Across The Universe

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Status: In Progress  |  Genre: Science Fiction  |  House: Booksie Classic


Three hundred years have passed since the arrival on Terra Mage. It is now colonized largely by expat earthlings, and while they advance across the terrain, the mythologized supras remain hidden in
their way as they observe the humans. Something is coming, and as bombs tear human settlements apart, the supras are demonized when exaggerated history comes into play. As the forest burns around
them, the true reason for the destruction needs to come to light before the innocent are burned along with the trees.

Chapter 38 (v.1) - For What It's Worth

Submitted: October 21, 2018

Reads: 40

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Submitted: October 21, 2018

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Mage had been colonized for almost three hundred years, and they still hadn’t been able to tame nature, it seemed.  The whole planet was practically a jungle that was so dense that villages couldn’t be seen by aerial shots.

 

 

Three hundred years and less than a quarter of Earth population was on it, but that was alright; for the cost of a small house, you could buy tickets for you and your immediate family to come to Mage, including the inoculation against the bacteria in air and water.

 

 

Even those still on Earth knew the stories of the monsters.  People distorted beyond belief, changed by mad scientists lived in the woods, killing innocent people.  They were the new boogiemen for the new world, something to scare young children with, something to fill out horror films.

 

 

The thing that was less publicized, was the fact that the monsters were real, and those on Mage knew it.  They knew to stay out of the deeper reaches of the jungle, or not to go out after dark if they lived in the villages.

 

 

Listening to his big brother before they went to Mage, Trick had been scared senseless by the exaggerations.  He had to be dragged into the shuttle, he had been so terrified.

 

 

He had grown up on Mage, really, but that didn’t stop people who knew where he was born to constantly act like he was still a foreigner.  Growing up, he learned that the supras were to be treated basically like wild animals, that he was to try to avoid them at any cost.

 

 

When he became an adult, he looked back on the stories and decided to enlist in the security unit.  It wasn’t an army, it was outfitted like one, but it wasn’t.  A place that was essentially one nation didn’t need armies, at least that was what they told the public, even though it was one of the worst kept secrets that the war was on the supras.

 

 

Going through training, he learned that only one thing was true, and that was no one knew for certain what the supras looked like.  They came from humans, but a few had been captured, others were found dead, and not one of them looked alike.  Some were covered in wiry hair, others had too many limbs, more wore camouflage built into their scaly skin.  The only common trait was they all appeared to have aquatic abilities, and with thirty-six percent land to water ratio, it wasn’t helpful to know that.

 

 

The funny thing was that after working in security for several years, Trick had only seen supras on film.

 

 

Until the bomb went off, he thought they were made-up, a conspiracy theory.

 

 

Riding in the back of the truck, Trick smiled to himself.  He was going to be court-marshalled.

 

 

He had quit.  He had walked away from his job, and they found him three days later, and now they were taking him back to the hub to be punished, and most likely put back on work duty until they decided they were done with him.  He had seven more years before his contract was up for renewal, so he had no doubt they would wring what they could out of him.

 

 

Sighing, he leaned back and stretched his legs out in front of him, only to have one of his feet kicked.  He looked at Sarah, who had previously been someone he considered a friend, but now she only thought of him as a traitor.

 

 

Retreating, he didn’t look at her, but he did crane his neck to see where they were when the truck started slowing.  He wrinkled his nose.  He smelled burnt copper and polysilien.  In a few moments he heard it crackling.

 

 

The truck stopped, and then the screaming started.  It wasn’t the sound of a hundred or so despairing, but the mournful wail of a child who had lost everything and was utterly lost in inconsolable agony.

“Stay,” Sarah ordered, and it seemed stupid; he had a chain running from his handcuffs to a bolted plate in the floor.

 

 

Left alone, he listened to the others dispatch around the scene, searching for survivors as well as the cause of the damage.  It didn’t take a lot to know that it had been a bomb.  That amount of damage spread so far, and so few people responding?  The kid had probably been further into the forest than its parents would have originally wanted.  It had been in the safe zone, far enough away that the concussion didn’t melt organs into soup.

 

 

The copper smell was also a good hint that it was an incendiary device.  There was a chemical that they used in DIY bombs that when it was burnt smelled just like that, and it was common enough that anyone could get their hands on it.

 

 

It wasn’t long before the truck filled, with only one extra body.  No one spoke, even as the little girl was given medical, Trick could see they were all shaken.  It must have been bad that no one had called for backup or medical rescue.

 

 

Trick looked at Sarah, wondering how to ask whether there were any survivors without the kid understanding.  She must have felt him staring, because she looked at him a long hard moment before pursing her lips and giving her head a firm shake.  No, no survivors.

 

 

It must have been a hell of a bomb, then.

