It was the beginning of the end, and days passed by like a blur. I hardly remembered what happened during the day, but every detail of each night for the past two weeks etched my mind. Strict enforcement of the curfew caused a problem with us meeting in the clearing the first few nights. After Dr. Hyde tracked their movements, we figured out how to get around them. It was like clockwork now, and everything fell into place. Tomorrow was 'roll call.' The time to act finally came.
Raven, Ebony, Sunny, and I were in my room that I now shared with Ebony. They paid close attention to my orders that I passed to them. The day had almost begun, the announcements would start at any moment and that was when I would tell them their parts in the plan. Now we talked about unimportant things. Ebony watched and listened, as Sunny blabbered continuously. A wave of loneliness swept over me, accomplishing this without Fei will hurt, but if we do not, the guilt of failing her was even worse.
"Good morning Demon's Moon! It is another beautiful day-" I wasted no time in filling them in on their roles of the plan. The announcements clicked off just as I finished.
"Got it?" I finished and let out a breath.
Silent nods answered me and we all rose. We hugged and ran to get some breakfast. We sat at a back table with Ace and itched with excitement. Not a word passed between us for fear we would blurt out the wrong thing and risk someone overhearing. When we finished, there was nothing to do, but wait.
The screeching bell rang throughout the area, we quickly rose and gathered our stuff. Ebony and I delivered the water as efficiently as possible. The Solarite scientists stopped us for inspection. I remembered Fei’s words to me, do not talk, and keep low. This time I decided to do things differently. I rebelliously stood tall and added vigor to my step. Ebony followed my example and others noticed as well. The Solarites were uneasy as they examined us, but nothing bad happened. They passed us through quickly.
During lunch, after the first few tests we did, I told Raven what happened. She already heard the rumors from everyone else. She laughed and it turned out, she actually held an intriguing conversation with one. I just hoped that they did not suspect anything. Finally, during the last shift, we went into the mines to deliver the last batch of water. We reached the area when the bell, signifying day’s end, rang. Everyone filed out of the mines. Ebony and I finished the delivery and were the last ones to leave the mine.
I looked upon the giant carts full of ore with unwavering awe. I turned to see Ebony's stunned face as she saw them. They scanned us as usual after which we began to head to town. Ebony slowed and I winked at her to signal for the start of her mission. I took her equipment, as she ran into the forest and hid. I continued onward by myself.
I put away the equipment one last time, smiled to myself as hope cascaded from me. I felt unstoppable and felt we could succeed. I stepped out of my room and headed over to Raven's room. I stopped in fear and my blood ran cold, as I saw Cain stepping out of her room and walked down the hallway. I fumbled quickly back into my room. I hid, pressed up against the door until I heard his footsteps go by. My heart pounded rapidly against my chest. It hurt, but my mind raced. Had he found out or just suspected something was up? Did I look guilty when I fled, but everyone fled from him regardless?
Raven banged against my door, I let her in quickly. Her face was red, her eyes filled with fire, she breathed heavily, and she sat down on the bed in an angry huff. "Cain just visited me," she informed dully, her voice apathetic and cold. She shook her head and continued, "He doesn't know about the plan, but he was not happy about our... reluctance to 'behave.' He told me that if we do that again, we'll be made an example in front of everyone."
We stood there in silence for about five seconds before smiles formed on our faces. We burst out laughing, from our inside joke.
"What did you say?" I asked, as if she told a story and gossiped about it.
"I said, okay, we won't ever do THAT again in our lives!" We laughed even harder. It took a moment for us to settle down and wipe away the tears of laughter. I felt anxiety brewing in my gut heavily like a cannon ball. I sat down on the bed gingerly, the time to strike could not come soon enough. My nerves itched to start, but along with the curfew, the Solarites decided to make sure everyone was accounted for each night. I hoped Ebony would be okay.
An hour passed and the little elf silently entered the room. She nodded and lay on the bed beside me. It was not long afterward that the Ursula came in to make sure we were here. She checked us off and left for the next room. We waited about ten minutes before we headed out. Sunny was behind the dormitories with Ace, they quietly argued over something.
