I had written a chapter note when I started this, but unfortunately I was utterly unable to finish it (please don't ask… it's been a rough autumn) so the note eventually became out-of-date. It was starting to grow mold, and… No, I'm kidding. It has taken forever to get this up, and I'm really, really sorry! I'm going to finish chapter 12 (well, technically chapter 11 now) extra-fast, just to make it up to you.
I hope you like what I've got… and that you don't have to go back and read everything again… oh, just read!
(No disclaimer – HURRAH!)
"This is it?!"
"What did you expect?"
"Maybe some light?"
It was pitch-black; all you could hear was the sort of noise you hear when a lot of people are together in a small, dark room ("Oof! Get off my toe!" and that sort of thing).
"Darre?" Mairin sounded small and frightened. "Where are we?"
"Still in the lift," said Darre softly. "We should be pretty quiet now. No use giving away our position."
"What exactly is our position?" Brenna wanted to know.
"We should be right outside the base now, unless something went wrong."
"Sire?" Theta sounded worried. "I think something did go wrong. We're almost a kilometer away from our target location."
"A kilometer!" Darre was left speechless.
The lights flickered on, much to everyone's relief.
Carl rolled his eyes. "So, you missed by a mile."
"Less than a mile," corrected Brenna. "Close, though. What happened, Theta?"
"We can't be sure."
Darre clenched his fists. "Those blasted Gomes must have done something to our controls!"
Another pilot – with a B pin on her tunic – ventured, "Um, sire? I doubt it was the Gomes. Things haven't been running so smoothly on the Zoyl's Heart lately. The Coud problem is only one thing." She faltered; Darre motioned for her to continue. "Well, we've had trouble with the system computers – some of them are completely out of whack – and some of our passwords don't work anymore."
"Why didn't I hear about this before?"
The pilot looked at the floor. "We thought they were just little problems… not worth bothering you about."
"Well," said Theta in exasperation, "now we've got to walk a kilometer out in the open!"
"Hush, Theta," ordered Darre. He sighed. "It is a bother, and a bit dangerous. In the future, please make sure all problems, even minor ones, are reported to me."
"Come on, Theta, let's go."
"Yes, sire. Hey, you people at the gate! Let us outta here!"
Covo checked the displays again. Nothing had changed.
"They're not moving," he announced, his voice shaking.
Lerag shook his head. "I'm sure they're coming for us," he said, trying to sound brave.
"But wouldn't they have contacted us?" asked Kenta nervously.
"Of course not," replied Trian confidently. "The Zoyl knows that any messages will be intercepted. Even if the Gomes didn't manage to crack the code, the transmissions wouldn't come through."
Covo looked at the others on the base crew, wondering if they were as frightened as he was. Besides the Zoyl, Trian was the person he most admired – nearly idolized – for he was always so calm, unconcerned. Perhaps they would all do well to follow his example, placing complete faith in the Zoyl.
It seemed that the others weren't so confident. Lerag kept fiddling with the controls that opened and closed the docking bay, as if contemplating an escape (no hope of that, unfortunately). Kenta switched on the broadband receptor, in case any messages were sent. The others were going about their various tasks, with the exception of two. Jorr was comforting Mata, who had gone to pieces at the sound of the alarm.
"They'll catch us! They'll catch us!" she wailed, inconsolable.
"Easy, Mata. We'll be okay. The Zoyl is coming."
"They'll catch him again – oh, we'll be caught, and tortured, and oh!"
Roi shook his head, forcing a smile. "For goodness sake, Mata, calm down!" He sighed. "She should have stayed on Kaen."
"Shut up!" snapped Jorr. "Don't forget Halin!" (A/n: Chapter 3, section 2, line 11… look it up!)
Roi fell silent; Mata's mournful weeping filled the room with a gloomy, hopeless atmosphere.
"Are we there yet?"
"Carl, for once, stop being such an imbecile!"
They had been walking for half of forever (A/n: That expression is copyrighted as of now). The Kaenors seemed not to notice that the ground was very bumpy.
