Chapter 5:

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Science Fiction  |  House: Booksie Classic

Reads: 169

The explosion several weeks later caused a small avalanche, killing Moles, Fish, Ants, Beasts, Bees and Priests indiscriminately, but she had known that would happen, and as she had told Majidi, they died well. The avalanche sent a signal, and sealed the Divine Undertaking shut. It took the Fish by surprise, and Eitan and the rebels never saw it coming.

 

_____________________________________________________________________________

 

The ceiling showered the secret council hall with debris, just as the door blew inward opening on to a hundred women, they had to be women, shrouded entirely in black.

 

Majidi smiled knowingly, and turned to Eitan.

 

“Another one of your tricks?” she said slyly.

 

Before he could answer the leading shape leapt across the room, over the table, landed standing upright in front of him, and hammered him with a blow that sent him slamming into the wall on the far end of the cave.

 

Instantaneously, weapons aimed at the shapes unloaded electric discharges on the intruders. Instead of killing them, they gained in speed and strength, appearing and disappearing in front of Mole guards. They seemed to be everywhere at once, knocking their weapons out of their hands, breaking limbs, punching straight through their torsos and out their backs grasping organs, ripping heads off shoulders, slicing necks and skulls in half.

 

The dust settled, and the commotion stopped, leaving behind a deafening silence broken only by groans and the metallic stench of fresh blood.

 

Eitan rose slowly from a small pile of rubble, the cave wall shattered behind him, his face undecided between rage and surprise. Rage took over, but his step forward, usually unafraid and determined, trembled with an emotion most thought he had either never known, or forgotten how to feel: fear.

 

Rina peeled off her helmet.

 

Eitan froze mid-motion, his jaw trembling, the tremor spreading to his whole body. He charged onward. Rina took a step towards him. Eitan stopped.

 

She turned her back on him and looked towards Majidi.

 

“No Councilwoman, my brother” all of her hatred carrying through that single word, “has pulled his last trick.”

 

_____________________________________________________________________________

 

Bees could read the winds. Among the myriad things they did, they had the ability to tell which direction they would come from, and more importantly, how long they would last.

 

This time they were wrong, the winds did blow for three days, and away from the mountain, over the cliffs and onto the oceans, but they did not just blow. Massive gales of wind rocked the colony for days, carrying the smell of charred houses and burning corpses away from the colony, and from the perimeter wall. Fish guards could not tell that the lights emanating from the more distant Fish outposts along the cliff walls were anything but night lights as they expected them to be.

 

It was only after three days, when the storm passed and contact was reestablished with the colony that they discovered the extent of the slaughter. Five of the ten furthest outposts had been burned to the ground, skeletons of all sizes laying around in a half-hazard manner, eyeless skulls that would never fulfill the Dream and join the Dreamers deep underwater left grinning at them. And nowhere, was a trace to be found of who had perpetrated the massacres.

 

One of the sentinels raised a horn to his mouth, and no sooner than the first note emerged from the bell, that hooks landed at their feet from over the cliff walls, and strange, black clad warriors appeared and disappeared among them, tearing them limb from limb.

 

_________________________________________________________________________

 

“They are slaughtering Moles out there!”

 

“And what exactly did you expect?”

 

The priestess responded to Rina’s anger with a disconcerting cool, the cool that made the Priest cast seem eminently superior and inhumanely, despicably, detached.

 

Sitting on the throne, Eitan grinned silently.

 

In the days that had followed the attacks on the Fish outposts, a civil war had erupted in the colony. Fish soldiers took revenge for their losses the only way they knew, by killing Moles indiscriminately. Moles had responded by seeking refuge in friendly houses in other casts, drawing them in to the centuries old conflict between them and their masters.

 

The Fish had not uncovered the secret tunnels, and still did not know how the gruesome attacks had been pulled-off but it was only a matter of time until they did, and when they did the rebellion would be damned. Surprise was all the rebellion had on their side, lacking that; the Fish would come down on them with the other cast members still loyal to them and complete their purge.

