The Adventure at MoonFlower Rock
Hiro felt himself lightly suspended as images of Isabella floated through his mind. Her naked body was pressed to his, her arms held him tightly. His body melded around her, taking in her feel, her scent, the silky smoothness of her skin. He felt at peace. All he ever wanted was held in his arms. His life could now begin. As he pulled back to look at her, her eyes held tears. As she looked up at him, her words ripped away the serenity that drifted softly around him, gripped by near panic, her words echoed through his mind. ‘Oh Gawd, there is so much blood.’
There was something terribly wrong. His mind fought to identify it as he began to struggle to take an inventory of his body, his consciousness moving away from his visions of Isabella and to his chest where the heinous weapon had done its wicked work. He remembered then, the pain of the sprawl as it had twisted and turned, boring its way through his lungs and heart. He remembered trying to grab her and to focus on making the shift. He had only briefly seen the man that had come to take him. Whoever he was, he had carelessly, and with tremendous power, sent Isabella flying back and out of his way to accomplish this. Nebulous disembodied voices floated as whispers on the air. Words fell like raindrops around him hitting the ground with a deafening echo. He tried with all his will to grab onto them, repeating them inside his mind, hoping to remember them at a later time… a time when he would stop feeling and could think. The words were now becoming thick and heavy and seemed to be dragging him further down into his stupor. ‘ Ithaca...Relics of the Diabolicon... Temporal Rift... Xenon... CubraXian... Ceridian-lexica... the Sword of Dark Passage.’ He had a moment of frightening recognition before the words began to blur, and then became obscure.
It felt as if someone or something was inside him and sucking at his life force. He could hear thoughts coming from somewhere… from something inside him. Whatever it was, it was clawing at him from the inside. He felt himself slipping back into the peaceful oblivion of unconsciousness. Desperately he repeated the words he had heard over and over and over until they were a distant echo, then lost to the darkness.
He was suddenly alert, then, rushed with a staggering disorientation. He tried to sit up but something held him down, frozen still to one spot. He tried to open his eyes but they were sealed closed. He calmed himself, paced his breath and began to reach out with his senses. Someone was in the room and close by. A calm voice spoke to him a warning.
“Do not try to move. You wear a control collar. It is to protect you from any sudden movements. Your wound was quite wicked and I do not wish for you to re-injure yourself. Your new organs are quite tender.” Hiro slowly drew in the scent of the man that was moving around him but was distracted when the man spoke again.
“I need to monitor your life signs, please hold yourself quiet as I do this and I will release you. I have spoken to your father and told him of your mishap. He is anxious to see you.” The stranger’s words surprised him. When he was taken, he was uncertain of his fate but knew that it would include ransom, imprisonment or death. The stranger was inside his mind, monitoring his thoughts and answered.
“My master does not seek to harm you. You do however have an enemy. It is from him, I saved you.” Hiro listened to the soft muffled tones of the controls of the medical holograph being worked. It was a familiar sound. He had used this same device many times. As he tried to find his voice, he heard it turn off.
“You are still very raw and should have several more days of bed rest. You will be sore for a while. I have always only known a sprawl to be fatal. I never imagined anyone living after sustaining such a vicious wound. Good thing for me that the bloodline of Varda is self-healing.”
Hiro felt his lips cracked and dry as the word automatically escaped him.
“Isabella.” Hiro felt as the man reached to test the control collar. The man advised him.
“I am going to remove your collar. You are in a shielded facility and will not be able to make the shift, so please do not try. I promised your father I would see you safely home. Please do not make of me, a liar. Once I have kept my word and have returned you, you may go to your woman. You may do as you will.”
“Isabella.” Her name came out again as a course whisper from a very sore throat.
“She is alive. I have monitored her progress daily on your behalf. It has been difficult as she kept changing directions quite frequently. She should arrive at her home soon. Your father has sent emissaries to guard her as well. I am sure they will do this from a distance so as not to frighten her. Please lay still while I remove the seal from your eyes.” Hiro felt as warmth moved across his eyes, they immediately began to water profusely.
“You may open your eyes slowly. It will take a few minutes for your vision to fully return to you. Do not be alarmed and do not sit up yet.” Hiro obeyed as the room spun in circles. He felt nauseous. Her name slipped out once again.
“Isabella.” Hiro heard the man chuckle.
“I have heard of Hui-lu-Shai-eia. It is disquieting that it is not a myth but real indeed. It is said that it is difficult to be away from a mate for too long. Yours believes you to be dead. She must be beside herself with grief.” Hiro felt a wash of panic. The stranger’s voice came again.
“She is considering using one of the crystal keys to return to your home world… to find your family. I heard this from her mind when she stopped at a roadside store to get gasoline on her way home. She was plotting how she would go about this. Her grief is great, as is her confusion. But her resolve is quite solid. I am certain that she will not be swayed.” Hiro wanted out. He had to get to her.
