Black Sun: What you hide finds you 2
June 18, 2012 § 1 Comment
Lizabeth stepped over the burning corpses, with giant talons of fire extending from the seething red-orange stripes along her body. Belan wrinkled her nose at the smell of searing meat, her own blue aura like a sea enfolding her.
“No. You made it mercy. I wanted it to be vengeful.”
“You wanted revenge on a pack of slavers you didn’t know for crimes they inflicted on people you never met?”
“Succinctly put, yes.” The flames now fully coiled around her body, she snorted and a lick of fire curled around her teeth. “Do you know where their ship is?”
“Yes.” Belan’s skin, the color of rich loam, glowed with the slowly rippling blue waves of light that she emitted. Sometimes Liz took pleasure or comfort from Belan’s presence, unlike today. Today Belan’s unflappable calm was making her teeth itch. “They have already taken several of the natives captive. We must hurry before they miss these, and take their ship off world to find a buyer.”
“How much of a hurry should we be in?”
“Enough that yes, we should fly there.” Belan closed her golden eyes and the waves of blue around her body shimmered, lifting her into the air. Liz simply imagined huge orange wings of crackling flame, and with a snap they carved at the air, throwing her skyward. Together, they made their way toward the direction of the ship, in the same general direction as the astonishingly fertile planet’s southern magnetic pole. Liz had grown up on a planet with plent of plant life, but had never seen anything like this. It made the jungles in her mom’s old Encyclopedia Britannica look like an overgrown backyard.
She felt a sudden longing for the woman, dead for over twenty years, and hated it.
They flew in silence. If Belan had wanted to, she could have listened to Liz’s thoughts, but they’d known one another long enough that it wasn’t necessary for her to intrude. If she didn’t know what Liz was thinking, she surely knew how Liz would approach what they were finding. Slavery was one of the things that offended the strange alien woman Belan first befriended as a student, brought to the Court of the Oldest by Khayyin. Liz had been there for a year or two before Belan had finally met her, and in that time, whatever she’d gone through that made her a Krimath was etched into every line of her as well as the burning tattoos that covered her flesh.
Belan had listened to the story, told so devoid of emotion that it had felt unreal. Liz had lost her people, everyone she’d known and loved, in one night and it had never left her. For Belan, who had come to the Azuri seeking meaning and a purpose greater than the raw warring for status among her own kind, Liz seemed scarred and unfulfilled. And at times, Belan wished she could be the one to offer fulfillment to her friend. But there was always the twin barriers, their very different lives lived on worlds that had no knowledge of the other’s existence. Liz’ people had ideas about love and sex that made absolutely no sense to Belan, and Liz had absorbed them, even before deciding to cut herself off from every emotion but anger.
In a way, if Belan allowed it, it would be frustrating. The Blue One had spent a very long time teaching Belan how to let go of such clutter. Emotions, it would say in that ageless voice, are worth cherishing. But to cling to them at the cost of damaging yourself is not wisdom. The water wears down everything in time. She would give Liz time. It was all she could do.
It might have been easier if they were both Lokari, but would Liz even be who she was then? Belan was drawn to the brief glimpses she’d gleaned of the person within Liz’s cage of fire – the shy grin, the laugh like glass melting and pouring in glowing trails, the fearless one who did not play games with feelings. Even Belan, trained as she was, couldn’t say she never did that, but she knew Liz didn’t. For good or ill, whatever her friend felt was genuine.
The lovely, dense foliage, in a wide and stunning palette of colors ranging from deep, wine-red to the orange of crushed beetle shells, surrounded and supported by endless shades of green, managed to distract her slightly. It would be so much easier if she could just sit her friend down and tell her how she felt, or simply show her the thoughts she kept close. Cherished, locked away safely. So much easier. Perhaps the Blue One could advise her, when they returned.
Liz pointed, and then Belan saw it. Smoke, trailing up from where the craft was in the memories she’d pried from the destroyed mind of one of her own people, the ravaged, torn apart psyche of a Lokari like herself. Now an incinerated corpse well behind her. Perhaps it should have bothered her how easily she’d stolen those thoughts, but all she’d been able to think about was finding a way to ease the frenzied need to act screaming at her from Liz’s mind. She closed her eyes and built another wall of waves to lock out the sudden kindling of baffled fury to her right, flames crashing against water.
Liz beat those flaming wings of hers against the air and shot forward. Belan imagined wind, and followed.
It was supposed to be easy.
Hesthet had grown impatient with the delay, and she ordered Mrevket into a combat suit with a mere look, but one he was long familiar with. He’d gotten kitted out in silence, as had she, both of them dressing in the finest woven carbon microfiber from the Drayev, a Cenian arms manufacturing colony. Like most Cenian technology, it was considered among the finest that could be found in the spiral arm. It greatly enhanced strength, speed, reaction time, resistance to injury, and could even seal up to survive a host of environments. It was absolute overkill for this gentle garden of a planet.
“Nirren, report.” Hoisting a massive energy weapon over her left shoulder, she stepped down the ramp of the ship with Mrevket behind her, carrying a similar armament. They were both very familiar with squad tactics, and he took a position covering her while giving himself a good arc of fire that didn’t risk hitting her. The suits were designed to be able to diffuse even the molecular rupturing, but even so no reason to risk friendly fire. As a male, Mrevket couldn’t directly benefit from her death, so it was unlikely he’d actually want to kill her, but Hest hadn’t lived as long as a slaver captain by taking chances.
That’s when Hest saw the figure standing in the clearing where she’d first caught the natives. It was on the very edge of the tree line, hidden by the thick green-red leaves of the sessile almost plants. Thinking it was a native, she opened her will to try and seize it.
It wasn’t a native. Her will slid off of it like a hook trying to dig into polished diamond. All she could sense in that instance was a contempt and loathing for her so vast that it could be felt through that monolithic shielding, a mind that could barely contain how much it wanted her dead. And before she could act, before she could even think a warning at Mrevket, she saw two points of green light appear in the darkness and she knew exactly what it was.
The Godkillers. It was a Godkiller. And it was here.