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Precursor

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The azure blade curved and arched through the air like a scythe through fickle straw. Its owner leading the sword’s dance across the field at first spinning at blurring speeds, now began to slow. “A nice night to practice,” Kerende said softly, coming to a halt. Slowly rotating her head to the left she saw the surroundings. The field was of fair size, and though normally she would not have been able to see very far at this time of night, the moon gleamed brightly upon the fresh mint colored grass. The effect creating an emerald-haze aura that emitted from the ground.

Kerende tilted her head and took a whiff of air. “Damp,” she thought. “The precursor of a storm.” Her fragile but hardened blue-green eyes gazed up at the stars. She could see their perfect purity like diamonds set ablaze in an inky-black room and she was the floor. Continuing her marvel, her eyes narrowed upon the moon. “Three-fourths,” she quietly thought. Thin clouds began to obscure the textures once prevalent. The clouds thickened till she could no longer see the sky.

A gust of wind hit her back unexpectedly nearly throwing her off balance. Warmth crept around her thin figure, making the hairs on her neck rise. Normally she had shoulder-length dark brown hair. Now a light shade of blue from the moonlight above, whipped back wildly almost parallel to the ground.
“It’s here,” Kerende said quietly now turning her head to the right seeing the warm front of bulbous clouds approaching. A flash of lightning was seen in the distance. Sheathing her sword, she turned away from the encroaching storm leaving the clearing, and headed deeper into the forest. Stepping over sticks and brambles she found herself in a very familiar place. An empty black mouth stood against the jagged cliffs. Hard shell rock teeth protruded from the ground around the opening. She knew this place well, a relic of the past.
_____

Kerende stepped through ducking beneath the edges of the roof creeping out of the mountain above. The familiar smell of rugged dirt entered her nostrils, all the more making her feel at home. As a kid she had come here-alone. Always cast out as a child for strange theologies. That was all gone now. Those ideals, the entire way of life wiped away in one sweep of something much larger than was ever anticipated by petty human belief.

There was one other thing in the universe besides Kerende that had not lost memory of this cave, Time. The cave had once been in better condition (she had made sure of that). The dirt floors now lay cluttered with fallen leaves and other little symbolizations of the death that had befallen most of the world. Cobwebs, void of there former creators hung loosely, blowing in the wind.

“Has all life abandoned this world as refuge?” she asked herself, though she already knew the answer.

Six months she had scoured the land for some vestige of human civilization. Anything familiar would help. …Nothing. Six months doubling back on the road her life had taken so long ago.

She saw the small circle engraved on the chunk of stone in the middle of the secluded cave. The circle had three lines coming from the outside most parts meeting in the middle.

Sitting down cross legged in the middle of the circle, she put her hands in her lap. The world around her darkened as she slowly drew her eyes closed. She felt her body encounter a swerving dip, vertigo gripping as her body calmly sank into a lucid sleep.
-----

“Hello again,” the warm feminine voice spoke slowly. “Have a nice nap?”

“I wouldn’t know…you interrupt every one I try to take…” Kerende spoke un-amused. For the past year and a half this voice came to her in her sleep. She hardly remembered the day when it had first spoken. But now it did not matter. She knew it was there for a reason.

“I see you have yet to find anyone. How long will you continue looking for something you know is not there?” The voice asked serenely.

“Until I find something…anything…” She felt vision slowly creep to her, temporary blindness slowly passing. She was surrounded by a faint blue pastille, like being engulfed by a faint emanating light within blue clouds. There was no ground, no sky, all was the same. She gazed in the direction of the voice, and saw a small orb of light, an inch in diameter at most. It floated level with her body.

“Why can I never see what you really are?”

“You are not yet ready. Until you put your life into bigger hands than that of the world you feel so committed to, then you are not ready to see my true form.”

“Why should I trust you? For all I know you could be a demon trying to lead me astray!” Kerende spoke briskly.

