Chapter 5: Commotion on the Ocean
It had been about a week since the expedition had set sail from Atlantis, and things had been looking up for the team. They had no problems with the ship so far, but the weather had slowly gone from nice and sunny to overcast and windy; Cielot and the rest of the team were hoping this didn’t progress into a storm. Parthalus and Cielot had been discussing where to keep the new monster if they can capture one; while Parthalus had thought about using the large, underground hangar that holds what remains of Atlantean aircraft, Cielot thought otherwise, as he’d rather not risk it losing its sight being stuck in the dark for who-knows how long, as well as some unwitting rookie pilot possibly becoming its next meal.
Cielot had, unfortunately, no clue yet as to where keep it, as his mind had been more focused on something that echoed more beauty than chaos. He had barely known the woman Firia, but could not help but feel love-struck at the very thought of her. He thought back to their conversation on the bow of the ship, and how he was surprised to find out that they grew up in the same city and actually lived just a few blocks away from each other. Then as they talked more and more, getting to know each other better, she closed their faces’ distances, her lips closer to his…
“Hey, wake up lovebird!” exclaimed Cielot as he slapped his friend out of it. “We need to think of where to place a new beast, and I can’t do that with your head up in the clouds!”
Cielot wanted to lash out, but booms of thunder echoed from above. The scientists turned to see jagged bolts of lightning decorating the dark skies from the window. But something seemed…different. Lightning bolts rarely go straight down from the clouds, and never come so quick in succession so close to each other.
“This has to be the weirdest lightning storm I’ve ever seen” said Parthalus, a look of curiosity on his face.
“Maybe it’s normal here” replied Cielot. “Whatever it is, let’s hope it doesn’t begin to rain.”
At that very moment, it started pouring.
Turning to his friend, Parthalus pinched the bridge of his nose and sighed, “I hate you.”
As night fell, the storm progressed from simple rain to the winds picking up and causing the ship to rock back and forth amongst the waves. Orzaeus and Rasidios went down to the cargo-hold to tie down equipment and prevent any damages.
Once everything was secured, Orzaeus turned to Rasidios, “Do you think this crazy plan of theirs will work?”
“I hope so, my friend, I really do” sighed Rasidios. “There’s not many options to choose from when you consider everything that’s happened with the Shadow and, if what they say about the Guardian project is true, then the options we have really only come down to this.”
“In that case, I hope whatever we tackle can handle the job, because if this fails, we’re doomed. Hell, even if it succeeds we’re doomed.”
With an eyebrow cocked in confusion, the veteran asked, “What makes you say that?”
“Think about it: What happens if the monster we bring back to Atlantis fails? Or worse yet, we can’t control it? Not only are people going to be slaughtered, we’ll be held responsible. If it succeeds, then there will be the view that, since it was able to wipe out the Shadow and possibly the Guardian, it is an even bigger threat than the ones it stopped, not to mention the conspiracy theorists that think we’ll use it as a threat to have things our way,” stated the hunter as he looked up from a crate containing different types of weapons and equipment.
“I hate to say it Orzaeus, those are good points, but I think you’re over-thinking what can happen once we return to Atlantis. We don’t know how the people will react, but I say if it’s for the good of Atlantis, I don’t care. Perhaps you should get some rest, it doesn’t seem like you’ve rested since yesterday” replied Rasidios as he finished tying down a crate of various animal pheromones.
“Yea you’re right, but it’s the curse of being a hunter; you can never let your guard down in uncharted territory, lest you become the hunted.”
As the two of them left the cargo-hold to the deck of the ship, Rasidios took off to the bridge as Orzaeus made way to his room. The former soldier stood by the window as he watched the lighting crash around the skies before seeing large bolts dash down from the heavens to the oceans. That’s unusual, he thought. It was almost like they were…trying to hit something.
“Strange, isn’t it?” came a voice in the corner, startling the soldier. But he put his personal knife back in its slot on his belt when he realized it was Firia.
