Well, I’m in a humorous mood today. 😉 I know I know, it’s been forever since I’ve posted an installment of Nightmare, but I’ve been lacking the inspiration, and you can’t force yourself to write a storybook. However, today I finally managed to pull my act together, and have literally just finished writing this. In this one, Liam’s relationship with Mako worsens, while relations between him and Derson seem to be improving. I honestly didn’t expect the latter part, it just– happened as I was writing, and I stuck with it. Enjoy. 🙂
“So what’s your genius plan for getting us off this rock anyway?” Derson asked, as Liam led them through the tunnel he had previously traversed.
“Well, fortunately for all of us,” Liam said quietly. “Jayna knows something that we don’t. But first, I need to tell you something that I know and you don’t. There is a reason I have paused here, and that reason is beyond this tunnel there lies an extremely deadly creature. But now you have been forewarned, and since forewarned is forearmed, let’s go.”
“Wait what?” Derson asked, holding Liam back. “You tell us there’s a deadly creature in there, which with someone like you means it’s a killer, and you expect us to just follow you to our doom?”
“What makes you think this is leading you to your doom? For all you know, it may lead to your salvation. Jayna has atomic particle shifting powers, and if we clear out the big cavern ahead of us, she’ll be able to transport the spaceship and equipment down here. If however, we sit and dawdle around, the building will collapse on the spaceship, and all hope of rescue will be gone. So will you follow me or not?”
Ignoring their stunned looks, Liam slid down the final section of the tunnel. A few seconds later, the rest of the survivors splashed down beside him.
“What are we looking at sir?” Derson asked. Liam started slightly at the title. It had been years since anybody had called him ‘sir’. Then he shook his head. The past was not something he enjoyed looking back upon.
“See that?” Liam asked, pointing to the eel-like creature swimming around Derson’s heels.
“Imagine it a thousand times bigger, lurking in that big lagoon over there and ready to attack. That’s about what we are looking at– Lieutenant.”
“I’m just a Squad Leader sir,” Derson said, unslinging one of the numerous weapons he carried. Jayna spun her enerblade in the palm of her hand nervously. They were all tense and silent; waiting, waiting.
“Well, I just promoted you.”
More silence. Flying creatures that had to relate to birds somewhere along the line cawed, flying noisily away.
“Thank you sir.”
Liam nodded, wading forward to the front of the group. He held his enerblade loosely, fingers just barely gripping against the ridges along it. Everything seemed to be waiting. All sign of life was gone. Then everything started happening at once.
The anemone-like creatures drew a shell structure over themselves, the flying animals all darted away into some foliage, and the baby eels that had been swimming around them darted away. Without a pause, a great rumbling shook the ground, and enormous ripples broke the previously calm surface of the water. Only there was one problem. The ripples were going towards the giant lagoon, and they were fast becoming turbulent waves, caused only by one thing– Suction, and lots of it.
“Stand your ground!” Liam said, while Jayna reached out to telekinetically brace the coms. However, she found that Liam had already done so. The party all watched in fascination as the water in and around the lagoon began swirling in a circle. Jayna could see that whatever creature they were about to face was very angry. Then she heard a yelp that could only come from one of their party.
Like a mother with a child in danger, she looked around, harried. There was Mako, being sucked towards the giant hole of doom, his legs flailing helplessly in the water. Liam did not seem to notice, and gathering what scattered focus she could, Jayna tried to pull Mako to safety. The water around their legs was rushing as if it was being shot out of some compressed chamber instead of being sucked towards a water worm of doom.
Mako was terrified. For once in his life after Liam had picked him up, he was completely paralyzed with fear. He had been attacked by robots, high tech assassins, escaped falling structures, crashing spaceships, explosions, poisonous gasses of different origins, and more, but nothing compared to the fear that gripped his heart in this moment. Fear that arose from the fact that his friend, his companion, his savior, was confirming the fact that he no longer held a place in the heart of Liam.
After that one day when he had made that simple mistake, just one slight blunder, and Liam had disowned him, he had been reeling. The reality had never fully hit him. He had been unable to comprehend the fact that his only compatriot had deserted him. Somewhere in his consciousness Mako had known that this was not the simple bickering that occurred between friends. He had known that once Liam turned away, he never looked back. But while Liam was working to save them as a group, he was able to pretend– to deceive himself into thinking that perhaps, in some corner of his heart, Liam still cared for him.
In this series of seconds though, it hit Mako completely. He could see the holes in Liam’s mask for his eyes; Liam’s dark eyes that bored into Mako, and seeing nothing, penetrated through him. Time slowed. Mako could hear in his mind a thumping that he knew had to be his heart, but he saw nothing; nothing but Liam, cold and hard, calmly watching the dog he had once called friend approach his doom.
