Chapter Seventeen: Departure

So, what do we need to do? I look at my Groyin friend and then back at Kenlyi.

The Groyin hesitates for a moment, gently shuffling around on its four legs. We must get you two off of this planet. We need all information on the Aevocar that you have. The most important thing is how to find them.

I don’t think either of us know exact coordinates, but we most certainly can get it close. Kenlyi looks over at me and shrugs.

Star charts. I… can probably get us there if we can map some of the stars. That’ll get us in the area, then we just have to find a ship. It makes me wish I had memorized where that big station of theirs is. I shrug and give a small sigh. There was no real way of knowing that it would be vital information.

And what do we do if we run into a Camfurdian ship first? Kenlyi crosses his arms and looks at us.

The Groyin makes some unusual sound, speaking in its native tongue. After a pause, it responds telepathically. We run.

I can use my yula to get us out of a little trouble, probably. Eli is well respected. I sigh. Still, the moment he finds out we’re aiding the Groyin, he’s going to want to kill me. I rub my forehead and sigh. I… want to cry, but I know I shouldn’t. I’m doing the right thing. I’m doing this for Kalarai.

We’re both going to be exiled. We… just have to make it worth it, I suppose. The right thing to do has to be, right? Kenlyi shrugs, but I can tell from his body language that he’s depressed. Camfurdians are taught that to do what we’re doing is beyond treason – it’s outright heresy.

We will protect you as best as we can. We will try to help you adapt as well. We’ve never had an outside species in our midst until your kind showed up. We wanted peace, so hopefully we can have it now. I sense apprehension from the insect. Clearly, it’s afraid of what could go wrong.

We could also stay among the Aevocar. I’m certain if we sought asylum on Aevoculenar, we’d be accepted. Regardless, Kenlyi, we’ll survive. We’ll endure. I know we’ll have to make new lives for ourselves, but we can do this. I close my eyes and think of the chaos of the past two days. It feels like I haven’t slept in a year. I cover my mouth as I yawn, then immediately heave a sigh.

Kenyli nods and chuckles. I’m exhausted, too. We’ll figure things out, Janil. One step at a time.

If you two need to rest, we can try to arrange something, but it may be best to get you two off of the planet as soon as possible. Our kind… we simply sleep wherever we are. Does your kind need any special arrangements for sleeping? The Groyin paces back and forth, and I can tell it’s getting more and more nervous.

We just have to lay down. It’s nice to have something soft to lay on, or to have our heads supported, but other than that? No. Kenyli shrugs. The idea of a soft bed is… something I’d almost forgotten about. I’ve spent what seems like an eternity sleeping on the military issue sleeping packs and pads. They’re far better than sleeping on the floor, but they’re most certainly not my bed back home.

I stretch and nod in agreement. We’ll make due with whatever we have to, but you’re probably right. Getting us off of the planet might be the best course of action. Eli… is relentless. He’s probably searching for us now, dead or alive. I’m certain he’ll go to any length that he feels he has to in order to get revenge.

Elikel… truly is that hateful? That vengeful? The Groyin asks sadly.

Your kind… you just don’t understand. You can’t. Not yet, anyway. Elikel is as loyal of a person that you’ll ever find. He would do anything to protect his family, or to avenge them if they were wronged. He’s Camfurdian to the bone, and believes in our societal ideals in every aspect. He’s a very strict fundamentalist in that regard. Our kind seeks to conquer, to control, because we know that if we do, we can ultimately unite everyone. Peace through violence. I know it can sound… absurd… but it’s something that we’re taught our entire lives. When you see it in action, it makes sense. I lived on a planet with a species that surrendered to us. They were adapting to our ideals, our ways of life, and they were absolutely thriving, my friend. Of course, getting there is often… bloody. I shake my head, not knowing any other way to put it.

Elikel isn’t hateful, but he certainly is vengeful, especially when it comes to protecting his family. I approach the Groyin and put my hand on one of the exposed sections of one of its four arms. The flesh here is soft, not quite warm, but not cold either. The insect looks at me, its eyes clearly sad.

I hope that these Aevocar can help us broker peace. The creature says to my mind, watching with sad, longing eyes still. Follow me, please. We’ve had our workers carve a fairly straight path to the surface. It is quite an incline, so you may be better off, well…

The insect’s sad eyes start to brighten up, amused. It may just be easier for you two to climb on my back and let me do the work. It says something in its native language, still clearly amused.

Kenlyi looks back at me and the apprehension is clear. I laugh softly. “Are you seriously scared of this Groyin carrying us? It’s been as gentle as a flower this entire time.”

“A-and what happens when I fall?!” The other Camfurdian barks back at me, almost as if he’s more afraid of the indignance rather than the fall.

“Just don’t fall.” I smirk playfully and look at the Groyin. Lead on, my friend.

The Groyin starts out the small room and into the larger corridor. I look down again at the eggs on the lower level and stop. Just a moment…

“Kenlyi? You… said we shouldn’t question Elikel. Did you mean that? Truly?” I look at him with tears welling in my four eyes.

He looks down to the eggs below and shakes his head. “No. I… tried to do what was expected of me. I thought it was… reprehensible.”

The Groyin looks back at us anxiously.

Promise me this, Groyin. Promise me that Elikel will be brought to justice. He alone is responsible for that… atrocity. The Aevocar and our own ruling council will want to see him on trial for this. It’s… far beyond anything we would condone. The tears roll down my face and I clench my jaw tight.

We will do our best to see that through. If he resists, we will defend ourselves. If we can, we will capture him.

The Groyin looks at me for a moment and I can feel the sincerity in its words.

I… never expected these creatures to have such a sense of honor. They… could have made powerful allies. Perhaps they still can.

You… none of you… have names? I ask as I wipe away tears.

Names are unimportant, even to us who function at a higher level. Sometimes one of us may bear a moniker, something bestowed upon us due to our actions as an individual, less reflective upon the colony as a whole. Why? It watches me carefully.

I’d call you Kehltanril. An outsider, but one who tries to unify us all for a greater cause, as Tanril once united all Camfurdians. I glance back at Kenlyi and see him nodding in approval.

I think it’s fitting, Janil. May we? Kenlyi moves next to me, slipping his hand into mine. I give it a gentle squeeze. We both understand the significance of this gesture.

The Groyin nods. “Kehl-tahn-ril.” It says, trying to pronounce the name.

“Yes. Kehltanril.” I smile at it.

So it is then. Thank you, my friends. Now… we should probably go. The faster we leave, the faster we can try to resolve all of this. It gives another nod and turns away.

We start the trek toward the surface.