“You scared the hell out of me!” he replied lightheartedly. “Why are you still up, Firia?”
“Would you rather get there and back ok, or steer this boat in circles and wind up getting us lost?”
Rasidios simply shrugged and responded “Fair Enough” with a chuckle. He expected a similar response from the young woman, but instead saw just a smile that quickly faded. She then stared out the window with a long sigh, and the veteran could see something was up and asked “Is something wrong?”
“Noo….” Then she noticed the look on the older man’s face and looked down, like a child caught in a lie by their parents. And for a moment, all that could be heard were the songs of whales, songs whose lyrics echoed love and sorrow.” I think I might have grown feelings toward Cielot. And it’s just…why is it that of all times I might have found someone, it’s when everything we know is soon to end in bloodshed?
What was this, therapy night? “It could be that, subconsciously, you’re seeking someone or something to hold onto while an end seems to be rapidly approaching you and everything you know after spending your life charting the continent and cataloging its environments or…do you hear that?”
The two stopped talking and listened closely when they could hear what sounded like shouts and chants. Peaking out of the window, Rasidios saw in the clouded moonlight what appeared to be a small boat, and he could make out at least eight to ten people. Six of them appeared to be armed.
Rasidios jested, “Guess Orzaeus won’t get his rest after all,” before bolting to get the others.
“All hands on deck! All hands on deck! We have a situation inbound!” Rasidios barked down at the bunk beds below, earning a not-too-surprising shout of “Damn it!” from Orzaeus as he rushed to the cargo hold and began to untie the weapon boxes.
“What’s going on? Are we about to hit something?” inquired a sleepy Parthalus, a stumbling Cielot behind him. Hurrying to the bridge, they could see the small boat edging near the starboard bow, brandished weapons shining in the lightning flashes.
“Everyone get down to the cargo hold and arm yourselves! We must protect the ship!” Shouted Cielot
“Way ahead of ya, buddy,” barged in Orzaeus, a gauntlet on his right hand armed with blades on the wrist. “Hurry up and grab something, I just heard something land on the starboard deck.”
In the cargo hold, Cielot and Parthalus ran to the nearest container and grabbed what they could. Parthalus settled for a silvery-blue rifle with glowing purple lines running from the muzzle to the handgrip. Clicking off the safety, he smiled while Cielot got his hands on a bow and a quiver of arrows with various tips.
“Anything left for me?” questioned Firia. That’s when Cielot turned and the look of concern could not have been any clearer.
“I don’t want you involved in this. Find a place to hide while it’s still calm.”Seeing her ready to snap at him, he quickly added “Please, I don’t want anything to happen to you.”
Reluctantly she finally conceded, “Fine.” But before she made her way for a safe place she turned back towards Cielot and worriedly told him “Be careful.”
As she stomped away, both scientists made their way to the deck, Parthalus shaking his head at his friend and his choice of timing a love stricken predicament. Reaching the top step, they were greeted by a hand slowly closing from Rasidios, signaling for them to stop. He then pointed for Parthalus to take the bridge to take out any of the intruders who tried to go around the bridge. Cielot stood at the stairway in case any made it passed Orzaeus and Rasidios.
As the two of them edged near the deck, footsteps ran across the deck, halting them momentarily before three of the intruders entered only to be welcomed with a well landed flurry of punches from the hunter, Rasidios right behind him with a short sword, cracks of electricity sparking off of the hand guard. As slivers of moonlight peaked through the cloudy sky, the Atlanteans could see that the boarders were very much like them, yet not like them; they were lighter skinned, armed with weapons of wood, stone, and iron and, not too surprisingly, spoke a dialect they could not understand. But whatever it was they were saying didn’t matter; they were armed, hostile, and attempting to board the ship. The whirring sounds followed by pops and screams of agony from the bridge told Cielot that Parthalus had his area locked down.
