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Rathgar
19-06-2005, 15:47
New story form me. I guess you could class sit as a 40k fiction (I added a reference that links it to it). But I think I prefer it as just in some random Sci-fi universe. All comments welcome. Enjoy!

//


Outside, it rained.

"People, generally are short sighted. They plan only for the very immediate future, with little thought of what will happen in the long term. Our ancestors used energy as currency as we do today. There are only a few places in our world were it can be obtained. The first is to burn something, fire. But in those days the forest had all but vanished. The second is to dig deep into the ground to find oil and coal, but alas they are long since gone. So our forefathers, in their infinite wisdom built vast mirrors and cast them into the void to harness the power of Alchura, our star, the mighty sun. Ah, but she is fickle our life-mother and the mirrors of Eshenn as they are called brought not wealth, but the storm. And or world was changed. You know what the Travellers call our world? Rain. Fitting isn't it?"

Faye stared up at the old man as he finished his story and lend his head back against the rusted wall of the inn. In the background the unceasing patter beating down against the roof continued. Technically Faye was too young to be allowed entry, but the old laws were dieing with no one there to enforce them, besides she was the daughter of the Driach and on the island his word was law.

"Padra? Will I ever see a traveller?"

"Well now!" Padra replied chuckling to himself "Not many people believe in them knower daysÖ"

"Father does"

"Aye, that I don't doubt" Padra seemed to say this to himself rather than the girl.

"What do they look like Padra?"

"Like you or me or any other person. Except for the eyes. I can't describe them too you, they have to be witnessed to be understood."

//

It wasn't an island, it was more like a city trying to cram itself on to an small offshore platform. Its name was Karal. Blackened concrete and twisted steel jutted out of the ocean, rocked and battered by waves and hail. When the ancestors Padra spoke of discovered what they had irreversibly done the built cities to withstand the storm. Many hadn't. They'd expected the storm to pass in a matter of years, maybe decades. It had rained for eons now. No one in living memory had seen Alchura; The Sun. She had became a myth, a faint and distant memory, a dead goddess. The cities that had survived had done so by constantly rebuilding with scavenged materials from the wreckage of their once great civilisation.

//

Driach Garon found his daughter in the gardens. The City extended nearly a mile below sea level with much of the lower levels dedicated to producing food for few hundred soul that call it home. Down here the ancestors work was mostly untouched. the gardens ran themselves off the archaic automated systems. There was more than enough food to support everybody.

Faye had propped herself up against an apple tree in one of the orchard spheres and was gazing intently at the dark blue void past the reinforced glass.

"Does it go on forever father?"

Garon smiled, brushing his jet black hair out of his eyes "It goes on for a long time. But not forever."

"Then were does it end?"

"At the same point it started."

"I don't understand."

"I'm sure one day that you will." He replied "No doubt you know the news? You know more about the comings and goings of Karal the I do, and I'm its ruler!"

"Erico said that the council will be meeting soon, and that they'll be meeting here."

"Very good, once again Erico is correct. His father and I are will be at there. Do you know who else will be?"

"Ambassadors form other cities and the trader captains?"

"Thatís right. However we are also receiving a guest I think you'll find a lot more interesting. A traveller is visiting us."

Faye's undivided attention was now directed at her father.

"I-"

"You've always wanted to meet a traveller, so when he arrives this evening it is you who shall great him. Be polite! The travellers have always been kind to the city but It has been many years since they have passed this way. Now, they have come to speak before the council."

"Arenít they members?"

"No. They're not human, well not as such and some of the council members have... views. They're here asÖ guests. I think they should be on the council but, as you no doubt have realised little one, people don't always think the same way."

//

Energy. It had become the most precious of commodities. The ancients had exhausted all of the world's resources and were totally dependent on solar power, without it the lights of their mighty cities dimmed and died. Now their descendents only chance of survival was to find the few power cells that where left. The Crystals. With these devices the last few refuges of humanity could be kept functional. None had been found for almost thirty years.

