Heya, friend, I’m glad you’re back for another installment of my ongoing web novel Worlds Rising: Rebellion!
Again, let me apologize for updating late. If you haven’t yet, please read yesterday’s post for more details. Other than that, let’s jump right in with the next episode. Have fun! <3
By the way, if you are new to my story, please consider starting with Chapter 1 🙂
So, what happened last? Abbida and her companions have made it to the ship. Or, well, what remains of it. Whatever they’d been expecting–what they’ve actually found is a wreck. And only half of it at that. A gigantic wreck, promising of a technology far more advanced than Abbida could ever have imagined, but nevertheless there is nothing to be afraid of now. Or so it seems…
From above, she heard Cole rummage in the wreck. He hadn’t stopped to watch her climb, having full confidence in her abilities. Well, then, so should she. Breathing in deeply, she reached up, groping for the rope when something whipped past her face, white-hot. Abbida squealed and almost let go.
“Don’t move! Next shot will hit the mark,” a woman barked.
It wasn’t Rona.
Worlds Rising: Rebellion
Chapter 8, Part 1
Abbida froze, tightening her fingers around the rope, for fear of slipping off. Her heart was pounding, her imagination running wild with images of the next shot burning holes into her body, maiming or killing her.
Rona had been right! The Conquerors had been watching them all along, and now they were going to take them… wherever. Would she end up in a prison camp? Had the entire trip been for nothing? All the suffering? The death of their poor ox? Abbida squeezed her eyes shut, trying to breathe more evenly. She wasn’t going to survive this if she panicked.
Dearly hoping for Cole to stay put, she wondered what had happened to Tarek. Was he hiding? Or had the woman already found and subdued him? Was he lying somewhere in the shrubs, injured or… dead? A new rush of adrenalin made her break out in sweat, her hands slipping. She cramped her fists and held on for dear life. What about Rona? She had better not come back to check on them just now!
“Who are you? Who sent you?” the woman called up.
Abbida’s thoughts jumbled. The question didn’t make sense! She obviously came from the village, how could the stranger not see that? But if she really didn’t know–was it wise to give herself away?
“I asked you a question!”
“I’m… Abbida,” she stammered. “I come from the village about two days from here.”
“I know where you’re from! I asked who sent you.” There was a small cracking noise. “The gun is armed and aiming at your left hand.”
“Your left or mine?” Abbida blurted, before she could stop herself. Swallowing, she resisted the urge to pull either hand away. The woman wanted names? She didn’t have any! There was only one other person she knew to be involved in all of this, but how could that be of any help in this situation?
“I’m counting to three. One… two…!”
“That would be Ashok!”
“Where is he? We were supposed to meet here. Why the change of plan?”
Perplexed, Abbida almost let go of the rope. She finally dared peep over her shoulder and found the stranger standing a few paces away. Too far to even attempt jumping at her. Not that Abbida seriously considered it, with the gun aiming at her.
The woman wore the uniform of a soldier, without the helmet to hide her face. Her features were as delicate as nothing Abbida had ever seen in a human being. In the twilight of the jungle’s overgrowth her skin shone like silk. Alert almond eyes seemed to glow with an inert vibrance. Her mouth was firmly set, her stance hinting of well controlled energy that might burst out given the slightest excuse. She wasn’t tall, her overall appearance slender and graceful. Like a fairy of the old tales. If she was their contact, that might explain why Ashok wouldn’t even look at any other women.
“I said–where is he?” the woman demanded again. “Don’t make me count to three!”
“I don’t know! We left without him. I thought, he might catch up with us here.”
“If that were true, how could you and your companions even find this place?”
“I really have no idea. I shouldn’t even be here!”
Barely able to hold on any longer, Abbida was blinking rapidly to keep the sweat from getting into her eyes. She was debating whether or not to ask if she might be allowed to climb down when suddenly she heard movement overhead. The woman jerked up her gun and shot. A hot bolt crackled past Abbida’s head and through the leaves. Cole gave off a grunt and fell down hard. “Cole!”
“Cole! Say something!”
“He’s okay,” the woman said, still looking like a fairy–a deadly one.
“I swear, if you killed him…!”
“He’s only stunned. If you climb down, I can go get your friend.”
Abbida felt like spitting at her instead, but her mouth was dry. Unable to hold on any longer, she obliged. Sweaty palms made her lose her grip, and she chafed her hands sliding down. As soon as she dared, she jumped and landed in a crouch.
“Easy, now,” the woman said, unblinking. “No sudden movements. Hands where I can see them.”
Again Abbida obliged, grinding her teeth. The woman indicated to the side with her chin and Abbida hunched down as told by the stump of a dead tree.
“Good. Now, I will extricate your friend from his predicament. You stay put. Don’t get any stupid ideas.”
Uncertain of how to react, Abbida watched the woman holster her gun and shinny up the rope as if it were a daily exercise. Upon reaching the bottom of the wreck she grabbed hold of the ledge and pulled herself up.
“Is he all right? Is he breathing?!”
“I told you, he is only unconscious. This kind of charge won’t kill a sturdy guy like him.”
Abbida let out a long breath. Then another thought made her jump to her feet: how was this petite woman going to lift Cole up, much less bring him back to the ground? “You’re not just going to topple him over the ledge, are you?!”
“Nonsense! If I had wanted to kill him, I would have used a deadly charge to begin with!”
Abbida clenched her fists. This was ridiculous. Instead of waiting around while their attacker was preoccupied, she should run and get help. Where were Rona and Tarek? They must have overheard them by now! From above, she heard movement and some shuffling around, then the woman said, “Come on now, little birdy, open your eyes…”
Cole groaned, then surged up with a startled noise. Abbida couldn’t see them now, but judging from the sound of soles sliding over the wreck’s floor, the thrashing and grunting, she guessed they were grappling. Something–or somebody– crashed hard against a wall.
“No way, my friend, you’d only hurt yourself with that!” the woman said, panting.
There was more grappling, followed by a thump, then Cole groaned and called, “Alright, alright! Don’t shoot!”
There was a moment of pause, then the woman said, “After you.”
Abbida craned her neck. Cole’s feet came dangling over the ledge, followed by his legs and the rest of him. Carefully, he lowered himself to the ground, favoring his leg with the old injury. There was a new gash running across his temple, his left eye swelling and turning dark as Abbida was watching. Swallowing hard, she said, “What did she do?”
He only narrowed his eyes and said nothing.
The woman’s looming figure appeared in the wreck’s opening, her weapon drawn.
“Sit. Both of you. Hands to your heads. You better believe I shoot faster than you can run. Even when climbing.”
Cole clenched his teeth, not budging.
“I said. Sit. Down!”
Thank you for reading!
If you’re looking forward to the second part of this chapter, I post updates around the 10th, 20th and 30th of the month here in Joey’s Café.
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