Rin’s Adventures: Chapter 25
Rin awoke to a wailing screech which echoed off the walls of her cave, the sound echoing back on itself and threatening to split her brain in two. Looking around frantically as she fought to keep her eyes open she spied Caidance and her fan club at the entrance. Caidance held a small cube in her hand which she tapped, bringing the horrible noise to an end. “What was that horrible noise Caidance?” Rin asked as she rubbed her ears. “Why would you bring that THING in here?”
“It got you up didn’t it?” Caidance asked. “Do you remember when you asked me how I got up so early in the morning sometimes? This is how. It’s called an alarm clock.”
“Do they always make horrible noises like that?” Rin asked as her ears finally stopped ringing and she stood upright.
“Well I have to add some speakers to this one so it’d be loud enough to wake you without us having to come inside the cave. I’m sorry if it hurt your ears, we thought you might be able to use something like this once you have morning drills in the Defense Forces.” Caidance shrunk back a bit.
“Hey, don’t be said,” Rin said. “It DID get me up after all, so I can get to the entrance in time to go and meet Terra. You could have used a light on my eye again.”
“True, but this way was more fun,” Teryn smiled. “You remember when you sneezed on me that one time?”
Rin was silent for a long moment before a growing grin broke out on her face. “This was a….a prank, wasn’t it?”
“Yes,” Teryn said with a completely straight face.
“But that means now I can prank you back, and I can do a lot of things that would make awesome pranks,” Rin said with a smile that sent a shiver down Teryn’s back. “But that can wait, from the light coming in it’s almost time for me to meet everyone. If I’m still on stand down can I still do that?” She asked.
“Probably, meeting your friend doesn’t sound like an official mission, and it’s not like you’re going anywhere far away,” Caidance answered. “If I’m wrong all that’ll happen is you come back here and we can help you practice your ice magic.”
“OK, I’ll see you all later,” Rin said as she hurried out of her cave, touching up the bits of her ice coverings that had melted a bit as she threw her uniform on. She could feel Kiki squirming in one of the pockets as she woke up to Rin moving. Making her way through the base, she waved at the people she saw. Not many were up this early in the morning, but her ears picked up the sounds of work from the bays where the armored suits were stored. “I won’t let that happen again,” she vowed as a frown settled across her face.
As she moved past the machine bays the tip of her tail hit a man emerging from one of the doors, sending a box full of tools scattering across the ground.” “Oh no, I’m so sorry,” Rin said as she leaned down. “Are you all right?”
“Just fine,” the tech replied, his goggled reflecting the morning light. “You might want to slow down a bit though,” he suggested as he began gathering up his tools. “You have somewhere to be?”
“Yes, I’m meeting some of the soldiers to bring my friend Terra and some food samples up the mountain. I can help you first though.”
“No need, your fingers are too big to grab most of them easily. I’ve got it; you go meet your friend,” the man said with a smile. “Just watch that tail.”
“Ok, thanks. And sorry again,” Rin said as she headed off, taking extra care to check where her tail tip went. The tech watched her go, chuckling a bit as he gathered up his tools.
Rin made it to the base entrance just as they were opening, letting a flurry of snow and frigid wind inside. “Is it all right if I come along?” She asked. “I know I’m on stand down, but this isn’t a big mission is it?”
“Not really,” Falcon replied from within his armor suit. “You’re meeting a friend is all I’d say. You’re welcome to join us. But you’ll have to help carry the food.”
“Of course,” Rin smiled, hearing the matching grin on her daddy’s face. She eagerly took the lead, enjoying the icy weather washing over her. She didn’t let that distract her though, feeling out for any sign of ice wyms. Terra would be very vulnerable to them as the cold would slow her down unlike Rin. The black clouds overhead contrasted to the white ground under her tail. “At least I don’t have to worry about the glare on snow today,” she said to herself.
