The Promise

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Science Fiction  |  House: Booksie Classic
This is a story I wrote back in high school and have updated from time to time. It is a generation-spanning short story of an alien race's promise to return after visiting Earth in the distant past. It revolves around the last member of the race, living in a not-so- improbable future, and her attempts to return to her people while safe guarding the human she has grown to love.
I'm new at this, so your comments and critiques are very welcome.

Submitted: November 29, 2013

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Submitted: November 29, 2013

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The Promise

by Michael Hood

 

 

The sunlight glinted off the silvery metal of the great ship as a cool breeze blew in off the shore, tussling the hair of the chief and his guest. T’nak’tilan looked about him at the islands he and his people called home, watching as the last of the great faces was being set into place, a memorial to his guests. Turning, he looked at their chief and was still overcome with amazement at his fortune. No other of his people had ever witnessed such a sight as when these gods who were not gods came in from the sky, landing their silvery craft on plumes of dust with a roar that rivaled the great calamity that took At’tlantia to the depths. All that remained of this great nation were the East Islands.

His attentive gaze caught his guest’s eye who turned to face T’nak’tilan with a look of question and almost fatherly concern. “What troubles you T’nak’tilan?”, he asked in his thickly accented voice, his language a sing-song of melodious syllables that seemed to slip effortlessly from his lips. His inky black eyes were all that separated him from the looks of the natives. That and his seemingly disfigured hands with but three nimble fingers and thumb. Otherwise, from his wind-swept hair to his tan complexion, Stuma appeared Human.

“When will you return, Master Stuma?”, T’nak’tilan asked. His hands nervously worked the knots of his ruler’s scepter, a polished, gnarled piece of gopher wood.

“When the moving stars align for the third time, then look for us, my friend. We will return, I promise.”, Stuma replied. Reaching into his loose tunic, he retrieved an intricately etched gold-hued medallion. Handing it to T’nak’tilan, he continued: “Keep this among your people and pass it down to those that stay behind with you. It will be their guide through the times we are not with you.” He handed it to the chief, placing it in his trembling hands.

With that, he turned and headed for the opening in his great craft as a whine pierced the sound of the wind. The ship was coming alive. At the entrance, as the ramp began closing, Stuma turned and waved a distinctly non-human hand in friendship and farewell. “Be well, T’nak’tilan. May your children grow strong and perhaps come to visit me one day!”, he yelled above the deepening whine.

With a soft hiss, the ramp closed and seconds later, the whine was drowned out by a deep-throated roar. A dust cloud rose to surround the ship for but a moment, and then the great ship rose, slowly at first, from within the cloud, then quickly accelerated upwards until it was but a shining point of light high in the sky.

T’nak’tilan stood, waving and pondering what the future held. Turning his attention to his people and the K’ryth’yns, as they called themselves, who had stayed behind, he thought to himself “What will this mean for our people?”, a point he pondered the remainder of his days.

 

 

 

2056. The cold winds blew past the snowdrifts and over the razor wire-topped walls of the Yukon Rehabilitation facility, set in the mountains just east of the Bearing Straight. Across the straight was the USSR, the United States Satellite Republic. Russia had fallen again, this time with the US taking over and without a single shot being fired. After the great economic collapse had come from the now long-ended Berak regime, the US had, with great effort and sacrifice, risen above the fray to regain its prominence in the world. Many things had passed away during the dark years, notably the dark specter of racism. No longer did men look down upon each other simply due to their skin color. It was as archaic now as was the belief that the world was flat. However, it is evident that man is bent upon hating something and in this new society, imperfection was the target of ill will. Those born deformed, stunted, mentally challenged and impaired, whether by accident or birth were, at best, ostracized and shunned. At worst, they were quietly rounded up and shipped off to rehab facilities to be taught how to manage in a world of proper people.

