Saturday, 27 April 2013

Mamelon - Chapter 36

CHAPTER THIRTY-SIX



The Druid, Ygor, watched impassively as Nu-gen and the motherworld female  embraced.  Let her make the most of this unlikely alliance, it meant nothing. She was, after all, a Keeper.  Her destiny lay elsewhere.  Unobtrusively, he let his eyes wander to each of the group. With the possible exception of the one called Heron, none posed any real threat to his plans. Soon, even that possibility would be eliminated. While he hadn’t reckoned on the elf girl’s interference, there was no reason to suppose that she could not be disposed of just as easily.  Indeed, he mused ingenuously, it could well prove advantageous that the Keeper chose to separate herself from young Michal. There had always been a slim chance that their joint powers might have been awakened in time to make his task harder. As it was, Galia’s firstborn in the motherworld would be quite isolated. The red haired boy was of course no consequence, merely an unforeseen nuisance.
     “Come,” urged the Druid, “I will show you a passage through the mountains that will lead you directly to the Sea of Marmela. From there you can navigate wherever you wish to go, even to Gar,” he added, glancing pointedly at Pers.  “Of course, you may have other ideas.  Whatever, it is safer to journey within than attempt to climb. Believe me. I know what I’m talking about.”
      “I don’t understand…” Beth, her hand in Mulac’s, caught the Druid’s every word as they approached.
      “As you will know…” the Druid continued in a faintly condescending tone that made Beth wince. It also caused Arissa’s hackles to rise although not on her companion’s account. She trusted neither. Quite simply, she resented everything about the Druid’s manner. “…Mamelon is but one intergalactic island among many, just as time and space are but navigable seas once you have the know-how and resources.”
      “And who says we do?” Arissa wanted to know.
      “Seek, and you shall find,” returned the Druid cryptically. “Now, we must hasten.”
      “Why?” Arissa demanded.
      “Because my time is precious and I have other things to do,” said the Druid. Arissa merely shrugged. But she, too, had contemplated the purple mist with some trepidation. If the Druid knew a better way to access the mountains, it made sense to take a look. “Come,” Ygor repeated and moved on. The others followed close behind. 
      Beth took several steps forward, but Mulac stood firm and did not let go of her hand. She turned, looked over his shoulder at where a silvery haze hid Mick and Pete from view. Mulac squeezed her hand. “I love you.”
      “I love you too.” She smiled and lifted her face to his expectantly. But he did not kiss her. Instead, he gazed into her eyes and let her see his tears. Beth was overwhelmed.  This, from a Nu-gen, was proof indeed of his feelings for her. 
      She flung him a shy, radiant smile that reminded him fleetingly of Etta, the magela, to whom he owed his life. This motherworlder, too, had given that life a whole new meaning. “You must go back,” he said with typical bluntness, but the ache in his voice touched every fibre of her being.
      “No. My place is here, with you. We are meant to be together.”
      “Once, perhaps. But I fear not now, not here.” Not yet, he felt compelled to add but kept silent. “We will be together again in another life, you’ll see.”
      “But my life is here, with you. You are my life and I am yours, we both know that. I think I knew it from the start and I know you did too.”
     “You know me too well, Bethan motherworlder.”  He grinned. but almost at once became deadly serious again. “You told me once that you trusted me.”
       “I do, with my life.”
      “Then trust me now. You must go back with your friends. If you stay, you put both of us in a danger from which I sense there can be no escape, not only for us but others too. Don’t ask me how or why. I cannot answer. But…” He was fighting back tears, struggling openly with emotions for which anyone would have had infinite difficulty finding words even had they been less alien, words and emotions alike. “All my life I have known strange feelings, heard voices, had glimpses of people and places that mean nothing to me. Yet they are part of me, without my knowing how or why, only that they are warnings of a kind. It tears me apart sometimes, the not knowing. But one thing I do know and that is I have to trust they mean me no harm, just as you must trust me now. You must go back.”
      That Mulac should have revealed so much of himself to her, a female, spoke volumes. One thing, Beth understood only too well. She could argue her case until she was blue in the face but it would make no difference. He had made his decision and would not change his mind. There was nothing, after all, to keep her in Mamelon now. Tears streaming down her face, she did not trust herself to say a word. Instead, she turned and ran after Mick and Pete. Nor did she falter or look back.
     Mick and Pete heard running footsteps but barely paused to greet Beth with breathless delight and relief.  A thick, yellowy, fog closed behind them as if the Time Gate itself was already swinging shut.
      “Look!” Mick pointed excitedly. The fog thinned suddenly and he saw his mother. She was wearing a green trouser suit and waving to them.
      “I can’t see anything!” complained Pete.
      “It’s Mum! Come on, or we’ll be too late.” Grabbing both their hands, he ran into the mist, hauling Pete and Beth after him. But Pete stumbled and fell. He let go of Mick’s hand and the others ran on without him. Disorientated and scared, Pete burst into tears.
      “To me, my friend, to me,” Pete heard Heron’s voice accompanied by an agitated squawk. He looked up. Hovering almost directly above him but barely an outline, Iggy was flapping his wings madly while he could just make out Heron leaning down, arm outstretched. Behind him, almost invisible, sat a figure he assumed must be Irina. “Take my hand. We haven’t a moment to lose!”
      Pete gaped, stupefied.
      “Be quick!” cried Irina, “The Gate is closing fast!”
     Grasping the urgency of the situation, Pete grabbed Heron’s hand while Irina grabbed his tunic and the pair hoisted him on to the gluck’s back even as Iggy took off again leaving Pete dangling in mid-air as his friends struggled to hoist him up. Eventually, they succeeded and Pete squeezed between them.
      “Where are we going?” Pete panted. “Are you taking me home?”
      “That’s up to Iggy,” replied Heron. “He’s in charge here. Besides, three are too many for one gluck. He’ll just have to put us down on where he can.”
      “Did you find your parents?” But Heron did not answer and Irina gave his hand a warning squeeze.
 “It’s bad then…” It was not a question.
      “It is bad,” Irina confirmed in a choking voice that did nothing to allay Pete’s worst fears.  In spite of her repugnance, Irina’s inner eye fastened on the mutilated remains of Heron’s kindred Ti-Grayans scattered the length and breadth of a ditch that that was all they had for a grave.  It was all she could do not to vomit. Druids!  She spat into the fog.
      “I’m glad we’re together again Heron,” was all Pete could think to say.
      “I’m glad too,” said Heron. Then all three clung on tight as Iggy dived steeply into the very heart of the fog.
      Suddenly, Pete felt a hefty push and fell, screaming, into a whirling mist that sucked him in and dragged him down, down, down… a rush of clumsy wings in his ears spelling out a terrible betrayal. Terrified, he kept screaming, as if the sound of his own voice must somehow make everything all right. At the same time, he could not really believe that anything could be all right again, ever. Nor did he even attempt to rummage a sense of infinite hopelessness for The Okay Song.
      He landed in something soft and damp. Oh, no, bog! It was too much. Pete closed his eyes tight, desperate to shut out whatever might happen next, a willing victim to unconsciousness.

To be concluded on Monday