Years after the Hycaron incident, people still talk to me 'bout how they hate the Lazloi. They talk 'bout 'em like they was evil.

Sure I understand. The Lazloi caused the Great Twilight, lot of people still hurtin’ ‘cos of that. But they did what they had to.

People didn't see it like I did.

The explosion filled the sky, a great ball of light. The ground was shakin' and I was thrown to the ground. Then it went dark, I mean like pitch black, darkest night you've ever seen. There was a loud bang, rocks splittin' and dust and stones and noise. I just closed my eyes and waited to die.

When I opened my eyes again and it was still pitch black, there was no light at all. The only sound was this buzzin', snarlin' hum. Felt cold and the air was so still. Called out to Chan and Carlin. Chan was cursing over a broken arm, man he was swearin'. Knew we weren't dead then, don't think they'd allow that kinda talk in the afterlife.

Tried calling Carlin but he didn't reply, remembered he was further away so I hollered louder. Didn't know he was dead till later. Found Chan in the dark by sound, said he broke his arm on a rock. We stuck to each other pretty tight.

Seemed like hours before I heard her voice. She seemed to be moaning, sounded hurt, delirious. Then a light, a speck of light just hangin' there. I could see her lying on the ground, think she was hurt bad, blood down her face. One of them androids was standing there, looked kinda lost, think it needed orders, but she was hurt real bad.

I tried going to the light with Chan but the other android appeared and blocked our way. Think they were as scared as we were. So we just sat there, eyes fixed on the light and watched the Lazloi. She drifted in and out for hours and the androids just stood there waitin'. Must have been like that for a day, sitting in the darkness, watchin’ that light.

Think I slept through most of it.

Next day sometime, the darkness snapped off; boom, just like that. The light blinded us and then it went dark again. I was blinking stars. Few minutes later, boom, the light came back again for few seconds. Kept going like that for an hour before the light came back for good.

Sun was high in the sky and it was real hot. Looked 'round and saw the ship on its side. Looked like it hit a rock outcrop, pushed by the explosion. Ship had torn a big gouge in the ground, must've been smacked real hard. There was this big circle of stones and dust 'round us too.

Think it was another hour 'fore Kleneptra woke up. First time I saw how quick Lazloi heal. She slammed her head hard on a rock and now she was up and walkin’ like it never happened. Tried to talk to her but she went to the ship, touchin' it, talkin' to it, like it was alive. I screamed at her to find Carlin. That got her attention. She said he was dead, she said he was outside the force wall.

Said she was sorry an’ all.

Took a while to get the ship’s door open. Kleneptra took us inside but it was dark. The blue metal felt cool and smooth. Saw no scratches, not even where it had torn through the rocks. She tried talking to the ship again but it was silent. I guess the explosion must have shaken up stuff inside real good.

First time I’d seen her scared, wasn’t the last either.

-- Elise Mackie, former merc, Hycaron II


Figures created in Poser 6. Starship is an original model created in Truespace and Hexagon.

Scene assembly and final rendering in Vue 5 Pro Studio. Post processed in Photoshop CS2

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Updated: 10 July 2006

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