By the Light of Chromis

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Science Fiction  |  House: AJ's Archive Writing Critique Group

After a thousand years of hypersleep, a young, female alien with an identity crisis arrives on an eerily quiet, hauntingly beautiful planet (Rho) with an intense need to hunt and destroy.

I’d made it to Rho—The tiny failure in orbit.

“A most mediocre rock,” I remarked to my shadow—my most familiar companion at that point…aside from the kind galaxies that avoided the temptation to destroy the course of my spacecraft or my thousand years of frozen solitude. Their unspoken generosity cradled the huntress in me all the way to my destination.

This planet of pink sand and milk white ponds appeared to be a beautiful place, made lovelier by the scatterings of yellow moss hugging the base of the jagged quartz mountains in the distance. I sat for a long while in my landed spacecraft, ogling my surroundings through the glass hood. I resolved to tuck any admiration for Rho’s beauty away, quickly. It was a useless thought.

The orange star, Chromis—as vibrantly pigmented as my orange skin—provided plenty light for me. I decided to climb out. Finally, I made my first steps onto the terrain. The air was heavy and murky with a still fog—much like my dreary thoughts.

My plan for Rho was simple. I’d get vengeance for the murder of Grandfather Hygourd.

Poor Grandfather…

He may’ve been from Earth, but he was the most loving, caring adoptive guardian I’d ever had…and he was the most amazing captain, carrying out another mission many eons ago, to claim this very planet. I remember being confused about how he’d even met his shipmates…the beings that were vile enough to kill their captain. So scathingly evil.

This planet…His planet…was supposed to be named Hygourd 1. The deviants saw to it that he’d never succeed.

I cracked the rigid knuckles of all fourteen of my digits, hiking farther into the direction of the orange light, my seven-foot stature cut through the fog in feverish anger. I tried with deep breaths to release the thoughts of him suffering at the hands of the greedy deviants he had trusted. I had to remain on these grounds until my vengeance touched whomever or whatever on Rho.

I released a vibration from inside my core. It helped me to perceive what lied on Rho’s surface as well as what lied beneath—

I stopped abruptly in my tracks. I detected something…

…something small…round…shy of a single millimeter thick.

I bounded 192 more steps down this Chromis-lit path to a tiny jagged quartz rock. I detected a coin inside, mysteriously suspended within the rock…probably hardened and degraded under the sweltering heat of Chromis.

My fingertips hardened and I found myself intently chipping away at it. If a coin was a part of the perpetrators’ riches—if it had any semblance of importance, I’d waste no time in finding other ones, claiming what should’ve rightly been in Grandfather’s hands.

Suddenly, I drew in a sharp breath. I ceased chipping. Sometimes I carried the burden of error in my echolocation, but…my margin of error was broader than I’d ever imagined. The spikes along the spine of my back stood at attention. I felt a disturbance of upright beings.

I hissed loudly in natural defense, and let my fingertips grow longer and harder while whipping myself around to face whomever it was.

Ten shadowy figures stood in silence. They were no more than two feet away from me. My heart drummed loudly. These things…

They were like onyx…but humanoid.

Their forms weren’t even receiving the light of Chromis, and…

They had no faces.

That was not the way in which my hunt should’ve advanced…I needed to look the perpetrators in the eye in such a way as to make them cower in fear…but there were no eyes to glare into. I felt as though all of my control had been transferred to them in some unspeakable way.

Before I realized it, my legs sprang into motion and my body was rapidly cutting through the fog like a sword. I was retreating to my ship…in cowardice. I sprinted and punched random pieces of quartz that jutted out closely enough to me in such a way as to shoot shards at them. I hadn’t even looked to see whether the shards hit them or not…or if these beings were following me.

“What are they?”

I tapped the command board hidden inside the center of my broad chest to open the hood of my ship. I leaped inside with such a forceful thud. As I tried to control my rapidly heaving chest, I sealed myself inside with another tap.

My eyes widened at the stream of black slithering its way toward my ship…and it morphed back into those 10 beings—inches away from my glass hood.

I quivered relentlessly…

I was ashamed to be so scared. I wheezed and wished my only companion wasn’t inanimate…I wanted it to protect me.

I began to feel an intense drowsiness wash over me. Every joint in my body stared to harden like concrete. I was unable to discern why I felt as if I was going into frozen solitude again. I couldn’t even think—I…I imagined breaking through the glass of my ship and using my fingertips for slaughter, but…I didn’t make a move. Why hadn’t I?

A dark hand, with the longest and boniest of fingers broke through the glass and gripped my wrist so quickly. I felt a crunch.

I gasped, mouth agape…I tried to wail. Nothing came out. Tears filled my line of vision. I tried to screech, but…I couldn’t. This encounter had morphed into a brand new evil.

I saw the other nine voraciously beating at the glass hood. The hood looked due to shatter at any moment.

“Don’t…” I struggled to cry out. My jaw locked.

I couldn’t understand what was happening.

I cried for Grandfather Hygourd.

My body grew numb so rapidly, and—

I loved getting immersed in the psyche of our captives. They always seem to have the most colorful thoughts and remembrances. She was so deliciously scared. She traveled here to avenge her weak grandfather…This being—whatever she was—had such enviable gumption.

Submitted: August 14, 2017

© Copyright 2021 AJ Smith. All rights reserved.

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Add Your Comments:


Ethan Howard

Outstanding story.

I was intrigued by the title and was not disappointed. Rich with detail but not wordy. The story draws you in quickly and holds you till the end.

It works as a stand alone however, i hope you expand on it.


Tue, August 15th, 2017 10:31am

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