Categories > Original > Fantasy > Tradewinds 04 - "Tranz-D"


by shadesmaclean 0 reviews

Max comes to

Category: Fantasy - Rating: PG - Genres: Fantasy - Published: 2008-10-10 - Updated: 2008-10-10 - 1053 words - Complete

A short while later, Max started coming to.

He wasn’t really sure which he noticed first, the cold sand and stone beneath him, or the pulsing pain in his head. Cold. Wet. The smell of stone and water, and a peculiar tang in the air. The sense of needing to watch out for something…

“Justin!” he gasped as his eyes flew open, revealing mostly darkness.

It only took a matter of seconds for his eyes to adjust to the gloom, even as it all came rushing back to him. The whirlpool, trying to save Justin and getting sucked in… Justin.

Max glanced around the cave frantically for some sign of his friend. The cavern he could only see the nearer edges of, vanishing into yawning blackness wherever the other side of the water was. But Justin was nowhere to be seen. He caught sight of Bandit, who had been standing an apparent vigil at his side, taking in some relief on that account.

Remembering how deep the water was, how he had hit his head on the bottom before he made his dazed attempt to surface, he found himself fearing the worst for Justin. He had managed to emerge on his back before he blacked out, lucky not to have been waterlogged. Still he couldn’t figure out how the whirlpool entered this place, and he worried still more about his friend.

“Justin! Where are you!?”

He relaxed a moment later when he saw the marks in the dirt, where someone had clearly dragged him up onto this bank of sugar-white sand. Then the dragging footprints leading around a fold in the cavern wall. To where he now realized the light was coming from.

Hauling himself slowly, carefully to his feet, he wrung out his vest as best he could, then put it back on. Noting with some surprise that he still had his medallion, even after his harrowing experience with the whirlpool. Grabbed his pack and prepared to follow his friend, wondering where he had gotten off to anyway.

Around the bend, the light he had seen earlier shone out through an irregularly-shaped hole in the cavern wall, its edges glowing a wavering, ghostly white. The hole itself seemed to cut into the side of a long, hexagonal corridor whose ends Max couldn’t see from here. It was easily wide enough, even at floor level, for several people to walk side-by-side, with angular supports at regular intervals, the walls themselves slanting inward toward the floor and ceiling. Exposed pipes and cables ran the length of the walls, and lighting tubes the like of which he had seldom seen except on Outlander vessels back in the Islands were mounted on the ceiling between supports. The whole thing appeared to be made of dark metal, making him wonder where it came from and who built it.

It was utterly unlike anything he had ever seen in his life. Random details of his parents’ and Uncle Angus’ accounts, as well as bits and pieces of Outlander tales, whispered through his head. Increasingly, he felt as if he was living in one of those stories.

He looked down to see a trail of wet, sandy footprints leading into the hall and veering to his left. Justin had definitely gone this way. Aside from the fact that he couldn’t see any other way out of this place, Max simply didn’t want to let his friend get too far ahead of him. This place was strange, and he would prefer not to wander it alone.

He slid his pack off his shoulders. After rummaging around in it for a moment, he came up with the items he sought. He stuffed his last remaining power clip in his last intact pocket and armed his power pistol. Checking to make sure he still had his laser sword, he wondered if Justin still had his staff, for he had never seen his friend without it. He didn’t know if this place was dangerous, but he would feel a little better if he knew Justin had a weapon.

Prepared as he could be, Max approached the opening.

He looked over his shoulder to see Bandit just gaping at the hole without any pretense of feline aloofness. “What’s the matter, boy?” Max asked, but the big cat continued to stare at the hallway beyond with a distrust that did not inspire confidence. Still, “We’ve got to find Justin, Bandit. We should try to stick together. Come on.”

An anticipation the like of which he hadn’t felt in years coursed through him as he stepped toward that bizarre entrance. And an odd, tingling sensation struck him as he crossed over into the hallway. Then he was on the other side. The passageway was not the mirage or hallucination he half expected it to be. It was as if he had somehow passed through a wall or something, for the air on this side was noticeably warmer than the chill of the cavern.

He turned around and saw Bandit still standing there, refusing to come any closer.

“Come on, Bandit. Please? I can’t leave you here…” The look on Bandit’s face said that Max could perfectly well leave him here. Leave me out of this, it said. Though Max could tell his companion wanted nothing to do with this, he decided to test Bandit’s resolve.

Max turned and started following Justin’s trail.

After a few paces, Bandit stepped hesitantly through the opening, clearly not liking the experience one bit.

“See, that wasn’t so bad.” Though Bandit’s face seemed to say otherwise. Yet Max still couldn’t help but think of his fun encounter with the devilfish years ago, and he silently hoped that he wasn’t getting in over his head this time.

Hesitating no longer, he resumed following the footprints, eager to catch up with Justin. After a few support sections, the hall crossed an intersection. The trail turned left at this junction. A move that, by his estimation, should have rounded back on the cave. Instead, it was another hallway leading farther than the eye could see.

Hoping that perhaps Justin had learned something helpful about this mysterious place, Max pressed on, Bandit following with clearly apparent unease.
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