Chapter 5

Her eyes refused to open. She raised a hand to her face and touched her throbbing cheek, only to wince as she felt something wet oozing out of the broken skin. Her hand moved to her eyes, only to discover that they were indeed open. It was dark, and she had no idea where she was.

The only thing in the place she could feel was cold stone on her back, and even that was unreliable information in her current situation. As she lay there and slowly recovered her senses a rotting smell reached her nose.

A sudden moan came out of the darkness. "Alira?" It was Tyin's voice.

"I'm here." She winced at the sound of her own voice cracking from disuse. "Where are we?" Her hand was taking on physical form in front of her face, the darkness was lessening.

"I have no idea." He sounded lost. "I was fighting, and didn't see you and I ran-" He paused. "But it was to find you." She could almost see the look of horror on his face, and the next words were whispered "I ran."

She shook her head in despair. "We lost anyway, and I'm willing to bet we're prisoners." A strong hand gripped her own and she gratefully accepted her brother's offer of comfort in the strange, unknown darkness.

Caius looked at his home, his true home. The home which had been destroyed when the Ras had taken over, the home they had been divided over. The ship drew steadily closer to the landing platform on the orbital station, commanded and crewed by Ras soldiers tasked with the defense of the Terain stranded on the planet.

"It's no use to look you know." Deos' voice shook him out of his thoughts. He sighed, the human was right. There was no way to see the planet beyond the containment field surrounding it. "And speaking of looking how the hell are we supposed to get down there?"

Caius raised an eyebrow at his companion. "It's suddenly become a 'we'?" He chuckled at Deos' guilty expression.

'What can I say; those sword lessons were useless otherwise." He grinned. "And retiring is for sissies."

He shook his head at the mercenary. "I think I may have chosen the wrong free pilot. At least a coward would have been sane." The two men laughed quietly for a moment. "But as to the field I think the only option we have it to attack the station."

"What!" Deos exclaimed. His eyes were wide in shock.

Caius ran a hand through his shaggy hair. "It's our only option. We shoot at them, they shoot back, and we will crash. But if we crash into the field we may damage it, not to mention any damage the station has already suffered. Their only choice is to flicker the field for the moment of the ship connecting."

"Problem." The expected objection. "How can we possibly damage that field? They shouldn't even be worried."

"That's true, to a point. However, that station is the power source for the entire thing. As far as stability is concerned it's about as trustworthy as your ship is of making it through a Ras blockade."

Deos considered the proposal. "Well, let's go for it. Worth a shot anyway."

"You're doing that thing again with the smile." Caius said nervously.

His companion chuckled. "Oh, I know. You just wait and see how those Ras like it." His laugh wasn't much better than the smile in Caius' opinion. He almost pitied the Ras.

"Ship ID 118913 please identify yourself and follow the standard approach vector." It had been a long day of nothing happening, and the job of a com officer wasn't the most exciting. Niren te'Ire sighed as he sat in his chair at the com booth and waited for the ship to respond. Only twenty more minutes until his shift was over.

The ship gave no response. Niren frowned, his violet eyes checking over the approach vector again and widening at the information the screen displayed. "118913 abort current approach! I repeat, abort approach!"

When the ship still didn't slow and the station began to shake slightly Niren frantically grabbed the emergency mic to the entire station. "We have a code red situation, repeat, code red. Unidentified craft is firing on the station. Code red."

He began channeling all calls to their proper locations, as focused on his work now as he had been on his relief from duty moments before. Without warning the lights flickered. He looked at the status monitors for the entire station and saw nothing wrong until his eyes met the slowly blinking red light next to containment field. "Oh shit."

There was finally a bit of light coming into their prison, enough for them to make out the walls of a cave which opened up into daylight not far ahead of them. Tyin stood first, looking towards the hint of light and his sister soon followed.

It was still too dark to see their surroundings and as she stepped forward Alira felt something make an uncomfortable squishing noise beneath her foot. She froze. "Tyin. There's something here."

She could feel her brother's eyes on her back and his had grasped hers. "Don't look down." The phrase was enough to tell her what was there. They both began to move towards the light as fast as they could, but they couldn't escape the smell of the rotting corpses.

As they left the cave into the slowly building dawn light Alira stumbled and found herself looking into the eyes of her friends. The soldiers who had been her family in that horror of a keep. She drew in a deep breath and kept walking, eyes on Tyin's back as he took the lead.

The cave opened into the outskirts of a forest almost climbing up a cliff wall. There was the sound of water somewhere nearby and without speaking the siblings turned towards it, determined to get the rotting smell of the dead far away from them.

Alarms were going off all around the small ship and the two occupants were kept busy trying to keep the small one person attack ships away from them. Caius glanced towards the field whenever he got a chance, just to keep checking again and again. His eyes caught a flicker on the second glance.

"Deos!" He shouted to be head over the screaming alarms. "We're in! Go!" The human mercenary nodded to him and waited for the right moment before punching a preprogrammed signal into a keyboard. The alarms didn't stop screaming, but the primary power supply cut out and the ship began falling, caught in the planet's gravity well.

They had reached the waterfall, a welcome spot after the horrid place of death they had been trapped in. Neither of them mentioned it, or why they had been there, even why they were the only ones still alive. All they knew was the water and forgetting.

Alira shook herself out of the trance first and moved away from the torrents of water, looking up at the bright morning sky. It was the same as always, just another day dawning, nothing to mark the surrealistic nature of their awakening.

Tyin walked up behind her and wordlessly put his arms around her. They stayed in the embrace, each drawing strength from the other for as long as they could bear to stay silent. "We will have to talk about it," Tyin's pained voice managed.

"But not now."

The words were soothing, a way of putting off the inevitable for as long as possible. But before they could enjoy the moment a new sound cut through the peaceful morning. Thunder without a cloud in sight, lightning without any sign. Something in the sky was falling towards them, out of nowhere and without warning.

Reflexes honed to perfection dragged them to the shelter of the water and the caves along the cliff wall while their minds were hovering over the sight in the sky. They ran, stumbling over slabs of stone, away from the terror of the unknown.

Alira met her brother's eyes as they threw themselves into a cave just as a terrible explosion shook the forest and fire danced above the trees. Shards of some kind of metal were raining from the sky at the cliff face and Alira was suddenly very glad for the shelter of the cave as she watched a boulder split from the force of impact.

It was a long time until all was silent and the two huddled figures in the cave dared to come out, but it happened. They waited in shock, hoping for some sign or guidance as to what to do. Alira shook her head slowly, as if to shake away her confusion. "Let's go check it out."