Author's Note: Here's the chapter I promised you and thank you so, so much for being so understanding! I'm very pleased to say I can return to my writing now, so other than work on various leftover Christmas presents, and another story I'm working on, I should be able to get chapters out to you with some regularity again! Thank you again, really it means a lot that everyone loves this story as much as I do! Happy Holidays!
Disclaimer: See previous disclaimers as this author is too lazy to write another one. Honesty is the best policy :)
She woke to hot breath on her face. She struggled back to consciousness, aware that her dreams had been very vivid and dark, to discover a pair of blood orange eyes peering down into her face. She jerked backwards, started to scream only to find a hand clamping down tight on her throat! Mandibles flared, gripping her face tightly again, digging into her skin in a very familiar way, holding her face immobile—his eyes held her, his gaze boring down into hers and she knew he was going to kill her. His other hand was pressed flat against her stomach, holding her down, talons pressing through the thin fabric of her tunic. Another second, he would crush her throat, she just knew it. She shouldn't have taunted him, shouldn't have…he released her, his hand sliding away from her throat, talons leaving little warning stings behind as they went and he let go of the pressure on her stomach. His face didn't move, but she didn't scream either, and finally—slowly—he withdrew until he was sitting across the room. He sat down heavily and regarded her steadily, arms on his knees.
Carina sat up slowly, warily, heart thudding hard against her ribs. His chains sat on the floor, the padlocks for both his hands and feet cut neatly in two. The medical kit lay open and several of the tools lay scattered about. She swore to herself—she had left the damn kit too close! He must have been able to roll to one side and get too it….damn damn damn!
He didn't move though and he hadn't killed her. Scared the hell out of her, sure, but he hadn't even bruised her. She stood slowly, shakily and he watched her, eyes much more vivid and awake—he was feeling better. Slowly, the fact that daylight lay behind him sunk in and she realized that he'd probably escaped sometime during the night, but had let her sleep right through till morning. She looked around the room and found nothing out of place, except that he'd taken apart his gun—the remains lay neatly spread out in one corner, and he had removed his armor and mesh. Both lay in a neat pile to one side, obviously in states of semi-repair. Without them he seemed…well, she wasn't at all sure what he seemed. Whether or not it was an improvement Carina wasn't certain yet.
Finally, she reached a decision and sighed.
"Fine. You win." She said grouchily and stomped off to the bathroom. When she'd finished, she peeked her head into the room to find him munching away at some of his rations, and he looked up when she entered, chittering at her. Definitely a kind of greeting. "I'm going downstairs. Don't kill anything or anyone please. We need to talk later." She knew he couldn't understand her, but it pleased her to pretend she could boss him around.
She found her grandmother in the kitchen, looking well rested and cheerful. What the hell was wrong with the woman?
"Buenos dia." Carina said, sleepily and got the expected reprimand.
"English Carina. You look better, very well rested!" Her grandmother deposited a kiss on her cheek and pressed a cup of coffee into her hand in passing. Carina thought over the irony of that statement for a while, and came up with a suitable answer.
"Our guest escaped his chains last night." She sat, seating herself at the table and tenderly poking her shoulder before sipping her coffee. It gave her grandmother time to recover from the shock.
"I…I didn't hear anything."
"Me neither."Carina said somewhat cheerfully. She was relishing dispensing the shocking news, instead of receiving it. "He kindly woke me up just now. He's having his breakfast." She stood and picked up her cup of coffee, feeling a distinct glee in the shocked expression on her grandmother's face, before she departed.
She retrieved her overnight bag from her truck and went back upstairs to change. Emerging from the bathroom in a tank top and another pair of jean shorts, she took a deep breath and peeked into the bedroom. He had taken apart one of his metal wrist bracers and was examining it's innards, using bits of the tool kit to poke it's depths experimentally. He looked up as she entered, and snarled at her. She snarled right back and settled herself cross legged on her mattress. He glowered at her for a bit, and then went back to his examination of his bracer.
