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|Yet another Tara McCarther story. This is probably the closest one to being completed. I worked on this exclusively while I was in Australia and I have about 17 front and back steno handwritten pages. You can tell where there was turbulence on the plane or we hit a bump in the van. Anyway....back to the description. I have more left to download but it all seemed too awkward a cut off point. Tara and William are returning to Tara's home when things go awry. Fantasy and Sci-Fi elements contained within. |
One interesting note is that the painting on my artwork site labeled 'crash' comes from this story. Critique and enjoy!
Tara and William sat easily in the chairs in the control room of the expansive trans-space cruiser. The cruiser was built for intergalactic travel but was equivalent to a small pleasure yacht. The larger spaceship had been sent on ahead with most of their belongings to their home dimension.
Through much hardship and difficult times, they were finally going home to formally pledge their lives to one another. Tara and William had met one another not fully realizing that fate had always meant for them to be together. Now they were acknowledging this eventuality knowing in every fiber of their beings that they were totally and completely in love. They knew nothing could ever separate them again.
At this moment, the ship’s computer, Nikki, was instructing them on the territory ahead.
“This area is most known for its galactic pirates but they shouldn’t pose much of a problem. This ship is registered and the dimension pays a due to the pirates so we are left alone. Like I said, we shouldn’t have a problem.”
“Well, thanks for the heads up Nikki.” Tara turned off the intercom that connected her to the ship computer. She leaned back in her chair and breathed a sigh of contentment. William looked at her with a knowing glance.
“Happy to be finally going home?”
“Oh it’s such a wonderful feeling. I can’t wait to see my father. It’s been such a long time since I last saw him. I’m finally going home for a celebration, not a problem or an emergency. Kaniel actually called me on my cell to chat, not to inform me of another problem I have to solve.”
Suddenly a red light on the control panel began blinking fast and furiously.
“Uh Tara, what does that blinking light mean?” William sounded worried.
“Shh, do you hear anything?” Tara swiveled around in her chair and listened for about 10 seconds for any extraneous noise. “Turn on the intercom William.”
“. . . Attention! Finally Tara, I’ve been trying to get in touch with you as soon as you tuned out.” Tara got up out of her chair.
“Turn on outside cameras, project into control room. Nikki, what’s wrong? I thought we were cleared.”
“Well, we are, but currently, two rival ships are in face to face combat and we’re heading right for the middle of the war zone!” Tara glanced at William who looked very worried.
“Well, is there any evasive action we can take?” Tara did not like having her well laid out plans changed and complicated.
“No, we can’t avoid them now. They had their cloaking shields up so I
didn’t notice them until it was too late to change course.”
“Okay, that doesn’t leave us very many options now does it? How much damage can we take?”
“I’m calculating that right now. With the level of weapons they’re using we should be able to withstand 4 direct blows and an infinite number of glancing shots. But, that’s just an estimate.”
“Let’s just do it,” William said with finality, “I just want to go and get away from it all.”
“Fine, if that’s how you feel. Prepare for Battle Mode Defense. Is the horse secure in the hold Nikki?”
“Clyde says he’s fine. The straps are a bit tight, but he’ll manage. He told me to bug off so he could concentrate on his hay. It seems to be a sweeter sort of alfalfa that he loves.”
“Good then. William, you and I need to strap into the chairs. This is the second time I’ve had to deal with an attack situation trying to get home and I am fed up. We are taking no chances of getting separated.” William nodded vigorously.
“I agree wholeheartedly. I don’t want to have to find you and win you over again. The competition is just too great!” Tara settled down in her seat and prepared for manual evasive maneuvers.
“Entering combat area now. Shields up. Combatants currently out of range. Hold! Combat ship gunnery turning and aiming. Brace for impact!” A shudder shook the ship as a high-energy beam struck a glancing blow on its bow.
“Nikki, report damages!”
“Damage minimal. We’ll just need a cosmetic touch-up in port, that’s all.”
