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Dath'Ionram

by Ilyssa Monroe 6 months ago in Short Story · updated 3 months ago
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From the journal of Raymond Baird

Dath'Ionram
Photo by Dawson McCormick on Unsplash

“Ray! Wake up!”

Someone is yelling.

“Raymond!”

Sounds like Bruno…

Ammonia stung my nose, jerking me from unconsciousness.

“Finally,” I heard him say, as my eyes opened.

Bruno’s pale face looked down at me. It was dirty.

Is that blood?

Fog surrounded him. Not fog, smoke. I could smell smoke.

“What?” I groaned.

“We crashed.”

“What?” I asked again, confused.

“Dude! We crashed!”.

Sitting up, I felt dirt and grass beneath my hands.

“Where is everyone?”

“Korin is dead. I haven’t been able to find the commandos,” he said, running a hand through his dirt-matted blonde hair.

“Crashed? How?”

“Everything was fine when we left the shuttle bay, but the closer we got to the planet, the more the flight instruments began to fritz. When I brought it up to Korin, he told me not to worry. Gena was on the first excursion. I don’t think he was thinking clearly. Then we hit the atmosphere and the flight system shut down altogether,” he explained as sat down next to me. “Then the commandos bailed when the shuttle began falling apart and Korin, he tried following but slipped. Hit his head. He was unconscious before he was sucked out of the shuttle. I thought you were dead too,” Bruno shuttered.

I took a look around at the debris surrounding us. I was lucky to be alive.

"Crash" from the journal of Raymond Baird

I’m Raymond Baird, and I am colonist A-1453-M7708 of the UMC: Destiny.

I’m sure you are wondering just how I found myself laying in a field of debris. Let me give you a recap of the journey that brought me to this alien world.

Five years ago, humanity learned that Earth, indeed, the entire solar system, was doomed.

So, the leaders of Earth came together and formed a plan. They called it the "Migration". The plan was to fill a spaceship full of the best and brightest kids that our species had to offer and a few adults to act as guardians, and "migrate" us to a planet that scientists believed would sustain human life. I was skeptical of the plan but grateful to be selected. I did not want to die as thousands of asteroids tore the world apart. Who would?

Anyways, everything was going great. I was placed in Alpha cycle, the first group to stay awake while the rest slumbered in those creepy cryo-pods. I made friends like my huge friend and bunkie, Bruno. No kidding, he barely fits in his bunk. I studied my ass off and received an apprenticeship with the Agriculture Department as a Botany Specialist. At sixteen, with an apprenticeship, I was now considered an adult. That meant no more guardian oversight, I could do what I wanted, and boy was I excited.

And then, a couple of weeks ago, a wormhole, swallowed the ship. The experience had been terrifyingly strange. The journey through it had taken just a few seconds, but I still remember it with perfect clarity. Time had stood still and the colors all around me had seemed to explode and then stretch. I remember watching as the red of an emergency light, frozen between flashes, smeared across the ceiling like the stroke on an oil painting that bled into infinity. The moment of transition had seemed both an eternity and a single moment. It had felt as if I had been everywhere and nowhere, riding on a wave of creation, suspended in the emptiness of Void.

I know that sounds strange and probably doesn't make much sense but it's the best way I can describe it.

When the wormhole spat us out, we found ourselves in the orbit of a terrestrial planet that looked so much like Earth. Blue oceans, green and brown continents, and even polar ice caps. The biggest difference was that this world was five times the size Earth had been. It was stunning and I wanted to get down there but Prime Command, the big honchos, chose the members of the first excursion. I didn’t make the cut.

It was probably a good thing because the first group crashed landed, and the survivors were only able to report once via an old-fashion frequency radio. That had been their last contact altogether. After that, the Primes canceled all further excursions. I was really bummed out because my mentor, Dr. Dreska, a gorgeous Russian Microbiologist, had promised that I would be going with the second group. We did not have many botany specialists awake, you see.

My friend Bruno, remember the big guy from before, had my back though. As one of the few aviation pilots awake, he was selected to co-pilot a rescue mission and he told me he could get me down to the surface. I was stoked.

So, he stuffed me in a military-grade container with an oxygen mask and a thumps up.

Now, as you already know, our shuttle crashed and that is where my story begins.

Let’s get back to it, shall we?

*****

I got to my feet, shaking the remaining fog from my mind. I stood in the middle of a large field of dirt, patches of grass growing in irregular clumps. Scattered all around were pieces of the shuttle and containers like the one I had been in which was a few paces away on its side, the lid wide open and hardly a dent to be found.

“That’s one tough container,” Bruno commented.

I found my pack and dug through it for my holo-tab. The device had survived but refused to turn on.