“Because in your heart you already know I am nothing to fear. I am no demon, but if I was would I not have my own part to play? If I was, who would you be to judge me?”

Frowning from confusion and frustration, Kerende turned away from the orb making strong effort not to look back.

“Before you go back,” the voice spoke once more, “remember what you have been through, and what you learned from those experiences. Do not let your fears gain hold of you. You are exactly at the right destination for this time.”

Kerende walked (or at least felt like she walked) away showing no recognition to the words the voice had spoke. A coiled swerve in her balance once again struck her returning her to the world presence once again.

Awakening on the cold dry floor, she sat up at a speed that made her head swoon not so unlike the unpleasant experience of shifting to that other world. Feeling the constant spinning in her head begin to slow, she began to stand up. Bracing against one of the pock marked walls of the small cave, she began to shuffle her feet, leading her towards the entrance back out to dawning planet.

“How many hours did those few moments with the being take?” she thought to herself. Over the past months that this had recurred she had began to notice that these encounters with the speaking orb although short in nature had taken chunks of the day from her.

A brilliant blinding light flashed the small cave abruptly turning the entire valley to silence. A swift explosion disintegrated the pseudo-silence that had held the valley. Combusted sound reverberated painfully through Kerende’s small ears, while simultaneously collapsing her to the floor. Silence. Never reducing in volume the sound was curtailed immediately like a switch had simply turned it off. She once more rose to her feet, cautiously stepping through the threshold of the cave onto the muddy surface. She gazed down into the valley.

Tree’s lied upon the ground combed outward from the base of the valley, giving the impression of a massive bulls-eye target. In the center of the circle of fallen trees was a massive silver blob. Her eyes began to focus revealing that the mass was much more. She could see small black shapes all over the ships. Small rectangles. Also she realized that this “blob” had shape. The outer hull was like a figure eight but within the two circles, gleaming halos span like the second hand of a clock. Smoke silently drifted upward in wisps.

“What on Siara is that?!” She cried out frantically. Her memories took control, diving her to other times and other places, when she had seen great machines like this. She had been young then. The small village of log cabins and cave dwellings surrounded her. She looked around; staring at the familiar faces she had been raised with. A harsh sound clashed against her ear drums from above. Cringing into a crouch while grabbing her ears she looked to the sky. Three-fourths of the sky in her vision was blocked by an inky black shape. A deep dark figure-eight hovered over her in the sky, brilliant blue domes on both holes, like bubbles caught midway in a blow-wand. It began to descend staying parallel to the ground as it sank upon her.

Shrieking, the young Kerende covered her head in terror sinking lower to the ground, hopeless. A blur of blackness streaked across her vision pushing her out of the way. Cold freshly thawed dirt met her face abrasively scraping her left cheek. Young Kerende looked at her dust-obscured savior as the resounding crash of the ships landing gear impaled the earth. “Who are you?” Young Kerende asked, the dust slowly settling bring focus to the kind Samaritan.

“I’m…sorry,” the female voice spoke quietly. The voice sounded rough and yet, as though she was trying to hide some of that, revealing a softer person. There eyes met. Short black hair stuck thick against her face. The rest was smeared with dirt and soot. “I have to go, but you will see me again ok?” The battered woman spoke.

“Ok… thank you!” the young Kerende cried cheerily, regaining her former happiness.

The woman dove into the entrance hatch on one of the side curves of the figure-eight craft. Five minutes past the girl still watched. The woman’s head for just a moment appeared at one of the windows lining the outer ring, and then the entire ship simply faded away like a spook put to rest…

The chilling memory faded away in a similar manner from her mind while she continued her descending climb down to the gray craft. She had always wondered what had become of the woman that had saved her life. The sun, now, was high in the sky. Her breast ground deeply into the rocky surface, she made her path down. Clenching a sharp, serrated rock protruding from her current holds on the cliff, she leaned out from the wall and gazed down. More detail could now be seen on the placid figure-eight. On each hoop, markings like jagged seams zigzagging across the hull. Below the craft, in the clearing, small figures stood surveying the land around them. Kerende would have been alarmed, barring the unskilled stupidity of them never looking above the treetops. She found this amusing… One hour passed and she had come to a new cleft of the cliff, now wider and more manageable in dissension than the prior climb.

