In the aftermath of the crash, the people struggle with food and warmth. And Phea suspects some of her people may want to harm Etos.
written by M. Sydnor Jr.
Schlora had one massive ocean that occupied forty percent of the planet. Phea had never been there, had never seen it, only heard rumors of its beauty. She couldn’t imagine it being better than this, though. The warm water crawling between her toes and the sand slowly swallowing her feet. She enjoyed it, even for a moment. After the past stressful days, she needed to unwind. Here, in this spot, feeling the water, looking past Blue to the island, then above the island to the sky, she was good. She was happy…for now.
The elder joined her.
“What now?” she asked him, but kept her view on the sky in an attempt to stay at peace while returning to reality.
“I suppose I should be asking you that question, Phea.”
She sighed. “I suppose.”
Perhaps, he was right. By default, she was second in command of Blue and its occupants. She had saved the elder and everyone else from death. Helps that she was Schloran, too. But did that matter?
Phea knew the elder had come for a discussion. She didn’t know what about, but knew it would harden her view and blacken her mind. Nevertheless, she tried to hold on to this wonderful free feeling.
“Beautiful, isn’t it?”
He stepped forward and looked with her. “Reminds me of home. Caspa! This water is much warmer. And less populated,” he laughed.
“I wouldn’t know,” she said.
“Never been to Caspa?”
“Was born on the edgeway, thousands of miles away from the water. Then, when they found out about the, uhh…” Her two eyes looked up to her third, “they took me away. Seems I’ve spent more of my life in space than on Schlora.”
Following a brief silence, he turned toward her.
“The people are restless, Phea. Scared. They fear he is going to leave us once he fixes his ship.”
A loud clank banged from the stagnant ship in the water, echoed by Etos’ grunts.
“He’s just trying to find out where we are, that’s all. Get the systems back online. But he won’t leave. I promise you. Not without me, he won’t. He may be Uridian, but he’s a good man. Just…give him time.”
“He has no issue from me, that man. He can have all the time he needs, but them…” He looked back at the scattered groups of Schloran men, woman and children. “They fear him. Do you know what fear does to a Schloran man, Phea? Turns his mind to chaos.”
“Thank you, Tigus.”
The elder bowed, then scooted away as the young girl rushed in and nearly tackled Phea with a massive hug.
The young girl was more beautiful than the view. She knew Azima wouldn’t sour the mood. They cuddled on the sand with the tide rising to their ankles until the sun started to hide.
“Something is wrong, Phea.”
She sensed fear in Azima’s voice. And for a young girl who had risked her life for hers, when stronger, more capable Schlorans didn’t, this had to be serious. Phea turned to her and knelt, her knees in the water. “What is it?” Phea asked, her third eye studying the girl.
“The men out there, I think they want to hurt the man in the ship.”
“Oh? Why do you say that?”
Azima grabbed Phea’s wrist and pulled her away from the shore. A row of fifty-foot trees lined the beach, concealing the rest of the forest. They’d made a nice camp on the shore, before the trees. Some ate (mostly bugs they’d found when they arrived), others chatted. Azima pointed to one group with four men, huddled secretively, suspiciously.
“There. I heard them say the ship man’s name.”
Already a resistance? Hours after being saved from radicals and they pull this. Or are there still radicals amongst us.
One man within this group of four she’d suspected from the start. Witter. A blue-skinned man from Northern Schlora. He’d questioned her every decision from the time she’d relocated them from the Schloran ship to Blue. Even when she’d made sure of their safety when they were fighting their way through the black hole. And as the tall man spotted her coming their way, he ceased all chatter with his associates, and they all faced her.
Azima was right behind her when she approached the man.
“Well, if it isn’t our Queen and Savior,” Witter welcomed her.
The others smirked. Clearly ass-kissers. But four men was hardly a revolution if there was one.
“Everything okay here?” she asked.
“We’re hungry,” one of the men griped.