Water entered Mako’s mouth, and he gave reflexive yelp as he coughed it out. He felt Jayna’s grip on him as she desperately tried to pull him to safety. But Mako did not care. The image of Liam’s face watching him passionless was branded in his memory the same way a scarification tattoo was branded on the new apprentice of a Vilth master establishing dominion over his student, and he could think of nothing else.
“Master, I have lost contact with one of the Sisters.”
The Imperetor remained motionless, hovering slightly above the ground in silent meditation. A deadly calm resonated through the whole temple. The giant room was bare, and completely dark except for a disembodied light generated by Malvolent. The Imperetor’s back was turned to his apprentice, and for a moment, the latter thought that her master had not heard her recent statement, but she dared not repeat herself.
Suddenly the motionless figure whirled around, and before his student could do anything, his tongue emerged from his mouth, and forcing the lips of his apprentice apart with it, the Imperetor drew out from her mouth an oral appendage similar to his own.
“I am a disease, my dear,” he began, his rich voice resonating through the room. “And I am spreading. This tongue is what spreads it. You are now DAMARC Type UD2. That is correct dearest, your power is now inherited from my infinite power.” The Imperetor released his grip on his pupil’s tongue, and both retracted their oral extensions. “I am glad Liam killed the assassin. It just shows more of how powerful he is, and when I finally infect him, there will be nothing that can stop the three of us!”
“Yes master,” Malvolent’s student said, keeping her head bowed.
“In many respects I have to thank Richard,” Imperetor Malvolent said, almost pensively. “He ridded me of my old, feeble body, and now I have all my previous power in the body of a man not much older than he was when he disabled me and Liam backstabbed me. You too, now have that same youth. Just think of it, think of the power this gives us.”
The Imperetor stepped forward. His motions were not hurried as he raised the chin of his apprentice until they locked eyes. With a gentleness that did not suit him, the master brushed a lock of hair away from the face of his pupil.
“I’ve always wanted to do this,” he said, then ignoring the feeble resistance of his apprentice, he bent down and kissed her.
“Liam!” Jayna cried out. “Mako is going to die– I can’t hold him much longer!” Then she saw Liam staring directly at Mako and instantly her heart sank. Liam was observing the situation intently, but it was not as if he actually played a role in it. Instead, it was more like he was watching the situation as a spectator, set apart from what was happening.
Jayna gave up all hope.
“Just lift him out of the water,” Liam said quietly, then he ignited his enerblade, and held it high above the water. There was a flash of black as he leaped into the current and was carried down the center of the whirlpool.
Just as Jayna put Mako on some dry land after following Liam’s advice, the support Liam had been giving to the coms was released, and she hurried to replace the mental grips that were now lacking.
“We should go help him!” Derson called over the sound of the rushing water. He realized now that Liam was indeed their only hope of getting off the planet alive, and he was doing everything to speed up the process.
“Not yet!” Jayna shouted back. She would have said more, but then the monster showed itself.
It reared out of the water with a cry of primal rage, and they could see why, for Liam, barely more than a tiny speck, was on its head, slashing with the enerblade he held. The quad-jawed mouth opened and a tidal wave of water shot out from it. None of them had time to take cover. One of the coms went soaring high and was skewered on a spear-like protrusion of rock. Mako hit a wall, then landed on a ledge twenty feet off the ground, while Derson was washed partway up a cave passage. The other com went flying through the air, struck the back wall of the cavern, and tumbled back into the water. Jayna alone survived being carried by the wave, but it was only by throwing a mental wall up in front of her that she did so.
Then as the water resided, Jayna shouted.
Liam apparently had the same idea, for the two surviving coms and herself were sent flying towards their enormous antagonist. Derson managed to regain his cool halfway through his flight and began shooting at the creature. It was eyeless, so he aimed for what he hoped was a tender spot inside its mouth. The other com, limbs flailing. landed flat on the forehead of the monster. Jayna managed to ignite her enerblade and stabbed it deep as she landed.
The eel bucked, but Liam’s steady mental hand kept them stationary.
“We need to kill it from the inside!” Liam shouted, his voice made hoarse by his mask.
Jayna nodded to signify her assent as she stabbed the beast again.
“You go in!” and before Jayna could argue, Liam had already lifted her and lowered her into the eel’s mouth. He kept her close enough to the wall of the creature’s esophagus that she could extend her blade and slit it as he lowered her deeper. She felt the organic cavern she was in vibrate as the eel gave another enraged roar.
Find its heart.
“Okay,” Jayna said, then she realized that Liam’s voice had been inside her head. He dropped her the last five feet, and she landed with a squelch. Looking around at the enormous cavern that enclosed her she gave a frustrated sigh. “Great, find its heart. Helpful indeed. I’m sure we all love you Liam.”