069 Encounters · 4


Encounters · 4
P



erhaps Finch and Maye had expected Chain and Drop to wander into one of the numerous tiered parks on the exterior of the Chapel, or even one of the numerous shops that filled the belly of the mobile fortress. They were prime locations for visitors to interact with the nuns and allowed the nuns to trade for goods to keep their roaming convent operational. Not everyone who visited stuck to the shops and parks though and would occasionally find their way to the classrooms and library within. Had Chain found the library she might have lost herself in it as she perused all the knowledge it held. But Chain ended up nowhere near the library or the parks, or the shops or classrooms.

Wandering the pipe lined bowels of the impressive vehicle, Chain was surrounded by nuns as young as children and old as great grandparents, comprised of members of all the races of mankind. They were all dressed in habits, but those varied by the wearer’s age. The youngest of children wore a habit that was little more than a white blouse that transitioned to a navy A-line dress that left most of their legs exposed. Older girls who were not quite maids yet had white collared dress of navy hue that varied in length seemingly to the whims of the individual while adults all wore full length dresses with white, cape-like collars and white cuffs. No matter the age, nearly everyone wore a veil of varying lengths, though the presence of a coif seemed optional with the venerable preferring a loose fit to the form fitting fit the younger preferred. It was all fascinating to Chain who studied the nuns as they went about their affairs with wide eyed wonderment.

The nuns themselves were not all that caught Chain’s enthusiastic curiosity as the bowels of the Chapel elicited the echoes of detached memories within her head. Every machine seemed to be connected to a pipe or conduit that went somewhere else and as she traced them with her eyes, images of a far more technologically advanced facility that seemed to serve a similar purpose, save for locomotion, danced just out of reach of her consciousness. The elusive memories soured Chain’s good mood and her beaming face grew somber the longer she wandered the bowels.

“Snatching these distant memories of ours seems nearly impossible.”

“Yeah, it’s pretty frustrating…”

Swinging her feet as she watched the nuns below the pipe she seated herself on, Chain wondered what she was doing.

“I was supposed to be finding the Head Mother and complaining to her, so how did I end up wandering around down here?”

“Because the machinery called out to our memories and the attachments within. We do seem more fractured than we seemed to believe though as they are very difficult to grasp.”

“Yeah…”

With a heavy sigh, Chain jumped down and her and Drop drifted along aimlessly. No matter the group of nuns she followed about the Chapel, none seemed to pay her or Drop much heed, regardless of her sword slung over her shoulder or Drop being a spirit. The indifference left Chain pouting, and nothing seemed to distract her from her souring mood until a door opened and she heard someone talking about picking up a long distance distress call. Poking her head into what appeared to be a massive radio communication room, Chain’s eyes lit up at the sight of the busy, multitiered, room. Her enthusiasm was tempered by a feeling of dread and the fragments of a memory of a radio cutting out. Shaking that memory away Chain slipped into the room to let the radio chatter distract her.

The Chapel seemed to be in constant contact with outposts and travelers all over the Athera Mountains and the chatter was incessant. It was a nice distraction from her own thoughts and Chain leaned against a wall and soaked in the blissful chaos. Then a voice overrode ever other in the radio communication room and called up memories of a stocky nāti male who impressively did not stand as tall as Chain. Though the slender maid was not short, she was definitely not tall either, but her height comparison to the owner of the voice that filled the room did not cross her mind.

- What do you mean don’t come Have you lost your mind If you can’t kill that thing then someone has to‼ You aren’t the only ones trapped and dying in this foul hole you idiots‼ -

“Squawk!”

The name burst out of Chain as fragmented memories linked like lit up synapses and she sprang to her feet. Surprising everyone in the comm room, most notably the nun in charge with long brown hair in a tight ponytail and round glasses, Chain charged the radio console that the voice came across and snatched up the microphone in both hands. Depressing the call switch, she desperately called into it.

“Squawk! Squawk! Can you hear me It’s me! It’s me! You know… You know… I’m sorry but I’m so excited to hear your voice that I can’t put the broken parts inside my head back together again to remember my own name. But we grew up together and… Never mind me, what’s wrong Squawk? You sound terrified. Tell me what’s wrong and where you are, and I’ll come save you. It’ll be just like old times, Squawk. Just tell me where you are…”

Releasing the call button Chain stared down the radio console impatiently, but there was no response. Depressing the call switch, she called out again.