 

With the Divine Undertaking shut, Priests outside could not appeal for calm: their anchor was prophecy, and that door was closed for the time being. The Priests inside the caves had very little communication with them, but still relayed messages through the tunnels and it was becoming abundantly clear that yet again, they were bidding their time, waiting to see how long the killing on the streets would go on until the inhabitants turned to them in desperation, or better yet, wait until the Fish found the tunnels and slaughtered the rebellion, handing them the keys to the Divine Undertaking, and restore their power.

 

They would not give the signal allowing the Bee, Beast and Ant rebels to rush out of the tunnels and take the fight to the Fish, not without word from higher authorities outside. Eitan’s authority was for all military purposes gone, even though he still sat on the throne, and all the casts involved in the rebellion agreed that Rina was too impulsive. The rebellion was effectively leaderless. Her actions had hastened years of quiet preparation, forcing them into action, leading to the slaughter of their families and friends, jeopardizing their victory; and, regardless of how much they despised the Fish, they would not take orders from a woman, much less a former comfort girl turned warrior.

 

A thought tickled the back of her brain, bubbled to the forefront, and hit her between the eyes.

 

She looked up at the Priest’s face, calm but betraying a smug self-satisfaction. She caught hold of his neck, lifted him up and turned to her troops.

 

“Kill all those cloaked in white.” She ordered.

 

The other cast members began to move out of custom to protect the Priests, and even her own soldiers seemed hesitant, seizing the opportunity, he struggled for air and a word. Rina released the pressure on his throat enough for him to speak.

 

“Blasphemy! “ He wheezed. “You can’t threaten a Priest…Mole woman!”

 

The last came out muffled as she tightened her grip; the Moles gathered in the cave took offense to his words, and converged menacingly on the nearest Priest and Priestess.

 

“Threaten?” Her hand tore through his neck, his body crumpling to the ground, blood dripping down Rina’s hand. His head, slipping from her hand hit the ground and rolled off to the Priestess’ feet.

 

“A sign!” she yelled dropping to her knees. No one killed a Priest, or a Priestess, one might as well choke Hades to death. “You need a sign foolish girl!”

 

“What sign?” She inquired nonplussed.

 

The Priestess looked her dead in the eye, struggling with what she was about to say.

 

“…A sign…a sign of Hades…” she hesitated again, looked down at the bloody head at her feet, and gave in. “They, We, do not all believe in this rebellion, but we all believe in Hades. They must believe…somehow, that His Time is come.”

Rina paused for thought. A sign? What kind of sign could proclaim Had…
 

She looked up at the Priestess and nodded, turned to her brother, who still sat, waiting for the show to go on.

“You might be rid of me yet Eitan, make it worth it.”

He stood.

“Make it worth it little sister, and there may still be room for you when all is done.”

She glared at him.

 

“If I don’t make it you’re as good as dead, but if I do.” She hesitated as well, not sure if she should speak words she could never take back, but it didn’t matter, Eitan could not, would not, rule if she could help it. “If I do, there won’t be room for the two of us.”

 

She stormed out of the room with her army of sentinels, heading for Councilman Tamhidi’s quarters.

 

________________________________________________________________________________

 

“You have two minutes, after that…you should melt, or explode, the latter is preferable, I suppose.”

 

Tamhidi had lost track of himself again. He looked back up, seemed surprised to see Rina still standing there, shook himself and continued.

 

“Two minutes, you do realize what that means don’t you? “ he read his answer in the blankness of her stare. “And what did I tell you about birds of flame girl?” He shook his head. “Tsk, Tsk, Tsk, try metaphors and they fall on deaf ears, I thought you were brighter girl, but who cares?”

 

He unrolled an old scroll, showing her the image of what looked like a giant incandescent bird, rising from a pit of flame.

 

“You get the idea don’t you?“

 

“What are my chances?”

 

“Of success or survival?”

 

“Both.”

 

“100% of the former…the latter who knows, if you make it out in time, and hit the ground before the suit disintegrates, you could also bury the colony in lava.”

She weighed his words for an instant.

 

“It sounds acceptable.”

 

“To you certainly, as for myself I would rather avoid another Pompeii.”

“Another what?”

 

“Never mind. Make peace with Neptune before you go girl. I wish you well.”

 

He clicked the door open.

 

“Are you in such a hurry for me to die Tamhidi?”

