Expedition Fidne is the name given to the last step of Project Fidne. It consisted of the long-awaited travel to the moon Gorb Olohya by Nynn Vandar and Zano Hylera, the selected candidates from the pilot trials from the day before, which led to first encounter with alien species.
The events of the story are argurably the most important in the whole collection, as the Llurebleg finally establish contact with alien species.
After being selected by the juter for the mission, Nynn and Zano travel to the moon Gorb Olohya, in hopes of finding traces of an alien civilization. Once there, they discover the satellite isn't a deserted land with no population, but also that its inhabitants aren't willing to warmly welcome them...
Planets and moons
- Nynn Vandar
- Zano Hylera
- Olgun Suner (death)
- Hud-Vanf Guden (minor role)
- Gant-Denn Daraunte
- Garko Cunfe (minor role)
- The doctor (debut, minor role)
- Leenod Jocks (mentioned)
- Nynn's father (mentioned)
- Nynn's mother (mentioned)
- Lumble (mentioned)
- Corono (debut, name not revealed)
- Androg (debut, name not revealed)
- Frento (only mentioned)
- Arzhraghase (debut)
- Ghinghase (debut)
- Eiraghase (debut)
- Kataro (debut)
- Thunder Bee
- Polordoneer (only mentioned)
- Watoadzard (mentioned)
- Sabalor (minor role)
- Xuz Fahrean Grinkler (debut, minor role)
- Wistompt (minor role)
- Ypobrachophyta (debut, minor role)
Empires and civilizations
Vehicles and Spaceships
- GT-92 (physical debut)
Previous story: Wannabe Captain
Part 1: Truth
How long was it gonna take? Olgun and Leenod had been taken to the city's doctor. It was already midnight. Nynn was standing next to Olgun, who was still unconscious, lying in a bed. Finally. The doctor came in the room and walked up to Nynn.
- DOCTOR: Nynn Vandar?
- NYNN: Yes, it's me.
- DOCTOR: Are you family of him?
- NYNN: No, he's my friend. Olgun has no family. His parents abandoned him.
- DOCTOR: Alright...
There was a short silence.
- NYNN: So, what's up with them?
- DOCTOR: Leenod has some broken bones, but he should get better in a couple of weeks. As for Olgun... I don't think so.
- NYNN: What? What happened to him...
The doctor remained silent. After a few seconds, he finally replied.
- DOCTOR: The thing is, he's been poisoned.
Nynn couldn't believe it. Poisoned? The Sabalor poisoned him?
- NYNN: But, it cannot be. He was already coughing before the trials.
- DOCTOR: That's the problem. This isn't Sabalor poison. We have analyzed it, and it's not the same. But it does match with the poison of another creature of our planet...
- NYNN: Don't you mean...?
- DOCTOR: Yes, a Polordoneer. They tend to flee from danger, but they also have their reasons for fighting back. And unlike that of a Sabalor, which works instantly and paralyzes the enemy in the worst cases, the venom of a Polordoneer takes a while to take effect, but it can cause death if not treated in time. Additionally, due to it's recent discovery, no confirmed antidote exists yet.
- NYNN: Are you saying he's going to die??
- DOCTOR: We're not that sure. It would be certainly better if he came here much sooner, but we will attempt to save him anyways. We will make experiments on the poison and try to make an antidot for the poison. There is a possibility he survives this.
Suddenly, Olgun's body started moving. He was waking up! He looked very sick and his voice was husky, but he had finally woke up!
- OLGUN: What... What happened?
- DOCTOR: I'll let you two alone. I suspect you have things to talk about.
The doctor walked out of the room. Nynn and Olgun were alone now.
- NYNN: Why didn't you tell me?
- OLGUN: Tell you what?
- NYNN: Why the heck didn't you tell me a Polordoneer bit you? Or are you gonna tell me it waited for you to fall sleep or something?
- OLGUN: Oh, that... I had to fight one of those lizards for the cuzegel I took to you last night. It must have bitten me while we were struggling for the corpse.
- NYNN: Why didn't you tell me? We could have came here much before! The Sabalor was this close to crush your f***ing skull while you were unconscious!
- OLGUN: I... I didn't want to let you miss this chance... Nynn, I know you have always wanted to pilot that spaceship, since we were little kids. I don't want to ruin your dream, Nynn... And if my life is the cost for it, I will give it.
- NYNN: Are you crazy? I don't care about that stupid ship if that means you're gonna die for it!! You know what? I'm not going. I have to watch for you.
- OLGUN: No... You have to go... You have to do this. Almost the whole Hanyira* wants to know what's out there! They need you two. And I'm guessing you are going with Zano... Don't let go that chance either, Nynn. Don't screw everything up for me.
- NYNN: Olgun...
- OLGUN: Don't worry. I'll resist, and I promise to you that I'll be fine when you come back. I want to know what do you find up there too.
Nynn thought about it for a second. He didn't want to leave Olgun alone... But he was right. It was the opportunity of his life, and the whole planet trusted him. The doctor said saving his life was possible. Plus, Olgun would feel bad the rest (though possibily short) of his life if he didn't go, as he would feel it's his fault.
- NYNN: OK. I'm going.
- OLGUN: Great... I'll be waiting for you. It's too late, you should leave already...
- NYNN: OK.
Nynn left the room as well, leaving Olgun alone inside. In the corridor he found a surprise.
