Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Dreams of Stars Part 36

This is the end.  It'll run a bit long, but that's alright.  I'll have a few questions here, but I'll talk about it more on Friday.  Enjoy.

      The last week of accelerated time had been spent maneuvering into and within the pool itself. L’lorne frequently forced Ritch ‘arrd into the pool for short clashes then back out again, testing to see how much and how far he would follow her, and he had done the same. There was no more adjusting the way time flowed around them, they were moving at the same speed now and it was slowly becoming apparent that they were evenly matched.

      He could break the stalemate, one flinch and a release of power that would shatter the planet underneath them, cause gravitational tides that would scatter the planets and sun to the galactic void and crease then tear space and time itself. L’lorne wasn’t going to do it, she had decided that long ago now, she didn’t think she could win such a match anyway. Only Ritch ‘arrd could bring this fight to a final violent conclusion.

      Then Deborah had jumped.

      Perhaps he had expected that all along, and had been waiting for it. Now each knew the fight would break down to who could be placed under the falling girl first. Then what? The fight would end, that’s what L’lorne figured. What kind of ending would it be? Fractions of a second passed for Deborah, while L’lorne had days to think on it. There wasn’t a lot of time for thinking, though, between rounds of strike, parry and counterstrike. There was so much effort needed to focus on the moment, the battle, that it left little time for anything else. So what time L’lorne spent thinking on the next step was focused on the worst case scenario: that she would lose.

      She should have lost already, actually. Ritch ‘arrd was older, by far, and age meant experience and skill. Power, power didn’t matter, it never mattered, it was only how one used it that mattered, and he was much better at using it than she. She had gambits, methods she could use to win, of course, and plans on top of plans. Deborah had been her last plan, the one that could win this for her. Once she had abandoned it, however, the options of victory had been greatly reduced, to the point that only way out was to fight him, and lose. She would lose, she would die, and she only hoped that in her death, Ritch ‘arrd would know the pain of loss that she felt. That was the only revenge she had left.

      In their accelerated time frame, they had 10 hours left. In 10 hours, Deborah would fall far enough to make contact with anyone standing under her. The glasses, sensing the time dilation field, would grab it, drag it around Deborah’s body and she would join them in the time frame. Then the fight would end.

      The intensity of the battle between student and teacher had cooled considerably as the hours counted down. L’lorne felt more relaxed the last day of fighting than as far back as she cared to remember. A strange calm of knowing the dice had been thrown and fate had been decided had come over her. So odd considering she spent the majority of her life directing those dice to come out exactly how she wanted them. To have chance and fate actually working again had a calming influence, and though he never said it, Ritch ‘arrd must have felt it too.

      Weapons clashed in the pool, where they now spent the majority of their time. She held the axe tight against his light blade, the handle of the axe near the head pinning the blade. They held this for several minutes, a relatively short amount of time, each staring at the other. She looked into his eyes, remembering, briefly, how she had once marveled at them. Did he see the same thing in hers? They had time left, of course, they’d do this again at least once, but still, it could be the last time they ever did it.

      Had he ever really loved her?

      L’lorne shoved hard, forcing Ritch ‘arrd back. She pushed the thought of love out of her mind and swept the axe in front of her, forcing his counter strike to be aborted and him to pull to the left. Twisting around with the sweep, she spun the axe up and back down in a driving slash, the impact of which on the pool side wouldn’t be felt for another hour or so. Ritch ‘arrd dodged back to the right and as she brought the axe back up, he attempted a lunge at her midsection.

      Instead of attempting to pull the axe into to block, she dropped the head back down and vaulted over it, completely avoiding the lunge. She landed, the axe now held in attack position and did her own stabbing lunge at the slightly off balance Ritch ‘arrd. As it shot forward, L’lorne squeezed the handle just right, releasing the small, sharp blade from the very head of the axe, and pointing at Ritch ‘arrd’s chest. He recovered quickly enough to slap the axe away, and quickly rolled away and right underneath Deborah.
L’lorne smiled, the entire sequence worked better than she planned. Sadly, she’d have to work up another one in the next 10 hours to win. Still, the experiment worked well, and she fully expected Ritch ‘arrd to perform a similar one on her before time was up.

      Ritch ‘arrd for his part gave no sign of frustration at the fact that he had been placed into position relatively easily. Nor was there any sign that he was pleased his student had managed such a sequence of moves, something that L’lorne had been used to until this fight had begun. They had each stopped moving and studied the other for only a moment before he moved into an attack position, bending down low to avoid hitting the girl.