"So." Carina said conversationally, "What are we going to do about our little problem?" She pointed at the ceiling. She had dumped the severed head in the corner of the hallway, for lack of anything better to do with it, but she imagined he knew what she meant. He glanced at the ceiling also, then at her and went back to his task. Carina squinted at what his big hands appeared to be doing. To her surprise, the metal bracer appeared to be a computer of some kind. He had ripped off the face and was tugging at various wires, setting off the occasional spark and he was making some very dissatisfied noises to himself. After a while, he snarled and tossed the thing aside and turned a glower on her, as if it were all her fault.
"I'm Carina." She pointed at her chest. She supposed introductions were a bit overdue, but better late than never. She pointed at her chest again, "Cah-reen-aaahhhh…" She said slowly and he chattered at her, mandibles clicking in irritation. "And you are?" She pointed at him this time and his brow lowered, as if he found the whole conversation exceedingly annoying. He probably did. "Name? You. I'm Carina and you are…?" She was actually quite surprised when he answered her.
"Uruk." He snapped, teeth snapping hard on the sharp 'k' sound. She frowned. Was that his name, the name of his species or possibly a really nasty insult?
"Oo…erka?" She imitated, badly. He snarled at her, obviously offended by the butchering she'd given his word.
"Uu-ruu-k!" He growled and she tried again.
"Ouruka." He didn't even bother to correct her this time, but sat looking at her with mandibles quivering. "Uoruuk." She said and this time, he shrugged. Close enough, she thought. "Them?" She pointed at the ceiling, and he glanced upward again, mandibles sucking in tight against his mouth parts, fists clenching slightly. Finally, he looked at her.
"Kainde Amedha." He rumbled and she blinked in surprise. She wouldn't have thought he could make an 'n' or 'm' sound with a mouth like that. She had always assumed that lips were needed.
"Kaen-de Ah-med-ha." She repeated, rolling the words around in her mouth. "What does that mean?" He made no reply, but then, she hadn't really expected him too. He picked over the pieces of his gun, grumbling to himself as he did so. "So…what are we going to do about them?" She asked, and was surprised when he looked at her, mandibles clicking as he toyed with a piece of his gun in his hands. After a long, long moment he shrugged and replied in his accented English.
Kill. Great. Carina chewed over the idea as she ate her lunch. She didn't know what he meant. Shortly after that brief and unenlightening bit of news, he'd gotten extremely grouchy and she'd left him stretched out on the floor, apparently napping. Must be nice, she thought irritably, to nap so easily in the face of an imminent threat. At least, she thought the threat was imminent. Maybe it wasn't, maybe they had all the time in the world. And maybe pig's will fly Carina thought, uncharitably.
Her grandmother had gone out to visit with her goats—though how she could stand the unbearable heat for any length of time Carina didn't know. She was beginning to think her grandmother had reserves of talents that she'd never even been able to guess at before. If their ancestry had been Irish, instead of Spanish, Carina would have said her wicked old grandmother had a touch of the Fae in her blood. Her grandmother would live forever then, outlasting even time itself. The thought brought a ghost of a sad smile to Carina's lips and she quickly shoved the last of her sandwich into her mouth to dispel it. Serious business was at hand!
Kill. Carina had a fair picture of what he was meaning, but had no clue as to how he intended to carry out this rather simplistic but hopefully effective plan. She scowled, turning facts over in her mind only to discover that she really had none. All she had were assumptions. Damned foolish assumptions at that. Well, Carina thought grouchily, go with what you've got!
She assumed that his little ship was some sort of escape pod. The thing certainly hadn't looked big enough to house a creature of his size and disposition for long space journeys. She assumed the creatures had come with him when he'd crashed to Earth. Or at least, she sincerely hoped they had and there was not some sort of alien space craft hidden in the trees that housed more of them! She assumed there was a larger ship in Earth's atmosphere that was largely infested with the creatures—thus the need for the escape pod and his crash to Earth. She assumed that kill meant he was returning to his ship to do battle with the creatures—or he could blow it up from afar or something!