“Continue on course.” Tara glanced over at William. “You okay hun?”
William nodded and continued to study the battle scene before them. “We’re really close to that planet aren’t we? I wonder if they could help us.” He stopped talking.
“Um, Tara, I believe the rival ship is also turning against us. They’re ganging up so it’s two against one!” The ship shook again.
“Nikki! Why didn’t we know that one was coming? Damage report!”
“In answer to your first question, I have no idea. Your second has yet to be seen. The blow struck the underside of the ship. Ummm, the, shoot, the computer was damaged. I …” Tara frantically pressed the intercom button.
“Nikki, c'mon! Report! Oh no William. I need to get into the hold and get the computer online again. We need Nikki to run this ship. I’m putting the ship on manual control. If, in the event that I still haven’t gotten the computer up and running, and we take too many hits to continue home, aim for the planet there on the left. I think they have space technologies. But, I’m not sure; it might be the twin on the right. No, it’s the left. Got it?” Tara undid her safety harness and began working her way towards the hatch access to the hold.
“Tara! I, I love you. Be careful!”
“William, keep your eyes on the screen, I’ll keep in touch with the radio. Let me know if a hit is coming so I can brace for the impact. I love you too but let’s survive, okay?” Tara left the room and moved down the hatch to the hold. She quickly jumped to the bottom and started pulling off the cover to the computer console. The radio crackled and William’s voice came through.
“Hey Tara, how’s the damage down there?” Tara adjusted her headset and looked around before replying.
“My God. We’ve got serious damage. There are a couple of structural beams that look like they’re going to fall with another direct hit. We should be okay with glancing blows. I’ll work quickly.”
“Okay, keep in touch with me.”
“I understand.” Tara continued prying off the metal sheet that protected the computer memory banks. She scanned the drives in an effort to find the location of the damage. Realizing that she didn’t have the ability to correct the problem, Tara hit the console in a futile gesture of frustration. For some reason, it worked and Nikki came back online.
“Thanks, I was wondering when you guys would fix the problem. I hate being synapse dead.”
“No thanks needed Nikki, we need you.” Tara was fairly pleased with herself. Futile gestures are often surprisingly useful. Then William spoke over the radio.
“Tara! Brace yourself. The evasive maneuvers failed. We have a heat-seeking laser aimed for a direct hit. Get out of there if you can.” As soon as he finished speaking an explosion shook the ship. Tara was thrown to the floor. She started trying to crawl toward the hatch, trying to reach the safety of her seat. Another explosion rocked the hold and she frantically dodged a falling beam.
“William? What’s going on up there?”
“Tara!? Tara?! Are you okay? We’re being attacked too quickly to avoid individual hits. Please get up here NOW.” All around her was fire and the groaning of twisted metal. Tara could feel the air currents as it was sucked toward an unknown location. The sudden realization shocked her.
“William! Get the hold sealed off now! The hull has been punctured; we’re leaking air. You need to get the ship down on a planet, any planet, right now! There’s no time to waste; get us down now!” The radio crackled static but Tara heard the hatch being shut by the computers automated controls. She could not hear anything William was telling her. She began to talk to him telepathically.
William, I’m okay. I just need to find oxygen and a pressure suit. Tara began moving toward the emergency pressure suits on the other side of the room. She had an oxygen mask on and was fearful of losing it in any following hits. Suddenly a forceful shout was projected to her.
Oh my god! Brace for direct impact! Tara frantically looked around for something stable to cling to. Before she could find a solid brace, the ship again trembled and this time Tara could see a small crack in the wall of the hold appear as a result of the explosion. The pressure difference now became apparent and objects in the hold started moving toward the hole. Tara quickly strapped herself down with a packaging strap to a metal handle bolted to the floor. The crack kept lengthening and widening and it was all Tara could do to not move away from her small handhold. Tara tried to shield her face from the flying debris at the same time as keeping her oxygen mask on. Twisting to avoid a lethal flying metal rod, Tara looked up just in time to see a beam come crashing down upon her. Then everything went black.