“Squawk…?”

Again, no response came as she released the call switch and a severe dread descended on her. Before she could depress the switch again a sympathetic hand massaged her shoulder. Looking back at who had placed their hand on her, Chain locked eyes with the glasses wearing nun who ran the comm room. Sadly, the nun shook her head.

“I’m sorry dear, but that was a recording that’s been set to loop. It’s a warning to keep away.”

“Eh–

Confronted with Chain’s confusion, the nun nodded to her junior who had been working the console. Returning the nod, the nun in charge of the console flipped a few switches and was rewarded with the sound of static. After a moment, a beep followed by the words of a man none of them knew.

- To anyone who picks up this message, do not come to Deep Root Colony. I repeat do not come to Deep Root Colony. Do not answer any distress signals, just stay away. If you do, whatever horror it is that roams the shadows here will kill you all. It’s only a mater of time before myself and the surviving Pilgrims of Atheaeldre are all slaughtered. For your own good, do not come. -

- What do you mean don’t come Have you lost your mind If you can’t kill that thing then someone has to‼ You aren’t the only ones trapped and dying in this foul hole you idiots‼ -

The light faded from Chain’s eyes as she heard Sqauwk’s voice repeat the exact same line that had brought her to the console. Another beep played as Chain sat in silence and the message repeated again and again. The junior nuns grew uncomfortable in air that surrounded Chain, but the nun in charge of comm room remained resolute for Chain’s sake. Eventually, Chain returned the microphone to its stand and looked at the nun.

“Where’s Deep Root Colony?”

“Dear, I’m sorry–”

“I don’t want your apologies or warnings!”

Chain’s sudden outburst startled everyone in the comm room. Though obviously rattled, Chain tried to calm herself down, but her emotions made her unstable.

“That was my friend there. I haven’t seen him since before I was infected by the Foreigners. I didn’t know what happened to him and to hear that he’s in trouble… I can’t just ignore that no matter how dangerous. So please, tell me where Deep Root Colony is.”

“I don’t know dear.”

“Eh–”

The lack of knowledge stunned Chain and she stared in shock at the nun. As the nun provided no further words with which Chain could argue, she slowly scanned the comm room, ignoring the worried stares of the other nuns.

“No…”

Not seeing what she wanted, the word fell out of Chain almost against her will. Then she seemed to remember something and bolted from the room.

The Chapel ~ Interior ~ Crow’s nest office
Early Autumn ~ Late afternoon
Scattered thunderstorms and cool outside
The sun hid behind the clouds in respect
A gentle rain fell joined by distant thunder
The spectacular view of the panoramic window dulled by somber air
A spry and venerable nun in white watching the scene with hands held behind    
A lifetime of caution and sympathy embroiled within  

“That’s terrible, I can’t help but feel sorry for her.”

The girl with the short red hair and blue eyes who spoke had only seen some ten springs and thus was dressed within the typical habit of girls her age on the Chapel. She did not where the veil or coif however and her legs were mostly covered by white stocking, and though they reached up to the middle of her thigh, they did not quite reach the white trimmed hem of her dress. Her boyish voice gave her away as the girl Finch, and Maye beside her, dressed in coif and veil with a white cuffed and cape collared garment that blended a habit with a horse blanket completed the pair. It was the voice of the comm room nun that spoke next through a radio console in the circular office that also served as the Chapel’s crow’s nest.

- Sympathetic as her plight is, I fear that she is not entirely mentally stable. Her words and way that she describes her thoughts and memories. I fear Mother Osprey that it would be a mistake to leave her to her own devices. -

“But first we must know what her course of action is.”

The venerable nun in white, Mother Osprey, spoke in a calm and dignified manner. There was sympathy in her voice, but also control and wisdom. Her calm possessed the power to keep others calm and no one in the Crow’s Nest Office said a thing, allowing her time to gather her thoughts. Turning around from the window, Mother Osprey took a seat at her desk and looked up at Finch and Maye as she spoke.

