Chapter Two: Thundering Skies

The Forgotten Moon

The ground beneath Emma’s flesh crawled. She stirred, at first in small movements, then bigger. The more she moved the more the ground stirred, and quaked, shifting in shape, almost seeming to scurry. In bewilderment she scooped the soil up in her hands. As she held it the soil melted into little translucent crabs and scurry off towards the sea.

A faint odor of sulfur and malignancy hung in the air. Emma inhaled, eyes darting side to side as she pondered where it was, she had smelt that smell before. Sulfur mixed with—a ping on her space suit accompanied with a flashing sign AXIOM DETECTED.

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Alarm struck Emma. Axiom a byproduct of decomposing space garbage. An issue resolved decades ago thought Emma. A breeze blew and the sulfur and axiom were gone. The planet realized it’s mistake. Sweeping its evidence of the darkness beneath the surface. Hoping to dissuade further questions.

The vines crept along the forest floor, desperate to grab hold of anything. Their leaves wild, painted in bright colors and streaks of bioluminescence. They sensed the intruding body heat and the reached out for it, grasping at Emma’s ankles. She tried to stand up, but her legs wouldn’t let her. They were weak and shaky. She pushed herself back away from the creeping vine. All The while kicking at its searching tentacles. Edging backwards further from the monstrous plant. She got closer to her pack that she dropped when she fell.

She walked her fingers out, to grab hold of the bag without making any sudden movement. With a swift fluid motion, she pulled out her photon gun from the outside pocket. She began to blow the vines off the plant one by one. She grabbed her bag and gathered all the adrenaline and strength she could, and Emma ran.

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Branches and leaves stacked Emma as she ran by. One right after another till her face turned red. Swollen from the constant beating coming from the branches. “Don’t fucking quite on me now” she said to her legs as she pushed on deeper into the technicolor foliage. She finally let up in her speed. When she glanced around and no longer saw branches moving or reaching out towards her.

She walked up to a clearing in the trees. Standing on the edge of the tree line, Felix. He stared at a road zigzagging deeper still into the trees. Lobbing back and forth the idea of following it. The way he and Emma lobbed Picklefruit at each other in childish games on the ship. A way to pass the time and take their mind of their troubles, not always an easy task for Emma. Emma snuck up behind him and took him by surprise. Felix Jumped back and pulled his pulse gun from the holster on his hip and pointed it at Emma.

“Slow down Space Range” She chortled “It’s only me.” Grinning breathless but not so much she couldn’t get a giggle or two in in at his expense.

“I hate it when you do that!” Felix returned his gun to its rightful place and came back to standing next to Emma. “ What so you think? Do we follow it further in or do we try and go back to the ship and see if we can piece it back together?”

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“ There is no way we are fixing that thing without at least a density stabilizer.” Emma knew her ship like the back of her own hand. She knew when she hurt; they were going to need to do major repair before getting her back into the air.

“That leaves us with venturing deeper in then.” Felix signed and started the forward marched into the forest. Emma lagged. Taking name of the plants Saving each detail to memories. Savoring the smells of the air. The plants rustled and shimmed coming alive at Emma’s presence.

Their persistence paid off. They came to a large staircase extending into the canopy of the trees. The stairs carved from black Tarakite. A black glistening mineral know for incredible strength. Felix looked over at Emma her brows raised in intrigue. He knew that she couldn’t resist knowing what was out of sight. Emma strode a few long strides and stopping to look back over her shoulder. She raising an eyebrow she said, “Are you coming?” Felix smiled and picked up the pace to catch up with her.

The stairs even grander up close. The smooth surface reflecting their tired and battered images. They trudged up the stairs, the fatigue of the day beginning to catch up with them. One foot after another each step landing on the step heavier than the last. At the top of the stairs Emma took the last step in error raised her foot a half an inch too shorter. A misjudgment that send her skipping across the surface, a rock across the black waters. She came to her finally resting place in a heap at the feet of a tall dark stranger.