We carefully approached searching for the guards and soon were close enough to hear them.
"We can go over it!"
"Sunny, not everyone has wings like you. We can't just jump over something like that," Ace told her negatively. A slight hum filled the silence between the banter. It distracted me enough to notice a pole peeking just above the treetops.
"What is that?" I did not have to ask, but I needed the confirmation of another to silence the doubt in my mind.
"An electric fence, have you noticed that the Solarites seem very lax tonight? They must have set it up during the day," Sunny informed. This threw a huge wrench into the plans. How could we get out of the town, much less escape the planet? I ran into the forest to inspect the fence closer. My team followed without a sound.
"Stick to the plan guys," I whispered and they looked at me with the same expression.
"And how do you suppose we do that, Mrs. Unhelpful?" Raven jabbed at me. I flashed a quick glare in her direction.
I looked at Sunny, "time for you to start your part in this plan." She nodded and launched herself into the air. She disappeared against the black cloudy sky, and so began our wait.
It was not long before Dr. Hyde came up to the fence. He was in the high elf form and gave a disapproving sneer at the fence. I stepped up to him.
"Is there any way around this?" I asked him sharply. The anxiety started to get me, badly, on edge. The elf studied it for a moment, my mind screamed for him to hurry.
"It's impossible to go around, it seems," he stated and my heart sank to the ground, all that prior work and planning for nothing.
"Oh, tell them! Tell them the rest!" The hyperactive voice commanded. A twinge of hope ignited, like a small ember in the darkening woods. I looked at the elf with a fierce intensity. The crazy voice chuckled mischievously. The high elf sighed, extremely irritated. I should feel bad, but now was not the time.
"I believe you can go through it," he finished. I wordlessly glanced at the fence. Raven chucked a rock at it. The fence sparked madly and the rock shot back at us. "It's not that simple, you idiot!" The elf roared in protest of the queer looks we gave him. He then shifted to the dark elf.
"What he means is we need to short out the electricity long enough to cut the fence with some crystals," he turned around. "We would need water though. That is the best and easiest way to short it out without drawing unwanted attention."
"Why don't we just use one of the explosives to blow it up?" Ace asked.
"And have Solarites on our tails, I don't think so," Raven shot him down. I registered the ideas, but anything would draw the Solarites attention, if the electricity cuts out, they would notice. The water might work, but where would one find water?
Ebony tugged my sleeve. I looked down and saw her look off into the mines. She turned to me with a questioning look. I smiled at her and nodded.
"Okay, listen up!" I began to get their attention. "We need you two," I directed my attention to Dr. Hyde and Sunny, "to find the nearest power supply. The rest of us follow Ebony and me. We have a fence to short out."
We led the group down to the mines. It was like a ghost town, the Solarite guards had not even bothered guarding the mines. We easily made our way down to the water hole, where Ebony and I got the water. We grabbed a spare bucket from the equipment rack, I swear these buckets had a three-day warranty, at maximum. After we collected the water, I instructed Raven and Ebony to grab several of the lanterns, just in case we hit a patch of blackness.
We made it back to the fence. Ursula, who was on a tablet thing, while walking in the other direction, almost caught us. She stopped and chatted with a guard. Raven and I looked at each other, we did not know she had a social life. Once at the fence, Sunny led us to one of the poles. On my side of it, hummed a small box hooked up to it by several wires. It did not look like much, until Ace pulled off the lid.
Inside the small, black metal box was a circuit board similar to a high-tech computer, which a small sun stone slightly illuminated below it. I dipped my hand into the water. It felt like that starchy corn syrup mix that was neither a solid nor a liquid. I carefully dripped some of it onto the sun stone. With each drop, the fence flickered.
"Okay, when I give the signal, you slowly pour water. Dr. Hyde get ready with the cutting crystals," Raven took charge. They plucked some of the crystals and waited. She nodded go ahead, and Ebony and I started to steadily pour water on the sun stone. Sunny and Dr. Hyde hacked away on the fence and five minutes later, we had a clear path through to the other side.