 

He laughed, a loud bass-filled sound that bounced back against the walls.

 

“You’ll live to pester me yet girl, but you said it yourself, you might only have a few hours left, so far, the Fish have been to busy to dive, but they never let the ocean go too long without them, and when they do…”

She nodded at him.

 

“Thank you old man.” She said, with more emotion than she thought herself capable of.
 

“Don’t thank me, succeed girl. Succeed without killing us. That will be thanks enough.”

 

She pulled her mask over her head, and started down the tunnel towards the center of the Divine Undertaking, where the magma pits blew whiffs of smoke up the chimney of the volcano, determined to succeed, come Hell, lava or both.

 

_____________________________________________________________________________

 

Everything in the colony stopped when the ground under them started shaking strongly enough to throw Fish sentinels off the walls.

Male Bees abandoned their cattle and ran home to their wives and children.

Ants let the fires on in their forges unattended.

 

Beasts let go of their burdens, and knelt to pray.

Fish looked to the ocean, but did not dare move.

 

Priests vainly appealed for calm.

 

But all of them, all as one, looked up to the chimney of the volcano, spitting gusts of coal black smoke and bits of flaming stone into the air, and before their eyes, Hades himself rose from its breath and lit the sky.


Somewhere inside the colony, a Priest stood up, headed to the window and rung a bell, echoed soon after by another, and another, and another until everyone heard, and everyone knew, that Hades had arrived.

 
_____________________________________________________________________________________

 

The bubbling lava pits at the heart of the Divine Undertaking appeared to be waiting for her, daring her to dive and challenge the Gods into submission.

The chimney seemed impossibly high to her, too high for her to reach, even if the explosion stirred the magma into outraged anger. Grimly determined she looked back at the few sentinels waiting on her expectantly.  This was the only chance they had left. Eitan was right, and so was everybody else. She was too impulsive, too brash, incapable of seeing beyond the immediate satisfaction of revenge to see the bigger, the much, much bigger picture that had unfolded since her father had started planning the rebellion in what seemed another life now. She alone had led her family, her friends, her fellow conspirators, her Mole cast men and cast women to the brink of extermination, it was only fitting that her sacrifice absolved or ended them. Regardless of the outcome, the centuries of slavery would end, a new order would rise, or all would be wiped clean.

 

She tore her eyes away from the comfort girls, clad in their black suits, impervious to the heat and faced down into the pit, dropping the payload into Azhi-Dahaka’s hungry maw. The explosion barely registered in the fury of molten lava beneath, but slowly the rumble grew and strengthened in intensity as the embers took on a life of their own and rose to meet her at the edge of the pit.

 

When they were almost at her feet, and still building, she felt a glimmer of hope, futile though it was, that she would succeed, and might, just might live to see the story unfold.

 

She let the rising semi-liquid guide her into the chimney, squeeze itself into it, and push her upward at the speed of nature and Gods.

 

________________________________________________________________________________

 

The rubble shutting the Divine Undertaking blasted outward, taking out the few curious, brave and foolish enough to approach the sealed entrance as Hades blew out of the volcano.

 

The sound of thousands of underground footsteps made its way from the mountain towards the cliff, and in every neighborhood, in each cast’s quarters, armed Moles, Ants, Bees and Beasts emerged from houses, seemingly popping out of the ground, and began mercilessly attacking Fish, and anyone deranged enough to get in their way.

Hooks landed on the side of the cliff, black clad female warriors pouring into the Fish outposts, darting furiously towards the colony’s outer walls, sucking in the heat and energy from Fish laser beams, that only propelled them forward, faster and stronger.

 

The first woman hit the wall with such strength she bore a hole straight through it, sending stone and the bodies walking along the walls into the battle-torn colony in a hale of flesh and rock, quickly followed by the others, causing further damage and destruction, weakening the structure until it crumbled down and collapsed.

 

____________________________________________________________________________________

 

The flow abated in the chimney.

 

Caught in the middle, she focused her vision upwards. The lava was thick but she could make out, still impossibly distant, the mouth of the dragon, already roaring with fumes and small hyper-accelerated rocks.

