The Red Hand Part 11
by Shane Migliavacca
The Red Hand Part Eleven
Hallie the Mater sphere has lead us to a large rock formation. It has loomed on the horizon since noon like a great hand reaching out of the sands and now as dusk approaches, we stand at its base. Up close it doesn’t look like a hand. It doesn’t look like much at all except for more rocks, rocks and sand. This planet has a monopoly on them. The four large rock formations stand side by side jutting up from a rocky base. Sandstorms have most likely eroded them over time making them look like large stone fingers.
Hallie flies ahead towards the rocks leaving me and my other new companion, the wolf-beast standing there. The sphere makes a high pitched whistling sound, which causes Wolfie to howl. I’ve decided to name him that to make it a little easier. Instead of “Hey wolf monster” or Steve. I found out the hard way that Wolfie is male when he stopped earlier to relieve himself on some rocks.
“They are coming.” Hallie says.
They emerge from the shadow of the rocks, five of them, purple skinned like Tenth. The lizard people are dressed in body armor. They hold long blades in their clawed hands.
Hallie talks to them in their language as they keep their gazes focused on me and Wolfie. After they finish talking Hallie comes back over to us.
“We are welcome inside. But the beast has to stay outside.” Hallie says.
“What Wolfie? Why?” I ask. Gritting my teeth.
“It could be dangerous.”
“He’s not dangerous.”
“It ripped apart that one-”
“He was protecting me!”
“It is an animal. It is unpredictable.”
I sigh. My shoulders feel heavy. “Okay, but he gets to stay out here somewhere. And I can bring him some food. Good?”
Hallie communicates this to them. They agree to it and it takes a few minutes for me to get Wolfie to stay outside. I know he’s potently dangerous but he saved my life after I saved him from being trapped under rubble. That’s not the action of a simple animal. Reluctantly I follow the lizards inside.
We descend through a network of tunnels and come out in a large cavern. I’ve never seen one so big, it stretches on as far as I can see. The center was dominated by a large lake. Bigger even than the one near Maebh’s cave. Beyond that appears to be some sort of community area. There’s so many of them here, the lizard people. All purple like Tenth. They stop and stare at me as I enter. An old looking female, her scaly skin cracked and weathered reaches out and touches my cheek. My first instinct is to flinch away but I don’t. She mutters something in their language to the others. Then another and another touch my face. I try to back away but they surround me.
“Hey come on guys. What’s the deal?”
“They are drawn to your warmth.” A familiar voice says in my mind.
They part and a familiar face walks towards me.
I rush forward and hug the old woman almost lifting her off the ground. I feel tears well up in my eyes.
I let her go and back away from her. Feeling a bit lightheaded. I stumble around a little till the old woman steadies me.
“Are you okay?”
“It’s just that I haven’t eaten anything in a couple days.”
“Come. We’ll get you some food and water. Then rest awhile.”
She has me lean on her as she leads me through the crowd of onlookers. Hallie floats next to us as we go.
“Thanks for sending Hallie to get me.” I say. “She really saved my butt.”
“Yeah. Sort of the female version of HAL 9000. You know 2001? The movie?”
“I haven't been on Earth for some time Serena.”
“Oh crap. That’s right.”
She looks at the sphere. “I like it. Hallie suits you my friend.”
I look around us as we move through the crowd. There’s somebody missing.
“Where’s Tenth?” I ask.
“She has duties to take care of. I’ll send her to see you later.”
“Cool. Can you make sure Wolfie gets something to eat and drink?”
I smile. Thinking about the last couple days. Finally I’m here with people I consider friends. Maybe things will start getting better.
After eating a pretty formidable meal of strange meats and veggies, at this point I really don’t care where it came from, and then washing it down with some water which the purple lizard people flavor it with some sort of spice. Truthfully it’s not that bad. I tell Maebh all that happened since we were separated. She doesn’t say much. Just nods her head. A serious look on her face. She leaves after I tell her everything. Not saying where she’s going. As I get ready to go to sleep in a little area they set aside for me in a small side cave. Maebh comes back. She tells me that she saw to the feeding of Wolfie. Happy, I curl up and go to sleep.
I wake, not knowing if I dreamed or not or how long I was asleep. I can hear some kind of rhythmic music coming from the main area of the cavern. Hallie floats up from the ground. I didn’t even know she was there.
“Are you feeling better?” She asks.
“Yeah. Much.” I stand up, feeling my joints pop. “What’s going on out there?”
“They are telling their history to the young. They do it through song, dance and spoken word.”
“Oh, wow.” I slip out of the small cave into the main area. I stand in the back of a crowd of onlookers and watch as they reenact what looks like a battle. The battle is part mock fighting, part dance. The participants’ fluid movements are beautiful to behold. Their actions appear timed to the precise second. I wonder if Tenth ever had taken part? She’s certainly graceful enough. After a few minutes the battle ends and an old looking male lizard comes out and stands at the center of the floor. He begins speaking.
Hallie hovers next to me.
“Do you know what he’s saying?” I whisper.
