Scanning the busy airport after suffering through several security points, I tried to find my gate. Half hoping I wouldn't, I spotted my number and weaved my way through the noisy crowd. Since I had planned to be right on time and it ended up taking forever getting through claims, I got there just as they began boarding. Tapping my foot with nervousness, I slowly made my way up the line.
"How are you today?" The flight attendant asked as she scanned my ticket.
I gave her the best smile I could manage considering I wanted to bolt and took the ticket stub from her with slightly shaking hands. "Fine, thank you." Catching the Holiday
decorations out of the corner of my eye I added, "Merry Christmas."
"Merry Christmas to you," She replied without looking at me and turned her attention to the person behind me. "Boarding passes please."
Sighing, I made my way towards the plane. Thinking that was probably the last person I would wish Merry Christmas to made me feel melancholy. I wondered if the Ubastic Tribe celebrated Christmas. Laughing without humor, I shook my head; like a tribalistic panther shifting community who worships a trans-psychedelic deity is really going to celebrate the birth of a human. Sporting a bewildered smile as I got into my seat, I quickly reached for my seat belt and slid my briefcase to safety. Checking here and there I made sure things were secure and tried to relax.
Another flight attendant chose that moment to come by and make fun of me for my extra precautions. "Ma'am, the flight won't be taking off for another 20 to 30 minutes. You don't have to buckle up until that light comes on." She pointed to a neon "Fasten Seat Belts" sign that had yet to light up the world with its magic. I gave her a tight smile and hoped she got the impression I wanted to be left alone.
"I know. I'm very safety conscious."
Giving me the funny eye in return, she nodded and continued on. It wasn't my fault planes terrified me. If I could have taken a boat to Cairo I would have, but the Ubastic Tribe would not be made to wait. Nervously picking at this and that until the flight began to distract myself; I tried to find something to do. I figured going back over my week would help so I traced the week's start. Closing my eyes and breathing in the smell of leather conditioner and peanuts, I thought about all that I had done this past week.
Monday had been very productive, I thought with a smile. I had been assigned to sort, label, and transcribe the few boxes of archives the other interns couldn't handle; Monday had marked the competition of that tedious task. Tuesday had been hectic. My schedule was overloaded; dentist's appointment in the morning, meeting with the board of directors for lunch (which lasted four whole hours), various projects that had loose ends with deadlines, and my friend Madi was having a gay crisis.
Then Wednesday I had gotten the news. The Ubastic Tribe hired me, and the rest of the week just slipped away while I made preparations, packed my luggage and said goodbye.
The only consistent thing in my life this past week had been my dreams. I groaned remembering the amethyst stare of Tumaini Mubarack. When I put the file down at night and turned off my light I saw the selective glare of Tumaini's startling eyes. I saw the light catch and reflect emotions far deeper than we humans thought Supernaturals could feel. A few times I was brought to tears when I thought about the wars he and his people had been through. In a short week I was becoming attached to a foreign people I didn't understand and it scared me a little.
Without really wanting to, I reread the files I had been given every night, unable to resist the pull of their culture, of a mystery waiting to be solved. Max was so right, I hadn't even met these people and I'd already grown to respecte them. I wanted to know about them. I felt the need to help them. I… loved them in a way. Fussing quickly, my hands fluttered at nothing. Because how much can you really love something you don't know? Laughing nervously, the woman across the isle from me gave me a bored glare and went back to petting her dog… I didn't know animals were allowed on the plane.
Deciding anything is possible in first class, I relaxed as much as I could. The fact that I was on a flying death mobile scared the hell out of me, so I had to find some way to distract myself. Thinking about the Tribe took my mind off of the impending flight and into a world of possibility, a giant rubix cube I was itching to solve. Before I knew it, the gears were tuning in my head a several hours had passed.
As the flight started to land, I was not only completely disoriented from the time laps, but as I stepped off the plane I was struck with a wave of dizziness. Jetlag wasn't going to spare me this time either. Groaning again as I pulled my baggage along, I looked for my name among the sea of people. There were several people there holding signs for their tired traveler to notice. "Hedgewater", "Tyler", "Buhler", ah "Way" that's me.
Catching the eye of the man holding the sign wasn't hard. As I walked towards him I noticed the alertness of his eyes and his strong, proud stance. He is obviously Ubastic, and it unnerved me a bit as he watched me closely.
"Hello Ms. Way, I will escort you to the Pyramid. I have already retrieved your luggage. This way please." Keeping his eyes trained on me as he talked, I nodded meekly and headed towards the doors.
"Thank you." I murmured as we walked.
"It is my pleasure." I shivered lightly at the way he spoke. His soft, deep voice paired with the exoticism of the Ubastic Tribe was very alluring. And suddenly I got the feeling he knew it. "May I be the first to welcome you as Lehydre, Ms. Way?"
I glanced over at him too tired to think much and replied. "I haven't accepted that position, but sure. Thanks."