 

Thirty, maybe forty seconds until the coils melted under the pressure or blew up, making her one with the magma. At least the colony will be spared. But the thought, comforting as it was, was not enough. It did not matter that she came out breathing or a writhing ball of flame, unless her body came out for all to see, it would all have been for nothing.

 

She released one last blast, a little explosive powder wrapped in a pouch made of suit fragments at her side for one final and last attempt to reach the exit.

The small detonation was enough to make her accelerate, in a matter of seconds, her head was peering ahead of the onslaught, her body still caught in the red turmoil, the mouth of the chimney visible intermittently between the gushes of wind that blew smoke away from the mountain.

 

Twenty seconds maybe less. She could feel the suit weakening, an odd sensation which disconnected her from the state of hyper senses induced by the organic super conductors that were the coils. At least I won’t feel anything.

 

Suddenly, air hit her face just as she lost the ability to feel. Only sight remained clear enough for the sun to break through the smoke, impossibly bright, impossibly close.

 

Above and around her, bright blue skies conflicted with the blackness beneath, shielding her from the events in the colony, and she soared still further upwards, the weakened suit still shrouding her, but glowing strangely from the heat, giving it shades of purple, streaked with random shots of bright blue where it weakened the most.

 

Just as she thought that through the clouds she would hit the sun and burn anyway, gravity asserted itself, sending her down in an arch back towards the volcano, back towards the colony, and the fight that still had to be fought.

She twisted her body into a spear, heading straight down into the black smoke, and through it, her hyper-vision failing but still enough for her to see and zoom in, only to break through over a scene of confusion and destruction.

 

She first thought she was falling back into the volcano and the flames, until she realized that it was the colony, burning almost everywhere, that she was seeing grow and accelerate towards her.

 

She could make out the different colored hues of the casts clothing, fighting Fish, fighting each other, and amidst them, black streaks left behind them scenes of unbelievable carnage.

Brown Mole suits were backed into corners surrounded by Fish, mauling them down with laser beams only to be cut down by rebel forces closing in on them. Priests head down, alone or in circles, their robes now marked by the smoke and soot they were breathing in, surviving as fights danced around them, and succumbing to collapsing structures, and to warriors to desperate to see them or care for their fate.

 

But only one target mattered, that one she had to find. She hoped Eitan was dead already, but doubted anything could kill her berserk brother once the smell of death fueled his madness. She focused harder, using the last of the energy caught in the suit, as it slowly started to peel off in little specks of black-purple dust, and found him.

 

Eitan was in the central plaza, a few yards from where the perimeter wall once stood. His blade taking out Fish and rebels alike, in an orgy of senseless violence.

 

She aimed herself at him, as her body cut through the air with a shrill shriek, at exponential velocities, closing the distance between them.

 

The colony was completely visible now. Eitan’s hands were around a young Ant girl’s neck, trying to rip her head off from her shoulders bare-handed.

The air caught in her lungs, she tried to scream, maybe she did, the clamor of battle and the air rushing past numbing her to sound, or maybe the suit had given way entirely, there was no way of knowing, she was a human torpedo bearing down on its target.

 

He still had his back to her. It did not matter, he would not survive either way, maybe she would, but not him, but yet, she wanted Eitan to see her, he wanted her to remember her words, remember his deeds, and hopefully at the last second, remember the man he once was, the man under the monster he had become.

 

In an almost supernatural effort, Eitan pulled up and the girl’s neck muscles gave in, tearing away from bone, leaving him holding her blinking eyes in his hands.

 

Eitan spun, raising his trophy, looking up to the sky, at a purple-black dash coming towards him. Through the smoke he started distinguishing the shape of a body, of a black head ready to hit and burst through him.

 

Rina gave a last thrust, one small boost to hit her target before he regained enough sense to dive out of the way. She saw his eyes open, disappearing for a brief moment as he let go of the head that fell before his face to his feet, transfixed by the sudden apparition, and unable to understand its deadly meaning.

 

Two, maybe three seconds. He still doesn’t know, he still…And then Eitan’s eyes widened, a mixture of hate, fear, and respect growing on his face just as she hit him. Maybe in that last second something changed, maybe terror overcame him, maybe acceptance, but she doubted it would be either, Eitan would die believing in his own godliness, just as he had lived, and that was why he had to die.