//

Trader captain Barak pondered this as he made his way across the corrugated iron gangway that connected his ship to the dock. He hated to admit it but without the islands they be lost, the human race would starve to death for a start. Oh, you could hunt the creatures that swam out in the ocean but in the end they started to hunt you. He still hated the cities, not the occupants but the structures. For him they were a stark reminder of his people's failings, how high they had climbed and how far they had fallen. He was still a young man, just turned 20. He'd become captain of his ship, the Hawk, two years ago when his parents where killed. He quickened his pace to get out of the rain faster. Someone was waiting for him at the docks.

"Hello Padra"

"Simon Barak! You resemble your farther more each time I meet you!"

"It was two years ago today, old friend."

"Yes, and I still grieve as if it were the day they left us. But let us not talk of such things, today is a day to look to the future! I assume you still wish me to advise you before the council?"

Barak smiled "You have far more experience that me, I want you to help me make the choices my father would have."

"That, I will make sure off."

"To be honest, I'd rather you attended in my place old man. I never imagined there'd be so much politics involved in captaining the Hawk."

"In my opinion Simon there's too much politics involved in everything, especially politics!" laughed Padra

//

Rathgar
19-06-2005, 15:52
//

"So this is Karal? It’s the only city I have not visited before. And you must be my guide, what am I to call you little one?"

Faye was stunned, the days since the conversation with her father passed buy at break neck speeds. Now here she was standing in front of the traveller. He wasn't particularly tall, but he radiated confidence and clam. He wore long flowing sky blue robes rimed in silver around the edges, it matched his eyes. They were like nothing Faye had seen before, not like human eyes at all. More like too deep pools of light blue, fading into darkness at the centre, yet even as she focused on them they seemed to shift. Fading into black and then pale blue. There was no visible iris, pupil or cornea just a rippling circle of darkness and light. They were hypnotic.

"Faye, I'm Faye Garon. The Driach's daughter."

"I am honoured that Lord Garon has sent his own daughter to welcome me."

Faye blushed. It was hard to tell what the traveller was looking at with those strange eyes. She could feel her forehead burning with embarrassment.

"I am Traveller Dante, representative of my people at you service."

"Um, nice to meet you." She replied cursing herself for being so informal. "My father instructed me to show you around the city."

"Please do."

They walked through one of the surface corridors, the eons old roof straining under the load that the heavens poured upon it. Mostly the topside areas of the city were deserted only those associated with the docks spent any amount of time there. There were few occupied structures aside from the inn where Padra often stayed and the shop owned by Gorn the shady arms dealer. It was said that the endless rain could drive men insane, few dared to test the rumour.

Maybe the people here were already insane thought Faye. Gorn seemed dangerously unhinged, Corgan the bartender flinched every time lightning flashed outside and Padra was, well, Padra. The rain seemed to be easing off, it never stopped but often fluctuated between extremes, the city would be battered by an unyielding tempest for weeks only for the weather to flip in an instant to a meagre drizzle. The sky however was always veiled. Alchura would never look down on her children again.

"Traveller, I don't mean to seem disrespectful but you can't have visited all the cities. Now one even knows how many there are. It'd take a lifetime to find them all."

"There are three hundred and sixty eight still occupied, and a further five hundred and twenty abandoned. Some however are lost beneath the waves so you are correct my young guide I haven't visited ALL of them. As for it taking a lifetime, a life time for us is many times that of your people. I came to this world long before the storm."

"You've seen the goddess?" Faye couldn't help her self, the thought of someone having look up upon the sun was unbelievable, she often doubted that these things they called stars existed.

"Yes. A long time ago. But she is not my goddess, I am the child of another star far across the void."

Faye was stunned, she'd herd the old sailors talk in the Inn about the travellers, it was said they never gave a straight answer to a question and never gave details of were they came from. Why is he telling me this? She thought.

They approached a sharp turn in the corridor and as they rounded the corner two figures came towards them. The Driach's Guard, dressed in their green and black uniforms.