And covered in rather sharp rocks.
The Earthlings were having a pretty hard time of it. Carl had been making wisecracks (occasionally cursing as an especially sharp rock met his foot) the whole time. Brenna's nerves were frayed to almost the breaking point, and Joel would clench his fists every once in a while. Mairin suffered in silence.
"Are you alright?" called Theta; she was somewhere ahead of them in the column of Kaenors.
"Yeah, just dead," mumbled Joel.
"Good opportunity for the boys to practice degravitation…"
"Oh… yeah! Why not?" Carl attempted to lift a pebble he was about to step on; it rose six inches and landed on his foot. He winced. "Rocks below, rocks above. I'm going rock-crazy."
"We all are." Brenna spoke between clenched teeth. Annoyance, thy name is Carl…
Hey, Mairin, are you okay?
Yeah. I think some of these rocks are getting embedded into my feet.
I'm not kidding. How are you doing?
Well, I'm so sick of rocks I could puke.
You could say - think - that again.
Good save. Need a lift?
Could use one. What- hey! What are you doing?!
Lifting you. I'm a lot better at it than Carl.
Carl jumped aside as Mairin half-fell, half-floated towards him.
"Jeez, Mairin, watch where you're floating!"
"Ha, ha, ha. Aaaaaaaaaaaah! Joel, put me down!"
"Just a second…"
"I mean it!"
"Okay…" but Mairin started going up instead of down.
"Joel! Oh- oh! There it is! The base!"
The Kaenor column picked up speed. Joel quickly put Mairin back on the ground; the Earthlings ran to catch up with the others.
Darre appeared by Brenna, running alongside them.
"Almost there." He grinned. "Trian won't believe that I brought more Earthlings!"
"What, doesn't he like Earthlings?" Brenna retorted.
"Oh, he and Sam hit off pretty well. He just thinks you're really strange."
"We are really strange!" declared Joel brightly. "Flying badges, floating girls, falling rocks-"
"Shut up!" snapped Carl. Darre and the other Earthlings had a good laugh.
Srrndr r d, Knrs!
"Sounds like gibberish to me."
"Dunno about that, Enna. Remember, their language is just like ours, minus the vowels."
"Which is why it sounds so nasty."
Enna, the Kaenor in charge of ETI for the moon-base, was playing a message sent by the Gomes for one of her teammates, Orin. Neither of them was quite sure what it meant.
"Maybe if it was in writing…" Enna touched a button, and the screen displayed the message in words. "Oh, that's simple. 'Surrender or die.' We get it often enough from them."
"But who are they sending it to? It wasn't meant for us."
Enna touched more buttons and flipped a few levers. She scanned the readouts.
"Looks like they were aiming for the Tammela."
"The Tammela?! But that would mean…"
"That it's coming for us!"
Orin and Enna hugged each other in excitement. A red light on the panel flashed.
"More work!" Enna played the message. It had a sobering effect on the duo.
Th Knrs r n th mn, Tfr. Th trnsprt s a klmtr frm th bs.
Vry gd. Th wnt knw wht ht thm.
Once Orin and Enna had decoded the message, they knew there was trouble.
"Uh-oh. Now they know."
"I hope the Zoyl gets here before they do."
"Ha, ha, ha. Very funny, Carl."
Carl looked exasperated beyond exasperation, and with good reason. Brenna didn't even pretend to be amused by his wisecracks any more, and it was wearing on his own nerves.
"At least humor me, Brenna!"
"Did I hear the word 'humor?'"
Both turned to Darre. Carl noted, out of the corner of his eye, that Brenna's eyes lit up whenever she saw Darre. His own eyes flashed.
"Now that we've reached the base, we have to get in. Which group do you want to go with?"
"Which are you going with?"
Darre looked sheepishly at the ground. "I promised Sam I'd stay with Mairin, so I'll be in whichever one she chooses."
"I'll be there, too."
"I'll stay with Brenna."
"Good. All the Earthlings on one team – I'll be able to watch you all."
