005 Those Who Watch the Sky - 05

05 – Children Cursed by the Sky 2

“Ugh~! I just knew you would make fun of us even though we don’t have that type of relationship.”

“And what am I supposed to think when you two are all over each other and laughing like a pair of idiots?”

“Perhaps you could join in laughing at somehow being alive?”

Sitting up Elliot turned a glad smile in Squawk’s direction and the nāti perhaps blushed somewhere under his wiry fur. Scratching at the side of his beak he conceded to Elliot’s point.

“Well, maybe just a little, especially considering the carelessness of you two idiots somehow saving me a second time tonight.”

“Second time?”

Sitting up herself Link looked quizzically at Squawk.

“I can’t believe you’re already taking credit for the first time, but I’ll let it slide since I could honestly use your derring-do if I’m going to make it through the night.”

Stepping past Link and Elliot, Squawk knelt down a short distance past them and pointed to a pile of scrap metal on the ground. In comparison to the metal plates that had comprised the wall and lookout station the scrap metal was drastically thinner and more delicate in appearance. The presence of what appeared to be a mechanical approximation of a human head emerging from the hunk of scrap drew a gasp from Link and hers and Elliot’s eyes widened.

“Isn’t that a machine sentry? Why would you need saved from it?”

“I kind of thought the same thing as it started spitting rays of light out of its mouth at me. Idiotic thing couldn’t even tell that it should be protecting me and not trying to kill me. Honestly Link, it seems being an idiot runs in your blood if you father couldn’t even get that much right in his maintenance.”

“I’m sure this isn’t father’s fault.”

Link pouted as she defended her father’s work but was soon distracted as Elliot offered her a hand after rising to his feet himself. Accepting it Link let him pull her to her feet before looking over the situation that the three of them found themselves in.

Things were bleak with the ground broken up by huge shelves of disheveled earth that were littered by shattered boulders and gnarled heaps of metal. The dust clouds that swirled about were nigh impenetrable to the human eye and the choking smell of smoke and glow of distant flames accented by the odd bolt of lightning made their environment seem a hellscape. More unsettling however were the inhuman screams that filled the dust and smoke clouds above that pierced even the distant rumbling of the Foreigner city still tearing through the earth somewhere in their vicinity. Cupping her right elbow in hand and pinching her chin thoughtfully Link weighed their options.

“I’m guessing you didn’t come back to the surface willingly Squawk.”

“Of course not, but what choice did I have when I started being chased by a mad machine sentry and the face of Icarus splitting apart all around me taking the whole plant with it?”

“To think that even the plant was destroyed.”

Resting his right hand on the pommel of his sword Elliot followed Link’s lead in scanning their surroundings. The sky above and the shadows he spotted within the swirling clouds of dust and smoke were of particular interest to him. Narrowing his eyes on what appeared to be a battle taking place he shared his thoughts on the matter.

“Then it’s likely that we can’t use the plant to either take refuge or seek out any survivors.”

“You’re not implying that we try to stay out here are you Elliot? I may have been running from this mad piece of scrap but I’d still rather risk hiding behind you two while you fight them off then staying out here. You have heard those screams haven’t you? Those aren’t the monsters that roam outside the wall and considering what’s going on tonight that can only mean that they are truly Foreigners.”

Not taking his eyes off of the apparent battle Elliot nodded solemnly. Standing up and dusting himself off Squawk leveled Elliot with a scowl and did not see the shadow that fell from the sky in the distance.

“If you understand that Elliot then there should be no question of risking a return to the plant. At least the machine sentries won’t turn us into inhuman monsters.”

“Not likely, but my sword is more likely to cut the flesh of a Foreigner than a machine and I believe there is someone who needs my sword desperately at the moment.”

“Who could possibly need your sword more desperately than me?!”

“Elliot, you don’t mean–?”

Having an idea of who Elliot spoke of Link looked at him with a mixture of concern, confusion, desperation, and hope in her eyes. Griping the hilt of his sword tightly in his right and the head of his scabbard that hung from his hip in his left Elliot offered Link an uneasy nod of affirmation.

“That’s right Link. If anyone could have survived this mess by anything other than luck it’s Melody and I believe that she needs our help lest she fall to the Foreigners herself.”

“Melody? Who on the face of Icarus is that?!”

“A friend.”

“A friend of who? I’ve never heard of any Melody living in Cross!”

“Well if we’re fast enough we can save her and introduce her to you. Now hold my scabbard for a little bit!”

“You just can’t–!”

Squawk failed to get his complaint finished as Link drew her sword and tossed him the vacated scabbard. Juggling the object Squawk barely noticed the look that Link gave Elliot and the nod he gave in response before drawing his sword and dashing off into the distance. Eyes widening and watering over with rage and fear Squawk chased after the two of them screaming at the top of his lungs.

“Honestly you two idiots! These are the Foreigners! The beings who razed the face of Icarus five hundred years ago! The beings who turn all but the most fortunate into monsters! You know, Sa·B·ers! The ones we rely on to protect us from them!”

“Of course I know that Squawk, but I also know that my parents traveled the wilds with me in tow before we ever arrived at Cross and none of us have ever been infected by a Foreigner. I also know that Elliot and I were trained by mother and Cliff, the only Sa·B·er in Cross who along with the one in the red armor is probably just as dead as everyone else. That means we have to fight our way out on our own regardless and we have to rely on how well Elliot and I can apply our training.”

“You’re absolutely mad!”

“Maybe, but we don’t have any choice now.”

A wry smile spread across Link’s face as a chilling scream descended from the sky followed by abominations of flesh, fang, and claw ranging in size from that of a cat to as large as a horse. Not slowing her pace Link brought her sword around to her right side and took it in a two handed grip while pointing the tip towards the ground. Ahead of her Elliot demonstrated a more reckless style as his left hand did not leave the head of his scabbard and he gave his sword a twirl before securing his one handed grip and bringing his sword to bear against the first of the descending Foreigners.

Copyright © 2019 Joshua D Tarwater


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