The massive marine reached out and placed a hand on the boy's shoulder and looked him over. "The demons understand only death and destruction and wantonly attempt to destroy all that is good and pure." he said to the boy softly. "But if there are any who can withstand their mindless machinations it is Sakarra. She has shown you peace and kindness... As is her way but I can see in your eyes you have a fire in your soul like mine." he said to the boy carefully.
"We will find her and paint the halls of the ship emerald with their vile blood in payment for what they have done to your home And to mine. This I swear to you." he said to the sword toting boy as he clinched his other hand forcing the red blood to come out in a blood oath. "You I already know have no fear of these monsters... Are you willing to put the fear into them?"
The child looked at the human's dark blue eyes in silence. His grandmother's word echoed in his mind, the old, old voice so good and gentle. Do no harm to those that harm you. Offer them peace.
She had died without ever raising a hand against her tormentors, smiling. One day, Nveid had hoped he might find such a peace, rooted so deep in his soul nothing and no one could take it away.
It was not today.
Keeping his eyes locked with the soldier's, he nodded. The gesture he made with his oath was unfamiliar, but he could venture a fair guess and approved silently.
She would understand. Because other than most, Nveid knew too well the Element that slumbered at the core of his thaessu, banked and contained, but never extinguished, subject to her will but burning all the more fiercely for it. For a moment he almost smiled, and it was no humor that lit his face.
"Ie, Nnihkolh'ai." The marine was right. She would not let them win. And neither would Nveid. Now, he might even stand a chance.
"We must be careful." Nudging Nohtho's inquisitive nose aside, the Rihannsu boy crawled back over to his stockpile and rummaged about a bit before he found a cookie for the Fvai and some rations and water for the human. What he thought the soldier would appreciate just as much however was the knife and rifle he had taken off a dead Gai'Shian. "When the demons are frightened, they will only grow more cruel. And there are others. Like us." He put the blood stained rifle next to Nikolai and motioned at the scorch marks etched into the metal "They kill the soldiers sent to find them and leave messages in their blood. I tried to follow them but they are shadows. No trace, no noise."
Nikolai nodded at that, the first thing they would need to do would be to link up with the other resistance fighters. Taking the rations from the boy he quickly ate some to restore his strength somewhat and offered the rest to Nveid. "We will move like the wind medvezhonok." he said to him after a moment as he checked the weapons for their working order. "We leave to trace, if we find a demon we kill it silently. The Gai'Shian are fools but are dangerous fools. I will have your back medvezhonok, I trust you will have mine as well?" he asked the child wondering if he had the will to kill.
The boy cocked his head at the unfamiliar word, the sound of it strangely suiting the tall, massive human. Fluid, rumbling, like a rainstorm gathering over the mountains. He did not understand it, but instinctively recognized he had been called a name in the human's native speech. A good name. He only hoped he'd be worthy of it.
"She showed me." Motioning to the sword strapped across his back, the very way his thaessu did, the way all the desert warriors did to not be hindered in their travels, Nveid wondered whether the soldier had recognized the blade and would be angry with him for taking it. "But I'm not very good, not yet. It's almost the right size, because she is " he was going to say 'so small' and had to swallow. Even barely approaching his tenth year, the Rihannsu boy stood tall enough to see over her shoulder without having to stretch, and the abundance of food on this ship and fussing doctors looking after his health had done the rest. But not until now had he ever truly understood what a frail being his thaessu had to be in the eyes of others. How easily hurt no. No, he refused to believe that. He had to believe she would come back, alive and whole.
"It will do." He set his jaw and pointed at the rifle "But these, I don't know how to use. I fear I may not be much use to you, Nnihkolh'ai, unless you count a willing heart a valuable ally."
That and the fact he was an angry, determined child with sharp eyes and a knack for hitting fowl in mid-flight with a well aimed stone, a talent that had often enough enriched his family's table in the past. Thrown things would not hurt the armored demons, but maybe, just maybe distract them.
"Nohtho." He whispered and the Fvai happily wagged its entire body at hearing his name.
Dark brown eyes shining with urgency, Nveid petted the animal who took the chance to drench Nikolai's hand in slobber "They are too many now, never walking in small groups. The others have frightened them. Eight, sometimes twelve. Searching. But they won't know what to do about him."
Of course there was always a chance they might simply shoot the poor animal, but Nohtho would not stay behind and would throw a terrible fit if they tried to tie him up.
An almost feral grin spread over the boy's face when an idea took hold. "Nnihkolh'ai. We will need cookies. Many. And if you know, you must tell me where a demon's armor is weak and can be pierced by a blade."
Nikolai listened to the boy as he spoke and nodded his admiration for his courage. "A willing heart is sometimes more useful than an entire platoon of trained soldiers medvezhonok." he said after a moment and lifted up the knife the boy had given him. "Their armor is strong but there are weaknesses." he said to the boy and brought the knife up to his underarm. "Here is a killing blow." he said and made a gesture of stabbing the blade in and twisting it. He brought the blade up to the back of his neck and showed a deep thrust."Here is an instant kill... and silent... their armor does not cover the base of their necks." he told the boy.
Nveid looked intently, and then nodded. It would be difficult to reach that high and the mere thought of steel slicing into flesh made his stomach revolt. But he knew the demons would not hesitate to do the same to him, and worse. Ah, he knew all too well.
"We must hide this before we go." Pulling the data chip he had taken from her quarters out of his shirt, Nveid held it out to the marine "They want it. Temep`Shar. The thaessu ship they stole. This tells them how to repair it, I think. But there is another, Seleya. I could not delete it from her computer, or take it. I am sorry." The boy hung his head, shame and frustration threatening to overwhelm him and then suddenly, the entire ship seemed to shiver, as if Charon herself were in agony over the violence done to her and her crew.
The boy's hand shot out to touch the bulkhead, steadying himself, and a futile attempt to soothe the poor, beleaguered ship ... and another shudder ran through it, only this one he knew. Unmistakable, the brief exhale, the exhilaration of the jump. They were at warp. But there had been no engine sound, no low throb and hum, contracting, tensing as the great ship collected her power to wrap the fabric of the universe around her and slip into the otherspace that allowed her to travel the stars.
Nohtho seemed unconcerned enough, sniffing the tall human's uniform in the hopes of finding something edible hidden there, but the boy looked wide eyed, uncomprehending. "Nnihkolh'ai what happened?"
[to be continued ...] MCapt Nikolai Chernienko & Nveid & Nohtho the Fvai USS Charon
[to be continued ...]
MCapt Nikolai Chernienko
Nohtho the Fvai