Sunlight Sonata: Part Six
Part VI – Andante Maestoso: Midnight Sun
Coru leaned forward, trying to see the leader of the Republic. He felt two small paws on his back, followed by a push that sent him stumbling into the cavern. Beside him, Az seemed to be getting the same treatment. Invi, of course, entered on his own, without needing prodding. Proteus, from what he could see in the light of the cave, was a Scorchio. And after a moment of blinking, Coru realized what had been bugging him: Proteus, leader of the Traitor Republic, was a mutant.
“Keben,” he said, “tell me about these people.” He peered down from his perch halfway up the cavern wall. “One of them seems to be blind.”
“Yes, I am,” Invi said. “And I dislike being spoken about as if I were not in the room.”
Coru groaned, looking over at him. Az was nodding agreement to what Invi had said. Coru sympathized, yes, but he wasn’t going to say it in front of someone as obviously important as this.
“My apologies, Invidere,” Proteus said mildly. “I shall not do it again.” He rose, gliding down to where they stood. Coru stepped back as he landed, and Proteus shook his head. “Yes, I am a mutant. Yes, Sloth made me what I am. But what I am is a leader, a leader of those in the rebellion. What my goal is now, is to understand you, utilize you, and forge a new way to live. So tell me, what powers do you hold?”
Coru stared at Proteus. Silence echoed throughout the cavern for a few moments before Az, as Coru suspected he would, broke it. By laughing.
Coru shook his head, sighing. “I’m sorry about Az. It’s just -”
“There is no need to apologize,” Proteus said. “So long as you speak, and tell me what I wish to know, all will be fine.” He smiled, his expression changing completely; he barely looked like a mutant anymore. “Would you like to go first, Coruscatus?”
“I-” Coru stopped, sighed, and started again. “What do you want to know, anyway?”
“Start with your powers, that sort of thing.” Proteus shrugged. “Along with whatever else you think we might need to know.”
“What do you consider powers?” Coru asked. “The others have more magic than I do.” Seeing Proteus’s mouth open, Coru cut him off with the wave of a paw. “Though yes, that is more than most people here have, it seems.”
“What do you possess?”
“As I said, not much.” Coru bit his lip, thinking. “I’m earth and nature. Az is darkness and light. Invi is just... himself. A dreamer, Keben called him, and I’m inclined to agree with that. He sees, but he’s blind.” Coru paused and shook his head. “But you asked about me. I know nature in every degree it is possible to know it. That’s probably not much use here, from what I’ve seen, though. The only true magic I have is the ability to fade from sight, to blend in with what’s around me. It’s easier when the surroundings match my fur, which is why being in a forest is nice. Lots of browns there.”
“That’s... quite the useful power,” Proteus murmured. “Azimuth?”
Coru stifled a laugh at Az’s tone. Looking over at the Draik, he saw the reason behind Az’s tone: Sayang had an evil grin on her face, and Az was staring at her, though now he quickly turned towards Proteus
“Oh. Yeah.” Pausing for a moment, Az bit his lip. “Um. Darkness and light. Balance. My form is the darkness, my magic, the light. And fire.” Az grinned. “Lots of fire. Also got a chain reaction from the fire thing that seems to let me tune into electricity. Useful with techno stuff.”
Proteus nodded. “I’m sure it is,” he said, very politely. “But what do you mean by the first part? The darkness and light.”
“Eh. Nothing much. My fire is white-hot, when I want it to be.” Az paused, looking thoughtful for once. “I think I could do other stuff. Gindara said so, anyway, but I’ve never really cared to test it, since she also said that it’d be dangerous to everything around me.”
“Good. Very, very, good. Invidere?”
“I am as Coruscatus named me,” Invi said softly. “A dreamer, a seer, a path for other powers to take. That, not my own ability, was how we arrived in this world. The words to activate the sunburst came to my mouth, making me speak them.”
“Do you have anything to add?” Proteus asked, looking behind Coru and the others, to where Keben, Sayang, and Set stood.
“Yes,” Keben said. “He’s got the Sight.”
“Of course. And Darkling over there is a perfect match for Sayang, even if she won’t admit it.”
