whatever on that, I guess. All that talk about perennium ... I probably should have eaten something, but we had nothing left for the next day unless he was holding out on me, and my stomach felt like a sinkhole. I pawed at some water instead. Eventually, I couldn't take the quiet anymore.
"So ... where are we going?"
"The nearest city," he said. "Probably just a hovel, by my guess. At least they should have a transit rail to whatever spaceport still exists on this moon. Or some way of getting there." He took his canteen and filled it from the stores in his pack from the ship. It was almost gone too.
"Moon?" I asked.
"Yeah," he admitted, glancing around to the treetops above - black now with the night, and blocking out the stars above. "The daylight doesn't seem odd to you? No, it wouldn't, would it."
"Odd?" I quirked an eyebrow at him, glancing up and trying to remember. "What's wrong with it? That's how it supposed to look, right?"
"It's completely artificial. Look," he pointed up above, and I followed him. "Stars. I think we'll be planetward tomorrow. It's a little far off, but you might be able to see it."
He gave me another frustrated, impatient look. "The planet. Dreggoran."
"Unless we already passed it."
I hadn't even noticed those first couple days. Maybe there was something in the clouds, washed away in the sky? It seemed such a shame to miss. People always said that the Rift was beautiful to come see, but I wondered what an entire planet would look like up in that sky. Probably a lot more so.
I came back down and turned my head around to look at him again, but something caught my eye instead. My mouth was still open as I froze, staring off that way. And I blinked. There was a black shape against the trees, a dozen meters away outside the firelight.
"What ..." I started, but never finished.
Jules glanced over at me, instantly following my eyes out into the woods. His hands flew towards his rifle so fast, I didn't even register it until he had the thing up and pointed that way. He twisted something on the barrel, and a beam of light flushed out the dark.
There was a glimpse. Something black, and smooth between ribbed folds. That's all I could see for a split-second before it stepped back out of the light behind the trees.
I think I screamed.