"Thank you Faye, but your father has instructed us to take our guess to his quarters."

Faye's heart sank at the prospect of begin separated from the stranger.

"Well this seems to be where we part child. I plan to remain here for a few days after the council, however and if your father allows to perhaps we can continue this tour at some other time?"

"I'd like that traveller."

//

"Even if we assume that the crystals are evenly distributed amongst the cities, which I sincerely doubt, We have only a few decades left before the storm takes us all!" Commander Vas bellowed. He was an imposingly tall man, half his face replaced with a metal mask to hide the scaring from some long passed battle. He carried a side arm even now in the council, reflecting the war like nature of his city.

"We need to take action now, the travellers seem to have a limitless power source on their vessels why can't we use that?"

The council chamber was packed, heaving with bodies. The many different garments each wore turned it into a chaotic rainbow sea, which shimmered and fluxed with the movements of the crowed mass. Twelve pedestals rose above the audience, Most occupied by an ambassador, on one stood Garon and to his right Dante the traveller. On the roof a great double-headed eagle loomed over them. The symbol of the ancestors, a cruel reminder of all that they had lost.

"Our ships run of the crystals just as your cities do. We are all just as powerless in this matter." The alien replied.

"What if we abandoned some of the cities? Took what crystals we have and retreat to those most likely to weather the storm?" said one of the ambassadors.

"That would only be a temporary solution, and then do you really think the remaining cities could cope with the influx of refugees? Besides I doubt anyone here would want to give up their homes." Dorn councillor from the city of Myra replied. Dorn was a priest of Alchura, marked by the sun tattoo on this forehead and his yellow robes.

"Our world is dying anyway" said the Driach

It was only a matter of time before someone said it. I haunted the dreams of every soul on this planet.

"Every year more cities fall, we're a doomed race. I can see no escape from this end and I have batted the storm for fifty years. Despite my effort great Kalar weakness, as do all your islands."

"My city is not weak!" barked Vas.

"He means the structure not the people Vas." Spat Barak, who had a special loathing for the Commander.

"You dare insult me pirate? With a word I could have you hunted down a brought back to Yaus in chains and nailed to the high tower. Then you can judge how weak my city is." Vas hand incisively moved toward the gun at his side as he said this.

"So you turn on us now Vas? And take our crystal for your own?" Dorn shouted. The council chamber erupted into argument.

Dante suddenly froze. A ripple of silence spread out through the council as they turned to look at the Traveller.
Then they saw what he had. In the centre of the room stood a woman outlined in a faint blue glow, She was dressed in the blue robes of the travellers although they looked waterlogged and tattered. Her deep blue eyes where rimmed in sore red flesh. She'd been crying.

"Dante. He's found me. He's here! I need you I can't stop him alone. He'll... kill me."

The figure faded

Dante jumped from the pedestal and ran from the council chamber, nothing could move that fast. Nothing human.

//

Rathgar
19-06-2005, 15:53
//

Faye could help it. She was curious, they said that the ships of the travellers were like a part of the sea themselves. She'd crept along one of the old abandoned corridors that lead to the docks. The wind howled through like some enraged beast and the rain pounded against the buckling steal. It was if this world wanted to wipe off every remnant of those who scared her; everyday, for the last thousand years. Faye kept to the far wall, as if she was afraid the storm would rip apart the walkway and take her with it.

The alien ship was moored in a separate area of the dock to the other dignitaries, the traveller had insisted upon this. It didn't look like a ship, Faye thought as she stepped out onto the jetty. It looked like a stone, a giant oval stone someone had polished to the point that it glowed. There were shapes, two shapes, moving across it. Too far to make out who or what they were. A deep blue shimmering stone the size of one of the famed ocean riders. The wind was so strong she had a grip tightly to one of the rusted barricades.

