Taylor sprinted full tilt into the small front office that belonged to Will and shoved his way through to crowded gathered to talk with their leader. One man got feisty and shoved Taylor back, but the young man wasn't fazed. He reacted by shoving harder and finally slammed his thighs into the hard rock platform of Will's desk.
"Taylor, what was that!?" Will ranted as he eyeballed the angry mob behind the sweating teen.
"There's....hold on a sec." He panted, hands on his knees.
Will stood impatiently waiting for his young friend to catch his breath. Finally, a few minutes later he was recovered enough to speak.
"Ok, you left me by the tree practicing right?" Will nodded, "K, I practiced for an hour and I stopped by another tree and I started to fall asleep but I woke up after I heard whispering. Will, seriously, there were four REALLY freaky lookin guys out there with spears strapped to their backs and they don't belong HERE." Taylor pointed to the ground.
Will frowned, "So that means we aren't the only Terrans here then. You sure they don't belong here at H?" He questioned.
Taylor's face returned to it's reddened color as he angrily spat out, "They were whispering and crawling through the grass like Rambo, why would they do that if they belonged here?" Taylor slammed his hand against Will's desk for emphasis.
"Ok, ok. I believe you. What do ya think men? Wanna war or do you wanna make peace like good Indian chief?" He grinned. The men behind Taylor chuckled.
"Mr. Hanson, you are excused." Will waved Taylor off.
Taylor nodded tiredly and spied his brothers eating nearby and headed in their direction.
"What's up Tay?" Zac asked around a mouthful of tola.
"Tired as crap. I ran all the way from the ravine to here without stopping." Taylor bragged gently.
Isaac raised his eyebrows and whistled, "Tough noogies. What for?"
"I dunno, four dudes turned all army and were crawling around with spears strapped on their backs. Scared the crap outta me though, I was hiding behind a tree pretty close to em." He stated quietly.
"You ok man?" Taylor stared into the fire considering his answer.
Isaac leaned over to Zac's ear unnoticed and whispered, "Get him something to eat. I'll try and get him to talk." Zac nodded and stood up quietly. Taylor continued to sit for a couple of silent minutes.
"No, I don't think so." He said out of the blue.
"I don't think I'm ok." He stated again.
"Oh, right. Uhm, what's wrong?" Isaac pressed.
"I dunno, those guys really freaked me out though. I mean I just got this feeling in my gut that's saying I should take everyone and run away. Far, far away or something. I just don't feel safe here, I don't feel like you guys are safe either." He gushed.
"Nobody's gonna get hurt, hear me?" Isaac stated firmly, watching his little brother nod half heartedly.
Just then Zac came rushing back with Taylor's dinner and a canteen full of water, spilling a little of both on his way over. He licked his lips thoughtfully and set the dish on Taylor's outstretched legs and the canteen resting against his older brother's thigh.
"Thanks Zac man." Taylor said quietly, doing nothing to touch his food.
"C'mon Tay, eat. I don't wanna think I ran all the way down to the kitchen cavern just so you could watch your food go cold. Now EAT!" Zac slapped Taylor lightly upside the head.
"What's with people slapping my head today, geze!" He complained jokingly, still going nowhere near his food.
Isaac sighed and kneeled next to Taylor, "Listen. Don't let this freak you out. It's nothing to worry about for now, there's only four of them and four hundred of us. Do the odds of one of us getting killed or hurt."
"It's like, ten to one or something." Taylor brightened a little.
"That's right." Isaac sat back smugly, but Taylor still didn't touch his food.
Zac shook his head and pulled the plate off the stubborn teen's legs and forced him to fold his legs Indian style. Zac did the same and cut a small piece of tola off and looked Taylor in the eye.
"Open up Tay." He ordered of his older brother. Taylor sadly shook his head no, enjoying the caring side of his little brother.
"Open your damn mouth or I'll get a crow bar and open it for ya!"
"You don't have a crow bar, nobody here does." Taylor retorted.
"I'll have the blacksmith's make one for me. OPEN up." He stated in all seriousness.
Taylor regarded Zac steadily, seeing that he wasn't going to give up. He finally opened his mouth and felt the tasty morsel hit his tongue. He chewed appreciatively and swallowed slowly to savor the taste. Zac continued this treatment until the entire plate was void of food and Taylor groaned happily at his full stomach.
"What would I do without you guys?" He asked sarcastically, pretending to get teary eyed.
"You'd starve stick boy." Ike said, poking Taylor in the ribs.
Taylor's eyes bulged and he burst out laughing, sending the last of his dinner sailing right into his older brother's face. Taylor and Zac started laughing even harder, causing Isaac to get angry and make a dive for the laughing pair. They both squealed and ran for the mouth of the cave to get away from angry Isaac, who just shook his head and walked passed them to wash his face in the stream.
"Guys, tell Will I'm gonna wash out there, an actual bath." He informed them.
Taylor turned serious again, "No Ike please don't go there. They could be at the stream or something." Taylor ran his hand through his hair; a nervous habit.
"I'll be ok." Isaac stated exaggeratedly. He shook his head and walked away in the direction of the stream.
"Tay's got problems, I'm not sheltering him am I?" He thought, frowning.
"Oh well, what's done is done, let's look forward now." He reached the stream and promptly stripped down to nothing and hopped in. A local plant had an oily substance that worked like soap and Isaac began searching it out. He spotted what he was looking for and quickly snapped off a stem and poured the contents onto his head; lathering it up fiercely. He liked it's smell, it reminded it of his mother for some reason. He dipped his head under water and came up sputtering. He turned around to watch the suds float down the stream lazily and saw movement on the stream side. He tilted his head to the right to get a better view of the shore and saw nothing. His stomach knotted up when he remembered Taylor's unease about the recent events. He forced himself to relax and finish his bathing. He swam back upstream to the oily plant and plucked another stem to clean his body with. He spread the slick substance over his skin and grew relaxed again with the joy of being clean. He dipped below the surface again and scrubbed the oil off. He came up one more time and definitely saw movement this time. He shuddered and pulled himself out of the water, dressing quickly with scared fingers and finally looked to where he last saw movement.
"Hello?" He called hesitantly. Out of nowhere a spear whizzed by his head and landed nearby in the grass, the tip imbedded deeply in the dark earth.
"Shit!" Isaac hissed, doing a one eighty and sprinting as fast as he could in the opposite direction, towards the cave. He heard an order for another spear and he decided that zig zagging might save him now. He abruptly took a sharp turn to the left as a long wooden shaft buried itself near his previous spot. A tree was nearby and Isaac was about to take shelter behind it when a spear slammed into it. He was praying for his life when his feet hit the dirt path that would bring him to the caves. He was nearly around the corner when the pointed head of Wentz spear sank into Isaac's calf.
"Ahhhhhaaaaah!" He screamed. His body slammed into the ground as he fumbled with the thick weapon sticking out of his leg. Steeling his stomach over, he reached down and jerked it out, not making a sound. He got to his feet and started a hobbling run back to the cave. His scream had alerted the camp of the potential danger and they'd taken off in his direction to assist him....if he was still alive. He continued a laboring run, avoiding the spears that clattered to the dirt around his feet. He'd nearly fallen when his blood slickened the area where his next footfall would land, but he'd not tumbled over yet.
"TAY!" He screamed when he saw his only family running at him, the camp right behind them. The camp slowed to a stop with Taylor and Zac doing the same. Everyone's mouth was turned to an "O" shape as they saw what he looked like and what was behind him.
"IKE! LOOK OUT!!!" Taylor and Zac screamed together.
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