- NYNN: Gant-Denn...
- DARAUNTE: Hey, Nynn.
- NYNN: Why are you here?
- DARAUNTE: I was worried about you two. How's your friend, Olgun?
- NYNN: The doctor said he's been poisoned by a Polordoneer. He says they might cure him, but I'm not so sure.
- DARAUNTE: Oh. I'm sorry...
There was a short silence.
- DARAUNTE: I guess you have to go home.
- NYNN: But my father is in jail. I'll be alone there.
- DARAUNTE: But what about your mother?
- NYNN: I... I never knew her...
There was a short silence.
- DARAUNTE: Sorry, I shouldn't have said that.
- NYNN: No, it's OK. But I have nowhere to pass the night.
- DARAUNTE: Well, I have an idea. If you want to, I can let you pass the night in the Nurkane.
- GARKO: What?
- NYNN: What? Would you really do that for me?
- DARAUNTE: Of course. You need to rest for tomorrow, remember.
- NYNN: Wow... Thank you so much!
- DARAUNTE: You're welcome, Nynn.
- GARKO: Sir, can we talk for a moment alone?
- DARAUNTE: Of course. Nynn, would you mind?
- NYNN: No problem. I'll wait for you two outside.
Nynn walked to the exit of the corridor, leaving Daraunte and Garko alone.
- GARKO: Sir, may I ask why-
- DARAUNTE: Don't call me sir.
- GARKO: May I ask why are you so caring of that boy?
- DARAUNTE: What do you mean?
- GARKO: Not only you treat him like a friend. You seem to protect it the way a father would do.
- DARAUNTE: Didn't you hear him before? He doesn't have a mother, and his father... You know. His best friend is ill and moving towards death, and that furgal that seemed a friend of his is gone now. He has nobody else right now.
- GARKO: Do you think we can trust him?
- DARAUNTE: Of course! He's just a kid.
- GARKO: I'm not sure. He seems to be trying to get close to that girl... Zano Hylera, was her name?
- DARAUNTE: Yeah, I noticed. He's in love, I'm sure. Anything wrong with that?
- GARKO: So he's in love.
- DARAUNTE: Yes, in love.
- GARKO: With Fanru's daughter.
Oh, yeah, right. Zano Hylera is the daughter of Fanru Dahr. Maybe I should have mentioned that a bit earlier...
- DARAUNTE: Garko, what are you getting at?
- GARKO: If the father is bad, the daughter gets badd. And if the daughter gets bad, the crush eventually gets bad.
- DARAUNTE: I'm sick of this, you know? Why does everybody satirize Fanru so much? He just has troubles controlling his anger. And his vocabulary. Look, Nynn is waiting outside, so let's leave things down and go back.
Garko obeyed. Both left the corridor and went outside. That night, Nynn slept very well that night, luckily. Next day was gonna be a hard day. He was going up there, with Zano Hylera, to the moon. It was finally time to meet the true Guritana**.
-**Banarian word for Gorb Olohya.
Part 2: Discord
- DARAUNTE: Wake up, Nynn! It's time.
It was finally morning of the next day. Well, sort of. It was very early yet.
- NYNN: But... It is still midnight.
- DARAUNTE: Not exactly. The sun will come up in about one hour.
- NYNN: Why can't I sleep a bit more?
- DARAUNTE: Don't you remember? Today you're riding the spaceship to Guritana!
- NYNN: Yeah, but it's not until a couple of hours.
- DARAUNTE: Enough time to get ready! Come on.
- NYNN: OK...
It only took a couple of hours for Nynn to have breakfast, have a shower and dress himself. Just in time for the event. Accompained by Daraunte and Garko, both went to the city square, where Instructor Guden and many other people were waiting for them. The spaceship was covered by a large white blanked, and there was a track that went from its location all the way down to a gate in the walls of the city. DARAUNTE: Nynn, I'm busy today, so we must leave. Do you think you'll do well alone? NYNN: Of course. Daraunte smiled. He left Nynn there, in front of all those people, and went back to the Nurkane with Garko. Shortly after, Nynn saw Zano coming towards the square. To his surprise, Fanru Dahr was with her. Nynn walked up to them.
- NYNN: Hi, Zano!
- ZANO: Hi, I guess.
- FANRU: Owwwh, zhow dees ees jhour theem-meihtte. "Neenne Vuhndarrh", rigghtte??
Oh, yeah, just in case you forgot. Fanru's grammar was terrible.
- NYNN: Umm, yeah, it's me. What are you doing here?
- FANRU: Mee zinks aye seenne yew suhmvherre bheefhore...
- NYNN: Oh, it must be just a coincidence, I believe.
- FANRU: Uhllryghtte. Zuhnoh, doo yew huhve ehbereezeeng yew neede?
- ZANO: Yes, dad.
- FANRU: Whaddeber, disse ees guhnna feylle soe buhdd. Huhbe fuhn, Zano!
Fanru started to walk away, without waiting for Zano to say him goodbye as well.
- ZANO: I love you too, dad.
She then noticed how Nynn looked at her sadly, empathic of her.
- ZANO: What are you looking at?
Nynn quickly looked in another direction, for he didn't want to annoy her. Both of them walked together to the center of the square. Instructor Guden, after they got there, started speaking.