She had briefly considered calling some government agency or other—she was reasonably sure there was at least one branch devoted to outer-space-alien-stuff—but had discarded the idea quickly. They probably got a million calls a day with some wacko claiming that alien spacecraft were hovering above Earth. She could just imagine what she'd say 'yes, yes there is definitely some sort of ship above Earth, it's got these terrifying space monsters on board and it's going to crash or land or something they're going to kill everyone or something! How do I know? Oh—the seven foot alien in my grandmother's spare bedroom told me!' Carina was pretty sure she didn't need to be laughed at to feel that the situation was now completely out of her control. What the hell was she doing even contemplating this stuff!
"If you keep looking at your sandwich like that, I'm pretty sure it's going to start burning." Carina jumped, swore angrily and ducked the blow her grandmother sent her way. "Language Carina! Really! What would your mother say!'
"Jesus Gran!" Carina glowered, "I learned most of it from her." She shoved her sandwich away and set her elbows on the table, resting her chin on her fists.
"Our guest has left." Her grandmother calmly began putting away the meat and bread the Carina had left on the counter. Carina sighed heavily, then sat up sharply,
"What?" She asked, then louder, "What?"
"I saw him going into the trees. He went out the window again…really…I don't know how I'm going to explain to your brother how it was broken."
Carina heard only the beginning half of this speech, as she had leapt up and sprinted for the doorway. She took the stairs three at a time, and burst into her little bedroom, standing in the doorway eyes wide and arms stretched out to steady herself on the doorframe. The bedroom was deserted. His armor was gone, the pieces of his gun were gone…all that remained was his bedding, the chains and….Carina went to the pile of quilts and bent over, retrieving the broken arm bracer and studying the busted computer interface. He'd probably left it because it was broken. He certainly hadn't forgotten anything else. Carina stared at the alien device, fingers tight on the bronze colored metal. She had no idea what to do first.
Turning woodenly she left the room and went to stand before the broken window, flipflops crunching on broken glass. His blood still marred some of the shards in the frame, dark green smears that had dried to the flaky consistency of fish-food. Her hands held tight to the bracer, as if it was a lifeline. The trees swayed idly in a heavy, damp breeze that stirred the sweaty tendrils of hair back from her face. Outside, nothing stirred and only one lazy overheated songbird gave off a half-hearted song. What should she do?
Half of her was relieved, the kind of relief one feels when they realize that all their problems have suddenly vanished unexpectedly. The other half was terrified of what his sudden desertion might mean. He had said 'kill'. It hadn't occurred to her he might not mean the creatures. What if he was leaving them to their fates? What if she had misinterpreted the whole thing, and he had really meant he was going to let them kill Carina and the rest of humanity? Fear was a tight, hard knot in her stomach…mixed quite unexpectedly with anger. How could he just take off? Just vanish like that with no 'thank you for saving my life', no 'thank you for taking such lovely care of me'…not even a 'thank you for killing those two ugly mugs in the woods'. Nothing. Vanished. Her grandmother was behind her then, muttering to herself. Carina didn't turn from the window, even when she felt her grandmother's arm slid around her waist.
"I've packed you some dinner." Her grandmother said quietly and for a very long minute, Carina didn't hear. Then she frowned and looked down at her tiny grandmother.
"Well, you can't very well just let him go off by himself can you?"
"Those cuts of his aren't healed yet—what if he collapses in the woods?"
"Oh for fuck's sake Gran!" Carina snarled and realized too late that she was too close to get away unscathed—her grandmother slapped her hard on the back of the head and Carina scowled at the trees outside. "We've just gotten rid of a fu…of a dangerous alien and now you want me to follow him? You really are totally insane, you know that?"
"It's not technically following him. He'll go back to his space ship won't he?"
