Up There so High

What do you get when you have a space fanatic, a runaway princess and a bunch of miscreants? Well, you get the three E's; Explosions, Expletives and Enemies.
You may not laugh along with this story but you may sing (because the main space man is very much fond of that).

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18. The Proper Plan

 

~The Proper Plan~

~Skylar~

 

Skylar rudely awoke Everett by bashing his helmet across his thighs. He curled in on himself and groaned not in pain but because he had so little sleep.

“Why…?” he murmured as he opened his eyes and found himself in the same cave system. The rain had stopped during the night and daylight was upon them but barely. The rain left a wet circle in the middle of their room and Everett would easily roll over and go back to sleep if he could. But he couldn’t because Skylar was relentless in bashing his thigh with the helmet.

“We’ve been here too long, it’s time to go.” Skylar wasn’t taking any chances, if anyone came into the cave system they would be found and that was too dangerous. Especially since she didn’t know who attacked her the day before.

“How long have I been asleep?” Everett mumbled because he didn’t know how time ran there and his eyes felt filled with crud. He knew he hadn’t slept over eight hours.

“About six hours give or take,” Skylar answered and ignored the indignant squawk that Everett threw her way, “Just hurry up you don’t even have to get changed walking around in the space thing will only attract attention.”

“Space thing?” Everett muttered and helped Skylar pack the bed roll back up. He was forced to carry his Space-onator in his helmet which increased its weight. He grumbled but Skylar just ignored him. “Where are we even headed?” Everett complained as he lugged himself and the suit out of the caves and into the early morning.

The sky was clear and orange with a blue sun shining down on them. Zeld was something else Everett quickly decided.

“I need you to blend in so we’re going to get you some normal clothes. Is your space thing collapsible?” she turned her head just a little to face him while his gaze was still on the sky.

“No but I can make it collapsible if we’re going somewhere with parts.” Everett retorted insulted at the brief blow to his intelligence. Of course he could make it collapsible, he made the thing to begin with.

So Skylar directed them back to the market using trees as markers to guide her way. It was risky doubling back on herself but she had to, it was the only place she knew that had electricals and clothing on sale in the same vicinity.

“Why is the sun blue?” Everett asked on their walk back through the forest.

“Octavius has always been blue it’s something about the chemicals that burn within it in relation to its life span,” Skylar used the same spiel that her tutor had told her back in the day. Everett chattered about chemicals and physics, and Skylar tuned him out. She should have known that the human who designed the suit would be a science fanatic.

“Your sun is called Octavius?” Everett was perplexed, on Earth the sun was just called the sun.

“We consider it an injustice not to give it a name, now please be quiet or you’ll attract a Flugger,” Skylar would do anything to just shut him up she wasn’t used to having someone behind her when she made the trek.

“What’s a Flugger?” and there’s another question. Humans were walking talking balls of curiosity and Skylar did not like it one bit. Or maybe it was just this particular human.

“A carnivorous bird known for a particular like in feet,” Skylar said it in such a deadpan that Everett had to stop for a moment and then jog to catch up with the still walking woman.

“Is every creature here carnivorous?” Everett whined as he finally caught up with her. God she walked quickly.

“When it comes to smelling you yes.” Skylar was teasing, it was good to tease, and it was a jab at how Everett distinctly smelled like rain water with an acute edge of sweat. He was only human okay.

It took the best part of the day to track down the market again; Skylar had ran far from it that day and so she had no markers besides the colour green, which was every direction possible. But the market was the exact same as it had been when Skylar had been there, lines upon lines of stalls with every kind of person imaginable. The Powerless could take many forms, from more humanoid figures like the Powerful, to bright coloured skin or technological advancements. Some of them looked like they had more metal than proper skin.

Everett was in awe. This was his dream, to see the technological advancements of robots beyond what Earth was capable of. “You’re going to stay quiet while I buy you clothes and then you’re going to change and we can look for the gear you need, got it?” Skylar said directly into his ear and her tone suggested that he had to agree. He just nodded and they were going up to a vendor and Skylar was talking in a dialect that was too rushed and confusing for Everett to follow it.  

She bought him a few breeches, shirts, a black coat with silver buttons, a single pair of boots and a backpack. These were the essentials and that was all her money would allow. She was lucky that the market itself was cheap and the bartering system was lenient. Then she took him to a bush to change.

