Black Sun: All Alone Together 1
November 10, 2011 § 1 Comment
She lay sleepless in darkness and watched the fire crawl along her naked body, remembering.
She had a hard time keeping track of years, considering she had never been back. She knew it had been many, but how many? Twenty? When aging slowed, and life became mission after mission, did it even matter how long? Every time she closed her eyes, she was back in dead Edgersall and they were coming through the door. She lay on her front and applied tension to her shoulders, feeling the pain where her neck pulled against the taut muscle of her upper back, and closed her eyes. She wasn’t going to sleep.
She didn’t really get hungry anymore. She just felt sick when she tried to live too long on energy pulled from the zero point instead of eating. She could go days without food, without sleep, longer if hunting. She wished she was hunting now, instead of laying in a dark room trying to force herself to sleep while memories spun around inside her head.
The room itself was sparse, made of white material most likely spun out of a zathrak’s crystal glands. She hated to admit it, but the zathrak still creeped her out. Too many limbs, with two huge carapace-like structures on either side of their bodies. It wasn’t their fault they looked like her nightmares. She was supposed to be better than that.
She opened her eyes, and knew they were glowing like banked embers. She forced herself to breathe, to calm her pulse, to let the fire recede. She knew the voice.
“Belan.” Her neck craned up to look at the woman she shared a room with. “Back from wherever it is?”
“Hasrath. It’s one of my people’s old colonies, actually.” Belan, like many she’d met over the years, looked vaguely human. She spoke a language that was as much gibberish to Elizabeth as english was to her, but both were strong enough senders and receivers to make up the difference. Belan was tall, thin, but not wire and sinew like Elizabeth, and rather than seething flashes of fire etched into her skin she wore colorful blue streaks from cyan to azure to sapphire and turquoise. It was as if her body had tides of color. Her skin was dark, almost mahogany, and she had an effortless grace that would have made Elizabeth jealous if she had the capacity.
“What did they have you doing?” She liked Belan, as much as she could.
“Monitoring politics. The hives are in disarray, many of the people are retreating deeper into Lokari Mantruus and leaving the outsystem colonies to fend for themselves. We don’t know why.” The glowing yellow eyes of the taller woman looked over Elizabeth critically. “You haven’t been eating? We should get food now.”
Knowing there was no point in arguing with Belan (she’d simply frown and be upset) Elizabeth merely nodded.
It was the only city on the surface of the planet. This was in part due to the fact that at some point long before any records they had, someone had bombarded the place with every kind of attack imaginable, and it had never recovered. The biosphere was in fact transplanted in great strips of protected habitat visible from orbit. She knew this because she’d gone up to see it.
It had no name as such. It didn’t need one, being the only city on the entire planet. Some called it Biv. Her first teacher had called it that, but he never explained it to her. It was a city built without streets or vehicle paths, because almost every being making use of it could fly or walk anywhere they wanted to go. The atmosphere was mostly nitrogen with argon, with just enough oxygen to make it possible for her to breath once she’d learned how to extract it. She still hated the sensation.
The city had a crazy quilt appearance, as the structures had in many cases been rebuilt from ancient, ancient buildings native to the planet or built as newcomers arrived. The sweeping domes of the original inhabitants were interspersed with the huge, cylindrical towers of Belan’s people, or the corkscrews of the zathrak, or a collection of floating hexagons, or filaments rising to a central point. There were organic life forms, crystals, completely synthetic, methane and polymer beings, colonies of beings too small for her to see and all sorts of alternatives.
She remembered when the Orphan had brought her there, led her to the huge central sphere floating in the very center point, where all the structures seemed to radiate from and warned her.
“You are about to meet our eldest. You will not understand yet, so please just try and respect.”