Uisae Saga: Book One
The Lady Reborn
A bus full of panicked teenagers, all girls in pleated dark-blue skirts, white blouses, and dark-blue jackets. She heard the screech of the tires as the bus went around a sharp bend, everyone was frightened even more. While holding on to the top of the seat in front of her with a grip so tight that her fingers were white, she looked down. She mostly saw her feminine thighs, fair skinned, as her skirt was very short it seemed. The hem was very close to the meeting place between her thighs. The skirt was also stained and wet. Bits of broken glass were on her lap and on the floor. Her head hurt too. She was cold.
She glanced up and around afresh. Bitterly cold wind blew through a shattered window nearby. Anon, she viewed downward again, surprised at how high the hem of her skirt was in comparison to the girls who sat on either side of her. She tugged at the hem, trying to pull it down to cover more decently, but the hem scarcely moved a few millimetres. She next studied her jacket, also the same dark blue, and the front of her white blouse. Her breasts filled the blouse, her chest mounds were rather big. She noted then that on her jacket's right side, she had something attached on the lower hem. It was only about the size of the first joint of her thumb, an embossed bunny rabbit image, sort of a lucky charm, pinned to her jacket. White, with pink ears, and very cutely stylized, the curved lines for the eyes gave the impression of happiness. It was made of metal, maybe steel that was painted? She really liked it.
Strange that my skirt is so short compared to everyone next to me, she thought, Maybe this is how I usually dress… Why can't I remember?
"Jenny? You're alright! I was so worried!", exclaimed another girl next to her. The girl hugged her then added, "Keep your head down, they're still shooting at us!"
"Who? What's going on?"
"I thought you'd been shot, just keep down", the other girl told her. Black hair, she had, very long . . . and she had pretty blue eyes.
As the bus' engine roared louder, a man who was standing in the middle of the aisle between the seats stumbled. He hastily grabbed at a stanchion, leaning forward, but with his other hand kept hold of a narrow silver pen. It looked like a pen anyway. Except for the red light that glittered at one end. Something about the device scared her.
The man's clothes were strange. Like a uniform, but it was silvery too. As if it were a spacesuit costume from an old film.
"Everyone keep down... that's the Karkozjian army chasing us, they'll have to stop once we cross the border..." he shouted to no-one in particular, "I know it's all confusing but we're trying to keep you alive. Just stay down and hold on."
He glanced backwards, for a second his eyes locked directly on hers, "Especially you, Jenny.... especially you."
Then he turned away, started making his way towards the front of the bus. The tires screeched again as they went around another bend. In brief glimpses outside the windows, the dark night was broken by reflected light from snow-covered rocks and steep mountainsides. There were bright stars out there. Nothing was familiar. Nothing at all.
The black-haired girl next to her whispered, "He knew your name... Jenny... and he keeps looking at you... They always keep looking at you."
On the other side, another girl, blonde-haired and giggling nervously muttered, "He probably overheard you shouting Jenny's name before and has the hots for her."
"Where are we? Does anyone here know?", someone asked in a voice barely heard above the tires and the engine.
"Karkozjia", a different girl answered.
"...but where is that? I was never good at geography, and how did we get here? We were half way between Sydney and Tearmann an hour ago!"
"I think it's near Russia or Albania or somewhere like that.. There was that weird blurry green light before, it made me dizzy, those other guys were confused by it too, remember? One of them said the bus had been . . . shifted . . . or something."
"Angie, you silly-billy! Do you know how far away Russia and Albania are from Australia? Don't be ridiculous!", someone else exclaimed in annoyance.
The windows at the rear shattered as bullets whistled through, ringing off the metal roof and punching holes in the ceiling. Girls were screaming, hands covering heads, panicking to avoid flying pieces of glass and not knowing what to do.
"Everyone keep down!", the man in the silver uniform shouted.
He held on tight to the back of a seat, and aimed his silver pen thingie through the broken rear window of the bus. There was a moment of very bright white light, like a camera flash, from behind the bus. A few blinks later, it was followed by a thunderous roar as if lightning had hit nearby.
"My head still hurts..."
"Jenny, you're bleeding...", the black-haired girl next to her started wiping at the stinging painful spot with a handkerchief, "Lucky, it's not too bad, I think... just a scratch."
"Thanks... Thank you for..."
"We've crossed the border, but they're still in pursuit...", the man in the silver suit said, as if thinking out loud, "The Karkozjians probably aren't going to give up."
She realised then that he was talking to someone else, maybe using a radio built into that strange uniform he was wearing.
"...Okay, I agree, do that..."
There were echoes like firecrackers going off in the distance. She glanced upward towards the nearest windows, which were already shattered. Outside in the cold night, there were shadowy shapes passing by. Trees. Backlit by mountains covered in snow. She shivered from the coldness of the wind.
