Legacy Chapter 8

Updated on August 14, 2018
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Evelyn has published 3 novels, Justice Lost, Rescue, and Spark into Flame, and 2 scifi/fantasy short stories in magazines.

Chapter 8

Glowing sigils floated across the holoscreen, some of them fading into the background and disappearing in a pattern that only made me sleepier.

“Jet?”

I jolted awake, and pain stabbed my head and arm. I must’ve fallen asleep for a second.

Glory’s head glowed in front of me, waves of golden hair cascading over her shoulders. A look of alarm crossed her face. “Jet, are you all right?”

“More or less.”

“What does that mean?”

“I got struck by lightning.”

“Oh, no! Jet, I’m sorry. I told Dad that the storm was getting too violent, but he wouldn’t listen. He—I’ve never seen him like this.” A glimmer of fear struck her eyes, and my stomach dropped. If Glory was afraid of Dad, how much hope did I have? “Are you injured? Where are you? We can bring you home, take care of you.”

“My head hurts, and so does my arm and my back. I got some medpatches, though, so I’ll be okay. I’m in a building. I’m not going to tell you where I am, not until Dad reduces the sentence.”

“I don’t blame you for flying away. I know how much your wings mean to you. But—with Dad as he is—I don’t know. He flew into a rage when he found out you flew away and hid from sensors. He just—lost control of his lightning like I’ve never seen. I almost got hit. Blade….well, he got in the path of the lightning and was struck unconscious. So you two have something in common.” She gave a small, sad smile.

“Is Blade okay?”

“Yes. I got him out of there. He’s in the infirmary. You’re lucky you weren’t here. Dad might have hurt you worse than the storm’s lightning. So it’s probably a good idea to stay away, let him cool off…. I’m not sure if he’ll reduce the sentence, but he won’t lose control and hurt you. Unless—he’s falling apart completely…in which case….” She looked away.

“What would happen…if Dad went mad?” I hardly wanted to think of it.

“We have contingencies for this—though rarely invoked, since the Sovereign has the right to interpret and enforce laws he sees fit. And he is the ultimate judge of whether he is competent to rule or not… The contingencies were strengthened with Justice’s rule. I could step in. I don’t want to do that, not yet. We’ve all been in pain, and it’s affected Dad deeply, maybe more than any of us. None of us know what he’s been dealing with, because he’s shut us off—and now—something triggered a breaking point.”

“That was me.”

“Don’t be too hard on yourself. Something was bound to happen. I should have done something about it, but it was all I could do just to rule the city while Dad was…not up to it. I hoped that he’d be able to heal on his own and emerge able to rule—and now—I’m not sure what to do. I never would have thought he’d risk one of our lives by sending a thunderstorm while we were out flying. We’ll just have to wait it out, I think, and see what happens when he cools down. Maybe he needed some sort of outburst to bring him out of his despair, and he’ll go back to himself in a day or so.

“Are you somewhere safe?”

I nodded.

“Then maybe it’s a good idea to wait. As long as you’re sure you’re okay. I’ll call you when it looks like it’s safe to come back. In the meantime, I’ll see what I can do to calm him down without getting in his way.”

“Could you see if you can reduce the sentence?”

She nodded. “I can’t make any promises. We’ll see what happens. He—compared you to the Vales. The traitors.”

“All I did was try to help Mom!”

“Well, that just shows he’s not in his right mind. I don’t have all the facts either, since it was Blade that told me, and he can be biased against you sometimes. You modified Peri and put him in the Portal?”

“I wanted to gather data. He’s still in there, as far as I know. Could you get him out? There might be information in his mind that can tell us what happened to Mom.”

Her eyes brimmed with sorrow, dark depths in their gold facets. Her radiance somewhat masked it, but she was exhausted, worn away, and I wished I could help her somehow. I hoped we would find Mom’s cure, so everything would be all right again. “Please, Glory.”

“I’ll see what I can do.”

“Thank you.”

“You don’t look good, Jet. Are you sure you’re all right? Your head is bleeding.”

I touched it. My fingers came away with a sticky red fluid. “It’s mostly stopped, I think. I have two medpatches, so it only hurts if I move.”

“Just—be careful. I don’t want to lose you too.” Her voice faltered.

“I just need some rest. I’ll be all right.” I stifled a yawn.

“Okay. I’ll fight for you, Jet.”

“I love you, Glory.”

“Love you too.” Her beautiful, sad face blinked off.

My heart aching, I lay back on the mattress, and let myself drift off to sleep.

The sharp throb of drumbeats pounded through my head, which ached like it had swollen to three times its normal size. I forced my eyes open. It was dark, and my medpatch had probably almost worn off by now. No wonder it hurt so much, even if I wasn’t moving.

As my nightvision adjusted, a strange landscape appeared around me. I was lying on a large red mushroom. And beneath its low umbrella, a carpet of blue fungus covered the ground, spreading to the rolling hills in the distance. In the sky, glittering with stars brighter than any on Mag City, hung a huge moon, a delicate ball of blue and green.

No—it wasn’t a moon, it was a planet. Virahsaea, as the natives called it. I was on a moon, the darkside of Eclipse, one of our worlds.

