part 3/3 chapter 3
As Rune stared out the window, the wind and rain lashing the glass, Jarvis realized what happened. He lowered his head, shaking it sadly. “you can’t go after him, Rune.” he whispered. “It’s too dangerous.” Rune swung to him, his eyes filled with uncertainty and pain. “I have to.” he whispered. He turned and ran for the door.
His siblings rushed after him, he pushed them back and pulled open the door, almost thrown to the floor by the blast of wind that met him. Jarvis caught his arm and attempted to pull the young man back into the house. Rune ripped his arm from his grip easily and plunged into the storm, leaving his siblings screaming into the wind for him to come back.
Jarvis pulled them back from the door and closed it, shutting off the howling wind. He swore under his breath and ran to the window, trying to glimpse the tall young man. He was already gone and if Jarvis tried to go after him, he would be too.
Amarillius and Sharn wept on the floor, crying Rune’s name. Then a small voice called from the top of the stairs; “Rune?” Sharn glanced up and gasped. Tycho stood at the top of the stairs, looking around curiously for his big brother. At this sight, Amarillius’s sobbing grew harder. She tried to run to the door, but Jarvis caught her and held her back. “No!” he shouted. “He’s gone. There is nothing we can do but pray he survives.” Amarillius struggled against Jarvis’s grip and broke it, but Jarvis had already locked the door. She kicked and pounded on it, screaming Rune’s name, but he didn’t come.
Out in the storm, Rune’s voice rivaled the screaming winds as he shouted for his little brother, who unbeknownst to him, was safe and Rune was traveling farther away from him.
The wind battered him and stole his breath. It forced him to his knees, but he refused to obey. He pushed against it. There was already half a foot of water streaming around his ankles. Pieces of debris scraped his legs and bare feet. Without realizing it, he was getting closer to the town center. Buildings crumbled as they gave way under the battering wind and ferocious rain. Tears streamed down Rune’s face as he screamed his little brother’s name, only to have his breath snatched away by the wind.
A piece of metal roofing hurtled toward him, carried by the rising flood of brown rainwater. It caught Rune’s left leg, throwing out from under him and tearing to skin. He cried out, falling into the water. Thunder boomed above him and the black skies were lit by a flash of lightning.
He lived out his dream, screaming Tycho’s name as wind battered him from the outside and his grief shattered him from the inside. He stood on shaking legs, seeking shelter from the storm. Through the rain, he could make out a looming shape. A building. He limped towards it; the water stinging the gash in his leg.
He stumbled through the door which was miraculously still on its hinges. There were two feet of water filling the warehouse, but the wind no longer drove him to his knees or the rain pounded on his shoulders.
The smashed windows lit up with flashing lightning. Rune paid it no mind. He was exhausted. He collapsed to one knee in the water, his tears fell with the rain. Tycho was lost and it was his fault. That dream wasn’t a dream, it was a warning that he ignored. He didn’t keep his siblings safe. He pushed himself up on trembling arms. His morphing was going to fail, he could tell. He stood. Blood leaked from his leg, the water around him turning red, but then, as his grief grew and more tears slipped down his face, it turned silver.
His morphing failed.
He grew to his original height, his hair shortened. His fangs appeared, his clothes stayed the same.
He would have tried to morph into some animal, but he couldn’t. When he got back to his siblings, he would have to learn to morph through stress. That is, if he ever got back to his siblings.
Rune shook his head, realizing his mind was wandering. The roof above him groaned and cracked ominously. Rune’s head snapped up, his purple eyes tracing the cracks on the roof high above him. He turned and rushed toward the door. His left leg struggled against the quickly rising floodwaters.
He pushed for the door, his fingers brushed the doorknob. A blast of wind threw the door open and hit him head on.
He stumbled backward, half falling into the water. The roof groaned. He was too late. He threw his hands over his head and crouched down just as the roof collapsed, taking half the building down with it.
