028 Those Who Watch the Sky - 28

 28 – Children Changing With the Sky 3

Much as Elliot desired to reach the settlement the Dolmen’s instruments had shown him in two days he had forgotten that that would be impossible for as long as they carried the corpse of the White One. Dragging it behind the Dolmen through the thickly forested woods would have also surely been impossible forcing Elliot to pilot the twenty five meter tall humanoid mech along the edge of the lake that would eventually give way to the river that fed it. Exposed as the position made them though, Elliot would not risk leaving behind Link’s prize even as she continued to sleep without showing any signs of waking.

Link’s continued slumber ate at Melody who found herself fretting more and more about the well being of her dear friend. Elliot insisted that there was nothing to worry about and that Link was fine, but Melody found that difficult to believe. Part of what made Link’s well being questionable was that the darkness that had replaced her flesh had not ceased its continued climb up her body. That Elliot showed no concern was even more troubling to Melody especially when their continued trek from the dam became multiple days and Link continued to slumber uninterrupted.

“El~liot ~ Are you sure we can’t wake Link? ~ It’s been a three-day since we started following the water up here ~

The morning of the fourth day since leaving the dam Melody had decided she had had enough of waiting for Link to wake and expressed her displeasure by taking an annoyed tune with her typical song filled speech. Elliot as he sat beside their campfire cooking meat from a prior day’s hunt seemed as unconcerned as he had been since leaving the dam. Watching the river Elliot did not even look at Melody as he replied, a soft smile upon his lips,

“I know it’s hard to understand Melody, all things considered, but I assure you that Link is in no danger. And considering we know that the Foreigner provides her with sustenance we have little reason to worry about her starving.”

“But what about her being eaten by the Foreigner

“Honestly Melody, you really should have faith. Have you forgotten already that Link managed to hold onto herself even when she lost consciousness when she was first infected? Even more importantly though she has been saved so your fears are unfounded,”

“You keep saying that she’s been saved but I don’t see any proof of that! She’s still being consumed by the Foreigner! She’s been sleeping for days and you keep talking weirder and weirder!”

With a sigh Elliot finally pulled his gaze from the river and turned it onto Melody. It was not a friendly gaze either, but one which demonstrated his lessening patience for putting up with Melody’s concerns. It was an expression which frightened Melody and she could not stop herself from flinching as Elliot spoke.

“I’m not talking weirdly Melody. You should know full well that I would never allow anything to happen to Link or allow her to be consumed by the Foreigner.”

“Then why aren’t you worried How can you sit there so calmly seeing Link becoming less and less her and say that everything is fine

“Because I know that my faith is being tested.”

“You faith Being tested This is what I mean Elliot by you sounding weird! You’ve never talked like this before! How am I supposed to believe that I’m even still talking to the Elliot I know and not the Foreigner that possessed you How am I supposed to believe that Link is even safe with you any more That I’m safe

Melody was practically crying as she confronted Elliot with her fears yet he seemed impartial, angry even. As he spoke it was chilling to Melody and she could barely make out in his voice that he felt betrayed.

“I can’t believe that I’m hearing you say these things Melody. In all of our years together I never thought you’d question me like this. What happened to our friendship?”

“It’s because of our friendship that I’m so worried Elliot! I don’t want to lose you or Link and I’m starting to fear that I’m going to lose you and Link! If it comes to that then I’ll have to do something!”

“And what would you do Melody…?”

There was an obvious threat in Elliot’s voice and Melody found herself truly frightened of her childhood friend. She was so scared she had to take a few attempts to even find her voice again, no less challenge Elliot.

“If I have to… If I have to I’ll take Link and run as far away from you as I can! …please don’t make me though… I don’t want to lose you either…”

“I truly can’t believe this. I knew my faith was being tested but I never suspected that even my closest friends would be used to test me.”

Rising as he spoke Elliot did not even bother looking at Melody. Instead, he started shambling towards the Dolmen where he had left Link asleep in the pilot’s seat.

“No… I shouldn’t be surprised… Melody has always been, a test… a challenge to my desires…”

“Elliot… Elliot, what are you saying…? You really starting to scare me now…”

“You’re only scared because you have no faith Melody. But don’t worry. The Dolmen didn’t need new materials to repair the chest plate so you’ll be able to discover your faith now.”

“Elliot… I don’t understand… why are you acting like this…? Elliot… comeback…”

Nigh paralyzed with her fear Melody stood trembling in fear of Elliot who paid her no further heed as he issued a verbal command to the Dolmen.

“Initiate covered entry protocol.”

The already kneeling Dolmen further seated itself in response to Elliot’s order and shielded its chest with its right arm and both legs. Only its right arm remained somewhat exposed and Elliot stepped into the open hand and disappeared within the folded limbs of the mech’s body. Only as he vanished from sight did Melody grasp what was happening. Letting a wordless song fall from her lips in a panic to stir up the wind Melody spread her wings and flew up to the Dolmen as it suddenly rose to its feet. Grabbing onto the mech Melody attempted to access the cockpit, but as Elliot had stated the magicks that allowed it to function at all had also undone the damage caused by the White One and the cockpit had securely sealed shut barring her all access.

