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- - -
When I arrived outside again, I glanced at the Guardian.
“Oh, Guardian, has there been any other... People in this chamber? I'm curious."
It glanced at me, its stone eyes seeming to freeze every bone in my body.
"Hm... Okay... Thanks anyways. “I said, bowing.
It said nothing, walked back to its usual spot at the entrance, and seemed to have turned to stone once more.
Outside, Aiken was passed out in the bushes, snoring rather loud, with a tendril of drool running down his mouth.
"Gross." I said aloud.
Perdire, was also sleeping, but on her feet, rocking side to side.
"Okay, now that's just creepy."
I poked Perdire gently, and eventually got her to wake up. She yawned sleepily.
"Now to get Aiken up."
I walked over to him, and shook him violently.
"Mmmmmmmh..." Aiken groaned, and rolled over away from me.
"Oooh Perdire..." I said, grinning.
She turned her head.
"Lick 'em for me"
Happily, she pranced over to Aiken, and licked his face.
"BAH!" He screeched. "Did you HAVE to do that?"
I shrugged. "I didn't HAVE to, but you didn't HAVE to fall asleep, either."
He grumbled "What did I miss?"
"He, err it...” I pointed at the Guardian. "It let me in. It's really pretty in there. And I think that's what I'm looking for, but I need to get back to the lab to confirm this."
"What about rest? It's rather late," He said, pointing up at the stars.
"I suppose. Lead us to somewhere... You know... 'Safe'."
He nodded, got up and stretched. “I suppose we can rest in the desert, no one will look for us there, and the rocks provide good cover, in case anyone or anything comes after us."
I nodded, and hopped on Perdire, "Alright."
With that, we headed into the desert without another word spoken.
Aiken had led Perdire and I further and further into this gross desert.
"Bleh. I'm tired of this desert bogus. When can we stop?" I whined.
Aiken shot a glance at me, "It's right over here, quit whining." He said, gesturing to the small space between the rocks.
"And Perdire is to fit in there?" I grumbled.
"Oh, we can move it," Aiken said, glancing around at it carefully, "It's open at the top, the rocks just block the flying sand and junk."
I dismounted Perdire, and walked up to the rocks. They were about 12 feet tall.
Lovely. I thought. The crack Aiken was talking about was roughly 2 feet wide and about 5 feet high.
"We have to move that HUGE thing?" I complained.
"It's really not that bad.. With Perdire on our side." Aiken commented.
"I suppose... Let's get this going."
"C'mon Perdire. Help us move this giant thing."
She nodded and pranced over.
"On three, we push" Aiken said.
Perdire, Aiken and I began moving the oversized rock.
I stopped pushing for a moment as I began to hear growling.
"Aiken stop!" I screeched.
"What? Why?" He said, him and Perdire still pushing it.
"There's something behind it!"
He looked at me like I was playing a sick joke. "Not funny, Terra."
The boulder tumbled on its side, knocking up a cloud of sand.
"Perdire, watch Aiken!"
Perdire gave an acknowledged roar.
I braced for anything, aiming my gun.
After a few minutes, the sand cleared, revealing four large cat-looking shadows.
"I wish... Just sometimes, that there was some kind of light.." I said, gazing up at the clouds, which were covering the moon.
"Yeah.." Aiken grumbled.
I scanned the shadows carefully, and aimed my sniper. "I've got one chance before they go nuts."
I shot one, and moments later it sprang in my direction. Unable to clearly see it, I could only guess when to duck and when to leap back. I leapt back, flattening my back against a nearby rock. I tuned out my racing heartbeat to hear Aiken's dual blades clashing with the animal's claws, and Perdire howling and smacking the beasts with her oversized tusks.
"If that's two... And I saw four... Where's th-"
A piercing snarl came from my left, where one of the cats stood, ready to pounce.
"Easy kitty.. Easy.."
It growled at me, then leaped.
"Oh crap!" I aimed my gun, and shot at it.
It yowled in pain, and suddenly another jumped me from behind, and knocked me to the ground. I closed my eyes.
This is how it ends, huh?
The wounded beast sat in front of my face, and the other began raking it's claws across my back.
I let out a screech of pain.
"Terra!" Aiken said from afar. I listened as he clashed with the beast already pursuing him, and heard when he struck it's neck, for it fell to the ground with a thud. "I'm coming for you!"
"Good... To know.." I whispered, closing my eyes.
I felt his presence appear beside me, then whack the beast off of me.
I got up quickly, pain shooting up my back, and shot three bullets into the first beast's body, it's body laying lifeless within seconds.
The other launched its wounded self at me, which I shot down easily. I glanced over at Perdire, who seemed to be okay, licking her wounds.
"You alright?" Aiken asked, sounding worried.
"Yeah.." I said, wobbly on my feet.
I glanced at his face, which seemed to be full of surprise.
"What did I do now?" I grumbled.
"N-nothing." Aiken said, "Just.. Your blood.. It's.. Red."
I twisted around to see the blood on my back, "Yeah, and?" I shot a glance at him, and my eyes widened too. "Your blood is... Purple."
He nodded. "I've never seen red blood before, we should cover this up so that no one can see this, because this... Isn't normal."
I shrugged. "With what, exactly?"
He slid off his tunic, and handed it to me. "This'll do until we can find better."
I struggled getting it on, but finally got it on and collapsed onto the sand. "Damn that's heavy.."
He let out a small bit of laughter, "I guess you're not used to wearing armor, are you?"
"Armor was used in the olden times... Not anymore." I said, eyeing my tailored clothes.
He crouched beside me, and offered me a hand. "We'll worry about this later, for now, let's sleep. It's been a rough night."
I grabbed his hand and he yanked me onto my feet. My hands held tightly to his shoulder for support, which felt like it had a very thin layer of mucous on it. Perdire walked into the passage the boulder hidden, and plopped down inside it.