“Admiral! We’ve located Lieutenant cybersoldier 682. He fled to earth.” Admiral Gallas raised an eyebrow. He stood in the bridge. Recently, he had been in a foul mood when his newly promoted soldier went missing, along with his siblings. Now, his expression cleared. He nodded his approval. “Send a squad down to retrieve them. Then I will deal with him.” The major nodded. He turned to go, but the Admiral stopped him. “How is General Aspen doing? Still in the infirmary?” The major nodded. “He has recovered none of his memory.” Admiral Gallas pursed his lips. “Dismissed.” he said.
Back on earth:
A heavy pounding on the door. It had been a stressful hour of kids crying and the storm battering the house. Jarvis, who was sitting at the table with Tycho beside him, glanced up. He rose and went to the door. He recoiled as he saw who was on the other side. A sarsh. The General towered over the thin man, who was tall but not nearly as tall as the sarsh. “C-can I help-p you?” Jarvis asked, his voice trembling. “I understand you have four children housed here,” the General replied. “I need you to hand them over to me now.”
Jarvis’s mouth was open, emitting a quiet stuttering. He pointed a shaking finger at the three siblings watched from behind him. “The-them?” he whispered. The sarsh smirked. “show him.” he said to the siblings. Amarillius pursed her lips, but she knew better than to disobey a sarsh officer. The siblings grew in height, fangs appearing and pupils thinning. Their dark hair became slightly transparent and sky-blue. Jarvis looked over his shoulder and nearly screamed at the three young sarsh behind him. Amarillius smiled, but her fangs only proved to frighten Jarvis more. “sorry, Jarvis. We really needed somewhere to stay.” Jarvis moved out of the General’s way. “Please take them,” he quavered. The General turned his dark eyes to the siblings.
“Collect your things.” the General commanded. “We are leaving. Fetch your brother.”
Sharn spoke up, his eyes wet. “Rune went into the storm. We don’t-” a tear slid down his cheek. “We don’t know where he is.”
The General watched the siblings comfort each other, his expression growing increasingly angry. “Go get your things. We will find your brother whether he is dead or alive.”
The siblings slowly collected their belongings. Tycho clung to his stuffed bear, Stormy. The siblings filed down the ladder, past Jarvis, and out the door. Outside, there was a downed tree stretching across the road like a fallen person. The ground was sodden and gave way under their feet; the sky was still sullen and thunder rumbled distantly.
The General led the past the tree and down the road. The siblings bare feet splashed through the water covering the road. Amarillius held her brothers’ hands, her eyes searching for Rune somewhere in the debris. There were human search and rescue teams rushing about, digging through collapsed buildings. Sarsh soldiers coldly ignored everyone as they conducted their own search. The General had ordered them to search for one and only one person. Rune.
As Amarillius watched the sarsh search for her brother, she frowned, then turned to the General. “Why are you taking us back home?” she inquired.
The General stopped in his tracks and turned to her. “Perhaps because it is against our laws for a soldier to go AWOL. Especially on the home planet of our underlings.” Amarillius furrowed her brow and opened her mouth to say something else, but the General silenced her. “We will speak more on this matter when we are back on Zenith.” He led the siblings to a small transport. It lifted off the ground, Tycho touched the glass, watching the ground grow tiny as the transport blasted towards Zenith where the massive ship hung above earth, casting a threatening shadow on all who dare look up.
The General left Colonel Hale in charge of finding Lieutenant 682. The Colonel’s thick boots were soaked thoroughly as he and his men scoured the water-logged streets. They finished searching through a collapsed building and moved on to another, a warehouse. The roof had caved in, taking the top half of the building with it. Colonel Hale sighed as he surveyed the damage. “This is going to take a while.” he sighed.
The sarsh dug through the debris, their fingers ached as they tossed aside large chunks of fallen building. Rain fell around them, soaking their uniforms thoroughly. The ground, already saturated, turned to slop beneath their boots. “Speed up, men. Admiral Gallas is waiting for us.” His men nodded and turned back to their tasks. It wasn’t much longer when one sarsh shouted to the Colonel; “Colonel! I see something!” The sarsh pushed through the water to where the Major had beckoned him. There was a triangle of roofing, out from it was a dark, still hand. The colonel pursed his lips, the roofing had collapsed around the lieutenant in such a way that saved his life. Though he had not gone entirely unscathed.