 

 

Leaning back, Trick listened as Rudy finally called it in, listing it as a 3-15, an unidentified deadly attack with no witnesses.  As far as Trick knew, this was going to be the first time anyone got to list the call.  A dubious honour, for certain.

 

 

The girl was in shock, she sat beside Sarah, eyes glazed, staring straight ahead, even as Sarah wrapped her in a blanket, holding her tight to her side.  Pressure was good, it helped keep people grounded.

It was cruel; the words, ‘you’re safe now,’ had barely passed Sarah’s lips when the truck went over the second bomb, the front and side of the truck twisting as it was ripped apart.

 

 

It was shattered, what Trick remembered, his consciousness trying to piece together fragments of a second.

 

 

Rudy and Henri were the first to die.  Later Trick realized that.  They wouldn’t have had time to even process what had happened.

 

 

Then Sarah had died, her height screwing her over.  When the truck jumped as it started to twist, her head hit the first-aid kit above her, fracturing her neck, which she might have lived through if she hadn’t hit the other side of the truck when it flipped, compounding the fracture and turning two of her vertebrae into powder.

 

 

Arm yanked out of its socket, Trick was left resting on his hip, staring in Sarah’s face, her eyes already turning dull.

 

 

The kid.

 

 

Blinking, trying to focus, Trick looked around, spotting the girl almost out of the truck, just sitting there, splay-legged, looking like she was gearing up to cry again, but too far in an existential crisis to force the emotions to come.

 

 

“It’s okay,” he mumbled, feeling numbness in his mouth, tasting blood.  He ran his tongue around his mouth to see what he had bit or severed, at the same time he saw the forest behind the girl as it seemed to shiver and change.

 

 

It was the concussion, Trick knew, he couldn’t see right . . . he focused as hard as he could, suddenly wide awake to the fact that they weren’t alone and they sure as hell weren’t safe.

 

 

He watched the woods, and it was like a seek-and-find from hell.  As if someone flipped a switch, he saw a face staring straight back at him, not moving, least he see them.  He remembered what he had heard about big cats, that they usually wouldn’t attack until they realized they had been spotted.  He wondered if it was true about supras.

 

 

At the moment, he was willing to disregard his belief that supras didn’t exist.

 

 

“Hey,” he said softly, quietly, trying to get the girl’s attention.  If she was near him, he could at least try to protect her, but even with his hands chained up, he . . .  She could get the keys, they were . . . he looked at Sarah, at the blood trickling out of her ear.  He doubted the kid would touch the body for the keys.

 

 

“Hey,” he repeated, nearly choking as he saw the person slowly break from the trees, focused solely on the truck.  “Come here,” he said, raising his voice slightly, glancing up at the plate where the chain was attached it wasn’t going to loosen easily.  He looked back at the girl and felt panic rise as he noticed more supras following the first.

 

 

The girl made a choking sound and began to sob quietly, and Trick glanced at the supras.  The leader stopped then started to move faster at a determined pace.

 

 

Grimacing, Trick reached up and grabbed the chain, trying to ignore the pain in his shoulders as he hoisted himself up, even though the slightest movement made him feel like he was going to pass out.

Pausing, the supra watched him a moment, before continuing on its way.

 

 

“You touch that kid, and I’ll kill you,” Trick promised, as it stepped into the mangled truck.  Trick couldn’t tell if it was male or female, but it was tall and thin, it had to have had at least a head on him.  It ignored him, stooping down to crouch beside the girl.  It laid a hand on the girl’s shoulder and she shuddered, beginning to pull away, before leaning into the contact, her sobs fading into hoarse gulps.  It scooped her up, going back into the sunlight, making way for the others to pillage the truck.

 

 

Maybe Trick would have been left for the clean-up crew to find, if one of the supras hadn’t noticed the way his one arm was sitting awkwardly.  She, and he could see it was a she by the way it filled out its ratty T-shirt, held up a hand in front of him.  He focused on the hand seeing that the fingers were too long, the thumb bent slightly in a way he could only think of as wrong.

 

 

She held still for a moment before taking a step towards him, and Trick jerked back, nearly doubling from the jolt of pain that went through his shoulder.  Pausing, she decided to just reach for him, gesturing to the chain slowly.

 

 

Nowhere to run, Trick felt her sticky hand press against his neck, and the only way he could describe the next sensation was of bleeding cold.  It was like the fog of pain reached out to make contact with her, and then everything was back to normal, including the barf inducing pain.

 

 

Stepping back, as if she was afraid to turn her back on him, she walked out into the sunshine, stopping in front of her leader.  They talked for a few minutes, and it became obvious that they were arguing even though Trick couldn’t hear them, in fact he couldn’t even see their mouths moving.

 

 

A few times she looked back at him, before the leader gave a firm shake if its head, reaching out to squeeze her arm.