"Perdire's got the right idea, let's go!" Aiken said, dragging me across the dirt.
Inside, it was even cooler than the outside, and the tunic I was struggling to wear was starting to turn icy, as well. I shivered and pressed up against Perdire's rough skin, smooth or not, it was producing plenty of heat. I whined under my breath settling myself, my back was killing me. Once I was settled, though, it was quick to fall asleep.
Dawn came quick, along with Aiken freaking out about me wanting to sleep.
"Wake up!" He squawked.
"I'm up... I'm-"
Aiken picked me up from off the sandy ground, and gave me a violent shaking.
"Okay! Okay!" I hissed.
"You have to lead me to your lab, you must confirm that-"
"If what I saw was what he needed, blah blah, I know." I said, rolling my eyes.
"Let’s just get moving, please."
We headed outside, where the sun wasn't fully up yet, so it was relevantly cool out. Not a word was spoken until we got out of the desert.
Outside of the desert, Aiken suggested Perdire and I took the lead, since I knew where the lab was from here. We past the same crumbling pillars, same old ruins, same everything. We came across a strange half-crumbled statue, which Aiken pointed at.
"That's Draco, in a legend, he was said to have run away from camp, never to return, and never to be seen again, either. He also had an enemy, Draci. He had many visions of the future, and foretold them into legends- He also foretold your arrival- People say they killed each other, and everything around here, resulting in this mess." He gestured at all the fallen buildings, statues, and walls. "People said Draci was a crazy man, and that none of what he said was nearly true, so he to, ran away, and legend has it he said 'This settlement will die without my help, unless the Preserved One saves us all'."
I nodded. "Your people have strange histories."
He shrugged, "As do yours, I assume."
I shrugged at him in return, "Let's keep moving."
We paused outside the labs gates, which weren't even locked, but they looked rather intimidating.
"Perdire, stay out here, make sure no one else enters."
"Aiken, let's move."
He nodded, and we entered the gates.
The lab was still the same cluttered mess- Papers everywhere, broken, smoking, or beeping machines all around. A few small specimens in tanks full of water. Our feet made no sound on the dirt covered tile, which made me wonder what it's actual color was.
"This place could use a cleaning, no?" Aiken suggested.
We came across the same hallway I walked up yesterday, when I first arrived here.
"Aiken, stay here, please. If he knew someone else was in here, he might just kill you."
"As you wish." He said, nodding.
I said nothing, and headed down the dark hallway. Outside, on the top of the mountain yet again, were more of Perdire's kind, living happily in their safe environment. I walked past the automatic gate, and knocked on the door where the scientist-man would most likely be at.
He was still around his power core thing, staring into it, and it did look smaller and weaker than it did yesterday.
"Do you return with what I'm looking for?" He asked, his eyes not moving to even glance at me.
"I'm not sure, I believe I found what you needed, but I didn't take it with me."
"Figures." He grumbled. "Explain it to me."
And so I did.
He nodded. "That's it. It has to be."
"Then I shall head back for it, sire. I need a few more days."
"Hurry, young one. Time is running out.."
I nodded, and headed out, back down the hallway to find Aiken pacing impatiently.
"Aiken.." I said.
"It's time I meet your people."
His eyes widened. "No, no you cannot! You'll die!"
I closed my eyes. "If my purpose in this world was to save it, then I shall, even if I die trying."
"No. You cannot. I will not let you!"
"Aiken.. Please. We don't have time to argue. Just bring me there."
He sighed. "I'm not going to win this argument, am I?"
"No. You will bring me to your people, this is such nonsense hiding me!" I growled.
He closed his eyes for a long while. "Okay... Fine."
Outside, Perdire was waiting for us, and by the looks of her, she found no pursuers.
"Okay. Lead the way." I said, mounting Perdire.
He nodded. "Through the woods we go!"
The woods were as boring as ever; the same annoying bugs, animals and bushes getting in the way. Eventually, the clearing was finally in sight, which lead to the lake.
Finally... Water.. I thought.
As the two of us exited the woods, I realized we haven't said a thing to each other the whole way.
"Aiken?" I mumbled.
I shrugged, "I feel like I've upset you."
His eyes darkened, "No, not at all."
I dismounted Perdire and crouched down to drink some water; as did Aiken.
"Joo be doin' a bad thing, tresspassin' on my land Mon." A voice said from behind us.
Aiken and I turned around, and there stood a dark skinned-what looked like- human.
"Your land?" I hissed. "I don't see a flag anywhere."
"He looks like your kind?" Aiken mumbled.
"Tis be my planet, mon. I claim it!"
I sighed. "I'll fight you for it."
"Ooh, pretty lady, fight me, the great Toshy!? Hah, you're totally outnumbered, mon!"
"Outnumbered? How so? Are you afraid to fight me?" I taunted.
"Joo have a dirty mouth, pretty lady, but yes, you are outnumbered." He whistled, and 3 rangers came to his side.
"Let's go, I'll take you and all of your rangers on!" I hissed
Aiken grabbed me by the shoulder. "Dammit, we don't have to fight them!"
"If you're not going to fight, then I'm leaving. Let's go Perdire."
"Wait.." He held my hand.
"No, I'm not wasting my time here!" I said, yanking my hand away.
He sighed. "Terra..."
"Aiken..." I closed my eyes. "Let's go Perdire."
And we rode off.
Being alone for the first time in a while felt kind of good. Maybe it's because I could hear my thoughts clearly, and not worry about if Aiken is going to do something crazy to me every five seconds. Either way, he'll find his way back to me.
Perdire and I worked our way up and down hills, and through many shallow ponds. As we walked by the Draco statue, I ordered Perdire to stop.