"That won't do him much good, it's busted all to…busted all up." Carina sighed heavily and glowered at her grandmother. "You really aren't serious are you? About me going after him to be sure he doesn't 'hurt his widdle self'?" Carina added the last in a wheedling tone and her grandmother fixed her with a cool glower, the likes of which Carina hadn't seen since she'd been caught sneaking out of the house with a bottle of whiskey and her Grandfather's car keys.
"Carina Amalia Torrez…" Her grandmother started and Carina felt her stomach tighten. She was about to be delivered a scathing lecture and decided, at the last minute, to avoid it.
"Fine!" She yelled and stormed away, stomping down the stairs and into the kitchen. Her backpack was there, neatly packed with enough food to feed a small army and a jug of water. Carina slung it onto her shoulder, busily working up a very, very bad mood and stomped out of the house. She stood on the front steps for a full minute, before stomping back indoors to take the shotgun her grandmother was holding out for her, the box of extra shells and to shout, "If I die, I'm definitely coming back to say 'I told you so!'" And then she stormed out again.
Carina found him precisely where her grandmother said he would be. When she arrived at the lip of the gully, he was standing over the second of the two bodies—the one who's exploded head and melted bits of his ship—and staring down at it is as if he'd never seen such a thing in his life. He was back in his armor, his mask in place and the gun Carina had found was attached to his right shoulder plate. He was every inch a dangerous warrior. Carina only hoped his species felt gratitude—she certainly felt she deserved some!
He was staring with such concentration at the dead creature, that he didn't even bother to look up as Carina arrived. She stood, sweaty and tired and angry, staring down into the gully at him for a full three minutes before her patience finally snapped.
"You didn't even thank me!" She snapped, well aware that that was not a central issue and tried not to feel nervous when he whipped around to glower at her, growling low in his throat. He stared at her for a long minute, then looked back down at the creature at his feet. The body hadn't changed much since she'd left it, and she wasn't surprised—what on earth would dare try and eat that nasty thing?
He gave a loud snort and turned, ducking inside the burnt hulk of the ship, and she could hear him inside, snarling and chittering to himself. She had half a mind to turn around and leave—he was obviously fine, and his temper hadn't improved any since she'd last seen him. She certainly wasn't going to get a thank you, and if there were more of the black beasts hanging around, she was of less use in fighting them than a sharpened stick. Carina then experienced a very lifelike vision of her grandmother pointing a finger at her and yelling and Carina decided it might be worth it to at least attempt to check up on him, maybe offer him part of her sandwich.
"Ureka?" She called, no response. "Damnit, however the hell you say it… Uruk?" She tried again. To her surprise, he poked his head out of the entrance and chattered at her in what could be taken as an inviting way. With a sigh, she slid down the embankment and joined him at the entrance.
To her surprise, just as she reached the doorway a huge clawed hand thrust something at her—a bundle of half-charred wires and what looked like a piece of paneling. Tossing her pack down, and setting the shotgun against the side of the hull, she took the bundle with a slight grunt—it was a lot heavier than it looked. He disappeared back inside, and after a slight grunt of his own—and a bout of snarling that sounded distinctly like swearing—he reappeared with what looked like half of the console.
He shoved past her rudely, and went to sit cross-legged in a clear spot near the buried prow of the shuttle, and when Carina didn't immediately follow him, he turned and snarled something at her one hand jerked imperiously at her. She glowered, but followed and threw the bundle of wires down next to his leg with as much vehemence as she could muster.
"Doesn't look like much is usable out of that lot." She commented unhelpfully, forcing herself to bend over his shoulder to peer at his work. For her trouble, he elbowed her in the stomach, sending her reeling back!
"HEY! Don't be a shit!" Carina's temper was a lot shorter than normal, so when she hauled off and punched him in the shoulder, she supposed she could be forgiven for the extra use of violence—especially when he snarled angrily but allowed her to look over his shoulder as he worked.
