Dangerous Skies

Author's note: This story isn't bad, but I could have done it better. If you prod me enough, I just might do something about it. ;)

    "Ana! You’re going to be late! Hurry up with your makeup, and get out that front door! Right this minute, young lady! You’ll have to put that junk on at school, you don’t have time for this! I don’ t want to have to talk to your principal when you’re late! Now!!" 

Cine, Ana’s mother, yelled to her daughter from the bottom of the lift. Even if it were her day off, Cine didn’t want to have to drive her to school. She was a bald norn, with fierce blue eyes, and a delicate frame. She was a tough norn, and worked as an Executive Trade Officer at Albian Exports Incorporated, a trade company that managed all of the shipping of Albian goods to all the other planets in the solar system. A.E.I. was the largest exporting plant in the galaxy.

    "Coming, mother!" She called down to her waiting mum.

    She threw the rest of her makeup and her hair brush into her book-bag, hopped into the lift, and hastily punched the ‘down’ button. As soon as she reached the bottom, she gave Cine a quick kiss on the cheek, grabbed an apple off the kitchen table, and jetted out the front door of their home in the Kitchen Area Townhouses. On her way to the Bubble Bus, she passed the Eastern Graveyard. She slowed down running a bit and stared at a slab of moonrock where the name ‘Alan’ was inscribed. Suddenly she had a very lonely, and empty feeling in the pit of her stomach. That grave belonged to her father, an Albian Explorer. He saved her life, and her mother’s by protecting his pregnant wife from a mutated carrot beetle while they were off in the jungle, searching for the rare Albian Blue-Zinger Butterfly. Its poisonous bite had killed him, just after he had killed it. He had given his life for her mother’s and the little embryo inside her.
    Just a few months later, Ana was born, a perfect resemblance of him, both of them being pure horse norns. Ana was extremely grateful towards him and always kept his Explorer's Medallion with her. The medallion was carved out of Grendel’s Gold, the first most precious substance on the whole planet, found exclusively on Albia’s main island. In the middle there was a compass, that never pointed wrong. Her father had received it as an Award of Excellence from the Royal Albian Explorer's Club. Ana never took it off, let alone let it out of her sight. She clutched it as she jogged to the Bubble Bus, as it pulled up at the covered bridge stop. She climbed aboard and found Lola and Amy-Jo, her two best friends, already seated at the back of the bus.

    "Hi!" She breathlessly greeted them.

    "Late again, eh? What’s the matter? Your lipstick wouldn’t apply properly?" Amy-Jo, a bald norn, with yellow tinting and a purple mountain body, poked fun at her friend. Ana wasn’t really into wearing much make-up, and usually kept it to a minimum. The problem was, if it didn’t look quite right, it wasn’t good enough, and she would have to apply it all over again. She wouldn’t go anywhere without wearing any, either.

    "Har har. Oh, you're a riot A.J.! A real clown!" Ana stuck her tongue out at Amy-Jo. "Hey look!"

Lola, another horse norn, with white norn arms and purple tinting, cried out and pointed to a norn passing by the bus as it pulled up to Nornman Memorial High.

    "Look at Craig! He’s holding up a sign…it says ‘I love you, Ana!!!’ on it. Uh oh. Better talk to the principal again."

Craig was a norn that secretly loved Ana ever since he saw her in grade seven. It wasn’t until this year, that he actually said anything about it. He frequently did things like what he was doing at the moment, and they had become annoying and a bit scary, so Ana told the principal. He wasn’t allowed within twenty feet of her. And that solved her problem pretty well. They totally ignored him as they hopped down the steps and onto the boardwalk, they talked about boys and what they were doing that weekend. Three average teens going to what they thought was a normal day of school. Boy, were they wrong.

    "...and so you see, if the climate is warmer here on Caloundra Island. Who can tell me what kind of different sands would we find there? Yes, Davie? No that’s incorr…"

Ana tuned out her droning teacher, turned to her friends and yawned. Why do we have to learn about sand?? Ana wondered in her head. Why couldn’t we be learning about the different types of birds, or flowers, or why not go on a field trip to the mountains instead? Why?? She thought in agony. She looked at the watch on her wrist. 11:13, they had over fifteen minutes left of class still.

    "Darn!" She cursed out loud, louder than she had wanted to say. She cringed as Mrs. Honeydew turned to face her. So did the rest of the class.

    "Do you have some thing you want to share, Ana? We all like to listen to stories. Please be quiet while I am teaching."

As the teacher addressed her, she could hear snickering as well. She blushed and answered in a tiny voice, "No Ma’am. I’m sorry Ma’am."

    "I thought so. Now please pay attention."

She turned back to the board, and started talking again. Ana could still hear snickering, but the loudest came from two desks behind her, where Blake, one of the handsomest norns in school (and her lust object) sat. He was pure horse norn, with a very light purpley tinting. She blushed deeper, when she found out that he was laughing at her. It wasn’t a mean laugh, but it made her feel awkward as well. After what seemed like ages, the lunch bell rang, and she and her friends scrambled from the room.

    "Can I sit with you? I mean, is this seat taken?"

A boy’s voice said beside Ana, as she picked at the cafeteria food on her tray. She glanced up, hoping to find gorgeous, handsome, Blake standing there. Instead she found Craig. What was he doing so close to her? Why wouldn’t he just leave her alone? He had been creepy enough already today. He generally was a sweet norn, but just a little too obsessed to actually make friends with him. If only he had stayed his normal quiet self throughout this year! But with the way he started acting, she didn’t want to be seen with him at all. Especially with Blake sitting at the table behind them.