 

Shree’la’an made her rounds within the Yukon facility. She was an employee here, serving as a nurse to aid those that needed rehabilitation. Most, she knew, would be here their entire lives. She, herself, was also a patient. Her tan skin and raven hair gave her the visage of being a descendant of the Inuit tribes that lived in the bitter cold outside. Only her disfigured hands gave away her innate lack of perfection as she was born missing the little finger of each hand. Her parents, her birth parents, were unknown to her as she had been raised by foster families, passed around like a discarded piece of clothing whose value was of no import. So, after years of being shunned, she had volunteered to work with those of her kind, the deformed and impaired. It was better, she surmised, than being escorted by the government to this same place, against her will. Thus, she was afforded minor luxuries that most were not: her own private quarters and access to the staff areas of the hospital. Still, she knew she was a prisoner as much as the other ‘patients’ were.

 

 

 

 

 

Shree had been here for a time longer than she cared to remember. She had long stopped tracking the time and, instead, focused on her duties. The other staff members,  viewed her presence here as a team member, with varying degrees of acceptance, from veiled friendship to outright disgust and despisement. The two opposite feelings were perfectly embodied in two doctors. Dr. Jonathan Mikalson was a gentle individual who always showed Shree kindness and a veiled friendship that, in truth, did not go unnoticed by the other staff members. He routinely stopped by her quarters to check on her and talk with her, especially if she had a rough day. Today had been a rough day. Two patients had had to be ‘put down’ due their lack of response to their rehabilitation and conditioning. Furthermore, Shree had had a rough encounter with another doctor. Not an unusual event in her life here, but still demoralizing and unpleasant.

The knock on her door startled Shree, but only slightly, so lost in her thoughts had she been. Rising from her sparsely but comfortably furnished living room, she opened the door to find Dr. Mikalson standing there with a folded piece of paper in his hand and a small bouquet of even smaller yellow flowers under his arm.

“Evening, Shree,” he intoned. Dr. Mikalson was a rugged man, whose looks belied the softness within him. He was the quintessential outdoorsman right down to calloused hands from his hobby of rock-climbing. His gray eyes, though, revealed a mind that cared for others and seemed to always keep ones attention, as if every person he dealt with was his most important patient or friend. His shock of blonde hair seemed out of place on his head but that further helped soothe tensions, especially when his patients so often were people that had been ill-handled all their lives for being different. “May I come in?”

Hesitating at first, Shree stepped aside to allow the doctor in. “Hello doctor”, Shree said, her melodious voice filling the room. “To what do I owe the pleasure, this time?”

Walking in, Jonathan walked to one of the two chairs and sat down on the edge as he always did and laid the flowers on the small coffee table. Smiling slightly, he said “I know today was rough and I wanted to come by and see if I could cheer you up any.” Shree sniffed derisively and closed the door.

“Doubtful, but I appreciate the gesture. Don’t you ever get … overwhelmed by the atmosphere here? The hatred dished out towards us is amazing at times. I suppose, though, it is difficult for you to see this, being who and what you are.” Walking to the opposite chair, she sat as well, leaning comfortably back into the seat, watching the good doctor’s reactions to her scornful words.

Jonathan looked a bit taken aback by Shree’s vehemence, but only for a moment. “Now Shree”, he began. “You know that without a facility such as this, those less fortunate would be left to struggle with the troubles and hatred out there in the world. They would have no chance.”

“And we do here?” she spat back. “Two more people were killed today all because they would not conform and that fool, Gregor, tried his best to get me to ‘conform’ today. His idea of rehabilitation is pretty old fashioned!” As she said this, her faced blackened with anger but a single stray tear leaked from her eye…a tear of crystal blue rather than the clear, watery tears of the ‘normal’ people. Jonathan had his face down, despondent on just how to deal with Shree. When he finally looked up, Shree had wiped the tear away and regained her composure. The look he gave her brought a momentary feeling of pity from her towards him. He, after all, was the only person here at  the hospital that ever treated her with respect…as a person. “I am sorry doctor. I know you mean well.”, she said quietly.

