The Fae Worlds


Alarms blared. Confusion swept through me. I remembered, vaguely, being put into stasis, to make the long journey to one of the worlds furthest from everything I knew. Coming to the way I had wasn’t a good sign. Something I’d gone over multiple times was what to do if there was an emergency, and I focused on the voice in the back of my mind, telling me I needed to be grabbing the emergency bag they’d set up for me.
Pushing myself from the bed, arms weak, I found the bag easily. The door to the room was open, and the sound was almost too much for me. Yet I made myself move. As I stepped out into the even louder corridor I looked around. No one else was there, but I knew there were likely to be hundreds of people on the ship, from multiple worlds, who’d all chosen to make the same journey. Every one of us would have a different reason for choosing to leave our old lives behind.
Breathing in deeply, the scent of metallic fire telling me I needed to move, I started making my way down the corridor. It was a slow process. Coming out of stasis the way I did was something I’d been told could affect me badly, and it definitely was. Every part of my body felt heavy, the muscles not willing to work the way they normally would, which was worsened by the continuous urge to be sick. Not that there was anything other than bile to come out, because the nutrients we needed were given to us intravenously. For a week before I was put into stasis I hadn’t been permitted to eat either, to make sure there was no chance of things going wrong.
Right when I started to think I couldn’t keep going someone grabbed my hand. They must have been coming up behind me, and I was so focused on moving I hadn’t heard them. Whoever it was appeared not to have been affected like me, able to move normally, so they’d made the decision to help me along. Fortunately.
Long before I would have reached them alone we got to the pods. Gently, watching me closely, he pushed me into one of them, wrapping my arms around the emergency bag. They were for one person, and he’d chosen to help me first. I’d never met him before, and he was being kinder than I expected. He stroked some strands of hair off my face.
“There’s a world down there. I don’t know how safe it’s going to be, but this ship isn’t going to last much longer. When I close the door press the button to send the pod down. I’ll follow you in the next one.”
Nodding, even though it was harder than I imagined anything could be, I gave him a smile. “Thank you.”
“Kinda selfish, to be honest. I don’t want to be on my own down there. The more of us there are the better a chance we have of surviving.”
Without giving me a chance to respond he closed the door. Forcing my arm to move was hard, but I did manage to press the button, and the moment I did I almost wished I hadn’t. The pod dropped. It was so fast it felt like I’d left half my body behind, which really didn’t help with the nausea.
After a few seconds of purely dropping the engines kicked in. They were programmed to find the nearest land, meaning, theoretically, everyone who managed to get into one at the same time would be likely to land in the same place. Hopefully. It was what I needed to happen, because being down there alone… I shook my head. Whatever happened happened. I was alive. Alive was better than being dead, and I’d find a way to stay alive, no matter how hard it was.
Once the pod stopped dropping the journey was easier physically, but not mentally. I was alone, stuck with my thoughts, some of which I really didn’t need to be having right then. Like how much easier it would have been had I simply said no. Yes, Granddad wanted me to be the one to inherit his place on the ship, but I could have said no, and with how things worked out it seemed I really should have done. There was a massive difference between the plan, and what I was actually dealing with. A malfunctioning ship most definitely wasn’t something I’d planned for.
Had we got to the end of the journey to one of the outer worlds there were plans in place for what was going to happen. There were prefabs in the ship we could have used to get started, but they were gone. All I had was whatever they’d put into the emergency bag… and anything I could find on the ground, because, obviously, it was a good idea to eat things I knew nothing about. I shook my head at myself. Limited options. What I found might be the only thing to get me through.
Even thought it felt like longer I don’t think I was in the pod for more than about twenty minutes. Time was different being stuck in it, hoping it was heading for land, and thinking about what my next steps might be. From what I’d read on surviving, just in case things went badly, I needed to find water before I found anything else, because I could last longer without food than I could without water. After the water came the shelter, possibly, especially if I could find something like a cave. Or a hut. Not that a hut was necessarily a good sign, as it might mean there were other races on the planet, which wasn’t something I really thought I wanted to be dealing with.
It was possible they might be willing to help. It was also possible they might try to kill me, and fighting them with nothing wouldn’t go well. Most of the worlds we were told didn’t have any sentient races on, but I didn’t trust them to really know what sentient races were, especially as I’d heard about other colonies who found themselves dealing with races they could never have imagined were possible. Then again we’d never been great at imagining races who didn’t look like us.