As I shifted to a sitting position, a spike of agony slammed through my head. Waves of pain reverberated through my skull and I leaned over, my head in my hands, biting my tongue to keep from crying out. Nausea clutched my stomach. I sat there, fighting it, until it subsided enough so I could lie back again. All I could do for a few moments was gasp for breath.

My head still throbbed, but at least the pain didn’t shred apart every thought and feeling. Beneath my back, the mushroom felt suspiciously like a mattress.

Of course—I wasn’t on Eclipse at all. I was still in the storage room in Quarantine. But my confusion could be forgiven; I wasn’t exactly in a condition to be thinking straight.

To my left, the boxes were disguised as tall amber mushrooms. Light flickered through them, along with a steady chant of voices that matched the beat of the drums.

“My children!” said a male voice. The other voices fell silent. “We have found this oasis in the midst of war. It’s fitting it should be on our homeworld—the place where all humanity originated. Here, we can indulge in our sacred rituals, find refuge from the horrors we escaped from, and prepare to defend ourselves in case the Nobility attack us again.” I peeked through the stalks of the mushrooms to see a fire flickering within a circle of stones, and six people in white robes sitting around it. The man who was speaking was tall and lissome, his silvery skin sheened with a soft radiance. Three others were regs from Mag City, with varying shades of brown skin and hair; one was a short, stocky albino from Ice; while another, from Mirage, was shimmering red, blue, and orange, signifying corresponding positive emotions—though I couldn’t quite be sure which signified which at the moment.

“Please join me in worship of yourselves,” continued the man, “of the beautiful divinity within you. I can see it, a glowing coal, inside each of your hearts. I am a simply a seer, with abilities the benevolent universe bestowed on me to let you see your full potential, and I claim no more holiness than each of you possesses. I pray to the universe that you see the beauty inside of you.”

The people murmured, and looked at each other, and I could almost feel the love and peace radiating from their faces. Then, they each lay down flat on their stomachs, facing the fire, their arms flung out ahead of them as if they’d just tripped and fallen in unison. They mumbled a nonsensical chant as the drumbeat started up again, along with the jingle of ethereal chimes that seemingly came from somewhere mystical, but was part of the holoprogram.

I’d heard of this cult, but I’d never seen its members, because Dad considered their views too dangerous, and he banished anyone to Quarantine who resisted reeducation. They didn’t seem dangerous, but that was because they accepted anyone—who wasn’t Nobility or Royalty.

It was a good thing I was hidden by these boxes. Or mushrooms. All the same, it might be best if I made myself invisible.

I fumbled for my holocom. I couldn’t find it. I panicked—what if someone had taken it and Dad would find me in a moment?

Unable to feel it on the mattress, I turned onto my side—which shot pain through my head, but relieved my burning back. I reached over the side of the mattress and ran my hand along the carpet, beneath the holographic blue fungi. Nothing.

I stretched my arm out further, hoping I’d just flung it off during my sleep, and no one had taken it. Why hadn’t I made myself invisible before I went to sleep? Well, medpatches did haze your mind….and pain didn’t do much for clarity either….

My fingers brushed something smooth. Aha! I tried to grab it, but it had rolled too far away for me to slide my hand around it.

Dreading the pain, I gathered my strength and will, and then slowly, carefully, slid off of the mattress onto the floor. Knives stabbed my head and arm; flames raged over my back, and I crumpled up, bent over, shivering, trying to escape the pain.

I had to get the com. Maybe I could call Cade. He could bring me a medpatch.

But first, I had to get invisible.

I reached for the com again, slid my hand along the carpet, and my fingers met the cold metallic surface. I grabbed the com and clutched it close to my chest and, the pain momentarily forgotten, I brought up the invisibility program.

A yellow warning light splashed over fragmented holocode.

“What happened?” I whispered.

“The invisibility program has degraded—“

“Sh! Silent mode.”

“What was that?” said a female voice, from the direction of the Divine Humanity group.

“I think we have us an intruder,” said the cult leader.

I frantically dove into the program to try to fix it. It looked like the holoflage program was still intact, at least, so I didn’t look like Jet.

Footsteps thudded toward me.

I abandoned my efforts to patch the program and reached for the wing at my left shoulder. Maybe they wouldn’t notice the burns. As non-Royalty, they couldn’t see in the dark as well as I could.

I stifled a cry as the metal pried away from my flesh. I shoved the wing into my pocket. Then I sat up in order to slide the wing off my right arm.

A twisting slice through my left arm when I moved it.

It must be dislocated, I thought, somewhere in the back of my mind.

I forced my arm to move, and pain slashed through me. I forced myself through it but my arm wouldn’t obey. My weak fingers slid helplessly against the wing’s metal.

Three figures slipped around the tall red mushrooms.

One of them was the cult leader, and he glowed against the blackness of the night sky.

“Trying to hide his true colors.” He crouched down in front of me. “It’s no use. We can see what you are.” He brushed my arm with his fingers, right next to the lightning burn. Then he drew his hand away, looking at it with distaste, as if merely touching me was contaminating. He stood and stepped back.

“Take him.”

The two others, the man from Ice and a woman from Mag City, stepped forward, reached down and grabbed me by the arms. I just managed to snatch my com and shove it into my pocket before they lifted me up.

Pain shot through my dislocated shoulder. I cried out.

Their grip only tightened as they half-carried me, half-dragged me to the fire.

© 2018 Evelyn

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