Standing up, Jonathan moved to her and gave her a brief hug, nothing intimate but a touch from person to person that showed he truly cared for her well-being. “Well, I do have a little something for you.” He said. He watched as her gaze shifted to the flowers. “Oh no, not those. This.” He lifted the folded piece of paper and handed it to her. “I thought you might enjoy this, being that you have such an interest in astronomy and such. Let me know if you would be interested. I will check back in tomorrow.” With that, he turned to the door and opened it. Turning back to Shree, he gave her a slight smile. “I’ll talk to you tomorrow. Goodnight.” With that, he walked out, shutting the door behind him. Down the hall, a shadow silently slipped away, unseen and unnoticed by the good doctor.

Inside, Shree sat down in her chair, exhaustion from the emotional roller coaster she was on, having sapped her energy. Idly, she opened the paper and looked at it and froze. Her hands trembled slightly as she viewed the paper’s announcement; an invitation to come to the planetarium and watch the stars as the planets aligned. Something they had done but twice before in the last 2500 years. This third aligning would the last chance to see this show for another 700 years. Quietly, as if the world was listening to any noise that came from her or her apartment. Shree slid the chain from her neck and pulled an Olympic medal sized medallion from her bosom. A hand-me-down from her past that she had somehow always kept track of, even as she was shunted around the country. She, wide eyed, slowly turned the medallion around and over in her delicate hands, her fingers tracing the strange runes in its surface. As if she was born with the instinct, she found four nearly imperceptible impressions in the medallion and placed the fingers of her right hand into them, and twisted. The medallion made a quiet popping noise and began pulsing with a dim light. Then, without warning, the medallion lit up, its light illuminating everything in the room, even shining out of the apartment’s windows. The medallion’s light coalesced into a 3D image of the solar system, showing the aligning planets and a single, faint pulsing light that appeared to be moving towards the center of the system, on a trajectory that would bring it to the Earth in but 3 days. The image remained for a few moments, flickered and dissipated, leaving the medallion to pulse slightly, as if calling out to someone. She placed the medallion back on the chain underneath her blouse, her minded racing. “I’m going home!” she thought. Much needed to be done and she would need help.

The next day went by in a blur. Shree went about her duties with a determination that gained the attention of all that dealt with her during the day. The upside, most everyone left her to her own devices, not willing to find out why she was so determined. The sole exception was Dr. Gregor Wysen. He remained a shadow to her the entire day. Finally, the time came that her duties were completed and she hurriedly made her way to her apartment. So intent was she that she failed to see her shadow for the day, following her to her hallway and watching her door intently.

Within an hour or so, a knock sounded on Shree’s door and, opening it, she once again was faced with the smiling image of Dr. Jonathan Mikalson. Before he could ask her permission to enter, she grabbed him by his shirt lapel and gently but firmly pulled him inside, shutting the door behind them and giving the shadowy figure at the end of the hall a start. Gregor stepped out of the shadows and silently made his way to the door, determined to catch Shree and Mikalson in some scandal with which he could have Mikalson removed and perhaps put Shree in a position to be more pliable to his therapies.

.Inside, Jonathan was speechlessly led to a chair and silently sat down. The look on his face would have been comical to Shree had the situation not been so dire.

“Dr. Mikalson, I HAVE to talk to you about this” she said, with such earnestness that it took Jonathan aback a bit. She held the flyer for the planetarium show as if it were a royal decree that must needs be read.

Jonathan looked at her and the flyer and then back to her again, noting her seriousness and carefully took the paper, opening it. “Uh, just what is it that is so important about this to you? I just thought you might enjoy the show”, he stated a little timidly, not knowing what was to follow.