The sarsh cleared away the debris from around the lieutenant, Colonel Hale could see he was bleeding profusely from a gash in his leg, an enormous pile of debris trapped his cyber arm. His face had a very large bruise spreading across it, there were several cuts across his face and chest, leaking silver blood. As Colonel Hale watched the lieutenant, he stirred.
The lieutenant’s eyes snapped open and he jerked upright, his cyber arm twisted as he sat up and he cried out. His eyes were full of fear and confusion. When he saw the sarsh surrounding him, his eyes narrowed. The Colonel stepped toward, putting his hand out in a calming gesture. It was obvious the lieutenant was discombobulated and that was dangerous. When sarsh were in a state of emotional confusion, they often couldn’t control their own actions. Despite being injured, the lieutenant was dangerous to himself and them, especially because he had not learned to control his cyber limbs entirely.
“Calm down, Lieutenant.” Hale called. Rune struggled against the weight of the debris on top of his arm. He stopped, glancing back at the Colonel. Silence fell as Rune’s eyes burned into the Colonel’s.
Suddenly, the silence was broken when a gleaming blade burst from the debris, cutting through the stone and metal holding Rune down. He stood, his eyes trained on the Colonel. The colonel took a step toward the lieutenant. “We’re here to take you home.” he reassured, but this was anything but reassuring to Rune. Fear and anger welled in his eyes. “why?” Rune growled, his voice rough and full of pain. “I don’t want to go back anymore. Not after what General Aspen did.”
Colonel Hale raised an eyebrow. “We will talk more on these matter later, first we must go back to Zenith.” Rune shook his head. “I’m not going back.”
Colonel Hale signaled two of his men; they stepped forward and gripped the lieutenant’s forearms, trapping him between them. Rune’s fingers curled into fists, the scars on his face pulled into tight, white lines as he glowered at Colonel Hale. Then, there was a flurry of action as Rune’s rock-hard fist slammed into the sarsh’s stomach to his right. The Major doubled over and gasped for breath, the other soldier was no match for Rune and the lieutenant simply pulled from his grasp.
He sped past Colonel Hale, clipping his shoulder as he ran. The colonel grunted as the Lieutenant’s shoulder slammed into his, knocking him off balance. He heard the lieutenant’s footsteps splashing in the floodwaters as he ran farther away. “Catch him.” he said calmly to his men and they all streamed after him.
Rune found himself in the same position as when Officer Fallyn was chasing him; his leg wasn’t the strongest it could have been and he was weak after having a building dropped on his head, not to mention the worst headache pounding on his head. The sarsh were gaining on him and he was not getting far. His vision was dark around the edges and his breath rattled in his ribcage. He couldn’t go fast enough to get away. He groaned, realizing he was going to have to stop or he would pass out.
He halted in his tracks, spinning behind a large fallen roof. His chest heaved and his heart pounded wildly. He heard the soldiers’ heavy, sloshing footsteps nearing his position. Time to go. The sarsh started in surprise when Rune burst from behind the fallen roof and ran in the opposite direction. Colonel Hale watched him, realizing where the Lieutenant was going. He thought his siblings were still in the human’s house. He would be sorely disappointed. He signaled for his men to slow their pursuit. They could cut him off when he arrived at the human’s house.
Rune sprinted for Jarvis’s house, he burst through the door, calling for his siblings. Jarvis, who was still slightly in shock, saw him and brandished a thin metal pole from his work desk. “get out of my house!” he shouted, not the shy, quiet person he usually was. Rune made the pretense of backing away, but then lunged for him. “where are my siblings?” he roared in the smaller man’s face. Jarvis jammed the pole in his ribs, making him cry out and spin away. “General Quillion already took them back to Zenith!” another voice called from behind Rune.
The lieutenant turned and came face to face with Colonel Hale. He growled, gasping for breath from Jarvis’s pole, he turned and started towards the back door, unfortunately, his leg gave out beneath him and he was momentarily distracted. This time four Majors caught him and pushed him to his knees, holding him in a headlock. Colonel Hale crouched, his face inches from the Lieutenant’s. “Time to go home.”