- GUDEN: Here they are. The two rocks we trained so hard for this. They, apparently, have proven themselves worthy of riding this spaceship. This is the last step to make, the last task we have to complete in order to achieve our space age. The wonders of the galaxy are right around the corner. What they do up there is crucial. If it goes well, we will be officially a space empire, and we will thrive. If this fails, however, all of our acts will have been in vain. Let's hope it's the first thing what happens. And now, ladies and gentlemen, I'm proud to present to you... The GT-92!
Guden took the blanked out of the ship, revealing what it actually looked like. Everybody was quite impressed, as they never had seen a vehicle like that before, and rubbed their hands at Guden. Zano inmediately got inside the ship, sitting in the first seat, but Nynn wanted to talk to Guden first.
- NYNN: Excuse me, instructor Guden.
- GUDEN: Oh. Nynn. I guess you are going in the ship.
- NYNN: Umm, yes.
- GUDEN: I cannot say I approve you having been selected for this, but I guess I am nobody to complain. You better freeze up that heart of yours to do this well. Unlike that Sabalor you "fought" yesterday, creatures up there aren't just gonna let you live because you made them a favor.
- NYNN: I guess. I wanted to ask you if you could watch for Olgun while I'm not here. I don't want to leave him alone.
Guden looked at Nynn with a sober face. There was a short silence.
- NYNN: OK. I understand you have better things to do than-
- GUDEN: Not exactly. My job as an instuctor is done, so I guess I have no important plans right now. I'll do it.
- NYNN: Really? Thank you so much!
- GUDEN. You're welcome. But now get inside the ship. People are waiting.
Nynn obeyed Guden and sat in the second seat of the GT-92.
The engines were on. After the controls were regulated by the young pilots, Zano pressed a button and the ship accelerated. It was driven by them on the tracks, which after getting out of the city went round around its walls. The GT did many loops around the city, gaining more and more kinetic energy. Now at its maximum speed, the machine was ready to leave now. After Nynn pressed another button, a ramp rose from the roads and the spaceship was launched into the air. The GT-92 was finally rising over the atmosphere, sailing into deep space. All the people looked at it abandoning the atmosphere. The herbivores that grazed in the plains, such as Sabales and Grinklers, also looked at the sky curiously. Having came back to the square before the ship launched, Fanru Dahr watched it leave as well.
- FANRU: Sow hee's Neenne Vuhndarrh. Nuhize nehmme. Neenne Vuhndarrh. Neenne Vuhndarrh... Neenne Vuhndarrh? Weith uh mmommentte, dat's dhe keede whoo meidde mee looss dhe stoopede deevhatt!! WEITH, STHUPPE, AYE UHM NUHTT LHETTINE MAYE DOUGHTTERE GOW AWT DHERE WEET DAT BUHSTHARDE!!! SHTUPPE DAT FAHKEEN MEHTALLE PEEZE RYGHTTE NAWE!!!
Gone savage because he wasn't getting what he wanted, Fanru started picking up chairs and throwing them everywhere. Some guards tried to calm him down, but nothing seemed to work. Garko watched the whole scene from the windows of the Nurkane. Dammit, when was people gonna open their eyes and see that there was something severely wrong with that man?
On the meanwhile, in outer space, the teenagers took turns to drive the spaceship from Xuz Fareh to Gorb Olohya. Nobody spoke a word until they arrived to the planet, after some hours. The planet was covered in a dense, bluish mist.
- ZANO: Dang it, I can't see anything.
- NYNN: I'll turn on the radar.
- ZANO: No, thanks. I can do this alone, OK?
So she turned on the radar. Nothing but the ship was present in it. There was a short silence.
- NYNN: Hey, I didn't know Fanru Dahr was your father.
- ZANO: Why should you?
- NYNN: I don't know. He's famous, so I'd expect his daughter to be famous as well.
- ZANO: Well, Daraunte is your father, but you weren't famous until now either.
- NYNN: He's not my father.
- ZANO: But by the way he treats you, it looks like he is. Not that it matters, because being famous doesn't make you a better father.
- NYNN: Yeah, I've seen that.
There was another short silence.
- ZANO: What do you mean with that?
- NYNN: Don't worry, I see what's up. I know how it feels like to have a father that doesn't seem to love you at all.
- ZANO: You know nothing. You think you're smarta** just because you were lucky than an animal decided not to waste strenght on killing you.
- NYNN: That has nothing to do with thi-
- ZANO: You aren't better than me, OK? I've spent weeks... Wait, not weeks, but MONTHS. I spent months preparing for this moment. I'm not let you f*** everything up, and don't use my father as an excuse! You better not even mention him, OK?
- NYNN: Calm down, Zano, I just wanted to-
- ZANO: Make yourself look better for this than me, once again? Just being the protégé of the juter doesn't mean you're cool or something!
They started arguing. Nynn tried to calm Zano down, which didn't seem like a sucessful operation. What was up to her? None of them payed attention to the radar of the ship, which now displayed a strange body quickly moving towards the ship.
- NYNN: I'm sorry, I didn't want to offend you. Can we just leave this conversation?
- ZANO: Yes, please, leave me with my business, OK? I already told you! Screw you, Nee-
Too late. Before Zano could finish her sentence, the thing had crashed into the ship, whose cabin turned purple from the emergency lights*. The GT-92 was sunk in the noise of the siren, the teenagers' screams of fear and an additional ghastly cry for short moments, until it fell on the solid rock floor.