He obviously knew what he was doing—whatever that was—for he quickly dismantled the piece of console, ripping off the scorched facing to expose a mess of circuits and wires inside. In under a minute, he'd extracted what he was looking for and had discarded the burnt out bits. Carina didn't move an inch as he worked, not so much so as to not distract him from his work, but more because it made him uncomfortable to have her standing so close. She wasn't in the mood to do him any favors, and the whole situation was damned uncomfortable for her, so she rather felt it was justice to make him uncomfortable too. Every now and again, he would ask her to hold something—his version of asking being to snarl and shove something in her face. Carina almost wished she could see his actual face—definitely a first for her, considering how ugly the view was under that mask—so she could read his expressions, maybe figure out what he was doing or thinking.
After an interminable amount of time, he sat back with a satisfied grunt and turned to look up at the sky. Then he looked at her and for a moment, Carina swore she could see the wheels turning in his head. She could almost hear them creak as they worked. She hoped that whatever conclusion his thinking brought him too, it didn't include her as pate. Or worse…as bait.
He started to rise, but gave a small snarl and stopped, reaching one huge hand up to rub at one of the lacerations she'd sewn up. The cuts looked better than they had the day before—maybe he was fast healer—but the stitches had been severely strained by his first attack on her. Carina wasn't sure if she should offer to take a look, or just let him suffer with it. To her surprise, he made the decision for her.
"Ouuuu?" He rumbled. His voice was somewhat muffled by the mask, but no less menacing and Carina squinted, trying to discern his meaning. "Ouuuuu fixxx?" he was rubbing the wounds with one hand, and looking at her intently.
"I sewed you up." She agreed tentatively, frowning and nodding. The stitches that had popped lose the day before were dangling, and Carina wondered if she oughtn't try and cut them out. No sense in trying to re-stitch the damned things, she thought distractedly, he'd done a number on it when he'd tried to eat her face and there was nothing left to sew to.
"Fix." He pointed at his chest and her eyebrows arched. That hadn't sounded like a question. After a moment, Carina came around in front of him and squatted down. With a glance at him—just to be absolutely sure she hadn't misinterpreted his meaning (the damn mask was as unreadable as ever) she leaned forward an inspected the damage. She was pleased to see that indeed, he seemed to heal with a lot more efficiency and speed than humans. Even the worst of the lacerations seemed to be closing almost before her eyes. Studying the scraps, she found a thin layer of new skin over each.
"This is amazing…" Carina breathed, eyes wide. She squatted between his legs, and poked at the edges of one the smaller gashes she'd closed up with sutures—and found that the edges of the wound were nearly knit. By the next day, she could take the stitches out! "My god…" She leaned closer and studied the deep puncture. She'd been unable to close that one with sutures, but had packed it well with antisceptic and sterile bandage. Of course, he'd pulled all of that off, but she found no reason now to keep it covered—there was evidence of clean proud-flesh building up from the inside. She looked up at him, his huge masked face expressionless in the face of her delight. "You're amazing!" She said, "You must produce new cells at an absolutely prodigious rate!" She grabbed his arm, lifting it to study the raw bite. The least damaged bits had sealed over already, and the deeper chunks had developed a thick scab. She sat back on her heels and stared at him. "You're the ultimate warrior. Beat the shit out of you and you just keep on ticking!" He cocked his head when she laughed, but said nothing. "Well… I can't fix you any better than you're fixing yourself. By tomorrow you should be well on your way to having just a few more…what the hell is that noise?" Carina looked up, hearing the soft humming that she'd taken for wind beginning to intensify.
The breeze that had been tickling the back of her neck began to stir her hair, and the huge alien before her rose to his feet, raising his face to look at the sky with her. Steadily the wind began to grow, and the sound that had been a hum began to grow louder, first a steady thrumming and finally a roar!
Carina stared in shock and awe as, over the tree tops, a ship materialized. She hadn't realized how dusky it was becoming, or that the day had begun to leave, until she saw the ship outlined against the darkening sky, a ship whose engines lit up the ground around them! Her first instinct was to run, but Uruk grabbed her arm as she moved, and held her tight—even when she swore and kicked at him—until the ship had roared itself out and settled to the ground.
