Authors: Jaymin Eve
I laughed. “Well, I was going to punch him, but I could probably kick him in the face if I tried.”
Lucy grimaced. “Not me
. You’re all too tall. You take his face and I’ll take his jewels.”
I snorted a
s Lucas’ hands moved to shield himself. He caught the movement though, halting it halfway.
“Why did I deci
de to journey with three women?” he muttered, taking the lead as we continued to follow Channa through their secret green grotto.
Our small talk
was over so I took the time to study the land as we walked. I had never seen any of these trees or plants before. They were not overly tall, but very thick and bushy. There seemed to be a variety of bulbous root-type vegetation and small berries, but I didn’t see many other fruits.
My mind started to wander as we continued across the large space.
I’d been studiously ignoring the golden thread in my head, but at this moment I realized it was tugging at me. That hadn’t happened before. My heartbeat accelerated. Was the Seventine trying to contact me?
had to work hard to ignore the strand, because there was this constant temptation to grab hold and see Brace again. I ached every moment. And I just plain missed him more than anything. But until someone figured out how to separate them, seeing him was only going to create far bigger problems. Like tempting me into making a deal. I hadn’t forgotten his offer. For some reason I couldn’t automatically dismiss it.
I shut my mind off again
t was time to bring my focus back to the situation we were in. We were still moving across the huge forest area and at this pace we’d made a good distance. The other side was coming up fast. I could see the group of men gathered at the junction, blocking our exit. I recognized Jordan standing with a dozen or so others, all garbed similarly, and I figured we were looking at the tribe leaders.
Channa.” Jordan stepped out of the circle to greet his partner.
Both hands encircled her biceps as he lifted her off the ground and touched his forehead to hers.
“You heard of the nomads’ attack?” he continued, lowering her back to stand on her own feet.
.” She frowned. “I figured if we moved quickly enough you would have time to show these travelers where to follow. The eclipse has only just begun?” she questioned.
He nodded. “
We must wait two more sunbeams. Make sure you keep up.”
realized he was now addressing us.
A thumping noise had
everyone spinning back to face the forest area. A black-skinned man dashed into view.
Luiz, what are you doing? You cannot rush through the sacred grotto. You might damage the plants.” Channa’s voice was tight and cold.
“I must accompany you to find Fury.” He stood tall, his voice low.
Was he her mate?
“We leave now.” Jo
rdan gave the Crais man a nod.
“I am ready.”
Luiz smoothed down his leafy belt.
I gathered my e
nergy as everyone fell in close, mentally preparing myself for the drain. It was worse now that I knew the suns’ intensity.
“Fury can’t stand
in the sun at all. Even with the leaves, she will not have made it far,” Jordan said as he hit the side of the rock wall and it opened. Daylight flooded the area we were in. “We must climb to the surface. We will wait for you at the top.”
The men started to
move up what looked like a rock ladder. I spread my shield around everyone, knowing we had no choice but to trust these men and follow them out into the sun. I let my friends go ahead. That way I could keep an eye on my shield coverage. I had to be diligent because as we ascended the air would no longer be breathable.
definitely nowhere near as fit or dexterous as the tribal leaders; they scaled the rock ladder quickly, while we lagged much further behind. Lucy seemed to be the one who complained the most and took the longest. I continued to find myself clinging to the edge of the rocks waiting for those above to move it. The tips of my fingers were slightly abraded, but my Walker healing fixed that up quickly.
grew brighter as we moved; I managed to shift the glasses that had been resting on my head back down over my eyes. I noticed Lucas reach up to help Lucy do the same. I hated it when he was thoughtful; it was easier to detest an arrogant asshat. Finally we reached the edge, and with a deep breath I followed everyone up into the burning brightness.
The surface of Crais looked exactly the same as before
: dead, with red and black splashes of contrast. In fact I couldn’t tell if we were in the same spot where the dragon had attacked us or somewhere different.
followed the tribal leaders as they ducked in and out of shaded areas. They seemed able to withstand very small portions of direct sun.
I hoped they knew where they were going,
especially if we only had an hour until the sun eclipse ended and everyone had to be back in the caves. My shield would last longer than that, but there would be no point in us staying out there. We’d never find anything without their help.
The silence seemed unnatural inside our shelter; I could almost feel
the heavy thoughts. Well, maybe not Lucas’s. I doubt he had many thoughts besides where to find his next bimbo. His white teeth flashed at me. Either he’d read my mind or the fact I’d been kind of staring in his direction had prompted the smile. I flipped him off in return. His smile broadened. Lucy and Talina snorted with laughter.
“Acting like an ass is not going to deter me
,” Lucas said.