Emma looked up through a veil of dark hair. A familiar face stared back. Emma’s pulse quickened and her breath escaped her leaving her gasping. “Emma are you okay?” Felix Moved to help her up but she was already pushing herself away with her leg. She reached the edge of the stair and began her backward tumble, only . He reached out and grabbed her wrist. For Rye of all people to save her pulled her back up to the landing. The one person in the galaxy she hoped to avoid.

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“Come on Em, I’m not worth falling downstairs to escape, am I?” He said with a joking chuckle, but Emma wasn’t joking. Her face twisted up in a scowl.

“I thought you were” She mumbled beneath her breath as she pulled her arm free from him and dusted herself off. “Well thank you, we have to be going now.”

“Is that all I’m going to get for saving your life.” He smiled his irritating, yet adorable smile, but Emma could not see past that night. The night that she only remembered in waves. The night that everything changing because it was the night that Angeline died.

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“Fuck you, buddy.” Emma turned her back and strode away. She shimmered a slight lavender in the mysterious sunlight. Her eyes locked straight not deviating or turning to look back. Felix started after Emma.

“Hey, I don’t mean to pry, but What the Hell was that?!?” Felix’s tone stayed even as all droids, but beneath the programming concern for his friend grew. Emma is a maze full of dark corners and craves no one ever went.

“That Felix was a Rye!” Emma shouted loud enough for Rye to hear her. As she continued to storm through the city tunnels hopping one tram to the next.

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“You mean The Rye?” Felix said tension rising as he thought of the day Emma showed up on his doorstep of his barrack. She had arrived on the intergalactic space station, where he was working as a dock droid. Emma had gotten lost and was a complete mess.

“Emma, we cannot get tangled up in this, I am tired—I am ready to go the hell home. Let’s find a mechanic get this piece of shit fix and get the hell off this rock, and a bucket of rusty screws to Rye.” Emma couldn’t help but let out a giggle at sound of colorful language coming from Felix’s rusty lips. The dark clouds surrounding Emma dissipated with the injection of the unexpected color.

“You win Felix as always, let’s duck in somewhere and grab a bite and we can ask around about a mechanic.” The city in the trees was something amazing when they finally stopped to look around. Crystalline bubbles built up into the trees becoming one with them. glinting in the sunlight. Interconnected and woven into the trees’ colorful canopies by elevator tube. Propelling passengers where they need to go with a whoosh of air.

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Emma and Felix hopped off the tram at exit Delta 5. The sign promised a host of spots to get a bit to eat “ and look a market not far up the road, I am sure we can find what we need there.” Emma said with triumph as she pointed to a spot on the map that read Mo’s Grubhouse. Felix looked at the name with raised eyebrows and suspicion but unwilling to upset Emma. He resigned himself to risking food poising.

After lunch they made their way to the market. Emma and Felix wandered around talking with the merchants. Felix wandered off into the droid quarters, enticed by new tech calling his name. Emma found herself locked in a lively debate. Arguing about the differences of two engine components with the scrap merchant. when the firs shadow appeared in the corner of her vision. Then another, Emma looked up, as Felix came up behind her. He carried on about the newest gadget he discovered. When Emma pointed across the way, her eye gleaming the way they did when adventure fills her soul.

“Felix look!” Felix turned to face the direction she was pointing. His eyes widened as he staired in stunned silence. Large cotton ball ships filled the skies. Three white pods connected like the cotton balls from poe-poe’s farm when Emma was a kid. One appeared and within an arcsecond the sky became crowded. The sun went dim, covered almost entirely. Only bits and pieces of rays slipped through the cracks. Shattered gold fragments scattered on a rapidly cooling ground.

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“Screws!” Felix busted out. “What is that?”

“Better question, who is that?” Emma said

“Good Question Em, the answer is, those are the Gnongos, space Trolls from the Palioxis Galaxy. Terrible pirates. Lazy slobs too.” Both Emma and Felix whip around at the sound of Rye’s voice.