. . .
She was cold. Too cold. Everywhere hurt. She was also wet on her back, and her back was very cold. She was lying on something cold and sort of soft. Cracking sounds echoed around her. A man with an aggravating voice was shouting orders but she couldn't understand the words. She opened her eyes and with a groan turned over onto her side.
She was lying on snow and the wreckage of a bus was among trees about a dozen paces away. The whole front of the bus was smashed in. The rear was ripped open and smashed too, with burn marks. There were bodies and horrible parts of bodies dark with blood. Schoolgirls that didn't move.
She watched in a daze, otherwise unmoving, as men in odd long tunics patterned in grey and white blotches, with similarly patterned tight trousers, stomped through the thick drifts of white snow. Snow stained in places with dark blood. On some apparently military vehicles, there were spotlights shining towards the bus wreckage, but not out into the darkness surrounding it. Not towards her. They hadn't seen her. She must have been thrown from the bus during the violence of it's final stop.
The men, who she guessed were soldiers, carried strange guns that sounded like regular guns but were totally unfamiliar in design. The weapons' ammunition magazines were circular drums, sort of like an old-style Tommy gun. The soldiers were checking bodies. Then they would shoot the bodies sometimes. A blonde haired girl moaned inside the bus, near the front, trying to sit up. She was seen by a couple of soldiers. Both raised their gun barrels, and without any pause except the moment to aim, they simultaneously riddled her with bullets. The shots were loud and the blonde's head was torn to pieces.
The girl lying in the snow began slowly trying to crawl away as far as she could go. She didn't want to die. She didn't want to be shot. She looked back, and was taken aback to see someone was crawling along after her, but not one of the soldiers that were shooting any survivors that they found. A man in a silvery suit. The one who had spoken to her before while they were on the bus. He was carrying, sort of dragging something, as he too crawled in the darkness through the snow.
She stopped, and waited for him. To her, even if she didn't know his name, he seemed safer than those nasty men with the guns and strange military uniforms who were shooting schoolgirls. When he arrived by her side, he was panting.
"My suit's damaged... I'm dying probably"
She nodded, not sure what to say, or if he expected an answer.
"I know, I know you're confused by all of this, Jenny...", he whispered, and pushed what he was holding towards her. It was a box. About the size of a shoe box or a little smaller. She couldn't see it well in the darkness, but had the impression that it was toy-like, maybe coloured with bright red, greens, yellows, a bit of blue.
"This... It's yours... That's what all of this is about... You're the one who is supposed to have this... We need you to live, Jenny... You're the last of the Uisae, or you're going to be..."
"I don't even know who I am...", she told him, "I don't remember what happened..."
"Doesn't matter... the thing in the box knows you... will keep you alive... Worlds depend on your existence... Your existence must be maintained.... All of the other Uisae are dead, gone, all extinct... You have to bring them back, Jenny. That's your destiny. It always... has been... always was... you're important. Keep that in mind. You're important. Without you, there is no me. No history cops. No hegemony. They'll win, and they'll win forever. You're our saviour. Our ace in the hole..."
"Just take the box... I'll distract the Karkozjian soldiers... Get away from here and survive, Jenny, you have to survive! We... the team I was with.. we pulled every trick we could, but the wardens almost got you... I'm rambling now, probably dying... Just go, go please... Save the Uisae, bring back your people from extinction. Do what the Halemaker tells you to do, when you have to. Most important, you must survive."
"But I don't know what you're talking about..."
The man in the silver suit shook his head, started crawling away but in a different direction.
"I don't remember any of the stuff you're talking about", she whispered after him.
She still had the box. She began crawling too, keeping as low as possible as more shots told her that another survivor of the bus crash was being killed.
She kept going. As far as possible, as her fingers felt stiff with the chill and her legs grew weaker. She was close to fainting. It was too cold. There was blood on her clothes, but she couldn't smell it. The fabric had become stiff too. Frozen.
When she was probably a hundred, or maybe two hundred, or more metres away from where she guessed the bus to be, she stopped. Too exhausted. The freezing chill would probably leave her dead by morning anyway. She could scarcely move.
"Why is this box for me?"
It was difficult to see anything except it's shape as a shadow against the snow. Curious, she tried to open it. The top suddenly lifted by itself though she was sure there was no switch or catch that she could find. There was glowing mist pouring out. The mist had sparkles within it, and she had the crazy idea that it was exactly like magic mist should look like. Maybe there was a genie inside, she joked to herself.
The mist with it's sparkles was all around her, feeling warmer than the chilly air. It was translucent, so she could see the snow-covered ground and the dark trees and the shining stars above as the mist seemed to gather over her body. Exhaustion, and the need for sleep overwhelmed her. Yet, with that weird mist covering her body as she closed her eyes, she felt peculiarly reminded of dreams of being a princess as a little girl. Maybe, she had a brief thought before drifting off, prince charming will come to rescue me.