Shree hesitated a moment and finally relaxed a bit, saying “It’s just…just that this is such an important thing to me and you were so kind to offer me the chance to see it. It is all a bit…overwhelming for me.” Sitting down now, she continued. “I have something important to tell you. So very important and you are the only person…the only Human I can trust.” He was watching her intently now and listening, but if he caught the implication of her statement, he made no outward showing of it. Shree, again, hesitated and then, taking a deep breath, began her revelation. “ Dr. Mikalson. Jonathan. I have something to tell you that I have never revealed to anyone and I need to know I can trust you, no matter what I say.” Jonathan just nodded, confused and a little worried about what was to come from this woman he felt he no longer totally knew. “You know I am different, but I don’t think you realize how different I am. I come from a long line of people like me. In fact, I am the last of my kind. I am not a Human and it is now time for me to go home and I need your help.”

Jonathan looked at her with a blank stare for a moment, which was quickly replaced by a smirk, and then laughter that trailed off into a look of incredulity. “Really,” he began. “You really know how to blow a guy’s mind Shree. If you had told me you were a secret agent sent by the government to spy on this facility, I might have believed you, but this? This is absurdity at its highest and I am not going to put up with it. I have tried so very hard to make you life here as pleasant as possible and you give me a line like this? I’m leaving! Enjoy the show.” With that, he stood up and headed for the door.

“STOP! Please!”

Jonathan paused at the door, his hand on the knob. The plaintive plea in her voice gave him pause and he turned to her. “Prove it” he said.

Outside, Gregor was beside himself. He had thought to perhaps catch the pair in some sort of illicit romantic entanglement. But now, either Shree was totally and hopelessly insane and Mikalson had been covering it up or … or what he had heard was true and he had stumbled upon the greatest scandal of all time. He would be a hero. He listened intently, straining to hear what would be said next.

Shree spoke softly but intently. “Have you ever wondered why I look the way I do? You assume that my complexion is from the Inuit tribes but I came from homes in the southern states and have never been to this area before my time here. You assume my eyes are dark due to my lineage, and you would be correct, but you never paid them close attention. Do you see anything in them that looks Human? Where are my corneas? My pupils? Why am I, of all people encountered, born with perfectly formed and functioning hands…only with one less finger than you? Have you ever seen me bleed or cry? And if that is not enough, what about this?” She pulled the medallion out, showing it to Mikalson, its slight pulsing light hypnotic in its pattern. Jonathan looked at her and then the medallion, a look of wavering resolve on his face. Shree deftly activated the medallion, its initial brilliance flash-blinding Jonathan for a moment and nearly causing Gregor to yell out in a startled voice as the light flashed out from underneath and around the door. When his eyes adjusted, Jonathan was met by an intricate three-dimensional representation of the solar system. He watched as each point of light and image exactly mirrored the system and only when he saw the pulsing blue light moving inwards towards Earth did it dawn on him that he was viewing a real time image of the planets, asteroids and everything else in the solar system. Stunned, he stood there with mouth agape, unable to speak.

Slowly, Jonathan let go of the door knob and moved back to the chair, unconsciously dodging immaterial planets, and sat down. “Ok,” he said. “What can I do for you?”

Shree shut down the medallion and sat down in her chair, opposite Jonathan.

Outside, a stunned Gregor quietly moved away from the door. Not having seen anything but the light and having heard only portions of the conversation, he still had made the decision to call the government. The Military. The National Enquirer. For Christ’s sake, he had to call someone but he wasn’t sure. He’d call them all, he decided and if it was a hoax, blame the Enquirer. If it were real, he’d be a hero. Quickly, he ran down the hall and towards his offices.

Inside, Shree spoke in her melodious sing song voice that had always entranced Jonathan though he had never voiced it for fear of appearing patronizing or improper. “I need help in getting out of this facility and off this mountain, to the coordinates shown on the map. And I have to do this in two days. Can you, will you help me?”