-*Similarly to how humans usually associate the color red with danger, Llurebleg often connote the color purple as "dangerous".
Part 3: Big Horned Things
Just another day in Xuz Fareh. Except that it was one year since the GT-92 had taken off, and it didn't come back yet. Some citizens were worried about the fate of the two teenagers that had taken off 350 days earlier*. Daraunte, however, didn't look really worried. He was a bit impatient for them to come back, but didn't seem to be preoccupied by what could have happened there. That day, while he was watching the city from his window, Gant-Denn received a visit.
- BUTLER: Sir Daraunte, Mantur is here.
- DARAUNTE: Let him come in.
The butler left to inform the representative of Purxie. Kavalen came in without greeting him at all.
- KAVALEN: This isn't going as you expected, does it?
- DARAUNTE: I'm guessing you are here just to reproach my decisions again.
- KAVALEN: What else can I do? It's been one year before Those kids must be dead by now. Their bodies must be rotting in the middle of space, or being digested by some monstrous alien bird. And all because of a dumb dream. Accept it: the mission failed.
- DARAUNTE: They're OK. I have a feeling they are.
- KAVALEN: And I'm guessing we all have to believe that random feeling you have all of a sudden.
- DARAUNTE: First of all, there are theories that suggest time in outer space passes slower than if going fast. It's been a year down here, but maybe they just arrived Guritana. All precautions have been taken and they have been sucessfully trained, so I don't see any ways this couldn't work.
- KAVALEN: The problem is the exact same reason you sent them there: we don't know what's out there. The results are completely unpredictable.
- DARAUNTE: Trust me, they're fine.
- KAVALEN: Whatever. I might trust you, but the people don't think the same. Just saying, by the end of this year it's going to be time to elect a new juter. And you'd rather retire as a good leader, who used common sense the most, rather than someone who left two innocent teenagers stranded in the moon, exposed to the forces of nature. Keep that in mind.
Kavalen left the room, without saying goodbye to Daraunte either. The juter continued looking through the window at the citizens. They were talking, probably about the poor young pilots. All of Hanyira was against him now, because of his mistake. But it wasn't a mistake. He knew Nynn and Zano were alive.
They HAD to be alive...
In the meanwhile, up in Gorb Olohya, there weren't very good news. The GT-92 was completely broken. Nynn had fainted. He stayed dormant for a few minutes, until he finally woke, feeling something strange right after. He was the first one to noticed the ground was slightly moving. But he didn't care. He saw Zano had fainted as well.
- NYNN: Zano! Are you OK?
She woke up as well.
- ZANO: Yes, I'm OK, you don't have to scream! What the hell was that?
- NYNN: I think we hit something while we were arguing.
- ZANO: It was a rhetorical question. I'll go out and check it's not waiting to eat us outside or something.
- NYNN: Be careful.
Zano opened the door. It was hard to see, because there still was a dense fog outside. The air was breathable, but there was a quite disgusting smell on it. The ground was composed by large, flat grey platform-like rocks. She looked around to check there wasn't any danger in sight before fully going out. The moment she stepped on the rock floor, she felt something strange on her feet. The moment she looked down, Zano realised she was stepping on a strange, dark brown liquid, which came from behind the GT-92. Shortly after, she looked around and saw something else coming from below the crashed spaceship, something pretty impresive but horrific to see: a humongous wing-like appendage, as large as her, with long claws on its end and what looked like flashing lights on its surface. Another of those appendages could be seen on the other end of the spaceship, and it was likely that there were two more in the other side of it.
- ZANO: Thank goodness... Whatever that was, it's dead now.
- NYNN: What does it looked like?
- ZANO: I don't know, all I can see are it's... Let's call them wings. I'm going out to check if there is anything else out there.
- NYNN: Be careful.
- ZANO: You already said that.
Zano walked a bit further from the GT-92. She was on another rock platform now, but still close to the spaceship. Suddenly, she heard a low, gutural noise, similar to that an hungry Wistompt would emit, that seemed to come from not too far away. The bellow repeated continuously. She looked back and saw no monster behind her, but something way stranger. She noticed the blood she had stepped in moments before didn't flow erratically in random directions, like liquids usually behave. It was flowing in a specific direction: namely, the direction the GT-92's flanks were facing towards. The bellows still could be heard in the distance. Nynn could hear them too.
- NYNN: What's that noise?
- ZANO: Probably nothing.
But then she discovered something else, something way worse. She discovered why the blood was flowing in that direction. Looking closely at the empty space that separated the platform she was standing on and the one the GT had crashed on, she noticed the latter wasn't lying on the floor, but was forming an acute angle with it instead. An angle that, at a similar rate the roaring was sounding louder, was becoming wider and wider. Zano quickly understood she had to warn Nynn.
- ZANO: Get out of the spaceship! The ground is moving!
- NYNN: What?? I can't hear you with all that noise!
- ZANO: Get out of the spaceshi-!
Too late. The rock was now too slanted for the ruined vehicle to hold on it. All Zano could do now was to scream while she saw the spaceship roll down the platform until dissapearing into the mist.
- ZANO: NYNN!!!!!
The moment the combined sound of Nynn screaming and the GT-92 rolling downwards stopped, the distant bellows suddenly became extremely loud, and a stomping sound started accompaining them. Whatever creatures made those sounds were scared now because of the noise. And every second that passed, Zano heard them getting closer.
