The Red Hand Part 40
by Shane Migliavacca
The Red Hand Part Forty Strands
I’m falling. Through the black void. Pieces of Hagen’s tower all around me. Large chunks of debris, from the temple as well rush past me. Above me I see the large eye fading in the distance. The rip in reality sealing itself back up again. Back to whatever dimension it came from. Maebh called it The Far Away.
Am I dead now?
I remember telling the Red Hand to fight Hagen. Charging my ax, waiting for him to blast me. There was a great explosion. Then intense whiteness. I woke up in darkness. Falling through the void. How long have I been falling? Seconds? Minutes? Hours? Maybe this is death.
I didn’t see what happened to Hagen or the Red Hand after the blast. I haven’t seen any sign of the here. Did I stop him? Or did the world end? That peaceful feeling in death I thought of. I feel it now. I close my eyes. Maybe I’ll fade out. Dissipate into nothingness. After all I’ve been through that would feel nice. To just go away.
I slip in and out of consciousness as I fall. Dreaming. Of the house I grew up in. My mom and dad are there. But there are other in the house. A great spider lives in my bedroom closet. Whispering things at night. A strange old woman lives next door. She keeps a large aquarium filled with mufti-colored lizards. They crawl around on beautiful glowing crystals.
I feel something next to me. My eyes flutter open. There’s a man here with me. Hagen! He’s still alive. We struggle as we fall through the darkness. His hands wrap around my throat. My hands tear at him reaching for his throat, but every time I get a good grip he turns into smoke. Blowing away from me. Then returning to start the whole thing over again. We fight like this for a while and each time the outcome is the same. Till finally he goes and doesn’t come back. Leaving me alone again. Falling through the void.
Somewhere out there, in the darkness someone says my name. At least I think they did.
There it is again. Something familiar about it. That voice.
I try to call out but my throat betrays me. Only a hoarse whimper escapes my lips. A hand reaches out of the darkness and takes mine. A soft purple hand. It pulls me along.
“Come see my garden sister!”
It’s Sixth. She’s standing at the center of a lush garden. I am dead. She’s come to take me away. I’m ready. Take me away from all the death. Let somebody else deal with the war. I just want to rest. Be a peace. Is that so selfish? I think I’ve earned it.
I’m lying in the tall grass. Is this part of Sixth’s garden?
“There you are!”
Sixth comes over. Kneeling down next to me.
“Will you stay?”
She smiles. Filling my heart with feeling of happiness. I want to tell her I will stay, yet I can’t form the words. Moving my lips, nothing comes out. Is it possible I could stay?
Sixth reaches out with her hand, offing it to me.
“Take my hand Serena. Stay in the garden with me.”
I lift my hand up off the ground. Reaching towards my friend. Mere inches separate us. Inches that stretch out for miles. As I stain, trying to take her hand they grab me. Dirt covered arms reach up from the ground tugging at me. Grabbing my arms, fingers tangle in my hair, fingernails digging into my flesh. The ground beneath me crumbles way to a white void. The whiteness engulfs me.
I become aware of someone standing over me. Their face in a haze as my eyesight, blurry at first, begins to bring the face into focus. They see me and smile. It’s a purple lizard woman. She seems young. The girl hovers over me for a few minutes, talking to me asking me how I feel. I stare up at her dumbstruck. Not really sure if I’m okay or where I am. I try to tell her this but my voice still refuses to work. The girl tells me not to worry. That I’m healing. Getting better. She goes. Tending to other wounded. Leaving me with my thoughts.
Lying on a bed. Everything comes back to me. I’m Serena Van Allen. Transported to an alien world. I’ve killed and I’ve lost. I feel it all over again. Sixth, Maebh dying. Me helpless to do anything about it. Why couldn’t they’d let me go. I sob silently. Self-consciously wiping away the tears before anybody sees me.
After a while an older male healer comes around. Bringing with him, Tenth. As he tends to me, applying a compress to my sore throat. I look around at the others here. Wounded purple warriors and what I’m guessing are guardians. Tenth tells me I’ve been out for a week. In a deep slumber. I learn I’m at one of their smaller communities. It was closet to Kuma Torth. Thus, making it ideal to take the wounded. After I entered the sphere surrounding the tower, the battle raged in the streets. But as the sphere started to expand, destroying everything in its path. Smashing through the temple. The battle stopped. The Imperium forces retreated. The war for now has ceased. With the Imperium pulling out, heading back to their territory. The losses on both sides were pretty bad. Des was among the fallen that day. As was The Reint. He died leading the assault on Kuma Torth. There’s to be some kind of election process to determine his successor. On this planet, it most likely means trial by combat. Her brother Seventh is one of those in the running. Good for him.
From what Tenth says as they were withdrawing from the city. The sphere expanding rapidly. It stopped. Massive cracks appeared on the surface of it, then boom. I was found in the rubble of the temple after. Surprising that I wasn’t crushed under the ruble. Tenth points to my hair. I run my fingers through it, letting strands of it dangle in front of my face. My hair appears to have turned white! It was like that when I was found, she says. There was something else found with me in the ruins. It like me was brought back here. From the way Tenth describes it to me, it sounds like a cocoon of some sort. About my size, made of a strange fibrous material. They’re keeping it isolated and under guard.
