Friday, April 16, 2010

Hunt For The Dark Phoenix (part 31) [Friday Fiction]

This week's Friday Fiction is hosted by Shelley Ledfors @ her blog, The Veil Thins. Click here to read and share more great fiction!

Author's Ramblings: Well, I tried to speed up a bit of the action this week--starting a new layer for next week and of course, some mysteriousness for the weekend and some character development on Eira's part! Finally, a little bit of a glimpse into her head, for a few brief seconds and of course, Deene is in his best form. LOL. Sorry for the short installment, but the semester is drawing to a close with finals and other academic-important stuffits to be taken care of, so happy weekend! Enjoy the read and don't forget to leave a comment. I love all feedback! 

RECAP: Last time, the Dark Phoenix tested a few new points on Eira's powers and taught her to do a "Water Box". He worked her for several day to the point of exhaustion, then left her sleeping to take care of business. Deene was ordered to keep watch from a distance and run patrols, because it appears there is someone-or-something tracking them. 

Deene tried to patrol.

He circled a dozen times, alternating the routes and pausing for bowls of stew in between at the appropriate mealtimes. The apprentice girl was thoroughly exhausted, because she slept through the day, the night and the following day.

Deene couldn’t say that he minded, it was much easier to keep an eye on something that did not move or speak. She simply lay curled up in a little ball on her half of the clearing and didn’t so much as snore while he slurped his stew and scrubbed off his rocky beard.

The patrol covered a mostly rounded route, crossing the stream several times, and checking over the native pathways for a few miles radius. By taking on the morph of a winged gargoyle, this wasn’t as difficult as the foot patrols, because the routes could be easily scanned in a matter of minutes. However, the sizeable shadow on the ground was soon determined to be too obvious, so Deene returned to foot, morphing himself into the skinniest specimen he could manage.

As an oversized, gargantuan stick figure, he blended easily into the trees’ shadows and could quickly cover ground. This soon proved to be an excellent method and challenging enough with the hills and shortcuts. It was a good distraction.

By the fourth day, the patrol was growing stale and the need to sleep was finally beginning to wear on him.
After much deliberation, Deene finally inspected the trees overhanging the clearing and sought a sturdy specimen to give a clear view below. Once settled comfortably on a thick branch, he slouched down enough to keep his balance, and tilted his head back for a nap.

Lightly drawing on his gift, a thin coating of stone spread outward from his body, coating the section of tree where he sat, and also serving as extra sensors for shifts in the atmosphere or tremors of energy. With a wide yawn, he crossed his arms and his left shoulder, whispering the usual words to trick himself awake in an hour’s time.

With that done, the eyelids drooped as the scenery blurred away to a blissful darkness.

*****

Eira woke to the usual pounding headache she’d almost forgotten about. It had started at the end of her training and now it seemed to be squeezing the life of her out through her brain. “Ow.” The word was spoken through parched lips and a dry mouth. She winced, choosing not to voice the second protest.

With some difficulty, she managed to sit up and then to convince her legs to move. They seemed to be weighted, moving only with the assistance of her hands. Slowly licking her lips, Eira reached for her pack, hoping it was where she last remembered.

Memory was as fuzzy as her eyesight at present.

The pack was near and she found the canteen a few painful moments later. The stiffness seemed to be growing worse. The water canteen was clutched between both hands as she drank greedily for a moment, only able to process the fact that she was thirsty and there was water. By the time the rest of herself caught up to speed, Eira was able to move backwards a bit, to rest against a tree.

She was stiff and sore all over for no logical reason she could call to mind. Bracing against the tree, she worked for a moment, focusing to bring all the past memories to the surface.

In those moments, the silence of the clearing caught up to her. A careful look around showed the entire clearing to be empty. There were no men and no black knapsacks.

The pain in her body seemed to concentrate in her head before dropping directly into her stomach. It growled faintly, a reminder of necessity she didn’t care to acknowledge.

She hiccupped.

No.

Her feet scrabbled, trying to coordinate as she struggled to stand up. There was no sign of the Dark Phonenix…or Deene.

Another hiccup.

