Remnants | 5
Written by Brubek Coltrane
Dust was swirling up from the loose red soil. Talabar’s sun shone it’s last rays of light upon the planet before vanishing for nearly fifty hours. Here, on a narrow pass between a crater and a red valley, stood four figures overlooking a behemoth of a sight.
Taurol’s wooly fur flowed wildly in the strong winds, he looked around at the others, and saw the surprise and dread in their eyes matched his. Though, dread he felt not, for a Grethoran he was. And Grethorans feel no fear.
The other three gazed at the colossal sight. The silence that followed was deafening, only broken by the howling winds. Wolfe then broke the silence.
“We have to get back,” he said.
In front of them, was one of the roving cities of Talabar. Except, it had been split apart, and broken. Twisted structures and smoking ruins of one of the great, roving cities of Talabar. Completely destroyed.
“Sir,” Taurol suddenly interrupted, “I believe you should see this”.
Wolfe walked over to Taurol, and looked at the scanner that Taurol was holding.
“According to these scans, the materials that make up this city are from the southern hemisphere, nearly 5000 miles south.” Taurol explained. “The last known position of this city, which they called Aroth, was in the Southern hemisphere, sheltering in Hethar’s reach”. Taurol calculated for a second. “If these readings are correct, then this city has traveled halfway across the world in a matter of hours!”
“That’s impossible!” Cried Wolfe. “It takes days for the cities to travel around, not hours!”
Ka’rl hissed, then clicked several times.
“I agree Ka’rl,” Raze said. “If you haven’t already noticed, there are several lifesigns still in the wreckage.”
“Perhaps there we will find answers.” Wolfe said. “This whole thing looks like trouble.”
Wolfe started to walk down towards the wreckage, and the others followed. The way down was extremely steep. they resorted to using the grapplers to propel themselves down into the dark.
“Talabaran cities are several miles-long.” Taurol said. “It will be difficult to find any survivors without a more accurate reading.”
“Let’s hope we can.” Wolfe said.
The night was approaching fast. The group reckoned there was a matter of minutes before it would be pitch black. But there is more than darkness to fear at night on Talabar.
Wolfe landed on a ledge that bordered one of the hundreds of support legs that propelled the cities. He looked up, the others were propelling their way down as well. The light just bright enough to make out their figures. When all four had touched down. Wolfe pointed at the support leg.
“That’s where we have to get to.” He said.
Ka’rl, looking a rather unnatural state of green, even for a Trevian, clicked in response.
“Afraid of heights, Ka’rl?” Raze teased.
Ka’rl gave a hard glare at Raze, then looked down at the drop. It was so large, that you could not see the bottom. Ka’rl gave an uneasy hiss, then looked at Wolfe.
“Get your grapplers out again, we’ll have to traverse this now. It’s not safe to be outside at night here.” Wolfe said.
Ka’rl shook his snout, then hissed and clicked.
“No, there’s no other way Ka’rl,” Wolfe said.
Ka’rl looked about to protest, but then a noise that sounded somewhere between a Karvosian space whale and a Randoran dread-fly echoed from behind them. Ka’rl didn’t protest after that.
Wolfe launched his grappler, then began to climb over. Next was Raze, then Taurol, and finally, a very frightened Ka’rl.
They made it, and none too soon. Behind them, a shape that looked like a massive centipede crawled onto the ledge, and then was gone.
Immediately, four beams of light illuminated the interior of one the support leg operating rooms. It didn’t look good. Three dead Talabarans lay, still at their posts, crushed when the support leg failed and the ceiling came down on them.
“I don’t think we’ll find anyone in any of the legs on the other side either.” Wolfe said.
“That would be correct. The other side was completely crushed by the entire city before they had time to react. This would cause an extreme whiplash effect, resulting in what you see here.” Taurol replied.
Wolfe looked at the Talabarans. their necks and spines broken by the very thing they strove to protect. Aroth.
“Let’s go.” Wolfe said.