“You may relax. She can do nothing without a plane ticket and she has not yet acquired one.” Damn. This man was in his head and could hear his thoughts. Hiro drew in a deep breath. It jarred his chest and ripped through his stomach. Then, his stomach turned over, nausea spreading once again. He had never felt so sick or been so sore. It felt as if something had been inside him and had torn its way out by clawing its way through his body. His disorientation was still playing tricks on him. He could not remember if it was a dream or a memory.
“As I said before, the sprawl is a wicked weapon. It had worked its way through your chest and had turned most of your vital organs to soup before my master could remove it.” The voice was subdued power. It was the voice of a man that had mastered control. Hiro wanted to know who he was. He lay still, focusing his attention as he once again tried to draw in a deep breath. This time he did so, very slowly. He could hardly believe what he was scenting. He drew in another breath just to be certain. The man that stood beside him was Varda of Nimm. He did a quick inventory inside his mind. Besides himself, the only other Nimm that they knew of, that was made from the Varda bloodline were the sons of Beau-Dane and the sons of Rei-shaw. But Rei-shaw and his family were trapped on Tyria with no means of escape.
He was now blinking rapidly, his eyesight slowly coming back. As he moved his head to see a shadowy outline of a man… the one that had come for him, Hiro found his voice to ask.
“Who is your father?”
“My father is your great grandfather, Beau-Dane.” He said no more. The man standing and speaking was one of the Nimm sons that his brother Vichon had gone off to find, and rescue, if need be. They had believed that all of Beau-Danes children were still in the custody of the Sulkar. A dangerous place to be.
Hiro could tell by the tone of his voice that he did not wish to discus it. With his voice course and gritty, he said.
“We only recently discovered that Beau-Dane had sons, made of Nimm. The holograph that we discovered of your father spoke that you, his children, were in the tutelage of the Sulkar.” Something in Trent stilled. He never knew that there was a holograph that spoke of his father. Calmly without inflection to any of his words, Trent answered.
“Frightening thought isn’t it.” Something inside Trent wanted to ask Hiro about his father… and the holograph. He felt an odd sense of need… the need to see his father. But their conversation was being monitored and most likely, they were being watched. It would have to wait.
“Do you help me or barter me?” His vision had begun to clear, images had begun to take tangible form, and it was then that Hiro saw the man that had saved him. He noticed the tattooing around the strange stone that looked to be embedded in Trent’s temple. It was a Nimm scrye stone. They looked very similar to an opal and had tremendous power when placed with its true companion. Hiro wondered if Trent’s Nimm heritage was truly of a royal Seidh cast or if he just wore it for decoration. If these two actually belonged together, then Trent was a Seior. He also wondered how he got it from Tyria, as this was the only place that they could be found. Trent’s voice interrupted his conjecture,
“Both. I have already spoken my master’s price to your father. He is agreeable. I am sure he will share this information with you once I get you home.” Hiro heard, and then felt, another hypo-spray at his neck.
“This will help you with your equilibrium. I have been using accelerators to heal you more quickly. They cause nausea and disorientation. A wound such as the one you sustained would easily take a month for Varda to self heal. I doubt that you wish to spend that kind of time away from your mate… your Isabella. You will be sore for a while and not at your best. So please refrain from trying to use any Nimm tricks on me. They are unnecessary. We have similar goals, best achieved by cooperation. Your father is eager to have you back and we are eager to comply. Now… take my arm, and use only your arm muscles and allow me to slowly pull you to sit. Do not stress your body by using your core muscles. They are new and still tender.” Hiro did as he was told, taking hold of Trent’s strong arm and allowing him to pull him up. As he did, Trent moved to slide his legs off the examine bed so that he was sitting at its edge. Still hoarse, Hiro asked,
“Your name? What is your name?”
“Trent-Dane of Varda. It was given to me by my master.”
“Who do you call your Master?” Trent knew Hiro’s belief. The Varda were masters and no one of Varda blood should be calling anyone, their Master. Trent answered casually.
“You know him only as The Physician.” Something in Hiro froze. He struggled to remember the words that he had heard while suspended in the healing limbo. If they were words that had come from the Physician, they would be important, and soon. He used what strength he had to shield his thoughts as his mind spoke each word as a confirmation and then tucked them away for another time.
“What does he barter? I will hear it from you now.”
“Your father will undoubtedly wish for you to hear his version. I have prepared some clothing for you so that I may return you to your family. Once I have done this you may do as you will. Please follow me.” Trent stepped aside and waited for Hiro’s feet to hit the ground, then waited for him to steady himself. Trent moved towards a door and disappeared quietly into an adjacent room, slowly Hiro followed, feeling as if he had been hit by the proverbial truck. When he entered, Trent said
“Please take whatever time you require to care for your needs.” It was a spacious dressing room with an adjoining bath facility. Trent gestured to where clothing was hung neatly and then stepped from the room.
