The Cavern – Part 2

I had blankets and cloths mainly in my crates, there was some food but not much as it had been very heavy, I worried seeing the supplies that had been brought in that they would be assuming people would bring food with them. The sled would be the base of my bed, the foam matting was softer but I knew how the chill could seep into you from the floor. I was so tired and yet my very bones buzzed and I itched to get to the council meeting in some small hope that there would be some way out of this hell hole of a cave.

The council had put canvas up as partition walls to give privacy and to cut down the cold drafts that whistled through the cavern. I wondered if the winds would stop once the Nesu had sealed us in. I put down my many satchels and bags and lent the ruck sack against the bed. I shuddered and smiled with relief when Jenleg brought me the cup of frothy stim, it’s fragrant steam whipped out the stench of confinement that was already growing. Sanitation was going to be an issue in more than one way.

We left and went to the council.

Everyones ears were dropping, I didn’t think that was a good sign. I took a stool and sat still sipping the stim. It tasted good and reminded me of how hungry I was. My mother gave me a disapproving sniff but did not say anything, I was not part of the council, I was the child of two of the elders and my mother did not believe in heredical position. I took my seat and noted with a feeling of disgust that it was one of the ceremonial chairs – they had wasted a resources trip to bring these here?

Jenleg noticed my sneer, ‘yes we waisted time on things like the chairs – it was decided that our culture must survive, even if it is just through artifacts in a cave, they will burn all we leave on the surface Gingnar.’

I felt my stomach drop at that statement, ‘so there really is no hope?’ I asked too quietly I didn’t really want an answer.

‘There is always hope,’ my father smiled at me, and I knew he believed his own words, I however found them hard to swallow.

‘There are many things to be discussed and organised,’ came my mothers sharp reply and I looked down at my long fingers, they seemed an orange grey in the half gloom of the cave. Would I ever see their coloured splendor again?

‘How are plans progressing with locating an exit point?’ this was Ulnka a very elderly woman, I could see the cold damp was already paining her and, yes the first bloom of the sickness was on her fur, it was slight just a vague scragginess to her. I wondered which would kill her first, and then the treacherous thought snaked it’s way through my mind, if she died quickly there would be more food to go around. I was appalled at myself but the echo of it was there in my mind I shook my head to try and dislodge it.

‘The Cho-Lo’s should have results within five hours I am told, of course we dare not analyse the entrance of the cave incase the Nesu realise what we are doing.’

Cho-Lo’s – the Echo locators? They’d managed to get a team and equipment down here without the Nesu realising, I felt a little impressed I have to confessed and also bitter, I was training to be a Cho-Lo much to my fathers disappointment. Why hadn’t they given me more warning and put me on the team? I felt acid rise in my gut and bit down tooth against tooth in order not to shame myself with an outburst.

‘There is also the exploration team, we sent them off with trackers as soon as we arrived, they are hunting for a way out, there maybe some small side brunch, a squeeze, anything that could offer a way out.’ The other elders where nodding and I realised that the little speech was for me and Negra the other youngling at the table, the elders all already knew this stuff, they were wasting time informing us. ‘Every 24 hours we will make a speech to the population in the carven and make up other exploratory teams – these are mainly for show and morale though will be properly equipped and may prove useful. If… if we are stuck down here the extra space the explorations may unearth could be a life saver. We are pretty sure there is a source of water within the carven though it has not yet been located.’

A murmur, evidently most of the council had assumed there would be a ready supply of water. I shuddered. ‘Negra,’ my mother spoke, it was as always a strangely soft voice, she never spoke to me with such tenderness, ‘you will be helping Naxtor he is helping the new arrivals set up camp.’ Negra nodded and stood, giving me a furtive glance, worried that I would be jealous, well I was but I just nodded encouragingly. Besides working with Naxtor was not going to be fun, he had been the highest ranking officer we had in the Enforcement and Services or Enserv as it was known.

We had always been less than the Nesu and now they were exterminating us. But I couldn’t honestly say we would do things differently, the sickness was pretty terrifying and though no Nesu had become ill with it, there was no saying they wouldn’t.

‘Ginglar?’ my focused snapped back to the table, everyone was staring at me.

‘Sorry I was just… thinking,’ I said lamely and then because they were still staring at me, I realised they wanted a response to something, ashamed I stuttered, ‘I missed what you said last.’ It was lame and I felt the glow peaking my ears as if I was a babe who had forgotten it was without catching cloth.

‘You are to head the Escape Team,’ my eyes went large in disbelief, ‘you are the only trained geologist and though you never did the subterranean field trips we still feel you are the closest the council has to an expert.’ My mother was watching me intently I could see her purples were as open as it was possible for them to get.

Posted: Wednesday, May 30th, 2012 @ 10:58 am
Categories: Series, The Cavern.
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