The station led to a ladder that led high up into the city itself. The ladder stretched up very high.
Ka’rl sighed, and then clicked rapidly.
“Well, what’d you expect Ka’rl?” Raze asked.
Ka’rl outburst into a quick flurry of hisses and clicks.
“Something closer to the ground?” Raze laughed. “good luck finding that here.
Ka’rl’s eyes rolled, all the way around.
Wolfe looked up the ladder as he climbed, it led deep into Aroth’s core. At least there they could determine if this had something to do with the core failing.
The ladder finally reached one of the high rafters that overlooked the support leg’s control.
Ka’rl’s claws held onto the railings like they were his life, clicking and hissing furiously.
“Wished you never signed up for this mission?” Raze asked Ka’rl. “Now I thought that you were just afraid of heights. Now I think it’s serious.”
Ka’rl hardly seemed to notice Raze’s comment, and looked straight forward, not daring
to look down.
“The core should be a few hundred meters from here.” Taurol said, not even looking
up from his scanner.
The catwalks led up stairs, and through hanging broken wires that spewed out an orange-hued liquid. Some of the Catwalks were broken off entirely, leaving a vast open space where gusts of wind flowed upwards.
Taurol suddenly stopped, then turned around. “I am detecting…” His eyes narrowed.
“Hold on!” He roared.
A massive explosion echoed from in front of them, shaking the catwalk, which surprisingly held. hundreds of other fragmented rafters fell. Raze watched them fall, then shook her head in surprise when she saw where it landed.
“Wolfe!” She yelled. “You’re not going to like this.”
Wolfe ran over to look over the side of railing, and stared. Spewing out of the core, came a mass flood of bright orange liquid. Rafters and wires fell into it, and were incinerated. And it was rising.
Wolfe shot a grappler into the darkness, but it bounced off of the side of the core’s walls.
“Shoot.” Wolfe said “the grapplers don’t work, any ideas?”
Taurol shook his head, then proceeded to scan the area for anything. Ka’rl grabbed onto the railing as tight as ever, and clearly was more concerned with not falling than living.
It looked pretty grim. The orange flood was rising upwards.
“The floodwaters will reach us in approximately 30 seconds.” Taurol said surprisingly calmly.
“We have to get up!” Wolfe said. “beat the flood!”
He began to run backwards, motioning for the others to follow, but then a massive piece of twisted metal sliced right in front of him, taking their escape with them. They now were on a very narrow, and extremely unsteady rafter held up by a few wires that had somehow been spared.
“Twenty seconds” Taurol said.
The four looked at each other with the gravest look they had ever given each other. Was this the end.
A breeze flowed past them, and became stronger. Raze closed her eyes, and thought of her first flight, and how after that, she always took a precaution. Then it hit her. Wait, she thought. The breeze, the gusts! That was it! she thought.
“Ten seconds Taurol said.
“Jump!” Raze yelled, running to the edge.
Raze scarcely caught Ka’rl’s you are crazy look before tackling him off the catwalk. Taurol and Wolfe followed, unsure of what else to do.
“Shoot me!” Raze yelled.
Three grapple hooks latched on to her, and she punched her chest. immediately, they soared upwards, the wind gust shafts pushing them higher and higher. Raze’s chute deployed at just the right time.
Taurol and Wolfe watched as the catwalk was incinerated below them. Ka’rl shut his eyes, and held onto the grappler with his life.
Raze navigated the airshaft expertly, aiming for an opening laced with sharp edges, but leading to safety.
They all held their breath, as chute was ripped to shreds. With a clunk, the four fell onto the solid floor. Ka’rl was shaking, and took three steps, before falling on the floor in relief. Taurol ran over to the control panel and hastily sealed the opening. They all heaved sighs of relief.
“I never knew that a Karvosion sail would be able to do that!” Wolfe said, surprised.
Raze smiled, then glanced at her wrecked sail.
“There’s a reason I’m not afraid of heights.” She said.