      Deborah twitched. That was impossible, and L’lorne only barely recognized it when it happened. That twitch almost instantly turned into full fledged movement and Deborah’s scream began to echo as she crashed down around Ritch ‘arrd’s head. Her arms wrapped tightly around him, pulling him off balance and causing him to throw his weapon to the ground where it deactivated. With a twist, he pulled Deborah’s arms from around him and tossed her across the pool. She hit with a grunt, the glasses flying off at the same time.
L’lorne thrust forward. She didn’t think about it, she didn’t process what had happened, only taken advantage of it. The sharp spike the projected from the head of the axe moved fast and true. Ritch ‘arrd had only just begun to turn as it hit him square in the gut.


      There was an explosion of sound as all three returned to normal time flow. Explosions, only partially created just moments earlier, now erupted, debris falling to the ground with cracking thuds. Then there was silence.

      L’lorne still held the axe, its tip now embedded in Ritch ‘arrd’s gut. Once the sound was gone and stillness came over the room, she pulled back quickly and returned to a combat position.

      Ritch ‘arrd quickly pushed his hand onto the wound, causing some greenish blood to seep out through his fingers. “Well done,” he said with a cough. “You won.”

      All of his defenses dropped away and L’lorne instantly got a full scan of the man. It hadn’t been on purpose, and the surprise that it happened at all had only a moment to register before another surprise made itself clear. “What are you doing?” she asked more curious than anything else. It couldn’t be, it had to be a trap.

      Deborah was slowly getting back on her feet. She rubbed at the back of her shoulder and moaned slightly. “Sorry about that, I wasn’t expecting you until later,” Ritch ‘arrd said to her, coughing again. He tipped slightly to one side before pulling himself back up, but only to stand stooped over.

      Deborah snapped her head up and looked at him. “Wha?

      “Ritch ‘arrd,” L’lorne repeated. “What are you doing?”

      He didn’t respond to her, but grasped at his chest with his free hand, held it there, and then began walking towards her. His walk was slow, almost a touch meandering, the blood from his wound was now dripping on the pool floor, leaving green specks on the blue sealant. L’lorne folded up the axe and quickly slipped it back into its pouch as he came nearer, he wasn’t planning a fight, but why this? Why now? “Ritch ‘arrd.”

      He smiled, then stumbled a bit. L’lorne reached out to catch him, but he caught himself quickly. His free hand then shot out and clasped across hers. She knew what it was before she even felt it.

      “It’s all yours, L’lorne.”

      He fell to the floor. Deborah, now more or less out of her daze, rushed over and bent over him. “We need to get him to a doctor,” she started saying as she looked over the body. Her hands paused over him, hovering, undecided on the next course of action.

      “He’s dead,” L’lorne said simply. Her fingers worked over the object in her hands, a twisted, pretzel shaped circle of an alien metal, the symbol of the Ritch ‘arrd.

      “No no no,” Deborah said quickly. “Help me and we’ll. . .”

      “We choose when we die,” L’lorne said. “That’s the only way we can.” L’lorne reached to her chest and pulled off the pendant of the Tar 'nisl, pulling the string that held it around her neck through her neck as if it wasn’t there at all and held the two pendants in one hand together. She bent down and rolled him over, then carefully placed both on his chest, covering them with one of his hands. “Keep them,” she said.
Deborah said nothing as L’lorne stood back up and looked around the room. “We should go now,” L’lorne said.


      L’lorne nodded, looking away from both the girl and the body. Debris started floating up around the room and moving in a carefully choreographed dance towards each other. She dug deep, her energies weakened from the extended battle, but she had more than enough to reverse the entropy in the room. “Someone will be here soon to check on him,” she continued. “I’ll have the room fixed up by then, but we really shouldn’t be here when that happens.”

      “But what about him?” As she spoke, L’lorne took a moment to grasp the body with her power. The blood, tinted green by the copper that transported oxygen, faded into red as she disassembled the copper atoms and rebuilt them as iron. Organs, mutated, and unrecognizable to human eyes reshaped and reformed, their natures redefined in terms of human anatomy. The wound was healed, and the newly forming lungs were being filled with water.

