|Harpy Eagle, Jeb's Totem, from http://zoo.sandiegozoo.org/|
We are in what I’ve always thought of as Thyal’s Totem Reality that I visualised when I first met Thyalsene when we were still on Lotor.
The Kosi-entity pulls me toward the edge of a narrow ledge, I think such flattish places on the side of a cliff are called. “We’ll study the landscape, see where the prey are hiding.”
I remember Wren’s frightened face when I, in my Harpy Eagle mode, made to grab her. She was too smart to be caught. And I now think every one of my group is too smart to be caught. Haven’t we all been out-witting Lotor all our lives?
I release Lithe. He turns and pulls at the next person and encourages her to one side. The next person to the other side. They both help him with feeding people along the ledge. Opposite is the steep green hill sloping down from the sward at its top that becomes stonier as it nears the creek at a bottom.
It’s the cliff face we teeter on. Above and behind us, the membrane shows the images of tall brown cliffs that seem to rise almost to the blue ceiling. That the topside airlock is not visible suggests that the totem reality takes in less than half the underworld.
At the base of the cliffs rushes the white water creek into what looks like a deep still hole, and out the other side. All of it might still turn out to be the same weird sort of light as the forest in the white room.
I feel the granules of a thin layer of sand underfoot, the ledge seems real. It also seems that it must be an extension of the floor in the rest of the underworld.
Back in there we saw the airlock that is now directly behind us. There might be a pair of airlocks to either side, just the other side of the cliffs. Out of reach because either side of the ledge are metres of blank stone and no way to climb across should anyone want to.
The fourth airlock should be straight across where the upper part of the slope covers it if it is there.
Someone jostles me and I nearly overbalance. The ledge is becoming too crowded to fit everyone still coming. People beside me clutch each other when they almost overbalance. People overcome their fear of Kosi and line the ledge on the other side of her. We’re three deep in places.
I study the distance down to the creek. Two-three metres? But anyway, needs must. I lift my voice. “We’ll need some spare shirts and pants to let people down to the creek.”
An old-timer cackles. “Spare clothes she thinks we carry.”
“Shirts and pants that aren’t necessary to your modesty,” I say. “You could miss a shirt. I can miss my cloak threadbare though it is. Four hundred cannot fit along this ledge.”
They get the idea. Shirts and pants are knotted into ropes. Two per rope start to encourage everyone else over the edge.
At first, those setting foot for the first time in their lives in Earth-style water—It’s real!— are overcome with excitement. They splash and play. Quite soon a second wave drags them onto the grassy slope, by osmosis perhaps. Though no one goes very far.
People are still coming through the brown, stony-looking membrane. I hear their surprise multiplied by dozens … at the huge blue sky, then the green green grassy slope and then the water.
I’m wondering how Thyal and I could’ve dreamed this reality when we knew nothing yet about the Ark Ship or even that this other ship existed?
One thought leads to another. Thyal is still missing and so is Mongoose. Nor have I seen or heard Ant, Meerkat or Wren and a few more. Too many of my people are still missing.
I do that thing when it is absolutely not the right time to cry. Think of something totally different.
Won’t be me who reminds the Kosi-entity, if it is her beside me, that she ordered the Maremma girl to find three dogs to help with the hunt. I still don’t know whether the Maremma people in the over-world are really people who use Maremma dogs for herding their sheep, or whether they’re using Maremma dogs as their totems?
That misery I saw in the Maremma girl’s eyes … apparently, the Kosi-entity, though she once was a real live person, doesn’t remember how it feels to be human? Don’t forget she’s probably been this … this bio-pattern for at least two hundred Earth years? I’m assuming bio-pattern because she says one of the boots did it.
I shudder—surely it can only be a one way process?—and is the dark eater animating Arley’s skin to get it among the people, and using the Kosi-entity to get it close to me?
Knowing the danger does not make it feel better.