UNCANNY

The celebration raged deeper into the midnight and early dawn. It was accustomed for the Royal hosts of the ceremony to give a speech; one that would fill the people with a greater and lifted morale. As the honorable guests dispersed from the marble canvas, the King motioned for the blazing auroras to be displaced with a brighter such color: flushed, yellow flames. The room was lit with an illuminating atmosphere, while the King's Royal Guards departed from their posts along the spherical walls and surrounded the champion, Ye'yinde.

He had earlier escorted the princess back to her throne, where the remaining members of her family had waited. Her father had given his honorary nod of thanks and the same had been given by her mother. Her twin brothers, decorated in the finest such armor, had taken Ri'ka's hands as she ascended the flight of stairs to be seated in the throne between theirs. Presently, she sat, eyes wide and bones stiff, watching as her father, adorned in all his glory and admirable gems, approached the overseeing, stone balcony. He merely had to raise his hands only slightly from the railing for his cherished company to respect his wishes for a silent court.

"The night grows late and so this celebration must end," my father began. He used English. It was common to do so in the presence of an audience. The yaut'ja language was barely spoken unless it was to a jehdin companion.

He continued, mandibles flared with anticipation, "I am honored to administer the rank of General to, Ye'yinde, in the Orädd Clan! Gkaun-yte mei'hswei! He has displayed the will of discipline, strength, motivation, and courage. I am proud to call him my ally!"

The Chief of Guards stormed up alongside Ye'yinde, grabbed his wrist and rose it into the air, shouting, "Ye'yinde!"

Just as before, an enormous cacophony barraged through the great hall. After one round of applause would lessen, another would arise in an attempt to keep the joy alive. Ri'ka's family stood, mandibles stretched and cries of bliss blatant, to support the new-found Protector and Apprentice Hunter of the Orädd Clan. It was their duty to be the ace supporters and greatest of examples. Ri'ka, on the other hand, sat and carefully kept a steady pace of clapping. She wasn't by any means moved by the immense level of roaring, for she was intent on watching Ye'yinde's every move.

He just...stood there.

Without a smile. Without even the slightest curl of amusement in his eyes. He was beyond any emotion at all: agitation, affection, desire, empathy, elation, remorse, or passion. The only apparatus one could evidently see was his unfaltering itch of pride. He was as cold as a stone and as bold as any hunter. Typical. But how was she expected to live out the rest of her life with this, this robot? He moved like one. He acted like one. He possessed no emotion to the slightest realm of life and duty was his pride and joy. She would never be a replacement for that. Through Ri'ka's eyes, her predetermined future was meant to be a miserable and enduring vivacity. Law 78.

Scoffing at her mother for the untimely scold, Ri'ka nodded and stood up like the rest of her family. She only shook her head, feeling her thick strands of rubbery hair shake back and forth with the motion of her head. He was so wrong; wrong for her that is. They were too different; too conservative; too opposing of one another. She was completely against being bonded with a man she barely knew, nor wanted to know. It was erratic: being forced into this. Suddenly, her father grabbed his golden beaker and rose for a toast in addition to his earlier speech.

"I am proud to have my daughter, Ri'ka, be betrothed to this Hunter. He will prove the greatest protection for your ruler, the future Yaut'ja Queen!"

Now, all eyes were fixed on her. To her surprise, the applause continued, with the augmentation of another yet intimidating stare from Ye'yinde; however, this time it was divergent. His piercing gaze was nothing more than a glare. She tilted her chin up as she was taught. Future Queens were meant to look and act superior; whether they meant it or not. She ceased her applause and bowed to her people with the deepest respect she could muster. As she rose and corrected her posture, her eyes widened as Ye'yinde, too, climbed the marble steps to make his way to her side.

Ri'ka eyed him; watching his concrete legs rebound with every long stride. The metal boots that encased his feet clanked against the floor and his long crimson cape swept along behind him, picking up his trail. His broad arms clutched tightly around his helmet, tucked gently in the cradle of his arms. His enlarged chest elevated even more in pride as he stopped beside her and turned to face the crowd. The last glimpse she had of him was of his gleaming, gold armor that mirrored the vivid light in the room. Paya. If she did not know him by the name of, Ye'yinde, she would have critically assumed that he was their Paya. But never once did he lay eyes on her. His stood motionless, while Ri'ka felt unnaturally warm next to him. All of this felt rushed. Amiss. Ghastly. Aberrant. Futile.

Hours had past before the ceremony had truly come to an end. The servants briskly worked to immaculate the ample chamber. Ri'ka was escorted to the exit by her eldest brother, Kal'de. He consistently pressured himself to care for Ri'ka. She was the next future the Orädd Clan had in store and as eldest, he saw fit to her protection until Ye'yinde took responsibility and became her reciprocal; safeguard; defender. Despite being a brutal Hunter, he had always kept a soft spot in his heart, reserved entirely for Ri'ka. He knew she was different. Her mind wasn't wired like the rest of them.

