Dark Angel Chapter 33

The Eve Before the Great Life or Death Struggle

by Nightsong

The Starfire

 “Look, Cyne, it’s really not that complex.  You’ve been drawing on magic for a good little while anyway, right?  This isn’t something new and confusing; hell, I’m actually removing steps from the casting process here.”

 “And it’s about as simple as ‘removing’ the milk from the ice cream-making process, Darrell.”

 Darrell and Cynewulf were sitting cross-legged on the floor of the Starfire’s main recreational room.  Darrell had been spending the last hour or so of hyperspace travel trying to explain his new improvisational magic to the man, but to little avail; so far he’d not so much managed as to light a candle with the ability.

 “They make that, you know.” Zohar cut in suddenly.

 The little finori had been watching the proceedings with much amusement for the past ten minutes or so, but had been strangely silent up to this point.

 Cynewulf gave him a look.  “…What?”

 “Non-dairy ice cream.  You can barely tell the difference, actually.”


 “Speaking of ice cream, would you guys like some?  You mentioning it made me realize I’d like some, and I figured, hey, if either of you want some, you can get me some while you’re up.”

 Darrell and Cynewulf exchanged glances.

 “Zohar, go elsewhere, we’re busy.” Darrell said simply, giving him a look the brooked no argument.

 “…Jerk.” The little finori muttered, but he hopped up and walked out of the room.

 Opting to go after that ice cream after all, human to fetch it or no, he took the stairs down into the lower bay and made for the pantry. 

 “Oh, Dogu, you know my heart will never let you go, even now.”

 Zohar blinked.  The sound had come from the cabin Terra had claimed as her own, but somehow the finori didn’t recall a Dogu being onboard the ship.  Shrugging, he walked up to the door and pushed it open.

 Terra was sitting on her bed, soda in one hand, watching some sort of soap opera on the room’s vidscreen.

 “Where in the world did you get this?  I didn’t know the Mediator watched the soaps.”

 The young woman almost jumped at the voice – she hadn’t seen him come in – then rolled her eyes.  “He doesn’t, and neither do I, generally.  But when we landed on Zion I set the long range scanners to download something off of Union Cable; it’s been a long time since I watched any vidscreen.”

 “Obviously you were missing out on a lot.  …Is Dogu the monkey?”

 “No, Dogu’s the short one with the bea—“

 “Not that you’d know, of course, you don’t watch these, ‘generally.’”

 Terra sighed, and turned her attention back to the screen.  “Quiet, you’re ruining the experience for me.”

 “God knows, daytime cable is the only way to prepare for lavoid battle.  Should I tell Cyne and Darrell to come in here and watch with you?  Obviously they’re going about this training all wrong, Dogu is the key to our victory.”

 She threw a pillow at him without even looking up. 

 Easily ducking the projectile, he rolled his eyes.  “Okay, okay, have fun with it.  …I don’t suppose you want any ice cream though, do you?”

 Terra arched an eyebrow.  “Why, are you offering to get some?”

 “Gee, someone’s lazy,” the finori began, putting his hands on his hips.  “I thought maybe if you wanted some ice cream, you could go get some, and bring me some too.”

 “You’re lame, Zohar.  You’re really lame.  Now go away.”

 “You humans are all the same.” He shook his head sadly and retreated from the room.

 A few minutes later, Zohar had retrieved a canister of vanilla-flavored non-dairy ice cream from the pantry and was trying his best to eat it sans utensils (the idiots who he lived with on this ship hadn’t thought to remove the silverware from the dining room when they sealed the depressurized zone off) when he came across Mathiu’s room.  Bored and in desperate need of further amusement, he decided to see how the kid was doing.

 He found Mathiu, still bandaged and bruised, lying in bed trying to read a book one-handed.  As he awkwardly tried to turn one of the pages, Zohar nodded and flashed the young man a grin.

 “What ya got there, kiddo, some sort of romance novel?”

 Mathiu blinked, but didn’t give the finori a look.  “Hi, Zohar.  And no.”

 “…Not going into detail, though, I see.  Lemme give the thing a look, man, I don’t want to have to tell your parents I saw you reading a dirty book and didn’t stop you.”

 He reached up and snatched the book away before Mathiu could really react, then danced back out of reach as the young Hunter struggled to sit up and grab him.  Closing the book, he gave the cover a glance.

 “History of the Galactic Powers?  What the hell is a kid like you doing with this?  You’re not allowed to read this kind of crap until you’re old and boring… or Darrell, one.” The finori shook his head sadly.  “Let me guess, it was the only thing you could find, right?”

 “Just give it back, you damned finori.”

 Zohar frowned, and snapped his fingers, and the book immediately burst into flame.  He dropped it on the tile floor and watched it burn.  “You forgot the magic word, dear heart.”

 “What, please?”

 “No,” Zohar mumbled as he tried to force his tongue down into the half-empty ice cream canister, “the magic word was ‘I have a spoon,’ smart guy.”