“They are telling the story of the Great Turning. When they were forced to leave the great city of Kuma Torth by the other reptilian races.”
A shiver runs up my spine. Kuma Torth. I spent more than enough time there. Locked away in a cell. Maebh believes like me that the man I met is Hagen. Whatever he’s up to there he needs the Red Hand Maebh stole from him. She hasn’t told me what’s going on yet, but I have a feeling it involves going back to Kuma Torth. As much as I’d like to sit that out, I’m the one who’s going to have to show them where he was. Unless…I look over at the silver sphere floating next to me. I bet she could show them where I’d been.
“Hallie.” I whisper. “You remember the building I jumped from?”
“Good.” I say, maybe I won’t have to go back there.
The old lizard finishes talking and a female lizard comes out of the crowd. She’s dressed in an elaborate looking headdress and robes. She starts singing. Although I can’t understand the song, it has a beautiful mournful quality to it. From the expressions of the audience I can tell they’re all moved by the song.
“What’s the song about?” I ask.
“It tells of their people’s exodus after fleeing the great city. Of how more the half of them died as they looked for a new home.”
“It is good to see you learning our ways Serena.”
Tenth! I spin around to see her standing there. I kiss her on the cheek and she backs away surprised. I feel my face redden.
“What…” She says a little unsure of me.
“Sorry. I’m just happy to see you.”
“Humans show affection by the pressing of their lips.” Hallie chimes in.
Thanks you little silver know-it-all.
“You are strange Serena.” She says.
Is that a little affection I hear in her voice? Or am I reading too much into it?
“So I’ve been told. Still it’s great to see you. After all that happened.”
“Maebh has told me of your escape from the city. Your journey here. You have a great tale to tell your offspring.”
“Kids? No thanks.”
“Come. The Reint wishes to meet with you.”
“Reint?” I ask.
What would their leader want with me? I feel a knot in my stomach like the feeling I got from getting sent to the principal’s office. Usually when someone in charge wants to see you it generally equals bad. Either they want to chew you out for something or kiss your ass and then want you to do something for them. I had the feeling it was going to be the latter. And I had a pretty good idea what it was.
We walk past a large statue of a robed female figure with her arms outstretched as if trying to touch one’s forehead. A few of the lizard people are kneeling in front of the statue.
“Who’s that?” I ask Tenth.
“That is the goddess Isr. The healer. The teacher. The lawgiver. She changed our world.”
“Oh. How should I…You know, be around your leader?”
“Be respectful. But be strong. To be weak is disrespectful to The Reint and yourself.”
I gulped. I don’t know how to act strong. Only be an asshole.
Perhaps sensing my nervousness Tenth puts an arm on my shoulder.
“Do not worry Serena. I shall be there with you.”
She leads me to an area towards the back of the cave. There’s a large tent. Two very scary looking lizards stand in front of the opening. They barely glance at me. Tenth motions for me to enter. I walk past them, feeling like a little Volkswagen beetle caught between two large trucks. I take a deep breath and open the tent flap.
Inside the tent is a large wood table, not far from that is a fur covered bed. Various weapons are proudly laid out on yet another table. The smell of something akin to incense hangs in the air. This Reint character sits at the table watching us as we enter. He’s younger than I thought he’d be. I was picturing someone like the old lizard I saw out there. This one looks older then Tenth, but not real old. From where I stand I can see he’s scared badly in some spots. Tenth bows and says something to him. I start to bow to mimic her but stop. Not wanting to offend him.
He makes a hand gesture and Tenth falls to her knees. She looks up at me with an annoyed look and I drop to my knees.
He starts speaking in their language. Making hand gestures and looking at the both of us. He stops and nods to Tenth.
“He says he’s honored to have a being such as you here.” Tenth says.
Being such as me? Who does he think I am?
“He would take it as a personal favor if you took up this great quest to the lost city” Tenth continues.
My heart skips a couple beats. My face feels flush.
“Great quest? Wait. You want me to go back there right?”
The Reint looks at me bemused.
“Serena calm yourself please.”
“But you weren’t locked away there. You didn’t have that thing attack you! That man there terrifies me. I can’t…I can’t go back there.”
Tenth reaches over and touches my arm.
“You have the strength little sister I know you do. I will be there at your side. We just need to go. To see what our enemy is doing. You have been there. You can show us.”
“But Hallie. The sphere, she’s been there. She could lead you there better than I could.”
The Reint says something in their language.
“It is a manufactured being. No matter who made it, it is not to be trusted. It has no Oth.” Tenth translates.
I look at The Reint. I couldn’t read his scared face. I look over at Tenth. I can see something akin to hope there. It makes my heart break.
I sigh. I can do it. Don’t be scared. Right mom? What Hagen or whoever Mr. White is doing in the city is probably not for the best of this world. I don’t know if it effects Earth. But I can’t take that chance. Besides that Tenth is my friend so is Maebh. I can’t let them down.
“Okay. I’ll go.”
It looked like I was going back there. The city I was willing to kill myself to escape.
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