“Oh, so we’
re talking now? Thank god. I hate forced silence. I feel like all these thoughts are going to burst from my head.” Lucy chattered away.
I shrugged. “Since we only have an hour and we know the air lasts longer than that
, I don’t see why we can’t chat.” I shifted my eyes to Lucas. “And I’m not trying to deter you; I just simply don’t like you.”
He actually laughed out loud. “You don’t hate me. You want to hate me; there
’s a difference.”
He might have a point. I more hated the attraction I had
toward him. It felt disloyal, despite the fact there was not one ounce of doubt in my mind that I belonged with Brace. But for some reason Lucas was hard to push away, and I desperately needed him out of my personal space. So for now the hate would continue.
“Are you all getting a weird vibe from these people?” Talina asked.
Lucy snorted. “Yes! First they started with that friggen water induction. And now this little adventure seems all too planned. Co-incidence? I think not.”
“Yeah, but what is their end game?” As I said this I noticed
my shield was a little close to Talina. Without effort, I expanded it.
“I think they’
re counting on your power to help them recover their lost tribe members,” Talina added quietly. “That’s what we would have done on Spurn.”
That did make sense.
“Considering I have a vested interest in finding Fury, they might just get lucky today,” I said.
We had to increase
our speed to keep up with them. They were running flat out now across an exposed plane toward a mountainous cliff face. It had to be the largest rocky overhanging area that we had seen since arriving on Crais. I noticed the dark entrance first, a large opening carved deep into the mountain.
“Do you think these nomads live in that cave?” Lucy sounded nervous.
I couldn’t blame her. Dark caves were creepy. And I was kind of sick of being in them.
Looks like we’re about to find out,” Lucas said as the tribal leaders disappeared into the darkened entrance.
were close behind them, and everyone crowded into me. We tripped over each other, but it was easier to maintain my shield. Our footsteps echoed off the rock walls as we continued our dash. Even after removing my glasses I still couldn’t see any further than about ten yards in front. I just hoped we were heading in the right direction. Lucy gripped my hand tightly; without Walker abilities, she’d have almost no vision.
houts could be heard in the distance. We increased our speed before emerging into an open space. I threw out my free arm to halt everyone at the edge of the room. The mossy lights illuminated the chaos that was reigning before us. The tribe members we’d followed leapt around attempting to fight off a dozen men who had long blindingly white hair. The nomads stood taller and more muscled than the tribespeople, their skin a shade of burnt red like the dirt outside.
“Do you think we
’re far enough underground to breathe the air?” Lucy asked.
he was bouncing on her feet like she did before fight-class back home.
shifted my eyes to her. I’d been in plenty of fights lately, but clearly Lucy thought she’d been missing out.
“I have no idea
, but we should test it out. I nominate Lucas,” I said as I turned and shoved him out of the shield.
e stumbled into the clear space next to us. Talina gasped and Lucy snorted with laughter. I watched closely. If he struggled to breathe I was totally prepared to extend the shield, I swear.
Lucas glared at me before
closing his eyes; I think he was counting to ten. Opening them again, he nodded to indicate it was fine to breathe the air. I slowly retracted my energy. The air had that dirty ash taste to it again, much worse than anything I’d experienced. But if I breathed shallowly it was bearable.
“You should give a guy some warning the next time you’re trying to kill him. It’s only polite.” Lucas bit the words out.
“Don’t be a little baby. If I was trying to kill you, you’d know about it.”
’s cough interrupted our bickering. “You two fight like an old married couple. And seriously, what is this crap we’re breathing? My lungs actually hurt.”
Lucy and Talina. “Make sure you two let me know if it’s too much for you to handle.”
“It’s not pleasant
, but I seem to be doing okay,” Talina said.
Now that we had established our ability to breathe we turned back to the scene. Many of the tribe
smen were looking down and defeated. The nomads were clearly the dominant fighters. They used no weapons that I could see, just hand-to-hand combat.
and another tribesman were working as a team, throwing each other into their opponents to knock them down. It was clever, but definitely required huge levels of control and acrobatic ability. Otherwise they could just as easily hurt themselves. Had all the rock climbing given them those necessary strengths and skills?
Before I could stop her Lucy took off
. She dodged around the main group of white-haired men, who were giants compared to her. Once she was in the centre she used her small stature to her advantage, ducking around and taking out the unsuspecting nomads’ legs.
Within seconds she had shifted
the advantage toward the tribes. I actually stood there dumbfounded for a moment. She was laughing her ass off as she punched, judo-rolled and crown-jewel-kicked her way through the white-haired men.