"How long do you think it will be before they notice a hole in the fence?" Sunny asked.
"A little too late, because we'll be long gone by then," I told her and we made our way to the clearing to gather the rest of the supplies. I, however, was the one to carry the explosives. I was not much of a fighter, and I did not have a weapon, so I had to rely on the others to protect me.
Once we were finally ready, Sunny took a couple large sun stones from the lanterns and flew off into the night sky. Ebony left a trail of jade green plants lining the path of the giant carts to their destination. Sunny would lead the way from above, because she was the only one to see them from that high. She also would signal if danger approached. Dr. Hyde picked up the lanterns and signaled back, this was our only form of communication.
We followed the trail up and down hills, past the hill where I first met Raven, and even skimmed the outside of a pitch-black area. All we saw of Sunny was two little pale lights in the sky, the sun stones she held. If anyone had the odd sense to be looking up, they could easily see her against the black, barren sky.
Soon the two lights waved back and forth in contrary motion to draw our attention. We got close and she saw it. We quickened our pace with excitement. I smiled, thinking that we will be out of here in no time, with how easy this plan worked.
A bright silver light glistened, peeking over the next hill. We raced to the top and stared in awe. Beyond us laid a military looking base with ore loaded on four ships. Only a few Solarites were visible, most likely scientist and engineers preparing for takeoff tomorrow. Surrounding the ships were four towering minarets hanging right above each ship. The walls appeared to be chrome and artificial light lit up the area. I was slightly disappointed, I expected a dome to cover the area, forcing us to wear masks to breathe, but that would make things harder.
Ebony tugged on Ace's arm to signal they were heading in. He hesitated and stopped by me. We made eye contact, as he blushed red, searching for the words to say now. Raven wordlessly stared at us for a minute before shoving me forward into his arms. Next thing I knew, our lips made contact. My first kiss was sad under the circumstances.
"Finally," I heard Raven sigh irritably. She turned to Dr. Hyde, "I swear they were going to stand there for hours before making any kind of move. Tsk, humans." I broke away breathlessly. I wanted more, but Ace already walked down to the base with Ebony scouting ahead, her bow at the ready. I was reluctant to see him go, but if all went well, we would have more time together later.
Raven and I were next to head down, leaving Dr. Hyde to communicate with Sunny waving some sun stones of his own. We previously instructed him to remain in sight of everyone, so if something went wrong we just looked to him.
When we reached the closest minaret, we saw two Solarite guards on the ground, they looked to be having a spasm attack when I saw an arrow sticking through the neck of one, and a hose connected to the mask of the other cut clean through. It connected to an air supply container that allowed him to breathe. I watched a moment longer with discomfort, and continued forward into the tower.
The inside of the tower were the most technological instruments I saw since I awakened on this planet. I nearly cried at the sight of something that resembled an elevator shaft. Unfortunately, we could not use it without drawing suspicion. However, the idea did not occur to Raven as she dragged me on it with glee.
"I remember this thing, back when I was enslaved on the main planet. It goes up and then goes down. Cain and I... used to ride them when I thought we could get away with it," she cleared her throat, the awkward tension between us left us silent after that. She pressed the button, which I supposed would take us up.
We began our ascent as the opening behind us sealed shut, locking us into the small space. The wall, opposite where we entered, opened up to become a window. We rose up from the base of this particular minaret built in a small hill. I began to sweat. Anyone could see us in here if they, especially Solarites, happened to look in our direction, I imagined how much trouble we would be in.
I then saw a couple Solarites lying on the ground. One had arrows sticking out of it, the other blasted away. I recalled the first roll call, where Cain shot that thug in cold blood. The same scorch marks were on the armor of the Solarite as the thug. Ace must have taken guns off the previous dead Solarites we saw.
I caught a glimpse of Ace right before he entered the nearest ship. Ebony guarded the outside. After a moment, she raised her bow and waved it back and forth. I turned to the sky and saw Sunny circling above. That was the signal that the platform was clear. I released my breath and waited until we reached the very top of the tower.