    "Please leave me alone. I am going to tell the principal, and possibly the police, if you do not stay away from me." Ana said in a firm voice.

Craig looked crushed. His face clouded over and he stormed off, saying nasty things to himself.

That wasn’t the first time he had tried to get to know Ana. A few years back, when she first came to the high school from elementary school, Craig had introduced himself to her at a dance. Right after he did, a friend she had made, that knew him well, said that he was 'totally obsessing over her', and that he was 'just a tad weird', and she never paid attention to him again. He paid attention to her, though, maybe all together a little too much. Ana was considered very attractive, and very popular, but unfortunately, she and Blake hung out with different crowds, so they had never really met.

    "Yuck! What a weirdo! I wish Craig would leave me alone!" Ana put her head in her paws and groaned.

    "He’d better, if you want lover-boy to think you’re still single!" Lola chuckled.

    "Yeah! Maybe we should personally announce your singleness, and tell Blake that you like him…" Amy-Jo gave her a devilish grin.

    "NO!! Don’t you dare!" Ana shrieked, and pounded her paw down onto the table.

To her misfortune, her paw hit the end of her spoon, and sent it’s cargo of strained carrots directly at Lola’s face. It landed with a beautiful sounding "smack" right in the middle of her friend’s face.

    "Wha…? How dare you!!" She roared, and flung her mashed potatoes in Ana’s direction. Ana ducked though, and they flew onto, oh dear, the lap of Blake, who had turned around at the commotion.

    "Hey! Oh ho! So that’s what you ladies want to play, huh? Well, take this!"

He loaded his spoon up with food and sent it flying.

Soon after, someone yelled, "Food fight!!!" and the war began. Somewhere, in the midst of flying peas, potatoes, corn and the shouts of students, there rose a voice that made everyone stop in their tracks.

    "What is going on in here?" It was Principal Murkwater, one of the meanest principals in the school system."Who started this monstrous thing? Come now speak up!"

The accusations went flying, but soon, all claws were pointing to Lola, Amy-Jo, Ana and Blake.

    "So it was you four, eh? Well then, we’ll have to arrange some sort of punishment. Hmmm… let’s see. Because you are first time offenders, I’ll only make you clean up this mess, and make you clean up in here for the REST OF THE MONTH!! Have I made myself clear?"

    "Y…y…yes s…sir!" The four of them stuttered at once.

Murkwater suspiciously glanced around, then turned on his heel and marched out. The noise level rose a small notch as everyone’s fear melted away. The lunch hour went on slippery, but peacefully from then on.

"It’s so creepy in here!" Ana commented about the empty halls, with an eerie feeling in her stomach. She clutched her medallion as they walked.

"A.J.! Watch it! your spilling water on me!" Lola cried out in surprise.

The three friends we’re walking towards the cafeteria from the custodian’s room with buckets off water, rubber gloves, soap, scrub brushes, mops, brooms, and cloths. Armed for the job ahead, the walked into the war zone and gasped.

"We started all this? Wow!" Ana gaped at the mess lying (or should I say dripping and oozing) before them in the silent cafeteria, her voice bouncing off the walls, making it even more mysterious and creepy.

"I’ll say! But it didn’t look this bad before!" Amy-Jo whimpered at the thought of them cleaning the whole thing up.

"So, what’s going on? Why haven’t we started yet?" They turned around to face Blake, looking hot and sweaty after basketball practice, and also armed with rubber gloves and a cloth.

"Um…we were just surveying our options. If we’re going to clean all of this up, we’re, er, gonna need a battle plan." Lola said, trying to keep a straight face.

"Oh. I see. Well, why don’t Amy-Jo and Lola go work on mopping up, and… I’ll scrub tables with Ana? Sound good?" He had a different look on his face, as he stared at Ana for an answer. It was like he was really hoping for her to say yes, or something.

"Really?? I mean, that sounds great!" Ana squeaked as she grabbed a bucket and cloth and marched in, with the rest following her. As they marched in, Ana had a sudden thought. She jumped up onto a table and shouted out, mop in hand, "This looks like a job for…Super Mop Lady!" She put her hands on her hips defiantly.

"Yeah!" Lola said jokingly, "faster someone late for school-"

"And more powerful than a strong detergent!" Amy-Jo added.

Suddenly Blake burst out, "But where would our hero be without her trusty assistant…Rag Guy!" He hopped up onto the table next to her and also put his hands on his hips. Ana and he looked into each other’s eyes, and he smiled at her. He smile turned into a stifled giggle, then both of them started to laugh, and soon, all four of them were rolling with laughter.

They were cut off as Arthur, one of the school’s "nerds" burst into the room. He gasped for breath, took a puff of his inhaler, pushed his glasses farther up his nose, and burst out,

"Everyone come quick!! We’ve got to find the principal! No time to explain! We need to warn everyone! Hurry!" He grabbed Amy-Jo’s arm and dragged her with him, the other’s followed.

"Let go of me!" Amy-Jo wriggled free and began to run faster.

"Halt! No running in the ha-!" Arthur grabbed Principal Murkwater and he took them to the science lab, where the science club was having one of their meetings.

"What’s the big idea young man! This better be good! I want to get to the teacher’s lounge before all the chocolate doughnuts get eaten!"

"Everyone, take a look through those telescopes!" Arthur pointed to a row of telescopes lined up in front of the window. They each looked through and saw huge hunks of what looked to be rock, falling into their atmosphere.

