Chapter 27 (Dangers in the wastes)
Kkaj climbed out of the cart, stretching his back.
Roffor and Saffer joined him, the two sisters still not speaking to one another. Did Saffer know about the kiss? Errr, kisses.
The awkward silence had blurred three weeks on the road together, but they were finally well into the wastes. No guards should be pursuing them anymore, right? Especially after the pace Roffor and Saffer set after that fight just outside their camp. If only he hadn’t passed out when the guards began to exchange gunfire with bandits or something.
That day, he was so close. So close to resisting the flashback. Maybe he should let Roffor shoot her guns around him more. Then — He shook his head. No. Better not risk giving their location away in case the guards were still following them.
Roffor pulled out some wood she had taken from the KoeF forest and sipped on some rum. She glanced at Kkaj before starting a fire.
Without saying a word, Saffer dropped a pot and a bag beside Roffor and walked back to the cart. Saffer crawled inside and slammed the door behind her.
Kkaj scrubbed his tongue across his teeth and shuffled forward on stiff legs. “Roffor?”
“What’s going on?”
“I told her.”
His heart leaped into his throat, and he froze halfway to the fire. “Told her?”
“Yes.” She gritted her teeth and ripped the bag open. “She knew I liked you before asking you out.”
“When you began frothing at the mouth again, she began taunting me.”
“I see.” His stomach twisted into a knot. He still didn’t what he should do. Follow his heart and crush their family? Or —
“She says she won’t give you up.”
“That may cause a bit of trouble.”
Roffor looked up as she finished dropping the meat into the pot. Her eyes grew wide, and she licked her lips. “Does that mean you’re going to chose me?”
He spun towards the odd sound. Huh?
“Did you hear that?”
“Are you still avoiding —”
One of the horses screamed then dropped to the ground. The cart jerked back and forth as the other three horses bucked against their restraints. Inside the cart, Saffer shrieked, scrambling to get out. Her foot caught on the edge of the door, and she fell face first towards the ground.
Kkaj closed the distance in an instant and caught her. “Are you alright?”
After nodding, Saffer kissed him.
He pulled away and pointed to the front of the cart. “Something’s wrong.”
A scowl crossed Saffer’s face, and she glared at Roffor. “So —”
The other lead horse screamed then dropped to the ground.
Kkaj reached into his Drunkzard vest and pulled out a flask of rum. Three swallows later, he stepped around the cart.
Roffor and Saffer joined him, pistols in hand. Why did they go for guns before liquor?
A small pack of creatures fury exoskeletons surrounded the horse. Their spiked tails stabbed the horse until it stopped moving then they tore into it with their wide, flat jaws. The horse flesh parted before their fist-sized teeth, covering their whiskers in blood and gore.
Kkaj’s breath caught in his chest. “Scoriocats.”
The feral beasts turned from their meal and looked up at him. A hissing growl rumbled from their throats.
Not good. Kkaj released fire energy.
Saffer’s teeth chattered. She took a step backwards.
Despite Roffor’s trembling hands, she pointed her pistol towards the armored monsters. The gun shook in her grasp, and her finger inched towards the trigger.
“No.” Kkaj crafted a fence around the pack of scorpiocats and sealed the top. Flexing his mind, he crushed the scorpiocats inside.
Thud! Something slammed into the other side of the cart.
From behind, a hissing growl escaped the embers. Had the fire not killed the scorpiocats?
“Kkaj!” Roffor’s voice cracked. “One —”
Kkaj’s knees buckled, and darkness crept in from the edges of his vision.
Roffor placed a hand on his back and caught him by the arm. “Stay with me.”
His mind reeled.
“Give up your past! You love me now.”
Kkaj anchored thoughts onto her voice and pushed the flashback away.
Bang! Roffor fired her pistol.
The close proximity took his breath away, and the world lurched. He crashed into the hard-packed sand and gasped. Vomit climbed into the back of his mouth, but he didn’t fade into the memory.
Roffor shook him. “Kkaj, are you okay?”
“Stop!” Saffer’s voice cracked then she screamed, voice ringing in his ears.
Roffor stood, racing to the other side of the cart. Bang! Something thumped to the ground.
Kkaj forced himself to stand and spit the vomit from the back of his mouth. I’m getting better. A small grin pulled at the corners of his mouth as he stumbled towards Roffor and Saffer.
“Kkaj … .” Saffer cried into her hands.
Roffor patted her sister on the back.
“I’m here.” He hobbled over to her side and knelt down to hug her. “It’s alright.”
“No!” Saffer shook her head. “No, it’s not alright at all. It’s. It’s. It’s.” She pointed at the cart.
The scorpiocats had ripped entire back half into splinters and scattered their food and bottles of liquor across the ground. Clothing and waste protective materials shredded.
“We should be close enough to the Lucidity distillery to be alright.”
“So, let’s go sit by the fire and eat.” He helped Saffer to her feet, and the three of them made their way to the warm fire.
Next: Chapter 28