“We know that she desires to seek her friend, but we also know that she is unfamiliar with the land and the world at large since the appearance of the Lucifalz. She cannot act without knowledge and we must ask what knowledge she needs first.”

- The source of the radio message. -

“The location of Deep Root Colony.”

“So a map and a way to track the signal. We should have maps in the library and at the helm, but the only sensor equipment we have is to respond to the Light of the Lucifalz and…”

Finch’s eyes widened and she trailed off as she contemplated what Chain would need for the comm room and Maye’s suggestions. With the realization that came to her she stated the last knowledge Chain would need.

“How to get there.”

“That is correct everyone.”

Smiling, Mother Osprey congratulated her nuns on their success on deducing the first actions Chain would likely take. However, despite the urgency possessed by Finch, she remained calm and at ease.

“Sister Pij, please feel free to relax. We know what she will be doing now and have no reason to be alarmed by her actions.”

“But Mother Osprey! If Deep Root Colony can be reached by land, Chain might be desperate enough to try and steal my Dolmen.”

“I sincerely doubt that Daughter Finch. From what I have been told she is a very troubled and tortured girl whose good cheer is born of not being able to either express or experience her full range of emotions. That she describes it as being fractured and separated is why we need not worry.”

“I’m afraid I do not understand Mother Osprey. She is also a heretic and there is little reason to believe she can be trusted. She may be a Child of Her Light, but still.”

“You have so little faith Sister Maye. If she an individual can experience being so fractured, then it affords her an insight into how a group is not as singular as it appears. She is hurting and has already accepted and asked us for help. We need only wait for her to explain how she wants us to help. So, let us enjoy some tea and the weather while we wait for her to join us.”

Maye trusted Mother Osprey with all of her being, but she was always amazed by the calm and control the venerable nun exuded. Even when faced with a situation as unusual as the one presented by Chain she remained calm and sure of how things should be. She could not predict the future however and the sun had dipped a great deal in the sky, affording Finch and Maye the time to dine with her before Chain finally came sprinting up the spiral staircase that led into the Crow’s Nest Office. Her explosion of energy drew the attention of the nuns on lookout duty, but they didn’t matter to Chain who skidded to a halt as she spotted Mother Osprey. She was about to dash towards her, but the sight of Finch and Maye seemed to change her energy and she balled her hands into fists and stormed up to the desk. Slamming her hands down on it she leaned forward while rolling her shoulders forward and pouted at Mother Osprey.

“I told you to leave me alone and stop following me. But… but… but”

Chain seemed to struggle with what she wanted to say and before she could succeed, she seemed to blow steam from her ears and fell over backwards sprawling out on the floor with her eyes spinning from the effort. Again, she drew everyone’s attention, though this time they expressed concern along with their surprise. The only one who showed no concern was Drop, who swam up above the desk and attempted to speak on Chain’s behalf.

“Forgive us for being so unruly, but our desires are conflicting and we are very stressed. Our friend needs our help, but we lack the means to do it on our own without making things worse between us. If it’s too much trouble what we are attempting to say, can we instead take the Dolmen?”

“If you take my Dolmen I just know that you’ll wreck it again!”

“If you expect an answer from Mother Osprey heretical creature–”

“Sister Maye, Daughter Finch. Please calm yourselves. This age we find ourselves in after the appearance of the Lucifalz is one of trials for all of us. It is our duty to reclaim the Light for Her Eminence and the good of all mankind. Though this child has become one with a spirit who our forebearers instructed us to turn from, she is still a child of mankind, touched by the evil of the Foreigners, possessed of Her Light, and a Sa·B·er whose duty it is to protect us all. We must not withdraw the good will of Her Eminence who unified the Sister Goddess and Father Icarus against the evils that inflict the races mankind.”

Mother Osprey’s calm typically maintained an air of peacefulness in her presence, but her words had a different effect on Drop. Exhaling in excitement, Chain’s tiny mermaid double clasped her hands together as her eyes shimmered with joy and hope.
.


Copyright © 2019 Joshua D Tarwater

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

025 Those Who Watch the Sky - 25

022 Those Who Watch the Sky - 22

001 Those Who Watch the Sky - 01