Jonathan thought momentarily, a variety of expressions crossing his face before he spoke. “Yes, I'll help you. When this happens I'll not have a position here long, I am sure. I'll help you on the condition that I go with you. There is nothing here for me now anyway.”

Shree looked at him for a long moment. “Agreed” was all she said and then sat back in her chair, exhaustion from the day, the emotions, her fears washing over her. Without meaning to, she slipped off into a deep, dream filled sleep. Dreams of the stars, aliens, her lost parents, and what great unknown awaited her at the rendezvous point.

 

A soft touch roused Shree from her fitful slumber. As her vision clarified from sleep induced blindness, she saw Jonathan standing over her with a makeshift breakfast in his hands. “Something to eat?” he asked, smiling. When she nodded acceptance, he sat the plate on the table and sat down across from her, folding his hands against his chin and watched her with a quizzical smile on his lips.

“What?” Shree asked as she chewed on the fruit he had given her.

“What do you mean ‘What’?”, he replied. “You have changed everything I know to be true about my world, about the universe and you ask me ‘What’”. With a chuckle he continued. “And the funny thing is that I am not at all freaked out by this. I mean, I always knew you were special in some way. I just didn’t realize HOW special.”

Realizing that he was not mocking her, Shree smiled and chuckled herself. “I suppose I am at that, though I don’t really feel it.” Her melodious voice floated about the room for a moment after she was finished speaking and Jonathan seemed mesmerized by it.

“I believe I am in for some rather enlightening experiences from this point on.” He flatly stated, still smiling. He leaned forward and placed his large hand on hers and opened his mouth to speak.

His words were cut off by the sound of the general alarm claxons. Nearly leaping from their chairs, Shree and Jonathan ran to the window to see what the problem was, both having the same empty feeling that it had something to do with her. Immediately, they could that Building C was pouring smoke from its upper floor windows. Thick white smoke billowed out as residents scurried out the bottom floor doors, scattering in all directions into the snow-covered courtyard.

Shree ran to the door, preparing to fling it open. “STOP!” Jonathan yelled, still looking out the window. “Don’t open that door Shree. We have to find a way out of here and fast.”, he said, never taking his eyes from the window, but visibly trying to become unseen while watching the activities outside. Shree crept up to the window and peered out, partially hiding against the wall. Outside, she could make out residents from almost every compound milling about in the courtyard. Walking among the residents were staff members, obviously checking on them to see that everyone was safe and accounted for. Walking also among the whole group were uniformed individuals wearing military fatigues and wielding weapons.

“Oh” was all Shree could manage.

Jonathan pulled her away from the window and looked her straight in the eyes. “Gather as little as you need to travel.” He whispered quickly and intently. “We are leaving here in five minutes, less, preferably.” Then he stood back up to watch out the window. “Crap! Less. They’re coming this way.” Shree was at the door, coat in hand and medallion around her neck. Jonathan ducked the window and hurried to the door as well, grabbing his coat as he passed the chair. “Let’s go.” Opening the door, slightly, he looked down the hall and, feeling it was secure, he pulled Shree after him and moved down the hall as quickly and quietly as he could manage. He stopped at the elevator and pressed the call button. As the elevator made its way to their level, he hurriedly locked the stairwell door, having keys to every building (a perk of being a head staffer). As the elevator reached their level and the doors opened, they both froze for an instant, expecting a flood of armed men to come out of the little compartment. None did. It was blissfully empty. Jonathan reached in and pressed the level 1 button and the send button, then grabbed Shree and headed for the opposite end of the hallway, where a lone window shined light into the usually dim passage. When Shree gave him a puzzled look, he simply pointed to the window and said “We use the fire escape. It’s our only chance.”

