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These Broken Moons
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Writer Chloe Quinn
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#2
Chapter 1 The Rise of Two, The Fall of One
Chloe Quinn
Feb 13, 2018
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13 Mins Read
No Plagiarism!kgOYIP0buC1IHG3BjSgfposted on PENANA

Chapter 1copyright protection26PENANAU02doUK9bW

The Rise of Two, The Fall of Onecopyright protection26PENANAxwdluVbv6F

Azumi Tremaine held onto her chair for dear life as the Sparrow descended down to the burnished surface of Mars. The ship rattled and spluttered, engines hissing, as it obeyed the careful ministrations of the pilot, Rue. The plucky Lunar hummed happily as her hands hovered over the console, shifting slightly as the storm outside battled their already battered hull. Something slammed against the ship, eliciting a rare curse from Rue who wrestled the ship back to stability, forcing the ship down below a thick layer of cloud.copyright protection26PENANA78nPOqq8iG

As it dropped clear the ship stilled sharply and Rue exhaled, deeply. She punched in a series of coordinates and then removed her hands, stretching back in her chair with a groan.copyright protection26PENANAndHqq5kbfw

“Remind me why I had to fly through that?” Rue asked, twisting around in her chair to shoot an arch look at the captain, Dahlia.copyright protection26PENANA7M2k8xgk2m

Dahlia, a dark-skinned and hard-faced Drifter, offered a small, knowing smile as she rose from her chair, revealing her tall, well-muscled frame. The artificial light caught her heavily tattooed arms, making her look every inch her reputation.copyright protection26PENANAZavnZjOqs7

“Because,” drawled Dahlia. “I said so and I have every bit of faith in your skill. So, stop complaining because we all know you’re just doing that to stoke your ego, Rue.”copyright protection26PENANA6QkOgLUBW9

Rue huffed but said nothing and turned back to her console. From her seat Azumi laughed softly, earning a wink from Dahlia as she walked into her office, just off the bridge. With just Rue and Azumi on the bridge, the soft hum of the engine filling the air, the two old friends set about their jobs. Whilst Rue watched over the controls Azumi relaxed her grip on her chair and leant forward, bringing up communications. She sent out messages to their prospective buyers on Mars, then flicked a couple down to Una and Kez down in the hold, readying the supplies to be sold. Unlike Azumi those two had no issue about a ship landing. Likely once the ship felt stable enough they were out their seats, working quickly.copyright protection26PENANA73Wan4HDoJ

The faster they sold the goods the faster they could relax at one of the bars at the settlements. They wouldn’t have long. Dahlia was a hard task master and likely had a series of orders arranged. Not that she’d tell them until they were on their way again. She was old-fashioned and paranoid like that.copyright protection26PENANA0oTvLTPAji

“Hey Azumi let Cap know we’re good to go when we land.” Una’s husky voice hissed through the comms in Azumi’s ear.copyright protection26PENANAHq81epN90J

“Will do,” said Azumi and passed through the message to Dahlia’s office.copyright protection26PENANAi8Nfjbk0PJ

A second later a message came back for Azumi to join Dahlia in her office. She unbuckled herself and got up. Rue glanced curiously over her shoulder.copyright protection26PENANAKQ7DmTxbtQ

“Where you off to?”copyright protection26PENANAtagCcv1ZE2

“Captain wants me. Works all done. All up to you,” said Azumi as she walked off the bridge.copyright protection26PENANAJXbwcuIwvx

Behind her Rue snorted derisively. “Nice to see some things don’t change.”copyright protection26PENANAffnnTJhqVK

The office door hummed open, admitting Azumi. As it closed behind her Dahlia gestured to the seat across her desk. Obediently, Azumi sat down, having a flash from when she’d first joined nine years ago and Dahlia sat her down for the first time. They’d sat down together before but always on planned meetings, never at strange out-of-the-blue requests. She tried to read Dahlia’s face for answers but her Captain was focused on her tablet for a moment. After a minute she set the tablet down and lifted those dark, obsidian eyes.copyright protection26PENANAhpVy18338I