“ NO NO NO!” Felix said. Standing between Emma and Rye pushing Rye further away with every forward step. “Have done enough, we are fixing our ship and we are getting out of here. We do not have time for your drama sir!”

Rye smirked, “You think the Gnongos are going to let you of this planet?” He spit on the ground next to him. “ You are going to need a miracle to get out of here alive. Gnongos are the garbage of the galaxies. When a planet starts to die, the Gnongos comes a pick it apart limb from limb till there is nothing left. So, either the Gnongos get you or the hostile decaying planet does, either way, like I said you need a miracle.”

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Felix’s gear began to spin, and he took a running lung towards Rye. Caught only seconds before reaching his target by Emma. She reached out and caught his wrist yanking him back inches from success. “ I suppose you are going to tell us, you have the miracle, but its going to cost us or some nonsense like that!” Felix spit venom all over Rye.

He came close to Felix’s face and stared him in the eye’s before straightening up to look at Emma. “I would never charge Emma for a thing.” And for a moment a hint of sadness flashed in his eyes. He gathered it back up and shoved it down.

“Let me go, Emma!”

“Can you behave?”

“Okay, fine.” Felix straightened his posture and glared over at Rye. Contempt radiating from is eyes.

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“ Rye, if you have a way out, you owe it to me to tell me.” Emma knew Rye wouldn’t say no to her, not after what he did to poor Angeline. The venom seeping in a little more. Rye clenched his jaw and pursed his lips. A desperate attempt to prevent unforgivable words from escaping.

“Look! Your angry fine, but you must stop blaming me for something I did not do. Do you want my help or not, because if I am going to help you, you are going to have to be nicer than that.” Emma fidgeted uncomfortably under the weight of the request. Nice wasn’t Emma’s song and dance. A sigh escaped Emma’s lips, a white flag of surrender.

“Let’s work on finding away off this rock and let’s do it quickly.” Felix hoovered in the background with a scowl etched on his face. A loud declaration of his disapproval of the plan.

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“Hey, hate to break up your kumbaya moment here, but we need to go and now!!!” Felix pointed to the sky. The inhabitants of the city began to pour out off their homes in the trees. Fleeing from the decent of Gnongos raining down from the sky. An acidic rain devouring anything in their paths.

Everyone tripping one over another and over themselves. Panicked, they raced for the ground hoping to make an escape into the woods. “Taking shelter with tribes from the underground if they are lucky.” Rye yelled over at Emma as they began to dodge through the crowd. Swerving through legs and slipping between bodies.

“What?!?!” Emma looked bewildered at the random statement at such an inconvenient time. Thoughts flooded here mind. She couldn’t think straight, and he was just adding to the noise inside her head.

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“The Sief’ell are trying to escape to the underground tribes.” He repeated to himself with no further explanation. Emma hated this game he played. Say a statement with no rhyme or reason. Then sit in silence until the next one. Question went unanswered often. Emma knew better than to waste her breath, she rolled her eyes and left him to his own world. Felix did not hold to the same philosophy. Felix grabbed Rye by the collar of his space suit and stopped in the middle of the panicking crowd. “We don’t have time for your riddle or your games. If you know something you better start talking, or we are walking, and you are not coming with us!” Felix held his arm out keeping Rye at arm’s length. Emma pulled her gun from her belt. She began blasting off Gnongos like they were low hanging Picklefruit.

Emma looked over to see Felix holding Rye in the air arm’s length away. “Felix, what are you doing? Felix I’m serious, don’t—.” It was too late Felix activated the trigger and Rye went flying across the platform. He knocked several Gnongos down before tumbling down the long flight of stairs. He came to a hard landing on the ground.

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“Tasers, seriously right now.” Emma yelled as she and Felix took off down the stairs. They scooping up Rye’s limp body on their way. Slinging him over Felix’s metallic frame they made their way into the forest back towards their ship.

“He is fine, but I am done messing around Emma. If we don’t find a way off this planet were goners and you two don’t seem all that worried about it.”

