Desperate Times: part 4

Author: Andorus
Rating: Um…I guess PG. The whole Ren-Serril thing wasn’t anything really bad, I don’t think…if you disagree, comment and let me know, please, and I’ll up it to PG-13. :o)


Disclaimer: Pirates of Dark Water belongs to Hanna-Barbera, which now belongs to Warner Bros. Much as I’d love to claim that I own part of this show, I sadly can’t. Salamantha is a character from the Marvel Comics 3-issue Pirates of Dark Water run (issues 7-9), which was written by David Kirschner and company. There are probably a few more subtle Star Wars references in here that I threw in without realizing it–if so, they’re copyright George Lucas and Lucasfilm, Ltd. Cherni and Serril are my original characters.

Author’s Notes: The 4th chapter’s finally up! I finally have an idea of where I want to take this…and I’m taking summer classes at my school now, but have no Friday classes–so MAYBE I can get a chapter written a week. (I have no idea how long this is going to go, though.) No guarantees, but I’ll do it if I can!

* * * * *

Some time later, Tula roused herself to wakefulness. She yawned, and then winced as pain coursed through her throat and neck, actually crying out when she brushed her fingers against the tender, bruised skin. With the pain came memories, and she shivered uncontrollably for a long moment.

A dark ecomancer.

That had to be what it was. The feel of the power that had nearly overwhelmed her was purely natural–as in, involving nature’s touch. And she knew that it was wind that had seemingly formed that giant hand that choked her brutally, but that there was a hand behind that of the wind–a human hand.

As far as she knew, ecomancers were human; Andorus’s population consisted predominantly of humans, and only humans showed the ability to generate the “elemental touch,” as Teron had put it so long ago. But other than Teron and herself, and Salamantha, the feared eco-witch, as far as she knew, no other people capable of ecomancy existed on Mer.

So who was behind the attack? It couldn’t have been Salamantha; I’d have recognized her ecomantic signature in a heartbeat, and she didn’t have any of her little “special effects” she loves so much, like the flower petals or her slaughtermen…

Another thought chilled her to the bone. Salamantha tried to seduce Ren, to make him do her bidding…what if she seduced other men, to the point of–

Could my attacker be one of Salamantha’s–children?

Just the prospect of a power-hungry witch like that having children made her shudder. But it was a definite possibility; she could very well have mothered illegitimate children on her quest for power and discarded them like they were nothing, the way she discarded her men when she was through with them. Because they indeed were nothing to her, nothing but stepping-stones for her to gain even more power and make her more feared across the twenty seas.

But if whoever-this-is happens to be one of her children…he or she would be really bitter, for one thing, about having a mother who just doesn’t care and who’s just cast father and child off…and when the gift started to develop, the father, already realizing what a curse having a child who has Salamantha for a mother is, would probably have given up the child immediately, not wanting to claim ownership of a neo-Salamantha. So the child probably would’ve used his or her powers to fuel reactions of anger or hate…

This world doesn’t need another Salamantha–if that’s even the case.

She knew she had to get up and tell the others, and finally convinced herself to untangle herself from the sheet and step up onto the deck. It was midmorning; the sun was relatively high in the sky but obscured behind benign-looking clouds.

Ioz and Niddler gave starts of surprise as they noticed her. “How are you feeling?” Niddler queried, coming over to help her over to the supply barrels to get some breakfast.

Tula managed a wan smile. “I’m all right,” she replied, then winced; she didn’t realize it hurt her to talk as well.

Niddler noticed Ioz glancing at them out of the corner of his eye; the pirate looked as if he wanted to relay something to Tula, but wasn’t sure exactly how to phrase his words. “I think you should go back to sleep,” he suggested.

Tula flinched at that, and turned and glared at him. “Thanks for your vote of confidence, Ioz,” she shot back heatedly.

He bit back an automatic retort. “I meant that you look like you could use some more rest,” he amended hastily. “After what you went through yesterday, I’m surprised you’re on your feet.”

Surprise was evident on her face, but it quickly melted into mild embarrassment and regret, and she apologized. “I’m okay, really, though,” she insisted. “But–thanks.”

Ioz’s eyebrows shot up, but he hid his mild confusion by ducking his head and mumbling something. Tula blinked and suppressed a mildly frustrated sigh before turning back to the supply barrels.

Niddler watched the proceedings with more than a little bit of amusement at it all. He wisely kept his beak shut, though, knowing that if he dared to open it, one of the two fiery tempers aboard the ship would snap.

* * * * *

He had no idea how long he’d been lying there, broken and bloodied and battered seemingly beyond repair…it could’ve been minutes, hours, days, weeks–he had no way of knowing. All he could know and recognize was the neverending buzz of pain coursing through his limbs…

…and the irrepressible guilt that came with the knowledge that he’d lost, and that his world was going to die.

A lump formed in his throat, and stuck there despite his best efforts to push it away; he finally gave up, and weakly let the tears fall and the dejected, self-berating thoughts flood his mind, driving him deeper into his funk.

He suddenly felt very small, and very alone. And very, very cold.

A soft sound caught his attention, but he ignored it, figuring that it was the Dark Dweller goading him somehow. He heard it again–the skittering of pebbles as something brushed them past. It was coming closer–and then a soft pat-pat-pat accompanied them, and he recognized them as footsteps.

Footsteps?

No, he reasoned quickly. It’s the Dark Dweller playing games with my mind. The way he did when he pretended to be my father the first time.

The steps faltered, as if the being that created them could sense his thoughts, but then continued forward, almost determinedly.

Finally, as the person stepped around Ren to his other side, looking down at him with a mix of concern and nervousness, he finally got a good look at his visitor.