"What are those things? They look like they’re headed straight for us!" Ana gasped.

"They are! We were searching for day stars and other things, when out of no where, there appeared those stringy meteor things. We have identified them as Strands. Acidic and extremely dangerous mutations of asteroids, with tails of acid ice, that could be miles long! It seems that they are fragments of an extremely large asteroid that was blown to smithereens when a radioactive beam of light that came from a sun of another galaxy hit it. They were never expected to come near Albia, or even our galaxy, but an unknown force, or disturbance, has sent them reeling towards us, and there’s nothing we can do about them!" Roland, another member explained.

"Oh my Shee! We’re gonna be grendel meat!" Lola cried.

"What will happen when they hit?" Blake asked with a worried look on his handsome face.

"Well, the corrosive fragments can burn holes 3 feet deep and about 5 feet in diameter, when the strand is average size. They have been known to be quite large, and are extremely deadly to norns." Bert said flatly.

Ana sank down onto a desk and absorbed the information. "Oh my Shee." She murmured under her breath.

"Oohh," Principal Murkwater fainted, and all of the norns crowded around him, trying to make him conscious again. Once the teacher was revived, there was a disturbed murmur and they discussed what should be done, and how much time they had to warn everyone.

"Judging by the velocity of one of the strands that hit the school yard at lunch today, and direction of the wind I’d say we have about four hours. Plenty of time to warn at least three quarters of Albia -"

Roland was cut off by a deafening crash through the roof of the school. Dust and bits of wood flew in the door, and they ran out to the hall to see what had happened. What they saw was a disaster zone, really. In the middle of the hall there was a crater, of the exact measurements told earlier.

Across from them, on the other side of the hole, there was a very singed and smoking janitor’s cart. As they walked around, they were careful not to step on the glowing rocks, for they knew exactly what they were.

"Four hours my thumb!" Amy-Jo hissed at Roland.

"Oh my Shee, look!" Bert pointed into the crater with a terrified look on his face. Every one peered into the smoldering hole, then turned away in total disgust. Inside, there were bones. Norn bones, with flesh hanging off of them, and there, on top of the bones, laid a name tag. It read, Quincy Reeves. What a gruesome end to the kind, and sweet janitor of Nornman Memorial High.

Ana gazed in a trance at the mess the janitor had left behind and clutched her medallion. What were they going to do? How were they going to survive?

She jumped as Blake put a hand on her shoulder. They stared each other, then Blake said under his breath, only so that she could hear it.

" Let’s go. We’re going to warn them. We’re going to warn them all."

She nodded and he took her hand and lead her away. Amy-Jo and Lola looked at them leave, and silently followed. The Science Club and the dazed principal watched them go, and Mr. Murkwater opened his mouth to speak, but, ahead of him, without looking back, Ana put up a finger, and he closed his mouth and followed. Finally, Ana spoke, and in a brave voice, she gave out commands

. "I want everyone to get into to twos and knock on every door there is to knock on. We have to warn as many people as possible. Tell every one to meet at the lifts leading down into the Shafts. Tell them to bring all the food they can carry. As well as blankets. There’s no time to be grabbing possessions. Now let’s GO!"

Everyone split up and headed in different directions. Ana grabbed Blake’s hand and they jumped into the lift to the gardens. She knew where they were going. They had to warn her mother.

"Why are we going this way?" Blake called to her as they galloped towards the little village of quaint townhomes.

"We have to warn my mother. It’s a good thing you live close! We can warn your family too!" Ana called back to him.

It was true, he lived just around the corner from her, but she was usually too shy to come near that end of the homes.

As they neared the buildings, a norn, Craig, jumped out in front of them.

"Hey where’s the fire?" he cried as they skidded to a halt.

He looked Ana over with wandering eyes.

"Get lost, Craig! Just go to the cellar and wait there." She hissed at him, and edged herself behind Blake.

"But, why…?" He looked confused.

"Just do it! Do you wanna be killed by some mutant comet or what? We have to go warn people about them. Don’t get in our way!" Blake shouted at him and shoved him out of the way.

"Wait! I’ll help you! C’mon!" He protested. Ana was about to shout out "NO!", but Blake stopped her.

"Fine! Just tell people to bring lots of food and blankets. Now go that way and we’ll meet you around! Go!" Blake shoved Craig towards the other entrance to the little village, and he and Ana began knocking on doors. Small chunks of rocks were beginning to rain down, and rumbles could be heard in the distance.

"Ana! Why weren’t you home after school? I was just about to call the-" Cine had a surprised look on her face.

"Mom! There’s no time! go grab tons of food and two blankets! We’re all gonna be killed!" She pushed her mother towards the kitchen in the small home.

"What? Ana this is not making any sense…"

"Just do it mom!" Ana screamed at her mother, wishing she had used a less harsh tone.

"All..all. right then." Cine was surprised at her daughter, but soon she understood, as she walked into the kitchen, just after a small Strand came crashing through the roof, exactly where her mother had been standing when she paused before going into the kitchen

"Oh my Shee! Ana what was that!?" She shrieked from inside the kitchen.

"That’s why we’re going to the mine shafts! Are you hurt?" she called out in despair.

"I’m fine! You go to warn others I’ll be fine! Go on!"

Ana bolted out the door and went to knock on others. She looked up.

"Oh my…!" She gasped and stopped Blake in his tracks. They looked up and there were the strands, closer than ever!