The journey down the mountain passed pleasantly enough, the armor suit pilots listening to Rin as she shared the morning prank by her fan club. Several of the pilots had ideas for a counter-prank. “But where would I get that much pudding?” She asked Pilot Dren, whose idea was front in her mind.
“I’m sure you can find something to bribe the supply staff with,” the pilot replied as the group made the final steps to the base of the mountain.
“Terra, are you out there? It’s Rin and my friends,” Rin called out.
“I’m over here,” came the reply from behind a pile of boulders. “I’m coming out, just don’t hurt me.” Slowly the forest naga came into view, dragging a crate made from vines and branches behind her with her tail. “Hello Rin, everyone,” she said. “As I promised, samples of everything edible that grows near my home, as well as as many of the hot spring stones as I could carry.”
“Excellent; this will be very helpful to us,” Falcon replied. “It’s good to meet you again Ms. Terra.”
“Thank you Captain, I wish I could say the same but I’m still nervous about all this. Rin said I could see her home today. Is that still acceptable?”
“So long as you follow our orders once inside and stay close to Rin, then yes. The botany team will probably have a lot of questions about some of your plants. Just be aware we will be watching you closely. Rin has vouched for you, but our people have learned to be cautious when dealing with nagas.”
“I understand,” Terra nodded. “Rin told me about her fan club; I really want to meet them.”
“You may change your mind when you see some of the games they play. They’ve left me exhausted more than once,” Rin said, wincing as her tail twinged where the ice wyrm had clawed her all those days ago.
“Are you all right Rin?” Falcon asked.
“Fine, just my old scratches acting up,” Rin smiled. “Come on, we should get moving before the storm over the peak gets any worse.”
With Rin and Terra pulling, the rounded crate followed the suits up into the snowy slopes of Frost Peak. “So Rin, I hope you’re right about this. I have to tell you I’m still very nervous about going to this place.”
“Everything will be fine, I promised you nothing would hurt you and I meant it,” Rin said. “You just have to trust me.”
Terra took a deep breath and looked Rin in the eyes. “I do trust you Rin, it’s just hard to trust them as well,” she whispered. “Some of the stories I heard about these people are hard to just put aside.”
Rin took Terra’s hand in hers. “I know, but I’ll show you that they can be friends. They accepted me, and I will find a way to make them accept you.” Both nagas smiled as they made their way up the slopes, Terra shivering a bit as the winds grew colder. Rin felt Kiki leaver her pocket and saw her settle in Terra’s hair.
Halfway up the mountain Rin stopped as a powerful shiver ran up her spine and her tail spasmed.
“Rin, what’s wrong? Do you sense something?” Falcon asked as the armored suits began panning their weapons around.
“No, I just feel really cold all of a sudden. But that doesn’t make any sense,” Rin said. “My tail really hurts too.”
Terra leaned down to inspect Rin’s tail, and her eyes widened. “Rin, look here,” she pointed at the tip of Rin’s tail where several black spots had appeared. “I can sense dark magic here. Were you attacked recently?”
“No, I’ve been in the base since we last met.” Rin winced again as the black spots on her tail grew larger. “The only thing that happened was I tripped a worker with some tools by accident. Could that be it?”
“Not unless that human was carrying around dark magic artifacts. I can try to help, but we should get out of this cold first. I can’t use all of my crystal’s power if I’m freezing.”
“All right you guys heard it, double time!” Falcon ordered, and the group began racing up the icy slope as quickly as their legs and tails could carry them. As the black spots kept growing Rin started slowing down. “Rin, you have to keep moving! You can do it,” he encouraged.
“I’m so cold,” Rin replied. “This shouldn’t be possible.” Her arms felt very heavy, and she had to fight to keep her vision straight. Feeling in the end of her tail was starting to fade, and her mind flashed back to her mother. “I don’t want to die!” She cried, more afraid than she could remember. Her heartbeat filled her ears and she felt hot and freezing at the same time.
“You’re not going to Rin. Once we get to the base I’ll help you, I promise. It’ll be just like with your growth cycle, we’ll get through it together!” Terra said.
