The Red Hand Part 35
by Shane Migliavacca
The Red Hand Part Thirty Five Power of The Hand
Everything became nothing. For a second there was nothingness. That second seemed to go on for an eternity or two. I came to except the nothing. It felt peaceful. Comfortable. Then everything came crashing back. Reality popped back into existence around us. I feel a cold wind on my sweaty face, chilling me. Tenth and I are kneeling in front of Hagen on the deck of the large enemy warship. High up over the desert. Around us are warriors of the Imperium, both blue and red. They stand at attention. By the looks on their faces, they’re as surprised by our sudden appearance here as I am. When they realize who we are they move towards us. Weapons at the ready.
Hagen raises a hand. “Hold. These are our guests.” He says that last bit with an amused chuckle. Despite the mask covering his face, I swear he’s smiling.
And why shouldn’t he be? He’s got the Red Hand now. Joined to his disgusting skinned chest. With just a snap of his fingers he brought us here. The power that thing has. That he’s got now. Yet as he gives orders to the crew, Hagen appears a little shaken. A little strained. How much did it take out of him, bringing us here? Or could it be something else?
As he’s talking to the warriors, my hand brushes against the ax. Tied to my belt. I could. I could bury this right in his damn face. As my hand tightens around the handle, another hand touches mine. Gripping it firmly. My muscles tense. The guards will kill me no doubt. But maybe I can take the bastard with me.
Then, a hand touches mine, squeezing it. I look over to see Tenth. She shakes her head. Giving me a stern look. I feel the tension drain from my body. She’s right, I can’t do it. I’d never make it to him before he could bring his power to bear on me, maybe Tenth too.
He turns towards us. His eyes fix on me through the narrow slits of his mask. “It’s good to see you survived girl. This planet can test one’s mettle to the fullest.”
He makes a small gesture with his hand. I feel my fingers open, releasing my ax. It flies up into the air, hovering in front of Hagen.
“Can’t have you holding onto this. I remember how you treated my hospitality.” He says, holding up his hand. The one I stabbed with a fork, before making my escape. “I tried to be kind to you and you repaid me by acting like a savage.” He takes the ax out of the air. “A fine weapon. Perhaps I should us it on one of your hands.”
With that I’m pulled off my feet. Standing in front of Hagen. My right arm raises up in front of me, stretching out, so my hand is a few inches from Hagen. I try to pull it away, but it doesn’t respond to my will.
Tenth stands. “Let her go.” She goes for her crystal dagger. I hear the hum of the energy blade as she moves towards him.
Hagen sighs. “Must you?”
Tenth stops dead in her tracks. Her hand with the dagger quivers as it moves. First moving towards Hagen, then stopping and moving towards my outstretched hand.
“No.” Tenth says. Her voice strained. “Don’t.”
Her hand drops down and moves under my hand. The tip of the energy blade burning the back of it.
I look at Tenth. “Don’t fight him. Let the bastard have his fun.”
Tenth’s hand quivers. “No. I can’t stop the blade.” Her whole body quakes as she tries to fight his control.
The blade from the dagger extends. The energy burning my hand. The pain is excruciating. Trying not to scream in pain, to give him the satisfaction of me begging. I hold it in, making a grunting sound. Fighting to stay conscious, I watch in horror as the blade’s tip comes up through the other side of my hand. This is too much and finally I do scream. Loud and long. But I don’t once beg him. Instead I swear, every word I can think of. Till at last Hagen appears happy with my “punishment.” He lets Tenth go. The energy blade dissipating. Exhausted from the struggle, she falls over, landing on her knees. The dagger hilt clattering to the deck. I try to go to her, but the pain from the hole in my hand is too much. All I can do is hunch over, holding my arm. Spasms run through my body as the pain takes hold of me.
Hagen takes my hand, inspecting the wound. “Now you know great pain. What did it show you? What truth did you learn?”
“That-That I want to hurt you, till you beg me. Beg me to kill you.”
He chuckles, amused no doubt by my empty threat. “Then you were enlightened.”
Hagen clasps my injured hand tight with both of his. Sending a new tidal wave of pain through my arm. Pain that quickly fades. Leaving a warm feeling in its absence. He let’s go of my hand and I pull back from him.
Looking at it, the wound is gone. In its place a jagged scar. I flex my hand and it feels a little stiff, but alright.
“I’ve healed it. The scar, let it be a reminder.” He says, appearing a little shaken.
I go to Tenth, kneeling down next to my fallen friend. “Are you okay?”
She nods. “I am truly sorry sister.”
I show her my healed hand. “Don’t sweat it. Besides, it wasn’t your fault.”
We help each other stand. Both of us beat. Tenth leans against me and I against her.
“If you can do that to my hand.” I say. “Why not heal yourself?”
Hagen’s hand trembles a little. He strokes his chin. “My dear, it would be a simple thing. Do you wonder why I look like this?” He asks, pulling off one of his gloves. Exposing a raw, skinless hand. “That painting in the house. The one you passed through. The canvas was made from my flesh. That and my son’s. He gave his life to imbue the painting with life.”