"We don’t have any more time! C’mon!" he dragged her. They had only done three quarters of the townhomes.

"Craig! Come on! It’s too late!" He called to Craig, and they headed for the nearest cellar lift, in the temple.

It had begun to rain small fragments now, they were coming down steadily. Ana and the other’s had just reached the temple in time. There was a large crowd of people, adults carrying food and blankets, and the little children, either cowering or crying. The older children had organized the little ones into small groups, and were playing games to keep them calm. Soon, the lift came up, and they all piled on. Ana, exhausted, looked at Blake. He looked at her, and took her hand and squeezed it. Craig saw this, and scowled for a moment, but then, pretended not to see.

When they reached the bottom, they saw a sad sight. Hundreds of other norns, sat in huddled groups, weeping and hugging one another, in sad reunion, or just crying out for one left behind. Ana shook her head in sadness as they were then herded onto a ferry to take them across the way, to the other side where there was more room.

"Ana? Oh Ana! You’re o.k! Thank Shee!" Lola ran up to her and gave her friend a huge hug.

"Yeah I’m fine. Tired, but fine." She sighed and studied her friend’s face. The worried expression was covered in dirt and dust. She noticed her eyes were a bit puffy, and she had sticky looking stains running down her cheeks. She wore a smile on her face though, and her eyes held some spark.

"What happened? Were you crying?" Ana inquired.

"Well, yes." The spark in her eyes vanished. "Grandma Alia was…crushed." She sobbed at the last part. Ana put her arms around her and Blake even got in on it too.

"Oh Lola! I’m so sorry." Ana whispered, tears springing in her own eyes. Grandma Alia was one of the nicest people Ana had met, and she was as close to her a Lola was. Alia was always making the costumes for their plays and baking them cookies. She even remembered each friend’s birthday, and always had a little something to give them on their special birthday. This year, on Ana’s 17th birthday, Grandma Alia had given her a fine gold chain, with a tiny ring strung on it. Set on the tiny gold band, was a little pink stone, a Lily Rock. Her birthstone. Ana would always cherish the gift.

"Wow. I’m sorry." Blake added sympathetically. There was a jolt as the ferry stopped, and they all stepped off. Ana could see that Lola and Amy-Jo were helping load people onto the ferry, so she told them she’d see them later and she and Blake twisted and turned through the huddled bunches, trying to loose Craig. When they did manage to lose him, they found an uninhabited corner and sat down and watched the happy reunions and weeping norns.

Suddenly, a blonde female norn, with long purple nails carrying food and blankets in one arm, and a baby in the other, came running towards them.

"Blake! Oh Blake my baby!" Christine, his mother cried as she handed her armful to Ana hastily, so she could embrace her now found son. Blake’s cheeks went crimson as they hugged and his mother wept.

"Puth dat! Puth Blake!" The little baby, which Ana could see now was Blake’s younger sister, wiggled in her arms, and giggled and held her arms out toward Blake. He picked her up and she giggled

"Hey there, Sammy! How are ya? Eh? How’s my little Chunks?" He cooed to her, as he jiggled her in his arms.

"Chunks?" Ana cried in disbelief.

"It’s her nickname! Guess why?" No sooner had he said ‘why’, Sammy’s face scrunched up, and she barfed all over the wall behind them. Ana jumped and cried out

"Yikes! I didn’t ask for a demonstration!"

"Sorry!" He looked really embarrassed now.

"Don’t worry about it! I’m fine! I’ve seen worse, babysitting the Mulderson’s twins!" She laughed, and he smiled at her with a relieved look on his face

"Ana! Oh Ana there you are!" Running up behind Blake’s mother, was Ana’s!

"Mom!" Ana carefully placed the goods on the ground, and Cine gave all hers to Blake’s mother then gave her daughter, Ana a big hug. Ana’s mother knew Blake’s because they were both very good friends. Ana and Blake met each other a lot whenever the two adults got together. Ana usually brought something to do, so that she wouldn’t have to make contact with Blake. When they did talk, they found that they had much in common. They seemed almost perfect for each other.

Cine winced as her paw was sandwiched between them, under almost no pressure. Ana drew back and looked at it.

"Mom! Your paw! You said you were okay!" Ana was almost angry at her mother. Her four claws and thumb were bruised and there were open burns on her wrist.

"Ok, so I lied! You needed to get other people warned! Don’t worry! Dr. Gavin is setting up MediStands on both sides of the pond. I’ll have it checked out later.

"Here." Ana tore off the edge of a blanket and wrapped it carefully around the wounded paw. She took two clips out of her hair and used them as make-shift fasteners. "Thanks hun. Here. I brought the tent." She stooped over and picked up a large duffel bag out of the pile of stuff that she had brought. It could hold 6 norns, so they could all fit inside. Blake’s mother sat down and played with Sammy as Ana, Blake and Cine pitched the large two roomed tent. When it was finished, they brought their things inside.

"Wow! This thing is cool!" Blake exclaimed as he set down some jars of honey.

"And fancy!" Added Christine, as she helped Cine fix the "wall" that divided the tent in half. It was really just the same material that was used on the outside of the tent.

Blake walked over and helped Ana lay some blankets down on the hard floor for bedding.

"Thanks." She said quietly. Afterwards, she unzipped the doorway, and left the tent silently, wrapped up in her thoughts. She decided to go for a walk through the dim passages, lit only by small flickering candles.