 

 

 

Jonathan tried to open the window, but found it sealed shut. Ignoring the implications of this, he shattered the window with his elbow, his coat softening the blow. After clearing the shards of glass, he stepped through onto the escape, before turning to assist Shree. Fortunately, the fire escape was in perfect working order, despite its being wholly inaccessible to the residents. The ladder quickly slid down to the ground, the metal rattling uncomfortably loud, but the ladder making a soft thud in the snow. By now, yells could be heard coming from within the hallway and both Shree and Jonathan heard doors being shattered or broken in a methodical search. Giving each an earnest look, the pair quickly made the climb down the ladder, coming to the ground just inside the perimeter fence. Angry voices and shouts came from the window Shree and Jonathan had just exited. “We have to hurry” Jonathan said and removed his coat before climbing the fence and laying it across the razor wire. Shree followed behind him, maneuvering over the coat that was now embedded deeply in the razor wire, forcing Jonathan to abandon it.

“But, you’ll freeze” Shree stated with a bit more emotion than she had intended. Jonathan just shrugged and kept moving. Behind them, soldiers were just reaching the ground where they had landed from climbing down the ladder.

“We don’t have time for it. I’ll be fine, but we HAVE to go! Now!” Jonathan told her between gritted teeth; His breath was coming out in clouds of mist, his words threatening to freeze as they left his mouth. Tugging her by her hand, they began running through the snow; it’s depth slowing them. At least it should give their pursuers a difficult time as well, Jonathan was thinking, but he knew that wouldn’t last as the facility had ample snowmobiles for traversing the frozen land. Their only chance to was to get a good head start and disappear and quickly.

“Where are we going?” Shree asked as they ran. Even in her coat, she was feeling the effects of the cold. She knew that Jonathan would not last without protection from the elements outside.

“I have an idea of a place. I know some caves I have eplored from time to time.” Jonathan said. When Shree gave him a strange look, he said, “I like exploring. What can I say?”  With that, they fell silent as they trudged through the snow, seeking the safety of Jonathan’s cave and struggled to ignore the growing effects the cold was having on Jonathan’s body. In the distance, they could hear the growl of snowmobiles, searching the grounds and the land for them. The growls would grow louder and then subside. Towards nightfall, snow began to fall, a blessing as it quickly obscured their tracks. As the sun set, they found the cave and climbed into it. The opening was small but deep and lead to a larger cavern deeper within the mountainside. Here, yards of solid stone and the natural warmth of the land mitigated the oppressive cold outside. Still, it was unhealthily cold, especially for Jonathan. Though he remained calm, his trembling hands and snow burned skin told he was dangerously cold.

Shree watched Jonathan as he sat and trembled. Quietly and quickly she removed her coat and sat next to him, pressing her body close to his, wrapping the coat as tightly as possible around the both of them. He smiled a timid, shivering smile but said nothing, his entire focus being utilized to stay alert, awake and alive. She could feel the icy cold of his body and knew that resolve alone would not save him. Softly, she began massaging his freezing skin, providing warmth from her body and the repetitive motion. As he relaxed against her, she intensified her massaging, becoming more aggressive and covering larger areas of his body. She felt his flesh warm slightly, but only so. So, with a moment’s contemplation, she placed her lips against his and kissed him. At first, he reacted sluggishly but quickly warmed to her advances and began joining her in the kiss. His trembling slowed as he held her tightly against himself, sharing a, now, heartfelt, kiss of relief and emotion. Slowly, his body heat increased and hers accordingly, aiding his warming. Their embrace became more intimate and quickly, they found themselves lying on the cave floor, her coat as a quilt beneath them. They kissed passionately. As they lost themselves in the embrace, a tug was felt at the back of Shree’s mind. A stirring she had never felt before. Like incorporeal tendrils, her mind reached out to Jonathan’s, seeking his thoughts and emotions. Rudimentary though his mind was, he reacted to her mental advances and released his thoughts to hers. In but the instant it takes for synapse to fire, the bond was forged, her mind to his and his to hers. Warmth, love and care flowed from him to her. Years of agonizing mistreatment, doubt of her origins and hesitant warmth flowed from hers to his. Their thoughts and emotions entwined, mixed and became one. Shocked, they parted momentarily, but quickly coupled again. The bond was weak but it was present and unbreakable now, save by death. No words passed between them, as they knew one another’s thoughts, their emotions intermingling. With the comfort and warmth of the bond and their embrace warming them, they both slipped into slumber, the world outside being of no concern for them at the moment.