On the meanwhile, in the GT-92, Nynn was terrified. The door Zano opened to go out had been dissasembled from the vehicle due to the constant crashes, and the machine had landed on the flank Nynn was standing in. Thanks to the security bars, he didn't suffer much physical damage from the accident. But the ride had been frightening, as it might be expected from sitting on a broken vehicle that rolls down a hill. And, of course, he was worried about Zano... Was she OK? Did some creature eat her already? Thankfully not, after some time, when Nynn was already leaving his seat in order to go out and check if she was alright, the young Llurebleg finally came out from the large gap the door left, and fell on top of Nynn. She remained still, laying on his lap, causing him to blush.
- NYNN: Za- Za- Zano, wha- wha- what are you-
- ZANO: Shhhh! Don't make a sound.
Obeying Zano, Nynn remained quiet, and soon understood she wasn't showing affect for him in any way. He heard how, judging by the volume of the roars and the stomping, at least some of the creatures were coming towards the them. They heard how they bellowed constantly, seemingly looking for them. Nynn and Zano didn't move and remained silent, trying not to be discovered by them. But their plan soon failed. When the creatures were about to leave, one of them accidentally bumped the already lopsided GT-92, causing it to roll down one more time, leaving it upside down. Nynn screamed again as they fell down, and the sound made the creatures terrified again. Looking by the huge gap that was now visible to the attackers, Zano and Nynn finally saw the face of one of them. It was a large and gruesome creature, with an elongated neck covered by slimy skin and a huge flat horn-like structure coming out from its round teeth-filled mouth, which seemingly had a second teeth-filled mouth inside. The teenagers knew they were in danger when the creature bellowed at them, showing its second round jaw. The kids moved back, trying to get away from it, only for the second monster to stab the remainind door they were leaning on with it's horn, almost decapitating them. They were stuck between the attacks of both horned monsters.
- NYNN: What do we do now?
- ZANO: Do the cannons of the ship work?
- NYNN: I don't think so
- ZANO: Then there is only one way to go.
Inmediately after, she took out her JJ-99 gun from her belt, and aimed at the groaning creature in front of them.
- ZANO: Fighting.
She shot the gun, and the electric charge effectively hit the target. The aggresor got its head out from the vehicle and groaned in pain for a few seconds before falling to the ground dead. After struggling by its horn being stuck on it, the second one tore the door apart from the vehicle. Zano quickly drawed her metal blade from the belt and ran towards it. Taking advantage that it was distracted, she slashed the creature's neck, tearing its head apart and making it to fall dead as well. Nynn spent the whole time looking at her fight. She was so strong, so agile, so beautiful...
- ZANO: What are you looking at?
- NYNN: Uhm, nothing, nothing!
Suddenly, more noise was heard in the distance. The stomping and the roaring of the gruesome creatures was heard again by the explorers.
- ZANO: There's more of them coming! Quick, run!
Both of them ran into the mist, in an attempt to be safe. They didn't know where they were going. They didn't know what they would find. They didn't know what they would need. And overall, they didn't know the creatures, whose name was actually Arzhraghases, weren't the only ones following them...
Part 4: Big Big Thing
Lost between the mist, not knowing where they were going. Nynn and Zano were still wandering over the rock-made plains of Gorb Olohya, escaping from the Arzhraghases. All their food supply was in the ship they left behind, as well as all their means of communication with their homeplanet. They were completely stranded, stuck in a moon of danger. Exhausted of walking, the teenagers fell to the ground and sat there to recover strenght.
- NYNN: I... I don't think... They're following us anymore.
- ZANO: Well... If they are... I hope they're as tired of running as us...
They remained sitted in place until they heard those lound bellows again.
- ZANO: No... Not them again!
- NYNN: Wait, they attacked us because the noise scared them. Maybe if we don't make much noise and leave quietly, they let us live.
So they followed Nynn's advice. They remained quiet and saw the sillouetes of the Arzhraghases roaming between the mist. They weren't as scary when nobody disturbed them. They also found out why the rock was moving under them before. They saw them roaring again to coordinate each other, then all of them slided their tusks under one of the rock platforms and, together, lifting it up. They saw some glowing dots coming out from under the stone, and moving towards the Arzhraghases' mouths, whose second jaw could be distinguished from the sillouetes.
- ZANO: So that's what they eat.
The Arzhraghases fed on Ypobrachophyta: a species of plant that was located under the rocks of the planet. The moment the horned creatures, with effort and teamwork, lifted up the rocks, the plants could finally photosynthetize, as well as releasing their spores to reproduce. The Arzhraghases, due to their collaboration, were rewarded with some of those spores: their only food source in a hostile world.
- NYNN: Why can't we be like them?
There was a short silence.
- ZANO: Because we aren't looking to lift the same rock.
- NYNN: What does that mean?
- ZANO: You're just doing this for being popular, don't you, "Neen"? I don't blame you, it's something normal. But I just can't tolerate that kind of people.
- NYNN: I didn't even want to do this. Olgun, my best friend, is suffering from a deadly illness at home. The only reason I'm here, and not taking care of him, is because he wanted me to do this. I hope he's fine...
- ZANO: Don't worry, he'll be OK.