 

The impact tore him to pieces, sending his head, and limbs in different directions as Rina’s still suit-wrapped head smashed into his torso. The last of the hyper-sensibility left in her clothing sent two fading heartbeats pulsing through her body, before she knew that he was dead.

 

She hit the ground with a sonic boom-like bang, sending ripples through the colony and beyond towards the cliff, lifting air and rock, leveling houses and warriors in its wake, and skidded further, slowly losing consciousness as the last of her suit peeled off, leaving her naked in a shallow crater, a few yards from the cliffs and the endless waters beyond.

 

___________________________________________________________________________

 

The breeze had grown through the open windows onto the balcony, carrying a smell of seaweed and iodine into the room.

 

The 2nd Councilwoman, a young, slender Priestess, wiped Rina’s sweaty brow off with a small cloth, as she lay in her bed.

 

The incoming storm felt good, reminding her of the days of her lost childhood, of her father’s homecoming and her brother’s exhausted but cheerful laughter.

 

“You should close your eyes and rest 1st Councilwoman.” The young Priestess suggested.

 

Rina laughed, and coughed.

“Ha! My open eyes are all that are keeping me alive, the moment I close them is the moment I’m gone. What do the day’s reports read?”

 

The Priestess gathered a small pile of paperwork from a nearby table:

 

“Which ones 1st Councilwoman? Of the Divine Undertaking or the expeditions North?”

 

“Both.”

 

“The Divine Undertaking is progressing well 1st Councilwoman, overseers speculate that it will take as much time again as since the rebellion before it is complete.”

 

“Another fifty years?”

 

“Possibly, possibly less Councilwoman, we can always drive the Fish harder.”

 

Rina waved a hand dismissively.

 

“And what of the expeditions North?”

 

“Northern Europe is under ice it would seem, large swaths of” the unfamiliar word twisting in her mouth, “of in-ga-land are now completely out of reach.”

 

Rina nodded. A gale of wind slipped through the window, cooling her fever.

 

“Perhaps, perhaps it is time to rethink the future of the Colony. Perhaps, and I do not say this lightly.”

 

“Of course, Councilwoman.”

 

“But perhaps, perhaps it is time to start considering how we can bring the Fish back into the fold, back into our community and find a role for them when the Divine Undertaking is completed and we return to the comfort of the cave.”

 

“Perhaps, Councilwoman.”

 

She took a hold of the Priestess’ hand.

 

“Do this for me, 2nd Councilwoman, do this for all of us, so we don’t condemn them the way they condemned us.”

 

“Of course 1st Councilwoman, we will care for the Fish, as the old saying goes, Come Hell or High Water.”

 

Rina coughed again.

 

“Hell…Hell…Hell, or High Lava…1st Councilwoman…or High Lava.”

The Priestess seemed to think on her metaphor for an instant and nodded.

 

“Yes, Yes, Councilwoman, or High Lav…”

 

A blast of wind cut the Priestess short of completing her sentence, as she shielded her face. When she turned back to the bed, Rina’s eyes were closed, and just as she had predicted, so was everything that had been Rina.
 

She clapped her hands, the door opened onto a smartly dressed Beast Councilman.

 

“Yes 2nd Councilwoman?”

 

She pointed to Rina’s corpse.

 

“It’s 1st Councilwoman now. See that the body is disposed of.”

 

“In the pits? As per her wishes?”

 

She thought it over and shook her head.

 

“No, no, make sure that the proper rituals are observed and that she is recycled, such a great leader should be put to the Colony’s benefit, not thrown to the dragon.”

 

She walked towards the window as the Beast Councilman had the body lifted on a stretcher and carried out of the room. A freezing slither of wind cut through the growing storm, freezing her throat and lungs.

 

“And Councilman? Make sure the Fish’s working shifts are doubled as of tomorrow, and that expeditions North are maintained until they can no longer swim, kill any protesters.” She looked towards the ocean and the storms that spoke of endless ice. “Time is running short. One morning, Hell will freeze over, and Winter will have come to stay…”

 


Submitted: October 01, 2013

© Copyright 2020 Ill Buddha. All rights reserved.

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