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Episode 6 Part 5

By:  Lenady

       The cavern was filled with a cough inducing blue cloud of dust and sand. Tilly found herself momentarily blinded by it, the small particles making her eyes itch and burn. The cloud had come up behind her suddenly as the debris fell from the hole the rocket had made in the roof of the cave. No longer able to see, and barely able to breathe, she slowed, stumbling in the sand. She had never seen so much blue before in her life.

As she physically slowed down her mind continued to race. She realized that if she was not very careful she might go in the wrong direction and get lost in the cloud, only to be found soon after by the city’s inhabitants. Also, despite her anger at nearly being murdered for the sake of a rocket she hoped that the town’s people were okay. Perhaps not okay enough to go after her until she and Sanrook could get away, but okay enough to not be seriously injured or dead. She was also somewhat alarmed about the fact that she couldn’t find Sanrook anymore. She had been right beside her until a few moments prior when she had slowed down so much.

            “Sanrook?” She put a hand out still coughing and struggling to get a good breath. As the rocks in and above the cavern stilled she began to hear other noises, chaotic yells in the direction of the town and a familiar voice somewhat ahead of her.

            “Yo”, Sanrook yelled between coughs. Her voice had a rough quality to it, and Tilly realized hers probably did as well.

            Tilly moved forward, her hand still reaching out. “Do you know how to get out of here?” The dust had settled enough by then for her to slightly make out a spot of red among the blue. The easiest way to find Sanrook was almost always to look for her hair.

            “I came down some stairs” Sanrook said, a little more clearly this time.

            Tilly managed to grab Sanrook arm, not willing to risk getting separated again until they got back to the ship. “Yeah, but are we heading in the right direction?”

            Sanrook coughed and pointed slightly to the right, where the archway, and staircase beyond, was becoming visible through the cloud. “I think that answers your question” she said and started to run towards it, pulling Tilly slightly.

            It surprised Tilly somewhat that Sanrook seemed to be recovering quicker from the cloud than she was, considering Sanrook was essentially a fish person. It raised the question in her mind however. ‘If Sanrook and I have already recovered then why are…’ Tilly’s thought was interrupted by an increased yelling in the city. By this point they had reached the staircase, but from the sounds coming from further inside the cavern it could be assumed that they wouldn’t be alone for long. Tilly looked through towards the city, hearing the voices coming closer, but not yet seeing anyone. She started to head up the stairs, taking a few steps up, before Sanrook said, “Don’t bother”. Tilly turned around to see Sanrook still at the bottom of the stairs, examining her gun.

            She looked up at Tilly and explained, “We’re not going to get to the surface before they catch up to us. Plus they’ve probably got other routes out. They’ll be waiting for us at the top.”

            Tilly looked up the staircase, remembering how difficult the walk down had been at times, and knew that a fight on those stairs would be impossible. The same reason she had decided not to risk an escape when first captured applied to this escape plan as well unfortunately. Her stomach knotted up a bit though when she realized that this didn’t leave them with many options. Two against a town didn’t seem like a fair fight. Tilly stepped down off of the stairs and stepped beside Sanrook, facing the entrance to the town. She looked down at what Sanrook was holding and swallowed. A town against that gun wasn’t exactly a fair fight either. She knew that no one, Sanrook and herself included, would fair well on that occasion.

            “Here they come” said Sanrook. “All they’re missing is the pitchforks”. The mob appeared out of the diminishing cloud. The figures looked more blue than green, the dust having coated them in a fine layer. Tilly figured that she and Sanrook couldn’t look much better than the townspeople did. A glance over at Sanrook proved her right. The dust was thicker in some areas than others and fell from her hair and clothes whenever she moved. The top of Sanrook’s head was as blue as her own.  If it weren’t for the fact that her life might end within the next five minutes she would have laughed.

            The yells grew louder and louder as the angry group approached them. Sanrook pointed the gun at them. Tilly wondered if that would actually do anything to deter the crowd. It certainly would if Sanrook fired the thing, but she was hoping it wouldn’t have to come to that. She didn’t feel like being buried in a mountain of rocks. The mob slowed as they approached, hesitating as they looked at Sanrook’s gun. They were carrying some torches and knives, but that was about the extent of their arsenal. It struck Tilly that the mob could very likely still take them down without too much effort, but more than likely they were as unsure about the situation as she was.

            The crowd began to quiet once it gathered in the room at the base of the stairs. Angry as they were, the hesitation continued. After a few moments however the crowd began to part. The elderly man who was speaking earlier was allowed to pass through, looking short of breathe and relying on a few guards to help him stay standing. He continued to move forward until he got within a few feet of them and angrily stood up straight and shook himself free of those who had helped him through the crowd. Yelling, he gestured wildly with his arms, nearly striking the men who had been supporting him. Tilly didn’t know if he was yelling just at her and Sanrook, or if he was also berating the figures at his side. From the growing look of rage on Sanrook’s face she assumed it was mostly aimed at them. Sanrook noticed Tilly’s look, fished something out of her vest pocket and tossed it at Tilly. She assumed it was one of the translators that Sanrook had spoken of earlier.

            She put it in her ear and waited for the thing to start working. For a moment she thought it must have been dysfunctional, maybe damaged during the ordeal they had just went through, until she began to hear more words on top of the ones being yelled by the elder. Gradually, word by word, she could hear her own language being filtered in.  It was an odd layering affect, her left ear picking up the original language and her right ear hearing the translated version. She could finally understand what was being said, but it left her feeling horribly off balance.

            “Never in my life, never in my 68 years as an elder in this ritual, have I seen so much trouble. You’ve destroyed it! What will we do now that it is gone?” The man continued to yell and rave, the translator barely keeping up, stopping every so often to choose the appropriate expletive or curse.

Tilly looked towards Sanrook once again, noting how scary she could get once her temper came out. The changes weren’t blatant, but noticeable enough to put one slightly off guard. The slow building anger was actually more intimidating than the standard fiery yelling that one normally associates with temper. Sanrook’s demeanor was offsetting of course, but in addition, her pupils elongated into vertical slits. ‘They say that the eyes are the window to the soul’ Tilly thought. ‘What’s going on when you can’t see in though?’ She forced that thought down quickly. There were more important things to deal with at the moment. Such as the fact that Sanrook had just jumped towards the elder!

 

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