Previous: A Glimmer of Light
The winds fell silent, as if to make way for the approaching squadron of ambicopters. The sky above was dark, save for a few rays of sunlight lazily climbing over the horizon. Below, a vast expanse of clouds seemed almost as if reaching to envelop the aircraft above. Sounds of thunder could be heard from within these vaporous mountains, accompanied by deceptively small flashes of lightning near the surface.
The ambicopters gave no sign but a subtle shift in formation, before diving into the clouds' embrace.
With every cycle, came a new layer of anguish. Every despairing moment was no more than mere hours before. Every faint hope was found and shattered anew. But there was no time left to feel such pain.
- Dingane: “He's coming”
Philangezwi knew the words before they had left Dingane's mouth, but they were unsettling nonetheless. Somehow he managed to calm himself, and helped his friend stand.
- Philangezwi: “We need to warn Thulisile.”
They did not need to go far. Thulisile approached them at a hurried pace, likely already aware that something was wrong. Although she faced them both, Philangezwi could tell that she was addressing Dingane - not unexpected, given Philangezwi's own state of mind.
- Thulisile: “The cycle shouldn't have ended so quickly.”
- Dingane: “I was outside when it happened. Unathi knows where we are.”
Thulisile took a careful breath. Her head swayed slowly while she considered this.
- Thulisile: “We need to prepare a defense. We'll only get one chance at this.”
- Dingane: “I'll see if I can bolster the Sanctuary's wards.”
Dingane still looked somewhat shaken, but he managed a determined stride as he returned to the outer wall. Gazing for a moment at Philangezwi, Thulisile looked almost like she was about to say something, but turned away and headed in the other direction. Philangezwi stood still for a while as he tried to collect his thoughts.
The others had always seen Philangezwi's knowledge of the future as something that came through visions, but this was not the case. All he perceived was a sense of what was right, what needed to happen, almost like the sensation of déjà vu. It was only when this feeling came to him that he had something calming to hold on to. A oneness with the Dreamer.
In this moment, Philangezwi knew exactly what needed to happen. With renewed focus, he headed to the storerooms.
Time seemed to pass much more quickly when he worked like this. He did not know if it was minutes of hours before he had assembled several crates of supplies - mostly food - as well as a few maps from the archives. The shuttle would already be refueled. The others had chosen to leave it outside of the Sanctuary's wards, where it would be reset every cycle. Even so, Philangezwi could feel that time was running out. The sound of ambicopters could be heard faintly in the distance.
Then came the hardest part. Near the center of the Sanctuary, a passageway led down to a warded room, designed to protect those inside even when the outer wards had failed. Philangezwi disabled the access panel.
He headed outside to the western landing area. A sea of rocky hills stretched out to the horizon, almost mirroring the clouds above. Philangezwi had always been more able to cope with this vastness than Dingane and Thulisile, but his role had necessitated that he stay within the Sanctuary's walls nonetheless. Now he had a different part to play.
The ambicopters had already dropped below the clouds to the south, but were still quite some distance away. As Philangezwi looked on, a few started to drift out of formation, some colliding with one another. Doubtlessly this was the work of Thulisile. It was too late. A wave of cannonfire hit the sanctuary like lighting, pounding at its defensive wards. The shockwave knocked Philangezwi off-balance, and with the second salvo he fell to the ground. The third was aimed at the hillside below the Sanctuary wall, and both began to fall apart. The wards had fallen.
Choking on the now dusty air, Philangezwi got to his feet and pulled the last of the crates into the shuttle. He knew he wouldn't have a chance to help Dingane and Thulisile. Stepping over to the navigation terminal, he hurriedly made some pre-flight checks before moving to the pilot's seat.
The shuttle lurched off the ground, but Philangezwi managed to keep it under control. He headed skywards. As much as he wanted to, he could not bring himself to look back.
- This event was written by Treebeard1010102.