One of the shapes fell tumbling from it, and powered into the side of the city only a few hundred meters from Faye. She could make out the shape now, a young woman dressed in the same garbed as the traveller Dante. She looked hurt, she was bleeding from he arm, a look of terror marred her perfect face. Her deep blue pools that passed for eyes shimmered. She was shaking. She didn't seem able to stand. The wind tore at her hair at he robes.

It pounced, a thing from hell. From the darkness before time. It was human shaped but its face hidden behind a long mask of iron. Where it should have had hand were two horribly barbed hooks. Hooks that sliced at the traveller, that tore apart her chest.

Faye looked away as the woman screamed, nothing that was born on this world made a sound like that. Faye felt like her essence itself had been stabbed, her ears rang with the death-scream she struggled to remain conscious. Then, from the side of the platform she heard another sound, another voice, another scream. This time not of terror and pain. But of loss and vengeance.

Dante approached the thing. He seemed to ignore the biting wind and rain that had now reached a torrent, soaking Faye to her core. His eyes burned, not the soft mystic glow of before but a searing bright blue. It hurt to look at him, he was luminescent.

The creature hollowed in pain, Faye swore latter that she'd herd bone snap, yet all Dante had done was look at it. Suddenly it was flung over the side-rail in to the unforgiving sea, as if hit by some vast unstoppable force.

The storm claimed another life, if that thing was truly alive at all.

//

Faye would find out, Years later when the traveller returned. When she left with him. But for now she stood alone on the jetty watching the vessel disappear into the writhing clouds that smothered this world. The rain pattered against the metal in front of her, tiny splashes of blood and water flowered from the unfeeling steal. She looked at the woman's mutilated figure, Dante had covered her gaping chest wound before he left. Her eyes were do dim now, so devoid of the mystic they once held. She almost looked human. Fragile and breakable. Broken.

//

Barak stared out across the ocean from the observation deck of his ship. Giant waves battered The Hawk. She could take it, he though, she's lasted the storm this long she last it till it takes the world. What was that thing? Why did it kill the traveller. Why had it taken Padra? He found his room empty, ransacked a few days after Dante left. The beast was still alive, there had been blood on the walls. He'd find him. He'd kill that abomination. He owed the old man that much. By Alchura, it would pay.

Outside, It rained.

//

Rathgar
19-06-2005, 15:55
Well, that part one of the story, the rest I can work on if people want it. It'll be set a few years after.

Necoho
29-06-2005, 23:21
Yes...you must work more... through the night if needed...
I like it... looking forward to the next part.

XeoX
01-07-2005, 21:07
It's interesting and well written, but a litlle hard to follow sometimes. The "scenes" change a little too often if you'd ask me. That's just my opinion of course. regardless of that, a piece of good writing.

Hideous Loon
06-07-2005, 21:22
This does indeed seem to be a 40k story, if you cut out the overly-teched ship and 'power crystals' of course. It could be set at one of those planets in the Segmentum Obscurus, which was colonized during the DAoT and then forgotten by the Imperium.

You, like many others on this forum, have the ability to write long, fascinating stories. I bow to thee.

Rathgar
06-11-2005, 01:15
Its taken a long time coming, coz I've been uber busy. But here's the start of the second part of Rain, It takes place some years after part I. I'll try to correct some of the typos in the first half as well soonish.

Hope you guys like it, I know how its going to end now so much more to come!
:D

Rathgar
06-11-2005, 01:17
////

Simon Barak stepped out on to the jetty. He hated cities, this one above all. Karal hadn't changed since he'd left. If it was possible the storm had scared her further. Gaping wounds had opened on her surface, you could look down into the levels below and see the hastily patched gaps. Plasters of corrugated steal.

The docks were all but abandoned. No sign now of the workers who'd help him moor The Hawk, they scurried off back into the depths of the island to cower from the ever intensifying storm. It had grown more potent these last few years, as if the planet had finally decided to wipe away the smear of humanity. To wash clean the last remnants of her defilers. To have revenge.

"Barak" A voice greeted him.

"At you're service, Driach" he replied

The years had not been kind to Garon, his once raven black hair now murky off-white. His face lined. The buffeting his city had taken was reflected in his sorrowful eyes. He was dying with Karal.

