Chapter 10 Hidden Paradise
Laughter rang out through the trees, as the visiting natives looked at Dustin cautiously.
"So, a king is going to make this world end? That's a nice bed time story, but I'm not buying it. It would take some serious weaponry to take out a planet."
"But the prophecy!" argued the leader, looking from him to Olivia and back, as though he couldn't believe they didn't believe him.
"Look old man," Olivia said, taking another skewer of meat off the fire, "We don't work in fairy tales. We work in reality. So, unless you have something important to share, I suggest you be moving along."
Dustin took the offered meat skewer from her and watched as they looked at each other.
"We came to warn you," started one of the others, but he stopped when the leader glanced at him.
"Yes, to warn you," said the leader. "Two days ago, a ship arrived. They were asking about any newcomers to the planet."
"And you, of course, told them about us," guessed Olivia.
"Of course! Why should we not tell them about you? Visitors to our planet are so rare, we were delighted to have another." The leader looked relieved that she seemed to understand.
Dustin was not impressed with them. The timing was too convenient. Could it have been Josagn? He didn't think so after a moment. They would have probably killed these natives after questioning them, to keep them from informing them about them. Unless, they used them to lead them to them?
He looked around at the cliff edges above them, carefully studying each edge. Olivia picked up on his unease, and joined his search.
"We shall leave now that our duty is done." They all stood and moved away from the fire.
Dustin glanced at Olivia and she immediately understood his look. Dousing the fire, she nudged Jake awake, and they began packing.
"What's wrong?" Jake asked sleepily, rubbing the sleep from his eyes.
"Monsters may be coming," said Dustin, packing up the struggling robots. He used the nanobots to form a net to carry them with.
Jake jumped away from him, suddenly wide awake. "How did you control the robots?" he asked.
Dustin held up his PED with a grin. "With this. I've figured out a lot about them, but I still have more to do. We're exposed here. Have any safe places we could hide?"
Looking down at the ground, he nudged some of the debris with his toes. "There's a place, that I like to go. It's my secret place. No one else goes there…"
"Sounds perfect, said Olivia, hoisting the rest of the meat and some kindling for another fire.
He glanced at them, with a frown.
"I'll only show it to you if you make me a promise," he said defiantly.
Dustin looked the kid up and down. He had a survival instinct. He liked him.
"When you leave this place, you take me with you."
Olivia sighed in frustration, and moved to the cliffside to start looking for a place to climb out.
"What makes you think we're leaving this place?"
"No one with one of those," he pointed at the PED, "ever stays long."
"Wait, what do you mean? There are others?"
Jake nodded. "Mom had one. She wanted me to get one, but she said there weren't enough materials to make one. Dad had one, and he left. He didn't want to waste away on this rock while mom tried to make me one. Mom refused to leave without me getting one. She said I wouldn't survive if I couldn't change."
"How many others were there?" asked Dustin. This didn't sound like they were just survivors among the natives. This sounded like they were from off world too.
"I'm not sure how many there were in the beginning, I was too little. But when mom died, it was just me. Everyone else had either died or left before mom died. She got a sickness inside of her, that was eating her up. Her thing couldn't fix it, because it was broke. She told me to be strong and to survive, that someday someone would come and I could go with them. And here you are."
It sounded like the kid's dad was a real douche. And the mother got cancer that the PED couldn't fix. Dustin wondered where they had come from.
"Do you know where the military bases are? We need to go there to get information on how to leave this place."
"I will only show you how to get around if you promise to take me with you."
Dustin sighed. He needed the kids help. If things got to hot for the kid to handle, then he could always leave him behind. If the kid could keep up, he had not problems with him hitching a ride. It would be interesting if they ever met up with the kid's dad.
"Alright, show the way."
The smile that lit up Jake's face almost made Dustin want to offer something else. It was such a joyous smile, shining in the dark. Maybe it warmed his heart a little.
Belching, he decided it was just indigestion.
(THE FOOD THAT YOU HAVE INGESTED IS TOXIC TO THIS CURRENT FORM. I WOULD RECOMMEND YOU ALLOW AN EVOLUTION TO CHANGE THAT.)
'Go for it,' he thought.
(THERE IS STILL INTENSE INTERFERANCE FROM THE COSMIC EVENTS GOING ON RIGHT NOW. PERMISSION TO UTILIZE THE NANOBOTS TO MINIMIZE THE DAMAGE?)
"Hey, Olivia," Dustin called over to her, where she was studying a section of cliff. "Have your PED check to see if the food you just ate was toxic to that form. Mine was."
She looked down at her PED, then back to him. "I'm good. Anything short of radioactive waste would probably not affect this form."
Jake showed them a crack in the cliff, where they could climb up out of the crevasse, then led them through the dark forest. The crevasse changed over to rocky outcroppings, and then to steeper and steeper cliffs. After almost an hour of weaving and dodging through the trees, they finally came to a section of cliffs that were littered with caves. The sound of water could be heard throughout.
Dustin shifted his weight, and followed the kid as he began climbing up a route that had obviously been practiced often. As he paused on the lip of a cave, beautiful waterfalls glistened in front of him. In the bottom of this particular cave, a shallow pool surrounded by lush vines and plants, had small colorful fish darting about.
Jake perched on a small ledge, as they entered the cave. Holes in the roof would allow sunlight during the day, and allow the smoke from their fire to trickle out. It would be easily defended, and afforded an escape route, if needed.
"Thanks kid, you did good."