There were families who had also brought tents, and some even had little barbecues to cook food on. She watched families and friends, gather around in circles, and singing and talking and being happy, despite the terrifying events taking place above. Then there were families that were weeping, over a lost one, or a destroyed or damaged home. Or there were just some that were in hysterics, and needed to be given sedates by Dr. Gavin or one of his nurses.

Ana crossed on the ferry, which was now being worked by others. Amy-Jo and Lola must have finished up and decided to find their families, she figured. She wandered around for what seemed like hours, and suddenly spotted Amy-Jo.

"Hey, A.J.! A.J.!" Ana called out. She hadn’t appeared to have heard her, so she ran up to her friend.

"A.J.! Where’s your mum or your dad?" Ana asked her about her quiet mother, who worked as a secretary at A.E.I. and her father, who was a truck driver.

Amy-Jo turned to face her.

"Oh sorry, Ana! Didn’t see you there!" She answered brightly, but her eyes were full of worry, and her mouth was tight.

"Where’s your family?" Ana asked her.

"I don’t know. They’d said they’d meet me here. Where are they?" She seemed in a daze, and wasn’t quite sure of anything.

"Come with me, maybe they’re on my side. C’mon!" Ana took her lost friend’s hand, and pulled her to the ferry. They got off on Ana’s side, and searched for an hour. Amy-Jo began to weep.

"What if they were killed? What if I’ll never see them again?" She buried her face in Ana’s shoulder. "Well, I’m sure they’ll turn up soon…but if they don’t…I’m sure we could always let you stay with us in our tent. There’s plenty of room!" Ana tried, but it was no use.

Just then, a man in a white uniform, like the ones that Dr. Gavin’s staff wore, ran up behind them.

"Have you seen this girl?" He asked them and held up a photograph that looked like Amy-Jo, only younger, holding a kitten in her lap. Wait a minute, that was Amy-Jo! And that was Scruffles, their kitten!

"Yes, I’ve seen that girl!" Amy cried out.

"Really? Where?" The man looked hopeful.

"Right here!" She exclaimed. Now the man looked just plain confused.


"I’m the girl!!" She snapped at him.

"Oh! I see!" He said, surprised, then his tone changed to his deeper, more important voice. "Come with me! Your mother is with Dr. Gavin. Your father is there too!"

"WHAT??" She screamed at him, but he just dragged her along, and Ana followed. They went back across the ferry and through the hoards of people, and into a large white tent. Inside, curtains divided it into little cubicles, and there were sounds of heart monitors and machinery, and groans of injured patients. Above it all there was a shrieking sound, that of a female, coming from the end of the row of the cubicles.

"Where’s my mother? What’s wrong with her? What did you do with her?" Amy-Jo anxiously questioned the man endlessly as he lead Ana and Amy-Jo down the make shift corridor, and brought them to the room with the screaming woman. Charity, Amy-Jo’s mother, was lying with her back propped up with a stack of potato sacks, and there was an i.v. in her arm. Her face was covered in sweat and wrenched in pain, and her knee’s were scrunched up. Her father, Josh, looked anxious.

"Mom! Dad! What’s going on? Why is mom here? It looks like she’s going to have a baby!" Her father’s face broke out into a smile.

"A.J.! Oh We were so worried about you! We almost forgot about you when your mother started having contractions!"

"So she is having a baby! Why didn’t you tell me! This is so surprising!" She drew back from her father’s hug and studied him, waiting for an answer.

"We didn’t tell you, because we didn’t know! After we had someone knock on the door and tell us we would all be killed if we didn’t flee, we packed up and left! Then your mother started having contractions, and we brought her here! Your going to have a new baby brother or sister!"

"Wow." Amy-Jo fell back onto a sack of potatoes and absorbed the whole thing.

"Aaaaaaaaaauuggggghhh!!" Here mother started shrieking and everyone jumped to her side.

"I think this is it!" Dr. Gavin cried and a few seconds later, *PoP!* out came a tiny little shiny blue swirly egg. The doctor picked it up and put it in the incubator, and the room filled with the gentle humming noise. Charity laid back and sighed and Josh gave her a big hug. Then she saw Amy-Jo and cried,

"Oh Amy I was so worried about you! Why didn’t you come home after school?"

"It’s a long story, mom. I’ll tell you later." She said in an exhausted voice. Ana walked over to Charity and gave her a big hug.

"Congratulations, Charity!" She cried.

"Thank you Ana! Is your mother all right?" She asked her.

"Yes, she’s fine. We’ve got a tent set up on the other side. Maybe you could stay near us-" Ana was cut off by Blake, who burst into the little makeshift room.

"Amy-Jo’s mom just laid an egg!" Ana cried.

"Wow that’s fantastic! Hey congratulations!" He walked over and shook Josh’s hand.

"Hey! The egg is hatching! Ana cried out, and everyone gathered around. The shiny outer layer had a small crack in it, and now the top was beginning to crumble away. Blake grabbed Ana’s hand and squeezed it. The egg popped open, and out came a little boy norn, with long brown hair, and a purple mountain body. He was the most brightest shade of red any of them had ever seen. He sat with his legs sprawled to either side, and his hands placed in front of him, holding his tiny little body up. He looked up to the group of people surrounding him with his great big green eyes, and simply asked, "Bibble?"

Josh plucked him out of the incubator, and turned to his beaming wife.

"How about we call him, Bibble?" She asked him.

"I think he’d like that!" Josh laughed.

"Bibble!" Bibble screeched with glee and clapped his hands. Everyone laughed. Blake turned and was about to leave the room, but Josh called after him.