“Έλα σε μένα, αδερφέ!” One of the hostiles shouted as he charged at Cielot, sneaking from behind its comrade who had found himself skewered on Orzaeus’ gauntlet blade. Snatching an arrow from the quiver, Cielot steadied his aim and let the arrow fly into his attacker’s chest, knocking him right off his feet. Seconds later he clawed at himself, screaming as the area the arrow hit smoked and burned a hole right through his chest. Upon closer inspection, the arrow had been tipped with a small, impact-release canister that must have been filled with acid. Whoever tipped these arrows must have been prepared for any…
“μπάσταρδε” Was the only thing he heard as he was tackled to the floor by an unchecked boarder, blocking his knife with the bow. He could smell his attacker’s foul breath, feel it warming the air between them but at the same time sending chills down his spine. Gritting his teeth as the knife drew nearer and nearer, his legs blocked from making any attempt to throw his attacker off…
No sooner did he begin thinking it was the end for him did Cielot feel his foe’s body fly into the wall, as well blood splatter across this face. Looking up he could see a bitter Firia wielding what looked like a flanged mace dripping with what was undoubtedly his attacker’s blood.
“The next time I want to help, let me, because apparently you don’t listen when someone says ‘be careful’.” Firia shot with a mix of venom and caring. Before Cielot could retort, he heard Orzaeus shouting in his direction with what sounded like a tone of victory.
“Oy, lovebirds, save your bickering for later and get over here! We’ve got their two ringleaders to surrender and…. For the love of all that is sacred, what’s that smell?”
It smelt like something had been burnt and left to rot. Cielot and Firia joined the others on deck, noting that the remaining two from the boarding party were being kept under watch by Parthalus and his rifle. Hours had passed and the sun had just started to rise; though it was still cloudy and the waves still somewhat rough, the storm had died down to just light winds. Firia let out a gasp that caught the team’s attention and pointed towards the bow. They couldn’t believe their eyes as, through a veil of fog, they could see a beach; they were finally going to make landfall on You-Rup! As Firia ran to grab her map and pen, Parthalus asked her to also go down to the cargo-hold and grab his translator device so that Rasidios could interrogate the intruders.
The veteran turned to his comrades, “It’s odd, isn’t it? They attack us for what appears to be no reason, and come from out of nowhere. Odder yet, they speak different dialects from one another, yet understand each other. It’s just a guess, but I think this might be an expedition party from somewhere on this continent.”
“Maybe that’s how they greet newcomers? Honestly, I say we wipe the floor with them like we did to their friends…which reminds me, we should probably clean that hallway before we get home. Guaranteed the King, or whoever owns the vessel, will skin us if they find the hallways littered with blood and guts.” Orzaeus snorted.
Cielot turned his attention to the coast of the continent. The haze was thick over the beach, accompanied by a frenzied cloud of gulls. The smell of rotting flesh continued to hit his nostrils like a stone to the face, and it dawned on him where it came from. He squinted to try and see what it was, but he didn’t need to…not anymore.
“Orzaeus, go get Firia and tell her to forget the map. She’s going to want to see this, fast. Hell, you all are.”
“Why’s that, old friend?” asked Parthalus.
Pointing to the beach, he responded with a grin, “Because I think our prayers have been answered”. Rasidios and Parthalus, who didn’t stop pointing the gun at their captives, noticed the excitement in Cielot’s voice. Sure they were about to land, but it couldn’t possibly be that incredible. It wasn’t until they saw Orzaeus’ eyes grow wide and rush to get their cartographer that it was clear the situation was more than they thought. Tying up the prisoners,they joined him by the bow. Seconds later, Orzaeus and Firia arrived, and the latter’s jaw dropped as she saw what surely everyone else was seeing as the boat drew nearer: on the misty beach, feasting on a scalded whale carcass, were beasts of myth, creatures of legendary power…
They were Dragons.
UltramanGoji wrote:Now you know, and knowing is half the battle!
And the other half is fought with a shotgun!