“That’s weird, it was fully charged before we came down here,” I said, showing it to Bruno.

“Dude, none of the tech work.”

“None?”

“Nope.”

I shoved the useless device back into my pack and slung the pack over my shoulder.

“The first excursion was able to send a message to the ship with a frequency radio, right?” I asked.

“There was one in the cockpit, but I can’t find it,”

“Alright, let’s take another look,”

“No. I meant the cockpit.”

“Fantastic.”

While we searched for the cockpit, I found a container filled with food rations, thermal tents, extra clothes, cooking and eating utensils, and a first aid kit. Bruno and I stuffed everything that we could into packs we had found in the cargo bay and put them in a safe place that was not on fire or smoking. When we finally got to the edge of the field, we found what we were looking for. The cockpit was about twenty meters below us, submerged under the water, in the middle of a clear blue lake.

“Well, damn,” Bruno cursed.

I looked around for a way down. The cliff we stood on formed a crescent shape where the two sides sloped down like ramps. Both paths were covered in jagged rocks and rubble and looked treacherous. At the bottom of each, there was the beginning of a forest that surrounded the lake and then stretched on for leagues in both directions before ending at the base of a mountain range. Directly below us, however, was a beach scattered with large boulders.

“Let’s make camp down there. Then we can figure out how to get to the radio,” I suggested.

We had six, packs filled with salvage from the wreck in addition to our personal packs. Pulling one from the pile, I drug it towards the cliff and pushed it over the edge.

“What are you doing?” Bruno protested as I went to retrieve another.

“They’re too heavy to carry. If you want to,” I said, motioning to the path. “Be my guest. Otherwise, help me.”

Grudgingly, he got to work. When they were all safe on the beach, we began our hike down the rocky path. The footing was shaking, and I nearly created a rockslide at one point, but we made it down with only a few scrapes and bruises. It had taken, what had to be hours later by the position of the huge sun, to get to the bottom and left me exhausted. I slung off my pack and collapsed in the shade that the giant trees provided and took out my water canteen, finishing its contents in a single gulp as Bruno collapsed next to me doing the same.

While I rested, I took the time to really observe everything around me. The colors on this world seemed somehow more vibrant and unpolluted like Earth probably had been, I assumed, during the Jurassic period.

“What was that?” Bruno asked, sitting up in alarm.

“What was what?”

“I thought I heard...”

Then I heard it too. Well, I felt more than heard a rhythmic thumping that seem to grow faster as it drew closer. The thumping shook the ground and the tree canopy rustled above as flocks brightly colored birds took flight.

We snatched up our packs in unison and took off running towards the boulders on the beach. I was not going to be in the path of whatever could shake the ground like that.

The sandy beach was firm beneath my feet, allowing me to run without much difficulty. Soon, I was sheltering behind a boulder twice my height as Bruno slid down beside me. I could feel the ground shake harder and saw the surface of the lake water ripple off to my right. Terrified but curious, I braved a glance from our hiding spot. What I saw emerge from the trees, made my blood run cold.

The creature, at least two-hundred and fifty kilos stood there, more than three meters tall on two powerfully built legs. It had four well-muscled arms, each ending in silver talons that gleamed like chrome in the sunlight. Oily black hyde covered its body, and a silver horn protruded from its brow above two sets of glowing yellow eyes. When it opened its maw, I saw several rows of razor-sharp teeth. Then, it screamed. The sound sent more tendrils of ice through my blood and reverberated through the ground, sending pebbles from the path above, showering down around me.

"Kivox" from the journal of Raymond Baird

It seemed to sniff the air with a nose that was absent from its face before springing up the path on all six of its powerful limbs, heading toward the crash site. What had taken Bruno and me several hours to descend, took the creature only moments to climb, and soon it was out of sight.

“We need better cover,” I began but my words cut off abruptly when the beast appeared less than fifty yards away, having jumped from the top of the cliff.

Abject terror lanced through me as it directed that terrible scream towards where I crouched, immobile, petrified with fear. Then I felt a tingling sensation, starting in my chest and spreading outward to my fingertips and toes.

Bruno gasped and the creature stopped in its tracks. It sniffed the air again, this time in confusion, while those hateful yellow eyes looked around wildly. After what felt like an eternity, the creature took off. I did not move until I could no longer feel the thumping gait of the creature as it disappeared back into the forest.

“I think it’s gone,” I whispered, releasing the breath I had be

en holding. “What happened? Why didn’t it attack?”.

“I don’t know,” Bruno said, bemused. “One moment, that thing was coming straight for us. The next, it’s like it couldn’t see or smell us anymore.”

“We need somewhere safer,” I suggested.