“Sometimes there are worse things than death Felix.”

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Forgotten Moon: Thundering Skies

The ground beneath Emma’s flesh crawled. She stirred, at first in small movements, then bigger. The more she moved the more the ground stirred, and quaked, shifting in shape, almost seeming to scurry. In bewilderment she scooped the soil up in her hands. As she held it the soil melted into little translucent crabs and scurry off towards the sea.

A faint odor of sulfur and malignancy hung in the air. Emma inhaled, eyes darting side to side as she pondered where it was, she had smelt that smell before. Sulfur mixed with—a ping on her space suit accompanied with a flashing sign AXIOM DETECTED.

Alarm struck Emma. Axiom a byproduct of decomposing space garbage. An issue resolved decades ago thought Emma. A breeze blew and the sulfur and axiom were gone. The planet realized it’s mistake. Sweeping its evidence of the darkness beneath the surface. Hoping to dissuade further questions.

The vines crept along the forest floor, desperate to grab hold of anything. Their leaves wild, painted in bright colors and streaks of bioluminescence. They sensed the intruding body heat and the reached out for it, grasping at Emma’s ankles. She tried to stand up, but her legs wouldn’t let her. They were weak and shaky. She pushed herself back away from the creeping vine. All The while kicking at its searching tentacles. Edging backwards further from the monstrous plant. She got closer to her pack that she dropped when she fell.

She walked her fingers out, to grab hold of the bag without making any sudden movement. With a swift fluid motion, she pulled out her photon gun from the outside pocket. She began to blow the vines off the plant one by one. She grabbed her bag and gathered all the adrenaline and strength she could, and Emma ran.

Branches and leaves stacked Emma as she ran by. One right after another till her face turned red. Swollen from the constant beating coming from the branches. “Don’t fucking quite on me now” she said to her legs as she pushed on deeper into the technicolor foliage. She finally let up in her speed. When she glanced around and no longer saw branches moving or reaching out towards her.

She walked up to a clearing in the trees. Standing on the edge of the tree line, Felix. He stared at a road zigzagging deeper still into the trees. Lobbing back and forth the idea of following it. The way he and Emma lobbed Picklefruit at each other in childish games on the ship. A way to pass the time and take their mind of their troubles, not always an easy task for Emma. Emma snuck up behind him and took him by surprise. Felix Jumped back and pulled his pulse gun from the holster on his hip and pointed it at Emma.

“Slow down Space Range” She chortled “It’s only me.” Grinning breathless but not so much she couldn’t get a giggle or two in in at his expense.

“I hate it when you do that!” Felix returned his gun to its rightful place and came back to standing next to Emma. “ What so you think? Do we follow it further in or do we try and go back to the ship and see if we can piece it back together?”

“ There is no way we are fixing that thing without at least a density stabilizer.” Emma knew her ship like the back of her own hand. She knew when she hurt; they were going to need to do major repair before getting her back into the air.

“That leaves us with venturing deeper in then.” Felix signed and started the forward marched into the forest. Emma lagged. Taking name of the plants Saving each detail to memories. Savoring the smells of the air. The plants rustled and shimmed coming alive at Emma’s presence.

Their persistence paid off. They came to a large staircase extending into the canopy of the trees. The stairs carved from black Tarakite. A black glistening mineral know for incredible strength. Felix looked over at Emma her brows raised in intrigue. He knew that she couldn’t resist knowing what was out of sight. Emma strode a few long strides and stopping to look back over her shoulder. She raising an eyebrow she said, “Are you coming?” Felix smiled and picked up the pace to catch up with her.

The stairs even grander up close. The smooth surface reflecting their tired and battered images. They trudged up the stairs, the fatigue of the day beginning to catch up with them. One foot after another each step landing on the step heavier than the last. At the top of the stairs Emma took the last step in error raised her foot a half an inch too shorter. A misjudgment that send her skipping across the surface, a rock across the black waters. She came to her finally resting place in a heap at the feet of a tall dark stranger.