They wouldn’t leave…he wouldn’t leave…I’m…dreaming? No, not dreaming. This is a nightmare.
Reaching out with her energy, Eira tried to sense the protective dome her master would leave in place. Her energy tentatively snaked out in visible wisps of red from her fingertips, passing easily through the bushes and further outward.

A gasp left her lips and Eira quickly retracted the energy.

There was no dome.

Her feet began to burn and ache, so she bent down to wrestle off the standard issue boots. A moment of bliss came as her toes wiggled happily in the grass, digging into the mud. That was much better.

Her stomach rumbled again, drawing her attention to the lunch pot in the corner of the clearing. It was the only familiar item and further investigation only led to the discovery of a cold pot of bean soup.
Sticking a finger inside, Eira tasted it and then promptly spat on the ground.

Gross—what died in here? She stifled a shudder, backing away from the pot and to her spot near the tree, where she knelt to rummage through her knapsack. Perhaps they’d left a note of some sort.

Soft rustling in the bushes captured her attention and Eira tensed, the knapsack forgotten as she surged to her feet.

“Hello? Who’s there?”

The bushes continued to rustle and a few faint murmurings were heard. Eira hooked the knapsack with her foot and tossed it behind the tree, inching backwards to stay within sight, but feeling the energy coiling up inside her to run.

I hate running.

“Master Phoenix?” She tried, not daring to raise her voice higher than a whisper. If it was him, a whisper was sufficient enough. “Deene?”

There was no answer, but the rustling turned into shuffles and shouts as the greenery parted to let in two well-armed men. Two very familiar, very strong-looking men.

Oh. Snap.

Eira backed away towards the tree, intending to hide behind it when the first man called out.

“Hey kid! Nice to see you again.” He reached back, hauling his partner through the last of the prickly green bushes, one hand resting lightly on the energy whip coiled at his waist.

Not happening. Not happening. SO not happening! Wake up!

Her feet continued to move, carrying her to the opposite side of the clearing, careful to keep distance between them as she avoided the green cat-eyes watching her every move.

Great. Now I remember why I hate him so much. This can't be happening. How did they find me?

“We’ve had to tromp through this wretched forest in search of your pathetic genius.” The shorter of the two scowled, the expression more horrific with the pale pink scar that slashed from his eye to his neck. “So do us a favor and don’t run, all right? We all know how this is going to end.”

“Glad you got rid of those pesky bodyguards of yours though.” The tall blond snorted. “I don’t care to bargain with the fancy and famous.” He snapped the whip open, a length of crackling white and blue energy. “This will all be over in a few minutes and life will be back to normal for you.”

 “My life is never normal!” Eira rasped out. “And stay away from me!” A shudder ran through her. She could remember the taste of that whip. It hurt. Bad.

“Scary words from a spoiled brat. I’m terrified.” The glared deepened. “Fine. Have it your way. I don't feel up to polite conversation, so you'll excuse us, if we're in a bit of a hurry. Brin?”

“Right.” Brin shuffled forward, hands out to the sides, eyes wary. “C’mon, Eira, it’s us…you don’t have to do anything. This will all be over in a minute. You know what you really-”

“I'm not leaving and I’m not going with you.” Eira slowly settled into a defensive stance. “Go back and tell him that I’m not his pet anymore.” Her feet itched and she slowly moved in a small circle. “You know me, Brin…and so does Collin. It's me. Please? Tell him this for me?”

“It doesn’t have to be this way.” Collin said, smoothly, moving towards the left as Brin circled towards the right. "Begging won’t help, save it, you'll want the a good excuse this time. Did you really think you could stay hidden forever? We can’t leave you here—even if we wanted to—which, I don’t want to. I’m sick of these woods and I wager Brin hates ‘em more than I do. If I have to drag your-”

“Then leave.” Eira shifted forward, closer to them, again moving in a slight circle, stopping between them, her toes digging into the ground again. “No one is making you stay here. ”

“The same no one that won’t let us back home-?” Brin growled. “Got a life you know. Wife…kids.” From over his shoulder, he casually slid the shoulder ammunition belt over his head, hefting it in his hands. “Haven't seen them for a few months. Been tracking you. Missed a birthday. Excuse me if I'm feeling like Collin today. You're coming with us, even if I have to chase you down and-”

“I’m not leaving.” Her voice wobbled and Eira darted another glance around the clearing. There was still no Dark Phoenix or Deene. Her feet began to burn, the energy in her stomach trickling down through her legs and into her feet.