There were blue jeans, a long sleeved, off white silk shirt with button cuffs and a pair of what looked to him like biker boots and socks. The blue jeans looked well worn and comfortable. No doubt, they belonged to the man that had just helped him. Running his fingers over the shirt, he found that it was made of Damascus silk from Earth. He wondered if that was where he was being held.
His intention had been to shower quickly, but his body was viciously sore. Spending more time than he had intended to soak in the heat, he tried to work out some of the stiffness. Stepping into the drying alcove, warm air swirled around him to dry him and his hair. It felt good to be clean and standing.
Afterwards, he quietly dressed himself, his mind busy with thoughts of both Isabella and this new discovery, carefully guarding his mind as he repeated the words that he had heard, all the time hoping it was just a bad dream. He wondered what his price had been, what it had cost his father to see to his safe return. Whatever it had been, he knew that his father would not begrudge it.
In an odd gesture, Trent knocked softly and then to open the door to step inside the room, hairbrush and decorative hair slide in hand. He laid them down on the finishing chest and then stepped back out of the room with no words spoken. Hiro looked to see that the slide Trent had left him could be worn as a comb as well, and in addition to the sideways slide pick, it sported two top cross picks. It was elegantly made and looked very old as if it had been handled and worn for an age of time. Two metals, litrion and gold were braided together and hammered flat, then pressed into a curve to accommodate the slide. There was decorative scrollwork hammered into it that was Beddian in design. As he looked at it, he realized that the picks were blades and the body of the slide was its scabbard. It was a clever weapon, small and easy to conceal in plain sight. He knew that it was a gift beyond price and wondered why this man was giving it to him. But for some reason, Trent wanted him to have a weapon and it sounded like a good idea to him. Trusting his instincts, he pulled his hair back, bound it with the hair slide, and secured the picks.
Stepping outside the room, he saw Trent waiting, sitting on the examination table that he had previously occupied. Sliding off the table he casually asked, as if all of this had been-no big deal.
“Ready?” Hiro gave a quick nod and Trent turned to walk from the room. As they walked together down a long, wide corridor, he could not escape the feeling that they were deep underground. The walls felt peculiar, almost as if they were alive, quiet and watching. He drew in a slow deep breath trying to analyze what was causing his feeling of uneasiness, trying to put a name to a strange and foreboding feeling. The scent radiated from all around him and he recognized it as Corbidium.
He realized then that somewhere in this facility, which his senses perceived as massive, there was an enormous quantity of this metal. Dicent crypts were made of this metal and Dicent crypts were capable of trapping and containing memories. However, the size of a memory crypt for an individual was slightly less than one square inch, hardly capable of radiating such a powerful rate of vibration. The words that he had heard while in that brief moment of waking sleep rang over inside his mind and the connection was made.
In one of the most ancient texts that the Obej had in their possession, it was written that Corbidium was capable of causing mirror rifts, small rabbit-hole type wyrdings that could easily be used as a hatch or portal. This was an important discovery, a frightening discovery. He wondered what the Physician was using it for and what effect this concentration was having in this place. He focused his mind to listen and heard nothing.
As they entered the lift, Trent worked the control and they began to move upward. It was as Hiro had suspected, they were deep underground and the lift took several minutes to travel to the surface. Hiro asked.
“I would like to repay you for your kindness.” Trent did not hesitate to take his offer.
“Then you can arrange for me to view the holograph that you spoke of… the one of my father.” Hiro cringed. It had not been pretty. Beau-Dane had been tortured for years before being killed, taken apart piece by piece by the Sulkar queen herself. But if it had been him, he would have asked for the same thing. Hiro also knew that with this request Trent had exposed something very important about himself. He was looking for family.
The lift began to slow down as the roof began to part. Hiro could see sunlight just above them as the lift continued its path upwards. Then only the floor was moving until the floor became a platform and they were outside on a helicopter-landing pad. Hiro noted that the elevator shaft had never been exposed. It had been designed to forestall any breech that might come. A clever design.
He looked to see several sleek Razorback Helios all in a neat row. He knew that they were stealth in design, capable of silent as well as remote flight, aero camouflage and satellite uplink. As they belonged to the physician, he had to assume that they had most likely been tweaked with a few off world tricks. A really sweet ride.
The dry heat wrapped around him on a soft breeze and he knew from its scent that he was on Earth. It felt good to breathe real air, not the processed stuff that he had been breathing for the week that it had taken him to heal. Hiro reached out with his senses. They were in a desert region and there was no shield to prevent him from shifting away. He nodded to Trent before saying,
“Speak your request to my father and he will see to it. Tell him it was my promise to you. And, I am sorry for this cousin. My father will believe you when you tell him I had to go to Isabella first.” With his words spoken, he shifted away. Trent was left standing alone. Damn.
He even saw that coming. He laughed aloud. Hui-lu-Shai-eia...Who would have guessed it?