“We don’t even know where "safe" is, and it looks like the sun will be going down soon,” he pointed out as he left the shelter of the boulder, heading towards our supply packs that sat at the bottom of the cliff wall. “We’ll stay here for the night. It has to be far away now.”

We crept to our packs and quietly searched for food that did not need cooking and found protein bars. I tossed one to Bruno and sat down against the boulder we had hidden behind earlier. I thought about what had happened as I chewed the nutty bar and watched the sunset behind the mountains on the far side of the lake.

I had thought that we were dead but then that feeling.

When it had stopped spreading and seemed to permeate my entire body, that is when the creature had stopped, I reflected.

As the light of the sunset faded and the sky began to twinkle with stars above, small glowing lights appear beneath the surface of the lake. Dull at first, they grew brighter with every passing second. Oranges, blues, greens, pinks, purples, reds, and whites swirled in a kaleidoscope of colorful patterns. It was stunning. Then, a reddish-orange glow overtook them all. It did not come from beneath the water but was reflected from the night sky.

I looked up, mouth agape in shock and horror. Falling from the sky was the UMC: Destiny. Hundreds of pieces were breaking off becoming fireballs of their own. They fell far to the east where the sun had set only a short time ago before disappearing out of sight. Within moments, I could feel the ground rumble violently from the ship's impact.

Bruno looked at me, his face as stricken as my own. When I looked back towards where the ship had crashed, all I could see was a dull orange glow in the distance, between two mountain peaks.

"The Night Destiny Crashed" from the journal of Raymond Baird

“We have to go,” I said hoarsely. “There might be survivors.”

“How could anyone survive that?” Bruno whispered.

“Come on,” I urged, rushing over to where we had left the supply packs. I had to get to the ship. I had to find out if any of my friends had made it. We switched our smaller packs for larger ones and repacked them for a journey through the forest. When we were ready, we left, forgetting the dangers of the path ahead.

We traveled through the dense forest but kept close to the edge of the lake. Our path was lit by the light of a green moon that rose in the dark sky, making my surroundings feel foreboding and eerie. Strange sounds could be heard in the nocturnal wildlife beneath the giant alien trees.

For hours we hiked before a rock outcropping barred our path.

“We should take a break,” I suggested. “We can’t see the top of that thing in this darkness, and I’m exhausted.”

“Me, too.”

“Get some sleep, I'll take first watch.”

Bruno did not argue, just took out his thermal blanket and, using his pack for a pillow, curled up on the ground. Within moments I could hear his gentle snoring.

I paced on the lakeshore, trying to stay awake and when my eyes began to burn, I went to the water’s edge and scooped the cool liquid into my cupped hands before burying my face in it. I went for another scoop when I noticed a pink glowing light moving closer.

Is that?

A feminine face formed within the light. Its movements were hypnotic, rooting me to the spot. Then, she broke the surface, the most beautiful woman I had ever seen.

She had a pixie face with wide, angled eyes that glowed bright pink in the night and long, straight silvery hair that was dry though she had just emerged from the water. The top of her ears poked out from her silvery mane and came to three points on either side, a delicate webbing between each. When she stepped onto the shore, I stood from my crouch and she stopped just before me, causing me to look down. Her body was that of a woman’s and glowed faintly with the same pink hue that lit her eyes.

She reached out a delicate hand that had the smallest amount of webbing between each slender finger and placed her hand in the center of my chest. Without warning, images flooded through my mind, and then her voice, high and melodic, spoke.

“Awaken your companion quickly, the Kivox hunts you. We will get you to safety.”

I scrambled to my feet, the images I had seen still terrifyingly fresh in my mind, and rushed to Bruno's side.

“Wake up! We have to go. NOW!” I screamed, shaking him from his sleep.

Bruno woke immediately, alert for danger, and hurriedly grabbed his pack. When I turned back to the beautiful woman, she was no longer alone. By her side were two women, just as beautiful, but who glowed in shades of blue and green.

"Assyli, Nyraa, and Hajyle" from the journal of Raymond Baird

Bruno froze at the sight, but I pulled him forward.

“What do we do?” I asked the pink one.

“Consume this,” she replied, handing me a lump of something dark green and slimy with silver specks that glittered in her glow. I did. It was thick and salty, but I forced the substance down.

“What are you,” Bruno began.

“They are trying to help us,” I explained, handing him a piece.

Any further protest died on his lips when the blue woman placed her hand on his chest. His eyes glazed over and turned milky white for a moment before clearing. He shoved the slimy goop into his mouth with shaking hands, swallowing it past a reflexive gag.

“Follow younglings, the Kivox nears,” the three women said in unison, leading the way into the lake.

A crash sounded behind me and I glanced back, sickly yellow eyes, predatory and filled with hatred and malice, peered out from between the trees. Then, I was beneath the waves.