 “…That’s more than one word.”

 “That’s why they call it a magic word.”

 “I begin to see why the others hate you so very, very much.”

 “Shut up.”  He turned and walked out, muttering about the corruption of today’s youth.

 Having wandered aimlessly for several minutes, he ultimately decided it would be best to head back to the cockpit and take in hyperspace for awhile, possibly take a nap in one of the more comfortable flight chairs.  He passed Darrell and Cynewulf again – at this point Cynewulf had somehow managed to cover a nearby couch with rocks and gravel, and seemed rather pleased with himself, though Darrell was less so – then stepped in to find the last two members of their sordid crew sitting in the two most comfortable chairs in the room.

 Obviously, something had to be done about Meryl and Kayla.

 “Good morrow, my fair ladies.  I don’t suppose either of you have a spoon, do you?” he plopped down in one of the chairs adjacent to the women, who for their part did a fair job covering their disappointment at seeing him.

 “No, sure don’t.  Did you check the pantry?” Meryl asked, fidgeting absentmindedly as she looked out the window. 

 She wasn’t paying him much attention, which was no way for her to act if he was to succeed at this most serious mission, but she was being pleasant enough so he let it slide for a moment.

 “Why no, my dear, brave lady, I do believe the silverware was kept in the dining room.  You know, the one that Taggart messed up.  It had the finest in dining technology, spoons and forks I hear, but it is off-limits while we are in the vacuum of space.”

 “…Did you even check the kitchen?” Kayla put in, trying her best to mostly ignore the little finori. 

 Zohar blinked, and cocked his head.  “…Does this ship even have a kitchen?  I assumed the food was generally already prepared, from the look of the pantry, and the silverware self-cleaning, like on all those fancy Dominion vessels.”

 “No, there’s a kitchen, Zohar.” Meryl nodded.  “You have to remember, fancy or no, this ship’s about twenty years out of date with the rest of the galaxy.  Where was the kitchen, anyway…”

 “Down in the hold, I think, just past the engine room.  You should check it out, Zohar, I bet you anything there’s at least a couple of spoons down there.”

 Zohar pondered for a moment, and looked at the chairs the women were sitting in.  They did, indeed, look rather comfortable.  And he did, indeed, want a comfortable chair so that he could have a comfortable nap.  On the other hand, the bottom half of this canister of ice cream had proven itself to be quite wily at staying out of the reach of his mouth, and it was quickly getting melty and gross. 

 After one last longing glance at the two chairs, the little finori decided he could almost certainly come back after getting a spoon and resume mission:  steal the chairs from the boring humans without a problem, and his nap could wait a few minutes.  He hopped up and hurried out of the room.

 “Where did you just tell him to go, Kayla?” Meryl asked, chuckling.

 “That’s actually the storeroom where we held those two other guys, I’m surprised he didn’t call me on it.  But… the auto-lock is still in the door, so if he lets the door shut behind him, he’s out of our hair for awhile.”

 “I do believe you are my favorite member of this little club, Ms. Narube.” Meryl said, leaning back to take a nap.


 Several hours later, the entire group all sat in a circle in the rec room, Zohar taking great pains not to look at Meryl or Kayla.  While the finori had been able to teleport out of the storage room with little difficulty, his disappointment over not getting a spoon had been great, and his disappointment over being tricked had been greater.

 For their parts, Meryl and Kayla seemed quite glad that Zohar had decided not to speak to them, as any thoughts of a nap had evaporated the moment the finori got back up to the flight deck.

 “So.” Darrell said simply, looking around himself.  He sat at the center of this group, the very model of composure.  “I thought it would be a good idea to have some sort of talk before we reach Grendel.  Air everything out, get some sort of strategy together… whatever it takes so that we’re all at our best when it comes time to fight.

 “We’ve all come a long way from where we started from.  Some of us just scared, fairly powerless kids, some of us trapped, just… a long way.  I’ve learned a lot about myself and the galaxy at large, and honestly I can’t say I regret much of this journey we’ve made.”

 He ran a hand through his hair, and closed his eyes.  “Though we came together under the worst of circumstances, it’s been for a good cause, and I thank you all for helping me become all that I have become, and for walking with me down this road.

 “Anyway, enough of that kind of crap, right?  We’re all here because we hate the lavoids, and we have an excellent shot at offing one.  We do have something of an attack plan, which I’ll hit on in a little bit, but uh… first I guess I’ll ask if there’s anything anyone else would like to say.”

 Zohar stood up, clearing his throat.  “I’d just like to say, that any crew that can forget the silverware in the dining room has absolutely no shot at taking out a lavoid, and I promise, I will not be attending your funer…”

 The finori cut off abruptly under the withering gaze of everyone in the room, and sat back down.  “That is to say, tally ho, here’s to a good hunt.”

 “I trust you’ll be pulling your vanishing act the moment the fighting starts, as usual, my brave friend?” Cynewulf asked, crossing his arms.