“Elliot! What are you doing You just can’t lock yourself and Link in there! Elliot!”

Lock himself and Link away within the Dolmen is exactly what Elliot did despite Melody’s protests. As much as he was actively ignoring Melody however he did not ignore the still burning campfire and piloted the Dolmen to rub it out with a foot. It was the last time that Elliot did anything other than strive for their distant destination and much to Melody’s detriment he did not cease even for rest.
It did not particularly surprise Melody that Elliot could push on through the night if need be as he had gone over a tenday without sleep when they first left Cross. What did surprise Melody however was that he did not even stop for her to eat. If she intended not to leave him alone with Link she would have to give up seeking nourishment for herself. Unfortunately for her she did not draw sustenance out of thin air as Link seemed to but as Elliot seemed to need to eat as well it seemed unlikely that he could stay cooped up within the Dolmen indefinitely. Trekking through the night however as well as the day unceasingly did drastically shorten the travel time ahead of the group, but that Elliot did not stop at all also implied that as the days continued to pass that Link still did not wake. Considering what she knew of Sa·B·ers Melody began to wonder where she perched tightly to the shoulder of the Dolmen if Link would be accepted by the Cardinal Church if she arrived still fast asleep. She also wondered if Elliot would be in any condition to be accepted either.

For all of Melody’s concerns there was one thing that she allowed herself to forget, distracted by hunger and her desperate bid to stay perched upon the Dolmen, and that was that they were approaching a city that was very likely far larger than Cross would have ever grown to. The problem with such dense population centers however was that the more dense the human populace was the greater a chance for the seedier elements of mankind to take root. Having allowed herself to forget due to her circumstances she could be forgiven for being caught unawares unlike Elliot who was the cause for Melody growing careless.

While the corpse of the White One, even having rotted as it had being dragged through the forest for days on end, was a prize to Link the Dolmen she slept in was a veritable treasure trove. From scrap metal to the mechanisms and motors that granted the mech locomotion nearly every part of it was a treasure. Above all else though was the Artificial Gate Generator that hummed in its belly as modern civilization did not have the understanding to create, making such artifacts priceless. Priceless to all but those that would benefit from the sale of one, resulting in the circumstances of a shoddy man hiding in a tree with a bow and arrow. The arrow was peculiar in that there was a small packet behind the arrow head that was spring loaded. The purpose of the mechanism became clear when it was fired and struck the back of the Dolmen’s knee, the impact compressing the spring and detonating the explosives within the packet.

The explosion was most impressive and scared the birds from the surrounding woods. More impressive than the sight and sound of the explosion however was the destructive power it possessed as it left no traces of the Dolmen’s knee leaving the mech to fall forward. It did not crash face first into the ground however as Elliot reacted in time to get the Dolmen’s arms out in front of it to catch itself.
Shifting the weight of the mech to its right arm and letting go of the White One’s corpse Elliot had it draw the revolver it had stored in its left leg. Scanning the immediate vicinity with the gun barrel leading it settled on a group of ruffians comprised of icarans and various members of chirmeric races emerging from the surrounding woods. As one of them spoke up the Dolmen’s revolver settled its sights on them.

“Ah hope ye’lls escuse da harsh greetin’ friend, but ye was travelin’ at a pace a mite quick for me boys and Ah to scoop yer fine scrap heap out from under unnoticed. As it stands now Ah’m goin’ to have to make some threats and the sort so that ye’lls vacate ahr there bounty.”

- And what’s keeping me from just blasting you away where you stand? -

Elliot’s voice crackled across the Dolmen’s external speakers and the seeming lead ruffian cracked a missing tooth smile.

“Well, Ah’m glad ye asked.”

Unfolding his crossed arms the ruffian held up a hand and two fingers.

“Ye see, Ah’ve two really good ones. The first would be is that Ah’ve enough explosives still to scrap yer heap o’ metal there with ye still inside. The second Ah’m admittedly guessin’ at but I’d like to think there’s more to this varmin’ than it seems, seein’ as how you hadn’t shaken em from your shoulder there and that they are wearin’ a mighty fine piece o’ cloth.”

The ruffian did not need to say more to get the reaction he desired but still motioned for one of his men to come before the Dolmen’s line of sight and fire dragging a very weak and exhausted Melody captured within a rope net. She didn’t even still have the strength to bother struggling and seemed to be oblivious of her surroundings. Her condition was far from well and at the very least she was incapable of defending herself no less breaking out of the net and engaging the ruffians. Being in such a state won the lead ruffian his bet and his missing tooth smile grew all the more crooked as the chest plate of the Dolmen began to open.

Copyright © 2019 Joshua D Tarwater


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