"Wait! why don’t you stay for some party? We’ll have cake!" He tempted him.

"No thanks. I’m expected back to the camp, and I was supposed to come out and find Ana. She’s been gone a while!" He declined and lead Ana out of the room.

"Well, thank you Ana! Come by and see me sometime!" Charity called out.

"We will! Bye!" Ana called back, and she and Blake walked down the hallway to the ferry. No one spoke until they were nearing the camp.

"That was something, huh?" Blake looked at her and asked.

"Yeah. It was really exhilarating."

"Yeah it was." He replied. They stayed silent for a bit, then Ana spoke up.

"Thanks for the squeeze in there. And on the lift. It made me feel a bit better."

Blake blushed. "I’m glad. Hey, you wanna get out of here and go for a walk?"

"Sure! But where to?" Ana looked around puzzled.

"I found a path to somewhere really neat earlier on, while I was looking for you. C’mon and I’ll take you."

He took her hand and lead her to a corner where there was a tunnel that no one had noticed. It was about ten feet across, and just barely lit. Luckily, the floor was earthen, and the ceiling seemed to remain at least 6 feet high. As they walked they talked a bit.

"Look at those cave things in the walls! I wonder if we could fit in there!" Blake pointed to a carved out opening in the stone walls.

"Oh no way I am going in one of those! They’re probably full of icky things! Yuck!" Ana shivered.

"Ok then I’ll make sure we don’t then." He reassured her.

"Good! Eeek! I thought I something move in that one! Lets hurry!" Ana pointed to a cavern that was lower to the ground, but it was still. They picked up the pace and began to see a light at the end of the tunnel. Blake hurried up a bit, and Ana followed. Just before they reached the end of the tunnel, Blake told her to close her eyes, and let him guide her.

"But you’ll make me trip or something! I know you, Blake!" Ana protested.

"I will not! I promise! I would never let anything or anyone hurt you!" He put his left paw over his heart, and raised his right, as if solemnly swearing. His green eyes met hers and somewhere inside them, she saw that what he said was the truth. He pulled out a blind fold and carefully tied it around her head. Then he took her hand and lead her into the light filled room.

The light was seeping through the blindfold so brightly, that she squinted her eyes.

"Alright, you can take off the blindfold now!" He said excitedly. She pulled it up on top of her head and squinted. They had turned down another tunnel, and were standing in a fairly large chamber. In the middle of the chamber, because of the brightness she could barely see the rickety old table, and two cots. On the table there was a lantern, but it was too small to be casting so much light, wasn’t it? As her eyes began to adjust though, she gasped. The room’s walls and ceiling were made of gold!

This room was an abandoned goldmine! They were rich!

"I-I-I can’t believe it! We’re rich! Filthy rich!" Ana was jumping up and down.

"Well, I’m not sure if it’s real gold, yet anyway, but lets say it is!" Blake smiled at her.

"Thank you so much!" Ana ran up and hugged him and wouldn’t let go.

"Hey, what could I do to win the most precious thing in this world’s love, but to give her the next most precious thing!" He laughed.

"What do you mean?" She looked up into his eyes. He brought his mouth close to her ear and asked her in a whisper,

"Ana, will you go out with me?" For a minute, Ana didn’t answer. She turned her head away, clutching her medallion. She seemed to be thinking, a newfound confidence forming inside of herself. Suddenly, she jerked her head around to face him, and kissed him. Their lips locked and Blake’s knees, not Ana’s, began to get weak. It was a good few minutes before she pulled away from him, slowly.

"Wow." He stated, surprised. "I’ll take that as a yes, any day!"

"I thought so." She smiled up at him.

"We-we should get going." He said quietly, and hand in hand, they blew out the light, and left. As they walked in silence, they heard a stone fall, like it was purposely dropped, and a figure dashed across the tunnel in front of them.

Blake and Ana stopped dead in their tracks, and kept completely silent, neither of them daring to move. Ana glanced at Blake, and he told her to hold on a moment, while went to see what, or who was up in front of them. He began to slowly edge his way forward, keeping alert and ready to strike. He was ahead of her about fifty feet, when she couldn’t see him anymore. There was a muffled shuffling sound, a thud, then a small groan, that had barely escaped someone’s lips. After that there was silence. Ana waited what seemed to be the longest five minutes of her life in the darkness of the tunnel, watching, waiting for something to happen.

"Blake? Blake are you alright?" She called out in a tiny voice that echoed all the way to the other end. Nothing. But something moved, it looked like Blake; it had the shape of a norn, anyways. Then it disappeared. She waited some more, not daring to move a step further. Tensely, quietly, she waited, but as the minutes passed, it seemed that the Thing, whatever it was, was waiting for her. Waiting for her to make a wrong move, step into it’s grasp, and so she waited even longer. Out of nowhere, the Thing began to chuckle. It was a little one, that was just barely to be heard, sounding as evil as a grendel’s. But there were no grendels. The grendels were dead.

The chuckling got louder and louder, and closer and closer, and soon it seemed that it was right in front of her. It was. She could feel the Thing’s hot breath on her face and her chest as it gusted into the light blouse she was wearing. She began to tremble. She looked up and saw the vague features of a male norn, but it wasn’t Blake. It had an evil grin on it’s face, and it’s eyes shone, flickered with desire, in the dim light. She turned to run, but the norn grabbed her arm with a bone breaking tight grip, and stopped her. She struggled but she soon found it to be no use. He spun her around and brought them face to face.