“Are we meant to starve out here in this unknown world, fending for ourselves when you and that beast hoard all the goodies?” Witter questioned.
“Nonsense. Everyone will be fed.”
“Yeah. And once he feeds us, he leaves us,” he preached to his men. “I know how the Uridian beasts think.”
Azima pulled at Phea’s arm, but she ignored her. If there was ever a time to show her authority, it was now. Before this dangerous man riled up more of her people and have them all turn against her, and Etos. They were her people, but Etos was family.
“Now, you listen here…” Her third eye started to twitch, but the men stopped paying attention and looked behind her. Azima was tugging her arm still and she looked down at the young girl and found her pointing up at Blue.
Phea turned and looked towards the cockpit window and saw a woman standing there. Brown-skinned with long yellow hair. She couldn’t get a good look at her face before she walked away. But she knew it was not Etos, nor any of the Schlorans.
She abandoned the encounter with Witter and ran back into the water, hustling for the opened hatch in the ship’s rear. “Etos!” she screamed. “Etos!”
She climbed into the bay as Etos entered from the corridor with a tool in his hand. “Phea! What is it?”
“Someone’s up top. In the cock pit.” She tried to catch her breath.
Etos grumbled, “Those dirty scum. I told you to keep your eyes on them. Wait until I—”
“No, no. Everyone’s outside. I think—I think it’s someone else.”
“Someone else? It’s only been me in here—”
A loud clank banged from up top and Etos looked up. He dropped the tool and squeezed his fists. “Stay here,” he said. Then he mumbled something under his breath, some violent words Phea heard. He was convinced it was one of her people.
Maybe she was wrong. Had she made a mistake? Had someone snuck past her and entered the ship or had everyone not gotten off when they crashed? No way was she going to stand by while Etos investigated this mystery. If it was a Schloran then it’d be her fault and she’d see to it that they’d be punished. Because if Etos caught a Schloran messing around on his ship, it’d be bad. Really bad.
So, she tagged along. He was too focused on finding out who this was for him to protest her company. Did this person have something to do with shutting Kee down? Were they responsible for the crash? Who was it?
As they climbed the ladder, the lights flickered in the upper level’s corridor. The setting reminded her of the cyclops and she instantly regretted following Etos. She kept a good distance behind him as he searched the sides of the hall.
Before they reached the end of the corridor, that led to another, that led to the cockpit, the mystery person in question appeared at the end of the hall.
The corner was dark, the flickering of the lights stopped and they only saw the silhouette of a woman. Etos continued his pace but Phea stopped. It was no Schloran woman, the height on her. The long hair. Her shape. Phea’s senses hadn’t tricked her after all.
“Show yourself,” Etos said as he continued halfway down the hall. “Now!”
The shadow stepped forward.
“Ada!” Etos gasped, stopped… then dropped to his knees.
The woman came forward as Phea ran to Etos. She kneeled next to him and watched this…imposter…come at them. She didn’t regret following him now. All of her instincts told her to protect him from whatever this was. She looked like Ada, yeah, but she didn’t feel Ada’s presence…. It was someone else. Something else.
Etos stroked Phea’s face and pointed to this thing walking at them. “Phea! Phea look. It’s her. It’s really her. My wife, Ada. My love. Don’t you see?” he whined.
“She’s not your wife,” Phea tried to explain, but he was lost in this impossible encounter.
He pushed her out of the way and threw up his hands as the woman stopped before them.
It looked like Ada, for sure. But something was off about the face. A bit different, bigger eyes, different colors, changing in the moment.
“Are you crazy? Look at her, won’t you?” Etos said.
The thing kneeled as Etos crawled to her. It touched his face and said, “She’s right, sir. I am not your wife.”
She sounded like…
“Kee!” Etos jumped back, landed on his butt and scooted back to Phea.
“How?” Phea asked.
“Conversion,” Kee answered.
written & created by
M. Sydnor Jr.
copyright © M. Sydnor Jr.