This serial is presented in draft form and will be updated each Thursday. Your comments are always welcome!
Prologue ~ Ch 1 ~ Ch 2 ~ Ch 3 ~ Ch 4 ~ Ch 5 ~ Ch 6 ~
It had been two months since they’d been given their designations. Ravi stood lined up in the main corridor with the rest of the boys from his year group. It was the dead of night. They’d been rousted out of bed and told to dress, now they were waiting for further instructions. The adults were short tempered, almost fearful, and in no mood to answer questions.
Ravi, they’re taking us somewhere! Nereida’s panicked mind voice burst through Kairavini’s thoughts, so forceful he grimaced.
Take it easy, he soothed. I think we’re all going somewhere.
No, I mean right now! I can see ships . . .
Ha! You had me going for a minute. There isn’t room for any ships in here.
That’s what I’m trying to tell you, Nereida’s projection was becoming more frantic. We’re not inside any more, we’re outside. And it’s really dark. Ravi, we’re out side of the facility!
Ravi’s eyes widened in shock. But outside is forbidden!
They’re moving us towards the ships.
Nereida, what’s happening? Nereida?
Nereida was too panic-stricken to answer coherently. All she could manage was to send wave after wave of fear through their mental connection. Ravi stumbled in his place.
“Straighten up there,” one of the technicians barked out.
“All right, let’s go,” someone called from the head of the line.
“You are to move quickly and quietly,” the attendants told the boys. “Stay in your lines.”
The boys were herded swiftly down the corridor, turning at the end towards the main entrance. Though they all knew where the main entrance was, none of them had ever been this close to it before. Several of them hesitated before crossing through the open doors but were prodded along by the attendants.
Nereida was right, it was dark out. Ravi shivered as they were led across an open expanse of ground. Though it was too dark to see clearly he had the sense of a great deal of space around them. It was not a sensation he enjoyed. Was this what had Nereida so terrified? Or could there be something worse waiting for them?
There was a great deal of noise in the distance, thunderous pops and bright flashes. A loud humming filled the air as a dark shape rose and then darted away. They were being hurried to another dark shape, most likely one of the ships Nereida had mentioned.
All at once they were stumbling up a metal ramp towards a dim rectangle of light. There were no seats to sit on; the boys were directed to sit on the floor in two rows, leaving space for the adults between them.
“Damn Arjun and his secrecy,” one of the technicians muttered within Ravi’s hearing. “It would make things so much easier if we could have a little light.”
“We have a little light,” an attendant answered. “Just enough so we don’t end up on top of each other. And it’s not like it’s going to be a long flight.”
“Did you see down in the city?” one of the other adults asked. “He said he was going to create a diversion, and he did. The town’s all but deserted; everyone’s gone down to see what’s happening.”
“I have to admit, I did wonder how he was going to use transports without anyone being the wiser.”
Transports, Ravi thought. That’s what we must be on. But why?
Before he could come up with an answer, the ship gave a shudder and then there was the sensation of movement. Several of the boys began to whimper and the adults moved off to deal with them. Ravi felt a flash of resentment at the distraction, he would have liked to have learned more.
In a relatively short time there was another great shudder, followed by a whiff of cool, damp air as the hatch opened. The boys were herded off the ship and made to wait in a group. When the last boy was on the ground, the hatch closed up and the ship lifted up into the air again. Ravi worked his way through the group until he was close enough to the adults to eavesdrop again.
“Well why can’t we move them into the compound?” someone with an angry voice was asking.
“There was a gas leak, one of the hazards of building right up against a volcano. It’s just temporary until they get it plugged.”
“And what are we supposed to do with them until then?”
“You’re to follow me. There’s a clearing right over here. They’ll just have to rough it for the night.”
Are you all right now Nereida?
The adults seemed to have finished arguing, but Ravi felt no closer to figuring out what was happening.
I’m sorry I got so upset. It’s just . . .
There’s a problem with our quarters. We have to stay outside tonight.
Our quarters? What quarters?
There was a glimmer of satisfaction from Nereida’s mind over the fact that she’d found out something before her brother. The whole facility is being moved, not just us. We’re going to have a new home.