Just as Rin began to feel as though she could go no further the lights of the base appeared through the snow. “Almost there,” she whipered.
“This is Falcon to Gate Control, approaching your position but we have injured. Have medical teams standing by for Rin. Unknown contamination; possibly energy based.”
“Roger Captain, teams en route,” came a female voice over the channel.
The doors opened just as Rin fell forward, her tail unable to support her. Terra caught one arm and cradled her. “Come on Rin, we’re almost there! Just keep moving!” She urged, her heart racing as the magic within Rin grew stronger. She had never felt anything to twisted and cold; it amost seemed to be alive as it moved within her.
“Terra, you’ll have to drag me. My tail won’t move anymore, I’m sorry,” Rin said as her vision began to fade. “I’ll see you soon.”
“No, I won’t let this happen to you!” Terra yelled as she picked Rin up and slung her over her shoulders, leaving her supply cart to three of the armored suits. The open gate came into view, the large defense cannons tracking the party as they approached. Terra forgot to be terrified as she moved in with Rin’s head resting on her left shoulder. “Please, you have to help her!”
“Stand down, she’s with us,” Falcon ordered. “We need to get Rin to the medical complex. It’s possible the dridder venom she was injected with when she first arrived has somehow infected her again.”
“Yes Sir,” one of the two guards replied, and the cannons moved back to their original positions. The group quickly made their way into the base, warm air a welcome change to Terra’s half-frozen body. She barely noticed as one of the suits motioned towards a three story building near the center of the base. Many of the Miratans looked up at Terra with suspicion and a bit of fear, but they moved back when they saw her carrying Rin.
Several Miratans wearing white coats met Terra outside the complex and pointed to an open area where she set Rin down. “I may be able to help determine what is inside Rin; my crystal can analyze magic and counter most harmful ones.”
“We have our own machines which can analyze energies,” a silver haired doctor said. “They are being brought out now.”
“Then I’ll help her until they get here!” Taking her crystal in her hands, Terra leaned in over Rin and placed it over one of the black spots on Rin’s tail. A gentle green glow surrounded it, and immediately Terra felt the dark energy react. A bolt of black lightning erupted from the tail and struck Terra’s collarbone, sending her reeling back. Suddenly she felt as if she had been submerged in an arctic ocean. The energy sapped every bit of strength from her, keeping her from getting up as the glow from her crystal faded.
“Terra!’ Kiki screamed as she was thrown from her perch. She saw the end of Rin’s tail turn completely black and emit random bolts of black energy. “I’ve felt this before,” she said to herself. “The Dridder!” The energy was very similar to the one contained in the crystal the dridder had used to shield herself. Slowly approaching the tip of Rin’s tail, she reached out with her own magic. The darkness reacted, but only barely. “Must be a spell for Nagas.”
Seeing the Miratans notice her, Kiki nodded to Falcon’s suit. “My magic isn’t triggering the curse’s defenses. I’m going to try and help stabilize Rin until your people can move in.” Before they could answer the fairy moved in. Casing her mage sight over Rin’s body, she could see a small object embedded inside which was generating the dark energy. Surrounding her hand in a glove of fire magic, Kiki made her move. Her only thought was for Rin; if her attempt hurt her so be it. She wasn’t about to let a friend perish through her inaction.
Her fire-armored hand pierced Rin’s scales and quickly found the dark object. Pulling it out and hurling it to the ground, Kiki saw it was a black crystal shard only a few inches long. It did indeed look very similar to the Dridder’s shield generator. As the crystal hit the ground Kiki felt her hand grow cold. Landing on the ground she felt the dark magic within her own body react to the shard’s. “The key," a voice hissed in her mind. “Foolish to expose yourself. Now you are mine!” Before Kiki could move the crystal levitated and hurled itself at her. She dodged to the side, but the crystal shattered, turning into a black mist that enveloped her before she could scream. Just before she passed out she could see two massive emerald eyes boring into her mind.