Author Topic: Part 27: Still Alive  (Read 54 times)

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Offline Daen

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Part 27: Still Alive
« on: December 01, 2022, 10:56:30 PM »
Consciousness remained in him. Somehow, beyond all reason and insanity, Moss was still alive!

Unfortunately, that was about all he was. He couldn't feel any physical sensations at all. His branches, if they were even still there, had been burned clean of leaves. That meant no oscilli and therefore no sight. His hollow had been seared completely; he knew that much. Not that there were any qars left to feed or care for anyway. If any of them were still alive, they knew enough to stay away for their own good.

Except for Grace. For some reason she'd run towards the danger instead of away. Moss vaguely remembered those good-luck charms, strung together in his branches, and the liquid that had come from them. Grace was certainly dead by now, but whatever that substance was, it had shielded him from the worst of the flames. Char had given it to him, and she'd probably instructed Grace on what to do with it. If anyone knew how to protect against heat, it would be a Combustor. Had Char predicted what would happen? If so, she'd saved him. Thanks to her, in time he'd grow new branches and leaves.

And roots. The network was completely silent now. Moss devoted some energy to try reconnecting, but it was doubtful there was anyone out there to hear him.

All of his friends were dead. Even the traitor Rax was on that list. How could Moss blame him for doing whatever it took to protect his family? Whatever idiotic, self-destructive actions were necessary. Despite all this loss, Moss had time now to consider strategy. He had to admit the trejuns' cleverness. They hadn't underestimated the treqars after all. They'd planned for the Arbormass and sent someone to keep tabs on it. It might mean the end of the Union, but at least they would be destroyed by a clever enemy, and not just a ruthless one.

He missed Aysa's gentle, authoritative tone, and the twins' constant bickering with each other. They'd kept it quiet for the most part, but it was as much a part of them as Char's reservedness was hers. Tobor had finally started accepting fringers as equals instead of looking down at them all the time, and Rax… Well, maybe Moss had never known the true Rax at all.

Moss couldn't tell how much time was passing. Without his leaves, he couldn't even feel the Core's light as it passed. Had it been minutes, or days? Then he could feel something! It wasn't sound, or heat. He was moving! Yes, he'd been uprooted and was now on his side! He focused all his attention on that motion. It was remarkably easy now that he had no other senses. He was on his side… and rocking back and forth slightly. There was no other explanation: he was being moved.

Union qars might have found him alive, and uprooted him to bring him north. No, qars wouldn't rock him back and forth like that. Was he on a cart? The only one in existence had been blasted into pieces, or so he'd been told. But then he'd been told a great many things that hadn't been true.

Suddenly an enzyme message appeared in his mind! It was attached to one of his surviving roots, in the least burned area of his former communications. Hurriedly, Moss opened it.

"Moss, it's all right." Char's voice began. "You're alive, and I'm getting you out of here. I can't connect to you until we stop this infernal rocking motion, so I just hope you're still in one piece on the inside. You were the only survivor, but that also means everyone thinks you're dead. No one will be looking for you."

She was one to talk! Having the gall to compliment him on being officially dead, after obviously faking her own death. Again, Moss was torn between anger at the action and admiration for its cleverness. He'd bought her little performance, as had the rest. But if the heartwood found in her place hadn't actually been hers, then who had died in her place?

"For reference, the rocking motion takes about five seconds to go full circle. We'll be in motion for another day or so, so I'll talk to you when we come to a stop."

Moss let out some gratitude that no one else could feel. Char knew that he couldn't feel anything but motion right now, and she'd given him a way to tell time.