"My thanks for heading my request swiftly. You've met Traveller Dante, no?" He gestured to the tall figure that approached.

"Once, but I fear we never had chance to speak. It was the night of the attack. Seven years ago."

"Well that, is something that shall be remedied. Both our lack of conversation and the events of that night." Spoke the traveller. "Come let us get out of this accursed rain, there is much to discuss."

//

Faye watched the butterfly flap impotently against the gardens protective window. It was almost funny, she though. Outside the little thing would almost certainly die, yet it tried to escape. The drive to be free was causing it to seek an exit to the one place it could survive in; the gardens. The little girl who had often stared into the void in wonder was gone. In her place stood a young women, gazing into that same void, but this time with longing. Her father had caged his butterfly for too long.

"I want to go with them father" she said as a reflection of the gaunt Driach appeared in the glass. It seemed as though he was solidifying from the ocean itself.

"I know young one, as ever you wear your feelings on the outside for all to see"

"I'm not a child anymore! Don't talk to me as if I am." She'd been crouching to be at eye high with the insect, as she stood to her full high it hit Garon how much she'd grown. She was taller than he was.

"I'm all to aware of that Faye. That’s why I'm letting you go. I trust Simon, and Dante for that matter, but I need someone closer to me to go. This is far too important to entrust to strangers, I need someone who loves Karal as I do. You’re the only one who does."

"I-" faye started

"Don't talk child, just listen. We don't have much time and there's a lot I need to tell you. Dante's tracked down the thing that killed his companion and Padra. Its cost him his ship but he found it. He thinks its on the Land, hiding in the Great City. Yes I'm as surprised as you that it exists. I've offered Dante my aid on one condition, he investigates the City. We can save Karal! We can save us all, fine the Crystals or any clue that the Ancients left for us."

//

Dante was more weathered than she remembered. Yet, his air of confidence and majesty remained and his eyes as mystifying as ever. He smiled as she walked out onto the deck of the Hawk. They were only a few hours gone from the island.

"Hello young one. It always strikes me how quickly your race changes, you burn yourselves out with all the growing and then you scarce last a century." he said, his tone much more kindly than his words.

"Who was he Dante? Who was that creature who attacked that woman, your…"

"Friend. She was my friend" Dante's tone was as icy as his garb now. He sighed. "As to the creature, your people have a saying; 'you only fear what you do not understand.' Well, I understand this thing, and I fear it even more because of it. Its no monster though, its man, one of you're race young one."

"Why do you fear him?"

"He hates us, hates all of us. The travellers I mean. We have always feared him, for his is always hunting us, since we arrived, since the heavens shut us out, since your ancients ruined the sky."

If Faye had been as naive as she was all those years ago, she would have missed Dantes sharp intake of breath, missed the way he grasped the rail in front of him, missed his quick glance upward through the crackling energy field that shielded them from the unforgiving tempest.

"You're trapped here like us aren’t you?"

Dante look at her, looked through her. He smiled.

"Yes, when the mirrors scared the sky our ships fell from it. They weren’t ships like this-" he patted the rail "-ships or the sea. They were ships of they stars, of the great void. Alas, they are all lost now. We share the same fate, both of our peoples we share the fate of this world and that is why we help you, and why your father has helped me. Divided the storm will take us as it has taken so many."

He released his grip of the rail and turned to leave, Faye notice something she had not when she first met the traveller. His form was so very human it would have been impossible to tell the difference between the two if it hadn't been for they way he moved. He glided, his movements seemed to flow like water, he shimmered when he moved.

"Where is the land?"

He hesitated, and turned to face her

"Full of questions today aren't you young one. Its to the south, the far south and without me to guide you the storm would swallow this ship on the way."