"At last. I have you to myself." It said in a low, menacing voice. That voice! Her mind cried out in her head. It belonged to someone! But whom? His next statement gave her the answer.

"Five long years I have loved you, wanted you. I proved myself in many ways, but you just shunned me. I obsessed over you! What more could a girl want? I followed your every move, but you got a restraining order put on me. The worst thing you could do to me. Made me the laughingstock of the school. My own neighbors feared me. And now! Now! You’ve gone and spoiled all my fun and hard work to go out with him!" He thrust his hand in the direction that Blake had ventured out to. His voice was ominous

Craig! It was Craig! Why was he here?

"Get away from me, Craig! You jerk!" She growled in a low voice.

"Well, now. You’ve obviously figured out who I am, judging by the fact you know my name. That look of rage and terror in your eyes. The look that makes me want you even more." He said with a lower growl, almost a whisper, as he kept her eye entranced as he drew her closer with one of his arms, her body came right next to his. Her mouth was right in front of his.

"And there’s nothing you can have anyone do about this, sweet, sweet Ana." He gave her a wicked smile, and planted his lips on hers. A small cry came from her throat, as she squirmed again to get away from him. He just pulled her even closer, and her body became squashed right up to his. He began to make kissing noise, just little ones at first, but the soon got louder and longer. She wouldn’t stand for this, not one bit. She took decisive action and kneed him in the stomach. He released his grip, and she bolted towards the entrance. He groaned and fell clutching his middle, but did nothing else.

She got only short bit away before she was tripped by something warm and soft, yet hard. It felt like a body! Blake! She scrambled over to his side. She could see his face, dark glistening fluid flowing over it from a huge gash in his head. She held him in her arms and began to weep, softly, noiselessly. She cried out and winced as a hand came down hard on her shoulder.

She turned around and lunged at his legs, but he saw her make her move, and kicked her in the face, on her right cheek, and sent her flying backwards. Walked towards her and stood in front of her.

"I told you before, no one’s gonna stop me now! I’ll make you mine - for keeps!" He cackled crazily and lunged for her. She tried to roll away, but she was too slow from being stunned and so he landed right where he had planned to - on top of her.

"Forget it Ana! It’s hopelesssss!" He hissed the last letters of the word, as he reached his mouth towards hers. He was cut short though, by a groan behind them.

"What was that?" He looked around, nervously. Ana felt his body tense up with fear. She knew what it was. Blake! He was awake! She could see his body rise up. He looked around for Ana, but he couldn’t see her. Ana saw an escape, and prayed that it worked.

"Keep your paws off me! Help! Help! Someone help me!" She cried out loudly in fake despair. Craig didn’t seem to notice it was false though, and tightened his grip. Perfect. Her plan was going smoothly. She saw Blake’s head jerk towards her direction, and he began to walk to her. Now all she needed was Craig’s direct attention.

"What’s the matter, Craig? You don’t like me anymore? Kiss me and prove it! C’mon!" She enticed him, licking her lips. He looked a bit confused at her change of heart, but the look passed and he gave her an evil grin.

"Glad you see things my way!" and he began to passionately kiss her.

"What do you think you’re doing with her?" Blake stood before them, hands on hips, giving Craig a menacing glare. Ana made a thumbs up sign at him, signalling that he was doing what he should, and that she was o.k. Craig jumped up, and they stood facing each other.

"What are you doing to my girlfriend?" He raged at Craig.

"Your girlfriend? She’s mine now! She even told me so!" Craig made a gesture in her direction. Blake looked like he had been shot through the heart, and gave Ana a "say it ain’t so!" look. Ana shook her head quickly, before Craig turned around. Then confessed falsely,

"It’s true. I love him more than I could ever love you!"

"Ana how could you?" Blake cried out, figuring out what her plan was, and playing along with it. Then turned to Craig.

"You rotten low down…" and punched him so hard he was knocked back at least five feet. He laid there for a moment, and Ana ran to Blake and hugged him tightly. He winced. Craig must’ve beaten him. Above them, there was a loud rumbling, and the walls began to shake.

"Run!" Blake cried, and he and Ana pounded furiously towards the entrance. There was a loud crash, then a scream, then, nothing.

Dust and rocks, and glowing particles flew back and pelted the fleeing two, leaving burning welts on their flesh. They stopped and gasping for breath, slowly edged their way towards the smouldering crater. The smell of burning flesh and hair rose up from it, with the clouds of acidic gas. Ana and Blake covered their mouths, peering over the edge.

This crater was huge, about 10 feet in diameter, and had left a gaping hole in the ceiling, a portal to the world above. The sky was a deep indigo, lit up by silver comet-like Strands. For once, they could hear the sizzling zings of the airborne rocks, and the rumbles and crashes as they each hit and destroyed a piece of their beloved home planet.

Eventually, they managed to peel their fixated eyes from the scenes above, to drop them down upon the bits and pieces of Craig. The scene was much like the one in the school hallway, with less remains.

"Oh!" Ana gasped and turned away. Blake made a disgusted face, then turned and put his arm over Ana’s shoulder, carefully as not to harm her. "Come on. We should go back. They’ll be screamin’ at the top of their lungs calling for us, probably." And they walked carefully and silently back to the dim underground refuge.

When Ana and Blake arrived back at the tent, they were greeted by cries of joy from their mothers. Hugs and kisses were shared, as they walked towards the Medi-Stand on their side of the pond. In the light, Ana could see that Blake was bruised all over his chest, probably from kicking, and there was a huge gash on his head made by a rock that knocked him unconscious.