I swam after our rescuers, my pack weighing me down and holding my breath until I could no longer. When oxygen burst from my lungs, I began to panic as water rushed into my burning lungs. Then, I felt a soft touch on my arm. It was the green woman, and her touch calmed my panicked mind. I realized with amazement that I could breathe. I also realized that I could swim more easily. Looking over to where Bruno swam next to me, I saw pure joy on his face as he spun in a spiral.

“Do not slow, Dath’Ionram, the Anáil Uisce will not last. We have far yet to journey,” the pink one warned, her voice suddenly in my head.

“What does Dath’Ionram mean?” I asked, my mind wrapping itself around the unfamiliar words, as we sped off through the dark waters.

“It is a title. It means 'one who masters hues',” she said dismissively as if I should have known the answer already.

I changed the subject.

“Where are you taking us?”

“There is a channel that connects this lake to a lagoon on the far side of the Themus Mountains where your great ship crashed,” she explained.

I wish that I knew her name, I thought to myself.

“I am called Assyli,” she said, hearing my thought.

“Assyli,” I thought back. “That is a beautiful name.”

At the flattery, I could have sworn that her pink glow pulsed brighter in the dark waters.

We lapsed into silence as we swam and soon reached the entrance to a large underwater cavern. The cavern seemed to come to life as I followed Assyli in. Algae growing on the walls glowed with soft white light that stretched down several tunnels in all directions. Assyli led our group to a tunnel on the right, hurrying me on when I stopped to gawk at the multi-hued marine life that swam around the cavern.

Despite the slimy goop, Anáil Uisce she had called it, my limbs burned from exertion and fatigued by the time we exited the tunnel. Looking up, I noticed rays of light piercing the surface as a waterfall crashed down above us. We had traveled through the night, emerging from the water in a small basin. I began coughing as my lungs inhaled air for the first time in hours and pulled myself onto the grass at the edge.

“When you have found all of those who survive," the green one said.

"Come back to this place," continued the blue one.

"We will teach you more of our world,” Assyli said.

“Welcome, Dath’Ionram, to Ailara,” they finished in unison. Then they were gone, their glows fading from sight beneath the water.

I laid back on the grass, allowing my sore body to relax when Bruno called out.

“Look,” he said, pointing off to our right.

Fifty paces away lay a young girl in a familiar white jumpsuit.

I rushed to her side, gritting my teeth through the ache in my body.

“She’s unconscious but alive,” I said, finding her pulse after a moment. I wrapped her in my slightly damp thermal blanket and tried to make her comfortable.

“We need to search for survivors.”

I nodded in agreement, and we left the girl where she lay, following the column of smoke that still rose into the sky. It did not take long before I saw the wreckage of the UMC: Destiny. Some pieces of the massive ship seemed to be intact, but they were spread out for miles.

A cough sounded from close by.

It was a man in a black uniform with a star on the breast. His name was Brad, a member of the Police Force, and his leg was broken. We did what we could for him.

It took a week to search the entire wreck for survivors and supplies. It was a grueling task. Of the more than three thousand Alpha Cycle colonists, only a tithe had survived, the others were still missing or dead. Only a quarter of the cryo-pods with sleeping colonists in them had made it through the crash in one piece and a doctor that we had found alive on the second day of our search said that the colonists in the unbroken pods may never wake up again.

The cryo-pods no longer worked, even those in the best of conditions. Just like Bruno and I had discovered when we crashed a week ago.

Had it really only been a week! I thought.

No tech functioned. If it was powered by cells, it simply did not work.

We also discovered that, of all of the Alpha Colonists who had survived, most had developed abilities. Abilities that I guessed had probably saved their lives in the crash. Bruno and I were among that group. He found that he could manipulate the air around him, and Katie, a girl who had been sitting next to me when the ship had been pulled through the wormhole, was another. She could create fields of force with energy built up by momentum.

As for me, I could manipulate and absorb the energy of colors, creating illusions, as I had done on the lakeshore that very first night. How it had helped me survive the crash in the field, was still a mystery that I wanted desperately to solve. I was now on an alien world, so different from the world that we had fled. I wanted to explore and learn all about my new surroundings, and I knew that these abilities would be instrumental in my survival if, or when, I was faced with the dangerous creatures, like the Kivox, that inhabited this world.

That would begin soon, I thought as I walked alone to the edge of the waterfall basin. There waiting, was the beautiful Assyli.

“Are you ready to begin?” she asked, in her melodic voice as she offered me the Anáil Uisce.

“Absolutely!

Short Story

About the author

Ilyssa Monroe

Married, mother of 8, Student of IT/Cybersecurity, and aspiring author in the realms of Fantasy and SCI-FI. Enjoy!

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