The King and Ye'yinde ambled calmly down the same corridor as Ri'ka and Kal'de, only several dozen feet behind them. The large, crescent-shaped windows were open to the mid-morning's streams of sunlight, filing inside the deep corridors. Ri'ka, shoulders slumped in an oddly fashion, trudged alongside her brother, lagging lazily behind. Her legs were aching, her arms exhausted from nothing, and her head throbbed with the constant sound of roaring applause. She slowly leaned her head daintily against his shoulder, while rapping her arm inside the cradle of his elbow. Ri'ka felt his chest rumble with low laughter. He grasped her cradled hand and kissed the top placidly with his lips, rubbing it after he finished.

"What's wrong, Ri'ka?" Kal'de finally broke the silence with his abysmal voice. She sighed; taking a deep breath as if to release all of her worries.

"Mei'hswei," Ri'ka addressed sweetly. Her voice was barely audible.

"Mei-jadhi," Kal'de acknowledged.

"Tell me the truth, Kal'de. Do you admire, Ye'yinde?" Ri'ka asked in a hushed tone.

"Who? Yale?" Kal'de suddenly stopped for a moment to look at his sister, before returning to their steady pace down the corridor. Ri'ka reverted her head to its comfortable billet on his shoulder. "Well, he seems to be a suitable husband for you. I know our parents wouldn't have any other Hunter save for him. He knows how to kill in the means of protection for you, our future Queen."

"Why? Do you disagree?"

"No," Ri'ka swallowed in fear. "He's more than incredibly strong; fit for any threat... But is he right for me?"

"I'm not sure what you mean," Kal'de's voice was etched with innocence.

"I mean no disrespect when I say this, but he just seems completely-"

"-Arthritic, blunt, boorish, bitter, quiescent, aloof...," Kal'de glanced to his right, smiling at his sister's astonished assertion.

He knew all too well that he had dissipated her scornful doubts, moreover. Ri'ka quietly laughed, feeling the heaviness that had resided inside her chest vanish with giddiness. She playfully nudged her brother's arm and made a quick flash behind her at the two Yaut'ja in the distance. They hadn't the least idea to assume Ri'ka and Kal'de's conversation was directed to them. Turning away quickly, she smiled up at Kal'de, silently thanking him. It was by his choice and his choice alone that he treated her with kindness beyond discrimination; for if his comrades ever had the knowledge of his tender side, they would disregard him with the same elucidation she has always received.

"Kale!" Ri'ka said, "Are those your honest thoughts about him?" Her smiled widened.

He only had to eye her once, tip up a small grin, and say, "Would I ever lie to you?"

"I hope not," Ri'ka smirked.

"Than, yes. Those are my honest thoughts of him," Kale confirmed. He quickly pulled Ri'ka aside into a conjoining corridor. It was considerably crepuscular than the main passage they were formerly on.

"Kale," Ri'ka's voice cracked with hesitation. She clutched his hands close to her beating chest while staring up at his equally concerned eyes with a sense of extreme longing.

"I don't... I don't want to be with him. We are too antithetic. He has never once truly spoken to me. I-I do not want to be with him, Kale. For the rest of my life. I feel debilitated whenever I think of my future; cold and miserable with that, stranger, until I grow old and die. He is not caring. He is not amiable. I'm certain that he does not feel."

Kale smirked, "You assume too much."

"Do I?" Ri'ka retorted in a sassy manner. He pointed his finger at her.

"Yes, you do, Ri'ka. Come on, he'll serve you as an honorable guardian and when the time comes, I'm sure you will come to adore him like the rest of our people," Kale grinned. Ri'ka glowered. The heaviness of worry returned even thicker in her chest and she collapsed against the glittering wall behind her.

She waited until her father and Ye'yinde had passed them before she gawked at the radiating sunshine only a few feet away. The world outside her palace was foreign to her. Only soldier stories and history compendiums could captivate the void of the outside world she knew nothing about. For a princess, she had always had the abounding rules. Ri'ka was forbidden to step a foot extraneous the confines of her palace walls. She was never allowed to converse with the public. Finally, she must never receive allotment of basic training, trials, or any other alternative brawling arts. Ri'ka's unconscious self was still staring off into the blinding light, in a comforting daze.

"Does my happiness not matter?" she brokenly mumbled.

"C'jit, Ri'ka," Kale murmured, shaking his head in frustration. He rubbed the back of his neck, running his fingers through his hair. "How about a history lesson to cheer you up?"

Ri'ka rolled her eyes, swinging her head to face him, "Seriously?"

"Of course," Kale took her arm and tucked it away with his and continued to escort her down the less illuminated hall. "I think you'll like this one."

Ri'ka's diminutive mandibles flared once, while she cocked her head to the side in curiosity.

"A thousand years ago, while the Dark Blade Yaut'ja ruled the skies and Yaut'ja Prime, they discovered that their Queen and current Elder of the council captured the offspring of the Predalien that our uncle, Wolf, annihilated back when there was an infestation on Earth. They locked it away in a lab under full security and, in time, that decedent gave birth to three additional Predaliens..."

"Yes, Kal'de, I know all of this," Ri'ka sighed. Kale shook his head, clearly bidding her to wait for him to finish his allegory.