 

A low, plaintive beeping woke the pair from their slumber. They lay on the cave floor, wrapped partially in the coat. At first, the noise sounded of an alarm clock, persistently chiming to awaken its masters. However, as Shree fully came to wakefulness, she realized it was the medallion signaling her that her time of departure was at hand.

Jonathan awoke too, fuzzily coming to life from the night’s sleep. Though still cold, he felt invigorated. “What…what happened last night?” he asked, looking deeply at Shree.

“I am not sure” was her honest reply. “I know so little of my people and our physiologies, but it would seem we are paired or partnered in a way that goes beyond a simple physical bonding.” She reached out and placed her hand against his face, caressing his cheek. “Whatever it is, it is a part of us now, I believe” She could feel the coolness of his face but also felt the warmth of his thoughts, his emotions bleeding out into her mind. Smiling, she gave him a soft, warm kiss and said, “I like this.”

Smiling back at her, Jonathan simply said, “As do I. What a wonderful feeling this is.”

The plaintive, repetitive bleating of the medallion had raised slightly, its tones coming louder and closer together. “We have to hurry.” Shree said and picked up her coat. With a thought, she gave it to him. As he began to protest, she gave a reassuring but warning emotional jab at him. Reluctantly, he donned the coat.

They emerged out of the cave into the frigid air of Alaska, its coldness taking their breath away momentarily. Carefully, they picked their way down the rocks to the base of the mountain, the medallion now warming against Shree’s chest as the tones came more frequently. Walking around the base, they came to a ledge that sloped away from them and around the mountainside, disappearing behind the mountain before reemerging a few thousand feet away from their position. As they moved away from the mountain and onto the ledge, a sharp crack resounded in the air, seeming to come from all directions, echoing off the fresh snow and mountainsides. Small avalanches formed, no larger than a man, sliding down the mountainside and into the depth below. Beside her, Jonathan gave a wheezing cough and slumped to his knees, blood quickly oozing from the wound in his chest.

“NO!” Shree screamed, grasping at his body, holding him as he coughed blood and struggled for breath. Looking wildly around her, she saw the dark, dim forms of people across the chasm on the opposing ledge. Several had rifles shouldered and aimed in their direction. Her mind ached as Jonathan’s life ran out of his body, his emotions slipping away from her. She could feel his dying. She sensed his consciousness slipping away and it threatened to take her with it. With a ferocity of sheer willpower, she struggled to maintain her hold on reality and his mind, but to no avail. He slipped into the darkness of death, his mind slowly going dark in her consciousness.

A loud roar broke the relative silence of the area, drowning out her sobs and the screams of the men on the ledge. A dark shape emerged from the clouds, lowering to where Shree sat, cradling Jonathan’s limp, cool body. A loud, crackling hum pierced even the roar of the ship and a beam of intense, pure energy reached out from the edge of the ship, evaporating the opposing ledge and all on its surface. The blast sent shockwaves throughout the region, initiating rockslides and snow avalanches. The roar slowly subsided, replaced by the grinding hum of a ramp being lowered, brilliant light shining from the opening.

Shree lay Jonathan’s body down, gently, on the snow, his blood staining it crimson, her body wracked by sobs at his death and the pain of having the bond ripped away from her. She pulled the medallion from her bosom and placed it on his still chest. A crystal blue tear ran down her face and dropped on his cheek, freezing in place as she bent to kiss him a final farewell. “I will return for you, Jonathan. I promise.” Shree softly whispered to him. Then, she rose and walked to the ship, looking back at him as the ramp closed and her future opened.


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