I can't believe it. He sent them after me. Still. After all this time...I can't believe it. No. I can believe it. I hate him. This is so unfair. I have a right to my own life and my own choices. I'm not a kid. I did not come this far just to be dragged back to his lair as if I'm some runaway slave that he paid too much for.  Her hands curled into fists. I am NOT going quietly. I am not going at all. I'm sick of being nice to people. I won't give this up!

“I don’t want to…hurt you. Any of you…please, just go!” Eira lifted her head, tilting it to the side. She'd fought them before and lost. But this time...it was different. She had more to lose.

“Don’t want to hurt us? Well, that’s awfully considerate of you, E.” Collin smirked. “Seeing as the only way you could cause trouble would be if we returned empty handed! Do you know what would happen then?”

“I’d be happy to tell you.” Brin began to thread the ammunition into a rifle that had seemingly appeared from nowhere. "I also don't mind mentioning what's going to happen when you get back. See, we've been hearing all about it every time the check-in calls come and we don't have your little face to plaster on the screen."

Eira swallowed.
 
Not again. I can’t fall for this again. I can’t go back! It's just a gun. It can't hurt me. It can't hurt...much. I can do this. Brin doesn't know what happens. He's just doing his job. Just doing his job. Just doing his job and his job is WRONG! How can he be so dense! He doesn't even care! He doesn't even know what I'm capable of....capable. I am capable. I'm tired of pretending to be stupid. Pity...for them.

“Just go to Collin and this will all be over with.” He cocked the rifle. “Run…and you know I will shoot.”

“I’m not running.” Eira heard herself say. “I’m tired of running.”



Tired of listening to your stupid speech too. I thought we were skipping polite conversation! You can't shoot me. I move too fast. You're slow...and clumsy...without Collin's directions. I'll have to take out Collin first. Lucky him. Lucky me. Well...at least he's tall. That helps. I can duck around him. I just have to get them out of here...or stuck here, then I can get out of here. I will always run away from this...them...this isn't my destiny. And this is a game that two can play. I'm tired of sitting on the sidelines. I can play this better than them.

“Good. Then stay put. That works too.” Collin tested the whip with a flick of his wrist. It snapped a few mere inches in front of Eira’s face.

She flinched. The memories in her head were talking now.

Mom...she always talked about the whisper people...I can use them for...yeah. I don't have to be whisper...I just have to be...related to one. I can't...oh man. If Master Phoenix shows up...this could be bad. I can't let him talk to them. I need to get them out of here. The whisper people always help children from whisper families. They should help me. They will help me! I know the words...I know the words to say. They should have left me alone. They should have gone away. They shouldn't work for him.  

“Leave me alone!” Eira charged forward, aiming for his waist and sliding to the ground, as she dodged around him, tracing another circle with her feet. It was smaller than the other circles, but just as effective. Everywhere her feet touched, a flickering ghostly footprint was left behind. She heard Brin's gasp and his fingers fumble before he swore. She'd surprised him.


Serves him right. She smirked. I'm not the little spoiled brat that they think I am. I'm not giving up without a fight this time. I am stronger. I have always been stronger. I can use Collin as a barrier...he won't shoot him, but if I'm quick enough, it won't matter. All I need is for him to stand in one of the circles. He'll wish that-

“Per nan-ka evannio!” The words left her lips as she dodged away, pulling free from the hand on her wrist. Collin had caught hold of her, but the angry lines of red energy traveling up her arms, made him release her with a scream.


That's right! Play with fire and burn. You will never touch me again! She almost laughed, watching him writhe in pain, the energy whip falling to the ground. Now you know what it feels like! Next time...maybe I'll make it permanent. You're just lucky I don't know how. There won't be a next time. I should take your precious little toy...no...it's probably got a tracer on it. I don't need more headaches! You're the reason my head keeps hurting! ALL THE TIME! You won't track me again. He shouldn't have sent you. He shouldn't have sent Brin. He shouldn't have sent two...two is child's play...and I'm having fun!.