She was a young girl, pale, small-built, with straw-blonde hair about the color of his, but skin much paler, as if she hadn’t seen the light of day for most of her life. Her eyes were a bright green, though, and full of life, full of hopes and dreams that she seemed to stubbornly hold on to despite her surroundings. The rest of her proved the futility of those hopes-she was in dirty, tattered clothing, basically rags, and had smudges of dirt on her bare arms and legs.

She was staring down at Ren with those wide emerald eyes, and as he stared back blandly, his eyes locked onto hers–and he couldn’t look away.

He flailed around a bit mentally, wondering what was happening-but she quickly motioned for him to be silent and knelt over him, touching a finger to his lips to ensure that he’d comply with her wishes.

She then drew a deep breath, touched her hands to his face, and leaned forward and kissed his mouth gently.

Ren’s eyes widened as startlement froze him in place for an instant, but despite his best efforts, he couldn’t pull away…

…and then the rawness in his throat and the pain pounding at his face vanished as she pulled away and regarded him hopefully. It was then that he understood what it was about her eyes–he’d seen that same glow in Tula’s eyes before, when she was focusing her inner energies.

“Who are you?” he blurted in a whisper before he could stop himself. She couldn’t be an ecomancer…

“I’m an unwanted guest of the Dark Dweller,” she whispered back, looking around hurriedly to make sure that nothing threatening was in sight before looking down at him. “He doesn’t know that I’m here. You’re the Son of Primus, aren’t you?” She noticed his startled expression and took that as an affirmation. “I’ve heard of you,” she went on, a look of reverence crossing her face. “And I never thought you’d come as far as you have. My name’s Serril.”

“Serril,” he repeated, letting the name roll off his tongue as he mulled over her words for a moment. “Thank you for-”

“Shh,” she whispered quickly, the reverence fading and doctorly concern crossing her face. “I’m not done yet.”

Ren felt his face growing hot as he wondered what else she’d have to do to heal the rest of him. Serril blushed, seeing his train of thinking, and quickly shook her head. “Don’t worry,” she assured him gently. “Nothing like that.”

He breathed a slight sigh of relief.

“But what I probably will have to do will hurt,” she went on, musing. “I’ve never had to heal anybody in as bad shape as you are.”

Ren grimaced, but shoved his discomfort aside. “What do you have to do, then?” he inquired.

“I don’t want you to suffer,” she explained quietly, “and it’s important to everybody that you get out of here as fast as possible–but I need physical contact with what I heal.”

She fell silent for a moment and stared off into space, shooting him slow, long, speculative looks now and then, and Ren couldn’t help but feel a bit self-conscious as her eyes trailed across him, taking in the damage she’d have to repair. But finally, she nodded, and reached for his temples. “I’m going to put you in a slight trance,” she informed him. “You should miss the worst of it, then. Okay?”

“Okay,” he relented, willing to try whatever she had to offer.

She smiled, her expression warming the green of her eyes, and Ren seemed to feel a bit of warmth entering him through her gaze for a moment. But before he could try and figure out exactly what it was that he’d felt, before he could smile back, he felt the pressure of her hands against his temples, and the warmth they exuded, along with a simple yet profound sense of security and safety that he’d been striving to find for so long, and that warmth lulled him back to sleep.

 

Some time later, he came to, but felt strangely heavy. As his vision came to him, he was startled to feel a slight tickle against his cheek, and realized that it was a lock of that girl’s hair.

That girl–Serril.

He then realized, flushing yet again, that she was lying on top of him, arm against arm, leg against leg, her head cradled against his neck and shoulder, and exuding a faint yet warm light, and that light was penetrating his body, searching out his injuries, cleansing them, setting them properly, and healing them. But instead of hurting, he merely felt a dull ache from the effort.

He used the time to think–and felt clear-headed for the first time in a very long while. The despondence was gone, and a new determination to succeed had replaced it, as well as some of the hope that he’d thought he’d lost permanently upon realizing that the key to Mer’s future, the key to finding the Treasures, was in the Dark Dweller’s possession. But he just suddenly had this feeling that he’d get it back, and that he’d win this battle, the way they always did, by some twist of fate. They had to win–they were meant to win.

Some time later, Serril came out of her self-induced trance and lifted her head slightly, trying to determine her surroundings. She then looked down at Ren, and smiled a little, though her eyelids were drooping from obvious exhaustion. “It’s finished,” she whispered, making a clear attempt not to slur the words. “Go save our world, Son of Primus.”

And with that, she collapsed limply on top of him, feeling, to him, much lighter than she had a moment ago.

* * * * *

Lying on her bed of Andorian soil, shivering slightly, Cherni was immersed deeply in a dream more vivid than any she had ever experienced before.

Adventures–out on the high seas–her papa, lil’ sis, and her…

“Papa, what’s that black thing on the water?”

Papa looking, not recognizing it…

Their ship suddenly being rocked violently and then twisted, turned over, and pulled apart, dumping them all overboard…

Lil’ sis’s scream as she vanished into the black substance…

Papa nowhere to be seen…

Lost…

Frightened…

Alone…

“No!”

She came awake all at once, clawing the sheet away from her and gasping for breath, an irrational fear threading its way through her. It was that dream again…she hadn’t had it for years. But why now?

She knew that it was true, and that it had happened far in her past…and she also knew that the moment in that dream was her family witnessing the birth of the Year of the Black Tide–when the Dark Water finally came to the surface for the first time in the Northern Seas and began its years of terror.

And that was precisely the reason where she was now. Working for Bloth as a common mercenary–but far from common–to kill the Son of Primus’s crewmates and steal the Treasures from them…

…only for her to steal them from Bloth.

She would indeed have her revenge against the Dark Water for selecting her family-

-no. Her sister and the man they called their father-

-to be its first victims.

Even if it cost her life doing so.

To be continued…

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