Nynn was surprised. For once, Zano had tried to be nice towards him, unlike every other time they talked during the trip. She wasn't as friendly as he'd like her to be, but he was happy that she was trying not to look angry all the time.
But unluckily, that moment of peace soon vanished. A loud and ghastly sound, the same the two teenagers heard when the spaceship crashed, was heard by them. NYNN: What was that?
- ZANO: Nynn, the creatures! They are scared again!
Unfortunately, Zano was right. The Arzhraghases, which were already very sensitive toward noise, easily recognized who that cry belonged to. The explorers got up from the floor and ran away so they didn't become the herbivores' target again, almost being crushed by the feet of the newcomer as a result.
- NYNN: Woah!
The Eiraghase, harbinger of doom, the largest living being in the whole sattelite, stopped by to have breakfast. The monstrous animal, two times the height of an average Llurebleg house, was one of the most feared creatures there, but not because of its size. Eiraghases are completely petrophagous: they feed on rocks they consume by melting them with an acid they spit through one of their many trunks. The creature itself would never harm a fly voluntarily, but its passengers would. After the colossus walked over Nynn and Zano, the teenagers saw more shadows coming out from it's back, and swooping down towards the afraid Arzhraghases. Glowing sillouetes resembling four-winged birds with claws on their wings. Zano and Nynn finally met them again. The Ghinghases, the same creatures that took down the GT-92 some time ago, were back for the sake of the teenagers' bad luck. Their prime target was the Arzhraghases, of course, but some of them spotted the visitors and decided it was time to try out a new meal.
- NYNN: I think it's time to run!
- ZANO: Run if you want, but I can deal with these too.
She pulled out her blade again, as one of the Ghinghases divised them through the mist and swooped down to hunt them. Thanks to quick thinking, and possibly because of luck as well, she managed to stab the bird on the head without suffering damage from its claws. She managed to kill another one that attacked from behind as well, using her JJ-99 gun. But soon, many Ghinghases started picking on her, forcing the young Llurebleg to change strategies, now dodging their attacks instead of intercepting them. Soon, there were too many, and one managed to bring her down to the floor. If Nynn didn't pluck up the courage he needed to run towards the battle and shoot the winged monster, Zano would be dead by now.
- NYNN: At least let me help you!
- ZANO: Ugh, alright.
After she got up, they started working together, fighting side to side, in an attempt to survive the neverending attack of the Ghinghases, their furious claw strikes and the blinding light of their wings. The Arzhraghases also tried to fight them, but didn't get very good results as well. Swooping down from behind, the terrors of the skies rather easily avoided their horns, latching onto them with their claws and stabbing them with their fangs in order to suck their blood until there was nothing their heart could pump anymore, thus making them die. The Eiraghase, indifferent to the chaos below it, peacefully spitted acid to melt the rock behind it and sucking it. This would often make things even worse, as there was one more danger to avoid for Nynn and Zano.
- ZANO: You know? I think it's a good time to do that idea you suggested before?
- NYNN: Running?
- ZANO: Exactly.
So, taking advantage that the Ghinghases were regrouping, the teenagers ran away from the scene, leaving all the creatures behind, except for the aforementioned predators that now chased them. Everything seemed to go well until Nynn, exhausted from fighting the hunters before, tripped and fell to the ground. The bright lights on the sky were getting everytime closer, so it would have made sense for him that Zano left him behind to save her own life. But she didn't. She came back to help him.
- ZANO: Are you alright?
Nynn couldn't help but blush at Zano being kind again.
- NYNN: Y- Y- Yes! T- T- Thank you so much!
- ZANO: You're welc- GAAH!
Oh, why did Nynn have to be so distracted? If he had payed more attention, he would have seen the Ghinghase coming from behind Zano. Now it was too late.
After rolling on the floor pushed back by it, both the predator and the prey were gone. Zano was nowhere to be found.
- NYNN: Zano? Zano! ZANO!!
His shouts didn't get a response, other than the haunting screech of the Ghinghases, getting ready to hunt down the second hanyire. Nynn tried to escape, but the predators flew much faster, and their prey was already tired. Nynn didn't want to run anymore. He just couldn't. Not only because of the fatigue, but also because of the guilt. Zano was probably being eaten alive by those monsters right now, and it was his fault. Not able to run anymore, Nynn stopped and bowed down to rest. When he looked backwards, he saw one of the Ghinghases landing close to him, slowly walking towards him menacingly.
- NYNN: What do you want from me? You already got Zano... What are you waiting for? Go for it!
The Ghinghase, too hungry to wait much more, groaned once more and flew into the sky to attack Nynn from it. But just in the right time, seconds before Nynn got his blood sucked, a shadow popped out from the sky and landed on the predator to fight it. With scars on her face and brown alien blood all over her body, Zano , who somehow survived the previous ambush, heroically returned to save Nynn once again, struggling with the giant bird until she managed to impale her blade through its chest, causing an almost instant death.
- NYNN: Zano! I thought you were-
- ZANO: I'm not letting these things eat me so easily. Nor you, I guess.
- NYNN: I- I'm sorry, I should have-
More groans were heard in the distance, for more Ghinghases were coming.
- ZANO: We'll worry about that later!
Zano put herself in fighting position again, while both her and Nynn walked backwards. The Ghinghases started landing before them, too many for them to be handled. The moment they decided it was time to strike, there would be no way the kids could defend from all of them. Dinner was on the table.