Meanwhile, William was in the cabin trying desperately to follow Nikki’s orders to run the ship. When Tara had hit the computer console she had merely restored Nikki’s ability to communicate, not the ship’s pilot. They had so far suffered three direct hits as well as many smaller blows, which added in damages.
“I think we need to land on one those planets and find help.” Nikki sounded worried and William was beginning to get nervous.
“Which planet did Tara say to land on? Oh I wish she were here right now. I can’t help thinking she’s in a lot of trouble.”
“Just try and get us down safely, then you can worry about Tara. Right now we need to save ourselves.”
“Speak for yourself, you’re a computer, what do you need to worry about. What planet did she point out?” William was getting scared and frustrated.
“I think she said left. Or was it right. Yeah, that’s right, the right one.”
“So the one with more land than water?” William was trying to peer through the smoke and the shaking of the ship. It was not easy.
“Yeah, that one.”
“Well, okay, here goes.” William grasped the handles of the control system and amidst the explosions and laser fire, guided the ship on a course to intersect the planet. The ship continued to be rocked by explosions and William soon found it very difficult to control the path of the ship.
“Nikki, can you help me out at all with the ship? I can’t steer it anymore. I think we may be crash landing onto the planet.”
“Our path into the atmosphere is not good. We have an okay trajectory but our velocity is too high. We’ll never slow down enough to get the landing gear open and working. The steering may be difficult but try to guide the ship into a forested area. The trees will slow us down a little but I don’t know how much damage we’ll endure.” William followed Nikki’s instructions, struggling to hold the handles, tried pulling them up to slow down their velocity. Nikki cut in, “I think it’s helping! We’re slowing down!”
Soon the ship was encased in clouds as the atmosphere began to build around them. The ship broke through the clouds and William was confronted with a sea of forest beneath him.
“We’re lucky, Nikki. This whole area is a forest. Just what you said we needed!” William continued to fight with the controls as the smoking spaceship plummeted toward the planet surface. It wasn’t too long before William could see the individual trees and not much longer after that before the ship was skimming the tops of the trees. William double-checked his seat harness wanting to be very sure he was secure.
“I think we’re going to land very, very soon Nikki.” William braced for the impact he knew was imminent. Suddenly the ship caught on a dirt ledge hidden by the tall trees. It started flipping in the air, catching on the trees and the ground. Soon the force of the impacts began to slow the ship down and it came to rest in a clearing in the forest.
With the ship creaking and groaning around him, William undid the straps on his safety harness and fell to the ceiling of the ship realizing that the ship had landed upside down. Cursing to himself, William pulled himself up to the hatch on the ceiling to look for Tara. He didn’t even care that his head was bleeding from a gash across his forehead. William found Tara unconscious, hanging from a cargo strap that connected her wrist to what was the floor of the cargo bay.
Oh Tara. Please be okay. William saw that she had found an oxygen mask and had it firmly affixed to her face. The only problem was that with the heat of reentry, some of that plastic had melted to her skin. He didn’t dare try taking it off at that time. Tara’s head had a gash across her forehead and the skull seemed to be broken but she was breathing. William noticed that there was a large metal beam lying on the floor. In fact, the beam was what he stood on to reach Tara. William knew he could heal Tara’s head injury easily but after that, he would have no more energy. Positive that Tara was safe where she was, William checked on the horse. In case of situations like the one they were in, the box stall oriented itself so Clyde was always right-side up. Besides looking very dizzy, Clyde seemed okay. William released him and let him wander outside. He quickly went back to Tara to help her down.
