*First Draft story idea #1 for Womanthology. Read the previous post for how I write when writing for comics. Would love to hear feedback/comments on any of the stories I post.
The rain fell fat and unrelenting, dripping down the sides of the tent. The flashes of lightning illuminating everything for a moment in time, stripping away the brave faces to show the fear and excitement underneath before only the glow of the lamp remained. The group huddled around the table, going over the plan once more. For months they had been out here, unearthing the ruins, pouring over the bits of lore they could find, and researching all they could.
Finally, it was time. The four women gathered their gear as the thunder burst, a bomb exploding in the dark, the lightning flashing in the aftermath. They stepped outside, silently beginning their trek. No flashlights or lanterns were allowed, they saw the forest through heat signatures and outlines. Deeper into the forest they went, silence their shield, the rain blocking their scent. Kat took point, signaling to the others the way to take, keeping an eye out for the sentinels the lore told about, not entirely sure they were real, but wary nonetheless.
The ruins loomed before them, covered in a phosphorescent glow. Lighting struck again, closer this time. They removed their goggles, relying on the light from the ruins. Four stone pillars stood up from the ground covered in moss, vines and runes. Silently, nervously, the four women began setting up their equipment, modern versions of the ancient tools used when the creature was contained centuries ago. Technological upgrades to monitor the surroundings and energy output, but the tools themselves were the same. Each woman took a pillar. Gail took the first pillar, preparing to recite the ritual pieced together from the pillars and the lore. Miranda stood at the second pillar, pouring over her calculations once more, not quite convinced that the time was right. Marie stood at the third, recording everything they did. Marie was the dreamer, the one who believed without a doubt that it would work and that they could regain the world the creature once inhabited. Kat took the fourth, weapon at the ready, wary and watchful as the other women set up. Belief or not, she knew the dangers of what they were about to do. Marie expected a kind creature, but centuries of captivity could have changed the being. She would protect the others to her death. These four women were the only family she had left. Kat made one last sweep of the perimeter before resuming her spot at the pillar and nodding to Gail to begin.
“From the earth we crawl, relying on her to nourish and sustain us. To the earth we return to nourish and sustain others. In this way we are all one.” Gail nodded at Kat, hoping her translation was correct. Kat jammed her rod into the pillar between the runes. The runes began to glow brighter. Excitement permeated the air. Kat scanned the grounds as Gail continued.
“The air gives us breath, filling us with the sweetness of life.” Gail nodded to Marie. As Marie jammed her rod into the pillar, the air shimmered around the pillars. A beast leaped forth from the pillar, razor sharp claws swiping at Kat.
“You will not free her.” It said in a guttural voice as it lunged at Kat again. Kat leapt back just in time and raised her gun. She shot, emptying her clip in the beast with no effect. The beast lunged again swiping at Kat. Kat dodged too slow and felt the scrape of the claws along her arm as she grabbed her knife from her belt. She attacked the beast, swiping the beast across the throat. The air shimmered again and the beast disappeared as another beast leapt from the pillar Marie had opened. Marie rolled out of the way as Kat threw her knife. The beast leapt again, but not fast enough. The knife took it in the leg, knocking it down. It howled in pain. “You must not free her!” It screamed before it too disappeared.
“Continue!” Kat yelled, knowing there would be at least one more beast through and hoping she had enough time to destroy it before the poison from the claws completed its course. Her arm was numb and it was spreading fast. She grabbed another knife from her pack, ready and waiting for the beast to come from Miranda’s pillar.
“Fire warms but also destroys; it heals and harms. Fire teaches us balance.” Gail shakily finished the recitation and nodded to Miranda. Miranda jammed her rod in the pillar, nervously scanning the area. For a heartbeat, nothing happened and then the air shimmered around Miranda’s pillar.
“Quickly Gail! Finish it!” Kat yelled as she threw her knife. The knife wobbled in the air, slamming into the beast’s belly. The beast turned toward Kat and kept coming. Kat couldn’t move, her left side completely numb from the poison. She could hear Gail reciting the last part, but her eyes were focused on the creature. She slowly pulled her last dagger from her boot as the beast reached out, wrapping his paw around her neck and lifting her from the ground.