He pulls off the other glove. Revealing a normal looking hand. “This was his hand. He cut it off so that I could have two again. Part of his still lives within it. His faith in my cause was total. This is why I don’t use the hand’s power on myself. To do so would cheapen the sacrifices made.”
“Your cause?” I ask, feeling Tenth’s weight press against me.
“I saw so much violence and stupidity growing up on Earth. Here it is the same. I wish to enlighten all of creation. To show them there is so much more. By showing them the one who built everything at the center of creation. And thereby enlighten them.”
Hagen orders a couple of the warriors to escort Tenth and I below deck. One red and one blue. We’re led below decks, down winding corridors, lower and lower into the belly of the warship. We are taken to a small holding cell. The red skinned guard closes the door. Taking a long look at us before leaving.
I go over to the door, making sure we’re alone. Looking through the bars. Although I know it’s pointless, I try the door, locked tight of course.
“I was hoping Maebh would be here.” I say, resting my head on the bars.
Tenth sits on a wood bench. “I believe she is dead. Killed by our enemy.”
“No.” I say forcefully. “She’s alive. Gotta be.” I sit down next to her.
“I’m sorry Serena.” She takes my hand. “We must prepare ourselves for that outcome. As well as our own fate.” Her face is haggard, her eyes looking away from me. Down at the floor.
I touch Tenth’s face. “Hey, you’re giving up? You?”
“No.” Her eyes meet mine. “Being realistic. Now that he has the Hand, his power dwarfs anything we could hope to do.”
“I’m not so sure, did you see how he acted? When he used the Hand’s power?”
“I did. Like he was weakened.”
I smile, feeling confidence grow inside me. “Or the Hand is fighting him.”
“Yes.” Tenth answers, I can see her face lighten up. As she thinks about this new bit of info. “If we could make him us the Hand for something, something massive-”
“or use it a lot in a short period.” I add. “We might have a fighting chance.”
Tenth stands. “Now, to get out of here.” She walks over to the door, studying it.
“How do we pull that one off?” I ask, stretching out on the bench. Might as well get comfortable. We’ll probably be here awhile.
I doze off. Walking up I get a little confused. Staring up at an unfamiliar ceiling. Then I remember Hagen getting the Red Hand and taking us to the ship. I’d hoped it was all a bad dream. No such luck girl. I glance over to the other bench. Tenth is taking a nap too.
I sit up. There’s a sharp jolt of pain in my legs. My damn muscles are cramped from sleeping on the bench. There’s no window of any kind in the cell. Is it still day? How long did I sleep? My stomach grumbles from hunger. Is my whole body turning on me now?
I stand. Limping a little as I work the cramp out. I peek out the bars.
“Yo! Anybody out there?” I ask. Maybe they forgot about us. “I’m getting hungry in here.”
“I feel worse after sleeping.” Tenth rises from the bench. She yawns. “What did you say?”
“I was trying to see if there’s anyone around out there.” I press my face against the bars. “Hello? Anyone? I’m hungry!”
Tenth comes over, standing behind me. “I’m quite famished myself.”
From somewhere down the hall comes the clang of metal, then something falling to the floor. Followed by swearing.
“What? What is this commotion now?” A voice asks.
A short, old looking orange lizard steps into view in front of the cell. He cradles a few metal pots in one hand. In the other he holds a large wooden spoon.
“What are you carrying on about huh? Little pest?” He points the spoon at me.
I have to suppress a laugh. “I’m hungry, she is too.” I point over my shoulder at Tenth. “Can we get some food?”
“Food? Food?” He pokes at us with the spoon. “Griffin do this! Griffin do that! Bhah! Everyone always demanding this! Demanding that! When does Griffin get anything? Huh? Huh? I should turn you two into a nice stew.”
He walks away talking to himself. Tenth and I share a glance.
“He’s more terrifying then Hagen.” I say. With that we start laughing. Releasing all the pent-up tension.
After a few minutes the old lizard returns. Holding two small bowls. He passes them between the bars. “It’s not much. All Griffin could get. Those big brutes eat and eat. Like a pack of wild volds.”
I look at the bowl. It looks like some sort of stew or soup. Hot steam rises off it.
“Go on! Go on before it gets cold. Griffin did not poison it.”
I take a little sip. The heat scalding my tongue a little.
“Fool!” He snaps. “Blow on it a little first!”
“Sorry. Right.” I blow on it before sipping it. It’s quite tasty. Definitely soup. Between a couple sips I thank the old lizard.
“Yes. Yes. Couldn’t take you moaning. Of course, they put the kitchen on the same floor as the cells. Have to listen to all the prisoners moaning. Griffin is being punished. For what Griffin doesn’t know.”
He walks off down the hall talking to himself again. Tenth and I finish our little bowls of soup in silence.
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