“You’ve done well on my ship, Azumi, particularly given where you’re from,” said Dahlia approvingly. “You’ve proven yourself quick and cunning, as well as capable at managing the finer things onboards; supplies, fuel, communications. I wonder, though, you’ve had opportunities to have your own ship but rejected them– don’t think I’ve forgotten about the mission with the Uroboros crew. Why haven’t you picked your own ship?”copyright protection26PENANA6RGioTN6qi

Azumi knew she was being tested, though on what she wasn’t sure. She picked her words carefully.copyright protection26PENANADGy13sKkSG

“I like this ship, this crew. Don’t get me wrong, I have ambition but I’m picky. The Uroboros was a Junker that needed more work than it was worth. As for the other ships they’ve either been so pathetically dilapidated that they might as well be scrapped or too much in the pocket of the McRay’s for my liking.”copyright protection26PENANA5a51I79Mah

Dahlia nodded thoughtfully. She got to her feet and walked over to the viewing window. She was framed by the rich red and amber landscape as the ship finally landed with a heavy thump. There was something distracted about her, worried even. It wasn’t a look Azumi had ever seen on her before and set a tight feeling in her gut.copyright protection26PENANAvh9bzy5mEv

“What would you say if I offered you this ship?” Dahlia asked, turning around.copyright protection26PENANAFibejfG4zz

Azumi’s eyed bugged out. “What? This is your ship.”copyright protection26PENANAKFJPGsWQe7

“And I’m giving it to you. I’ve spoken it over with the others. They’re more than happy to have you as Captain. All that is left is for you to take the chair. After these sales I’d like to stay behind, if you accept.”copyright protection26PENANA7JphVYP0lu

The offer of command was very tempting, especially given it was a crew she liked and a ship she knew like the back of her hand. Still, to take over from Dahlia was a tall order. She’d never live up to Dahlia’s sharp mind and ability. Still, she’d learnt long ago to never deny whatever Dahlia offered. She seldom gave anything away without careful though and to deny her was an insult of the highest calibre.copyright protection26PENANAv1MHf5WVav

Azumi rose and crossed the space between them, holding out her hand. “I’d be honoured, Captain.”copyright protection26PENANAuUbdKRGHHU

“The honour is mine, Captain Tremaine.”copyright protection26PENANAPPEe6zcWAy

Castille walked into his office thinking maybe it was going to be the day where nothing happened. Where some disaster wasn’t threatening to destroy their carefully hidden colony or reports didn’t come of intelligence suggesting they’d been discovered. It was wishful thinking, really. He barely sat down and started to sift through the day’s reports when the door hissed open and Sybille strode in. The once jewelled princess of the moon was now a sharp-eyed leader, just as cunning as he. She was a spitting image of Europa, their indomitable Aunt that seemed frustratingly determined to work behind closed doors. Doors that weren’t even open to himself.copyright protection26PENANAq6zcNOiJKt

“Castille!”copyright protection26PENANAfenqs8h8PZ

He looked up. “That is my name.”copyright protection26PENANA3EPHSVh5SR

“You need to come with me right now,” she said urgently.copyright protection26PENANAEiXdvL2OuM

As he got up she was striding across the room, grabbing him and dragging him out. Halfway down the hallway he managed to yank his arm free but her pace didn’t slow, so he hurried after her.copyright protection26PENANAhJ1F9tNrCD

“What’s going on?”copyright protection26PENANAqFhfnabEf4

“Shhh,” she snapped and led him out of the building where her mag-car awaited. She held open the door and beckoned him in. She climbed in after him and tapped the roof. The car set off with a dull hum, racing along the magnetic tracks.copyright protection26PENANAwTmu7SfaHJ

“Where are we going?”copyright protection26PENANAWZsYECrs34

She held up her wrist, tapping the inside. After a second her wrist chimed. She relaxed in her chair and closed her eyes. “It’s better if I show you. We’ll be there soon.”copyright protection26PENANA5uJnK7xVLN

Castille folded his arms. “Sister, dearest, as fun as this game is, I’m not in the mood.”copyright protection26PENANAZhHmMOf1ZW