Finally, my last thought before I touched the ground about a race of hedgehogs who were very military based, the pod did land. The door opened, and I looked out at the world I’d found myself on. I was in a clearing, which was good, but the rest of what I could see was trees. Everywhere. Landing in the midst of a forest wasn’t entirely helpful, but it was better than nothing.
Slowly, body still aching in a way I’d never felt before, I stepped out of the pod. Breathing in clean air, with the slight hint of it having just rained, helped for a few seconds, before the nausea hit me all over again. A tree was near enough for me to lean against, so I did, hoping it would pass.
A couple of minutes later the next pod landed, and the guy from the ship stepped out. He looked for me straight away, relief filling his eyes when he saw I was okay, and I took the chance to study him. Messy blond curls touched his shoulders, which he raked off his face as he stepped closer to me. The brightness of his blue eyes didn’t seem entirely natural, and neither did how attractive he was, but then there was a chance I was jaded by the world I’d left behind. He was the kind of person who’d definitely have been some kind of entertainer, because of how beautiful he was.
“Stasis sickness is normal in this kind of situation.” He pulled open his bag. “I know we should have something in these meant to help with that.” Rummaging in it, as I wondered why I hadn’t thought of looking in my own bag, he finally made a sound. “Here it is.”
With a smile he held the pill box out to me, and I took it. “I probably have one in here.”
“Yeah, probably, but I can’t imagine with how you’re feeling right now it would be easy to find it. I’m okay, for some reason.” He shrugged. “I’m glad I am. It meant I could help you.”
Occasionally my mouth would take over, and I’d say something stupid. Even though the stupid did go through my mind I managed to stop myself from saying it, because I had the pill to focus on, giving me a few seconds to actually think before I asked the kind of question I really shouldn’t. Judging him based on people on my world wasn’t far. I was certain he wasn’t one of them. He’d come from somewhere else entirely, and meeting people from other worlds was part of the reason I had said yes.
“They did say to put yourself first in the training.”
He laughed. “I know, and then you find yourself in the situation you never actually expected to happen. Helping made more sense than leaving you to struggle alone, especially as it means we’re down here together, something I think gives us a better chance of surviving. I might be wrong, but I’m glad your here.”
“You don’t know me.”
“No, I don’t, but I know you’re one of the people who made the decision they wanted to travel to another world, and that means you’re someone I would have got to know when we finally reached the world we were going to.”
“Instead we’re here.” I gestured. “On a world neither of us know anything about, thanks to some kind of malfunction on the ship.”
“Definitely not the plan.” He shrugged, seeming less bothered by the situation than I expected anyone to be. “We’ll work it out, one way or another.”
Blinking, I shook my head. “I don’t know how you can be so blasé.” I looked around again, the pill having done a lot to help with the nausea, and seemed to slowly be loosening the muscles throughout my body. “This is it. We’re stuck here, alone, with no chance of anyone finding out what happened until it’s too late to get us any help, and even then there’s a reason we were in stasis. We’re light years away from everything we knew. Anything we could have used to start building is up on the ship, which is probably burning if what I smelt was actually some kind of mechanical fire.”
“Panicking isn’t going to help the situation.” His eyes met with mine. “All we can do is be as logical as possible about what our next steps are, and not let the fact we’re here with nothing get to us too much.” He looked up at the ship. “Hopefully some of the others will have managed to make it to the pods, so there’s more than just the two of us, but if it is us then we do the best we can.” He shrugged. “Maybe it seems blasé to you. I’ve always thought it best to accept the things you can’t change, and I can’t change this.”
As he looked back down I shook my head. “No, you can’t. No one can.” I brushed a hand through my hair. “You’re right, but this…” I bit down hard on my lip, making the decision not to talk about it. “Step one is to find water. At least from what I’ve been told it is.”
“Step one is introductions.” He grinned, holding a hand out to me. “I’m Lucien. Friends call me Luc, but you can go with either.”
Taking the hand he offered I somehow managed to smile back. “I’m Blake.”
“Pleasure to meet you, Blake, even if the circumstances are a little unusual.”
“Unusual’s one word for it.”