“At night-fall,” she whispered, “We will meet.”

-----


“Perfect,” she said to herself. If the stars had been too bright, she could have been spotted by anyone down there. But, that night the stars were non-existent. In the latter part of the day, deep gray clouds with dark shadows had masked the sky. She steadied herself against the rocky cliff behind her, looking at the edge of the out cropping rock.

Her breath became sharp and ragged in anticipation of her next act. She had done this once before, she remembered all to well. She had succeeded. One more rasp of a breath, and she bolted forward. Foot by foot she took leaping strides towards the edge. Although this movement was gracefully rapid, her mind slowed to the pulse of a sleeping heart. Her vision too, began to decelerate. She stared at the slowly moving ground passing beneath her feet, small pebbles brushing aside by the impact of her feet. Then vermillion green met her eyes from the canopy of trees down below. Her left foot struck the edge of the out cropping, thrusting her off from the cliff into the vacant air. Beneath her feet, the gaze continued now showing all green beneath her. Hands pushed back parallel to her trim figure. She became an arrow piercing the winds very existence. Air flowed around her cool and delightful. Glee filled her. Anyone not prepared in this position would be looking only forward to their death. But Kerende was always prepared.

Moving her legs in harmony with the wind, her body slowly careening to a back flip through the air, now faced the dark cliff ascending into the sky above her. With her back to the incoming ground her sword sang softly from the torrent of wind. Her hands lifted to her belt where she pulled a crude gas propelled grappler from her robe. The black gun only visible by its deeper black than the environment around her, she aimed carefully for one second…two seconds… fired. The shot was as true as it could ever be although it was out of her vision; she could hear the small explosion of the tiny needle impaling the cliff thirty feet above her. The rope rippled out with the small arrow that had been lax pulled tight. Like any swashbuckling pirate from the movies swinging from ship to ship, she began her Tarzan swing towards the cliff.

Awareness steadily quickened once again to Kerende. Going with the inertia of the swing, she lifted her legs towards the oncoming rocky surface. Her feet collided with the rock with a crack. Tugging on the rope for security, she then descended step by step the remaining distance to the ground.
-----

Making her way through the bushes and briars she pushed towards the oncoming clearing. She stopped for a moment, something wasn’t right. Before, the bugs had been almost deafening in the forest. She did not remember when they had ceased there endless coo, but she had been traveling in silence without realizing it for quite some time.

She glanced at her surroundings. Turning her head, a shadow blur filled her vision. Instinct swept over her as she shifted her body sideways to avoid the blow. Adrenaline filled her body like a venomous fire. The shadow figure sent a forceful hand towards her head. Catching it in midstream she swept the assaulter’s body over her own, smashing the figure into the damp dirt. Kerende, still moving with the flow of her previous movements, came down towards the neck of the assailant, for just a second catching a glimpse of his shocked, bloodied face.

“Wait! I didn’t know—“he was cut off indefinitely as the hand collapsed the throat. A few attempted gasps for air and the body lay still. Two beams of harsh light instantly flooded the woods where Kerende stood, beading sweat. Although she could see the silhouettes of people behind the light, she could not make out even a hint of facial features. One of the silhouettes emerged from between the two beams. Close now, Kerende could make out the features of his face. The face seemed as if it was chiseled out of a block of stone. A wide jaw with cheek muscles going throughout the face told Kerende of the action this man must have seen in his time. Piercing blue eyes, radiating understanding as well as shock coerced Kerende.

He spoke a deep, full voice, forming mountainous words that shook her from within like a great earthquake: “She told me I would see you again one day…”





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