"Yes, but what you do not know is that I found there were more than just three Predaliens. Later, the mother Predalien rampaged through the superior clan's pyramid. I don't know many details about how she got loose, but she did. Right before the fall of the Dark Blade Yaut'ja back on our home planet, our former Yaut'ja Queen was impregnated by the eldest member of the Predalien offspring. You see, when the mother Predalien gave birth to her three decedents, they were pure Predalien. More abomination- xenomorph, than Yaut'ja. But with the abominations running rampant through the city, their power and strength far exceeding our own, we had little choice but to go to war."

"How could there have been more than one abomination to begin with?" Ri'ka questioned.

"Irrelevant," Kale shrugged, "The war lasted for more than three hundred years before our race was almost decimated. The remaining Yaut'ja broke off into three clans, the Tämjas Clan, the Tyrannisk Clan, and the Orädd Clan, because of the three generations it took to fight the war. A war without an bpi-de in sight. It is said that the fourth offspring was a chestburster, but almost completely Yaut'ja. They said it took the appearance of a Yaut'ja, but had the characteristics of a xenomorph. Its skin could resist acid and ameliorate from wounds as quickly as you could blink. Its hands could retract claws with skin as hard as steel. It had the ability to alter its vision to hunt its preys. It appeared weak and pathetic on-sight, but when angered, the hidden strength was incomparable. It could watch its surroundings and mentally document every move; enabling it to learn the skills of others; the tactics they used to fight. It was determined as a heartless creature."

"So this new abomination became a threat just like the other Predaliens?" Ri'ka eyed her brother, trying to decipher fact from fiction.

"I have my suspicions that the Queen wanted to use it against the Predalien abominations," Kale said, stopping their stride in front of a large training room.

The exterior bulwark was made of transparent glass. It was meant strictly for observation. The walls were lined with countless weapons consisting of knives, long swords, wrist blades, and other gadgets, as well as an excessive variety of plasma weapons. Ri'ka had forgotten that it was his responsibility to train the unblooded Yaut'ja adolescents. She watched with a keen smile as the young pups sparred with their tiny hand blades on flourishing mats. One would growl at the other, puffing out his chest and stomping at the ground to display territorial superiority. The princess laughed. They were merely pups; the superiority they desired was scarcely in their reach.

Kale carefully jerked Ri'ka's hand to gain her attention. She pulled her gaze away from the pups and back to her brother. He bowed to her and pecked her cheek before conveying an apologetic leer.

"So is that the end of your story?" Ri'ka challenged. Beleaguering her brother was a specialty. He snickered, mandibles compressed towards his face in amusement.

"Very funny," Kale approached the doorway to the training room, "Turns out, know one knows where the 'Heartless Creature' resides now. Or even if its still alive."

"Perhaps, this creature is, Yale. He's pretty heartless," Ri'ka teased in a hushed tone.

Kal'de only shook his head, smile remaining plastered to his face as he entered the training room. Ri'ka only stayed for a moment. She crossed her arms, reclining them against her flat chest. Tilting her had to one side, she watched as the pups stood at attention in single-filed lines, directing all of their will power to putting full recognition to their mentor. Though she could not hear his words, Kal'de's mouth moved swiftly between commands. He would occasionally refer to a specific weapon on display, but as far as she could tell, they were currently mastering the use of a wrist blade.

One after another, each pup gathered the means to construct their own wrist blade. They carved each and every detail in the smooth surfaces of the curved knives. Once the compound process was complete, Kal'de demonstrated its use; one maneuver at a time. Ri'ka watched as the pups swung with all their might, perfecting their techniques and footing placement. She noted when their small, but firm muscles would flex and when they would counterman. Suddenly, all of their sweet faces were directed to a new voice in the room. A brace pillar blocked him from view, however, as soon as her curiosity climaxed, the Yaut'ja was revealed.

It was Ye'yinde.

His shimmering gold armor had been removed, only to be compensated with his former, tattooed armor; engraved with all of his past campaign flaws. It was tight-fitted; created to plant its steel surface into the Yaut'ja body; becoming one with their skin. As he, too, preformed the gliding techniques, his muscles, far more defined and enlarged, would flare up into a stiff projection. The netting around his legs and abs only advanced to construe the immensity of his strength. Ri'ka must have been staring, because Ye'yinde looked directly at her. She involuntarily flinched. He couldn't see her. Transparent glass was meant for the observers to observe without compliance.

Embarrassed and slightly paranoid, Ri'ka turned away from the glass and began to walk briskly in the opposite direction. If Yale was to discover her aggrandized lust to examine his behavior, she would be verbally brutalized with endless taunting. Suddenly, Ri'ka felt, even above her swift footsteps, another set of heavier treading. She froze; feeling the cold glare pierce her back. Someone was behind her. She stopped. And so did her visitor.

"Ri'ka," came a low, menacing roar.


TRANSLATIONS

"Jehdin" - {Individual}

"Gkaun-yte mei'hswei" - {Welcome brother}

"Paya" - {God or conquering warrior}

"Mei'hswei" - {Brother}

"Mei-jadhi" - {Sister}

"C'jit, Ri'ka" - {Damn it, Rika}

"Bpi-de" - {End}