As it settled next to the other dead ship, it's engines powered down and after a moment, a doorway identical to the one on the other pod hissed open. With a satisfied growl from Uruk, he released her and strode towards the other ship, leaving Carina snarled and swearing after him, rubbing her arm which now bore matching bruises with its twin on the other side.
He disappeared inside, and finally Carina's mind caught up with the shock of the last few minutes. She glanced down at the mess of equipment and wiring at her feet, and the pieces fell into place.
"Did you call another ship?" She yelled after him. The engines were still hissing, so her yelling was barely audible above their metallic whine. "What if there are more of those things in there!" She took a few tentative steps towards the ship, but hesitated lest he decide to take off then and there—wouldn't that just top her day, being burnt to a crisp after having survived hell! "URUK!" She screamed after him and after a moment, like a terrible kind of déjà-vu, he reappeared, sticking his head out to snarl something unintelligible at her and then disappeared again. The ship didn't immediately lift off…and Carina was vaguely disappointed. She'd had a faint hope that somehow this was the end of her misadventure. She stood awkwardly in the growing gloom, debating with herself about leaving, or staying, or following him into the ship. Finally, her inevitable curiosity won out and—with her heart slamming her ribs in a violent tattoo—she began to creep towards the ship.
Unlike the first time she entered an alien space craft, this one was a little more what she'd always imagined it should be. The structure was intact and gleaming faintly, everything had a very cave-like but efficient feel. Though…it was surprisingly dark inside. And hot. Carina peered around in the gloom, finding consoles lit only by a faint reddish glow and Uruk's huge, hulking shape moving about in the shadows. After a moment, she retreated back outside and took a slow breath in the relatively cooler air.
"What the hell is wrong with you guys? Do you actually like living in a sauna?" She peered through the doorway. He was sitting at the control console, and muttering to himself, interspersing grunts and growls with his odd little clicks and clacks. After a long moment, in which Carina nervously listened for sounds indicating unfriendly stowaways, the massive alien gave a snarl that had unpleasant connotations and ripped his mask from his face, slamming it down and rubbing angrily at his eyes in a gesture that was so human and so clearly frustrated that Carina found herself smiling. After a long moment in which he stared at the console in a gloomy fashion, he finally turned to look at her. She couldn't quite make out his features in the darkness, but she could feel his eyes on her and for a moment, she felt afraid of something she couldn't quite name...
He rose from his chair and stood, taking up a third of the space all by himself, as if waiting for something—and then finally he seemed to reach a decision.
"Ouuuu helllp." He said and for a moment, Carina's mind couldn't quite make the connections…and then she shook her head.
"Help you. Yes I helped you." She agreed. He shrugged his shoulders, as if resettling some huge weight about his person. "Are you leaving now?" She asked, for lack of any better question. "What about the creatures…do you have friends who can help you up there?" She doubted he'd understand the whole thing, but she was surprised to see him shaking his head to himself, there in the steamy interior of his ship.
"Ouu helllpp…" He said again, though this time he said it softly enough to make Carina think he might have been talking to himself. She frowned, shaking her head.
"I don't understand." She said, shrugging. "Look…I gotta get back to my abeula. If you're leaving, then good luck and all….I guess I've done all I can. Please…be careful and…well…kill them all I guess." He said nothing in response to this, and Carina was beginning to feel distinctly uncomfortable. There was something in the way he was looming…something in the way he was standing, so silent and…guiltily….that made her feel she really ought to leave. She took one step backwards and he moved.
Carina had never fought for her life before, but she definitely had instincts that lent her reflexes meant to save her life. She ducked the hand that reached out for her, but she only got two steps before something heavy landed at the back of her neck. She saw blinding stars, there was a moment of excruciating pain at the base of her skull and then…nothing.
End note: And there it is. I'll admit I'm not entirely happy with aspects of this chapter, but as I've not gotten to write in a while I'll put it down to a bit of rust in my muse's inner workings! Thank you again for reading! Naja