Ana was told that she was no pretty picture either. Her arms bore multiple bruises, as did her shoulders and back, and the right side of her face was so swollen and bruised, that she could hardly see out of that eye. Both of them were covered all over with burning welts that ate away the top layer of the skin. Luckily, they weren’t hit with any large fragments of acid rock, for that would probably event to loss of vision and limb, or possibly even life.

As they walked, Ana and Blake told them everything, except for the goldmine. That should be left a secret for a little while longer. Cine and Christine gasped when Ana, burst into tears as she told them of what Craig did to her. Then she told them that he was blown to smithereens by a Strand, and that seemed to make it much better.

"Are you sure you’re alright hon?" Cine inquired with worried eyes.

"I’ll be fine mom! As long as I have my burly protector," Ana grabbed Blake into a big bear hug, "I’ll be fine!"

They all laughed. After they were treated they walked back to the tent for the night, exhausted and sore. Blake’s face was cleaned up, with 17 neat stitches across the gash. Ana held a cold compress to her swollen face and they all walked back in silence. When they reached the tent, they sat down and ate, talking a bit of what happened, but mostly stayed silent as they munched on carrots and honey they had brought. It was late before they all fell asleep.

Ana slept fairly well, minding her sore cheek. The mine shafts had become fairly quiet for the night, and the rumblings above could be faintly heard. Early in the morning, around 7 O’clock Ana was guessing, they were awakened by the joyous shouts of norns all over.

Cine burst out of the tent and ran up to a worker of Dr. Gavin, who seemed to be taking a break from taking down the huge tent.

"What’s going on? Why are you taking the Medi-Stand down?" Cine asked her.

"You haven’t heard? It’s safe to go above! The Strands have stopped falling!" The worker cried out joyously and hurried back to work. Cine ran back and excitedly told them the news.

"That’s great mom!" Ana cried out as she hugged her mom, then turned around to give Blake a high five. They hurried through breakfast, and packed up the tent. Afterwards, they sat down to rest.

"Mom, why aren’t we going to leave now? We’re all packed up!" Ana argued with her mother.

"Because the crowds are horrendous Ana! It’s like Christmas Shopping on Christmas Eve! We are going to sit here and wait until the crowds thin out." Cine was stubborn in her ways, and Ana knew that when she had an idea, it was the only one that was going to be used. After about an hour, the insanity drifted away and the small group gathered their things and headed for the ferry.

The ferry jolted to a stop and they ran to the elevator just before it lifted off the ground.

"Glad this whole ordeal is over with!" A norn on the other side of the crammed lift sighed out loud.

"Amen to that!" Another called out. They were all in good spirits, talking excitedly, and smiling. None of them figured on the damage that was above. There was a pause just before the elevator stopped, and everyone hopped off.

As they did, it was like they went through some sort of warp. The smiles on their faces vanished, and were replaced by looks of pain, alarm and horror. Before them lay a scene of mass destruction. Small fires raged everywhere, and craters of all sizes dotted the landscape.

The trees and plants around them were destroyed, levelled, along with a few houses. Most homes looked like blocks of Swiss cheese, covered in holes from small strands. The mountains were misshapen and fairly unrecognisable. Ana, Cine, Blake, Christine (carrying Sammy) ran towards the townhomes, dodging craters, fires and piles of rubble.

Every other townhome seemed to be a pile of rubble, non-existing. Blake and his mother ran on ahead, to their home around the corner, which could be seen at a distance. It was one of the few that was still standing. Ana was lucky too, her home was also standing, but was in much better condition because it was shaded by a huge Laburnum tree.

The front door was wide open and chunks of brick had come off of the home’s exterior. Windows were blown through, and the left hand side of the house had begun to crumble down. Ana and Cine carefully stepped inside and took a look around. The ceiling which was almost totally gone, had fallen right through and caved in. The bedroom furniture lay smashed and scattered all over the kitchen and living room floor, and the furniture from those rooms also lay smashed and burned.

There were holes in the walls, and the floor had holes that went down to the basement. The house might have been better off smashed to rubble, because it wasn’t in much better condition. Cine broke into tears and sat down in an untouched corner, wiping her nose on her bandaged hand and snuffling.

Ana ran over and comforted her mother.

"Oh Ana, Ana!" She wailed uncontrollably. "The house! Oh all of our things! We’ll never be able to replace it! Not with the money I make! And all of our photos! And the heirlooms and your fathers things!" She referred to a wardrobe in the basement that contained her father’s clothes and other items.

Ana was at a loss. What could she do to comfort her mother? Their home was damaged almost beyond repair, and her mother didn’t earn the money to fix the house all up.

"It’ll be all right, mom! It’s got to be! We’ll find some way to fix it! I can get another job!" She tried comforting her.

"Oh Ana don’t be foolish!" Her mother sobbed, "where do you suppose you’ll find a paying job in the middle of a crisis like this?"

"I-I don’t know!" Ana started to sob along with her mother, and she clutched the gold medallion that hung on the chain around her neck. Maybe the gold would be worth something! But she couldn’t sell it! Never, ever! And it wouldn’t fetch a large enough sum to pay for the whole house! But, there had to be something worth selling! Something expensive, something gold. Gold! The vision of the goldmine flashed before her eyes. All of that gold, untouched and probably worth billions! That room had been huge!

"Mom! I think We’ll be alright! We’ll be able to fix up the house, plus have money to give the rest of Albia! Me and Blake discovered something you won’t believe!

The End...?