And suddenly, something happened.
- NYNN: Ouch!
Nynn noticed he had bumped something while walking backwards. The Ghinghases soon noticed, and didn't waste time in... Fleeing. Yeah, fleeing. They flew away. Really. They didn't want to get even close to that place, ever again. Zano turned around, staring at what Nynn was leaning on now, trying to find out a reason.
- NYNN: What? What's up with them?
- ZANO: I think I know...
Nynn turned around as well, and saw a solid metallic wall in front of him. He walked backwards in surprise, as the fog started to dissipate. Behind the wall, the explorers saw the silloutes of what looked like large, pointy towers.
- ZANO: We found it...
They had found a city.
Part 5: Hive
Walking by the metallic wall, the two explorers finally found the entrance to the city. It was an enormous city, occupying three times the surface of Cyner. It was seemingly covered by a huge transparent dome, blocking a good amount of the mist from entering and allowing the urbanization to be seen. Most buildings were cubical structures, measuring a third of the Nurkane's height squared, but there were also many tall, needle-like buildings, with the same width as the smaller structures but with a height op up to three times that of the Nurkane; all of them separated by wide streets. All buildings were heavily deteriorated, especially the structure which presumably would have been the city hall: a massive triangular pyramid, though not as tall as the towers in the city. There were no visible citizens, and the place felt a lot like a ghost town.
- NYNN: Where's everybody?
- ZANO: Honestly, I think it's better for us to not find them. You know. Just in case they are as hostile as those... Birds?
They kept walking around, looking for life. Little they knew it was watching them right now. Many shadows crawled between the buildings, watching the newcomers and evaluating them, moments before sending a "probe" to test if it was safe to offer them. Floating in the air, looking for food samples, a parasite was directed towards them.
- NYNN: Zano...
- ZANO: What's it?
- NYNN: I'm so sorry about what happened before.
- ZANO: Oh, don't worry about that.
There was a short silence.
- NYNN: Why did you come back to save me?
- ZANO: You know, I wouldn't be that welcomed back if I let my copilot die.
- NYNN: I guess...
While the hosts were distracted by the conversation, the small critter carefully landed on top of Nynn's wrist, looking for the veins. Soon, Nynn felt a slight pain and noticed the bug on his hand, latched onto his skin and sucking liquids. Zano saw the invasor too.
- ZANO: Why don't you kill it?
- NYNN: It just wants to eat. It must be hungry.
Soon after having sucked the blood it needed, the parasite inflated itself and floated away, directed towards the triangle in the middle of the city.
- ZANO: You are kind of a weirdo, aren't you?
- NYNN: He does the exact same thing we do to crops and farm animals. Why is that right?
- ZANO: Don't say I didn't warn you when you get some uncurable alien sickness.
- NYNN: At least we now know there is life here.
So they kept walking around, while the unknown stalkers kept studying them. After a while, Zano heard a groan.
- ZANO: Stop. I heard something.
The groans kept being heard, and Zano felt something was wrong.
- ZANO: Quick, hide there!
The teenagers ran up behind one of the square buildings. Nynn watched by the corner of the building and saw a figure coming out of the triangle. A large, hound-like monster with large horns and what looked like a sting on its tail. They didn't know yet, but the abandoned city they were in was the location of a hive. A hive of the most feared creature in the satellite, most fearsome than the Ghinghase, the only hunter capable of making Eiraghases shiver and flee from the place they found those creatures that easily could have comed out crawling from the christian Hell. The once-more-unlucky teenagers had stumbled upon the apex predator of Gorb Olohya: a hive of Kataro.
- ZANO: Why are all creatures here such ugly-*ss meanies?
- NYNN: Shut up, or it's gonna hear us.
Remaining silent was worthless, anyway. Above them, at the top of the building, another Kataro, this one more insectoid, started emiting acute groans to warn the hunter that the prey was near it. Nynn and Zano managed to run in the opposite direction, towards another building, before the predator got to them. However, another sentinel soon started snarling, forcing the teenagers to move again. The thing repeated itsef for some time: as quiet as Zano and Nynn tried to be, the Kataro was warned that the explorers were near and forced them to move, but as soon as they hid again another Kataro located them and warned the hunter. At least until one of the telltales noticed what was wrong and decided to change the game. As soon as Nynn and Zano got close, it hopped down from the building and pointed what looked like its head towards them. After looking at them for some time, the two holes on its face started spraying a green liquid at Zano's face.
- ZANO: Aargh!
She quickly covered her face with her hands, and stomped on the ground angrily, eventually crushing the Kataro with her feet. She felt her face was burning, as the skin on it was in fact melting like hot iron, while her left eye became blood red and the pupil shrank until becoming invisible.
- NYNN: Zano! Are you fine?
- ZANO: It's OK. I just barely see anything.
- NYNN: Zano, you're definitely not-
Soon, their dialogue was interrupted. Zano's pain and Nynn's worries soon made them forgot they had to be silent, and now their threat stood over them, at the top of the building, looking at the prey it had finally found.
- ZANO: Run.
They splitted up, dodging the pouncing Kataro, and ran in different streets of the city. Believing her to be the easiest prey, it left Zano for the smaller members of the hive and pursued Nynn instead. The hunt had begun.