Solarite computers and monitors rimmed the edge of the top floor. Up here, I noticed there was a walkway system between the towers. They were made of a reflective material, which made it hard to see at night. I cautiously stepped into the room, glancing around for any other signs of life. Raven searched the area for anything useful. I began examining the computers. I needed the one that controlled the ship.
"I'll go plant those charges," Raven informed, holding out her hand for me to give them to her. I shook my head. We should plant them as we head to the ship. I told her so, and she shrugged indifferent. "I'll clear the sky bridge then." She walked away, pulling out two makeshift daggers.
I quickly skimmed over the translucent screens, letting the words decipher before my eyes. I saw nothing there about the ship, except statistics on the fuel and its condition. I paced back and forth scanning each screen with little luck. I sighed. My confidence was fading at a rapid pace. I took several steps back, so I could get a view of the screens at a distance, in case I missed one.
Suddenly, once I stepped into the center of the room, a small platform rose about half a foot off the ground. Three giant translucent screens hovered in front of me, along with four little circular things. They appeared to be holographic, and consisted of seven evenly spaced buttons. After a moment of studying them, I figured they were the keyboards, to type in the codes.
I stuck my hands into two of the circular keyboards and the center screen came to life. After decoding the words, my heart stopped. It was password protected. I hesitated, and nearly burst out crying. We hit the end of our escape rope we failed.
I went to move away, but I felt a strange sensation. My left hand started to feel an itch, as if it had to be in a certain spot. I tilted it slightly until I did not feel it anymore. I gazed down and pressed the button where my index finger landed. My right hand suddenly burned and I reactively removed it from the keyboard. It was not just my eye that can decode things, it was me in general. I trusted my instincts and soon hacked into the system.
On the center screen, it showed the whole layout of the platform. On the left screen, I saw the blueprints for the ship that we were 'borrowing'. Finally, on the right, I saw security cameras of every angle of the platform, and some of the town and mines. I noted all the Solarite's positions from the security cameras, but most were out on patrols. They were that confident that no one would dare to attempt to escape. I shuddered as I saw Cain himself strolling around the sun stone by the town.
I paused and watched him for a moment longer. He appeared to be waiting for something, I figured that morning was upon us and our time was quickly running out. I wasted no time after that to find the power button to the ship. The center screen changed into a star map and I stared at it, searching for any constellation that was remotely familiar to me.
Sweat started to drench my shirt as I strained to find one to work with. I turned the map in many directions, but nothing was familiar too me. Every star seemed alien, wrong, not the stars I gazed at for years.
"How's it coming?" Raven asked me, coming back from the other side of the sky bridge. "Everything is clear up here. It's almost no fun without the guards to fight..." She crossed over to the elevator and looked out the window. "And it looks like they did their jobs too."
I nodded in acknowledgment and continued my desperate search. I zoomed the map in, I zoomed it out, and I even tilted it around a few times. Each time I found my eyes resting on three dots, close in proximity, like a reversed Orion's belt. I stopped and felt like hitting my head against the wall. I zoomed in and discovered the constellation of Orion!
"Yes! We can go home!" I shouted and found the sun easily and set course to earth. I heard Raven give a little cheer herself and hugged me.
"Ha! And I wish I could see Cain's face as he will soon discover our vacant rooms!" She laughed at the thought and then added, "I'll go signal the rest to meet in the ship."
"Raven, you can see him. He's right there on the screen." I gestured to the security cameras without looking. I continued to prep the ship, but I knew it caught her curiosity.
"What's going on in the town?"
"Roll call most likely, why is there a crowd?" I asked her still not looking up.
"None of the town is out yet, but the Solarites are gathered around the sun stone. I think they have someone!"
"Why would they have someone?" I got worried that something bad was taking place.
"Normally, it's for an execution to be made an example of why you should not break the rules, but that is only for very serious cases," she informed me bluntly. I stopped cold, there was only one logical reason; the bomber, and he is... That is, Ace and I had forgotten to tell her.
"OH MY GOD! GRAVE!" Raven shouted in disbelieving agony. I lowered my head, too late.