Emma looked up through a veil of dark hair. A familiar face stared back. Emma’s pulse quickened and her breath escaped her leaving her gasping. “Emma are you okay?” Felix Moved to help her up but she was already pushing herself away with her leg. She reached the edge of the stair and began her backward tumble, only . He reached out and grabbed her wrist. For Rye of all people to save her pulled her back up to the landing. The one person in the galaxy she hoped to avoid.

“Come on Em, I’m not worth falling downstairs to escape, am I?” He said with a joking chuckle, but Emma wasn’t joking. Her face twisted up in a scowl.

“I thought you were” She mumbled beneath her breath as she pulled her arm free from him and dusted herself off. “Well thank you, we have to be going now.”

“Is that all I’m going to get for saving your life.” He smiled his irritating, yet adorable smile, but Emma could not see past that night. The night that she only remembered in waves. The night that everything changing because it was the night that Angeline died.

“Fuck you, buddy.” Emma turned her back and strode away. She shimmered a slight lavender in the mysterious sunlight. Her eyes locked straight not deviating or turning to look back. Felix started after Emma.

“Hey, I don’t mean to pry, but What the Hell was that?!?” Felix’s tone stayed even as all droids, but beneath the programming concern for his friend grew. Emma is a maze full of dark corners and craves no one ever went.

“That Felix was a Rye!” Emma shouted loud enough for Rye to hear her. As she continued to storm through the city tunnels hopping one tram to the next.

“You mean The Rye?” Felix said tension rising as he thought of the day Emma showed up on his doorstep of his barrack. She had arrived on the intergalactic space station, where he was working as a dock droid. Emma had gotten lost and was a complete mess.

“Emma, we cannot get tangled up in this, I am tired—I am ready to go the hell home. Let’s find a mechanic get this piece of shit fix and get the hell off this rock, and a bucket of rusty screws to Rye.” Emma couldn’t help but let out a giggle at sound of colorful language coming from Felix’s rusty lips. The dark clouds surrounding Emma dissipated with the injection of the unexpected color.

“You win Felix as always, let’s duck in somewhere and grab a bite and we can ask around about a mechanic.” The city in the trees was something amazing when they finally stopped to look around. Crystalline bubbles built up into the trees becoming one with them. glinting in the sunlight. Interconnected and woven into the trees’ colorful canopies by elevator tube. Propelling passengers where they need to go with a whoosh of air.

Emma and Felix hopped off the tram at exit Delta 5. The sign promised a host of spots to get a bit to eat “ and look a market not far up the road, I am sure we can find what we need there.” Emma said with triumph as she pointed to a spot on the map that read Mo’s Grubhouse. Felix looked at the name with raised eyebrows and suspicion but unwilling to upset Emma. He resigned himself to risking food poising.

After lunch they made their way to the market. Emma and Felix wandered around talking with the merchants. Felix wandered off into the droid quarters, enticed by new tech calling his name. Emma found herself locked in a lively debate. Arguing about the differences of two engine components with the scrap merchant. when the firs shadow appeared in the corner of her vision. Then another, Emma looked up, as Felix came up behind her. He carried on about the newest gadget he discovered. When Emma pointed across the way, her eye gleaming the way they did when adventure fills her soul.

“Felix look!” Felix turned to face the direction she was pointing. His eyes widened as he staired in stunned silence. Large cotton ball ships filled the skies. Three white pods connected like the cotton balls from poe-poe’s farm when Emma was a kid. One appeared and within an arcsecond the sky became crowded. The sun went dim, covered almost entirely. Only bits and pieces of rays slipped through the cracks. Shattered gold fragments scattered on a rapidly cooling ground.

“Screws!” Felix busted out. “What is that?”

“Better question, who is that?” Emma said

“Good Question Em, the answer is, those are the Gnongos, space Trolls from the Palioxis Galaxy. Terrible pirates. Lazy slobs too.” Both Emma and Felix whip around at the sound of Rye’s voice.