 “Hey now, bravery has nothing to do with it.  I’m just better able to utilize my powers if I’m not having to worry with a physical form as well.”

 “I wasn’t complaining.  Unless we’re planning on annoying Grendel to death, we’re all better served if you aren’t yapping.”

 “Hey now, that’s not fair.”

 Darrell rolled his eyes.  “Zohar, Cynewulf, enough.  I’d rather not spend the last few hours before the fight listening to you two bicker.”

 The young man stood up and stretched briefly, then stepped over to a nearby table.  “Between my own research and a chat with Cyne earlier, I think we’re going to be able to make good use of the weapons I took from Taggart.  I’m giving you his gun, Terra; I know you don’t like them, and there’s only four shots in it anyway, but it’s too useful a thing to be ignored. 

 “I did some research into Lucia’s book about this gauntlet, and eventually figured out the set of enchantments I think has been laid upon it.  I’m not one hundred percent here, though the tests I did seemed conclusive, but I’ll be using it myself.  Mathiu’s offered to use the Null Blades, and given our general lack of swordsmen I gave the okay, though it looks like he may be fighting one-handed.  Now, as for the ether batteries…”

 “…Ether batteries?  What?  I don’t remember you taking anything like that from Taggart.” Terra said.

 He turned.  “I didn’t.  They’re actually something of an old Dominion standard from what I can tell; all their agents and higher-ups make use of them.  There were two old ones in the Mediator’s cabin; I made a few modifications, set them to charging.”  He held up two cylinder-shaped pieces of steel.  “They actually don’t have much capacity, but if ether in the area runs low they should sustain a couple high-energy spells.

 “Anyway, Cyne and I are the two biggest ether users here, so we’ll be making use of these.  And of course besides the new toys we have all our standard faire:  Meryl’s new railgun, my daggers, and so on.”

 There was a moment of silence, and Darrell leaned back against the wall, shuffling his feet.  “How much longer till we drop out of hyperspace?” Meryl asked.

 “Only about twelve hours now; I’d suggest we all try to get some sleep after this.” The large man replied, leaning back in his chair.  “Anyway, Darrell, what’s the game plan for when we get there?”

 “I think you will appreciate it, my friend.” Darrell grinned.


 “Only two more hours until our arrival.” Darrell said over his shoulder as Terra entered the room.  He had all of his equipment strapped firmly into place and was triple-checking its efficiency to get out some of his nervous energy. 

 The young woman took a place by him at the window, her eyes losing themselves in the swirling depths of hyperspace.  “How long have you been up?”

 “About three hours.  Trouble sleeping.”

 “You scared too?” she put a hand on his shoulder.

 He looked at her quizzically, cocking an eyebrow.  “Scared?  Excited, Terra.  I’ve been waiting on this day for a long time.  Have a little faith, honestly.”

 “It’s not that I don’t, Darrell.” She pulled her hand back as though she had just been burned.  “But… this is serious.  You saw what this thing did to Zion.  And it’s done that before, many, many times.  I can have faith in our chances and still see that we can’t treat this like a game.”

 He shook his head, almost violently.  “Is that what it looks like to you, Terra?  You of all people ought to understand me better.  I take this extremely serious.  God, it’s all I can think about, you know?”

 “Yeah,” she said, her gaze going to her feet, “I do know.  I didn’t mean you weren’t taking the lavoid seriously, just that… well, even if we do win, we might not all make it through this fight.  We’re not all as strong as you and Cynewulf.”

 “That’s been a risk since the beginning.  And yeah, I’ve thought about it.  But I’m not going to let it stop me; it’s not my choice for you guys to walk this path, that lies with you.”  His brow furrowed.  “Are you wanting to back out?”

 There were tears in Terra’s eyes when she looked him in the face.  “I never said that!  I’ll follow you anywhere you go… but I can’t be as confident as you, and there are thing I have to get out before I can face this.”


 “Darrell, it’s something I’ve needed to tell you for a long time.”  The young woman wiped her eyes, sniffing as she drew just a little bit closer to the grey-haired man.  “I’ve been trying to since before all of this started, but it’s just so hard.  Darrell, the truth is… well, that is, I…”

 He drew back.  “Don’t, please.”

 She blinked, honestly shocked.  “I… Darrell, what?”

 “Not now, Terra.  This is the wrong time for this.  We fight in less than two hours, and neither of us can afford to have this on our minds then.  So… please, just save it until after, okay?”

 “Does it even occur to you that we might not both be here afterward?”

 The young man grinned.  “You worry about you, I’ll worry about me, and I’ll try not to say I told you so when we all come out of this just fine.  But for now, let’s just get ready.”

 With a wave, he turned and left the room, leaving Terra alone with her thoughts. 


“My… what trials and tribulations you humans put yourselves through, and all just for the chance to face certain death.” –Zohar.

Chapter 34

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