Her eyes flickered open slowly and she eyed him in intensely. With a sigh she turned over in her seat and fell silent, ending any further discussion. He considered prying but the time away from his office was a reprieve he wasn’t about to admit to liking. If only it wasn’t under such bizarre circumstances. When the car finally hummed to a stop Sybille was out of the car and he raced to follow her – straight up to their Aunt’s house.copyright protection26PENANALVWeUAQm3U

In the underground tunnel the front door was cut into a wall of stone, marked only by a dull metal plaque. Above it, a light flickered precariously. Castille had a sudden uneasy feeling knotting in his gut, not one felt since their first departure of the moon, then when he learnt his home had been blown apart, scorched clean.copyright protection26PENANAq8oav8h343

Sybille swiped her pass over the front door and it swung open. She led him inside to the sparsely furnished interior; rooms of basic furniture, walls bare, no sentimental items anywhere. His aunt had been anything but sentimental. If it wasn’t practical or useful she saw little worth in it. Hell, it was why Sybille and himself had been saved. She saw in them someone that might help her achieve her mission to save their people. Those she could save anyway. Had they failed to possess the right qualities he imagined she probably would’ve let them burn with the rest of the unfortunates, just like Sybille’s fiancé.copyright protection26PENANAQ4kxr7mG9l

“You visit often?” He asked, feeling she knew her way around better than him.copyright protection26PENANADUhz8baZxd

She stopped and glanced over her shoulder. “You were mentored for years. I had to learn quickly and she was willing to teach, for a time anyway.”copyright protection26PENANATXmi8SrpVv

Resentment whispered through her words, the eventual rejection rubbed in old wounds. Sybille had been seduced by Europa’s teachings, enamoured by the air of a living goddess, and then been ripped to shreds when it ended. Castille had always kept a degree of distance, more so than Sybille had it seemed, so he’d been less wounded by her shifting favour.copyright protection26PENANAsLANi1UEI3

Sybille set off to the back of the house, dispelling the conversation dismissively. Whether she realised it or not she was already so much like Europa. She stopped at Europa’s study, swiped her hand and pushed the door open for Castille. Her stone eyes watched him as he stepped inside – and froze.copyright protection26PENANA0lYhV6s66Z

Europa sat in her reclining chair, her face blue. Her blood-shot eyes bugged out, looking startled. It seemed in death fear finally shone in her eyes. Castille swallowed, hard. It was hard to reconcile the indomitable goddess with the corpse in front of him. The thing before him wore her skin but what made her the woman she was known for was gone.copyright protection26PENANAk0XGi5yJvu

“I found her like this when I came to talk to her this morning,” murmured Sybille, stepping beside him.copyright protection26PENANAfXfPLyQGdz

“About what?” He asked absently.copyright protection26PENANAJdUIuQPWXV

“Her deal with Baroba Flynn. I wanted you to see this, decide together how we’re going to handle this,” she said carefully.copyright protection26PENANAWhVUXeZwYu

He had the impression she’d run over the conversation a thousand times before she’d gone to his office.copyright protection26PENANA1dsg2dPTT2

“We can’t let it out she was murdered,” he decided. “It’ll expose us.”copyright protection26PENANAsDfnlJebGb

Sybille snorted. “Whose going to believe she died naturally?copyright protection26PENANA6Ds2xqgxXe

“I’ll have the family doctor to cover this, ensure that it’s made known she’d been enduring a terminal illness for some time and had seen to it that no one knew. Everyone will believe her pride and her desire for privacy.”copyright protection26PENANA2YsufuI4oC

“It won’t be easy,” she remarked. “I’ll keep my spies out. If any hint of murder gets out I’ll end it.”copyright protection26PENANA6RglfC5tNM

Castille glanced at his sister and saw his aunt. You’re more like her than you realise. Madelaine McCray won’t know what hit her. copyright protection26PENANAEUp7WXyduv

Tatsu Mishikori stretched out with her calloused hands up the cliff face, digging her fingers in and dragging her body upwards. Sweat shined across her skin, running rivulets down her back. Her shirt clung stickily to her, a second skin. She tricked to peel it off as she climbed upwards but to no avail. With the sun beating hard against her back, the wind absent that day, the climb was brutal on her Martian body. Still, the old guardian, whom Tatsu had named Mika, after a prickly rebel she’d once run with, had strict rules, insisted on the climb. Everything with a purpose and every task to be physically hard. Even with Mika’s modifications to Tatsu’s body it had taken time to become strong enough to bear Earth’s gravity and atmosphere without her bio suit.copyright protection26PENANArwuT1JoKNN

