By Tim ‘Draconi’ Cotten – originally posted May 23 2014
It was a dismal, evil world they had stepped into, despite the beautiful promise that the silvery gateway proffered.
After the gate had successfully connected to the alien destination, the Wayun had quickly moved their surviving numbers to the hostile terrain before terminating the connection, hoping that their speed would offset the Nameless One’s relentless tracking efforts.
Now the gate stood empty, its twin-image on the other side already dead. Yet they had no new destination to attempt and the gate stood like a mute guardian.
Cilinsi hated the cruel world that had become their latest refuge.
The sky was the wrong color – or colors, she corrected herself. Reds and pinks and oranges that clashed loudly. It rained acidic water, collecting in shallow pools on the primitive bedrock exposed in sweeping swaths of wind blasted terrain.
Even now that night was coming and the stars had begun to appear, she felt something was wrong. The alien feeling permeated the night even more strongly than the day.
She, along with a member of the soldier caste, were exploring beyond the tent-camp they had erected around the gate. She stopped suddenly, her impromptu honor guard running into her shoulder as she peered down at a puddle surrounded by what she thought was some sort of black moss, pitch black against the reflective surface.
Crouching down, she looked more closely. To her horror she realized that the ring of black moss was in fact a collection of eagerly slurping slug-like creatures drinking the acid-rain.
They were the same Nameless horrors that had crawled upon the ruins of every Wayun world.
Her stalwart guard held the same shocked reaction. Without pause a quick-scythe sliced downwards towards the small, oozing terrors even as Cilinsi pushed herself back on her haunches.
A blue sphere of energy sprang into existence around the oblivious Nameless creature. The blade was deflected, nearly taking off Cilinsi’s foot as she continued to skitter backwards, away from the pool.
> That won’t work. <
Both turned in surprise towards the merging voice that joined them, seeing a small child with white plumage and piercing red eyes assessing them calmly.
> Hatchling, this is no place for you. <
Cilinsi responded, waving towards the distance.
> Return to the camp. <
>> Cilinsi, secondary gatecrafter of the Ylvi brood, you will heed me. << The child intoned with the voice of Governance, impossible with the loss of their leadership caste in the last massacre.
Suspecting trickery, her guard raised her weapon towards the child before suddenly crumpling to the ground. Cilinsi let out a broadcast of [Panic, danger!]
The child’s merge-voice carried on at a normal level, calm and devoid of emotion. > She is asleep. She will wake in a few minutes. Be calm. <
Cilinsi breathed. > I am calm. What are you? <
> Immaterial. You attempted to harm the creatures here on this world. <
> They are our enemy! <
The child laughed suddenly, her burbling vocalizations belying the coldness of her true voice. > Not yet. Look up, Cilinsi, do the stars seem strange to you? <
> Yes. We noticed that immediately. Many of them are not in their usual places. < Catching up, she became confused. > What do you mean, not yet? <
> You altered the gateway systems of your mothers. This is the world that will becomethe home of your enemies. <
Horror filled her; she couldn’t think or share.
> You are in the past before your race was born. The laws will prevent you from affecting this world in order to preserve your own future interactions with it. <
Cilinsi knelt down to the hatchling child, clasping her tiny hands in her own, pleading, > Is there no escape? Please, help us. <
> Causality must be preserved. < The girl tilted her head for a moment, as though thinking. > I have altered your gateway to take your people to a distant world within this timeline. You must not revisit this place. Do you accept? <
> Yes! Please! < [Hope.]
> Then go. Cilinsi, secondary gatecrafter of the Ylvi. <
> We cannot thank you enough, < The Wayun offered meekly, helping her rousing comrade stand. > We will go now. <
The child that was not a child nodded as they moved away, then called out in the shared voice.
> They will call themselves the Xor. We will meet again. <