//

Rathgar
06-11-2005, 01:18
The storm intensified as they journeyed, it seemed to hold a special furry for the poles of Rain. Purple lightning arced across the sky and vast clouds reared ahead of them as if to bar entry to the axis of this broken orb. The sea seemed to gain all the malice of the storm. Waves of pure contempt assailed the Hawk. She shook with every foamy blow and trembled at every colossal thunderclap.

Dante had been in a trace for days now, his brow creased with effort, as if he himself was holding back the storms full wrath from the ships fragile frame. Maybe he was, thought Barak, he didn’t care. His mind was filled with a venoms cocktail of emotions since the Driach had contacted him. Vengeance of course was the main component, but contempt as well. Not just for the creature they hunted either, but for his forefathers that failed their goddess.

Vast Icebergs glided silently past the ship, impervious to the turmoil that engulfed the ocean due to their bulk, the swirling winds had created macabre sculptures of the protruding ice, thin claws of cold clawed at the unforgiving sky. The storm had a new weapon in its arsenal; ice. Sheets of white pummelled them, hail stones the size of a clenched first and hard as rock. Trough the thick layers of cloud the bergs looked like slumbering giants, frozen in writhing agony as the elements tore at them.

//

And then, it stopped.

Faye yawned as she made her way up to the observation deck. Having spent most of her life beneath the waves, seeing them on the surface invigorated her, drove her onwards. She didn't appreciate her uniqueness, for most it crippled the will. She'd done this every morning since they'd leaf the city, she'd watch the waves break against the hull watched the wind tear up chunks of water and hurl them back at the sea.

There were no waves this time.

It is impossible to describe the feeling she felt, all her life the waters had been angry and violent. Now, the sea looked pained. Its shimmered as each rain drop from above sent a army of ripples spinning across the surface until they had mingled and distorted each other. The clouds still smothered the sky and the rain still fell, but for the first time in her life Faye saw a calm sea. Later, it snowed. Tiny ice crystals formed on the Hawks hull, swirling spirals of frost slowly creped across her surface, until the ship wide tattoo was complete. And through this frozen world they continued.

//

Faye dreamed that night.

She stood above the ship, outside her protection. At the mercy of the storm. Or worse things.

The creature was only a few hundred meters ahead of her. It turned, and stared at her through the dead iron eyes. It lifted its hand skywards and the clouds started to part. She stared up in wonder, temporality forgetting her terror. The sky burned so bright it hurt her to look, but she did anyway.

"Alchura."

But the legends said she lay far away, that she was a burning circle in the sky, not a dominating colossus. The clouds parted further, and it seemed to Faye as if she could see to the end of the world. Yet it was spreading, the great black oceans of Rain raced out further and further into the void, encompassing all. And still the sky brightened. She could feel her face scorch under the heat. Faye tried to scream, but her voice was lost beneath the furnace roar. She knew what was happening, the sun was falling, falling into the cold dead sea, and now that it stretched to eternity… She had to stop it, she had to save her goddess. A scolding shockwave knocked her off balance, and the roar was replaced with a mingling of hiss and scream, so powerful her ears buckled and rang underneath its onslaught; the sound a star makes when it dies.

After what seemed like an age it stopped and everything was darkness.

Faye struggled to her feet, trembling. She touched her face and felt the moisture there, that seeped from her eyes. She wept. The creature laughed a deep bass sound that drove away hope. He glowed now, the murderer. Not the burning glow of a star, but the icy green florescence of an underwater grave. Faye looked at her hands, her tears looked black in this light. Fear wrapped itself around her chest. She'd been crying blood, she was still crying blood. It wouldn’t stop. She clamped he hands to her eyes to try steam it as it gushed from her.

//


"Damn it Vas!" Screamed Barak "You'll sink us both!"

A fuzzy cackle filtered into the bridge from the load speaker.

"No, I'll sink you pirate . Prepare to be boarded."

"Vas you bastard! Yaus has no right to be here. Vas? Are you listening?"