“ NO NO NO!” Felix said. Standing between Emma and Rye pushing Rye further away with every forward step. “Have done enough, we are fixing our ship and we are getting out of here. We do not have time for your drama sir!”

Rye smirked, “You think the Gnongos are going to let you of this planet?” He spit on the ground next to him. “ You are going to need a miracle to get out of here alive. Gnongos are the garbage of the galaxies. When a planet starts to die, the Gnongos comes a pick it apart limb from limb till there is nothing left. So, either the Gnongos get you or the hostile decaying planet does, either way, like I said you need a miracle.”

Felix’s gear began to spin, and he took a running lung towards Rye. Caught only seconds before reaching his target by Emma. She reached out and caught his wrist yanking him back inches from success. “ I suppose you are going to tell us, you have the miracle, but its going to cost us or some nonsense like that!” Felix spit venom all over Rye.

He came close to Felix’s face and stared him in the eye’s before straightening up to look at Emma. “I would never charge Emma for a thing.” And for a moment a hint of sadness flashed in his eyes. He gathered it back up and shoved it down.

“Let me go, Emma!”

“Can you behave?”

“Okay, fine.” Felix straightened his posture and glared over at Rye. Contempt radiating from is eyes.

“ Rye, if you have a way out, you owe it to me to tell me.” Emma knew Rye wouldn’t say no to her, not after what he did to poor Angeline. The venom seeping in a little more. Rye clenched his jaw and pursed his lips. A desperate attempt to prevent unforgivable words from escaping.

“Look! Your angry fine, but you must stop blaming me for something I did not do. Do you want my help or not, because if I am going to help you, you are going to have to be nicer than that.” Emma fidgeted uncomfortably under the weight of the request. Nice wasn’t Emma’s song and dance. A sigh escaped Emma’s lips, a white flag of surrender.

“Let’s work on finding away off this rock and let’s do it quickly.” Felix hoovered in the background with a scowl etched on his face. A loud declaration of his disapproval of the plan.

“Hey, hate to break up your kumbaya moment here, but we need to go and now!!!” Felix pointed to the sky. The inhabitants of the city began to pour out off their homes in the trees. Fleeing from the decent of Gnongos raining down from the sky. An acidic rain devouring anything in their paths.

Everyone tripping one over another and over themselves. Panicked, they raced for the ground hoping to make an escape into the woods. “Taking shelter with tribes from the underground if they are lucky.” Rye yelled over at Emma as they began to dodge through the crowd. Swerving through legs and slipping between bodies.

“What?!?!” Emma looked bewildered at the random statement at such an inconvenient time. Thoughts flooded here mind. She couldn’t think straight, and he was just adding to the noise inside her head.

“The Sief’ell are trying to escape to the underground tribes.” He repeated to himself with no further explanation. Emma hated this game he played. Say a statement with no rhyme or reason. Then sit in silence until the next one. Question went unanswered often. Emma knew better than to waste her breath, she rolled her eyes and left him to his own world. Felix did not hold to the same philosophy. Felix grabbed Rye by the collar of his space suit and stopped in the middle of the panicking crowd. “We don’t have time for your riddle or your games. If you know something you better start talking, or we are walking, and you are not coming with us!” Felix held his arm out keeping Rye at arm’s length. Emma pulled her gun from her belt. She began blasting off Gnongos like they were low hanging Picklefruit.

Emma looked over to see Felix holding Rye in the air arm’s length away. “Felix, what are you doing? Felix I’m serious, don’t—.” It was too late Felix activated the trigger and Rye went flying across the platform. He knocked several Gnongos down before tumbling down the long flight of stairs. He came to a hard landing on the ground.

“Tasers, seriously right now.” Emma yelled as she and Felix took off down the stairs. They scooping up Rye’s limp body on their way. Slinging him over Felix’s metallic frame they made their way into the forest back towards their ship.

“He is fine, but I am done messing around Emma. If we don’t find a way off this planet were goners and you two don’t seem all that worried about it.”

“Sometimes there are worse things than death Felix.”


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