Carrying her as gently as possible, William made his way out of the crashed ship. Far off in the trees he could see Clyde roaming around. William gently set Tara down on the ground. He first started by gently peeling the melted oxygen mask off her face. He tore some skin and quickly concentrated on her skin, using healing threads of additive magic and his own life force. As he pulled away, Tara’s face was flawless and William braced himself for the struggle that would heal her cracked skull. He used the same techniques from her face for her skull, knitting the bone together. As he finished and pulled out of the whirling swirls of Tara’s mind, she let out a moan.
“Don’t worry, Tara, I’ll get you somewhere safe and we’ll get home once you’re better. Let’s get going.” His strength greatly drained, William began searching for tree limbs to bind together into a stretcher so Clyde could carry Tara without hurting her. He worked into the night, insuring the scavenged rope would hold as the stretcher was dragged over the ground. Pleased with his work, William called Clyde over and indicated that they would sleep there that night. Clyde kneeled and lay down on the ground next to Tara, protecting her. William lay close by and closed his eyes to a dreamless sleep.
William awoke to a mid-morning sun shining through the leafy green of the forest overhead. Tara’s condition hadn’t worsened, but neither had it gotten better. Clyde was a short distance away keeping a watchful eye on the two humans while grazing on the forest floor. William climbed up a tree and saw the path of destruction leading to the crashed spaceship nearby. He circled around, looking for signs of civilization. Off in the distance, he estimated 5 miles from the ship, William saw tops of houses with smoke coming from the chimneys. William walked to the ship and rummaged around for supplies. In one of the crates, William found a hand communicator that keyed to the ship. It ran on solar power and was in good shape. He turned it on and a fuzzy image of Nikki’s projected body appeared in the screen.
“Well William, I was waiting for you to find this. How is everyone? And what happened to your face?” William grimaced.
“Clyde is perfectly fine. Unfortunately, Tara did not fare as well. I healed her cracked skull last night but I haven’t had time to build up my healing strength. I can only handle one large healing every so often. I haven’t practiced enough. As for me, I just have a gash across my forehead from some shards of glass.” Nikki appeared to contemplate the situation.
“I can keep the ship safe by myself; I still have enough functioning units for that. We can stay in touch via the communicator so you can go get help from the nearby inhabitants. Get help for Tara and for yourself. You have an ugly gash across your forehead.” Nikki closed her end of communication. William pocketed the device and continued to gather supplies he thought he might need. Coming back to where he left Tara and Clyde, he strapped Clyde into the stretcher and carefully laid Tara down on the canvas. Tying a rope to Clyde’s halter, William started off in the direction of the village he had seen. To insure the safety of Tara, William kept Clyde walking slowly through the forest. It took over two hours before William began to smell wood smoke. Clyde tossed his head from the smoke in his nostrils.
William walked into the village. The people were living in poverty. Their houses were made from mud and were falling apart. They wore rags on their backs and cowered from William as he walked through with Tara and Clyde. Suddenly one man confronted William.
“What do you think you’re doing?” he hissed. “That girl belongs with Them. Why did you bring her here? We’ll get in trouble. Leave at once! And quickly!” The man looked nervously about, rubbing his hands together. William was confused.
“Where do I take her then? She needs medical attention. There was a crash in the woods …” William was cut off by the man.
“You should know the way, boy. Go through the gate and follow the road. You’ll see the walls soon enough. Leave the horse there too. It was foolish for you to even think of touching her. Go now and don’t come back with her or her horse!” William was pushed toward the gate the man had mentioned. He tugged on the lead rope to urge Clyde to follow.
William soon found himself before a massive white, stone wall and large wooden gates. There were no handles that he could see. William knocked on the wooden gates. A person on the other side slid open a peephole eye level on one of the gates.
“Um, excuse me? I need medical attention for my female friend here. Could you possibly help …” The peephole slammed shut and William heard voices on the other side.
“We’ve got an exile claiming to need ‘elp. ‘as an ‘orse dragging a girl in a stretcher. Looks like one of ours. Very rude too, forgot the proper addressing of respect. Must be an insurgent. What’ll we do?”