      “Minister Donalds drowned. His foot got caught in the vegetation of the pool, and he was unable to get free.” As she spoke, plants began to re-grow along the pool floor and up the walls. Above, a cloud had begun to grow larger, darker and more threatening. L’lorne glanced over to the far wall of the pool and a set of steps rose out of the floor so they could easily climb out. “The pool is going to fill soon, don’t want to be here when it does.”

      L’lorne moved up the steps, leaving Deborah behind over the body of the man she once loved. Most of what made him, though, was gone. The human shell had merged seamlessly into the newly developed human innards and that green blooded man she knew was truly gone now, his people truly extinct. Halfway up the steps she heard the tinkling of metal, first against each other, then against the side of a cloth pocket. Deborah stamped along the ground toward her after that. She considered asking the girl why she had done that, but realized even she might not know exactly why. Maybe L’lorne would ask some other day.

      The diving board had reassembled. There was a rumble of thunder and rain began deluging into the pool, filling it rapidly. The plants and algae that had begun re-growing found a burst of growth as the water filled in the pool, and one plant grasped out the man’s leg and wrapped around it just so.

      As L’lorne and Deborah exited the building, the last sign of any conflict, the cracked glass of the door, healed itself over and it was as they had found it an hour earlier, with one lone exception.


      The glow of the capital hung just behind a small rise several miles away. A thin, and not particularly chilly wind rustled along the grass of the hilly rise and through their hair and clothing. Lcorn L’lorne and Deborah Ignigus laid out on the grass, their gaze fixed on the stars. Most were hard to make out, the red glow of the city overpowering the weak light, but the hill helped shield most of light from the city and let enough starlight through to see the major groupings.

      L’lorne’s hand reached up for a moment. She held it there for a bit, as if the hand itself were rethinking its decision to rise in the first place, and then she pulled it back down and swept it up behind her head with her other hand.

      “So,” Deborah said after a long silence. “What happens now?”

      L’lorne pursed her lips in thought. “I don’t know,” she said honestly. “I never exactly planned this far ahead.”

      “Oh.” More silence. Deborah shifted along the ground, moving the now much heavier pocket on her side so that it didn’t lay directly on her. A slight clinking noise came as she moved it, causing L’lorne to look over to her for a moment.

      She turned back to the stars and stared at them again. “It’s been a long time since I’ve done this.”
“I imagine.”

      Chirping insects echoed around them. Not too far in the distance was the sound of cars passing by on a highway, though they were getting fewer and fewer as the night grew older. “Are you going to go home?

      “Don’t exactly have one to go to.”

      "You could come with me, I suppose.”

      Deborah didn’t move. “I’m not going to be your daughter.”

      L’lorne’s eyebrows went up in surprise. She smiled. “That’s fair enough.”

      A few stray clouds floated over them, partially blocking the already dim stars. There was no moon, and so the only weak starlight and the glow of the city was available to see the cloud. “Could you really have saved my mama?”

      “Yes,” L’lorne said without hesitation. “I still could, if you want.”

      The girl sat up. “What?”

      “Bringing the dead back to life isn’t as hard as it might seem at first, I could even show you how to do it.”

      Deborah stared through the dark gloom at L’lorne for a bit, her breath increased to match the faster beating heart. Then she closed her eyes and laid back down. “I don’t know.” More silence as she calmed down from the initial surprise. “Would she even want to come back? Could I go back?” She trailed off in thought, leaving them with the silence of chirping bugs and rustling wind.

      L’lorne said nothing, let the girl think for a while. Finally she spoke again. “Well, if it’s that hard of a decision, we could go ask her?”

      Deborah shook her head. “Delphi said she moved on.”

      “Doesn’t mean we can’t still go ask her.”

      Deborah was still looking up at the stars, though even through her open, staring eyes, a racing mind was at work. “It would be that simple, eh?”

      “Simple as breathing,” L’lorne said.

      “Let me think about it.”

      L’lorne nodded. “Take your time, we’ve got all the time you could ever need.”




1. What kind of person is Lcorn L'lorne? What does she look like (in your mind)?
2. What kind of person is the Deborah Ignigus? What does she look like (in your mind)?
3. What kind of person is The Ritch 'arrd? What does his human form look like (in your mind)?
4. Does the setting seem fitting? Would you like to know more?
5. What do you think the future holds for them?

Thank you for reading.  Friday, I'll have a bit more to say.  Until then kiddies.

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