For the Moon: 5
The Kraik chased after me as I marched back across the wasteland toward my ship. “What are you intending?”
“I need to talk to Captain,” I barked in my own tongue.
“I do not understand.”
“Speak to Captain,” I translated.
“Will this Captain stop war?”
“I do not know, but he is the only hope.”
“What will you tell him?”
I skidded to a halt and huffed in frustration. “Not sure.”
“How will you end war if you do not know what to say?”
I pulled at the ringlets of my hair. “I will figure it out, Kraik. Quit following.”
“I am called Sorweiyahein, not Kraik.”
“I cannot say that.”
“Call me Hein.”
“Go away, Hein.”
“I also want to end war.”
“Good for you.” I stomped onward.
She stumbled after me. “Let me help.”
“I do not even know what help I need.”
“Then let me help you find out.”
I pivoted on my heel and growled up at her, “You are part of the reason that our resources are destroyed.”
She stiffened. “There would be nothing left if we had not fought off Treecia. They would have destroyed all. We saved what we could.”
“Now you Kraiks are sitting on what is left. Do not act noble when you hoard resources.”
“My company hoards, just as your company fights. I am not them.”
I blinked. “You mean you are going against your company too?”
“I found you when I abandoned my post.”
I softened to this kindred spirit. “What were you looking for?”
Her shoulders straightened in resolve. “I did not know until I found you.”
I kicked at the sand, suddenly embarrassed by my accusatory outbursts. “So you really want to help me?”
“As I have said.”
I put a hand to my chest. “Nolan. Nice to meet you, Hein.” By instinct, I stuck my hand out for a shake but rescinded it when I remembered Kraiks didn’t greet this way.
“Nice to meet you,” she mimicked with what seemed to be a smile, though the shape of her mouth bared her teeth in more of a grimace. “Strange.”
“How do you introduce on Kraikanatowahau?”
The syllables lulled in her language, like a ritualistic song. “You are a blessing to my existence.” She placed three clawed fingers to her temple, as if logging the memory of me into her mind.
I chuckled in awe. “Much more beautiful than Corsius introductions.”
“Many thanks, Nolan.”
“We need to speak to Captain.”
We trekked through the dust of the moon until the metal shine of the ship glimmered ahead. My feet froze without permission to do so. Nausea flipped in my stomach.
“Why have we stopped?” Hein asked.
“My friend is on this ship.”
“The friend you lost,” she surmised.
The candor of her words stabbed at my heart. “Yes.”
“We have a saying for this.”
An anger stirred that I didn’t expect. “There are plenty of sayings for the dead. We have about a thousand of them as well. ‘He would have wanted this.’ ‘He’ll be with me forever.’ ‘Gone, not forgotten.’ I do not want to hear any of this.”
She sniffed, thoughtful. “More strange customs. You exalt your dead as if they are gods.”
“You do not?”
She shook her head. The motion seemed forced and I realized she only copied me, picking up on a few of my mannerisms and displaying them back to me in a show of camaraderie. In her language, this nonverbal didn’t exist. But for my sake, she shook her head no.
My chest warmed at the sentiment, almost enough to distract me from the horrific memory of Samson. “What is your saying, if not to celebrate the departed?”
She bowed her head. “Fear not the fallen, grieve not the grave, be not the dead.”
Her black nose scrunched in reflection. “You are alive, Nolan. Many people are still alive around you. Stay with them. Do not let death rule your life before it is your time to go.”
“You think I should forget about those I lost?”
“I think you can remember and still take steps forward.” She nudged at my stiff leg for emphasis.
I released a pent-up breath and trudged a shaky foot onward. Hein pressed a gentle hand on my back, guiding me until my nerve levelled out to a steady pace.
“Thank you,” I whispered.
She changed the subject to save me further chagrin. “Is your Captain also against war?”
I sighed. “Not exactly.”
“Then why speak to him?”
“He is the only one with the power to stop this. He leads us.”
“But he believes in war.”
“He believes in fighting for right, fighting for the people of Corsius.”
“Do you not also care for your people? Your decision to stop war would help them.”
“And that is the only way we will appeal to Captain.”
As we neared, we hunkered low and skittered through the dust, fading to silence as we came within earshot of our enemies. The ship seemed quiet, the battle done. Bodies from both sides scattered the area, even the land outside, since I had wiped out the guard at the door. Blood and bone splashed everywhere, as if a morbid painter came through and dabbled every surface with precision. With only carnage leftover, I wondered who won, and who now claimed possession of our ship. If Captain was gone, I had no plan.
I crept over heaps of bodies with Hein close behind. My mind strayed to Samson’s place among them and I restrained myself from peeking that way. The clunky pads of Hein’s feet clattered against the bashed skull of a Treecian and we both petrified into statues, awaiting a sudden attack. None came.
“Did anyone survive?” she finally asked.
My voice caught in my throat as I peered around at all my fellow soldiers. “I do not know.”
Sensing no movement in the bay area, I waved her over to the pilot’s compartment at the front where the door remained sealed. If anyone were aboard, this is where they would hole up to take control.
Holding my breath, my knuckles rapped against the door and I jumped out of view. Hein followed suit.
“If it is Treecia?” she hissed.
The door creaked open from the inside. Every muscle in my body tensed. Then a familiar, russet club reared back at the ready. Captain’s profile poked out from the entryway.
I sprang from hiding with a shout of joy. “Captain!”
My excitement nearly got my head knocked off by his reflexive swing, then he scowled down at me in disapproval. “Nolan. Where were you? We thought you were dead.”
I ushered Hein from the shadows to show him. “I left. And there’s something you need to know.”
“You brought a Kraik onto our ship?”
“She’s on our side.”
“Get in here,” he snarled from between his teeth.
The three of us ducked into the cockpit, Hein suddenly bashful and awkward now that she was outnumbered. Captain latched the door behind us and we were met in the small compartment with six of our surviving soldiers. I recognized Wes among them, battered and bloody with a harsh limp of his right leg.
“We won,” I exclaimed.
“Not quite,” Captain interrupted, shoving between us to take center. “There’s still more to be done.”
“I agree. That’s what I need to tell you. I’ve been to the reservoir. The Treecian’s don’t have it.”
“We know,” he cut off again, “and they want it.”
He prodded me forward until I could see into the pilot chair. In the seat, an oozing, restrained Treecian sputtered and hissed at the captors around him.
My skin flushed cold. “What is this?”
Captain jabbed a finger at a screen on the console. A pixelated display marked the positions of the three planets and the moon. And clicking along from Treecia to Corsius was a tiny blip, an indiscernible shape.
“What is that?” I asked.
Captain set his jaw. “Treecia is about to blow up our planet.”
To be continued in For the Moon: 6...
© 2021 by Kelsey Garber