She knew that rationally, this was all too weird and she should be frightened, but after the terror and nearly dying already, maybe dying that night, it didn't seem to matter any more. She was too tired. Too sleepy.
. . .
She dreamed of a far away world among the stars, haunted and ruined. A landscape chilled by ancient winds through long dead cities. A whispering voice that spoke no words but told her stories of a people who once lived there. The misty creature curled around her in the dream, caressing her, teasing her body like a musical instrument, causing her to moan and protest against this intimacy. I shall save your life and you shall save ours, the mist seemed to say, as the tendrils played with her senses, driving her wild with pleasure.
I am the Halemaker, the mist-creature told her in the dream, the first time it spoke in words, remember my name and I shall ensure that the world remembers yours, serve me and I shall serve you, for from this life onward you are Mine… My body to play with, my toy for pleasure… We together shall bring great love to this tortured world...
Then it spun around her like a formless tornado, and she felt herself falling while fire screamed past her skin on all sides. Below her was a sphere, a planet, the land growing closer by the second as the hot fire enwrapped her. In some way she knew this was the Halemaker's memories. She was a falling star. A meteor in the night sky coming upon a new place after uncountable millennia in the empty void…
Soon forgotten dreams fled her consciousness as the teenage girl awoke. She didn't feel as cold as before. Which was odd. Her eyelids struggled to open but were stuck closed. Trying to lift an arm it was as if bags of lead weights were tied to her. There was no pain. Only fatigue and a kind of hotness inside her and certain places of her body. A soft moan escaped her lips, the sound surprised her. Too different from her expected voice.
Someone or something unseen was coming towards her. She could hear the snow being moved, but those weren't footsteps. More shuffling and sliding. Maybe an animal. She tried and tried to open her eyelids but they seemed glued shut. Something brushed against her. Patted around her face with a texture of fur and fabric. Rough gloved fingers rubbed away ice crystals. She moaned, and wondered at the peculiarly sensuous sound so unlike her voice of before.
There was a male voice. She tried to open her eyes, this time succeeding. Through blurred vision, she saw a young man's face framed by a fur-lined hood of greyish-white, grey woollen hat under the hood, and grey woollen scarf. His voice was young, but very masculine, fairly deep. He spoke in words that were nothing like she'd heard before, and shouldn't have understood.
Yet she did.
She nodded. Or tried to.
"I'm okay... now... thank you..."
He spoke again, asking her name. Maybe she was only guessing at the meaning.
The girls on the bus called her Jenny. A man in a silver suit had called her Jenny. That must've been her name.
She tried to nod, but her head felt too heavy.
He repeated it again, pointing to his face.
He said something else, words in a language she'd never heard before in her life. How strange, how odd it was, she understood what he said. He'd complimented her appearance, in a funny way. Said she was a goddess of the old times found in the snow, or a fairy princess, or something like that. Then excused his rudeness as he took off his grey-white fur-lined coat, laid it over body, and picked her up from the snowy ground. He said something about her being lighter than he'd expected though she was small anyway.
Carrying her with both hands in front of himself, the young man trod through the snow. She looked up at his face, saw his eyes looking towards a place to his left. He frowned, expression coldly serious, the muscles on his jaw clenching hard.
Jenny looked that way too, and saw there was smoke drifting upwards in the cold morning air. From a place among the trees hundreds of metres away. During the crawl in the night, she'd managed to get further than she had assumed.
Did this man know what had happened there?
The young man didn't speak further, but kept looking back towards that place. Every time he did, his face turned harder. That answered Jenny's unspoken question. He trudged for ages through the snow, carrying her, saying nothing, and Jenny felt safe.
She'd fallen asleep for awhile, and woke up briefly as he was placing her carefully on the passenger side of the bench seat in an old truck. She sort of half-lay there, and looked around at the inside of the truck's cabin. The steering wheel was thicker on top, as if padded. The black dashboard in the truck had big clunky dials. There were multiple levers in the centre floor space between the driver and passenger side instead of a single gear-stick. The windows were protected outside by a kind of dark metal cage. The bench seat was very comfortable though, covered in furs. Nururan had lain her down with such gentleness, on the bench seat and with such ease, Jenny thought he must be really strong. Stronger than he appeared. He looked kind of lanky, but under those thick winter clothes, he had to be very fit.
The young man got in on the driver side, then helped her to sit in a lean away towards the passenger side door. Her head rested half against the door in the corner near the back of the seat. She slept, mostly, occasionally awakening as the man drove. For awhile, her bottom seemed colder, the coat not covering properly. She wasn't sure if in a dream or not, but as he drove, the man had his free hand resting on one of her bare thighs. He seemed to be driving badly too, or maybe the roads were just bad.
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