He threw her a dirty look, “You expect me to change in a bush?”

She arranged her features to look innocent, “Don’t humans pee in bushes? Why would changing be any different?” In truth she had changed and peed in bushes during her time as a runaway since she had little choice in the matter.

Everett had little choice in the matter too, he could either stay in the clothes he had worn for nearly an entire day, or he could change in a bush. He changed in a bush. The twigs brushed against some uncomfortable places but made do.

Finally he emerged looking more like he came out Victorian times, and like a Zeldian. The helmet in his hand was the only thing that made him stick out like stinky cheese. Now it was time to hunt for technology. Skylar took him by the arm as she led him through the crowds and he oohed as they saw stalls with technological trinkets. First he sought out a sort of toolbox, then he was on the hunt for bolts and screws, then some wiring.

Skylar couldn’t tell heads or tail of what he made her barter for. She would have to seek out more money and that was what shaped the next arm of her proper plan. They would have to take a detour from her previous ideas.

Once Everett determined that they had all the necessities they retreated to a relatively safe clearing for Everett to do his work. Here Skylar got the full view of the suit and she knew that her knowledge on humanity was lacking in many, many areas.

Her knowledge was too outdated to be able to survive on Earth. Then she was thinking of her mother living on Earth and picking up technology like it was a deadly object. Her mother was the type of person to point a fork at an object in belief that it would make her safe from it. At least forks were familiar to them on Zeld.

Everett muttered to himself as he took the suit apart and put it back together, fitting buttons and wires into the mainframe of the suit. “These are delicate things, and delicacy combined with awesomeness takes sweet, sour time.” He was muttering and again Skylar could not make heads or tails of it.

In truth, it was something that Morton had said back in their college days. He was referring to some ancient book then but Everett coined it for processes that took a long time. It was now a near common phrase between them.

He pressed a button and the suit folded elegantly until it was the size of a leg of lamb. Now, Skylar was getting hungry, she had only had some fruit previously. Then he pressed a button on the helmet and it shrunk to the size of an apple. “Shrinking technology is a blessing on every world,” Everett smiled and put both of the items into his backpack. He stood with a smirk and a ‘ready to go?’

Skylar grumbled and stalked off. “Was it something I said, or something I did?” Everett called off as he hurried to stay in pace with her. Everett was cocky when something he did went right for once, especially on the first try as well.

He was feeling triumphant.

She was feeling exhausted.

Running away was tricky business for the strong and running away from an undefeated, near undiscovered, entity made it all worse.

“Let’s just go, we’ll need to walk through most of the night to get to where we’re going.” Skylar sighed and pulled an edible plant from her bag, offering it to her companion as well. Everett twisted his face up at it but Skylar had come accustomed to the taste of Fluxweed by now.

When Everett tried it he found that it tasted like peas, if peas had bright green leaves. “Where are we going anyway?”

“Somewhere where we can pick up some money and stay the night,” Skylar called back, relishing in how the next place they were going to was going to be peaceful.

And back to endless walking they went to.

“How do you know where we are going?” He asked again. Skylar knew where she was going because it was pretty much common knowledge. The safe bases were documented wildly across the forests and labelled with markers that were shown around each warded town. Skylar knew that at the moment she was closest to the warded town of Zaro, because there had been several clear paths with the regulated signs. You had to have documentation to get into each warded town so she would avoid them at all costs but it was good to know. That way she could track things.

Throughout the journey Everett would have a song stuck in his head and his fingers would tap out the beat on his legs as they walked. He could have ended up with a worse companion he supposed and so far his time on another planet hadn’t been that bad. He hadn’t been eaten or threatened too much, or shot at. His life had been slightly less stressful on Zeld than it had been on Earth, when he was in prison that was. At times he couldn’t hold the song in and he just had to sing it out loud.

“Take on me… take me on…” Everett sang throwing his hands in the air and twirling being careful not to trip over his own feet.

“What on Zeld are you singing?” Skylar asked as she resisted the temptation to cover her ears.

Everett briefly laughed inwardly at her version of ‘what on earth?’

