Earth - Chapter Six

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

Ch 1 ~ Ch 2 ~ Ch 3 ~ Ch 4 ~ Ch 5 ~

Chloe rested her head against the closed door, breath coming out in a shuddering sigh. What had she been thinking? Hiding the ship, hiding the pilot in her own home . . . If Gannon ever found out she had anything to do with their disappearance, they were all dead. Or worse.

There'd been many things that crashed on the surface before, and many of them Gannon had never found. But he'd never done a house to house search before. Not even when there'd been an escape from the mines.

It had been so close. And what happened to Zephryn?

Making sure the door was locked, she pushed away from it and headed back to her room.

"Zephryn?" she called out tentatively.

"Is it safe to come out?"

His voice was muffled and she looked around curiously, unable to pinpoint the source.

"Yes, they're gone. At least for now."

Her bed shifted slightly and she watched in shocked amusement as he began to wriggle his way out from under it. Halfway out he suddenly stopped.

"Damn it! I'm caught on something."

Chloe gave a strangled laugh. How had he ever managed to fit under there in the first place? "How did you know to hide?"

He gave a jerk, grunted, and the bed hopped in place. "Intuition." Another tug and he was free. "I believe this is yours." He rose to his feet, holding aloft an undergarment she'd lost weeks ago.

Face aflame, Chloe snatched it out of his hand.

"Now, I think we need to talk," he said.

"I--" The sound of a bell's chime cut her off. "That's my mother. I'll be right back."

Chloe hurried down the hall to her mother's room. Just her luck he wanted to talk. This just kept getting worse and worse. What was she supposed to tell him? She hoped her mother was lucid enough to tell her what to do.

Not only was Tierra awake, she was reasonably alert. "What by all the stars is going on, girl? Who was that man that invaded my bedroom?"

"Are you all right?" Chloe tried to straighten the blankets over her mother but her hand was slapped away.

"Stop fussing and answer me."

She sighed and sat on the edge of the bed. "Gannon's doing a house to house search for the pilot of the ship that crashed."

Tierra's eyes narrowed. "How does he know it was a ship?"

"He doesn't, but he's wants me out with the search crew tomorrow. Mother--"

"You hid the ship and brought the pilot here, like I told you?"

"Yes, but why--"

"I'd like to know why too," Zephryn said from the doorway.

Chloe gasped and turned so fast she nearly fell off the bed. "I told you I'd be right back!"

"I've never liked waiting," he said with a cheeky grin.

Tierra eyed him, a frown on her face. "You'd be Wind, from the looks of you."

"Yes ma'am. Zephryn WE-02-47-03, at your service." He gave a slight bow.

"Too bad," Tierra muttered. "We can't hide you in the cave."

"Why not?" Chloe asked, utterly confused by the turn the conversation had taken.

"Wind Elementals are notoriously claustrophobic. We'll have to see if Granny knows some place we can hide him."

"Wind Elemental?" Chloe looked from Zephryn to her mother. "What's a Wind Elemental?"

"Show her, boy."

Zephryn fixed his beautiful grey eyes on her. Suddenly, Chloe felt a breath of air, like a ghostly hand caressing her face. When the caress started to move downwards, she shook it off, jumping to her feet. "Cut it out!"

"Sorry," he said, looking not one bit sorry at all. "And actually ma'am," he looked towards Tierra. "Caves don't bother me at all. I was pretty much raised in a cave."

"Excellent. Chloe can show--"

"You're Earth Elementals, aren't you?" Zephryn asked abruptly. "I don't know why I didn't see it before. How did--"

"Stop it! Both of you!" Chloe had had enough. She glared at the pair of them. "Nobody says another word unless it's to answer my questions."

Her mother was shocked into silence while Zephryn was back to looking amused.

"First of all, how did you know it was a ship that crashed?" she asked her mother.

"The earth told me." Though Tierra said it in a decisive tone, she plucked at the bed clothes and wouldn't look at Chloe.

Chloe's eyes narrowed. There was more to it than that, but for some reason her mother was being evasive. "All right. But why was it so important to hide the ship?"

"Use your head, girl. We wouldn't want Gannon to find the ship."

"But what difference would it have made to us? No offense," she added with a glance towards Zephryn.

"None taken. But I agree, what difference would it have made if anyone found my ship? Under the articles of space--"

Tierra made a rude noise. "You think Gannon cares anything for any law but his own? He would have confiscated your ship and you'd spend the rest of your life so deep in the mine you'd forget what the sun looked like."

"Surely--" Chloe began.

Her mother cut her off with a decisive gesture. "We need that ship more than Gannon does."

"Whatever for?"

"Why to escape, girl."

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