Zano would keep running, with her JJ-99 on her hand, hoping the Kataro wasn't chasing her. Looking back was worthless, as she could see few more than strange blurry shapes. From above the buildings, the smaller Kataro crawled towards her, spraying more acid in attempts to finish melting her body. She ran fast enough to avoid their deadly liquids, but almost all attempts of shooting the aggresors to death failed. She was starting to get tired of running. Exhausted... and worried about her partner.
Nynn wasn't doing very well either. He wasn't capable of running very fast, so the Kataro was hot on his heels. He had to dodge the smaller individuals, as well as the big one, spitting acid at him. Soon, things went even worse. A second dog-like Kataro popped up before him, and the young explorer was suddenly stuck between a rock and a hard place. The only alternative to death was to climb up the large pyramidal structure he was next to. It was a hard job, but he had to save his life. He also had to find Zano, check she was alive. When looking back to check the Kataro weren't following him up, the already-fragile wall he climbed on broke and Nynn fell down the building, crashing through many cracked floorings, until he landed on a large underground pond. As soon as he opened his eyes, Nynn quickly swam up to the surface, in needs to breathe. What he inhaled wasn't just air, but also that disgusting smell they could smell outside in the mist, just more intense.
- NYNN: Ahg... What's this?
Now above the surface, he saw an enormous body, easily larger than a Nunt-10, swimming before. It was the "queen" (actually bisexual) of the hive, which was still waiting for its lunch, while she took care of the colony's infants. He saw one small Kataro on its back, dropping the few food it had within it's bodydown the holes on its lord's back, in attempts to satisfy its hunger. Soon, it saw Nynn, and soon targeted it as a prey, while one of the two hunters he was facing before growled over the hole Nynn fell through. Nynn took his JJ-99 and attempted to shoot at the smaller Kataro, but he realised something horrible.
- NYNN: Oh, no.
The tank of the gun had broken from the fall, and the Thunder Bees inside it were now swimming freely into the pond. He quickly tried to get out, while both Kataro jumped down in the water. The splash soon scared the microorganisms, which emitted enough electric charges to kill everything inside the water. The queen Kataro was dead, along with all the larvae. Both hunting Kataro and the stalking one were dead. Nynn was dead...
Just kidding! Nynn managed to get out of the water in time, so he didn't die. But the queen was dead indeed. Outside the pyramid, Zano ended up tripping and falling to the ground, exhasuted of running. The stalker Kataro were about to spray more acid on her to finish her off, but soon something stopped them. They weren't receiving commanding hormones anymore. They realised the queen was dead. Alarmed, all Kataro started panicking, turning the city into caos until they all went towards the pyramid. Nynn saw them falling down to the pond and saw himself dead, but the Kataro ignored them. They all swam into the water, not knowing about the Thunder Bees swimming on it, and the few that survived went down a tunnel located at the bottom of the pond, possibly towards another hive. While the madness occured, Nynn spotted something strange next to him. Something that looked like a book. After Zano carefully climbed the building, she looked through the hole and saw Nynn down there.
- ZANO: Nynn!
- NYNN: Zano!
- ZANO: Quick, get up here before they come back!
Walking through another tunnel on the walls of the pit that led to the surface, Nynn got out of the hole. He had some trouble doing so, as the book he carried was very heavy, and he had to climb up a rather long. After both teenagers were together, they in the ground to rest for a while, while Nynn tore off part of his inner clothes and crafted a patch for Zano's eye.
- ZANO: Thank you. I guess...
- NYNN: No problem. You already saved my life many times.
Zano slightly smiled. Nynn noticed a slight blush on her cheeks. Attempting to hide from his sight, Zano quickly looked at the book Nynn had brought up
- ZANO: Hey, what's that?
- NYNN: Oh, this? I think it's a book.
- ZANO: Wait. Are you thinking the same thing as me?
- NYNN: We should read it?
- ZANO: Yeah, also that. Maybe it has information about them!
Still recovering from the attack of the Kataro, Nynn didn't even realise. What he had taken could be the proof that there was actual alien life! No one would dare to come to the moon again, let alone get close a city when the odds are there would be another hive of hungry bugs waiting for them. But if they took the book about the sapients to them, the story of the Gorb Olohyans would be known. Rejoicing, Nynn and Zano quickly leaped on top of the book and opened it to see what was inside. And then, deception. They forgot one of the most important things about aliens: the language. The only thing they could see in the book were unreadable signs and odd drawings of strange animals. Some of the later were recognizable by the teenagers, but most were just more strange creatures they had never seen. They wouldn't have been capable of showing anyone, anyways, as the GT-92 was completely broken.
- ZANO: Dammit.
- NYNN: I guess we'll never know who they were.
- ZANO: Yeah... What a worthless trip.
- NYNN: Well, we had an adventure. I think that was pretty cool.
- ZANO: But that's not what we came here for. And with book or without it, we are stuck in this world of madness for nothing. If at least we had a name...
- ???: Frento.
- ZANO: Umm, what do you mean with that? Are you able to read this gibberish all of a sudden or something?
- NYNN: That wasn't me...
Surprised and afraid, Nynn and Zano turned around, looking at the gates of the city they came through, and saw a strange sillouette in the mist, coming towards the entrance until finally revealing itself, belonging to a living being they had never seen before. The entity came everytime closer to them, until Nynn and Zano could see its face with all of its details, before speaking again.
- ???: Their name was Frento.
Next story: A Hard Deal