“These are classic 80s songs!” Everett answered and continued on his singing, swaying his hips as he walked onwards, “I’ll be gone…” he was smiling because these songs were miles better than the modern crap they promoted these days. “They don’t make them like they used to do back in the day,” he called and watched as Skylar stopped dead.

He didn’t notice until he was right behind her, “What is it, do you not like my singing, I know I sound like a dead rat sometimes Morton says I always d—“

“Shut up!” Skylar hissed and stopped breathing to hear better. She could hear footsteps but they weren’t Zeldian citizens, these were different. She closed her eyes, remember the tracking lessons you got from Zeldor’s best hunters Skylar, remember damn it. They were light but fast and there were more than one set of them. Then she recognised it, not from memory but from old recordings. These guys were small but vicious.

“Run!” she shouted and didn’t give her companion much choice as she started to head for the trees in front of them at full pelt.

“What is it?” Everett shouted forwards as they ran.

“Fluggers!”

“You were telling the truth about those?”

“Did you think I was lying?” Skylar called back and did not look behind her because she knew that if she did she would see them. Everett did not heed that inward advice, he looked behind him, slowing down just a little to see properly.

Skylar was right when she said that they were birds. Fluggers were like chickens on steroids. A group of maybe fifteen of the buggers stampeded towards them, their white feathered bodies shaking as they ran towards them. They were exactly like chickens with white feathers and red accents, their red eyes were very angry. But they were huge chickens, the size of pigs. They looked bloodthirsty and Everett did not want to think of the horror it would be if one of the monsters got their hungry jaws around his ankles.

“How do we get rid of them?” Everett screamed at the woman in front of him as he sprinted forwards. NASA training had taught him one thing and that was running was a particular skill. Sometimes you needed to run to survive and that was what Everett needed to do.

“Keep running!” and that wasn’t a suitable answer from Skylar. They ran even though their lungs felt aflame and they kept running because the chickens on steroids did not seem to tire. A foggy patch was approaching and Skylar knew that it was too dangerous to go into it but the alternative was getting eaten. You never knew what was in the foggy parts of the forests and stories to frighten children were commonly centred on those particular parts.

They had to risk it. “We’ll lose them in here!” Skylar called and slowed to grab Everett’s arm. His body was hard against her own as they dragged themselves into the murky depths.

“What is this place?” Everett asked as they entered it, praying that the Flugger’s wouldn’t know where to follow them. The fog would disorientate them just like they disorientated Everett and Skylar. They would panic and retreat heading backwards, the only direction that they knew would be safe. Everett and Skylar would go onwards because that was the only choice they had in the matter.

“Nobody knows, just stay together.”

Everett nodded but knew that Skylar wouldn’t be able to see it. You could barely see anything in the fog. He could just about see the outline of Skylar but if she hadn’t linked their arms he would have wandered off by now. The fog was just so thick it was like sheep’s wool but nowhere near as soft. It changed your perspective on the world, the ground looked like the sky had fallen and the clouds had gathered at your feet, and the sea had switched places with the sky. If you looked upwards everything swirled like a moon was pulling the tide. Everett’s world span. He had to force his feet to keep going and to not trip over themselves. That was a tricky job.

Then Skylar found it even harder to carry on and Everett kept running into her. “What’s going on?”

“My feet keep sinking,” she said quietly and Everett felt his own feet slip under the ground just a little. Their steps came harder and harder as the ground sucked them in with more intensity. “Ugh!” Skylar cried as she let go for just a moment seeking balance as both her feet stuck themselves in the cloggy mud. Everett lunged for one of her arms, they did not want to be separated in all of the mess. “I can’t get my feet to—“

Everett found her arm but lost his footing and his knee hit the mud. He felt it slowly sinking and he panicked trying to draw it back out. His other foot was in no luck either.

So there they were both sinking in a mud they couldn’t see in a thick fog that could be hiding anything. They may have got rid of the chickens on steroids – ahem, the Fluggers – but they weren’t going anywhere soon.

Everett could have said something sentimental like, ‘I don’t want to die in a mud we can’t see but I’m glad it’s with you.’ In a fictional world it would have made Skylar fall in love with him just a little. But this was not a fictional world and Skylar was too busy trying to unlatch her feet and move, to be able to fall in love with a man she met twenty four hours ago.

What Everett did was this; finish off his song. “In a day or two…” 

~

 

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