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|Eh...an update after a really long nasty lapse in time.||
None of the eight young Vandri saw anything special about the shadow that appeared from the lighted entrance of the Taint Beast's belly and glided like liquid over its surface, blending into the darkness as it receded to the other side of the ship. In fact, it was doubtful any of them saw it at all.
That shadow was Jaali Cast, and if the streetgirl had had her way, there would have been no mark whatsoever of her passage. Unfortunately, whatever hellish demon held sway over this place was taking its toll on Jaali's ability to focus her Magick as effectively as she could have, as was her fatigue and her lack of classical training in using her powers. Once certain she was hidden safely behind the ship and that the backwash of the lights would blind anyone who would happen to look this way, Jaali dropped to her knees with a wordless breath of agony and immediately abandoned her invisibility, clapping her hands over her ears and squeezing her eyes shut.
As one of society's lowest outcasts, Jaali had endured and committed atrocities that would make the most jaded nauseous and had left her with but a shred of a soul; but the wailing voices, the torrents of raw anger and terror and insane grief that pounded into her wave after barbaric wave, the presence of a million restless ghosts, a million incarnations of suffering, was worse than anything she had ever experienced. The girl who had murdered and used and crushed others ruthlessly, the girl who had accepted the unjust hand life had dealt her without one spark of fear, was doubled over in the grass of an alien world, clutching at her head and shaking violently. Terrified. Terrified by nothing but phantoms.
"What the hell is going on here...?!" Ground out through clenched teeth.
Sarah had not said anything about this. The 'shadowy kind of feeling' had turned into an all-consuming black hole, and Jaali was being steadily sucked into it. Sarah had not said anything about this...
Because she can't feel it, not like this, Jaali realized. It was enough to make her eyes snap open, the complete certainty with which she felt this, for there was not a scrap of evidence to support it; it had simply popped into her head.<P>Another silent screech that reverberated through her blood broke that train of thought. "Jesus...!" The hellwind that swirled motionlessly through this clearing felt like a moment of torture and a moment of an explosion joined into one, both at their climaxes, captured and drawn out into eternity: a stifling blanket of agony.
The silent voices penetrated her mind; threatened to consume her. Jaali was saved by a very sudden, very sharp and very real crack. Her head snapped up, reason returning to her eyes as they searched the dark foliage in front of her. She saw the whites of someone's eyes among the thick leaves, but they disappeared half a second later.
But most importantly, she felt someone's presence, and it was surrounded by Magick: weaker than Sarah's reading had been but stronger than those of most non-mages.
Curious. Sarah had not been a particularly strong mage.
The terse silence pushed back the empy screaming dominating Jaali's mind as she remained motionless, crouched, straining her ears. She hesitated, then reached into herself and willed invisibility to cloak her once again. There was a gasp from the bushes and low-drooping branches. Jaali's golden eyes narrowed before she lunged into the woods. A thin twig whipped across her face, leaving a bleeding cut in her cheek. In the darkness she could see a lithe, tall form running for all it was worth. It made no sound as it flew over and through the forest's many obstacles; in fact it seemed to be part of the forest itself. The irreverent Jaali Cast caught her breath. Even in the dead of night, trapped in unfamiliar territory, the streetgirl could see that whatever ran from her was not human. It moved too gracefully; it knew the earth too intimately.
Bloody gods, it's a Vandri. With that Jaali grimly gave chase. If the aliens were as hostile toward her kind as was rumored, she couldn't let this one get away and report back to whoever it would report to. She had not abandoned her own planet only to have her hopes of a second chance dashed in the first five minutes.
The trees and rocks were different from the harsh alleys and urban slums
Jaali was used to flying through. Nevertheless, fly she did, casting invisibility
to the winds. Her feet created more noise than her prey's but her liquidity
of movement was enough to rival the other's. Even so, it was getting away.
With a snarl Jaali slung the survival pack off her back and hurled it at
The alien cried out as the heavy sack caught it full in the back of the head. It stumbled and slowed but did not fall, and once again Jaali was fleetingly impressed by its sense of balance. A rock or brick thrown by her strong arm had knocked many a victim to his or her knees. It did not matter, though: those two seconds' worth of hesitation was enough for her to catch up and tackle the Vandri. It did not put up a great deal of resistance, to her mild surprise and relief, making it fairly easy for her to roll it over onto its back. Her hand found long hair. She grabbed it near the scalp and yanked the head back, ignoring its cry of pain, and brought the knife that was always sheathed by her side to the exposed throat.
Now it started struggling. Jaali smiled grimly, terrifyingly. The alien must have seen it, because its resistance grew more frantic. She could see now, even in the dark, that it was slenderly built but also surprisingly strong. No matter, she was stronger, and she made this clear as she caught one flailing wrist in a cruel grip and pinned it above the Vandri's head. She pressed the blade of her knife harder against its skin until she drew a trickle of blood and a frightened, pained hiss. "Don't move," she said harshly. Freak, she berated herself, does it even speak English?
No matter: she had gotten her point across despite any language barriers. The alien froze. Jaali leaned in closer for a look at its face.
Even one so hardened and scarred as Jaali had to admit that the Vandri were beautiful, and this one was no exception. Finely chiselled cheekbones and deep blue eyes stood out in a delicately sculpted face, almost effeminate but at the same time wholly masculine. Long silver hair fell across his features. There was something ethereal about him, an air that sent chills up Jaali's spine.
"Are you a mage?" she hissed coldly, aware of the blue eyes widening. The fear that had glazed them was fast replaced by awe and shock. The Vandri made a choking sort of sound in his throat. A muscle in Jaali's jaw jumped; he obviously could not understand her. She hesitated. A deep instinct told her that she could connect with another mage, could communicate in a way that did not need words, but as she had been her own sole instructor in the use of Magick, Jaali was at a loss of how to go about doing it. Swearing silently she ran the great risk of closing her eyes and reaching deep inside herself, touching the currents of her gift and trying to bend them to her own will.
After several twists and pulls of trial and error Jaali touched the presence of the Vandri, the aura of Magick she had only before sensed and seen in her mind's eye. He was strangely weak, weaker than any mage she had encountered thus far; almost as though he were not an entire mage.
Nevertheless, she managed the connection. She felt him recoil, and then heard the frightened, dazed words in her mind, conveyed in no particular language: "But...but you are not possible!"
|Purest Taint--Chapter 1||Purest Taint|