“This is not right…”
The lumpy ship touched down on the ground, so smoothly that its occupants were unsure that the ship had actually landed at all. A door slid open and they slowly inched their way out.
The landscape was strewn with debris. Crumbling buildings, shredded roads, small fires, all littering the world around them. This clearly was not home.
“What happened to this place?” Ct’Era asked as she avoided shattered glass on the ground and various bits of broken, pointy things.
“More importantly, where is everyone? Kindyna, Arksi, can you see or feel anyone?”
Arksi shook his head. “We are alone here, as far as I can tell at least.”
“I can only feel pain…” Kindyna muttered. “Something traumatic. Cataclysmic. Like… An invasion… Some sort of attack…”
Verlais stamped over to Kindyna. “You mean that bastard Deitic sent us to a war zone rather than sending us back home?”
“Might not have been a war zone… could have been anything…” Kindyna continued to mutter. Verlais glanced at Arksi, unsure what Kindyna was doing. Rather than waiting around, he decided to ask.
“What is she doing?”
“Feeling, I guess?” Arksi shrugged.
“You’re a telepath too though. Why don’t you know?” Verlais sneered, getting more angry by the second.
“Not all telepathy is the same!” Arksi snapped back. “Thanatian telepathy is way, way different from the Rethan telepathic network, and even then, I had to be specially trained because my telepathy doesn’t work the same way everyone else’s does!”
Verlais tutted and looked around. The whole place was desolate and dead.
“Knew that bastard Anexartan would fuck us up. That’s all they do! I swear they exist to screw over Vrekans!”
“They don’t just exist to screw over you!” Arksi shouted angrily. “They screw with everyone!”
“Well how comes the Vrekans are still struggling while you Rethavok just continue on your merry way?”
“It wasn’t always nice and easy for us! We didn’t get settled down again until about a thousand years ago!”
Ct’Era watched as the Vrekan and the Rethavok continued to argue over something she understood better than both of them. After all, her kind’s culture essentially had to start from scratch after the Deitics were done with them. But Ct’Era wasn’t interested in arguing. A strange scent fluttered in her nostrils and she decided to follow it.
Before she did anything though, she walked by Kindyna, rubbing her tail against the meditating Thanatian. As she walked by, Ct’Era wondered if Arksi would have been better suited for that sort of telepathic reaching out, but the little Rethan seemed too angry to concentrate.
Once Ct’Era had a proper scent on Kindyna in case she got lost, she decided to follow the scent in her nostrils. The scent headed in a direction Ct’Era assumed was west, because the sun was setting in that direction. What it was, the Banikan was unsure. It smelled like jewellery, like silver or something, but as if it was liquid. But there was a secondary undertone to the scent, the stench of death, pain and suffering. As if something had left a trail of blood for Ct’Era to follow.
As the scent drove Ct’Era further away, she looked back to see her friends still talking. They were no longer arguing, but she could sense their anger from here. She understood, they had all been duped by that Deitic with the silly name. Kindyna appeared more active, she had clearly left her trance-like state.
The scent led Ct’Era up a large ‘hill’ of rubble. The whole area was made of rubble, and this particular hill looked like a former support of a much larger building. As she skidded down to the other side, she noticed that, among the concrete and metal, there was also something else. The remains of some sort of vehicle. On closer inspection, it seemed like a work vehicle, not a war vehicle. Something that carried other things around. That was when Ct’Era noticed something else – the source of the scent.
Meanwhile, the other three were still arguing. The subject though had changed. They were no longer arguing about who had been messed up by Deitics the most. They needed to work out what to do and where they were.
“I say we go back in that stupid lump and try and program it to take us back home!” Verlais repeated for the fourth time.
Arksi sighed. There was a lot of exhaustion in his eyes. “I told you, we cannot fix that ship. None of us can read whatever Deitic language is in there. Plus, we could end up even further away from home!”
“I don’t care!” Verlais growled. “That is our ticket home! Not standing here like idiots, making a camp, scrambling for some sort of food! And what if there’s no food? What then?”
“That is better than ending up trapped in that ship forever if we happen to screw it up!”
Kindyna seemed to be remaining quiet, and was genuinely surprised when Arksi turned to her and asked for her opinion.
“What do you think?”
“Um…” Really, she didn’t know. And she didn’t really care. She was cold and hungry. It was fine for the others, Ct’Era had fur and Arksi and Verlais both had their own variations on armour. All Kindyna had was scales and some thin bands of fabric that only just covered her private parts. “I kinda just want to make a fire, warm myself up and go to sleep. Sleeping on things is always good.”
“What if there IS something here and it kills us during the night?” Verlais protested.
“We could sleep inside the ship and have someone on guard?” Kindyna suggested, before breaking out into a yawn. “What does Ct’Era think?”
“Wait, where IS Ct’Era?” Arksi blushed, only just realising that the Banikan was missing.
A voice shouted at them from somewhere to the west. Ct’Era was standing on a hill of rubble, waving at them. “FRIENDS, OVER HERE!”
The three beings raced up the hill to where Ct’Era was standing. She turned around and pointed down the hill, towards a large piece of debris that had a rectangular sheet sticking out of it. It was clearly a large sign. On it, in large, printed letters, were the words “PORTALIA CITY SPACE PORT.”
Verlais and Arksi glanced at each other, while Kindyna shook her head in disapproval.
“So that Deitic DID send us home?” Arksi stuttered. “We were in the space port all along?”
Ct’Era blinked a couple of times. “You mean the sign? I… was not pointing at the sign. I did not realise. Not until you pointed it out.”
“When what were you pointing at?” Verlais asked.
Ct’Era pointed just below the rubble, where a small, yellow creature was lying, partially trapped under a piece of rubble.