“Hey! Shut up, you!”
“No fighting,” Proteus said, though he sounded amused. “Now take these three and let them rest. Explain, if you wish, what we’ve been planning, what we want them to help us with.” He turned and leapt off the ground, soaring back up to the perch where he had been when they entered.
Coru turned to Set, raising an eyebrow. “So, now what?”
“Now,” she said, “we go get some sleep before Proteus starts talking about everything. Oh, and I suppose I’ll explain a couple things to you, too. Now follow me.” Set turned and started running in one smooth movement.
Coru sighed, exasperated, and began running after the Xweetok. He wondered if everything here had to be done at high speed, or if it was simply that these people were so used to scampering for cover that it influenced their daily life.
Not that having prophesied time-travels was exactly normal, of course, but even so. This Set girl had the energy of—of a sugar-high Beekadoodle! Coru was hard pressed to keep up with her, as she literally bounced off the walls to turn corners. And when she disappeared into a side passage, Coru slammed into a wall trying to stop. Wincing and muttering about Set being just as crazy as Az, Coru followed her into the hole. It was a fine size for Set, but she seemed to have forgotten that he was twice her size.
“Come on,” Set said. “It can’t be that hard, can it?”
“You forget, you’re tiny,” Coru growled, shoving himself the rest of the way through. Now, lying on the ground, he looked around. “This your place? It’s nice.” It was. It was clean, well-lit, and had pillows piled everywhere.
Set nodded, sending her blue hair flying into her face. Brushing it back out of her eyes, Set started talking. “Yup. I’m one of the few people who can fit easily, so I got to claim it.” She titled her head to the side, and some of her hair drifted back down into her face. “You want the explanation now?”
“Sure,” Coru said, padding over to some of the pillows and settling down in them. “Keben and Sayang already explained the history of this place.”
“Good. I don’t like history.” Set closed her eyes. “I’m part of the planning. I know all the details that nobody else does. I’m your counterpart, for whatever reason. You’re supposed to be just as good at what I do as I am.”
Coru raised his eyebrows. “Attention to detail and the voice of reason. Does that count?”
“Sure. Better than your friends, anyway.” Set made a face. “Azimuth... what was he thinking, rescuing me like that?”
“I don’t think he was thinking that much.”
Set glared at him, and Coru shut up. “Anyway,” Set said, “our plan so far is to try and rescue the Faeries. We know they’re still there, just stuck. Gifts like Keben’s dreaming, or Sayang’s ability to dodge, come from them. We have the bare bones of a plan, but we couldn’t implement it. We didn’t have enough power to. Then Keben dreamed you, and we knew that you would be the source of the power we need. Mostly the Draik. There’s a reason Keben called him the catalyst, after all.”
“That’s all very nice,” Coru said. “And I’m sure we’ll get into all that later, but do I get to sleep before this meeting?”
“Of course! I’ll even shut up now!”
“And turn off all those lights?” Coru said, hopeful. Set nodded, and in a few seconds, they were out. “’night, Set,” Coru mumbled.
“Sleep well,” she said, and it seemed like there was laughter in her voice. Coru was about to ask why, but before he could, he drifted off to sleep.
* * *
A sudden influx of light woke Coru. Opening his eyes, he saw Set there, her tail swishing impatiently. “Come on and get up. It’ll take you long enough to squeeze back out as it is.” Coru rolled his eyes, but stood, blinking the sleep out of his eyes. The entrance was smaller on this side than the tunnel side, so it shouldn’t be that hard, anyway.
He was right. It didn’t take him as long to get through as before, and once he was out of the way, Set followed quickly, and set off at a relatively slow pace, bounding down the corridor. Coru sighed, loping after her. If she was his counterpart, he wondered why she did everything at high speed, while he moved as slowly as he could. It was probably a mystery that would forever remain unanswered. Not that that mattered much.
Pausing up ahead, Set looked back at him. “Come on, slow-poke! You don’t want to be the last one there, do you?”
Coru rolled his eyes and sped up, racing after the agile little Xweetok that was so like, and yet unlike, him.
To be continued...