"We're not babies, Darre, whatever your people think. We can watch ourselves."
"I'm afraid I can't let you, Carl. If any of you get hurt, I'm responsible."
Something inside Carl snapped.
"As if you care!" he bellowed. "As if you care about anyone but Brenna!"
Darre tried to say something, but Carl cut him off.
"No, I've been quiet long enough! You don't give two cents for what happens to me, or Joel, or Mairin, or anyone on the whole d*** planet! Face it, Darre, you care about two people: yourself and Brenna!"
There was a shocked silence. Carl's outburst had been heard by every last Kaenor in the little army.
I can'tbelieve he just did that!
Come on, Joel, is that all you can say?
Look at Brenna!
Brenna stared silently at Carl for what seemed like hours. At last, she took a deep breath.
"I've changed my mind. I'll be in the other group."
Darre nodded dumbly. Clearing his throat, he turned and addressed the Kaenor army.
"Alpha, Beta, and Gamma divisions form group one. Theta, you'll lead. Take Brenna with you. Delta, Zeta, and Omicron divisions form group two. I'll lead.
"Group one, go around to the other side and enter through the ventilator opening. If it's locked, blast it open. Theta and Brenna, stay with Alpha and go straight. You'll reach the control room; go in, reassure the base crew, and guard all the exits. Beta, go left. You'll come to the lobby; don't let anyone in. Gamma, go right. You'll come into the weapons room; get everything you can and go to the control room. -No, scratch that, there'll be no room. Uh… Oh, go to the docking bay and wait for us.
"Group two, we'll go through the left entrance, down the hallway, and straight to the docking bay. Delta, lock and defend the left side. Zeta, take the right. Omicron will seal the doors and lock and defend the middle.
"Remember, we have Covo, Trian, Lerag, Kenta, Jorr, Mata, Roi, Enna, and Orin to defend. Let's go!"
The Earthlings half expected a war-cry of some sort, but no such luck. The divisions divided (A/n: Yes, it's dumb. So sue me.) into their groups, and Theta led group one around the back.
"Uh, Theta? I don't get it."
"We're blasting through the ventilator shaft at the back."
"Well, actually, I don't get a lot of things. For one, our moon has no atmosphere, and it isn't so…" Brenna paused for a moment in consideration. "…room-temperature-ish."
"Really? Poor Earthlings. On the other hand, it takes you so long to get there that an atmosphere is hardly worth it."
"True. What's the ventilator shaft, exactly?"
"It just lets air into the building. We'll probably have to bypass the inner filters, but we'll pretty much have to destroy the outer ones to get in."
As the group moved slowly around the corner, Brenna looked wistfully back at Darre. The scowl on Carl's face made her turn around quickly, hurrying to get out of sight.
So, there you are. Or, rather, there they are. I at least got them this far. Not much of a cliffie, but you can't win 'em all. Didn't like the tense confrontation? There's more coming (heeheehee).
I am aware that Gome speech (Gm spch?) isn't what it was when you first saw it… but I needed you to be able to read it. Don't bother looking it up; when I reloaded, I
If anyone would like a floor plan of the moon-base, just say so in your review (yet another reason to use that magic little box). Don't forget to leave your email, except Ella, Mira, and Mercury, plus anyone else who has already been in touch with me via email.
Oh, and I almost forgot to remember to tell you something! Katra noticed it immediately… you know how I described the Tammela, way back in chapter 9 (now chapter 8)? It looks like a purple submarine, but I actually based the shape off (could you have guessed?) the Zelda ocarina. Believe it or not, I do own that! ;-) Songbird Ocarinas (don't own it) sells the Original Zelda Ocarina, and I got one. It's a gorgeous piece of purply-blue ceramics, and it sounds awfully nice, and it's darn easy to play. …Waitaminute… I'm not supposed to be advertising Songbird Ocarinas! You may 1) forget I ever mentioned them, or 2) go to .com, because I sure as heck am not gonna say another word about them!
So, thanx for putting up with me for this long… next chapter is on its way!