Could it be Hagen? There was no trace of him after the blast. Nor the Red Hand or Maebh. I try to get out of bed. Wanting to see this thing. But my body is so sore, I can barely move without lots of pain. The healer and Tenth both holler at me. Easing me back into bed.
I end up spending the next couple days in bed. The healers trending to me. Tenth visits me every day. My voice gradually returns. Going from painful cackle to hoarse whisper. My body aching less. They give me a cane to use. The healers feel I should start getting around. I agree. Because if I have to still be alive, I don’t want to be stuck in a bed the whole damn time. I want to go see that cocoon. My body has other ideas. And it’s another couple days before I’m walking very far. With Tenth for support I make my way to where they’re keeping it. A medium sized area. Sort of reminds me of my room back at the large caves. Two guardians stand watch. I manage to hobble over to it, despite Tenth’s protests I leave it alone. I stare at it a bit. What could be in there? Hagen? Some last attempt by him at revenge. A horrible beast created by him? As I look at it I notice something.
“It’s breathing.” I go back over to Tenth. Jolts of pain race up and down, through my back and legs. Making me Winch as I walk.
“We noticed that too.” She takes my arm. “But we can ponder that in your new room.”
“Room?” She leads me down the hall. I feel like an old woman as I lean on her.
“Yes. The healers said your well enough to be on your own. Although they’ll still stop by daily to help with your pain. In due time it should disappear. I will be there for you too.”
That’s something anyway. I won’t have the healers watching me all the time. Won’t have to worry about the other patients being around. The thing is, that first night alone was more then I bargained for. Lying there in pain, with just my thoughts. I’m assaulted by images of home. A home I’ll never get back to now. The Red Hand is gone. As is Maebh…Maebh. I see the old woman. I failed her. Like I failed Sixth. Despite everything, I couldn’t save them. After tossing and turning for what must be hours, I doze off. Waking up to see another familiar face. Third. My old classmate from Ganor’s class. Ganor. Wonder how the old man did on his long walk?
Despite a sad miserable night, I smile. “How are you?” I sit up. Trying to get up to give her a hug. I settle for her bending down and hugging me as I sit up.
“I am good. I heard you were hurt.” She sits down next to me.
“Isn’t that bad. I’m getting better.” Knowing Third made it, that’s something to be thankful for.
“Your hair.” She looks awestruck.
“Yeah, like it?” I twirl it around my fingers. “Nobody knows how it happened.”
We talk for quite some time. About Sixth. And our experiences since we last saw one another. She’s also got news about some of the others. Ninth and Wolfie have become fast friends. They’re stationed back at the mines. Wolfie, the beast I saved. Wish you were here boy.
She takes me to get something to eat. Later on, she goes. Having to get back to our old unit. It’s no surprise I got booted after taking off. That reminds me, wonder what happened to Nasr? I’ll have to ask Tenth. Before she goes, Third asks if I need help getting back to my room. I tell her I’m fine. I want to walk around a bit. Find Tenth.
After a little wandering, I find her in the cocoon room.
I ask her about my old buddy Nasr. Seems after the cease fire, he was released. From what she tells me, he headed back to his homeland. Probably bitching the whole time. I stay there with her for some time. We stand guard over the cocoon. For whatever reason I decide to touch it. Drawn too it. As my fingers brush over the surface there’s a pulse of energy. The thing starts to pulsate. Something presses at it from inside. That something starts pushing through the surface. A hand, covered in a thick clear fluid. Soon another hand follows it. Ripping through the fiber of the cocoon.
Tenth and I stand ready. For whatever thing emerges. To our surprise it’s a young woman. No more than seventeen or eighteen. Human in appearance. Completely nude. With long, curly blonde hair. Tall with piercing green eyes. After freeing herself from the thing, the girl looks at us. She smiles before passing out. I stay with her as Tenth goes to get a healer.
When the healer arrives, we take this girl to the hospital area. Clean her up and let her rest. I notice her left hand bears a striking tattoo. The hand is red from the tip of the fingers to the wrist. At the center of its back is an eye. The Red Hand.
I stay, keeping a vigil as the girl sleeps. Hallie joins me. It’s been a little while since I saw the little sphere.
I doze off for a few minutes. I wake suddenly, feeling someone touch me. I look over to see the girl, awake. She smiles at me.
“Serena.” She says.
That voice. “You’re the Red Hand?”
“Yes. I fought him. Like you said. Hagen used everything he had against you. Burning himself up. I broke free. Found Maebh, her body lived still, though her spirit had left. I merged with it. I want to live now. To be like you.”
This girl. Once a weapon. Used by others. Wants to live. I can help her. Teach her to be human. After all I’m the one that told her to live. To choose to be free.
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