“You will die. She is ours. We hunger for her. We need her. She is our prisoner!” The beast snarled at her, increasing the pressure on her neck as she jammed her knife into its throat with the last of her strength. It screamed in pain, relaxing its grip and dropping Kat to the ground before shimmering out of existence. Kat pulled in deep breaths of air, unable to move as the poison finished its work. She stayed huddled on the ground as Gail plunged her rod into the pillar. Miranda began to move to Kat’s side as a crack filled the air. The ground shook and the pillars radiated beams of light, joining in the center and shooting upward. Miranda froze mid-stride, staring into the light. The women stared, transfixed as the light burst outward, revealing a woman. Made of earth, filled with the breeze, fire her clothing and water her hair, the woman fell to the ground. Marie and Gail took a tentative step toward her as Miranda reached Kat’s side.
“Kat? Kat can you answer me?” Miranda checked her pulse. Kat groaned, trying to speak but she was still numb everywhere. Miranda checked her bag, pulling out the scanner and ran it down Kat’s body. She breathed a sigh of relief.
“Paralysis. Hang on I think I have something…” She rummaged around in her bag and pulled out a syringe. “Ah ha!” She pulled open the syringe and injected Kat. “Give it a minute Kat. You’ll be good as new.” She said, turning back to see what was happening with the woman. Marie and Gail where standing over the woman looking bewildered. The woman, the creature, lay prone on the ground as she pulsed and radiated with the elements. Miranda walked over as she heard Kat rustling behind her, getting to her feet shakily.
“I never suspected the creature would be so…beautiful.” Whispered Gail as the other women neared her.
“She’s hurt. Can you help her Miranda?” Asked Marie.
Miranda scanned the creature, looking at the machine in frustration. “She’s not human. She doesn’t register on my sensors.” She got down on her knees and reached for the woman, her hand drawn to the fire around her, hovering over the fire before reaching down tentatively to touch her. The other women gasped as Miranda touched the flames without crying out.
“I can feel her power. She needs us. They did this to her. They turned her into this for their own desire for power and control. We have to help her. Come closer she needs our energy or she will die.” Said Miranda.
The other women gathered around her, kneeling and reaching out to her.
“They contained her in human form. They took this poor woman and destroyed her and they took the soul of the earth and shoved her into a body.” Marie said shakily, near to tears as the creature filled her with her memories. Her memories, her world before and her life in captivity, the human inside her crying out in pain for thousands of years, all of this filled the women as they poured their energy into her.
The creature pulsed with the power, growing stronger, before finally breaking free. The world around them lit up with color and the women shielded their eyes from the sight. The ground beneath them rumbled as the wind blew in gales and lighting struck the pillars, lighting them on fire. Rain fell, dousing the fires, leaving only piles of ash where once the pillars stood. Just as quickly as it began, it was finished and before them laid a woman, no longer filled with the essence of the earth. Above her, the spirit of the earth hovered, coming nearer to the four women and brushing each of them with a gentle breeze. She leaned in to the woman on the ground and kissed her, healing her and giving her life once again. The four women stared in amazement. Marie reached out to touch her, but the spirit only smiled before bursting outward in a shower of light and color, absorbing into the world around them.
Miranda turned her attention to the woman, scanning her. Relief and amazement on her face as the woman groaned and sat up. She looked around at the women, her eyes ancient and filled with understanding. She had absorbed their memories as they had absorbed hers.
“Thank you. I feared I would never be free. All I hoped for was death, but when they trapped her inside me, She kept my body alive. It was her only way to survive. We kept each other alive in pain for centuries, and now we are free because of you.” She looked at them each, not a trace of hatred for what was done to her.
“What will you do now?” Gail asked. The woman walked over to where one of the pillars once stood and touched the ground, tiny wildflowers sprouting under her hand. She looked at Gail, her eyes filled with determination.
“Change the world.” She said.