A white circlet of light sprang up into an energy tube, trapping Collins inside. Brin dodged to the side to avoid her next lunge, the rifle whined as the energy coursed through it and Eira whirled around to face him, her eyes burning with bright red energy.

“Nan-ka, nan-ka!” She hissed. “Per nan-ka evannio!”

An invisible hand pushed the second brute backwards, effectively trapping him in another white energy tube—just like Collin.

Her hair swirled up behind her, the short strands poking at her ears and face, while her temper rose to usable proportions. The white fire was flowing from the ground, working up until she couldn’t see the men trapped inside the tubes.

The redness crackling at her fingertips was pure anger in its rawest form. Eira moved to stand between them, they were close enough that she could brace one hand on each tube. She reached one hand out towards Collin, feeling a satisfied hiss as the red energy grabbed at his throat and he struggled to pull it free. He couldn't scream, one patch of red energy fastened over his mouth, saw to that particular detail. This would hurt for a very long time. Eira rolled her head to the side. Her head was clear, no headaches, her mind quick.

Now for Brin! Wait...oh, real smart, Eira. I can’t do this….can’t use my own power…its traceable! I should have known that. Lucky Brin...I guess I'll just have to let him go...I should know how to do this so they can't trace it back. I've seen Mom do this before...with the men from the…I should…Mom used to say something...ugh! Why can't I remember what she says? It's something simple to...oh...now I remember.

The memory was clearer now and Eira drew on the whiteness pouring out from her feet to summon the unseen below in the realms of Whisper.

In twos, they appeared, wispy, white figures, with faces too abstract to focus on and swirling white costumes with glittering silver and gold. One fellow stood out form the pairs, and moved forward to speak with the one who had summoned them. He wore a black headdress, covering his face, except for grey eyes, white symbols visible on top of his feet as he advanced.

“You requested our assistance, child?”

“Take them away.” Eira choked back a hysterical laugh. “Take them back where they belong. I don’t want to see them again…take them…through…”

Take them through where? I can’t…kill them…that wouldn’t be right. I don’t think that would be right. I'm not monsters like they are! But I can’t let them go and ruin everything…I can’t give this up. I need to be here. I need to find Master Phoenix again. I need to get away...they need to be...they need to forget. Brin needs to forget. Collin won't bother me again. He won't bother anyone again. I know He'll see to that, but Brin...I can't risk it with...unless I send them through the bad place...they leave me no choice!
 

“Take them through the darkness. Make sure they remember.” Eira spoke as calmly as she could, crossing her toes to give her mind something to focus on.

“As you wish.” The masked man murmured. He bowed to her and turned towards the two captive men. There was a faint, white hum and with a brilliant flash, everything disappeared.

Eira couldn’t close her eyes in time and she gave a cry, crumpling to the ground as her feet gave out beneath her.

Help….Master Phoenix….

*****

Deene yawned, mentally counting the flowers dancing through his head, when the first tremor registered. It was annoying enough that he almost opened his eyes, but when he didn’t hear anything convincing enough, he opted to return to the lovely dream.

The second tremor shook the branches more deliberately than the first and he groggily sat up, wondering exactly what was going on below. Rubbing his eyes open, Deene peered down just in time to see a brilliant flash of white.

It was enough of a surprise that he lost his balance and crashed through the tree branches, to land solidly on the ground.

“Ow.” He growled, painstakingly unfolding himself from the earthen dent. His quick assessment of the situation bred feelings of despair as he took in the crumpled apprentice, three scorched circles in the grass and a tipped over pot of soup. “Aw man!”

He sat back on the ground with a heavy thump. This was going to be bad.

©

3 comments:

Rita's Random Ramblings said...

Your writing gift is powerful! I look forward to reading many novels by "Sara". Hugs, RIta

Sharlyn Guthrie said...

You are so creative! What a gift.

Yvonne said...

Even without knowing all the former plot, I understood a lot of it...very interesting! Great imagination, Sara!