I knew I needed to get in there too, but her sheer craziness had me alternating between freaking out with worry and laughing my
own ass off. Shaking my head, I gathered some energy the way I’d been taught and started firing off small balls of power.
t was hard in the semi-darkness to make sure I hit the intended target and not someone on our own side. I sent one off into a man who had been approaching Lucy from behind. She’d been too busy swinging off a nomad’s long white hair to notice. The man in question was furious, twirling around with fists flying, trying to dislodge her. He didn’t have a chance.
behavior had certainly upped in recklessness since the whole Samuel incident. Like the rest of us, she had a lot of anger to work through.
When I reached her, she
stepped in back-to-back with me. We’d fought that way a lot and it worked very well for these large group situations.
are you doing, Luce?”
“I’m going all Chuck Norris on their asses
,” she said as she launched off my back and two-foot-kicked a man in the head. “I don’t need a weapon; I am one.”
I was about to answer when I noticed a spectacle to my right.
“Where are our women?” Jordan bellowed as he repeatedly smashed a nomad’s head into the rock floor. “You keep taking them and we never see them again.”
, who had dropped back in unscathed, shook her head. “I don’t know how he thinks a dead man can answer questions.”
might not be dead – yet. But he was definitely knocked out cold, small slivers of blood seeping around his forehead.
rdan, I think he might be done,” I yelled, jumping to the side as two wrestling men crashed into our space.
a deep voice bellowed out, echoing through the cavernous area.
he nomads stopped actively fighting, although they still worked to restrain the remaining tribesmen.
“We will fight no more. Fury has agreed to stay and in exchange we will give back all of the others.” A nomad stepped into view.
He was tall and broad, his skin a fiery red although there was a white sheen across it, as if he was wearing heavy-duty sunscreen. He carried the aura of being ‘in charge’ and as his fierce eyes flashed around the room I figured not many would disobey him. Behind him stood a few dozen tribeswomen. They looked shaken but otherwise unharmed.
“Fury would never have agreed to stay.”
Luiz, her friend, stepped forward. “Where is she? Let her speak for herself.”
! I was surprised he had the guts to address the nomads so bluntly. I hoped they didn’t kill him; I truly admired loyalty in friends.
, cave dweller. I’m not interested in you or your opinion. The only reason you will leave here alive is that Fury has agreed to co-operate fully.”
re going to use her as a breeder.
Jordan mouthed the words to me.
My anger peaked then
. What was it with men who thought they could just take you and rape you because you were female? It happened all the time on Earth too, and honestly we needed a way to defend ourselves against this brutality. Like barbed-wire vagina guards. I stepped around the men who were blocking me from view. I couldn’t stop the words spilling from my mouth.
red asshole. Fury is not a plaything for you morons to try and force a baby from.”
He spun around to stare me down, but I’d had far too much experience with arrogant Walkers
. His power-play was nothing in comparison.
m going to give you two minutes to release her. Or things are going to get very ugly.”
While I was speaking I noticed that the tribe
swomen were being shuffled to the back of the caves. They soon disappeared from view, and I hoped that meant they were being taken to safety, because things were about to get messy. The nomad continued to stare before throwing back his head and laughing.
n’t know what you are.” He tilted his head to the side. “Some type of weird hybrid alien species, I assume, but you amuse me. I think I’ll keep you too.”
He gestured to a few of
his men. They slowly moved into a circle to surround me. I sighed. No one ever wanted to take the easy way out. The one to my left dived in, arms extended. I sent a blast into his face, flinging him back ten feet. I followed this with a full extended kick into another’s throat, dropping him to the ground in a choking mess. The next golden ball was flung into the third one to try me.
A fourth stepped in from the side and clipped
me across the chin with a well-placed jab. I winced as my head snapped back. One of my hands reached to hold my face, the other firing forward to crunch into his nose. My speed was turning out to be an advantage against the bulky nomads.
From the corner of my eye I noticed the
remaining tribal men move across the room to intercept Lucy, Talina and Lucas. They then started to back away, taking my friends with them. What the crap were they doing? I spun around to follow but my path was blocked.
Where are you taking them?” I screeched at the black-skinned Crais men.
The nomads continued to
herd me toward their leader, although they now seemed reluctant to get too close. I watched in horror as three tribesmen maneuvered Lucy. Talina, who was virtually powerless in this land without water, was dragged along by another two, while six surrounded Lucas, pushing him back along the dark path. Were they taking them out into the sun? They couldn’t survive without my shield. When they disappeared from my sight, fear and panic flooded through me.
I let my power explode
. It came in waves and torrents, knocking all those around me to the ground. I took off, sprinting as hard as I could along the darkened pathway. Reaching the end where the sun was too bright for me to see clearly, I erected my shield mere moments before I’d have been burnt to death.
I looked around
. There was nothing: no tribesmen, no nomads, just a circling beast high up which looked very much like the mythical dragon again.