Nothing but static in reply. Vas was completely correct off course, Barak lamented to himself. He'd rammed them with an Ocean rider, those things were easily as big as the cities that built them, some of them were islands made mobile. This one had its prow firmly imbedded in their hull. The two vessels, locked together spun as both their powerful engines strained against each other. The whole ship trembled, Simon winced as he herd the explosion. They'd blown a hole in the Hawks hull.

The hawks ancient power grid flickered and died, leaving only darkness cold and fear.

//

His eyes did glow.

Faye was still drenched in sweet from her nightmare. The creature's grinning iron mask seemed to be burned into her eyelids. She caught flashes of him whenever she blinked. Now, she was stumbling through the twisting corridors of the Hawks interior in tow of this fiery creature from another world.

Without power, heat was being sucked from the ship. Talons of chill crept silently in, snaking there way through pies and circuits turning steam to ice. Faye's breath shimmered like a thousand tiny crystals, reflecting Dante ghostly aura.

Her thoughts, like the moisture in her breath condensed and took visible shape form the turmoil. He was a ghost, one of the few spectres of some long gone and might race. A phantom, haunting Rain. Bound here by the folly of the ancients.

He turned to her.

"There is another traveller ship near, Barak and I were to meet it. These men will be dead within the hour."

//

Rathgar
06-11-2005, 09:40
Simon had slung his antique projectile rifle over his shoulder, and gasped at the scene before him. He didn't know what to be more awed at: the carnage of the Ocean rider's bridge, slumped and charred bodies littering the floor or the formidable Commander Vas kneeling head bent in submission or the three figures in shimmering blue robes.

Three travellers. Three. Countless men died without even setting eyes on a single one of these enigmatic aliens.

Vas and a handfull of men locked down in the bowels of the ship were the only survivors from the Ocean riders crew, their new "friends" and Dante had ripped through them. He'd herd the screams as he'd made his way through the riders winding corridors. He'd only killed two men today, that left about 50 each to the travellers. This wasn't a battle, he thought, it was butchery.

He studied the faces before him. There was Dante, a lock of his raven black hair out of place, shrouding one of his eyes. A man, taller than Dante but thinner with cropped blond. And a women, dark-skinned and with hair the same colour of her alien eyes. He found himself disturbed, the air between them hummed. And the travellers seemed to finish each other sentences. Maybe the buzzing air was a sonic manifestation of thoughts passing between these beings? he thought.

"These fools sought to-"Dante begain.

"-capture Faye and ransom her back to the Driach."

"He'd warned us of this."

"And now we have no ship, how are we to get to Land now?" Said Simon.

"Captain you seem-"

"-to be mistaken, we have two ships-"

"-the ship that brought us here and this ocean rider."

The humming ebbed and flowed, it pulsed in the gaps between words.

"We must press on captain." Spoke Dante. "the survival of both our races rests on what we find on this island."

"What about Vas and his men?"

"I'm sure we can persuade then to be-"

"-useful" The female traveller grinned as she spoke.

//

It had been distressingly easy to persuade the commandos form Yaus to switch sides. Not one of them wanted to face another angry alien monstrosity. Only Vas had refused to help, claiming he'd rather die than help Karal gain crystals that were right fully his. His request was granted.

They fanned out on the glacier, it staggered them. The shear scale of the solid ground, far in the distance mountain of rock jutted from the vast icy platform.

Faye griped her light-gun. Everyone but the aliens seemed uneasy, they moved closer together as they walked, their footprints in the snow so intermingled that it seemed as though some multi-legged sprawling creature had passed. Far of the wind howled through the mountains. The last land on Rain chilled the soul as much as the body.

There was no snow around the Citadel, the wind that had haunted them as the approached the bleak mountains of black rock had felt brought the heat of a furnace. The Citadel itself was astounding. Vast spires and winding walkways of the same design as the lonely cities lost in the planet-wide ocean, but untarnished. The hot wind issued from goliath fans. Lights twinkled across the silver metropolis. The people gone, but the city breathed still.

And fought still.

A commando next to Faye screamed as his lower body was basted into tiny red fragments. Bloody mist turned the snow a sickly pink.

//