 

 

Closing his eyes, Trick felt nauseous, and he wanted to sit down, but he knew that would cause the chain to lift his hands.  Hearing the crunch of a foot on broken polysilien, he opened his eyes again, seeing that she had come back. 

 

 

She frowned at him, before pointing at his chain again, before miming opening a lock.  Trick stared at her a moment before nodding at Sarah.  If the oddities of her form was ignored, she could have passed for human.  But with the hands, neck, eyes, and visible gills on her sides, it was a little too far to accept.

 

 

After a while searching, she pulled the keys out of Sarah’s pocket, and stood in front of him.  She bared her teeth momentarily, showing her long double set of canines.  Warning plain, she stepped towards him, watching his face as she undid the cuffs, looking for a sign of sudden movement.  When he didn’t rush her, she undid the lock on the bolt plate and claimed the chain, spooling it around her arm.

“Come,” she said, as she tipped her head, almost making him jump.  For some reason, he had expected them to be able to speak the common language.  Trick walked ahead of her, when he slowed a little, she prodded him in the back to keep moving.

 

 

Squinting in the light, Trick felt like he was facing an ambush the way the supras were staring at him.  One flicked its head to the side, and Trick realized why he hadn’t expected them to speak the common language; none of them were making a sound, none of them spoke to communicate.

 

 

Hearing the chain drop behind him, Trick turned, and found her picking up the wrist of his dislocated arm.  Before he could stop her, she snapped his arm back into place.

 

 

He couldn’t breath.  The pain was blinding and it drove him to his knees.  The sound of chain rattling and a lock clicking into place, made him fight for sense.  Looking up, he saw her and the leader facing each other.  The leader was the one who had put the chain around his wrist again.

 

 

“What the hell do--”  Trick started, but the leader held up a gun and aimed it at him to keep him silent.  The leader pointed towards the trees, and jerked the chain towards them, sending shockwaves of pain through Trick’s arm.

 

 

She crouched down in front of him, pointing at his shoulder before gingerly touching his other shoulder, elbow and wrist.  Looking he could see swelling was starting to take hold.  She then ran her thumb across his forehead, pulling away bloody.  Trick moved to touch the spot as well, but he couldn’t lift his hand due to damage.

 

 

The leader paced a few steps back and forth before making an angry clicking sound.  It dropped the chain at her feet and marched back to the others, carelessly picking up the girl as it moved.

 

 

She made a quieter click of her own then glanced at Trick, looking him over.  She sighed, nodding, and got to her feet, the chain loose in her grip.  “Come,” she repeated, tipping her head towards where the others had disappeared into the trees.

 

 

“You understand me, right?”  Trick said, not moving.  “Then you just leave me and the kid here, someone is coming, and they’ll pick us up.  You wanna help, you just leave--”  He grimaced as she gently tugged on the leash.

 

 

“Come,” she repeated, sounding tired and unhappy, like this was more of an inconvenience to her than him.  Trick looked at the way she was dangling the loose end of the chain in her fingers and obeyed.

“What’s the plan, then?”  He asked, as they began to walk.  She ignored him, but he wasn’t ready to give up.  “What are you going to do with us?  Why do you want the kid?”

 

 

She clicked again, before turning to him, pressing her index to her lips, telling him to be quiet.

 

 

“I mean, there were always the rumours that you guys were kidnappers, but what’s the point?”  He asked.  “And me?  I was their prisoner, it’s hardly like they’re going to care if I’m gone.”  He realized that that probably wasn’t the best thing to say, but the treeline was getting close, and he didn’t want to think of what might happen when they were past it.  “I won’t make a good hostage, is what I’m saying, and the kid’s just one we found in the village.”

 

 

She held the chain in front of him, the warning clear, but he didn’t think she’d really do it.  She had only freed him --temporarily-- because she had known he was injured, it wasn’t in her nature to cause undue harm.

 

 

“Why did you blow up the village?”  He asked suddenly, and she stopped just as quick, looking at him, completely baffled.

 

 

“What?”

 

 

“Nova!” Came a call from the trees, and she snapped to attention, pushing on his side to get him moving again.

 

 

“Nova.  Is that your name?”  Trick asked, latching onto the handle.

 

 

She eyed him a moment, giving him a firm shove to get him to pick up the pace.  “Family name,” she muttered, and he had no clue what that was supposed to mean.  Was she saying that it was an heirloom moniker or a surname?  Did supras even have surnames?

 

 

Off topic.

 

 

“What are you going to do with us?”  He asked, and she shook her head irritably.  “Nova, what are--”  She covered his mouth with her hand, and he felt a fizzing in his lips and tongue.  His jaw snapped shut, and it felt like it had been fused.  His throat felt dry, and even if he could grunt, he couldn’t remember how to make sound.

 

 

As he shook his head to clear the muzzy feeling, she guided him into the forest.


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