“Open the door; we’ll see what he’s got.” The gates swung silently open on well-oiled hinges. William looked in to see the essence of perfection in a town.
“Get in worm. Get your filthy ‘ands off that ‘orse.” One of the men grabbed William and dragged him inside. The other took the lead rope from his hands and pulled Clyde in.
“Are you the guards?” William gasped.
“Nah. We’re pigeons. Of course we’re the guards.” The one without the Cockney accent breathed into his face. “And don’t go speaking until you’re spoken to. Filthy maggot doesn’t remember the rules.”
“What are you talking a…” William was slapped across the face.
“Shut up! What makes you think you can touch one of us?”
“Ey Lloyd, guess ‘oo the girl is on the stretcher.” The man who was not Lloyd was leaning over Tara’s prone form. He looked up and grinned, showing a mouthful of rotten teeth. “It’s the Mayor’s daughter. This rugrat’ll be in trouble for sure.”
William tried to protest but was cuffed again by Lloyd. “No funny business from you, worm. Be on your way before we cite you for trespassing in the city without permission. Go on; get back to the slum that brought you to life.” William was pushed out into the forest, left to make his way back to the rundown village.
All alone, William trudged slowly back down the road. He pulled out the communicator to let Nikki know of the complications.
“What’s up William? Why the long face? Is anyone helping Tara?” William thought Nikki seemed overly cheerful for the situation.
“No, it’s actually something of the opposite. It seems there is a hierarchy in place but I haven’t been able to figure out who qualifies for what. Tara was almost thrown out of the rundown village and I was barely allowed to set foot in the seemingly civilized one. This is a strange world. Worse, is that Tara and Clyde were mistaken as citizens of the elite townspeople. I can’t even get close to her.”
“Hmmm. This does sound pretty bad. Well, stay in the friendly village but try to get in touch with Tara without getting caught. It sounds like they take their segregation a bit seriously. Also, determine what makes you such an outcast. If we can eliminate whatever that characteristic is, you can get to Tara. Touch base with me later and good luck William.”
William continued to walk back to the rundown village. He walked into the village and went immediately to the old beggar man who had driven him away from the dwellings earlier. William stood in front him and demanded an explanation.
“Why am I allowed to stay here and my friend is not and yet when I take her to the nicer town, I am shunned and she is welcomed?”
“Surely you must know.” The old man peered up at him from his seated position on the ground. He pointed to a scar across his face and then at William’s forehead. “That, my boy, is why you belong here and the girl belongs with Them. They believe in perfection of the face and body. It makes them elite. Those who have the misfortune to receive a disfiguring ailment, or wound that will scar, are banished here. We are slaves to those in that better place. We cannot touch them or risk punishment. It is a hard life.” While the man was speaking, William was mentally kicking himself for not at least trying to heal himself the other night. If he hadn’t been so worried about his energy, he and Tara could have been together at this moment. The man seemed to know what he was thinking.
“Would haves and could haves are not meant to rule the future young man. You must put the past behind you and work with what you have to make the present a better place. That is our belief here.”
William looked up at the man. “What is your name?”
“Well Mikel, my name is William. Do you know if there is a place where I can sleep until I can fix my situation?” Mikel smiled a toothless grin.
“Of course my boy, follow me.” The old man struggled to his feet and took off at a surprisingly quick gait. William followed Mikel into the tangled streets searching his mind for a way to get Tara and go home.
Darkness. It’s all darkness. And noise. I hear … I hear voices. They’re talking about someone. Worried, they are worried. About someone. Me? Well, if it’s me, who am I? Who are the voices? Wait, they stopped. Silence again. Silence and darkness. I like the darkness, it’s warm and…
Voices, I hear the voices again. Hey it’s me! Help me! Can’t you hear me? They can’t. Maybe if I try moving… Oh the pain! Wait, did they see that? They did! Can I see them? Pinpricks of light. Oh so bright, yet not bright at all. How do I know this? Where did I come from? I, I can’t remember anything. I’m blank, no memory. I have no identity. Well, maybe they know who I am! Maybe, if I can open my eyes more. There! I see images. People! Notice me! Look! I’m awake. Oh please come over here. Someone is coming! Oh thank you thank you! What are you saying? I can’t understand you. The lips move, but your language … wait! I can understand!
