Ch4: Family for a Lifetime

Copyright © 2013 by P.A. Lackey
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Chapter Four: Family for a Lifetime 
Dueson had his kill skinned and gutted, and already shared his meat with the group. It wasn’t much, but it was better than the dry survival bars they had for food. Brockumus showed his disdain for foreign meat, and contributed his portion to Arius. Rie ate his share skeptically but gave little complaint, while Jayvolni finished his without a word. The others including Thorim were willing enough to let Dueson and his brother finish off the rest.
“My fellows,” Thorim said. “We must search for higher ground if we are to find our destination. I have located the west this morning which means we must head eastward. I believe the island is small so navigation should be simple.
“Where are we now?” Jayvolni asked, speaking his first words that morning.
“If we’re anywhere near our landing coordinates then we should be on the appropriate island,” replied Thorim. “But it is hard to say whether the ship guided us to the appropriate location. We will have to hope for the best.”
“Our contact is said to reside in a gray tower,” Dueson said. “I don’t suppose a tower would be hard to find.”
“Once we get to higher ground, we will be able to gain the lay of the land,” said Thorim. “We shall plan our course from there. For now, I suggest we go over what we know.”
“What do we know?” Rie said with a laugh. “We’re stranded on foreign rock hunting a myth. Am I the only one who doubts the mission?”
“The intelligence we received is reliable,” Thorim replied. “As hard as it may seem, we are here to kill Archaies. More information will be provided as soon as we find our contact.”
The name rang clear in all their heads as it was a name passed down through their histories and stories. Archaies was a legend speculated on by many. To some he was a hero, to others he was an enemy. Archaies had won his place in history several centuries before, which made his still being alive peculiar. How could one live so long, Arius wondered. As a child he had grown up studying the histories and legends of Archaies, so to find that he was still alive was unbelievable.
“We must be careful, for our circumstances are unknown,” Thorim continued. “As we have heard it, the inhabitants of this world are at war with a biological entity. The origin of which is unknown. Do not make contact until we are more familiar with the situation.”
“Are we really planning to go on with this,” Grem asked, a quick buddy to Rie. “We just crashed into the ocean, and for all we know someone here is a traitor.”
“Let’s not jump to conclusions,” Thorim said. “We’re not going anywhere until our people send for us, so meanwhile we should plan on proceeding.”
“If they send for us,” Ruekrow said. “We mustn’t forget that this is an unauthorized mission. Even the Supreme Council doesn’t know about this, and those who do are nothing more than stingy bureaucrats looking for opportunity. Do we really expect them to send a ship for us?”
“There’s no good in worrying about it now,” replied Dueson. “We’re either here for life, or a few months. Let’s focus on not leaving empty handed if possible.”
“I know there’s not much going for us right now,” said Thorim. “But we are all each other’s got. Stick together and we can make it through this.”
Arius wondered how often the mercenaries had worked in a team. Most of them were known for going solo, and it seemed that Thorim was perhaps the only one who knew a bit about team play. He came from a prestigious ranking within the galactic fleet back home, but everyone else had darker, less glorious backgrounds.
“Let’s pack up,” Thorim said.
The group climbed to their feet and began to hide any trace of their small camp. The air felt cool that morning, but Arius expected a warm day as the sun climbed higher into the sky. Looking around at the others he felt uncertain. These men were going to be perhaps his family for a lifetime, and if not that long, then until they could find a way off of that world. 
Thanks for reading chapter four, and come back next week for chapter five, "Desolation." In the meantime please leave a comment, or check out my book here


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