Een’s Revolt on Zadik
In the vastness of a crimson sky fringed below by the white Sharkteeth mountains, the shining Sodacrystal Desert and nearer, nudged by the rounded tops of Sagacity trees, flew a lone Zadtok flitter. It took all of Een’s available facial muscles to focus his long-sighted eye on the tiny wheeling, swooping creature.
One was no threat, excepting toxic aerial bombardment, but then a solitary Zadtok possessed no vindictiveness. It couldn’t without its fellows, so Een risked allowing his two weenie grandchildren out into the open from the security of his cavernous cloak. At his permissive thought, they leapt naked between green-mossed rocks, singing their giggle while tripping each other with a shared extendable limb.
One of them kicked a truf up in the air. Sweet spores exploded as it disintegrated into particles of soil, aromatic polyps and wriggling pink mealy worms.
“Get under, now!” Een yelled as he threw his cloak open. Urgent in a potential but rare medical problem way, but their mirth was infectious. All three collapsed on the damp moor, Een’s cloak as a canopy, swamping their proboscises with his own residual odour of pickled borts.
The weenies snuggled down to a quick snooze while Een counted. The air would be thick, but thinning, of the microscopic elements from the disturbed truf attempting to host themselves. Groot, troon, and ven. There, halfway, more counting and he’d be able to emerge. His daughter, not the most patient of his family would certainly rage at the outing. He could hear her shrill tone resonating in his memory from the last scolding.
“This cave system is so vast none of us would live long enough to explore it all. Stay safe, inside, beneath, out-of-reach.”
The others agreed with her, especially Gole, who tried to lead even against their common lore.
But Een relished the outside and wanted his offspring’s offspring to experience those magical moments tinged with danger; the wonders of eidolon life forms on this planet on which their fore-parents crashlanded. From imminent disaster to Paradise, and yet it could be so.
Freen, done. Cautiously, he opened a crack in his cloak and spied the sky. His proboscis wrinkled at the moist, musty air but the spore had landed, made harmless by the planet’s own surface-dwelling nematodes. Ah, butbutbut… That solitary Zadtok must have tweeted, bouncing come-hither signals off the tropopause to far horizons. Now he watched air sculptures as the multitude carved dark and light swathes in the scarlet sky. His heart soared with them to witness such beauty, but there might be danger.
His muddy-coloured cloak shrouded the sleeping infants but now his long sapphire-blue tunic would make him visible to those aerial eyes and collective mind. He stepped away from his grandchildren and towards a Sagacity tree, partly for shelter, perhaps to tap into its wisdom though such is more rumoured than proven. The foliage consists of mauve bubbles of assorted sizes. It was as if the trunk was a soap pipe and someone in the roots blew until they were red in the face. Except they weren’t diaphanous as bath froth, indeed they were fleshy, edible if the eater required their head filled with random thoughts and memories, belonging to unknown others. The wisdom imparted was as useful as paper boots; even so he occasionally enjoyed the hallucinations. Last eclipse one such tree told him of sentient bipeds who would inhabit these worlds. Each would possess a stunted proboscis more like a squashed fruit than his own olfactory tube. Preposterous.
Looking up through the baubles he watched in awe the flock of Zadtoks divide and conquer their space. Billows of swooping, diving and ascending as if performing a ballet. Then a formation like a finger splintered and rose from the top of a giant cumulus of the fluttering whole and rushed down towards him.
Panic sent bile into his throat. He crouched beneath the boughs and turned to see his weenies were still safe. The ground softened by falls of the fruity foliage, rotting, intoxicating, whispered to him. Tick. Stand and be bold. Hock bock lock.
Yet it wasn’t the remainders of the Sagacity tree talking to him. The tokking behind and through the words told him it was the flitters, or rather the entity they become when en masse. From a tiny avian, individually ineffectual, except as spies, together they formed a whirling airborne giant. Heavenly choral tokking filled his head, and words, too many to comprehend.
Now Een stood and softly called. “Slow down, dear Tok, unhurry your message.”
More clocklike tick tocks overflowed his mind.
Knock, knocking, hick, pick.
Click, clacking, block.
Need to trick freeze, crack moon.
Draw Zads to click clock look here.
“That’s slow, dear Tok, but clarity remains a problem.”
Toks to flit fly to Zadok. It looked up at the dangling planet.
Need trick flick tow behind Zad fly.
Go tock you to warm.
Lock. Een, not safe there.
“Ah, you’re coming through. What do—”
His earlier worry had transformed to interest and curiosity. Now worry again.
Tock, shock here. Safe in south.
“How far south?”
Tick, quick. We show you, lead you. Nick tick time.
“Marvellous.” Een returned to his cloak. The little ones must be awake, probably playing camping because the garment was animated with lumps rising and falling. “Come on, you two. I’ve a sight for you.”
Now he was totally clear of the Sagacity tree the sight of Tok filling the sky like billowing sails filled him with awe. Even the two weenies stopped their continual giggling when they looked up, their mouths open. Een’s joy warmed from his stomach, heating his toes and making his eyes glow.
Tick, lick, quick gather people no no n—
“What’s wrong?” Cold replaced warmth. Eyes dulled. Weenies whimpered as their eyes shared Een’s terror vision of emerald green implosions. Hundreds of Zadtoks disintegrated as spheres of them rushed inwards to points.
He shouted to the air even though their caves are too far away. “Gole, you can’t kill a collective entity with banshee projectiles. It’s like trying to destroy a spider’s web with a few pin pricks.” Damn his own kin.
He heard the weenies sobbing where they’d run, back under his cloak. What future had they now? He watched the living fractured cloud disperse and head for the setting sun horizon.
No more hello?
“Come on out you two. No kicking trufs. Did you receive the Toc’s mind messages? South they said but it can’t be simple because they needed to show us the way. Over the Sodacrystal Desert, I suppose that we’ve only touched, and the White Sharkteeth Mountains we’ve never reached.” He sank to his knees in a wave of despair. He would not be allowed to lead any such expedition. Although perhaps Gole would be glad to be rid of him if he went on his own.
He looked at the Weenies who’d forgotten the tragedy already and were punching each other in fits of giggles. Then his gaze refocused upwards at the hazy green waning gibbous Zadok. He waved as if a dweller there would see his orb as a new moon and return the gesture.
No means of following the sneaky Toks if they really succeed in cadging a crafty tow on a Zad ship. If this moon was to ice age then off to the equator they must go. No. Gole would never believe this new threat and his daughter would insist on burying deeper in the caves. Only one course of action. Wicked grandpa Een.
He turned to face the mountains. The Toks had said that was the direction so there must be a zigzag through.
“Hey, you two. How would you like a real adventure?”
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