Earth - Chapter Two

This serial is presented in draft form and will be updated each Thursday. Your comments are always welcome!

Ch 1 ~

Chloe came awake with a start, not sure what had awakened her. Something wasn't right. Something . . .

Throwing off her covers, she got out of bed and padded barefoot down the short hall to her mother's room. Everything seemed in order - Tierra did not appear to be in distress although her breathing seemed somewhat erratic.

As Chloe stood trying to decide whether she should wake her mother for a dose of the precious medicine, a hand shot out from beneath the covers to grip her arm.

"A ship!" Tierra's eyes were fever bright as she looked up at her daughter. "There is a ship. You must save him!"

"Save who?" Chloe asked, startled.

"He can save you as well," her mother told her. "You must find him!"

"Mother, you've been dreaming, that's all. No one ever comes to this world without authorization," Chloe told her in a soothing voice.

Tierra's grip tightened. "This is not a dream! Reach out - can you not feel the wound to the earth?"

To humour her mother so she'd go back to sleep, Chloe reached out with her senses. "There's--" Her eyes widened. "I feel it! Something has impacted the surface."

"You must go and save him."

"Me? Why me? And save who? Wouldn't it be better to--"

"No! It must be you. Promise me!"

"Alright, alright. I'll go. But you need to calm down. Whatever this is it's not worth making yourself sicker over."

"Gannon must not find him, or his ship." Tierra's eyes began to close and her grip loosened.

Chloe disengaged herself gently and tucked her mother's arm beneath the covers again. She had half a mind to just go back to bed herself, but she couldn't afford for her mother to become any more agitated about whatever was going on. She'd take a quick look around, and when she proved to herself, and her mother, it was nothing but a stray meteor that had somehow managed to slip through the protection grid, she could return home with a clear conscience.

With a sigh, she went back to her room to get dressed.

~ * ~ * ~ * ~

The night air was cold, but the two moons provided enough light for Chloe to see where she was going. There was no danger of running into any search party Gannon might send out. He'd be working with sensors and radar maps, while she followed the path provided by the land itself.

It did not take her long to find the place where the object had struck. There was a long gash in the earth ending in a smoking hollow. Within the hollow was a ship - a ship unlike any Chloe had ever seen before. This was no mining vessel!

Filled with a sense of urgency she did not understand, she scrambled down into the hollow and located the hatch of the vessel. It opened easily beneath her touch and she hesitated before entering.

"Hello?" she called. "Are you all right in there?"

There was no answer, but the sense of urgency increased. Catching her bottom lip between her teeth, she cautiously entered. Dim lights came on as the door slid shut behind her, making her jump.

"Hello?" she called again. There was still no answer and she moved slowly towards the front of the craft. The short passage had several doors, but instinctively she knew what she sought was behind the door at its end.

It slid open automatically and she found the pilot, unconscious and still strapped into his seat. Chloe cursed under her breath. It was obvious he was larger than she was, how was she supposed to get him out of the ship, let alone away from here before Gannon arrived?

Anti-grav sled, a voice whispered in her mind.

Startled, she glanced around. "Who said that?"

Aft compartment.

The sense of urgency was almost unbearable. Chloe quickly left the cockpit and hurried to the aft compartment where she found the anti-grav sled that was used for moving heavy cargo. Towing it behind her, she returned to the front where she managed to free the pilot from his restraints and push him out of his seat and onto the sled.

"Sorry," she said, wincing in sympathy as he hit the sled hard. There wasn't a sound out of him. She really hoped she hadn't added to his injuries.

The sled moved easily behind her, although she had to take an angled path out of the hollow to keep her passenger from sliding off. The sense of urgency increased as she saw lights tracing a grid like pattern in the distance. As she topped the rise just above the crash site, Chloe heard the voice again.

Conceal the ship.

"Mother?" she asked in a whisper, remembering Tierra telling her that Gannon must not find either the pilot or the ship.

Protect the ship.

Chloe turned to face the ship. Moonlight reflected in her brown eyes as she concentrated. The earth around the ship shivered and the ship slowly sank downwards. Once it was several feet below the surface, the gash in the earth repaired itself.

As Chloe faced forward and began dragging the sled behind her towards home, grass and weeds began growing in the bare earth where the gash had been. Plants sprang up behind her, covering her tracks away from the site. Moonlight reflected in her forest green eyes.

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