She reached up again and her fingers found the edge of the cliff. With a groan she yanked herself up and scrambled away from the edge, then to her feet. Eagre to be free of her soaked shirt she lifted it from her body, the hardened muscles flexing with the effort, and cast it over the side. No doubt Mika would scold her for littering but with only one human left on Earth it seemed pointless.copyright protection26PENANAnUEDfUgln3

“I saw that,” came Mika’s predictable comment, materialising before Tatsu. “Hardly the actions of a Guardian.”copyright protection26PENANA72YxaUuI7Y

Tatsu smiled but made no comment on it. She turned and glanced over the sweeping landscape; the vast forest that ran down the steep slopes of the mountains, racing onwards to the never-ending ocean. The silver spire where she lived and worked, as per Mika’s careful guidance, rose unnaturally in the middle of the fields below, glittering eerily against the harsh sun.copyright protection26PENANAdzvItxrShf

“So, what am I to learn today?”copyright protection26PENANAFE9kipeyKC

No reply came so Tatsu turned. Mika stood in front of her, too close. The old guardian stepped back and studied Tatsu appraisingly; then, with a nod, deigned to speak.copyright protection26PENANACSEApPvUxC

“You’re ready.”copyright protection26PENANASLcotGVUyc

“Ready for what?copyright protection26PENANA9eRjy9INIs

Mika’s eyes flickered to Tatsu’s with a glimmer of amusement. The alien, it seemed, did have a sense of humour – strange though it was. “You didn’t think I’ve been making you do all this physical labour simply for your own body? I thought I’d broadened your perspective on things, that you’d learned.”copyright protection26PENANApkl4ULTpFr

Tatsu ignored the disapproving click of Mika’s mouth, the way that Tatsu had somehow failed some important test. She folded her arms, irritated. Games, of late, were of little interest to Tatsu. She’d taken on Mika’s jobs, as instructed; sent Vaughn away, which broke her heart; did every menial and physical task, without an inch of complaint. For what? Tatsu aimed to see the broader scope of things, as Mika instructed, but she couldn’t see everything and trying to predict the reasoning behind Mika’s actions seemed a futile effort.copyright protection26PENANA2ycfWFVRAt

“So, I’m training for a long, hard journey. Where?” Tatsu said with some effort.copyright protection26PENANA4KHW3g5L3O

Mika appeared beside her. Those luminous eyes looked out to the horizon, weary but proud. All her effort to keep her kin off Earth, though for reasons never disclosed to Tatsu, and to help heal the Earth after the damage humans did.copyright protection26PENANAet8zy3krt0

“You will travel inland to the ruins of an ancient city. It’s a few weeks of hiking. There, you will proceed to an underground lab and from there all the answers you have will become clear.”copyright protection26PENANASwy5LuKHml

Tatsu shot her a sideways look. “Answers you could just tell me.”copyright protection26PENANAar5Sn98tVc

“True,” conceded. “However, there are some systems I need you to check whilst I run tests here.”copyright protection26PENANAh9GqJet4GW

Tatsu realised that Mika’s pushing meant another thing. Of late, the guardian’s power was waning. In the past year she retained her solid form less and less, choosing to spend her time freely amongst the world. She sat down on the cliff, her feet dangling over the edge. Were it anyone else she might’ve feared being pushed.copyright protection26PENANA4ytDEe7oVu

“You’re dying, aren’t you?” Tatsu asked quietly.copyright protection26PENANAK6VQYjZ7MU

Mika sat down beside her and smiled at the horizon. “We’re all dying in some way. My time is just coming sooner than yours, which mean it’ll be up to you to finish the mission. For your kind and for mine.”copyright protection26PENANAk440uNeXSV

As they sat there Tatsu wished Mika sounded more confident than she did, that Tatsu could be everything Mika wanted – and more. Unfortunately, she just didn’t know if she’d be ready for what was coming her way. The weight of two races resting on her shoulders, alone.copyright protection26PENANAUXtnA7CIwy

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