“…going to be okay. She was brought here by…” No! Don’t fade out. I must stay awake. What happened to me? Who brought me? Please don’t go away! “…needs bed rest and peace and quiet. No one is to bother …” Oh please. I just want you to know I’m awake. You’re a doctor. Come back! I can see and there’s no more pain. I’m back, whoever I am, I’m back!
“Doctor! Her eyes are open! She’s looking around.” Oh good. The man is coming back. Yes, that’s good. Look right into my eyes. I blinked. The other women in the room crowded around the bed I was in, talking in hushed tones.
“Dear, do you know where you are? Blink once for yes, and twice for no.” Of course, I blinked twice. “Do you know your name?” Twice again. The doctor and women turned away from the bed, whispering in a huddle. I watched them until they turned back to me. The doctor stood at the foot of his bed, wringing his hands. “This is going to be a bit hard for you my child, but you’ve had a bit of a nasty fall while riding and bumped your head. You have something called amnesia where you lose your memory. We’re going to start you off easy by just telling you your name.”
A relieved looking woman came to the foot of the bed. “Hello sweetie. Your name is Mliss Belisma. I am your mother.” My mother? No, this isn’t my mother, it can’t be. My mother is… I don’t know. I guess this is my mother.
“Mother?” Oh light, my voice sounds horrible!
My mother clapped her hands together in girlish delight. “Oh doctor! She does remember. Oh Mliss you’ve been gone so long and we thought for sure that you must have been dead and….” The doctor’s hand on her shoulder stopped the flow of words for which I was very thankful. The woman who called herself my mother had a high pitch, nasal voice that echoed and reverberated painfully in my head. How did I ever live with this woman?
I squinted my eyes, trying to stop the painful echo of her voice and block the bright light. Taking a deep breath and willing my voice to be steady, I chanced a complete sentence.
“Where,” a cough racked my body and pain spread though my chest, “where is this place?” I felt another cough coming and rolled into a fetal position to lessen the severity of the pain. When I finally stretched back out I could see the adults of the room exchanging worrying glances. My mother, a stranger, looked positively hysterical.
“I thought you said she was getting better! She’s supposed to remember!” If I though her voice was annoying before, it was even worse now. Luckily for me, the doctor intervened.
“Calm down Matron Annavui. Regaining memory after such a traumatic experience will be a slow process. We must be patient and give Mliss’ body time to heal.” His calm tone had not effect.
“I will not be patient when those, those sordidus hurt my daughter!” From the shocked looks around the room I realized two things: 1) my mother was not always this colorful and 2) whatever sordidu meant, it was a thing to avoid.
“I’d like to be left alone please. I have a headache from the noise.” My voice was all but gone; I could only manage a hoarse whisper.
“Of course…” began the doctor, but the sickly sweet voice of my mother cut him off.
“Oh dear. Mliss, you should have told me. I’m so sorry sweetie, it’s just that I got caught up because of those nasty…”
“Annavui! That’s enough.” My mother jumped at the sharpness in the doctor’s tone, opened her mouth to protest the absence of her title but seeing the look on the doctor’s face, thought better of it. The women filed out after the doctor, my mother was the last to leave. She hesitated at the door but I rolled to face the window, my back to her. I listened to her walk away, leaving me alone in a strange room, falling asleep to the hauntingly familiar sounds of the forest just outside the window.
|Elitists Part 02||The Strength of Cassion 5-8|
|Strength of Cassion Alternate Ending||Stands of Cypress 01|