"It would upset our people if you were to reply the same to them." He said lightly.
I shrugged. "I know, but I'm very tired. I promise only to be honest with you on the matter."
A quick growl fizzled out of his chest and I turned, surprised. Missing the look in his eyes, I quickly looked around for a possible threat. If I had known he was growling out of pleasure at my words and dominance for their exclusive nature, I wouldn't have been so careless. But he didn't go anywhere with his territorial emotions and we got into the car with no problems.
The drive passed much like the flight, my thoughts consumed almost completely by the Ubastic Tribe. When I wasn't thinking of the Tribe, I admired the barren landscape. As we drove farther and farther from civilization and towards one of the less popular Pyramids, I could feel the heat reflecting off the pale sand. The warmth seeped through the windows and into my bones. With a happy sigh, I focused on the scenery and thought of nothing else.
It was pitch black in this section of the Pyramid. A sacred place to my people, this was where the Portal had forged our connection with the human world. The wide open, plush landscape of our first visit here had given way to desert and then to ceremony as we were closed in by the walls of a pyramid. Though our human relations have never been perfect or very friendly, we've never meant them harm and for a while we managed to maintain a somewhat pleasant relationship. The ins and outs of that relationship however are a part of our history we don't know, key pieces we've lost over centuries of war and hardship.
Now we were desperately searching for the pieces of our past that we've lost. Key elements we need to be able to understand ourselves; missing pieces that are driving my people crazy. Maria was the only one we've been able to find that is not only willing but capable of helping us find that past. Personally I was indebted to her forever for postponing her life in the Human world and coming to our side, a foreign and somewhat dangerous place to a human.
My musings were interrupted as a hiss echoed around the small room. "Get off of my robe you Lavidian scum."
"If you've got a problem with it, get Tumaini to find a bigger Pyramid." The voice snarled back.
Meeting Maria required six Ubastic Shifters fully in their maturity that held position within the tribe. With the five hostile males I had managed to gather, it was a wonder we were still alive in here.
There was more growling. "Don't touch my ass."
Laughing mockingly, I felt several bodies tense, ready for a fight.
They were about to throttle each other when I felt someone approach. Quieting them I strained to hear the voices coming from the other side of the wall.
"It's kind of stuffy in here." A laugh echoed throughout the chamber at a feminine voice.
"We will be on the other side before you have time to feel discomfort Ms. Way." His voice was low and intimate and Maria kept on talking to him, obviously not realizing the position she was in. Growling low in my throat, mad that he would move in on the future Lehydre, that he would dare threaten our position with our fierce way of communicating affection, I was now the tense one in the room, ready to spring on the insolent bastard as soon as the rock moved and I could get to him.
Ankhkhenemet was one of our most cunning shifters though, and I could feel the automatic tension rise in his body. But instead of priming for a fight like I wanted, Ankhkhenemet relaxed and shed the pheromones. Straightening quickly as the door opened, I gave him a quick glare before turning to face Maria.
Stunned for a moment (I regained myself and bowed low for Maria. The chamber hushed and an eerie calm settled over things as the rest of the shifters bowed in regard for the one woman who would help us.
Starting the ceremony, I lifted slightly and welcomed Maria with a chant fit for welcoming a king, easily sliding into the words as I relaxed in her presence. The whole Pyramid was filled to the brim when the rest of the men joined in and the chant went on and on until an ear shattering apex rattled the stones. Quieting, I bent down on one knee and welcomed Maria in a language she could understand.
"Welcome, Maria Way, to the Ubastic Tribe. We are grateful beyond words that you will come to our side and serve us."
Laughing nervously, Maria scratched the back of her head (which was a bad idea, she sent a strong current of her lovely smell throughout the chamber) and said thank you. Hesitantly looking around, I waited for her to allow us to stand in her presence.
At Andre's cough Maria brought her attention back to us. "Um, is there something I should be doing? I'm not completely familiar with your traditions."
A low, rumbling laugh filled the chamber and I replied. "Perhaps allowing us to stand?"
"What? Yes, of course, stand! Please stand." More laughter was heard as Maria frantically waved her hands around and moved to help us rise. This of course brought her within an uncomfortable proximity. I was still feeling territorial even though Ankhkhenemet had left. Though the others could smell it, Maria's base human senses didn't pick up on it.
Quick to get on with the ceremony, I put my arm around her shoulders, almost purring in satisfaction at her softness, and led her to the back of the room. The stone door slid into place and darkness fell again. As if in sync with the light, Maria's ease left as soon as the door closed.
Murmuring quietly, I tried to soothe her. "The chamber must be sealed off when we enter the portal. Otherwise someone might follow us through without permission. We will be on the other side soon."
Proud that she relaxed somewhat, I activated the hieroglyphics causing a soft blue glow to brighten the chamber. The portal opened and we walked right into the Elvin Celebration.
A/N: So, we know a little more about the core six Ubeasties Maria will befriend. Hope you liked it! I love reviews. *.*