The Traitors To The Bedded Tribe
As a Roost High Guardsman, I make reports now. The fall of the northern posts has had many effects on Avisland. The first fiends on the boarder were some of the scouting forces that probe before the major hoards move. The total numbers were about fifty along the entire northern boarder. About one-hundred were identified on the eastern boarder but no breach was detected as the fortifications from the first fiend war were more than enough to repel the force. The chaos from the Hugo betrayal were sever but were lucky not to engulf the east. If I remember anything from Kaiser's rants, it's that the Eastern boarder was hard fought and if we don't get the north under control any sign of weakness will prompt further incursions. Fiends are very opportunistic and can accelerate their movements from probing raids to full blown invasions. That means the North will be hit extra hard this year. The last thing we needed was a rebellion.
-Goldfuast Roost Dan- Roost High Guardsman; Northern Barracks
Bedded Tribe Territory: Archive Vault, and Access Tunnel Entrance.
"It's been four days since they sealed us off Mina! The loyalists have had us trapped this entire time and they don't have to open up for us." William shouted. He had given up hope and had tried to beg through the great metal doors sealing our clan underground. That was days ago. Now he was nearly delusional.
The number one stress in Tribe Bedded is also the number one stress reliever. William suffers from claustrophobia. I however find his panic and stress absolutely foreign. The bunks for tunnel patrol are narrow and stacked for conserving space. The tunnels can fit three people across or one motorized vehicle on special occasions. I love every single condition. These were also driving William mad.
"Lord Hugo promised to support the clan if the sample was delivered and the weapons were handed over. He probably has Bedded under siege right now. But it's only been four days and they would have at least a week of supplies left. Bedded prides itself on stubbornness William. They will hold out till the end." Stubbornness being something William might be foreign to.
We knew nothing and had known nothing for a long time. I spoke hopeful words. William and I had no other hope left. It was our last barrier between us and our greatest fear: the fear that those doors would not be opening again.
The main authorities of Bedded entertained rebellion then dismissed it without consulting the tribes. Bedded authorities always consult the tribes. There is no vote, but the voice is heard. Our lord voted for rebellion and was alone among the Lords but he was supported among the people.
"The rebellion is a failure!" William shouted. It was not the first time he'd screamed this into the air.
He was not as hopeful as me. His time here was far more divisive than mine. I was a Tunnel Runner. He was a Glass Eye. The Tunnel Runners were almost completely rebellion supportive. The Glass eyes had a minority who favored an insurrection. The other tribes had betrayal hushed and spoken of in the shadows. Bedded's rebellion was rash and quick. Although no tribe was entirely innocent, there are members of every clan that belongs to the Bedded tribe down here and in great numbers. But before any real plot could be carried out, our location was leaked and the loyalists launched a preemptive attack. All forces loyal to the rebellion were forced into the tunnels and were sealed off with no demands issued.
"I need to see someone down here. Are we alone Mina?" His hair was a mess. He was tall and lanky like he was pulled apart with ropes but refused to snap. His height also took from his comfort with the tunnels. His face was unshaven with a few inches of hair, his skin was lighter than mine but his grey feathers were oily with a rainbow shimmer after days without a re-coating.
"Again, do you know why they call us tunnel runners right? You were probably told but you have to see it to believe it. Every station is miles apart separated by tunnels. We control the archives, the vast warehouse vaults that go for miles. You Glass Eyes have the science department. But they silenced our signals when they trapped us down here. The next tunnel runner is at another post for sometime down either post, William."
The lights pulsed with a hum as they shrank to darkness. Only to pop with a crack as the light returned. My grey feathers were zapped on edge and my adrenaline spiked.
The light snapped back with only two of the four main lights intact.
William's eyes reflected the tribes's signature feature: a white shimmer from his eyes like those of cats. With his pupils soaking in as much light as physically possible from his extra large pupils, the growing darkness would never hinder his vision, but the sudden return of light from the dark annoyed us greatly.
And as his eyes adjusted, his hand emitted a soft glow that was magnified in his eyes. As our last two lights above our heads began to flicker another glow caught our attention.
A second light was approaching from the tunnel right of the door.
Our tunnel station had a vaulted ceiling for sorting cargo and two additional tunnels sealed by fences that went left and right from our main door. The left tunnel had a matching glow to our hands illuminating the passage. The light is unique to us as only Bedded Members could visually process it. A foreigner would see a glowing hand but a Beddedite would see a lit well lit room. We only needed a spark of light to see our surroundings.
"William someone is here! Quick, lets here the news."
William walked down our ramp from the main door at our station out to the approaching lights.
"Hello Mina," an older man said down the tunnel hall. He wore an orange safety vest and carried an electric drill staff at his side as was custom among the Tunnel Runners in case of a tunnel collapse or metal debris.
"Not a sound from the other side of the door sir, as an Eisenmaster I imagine you're about to pass off our rounds to the next tunnel?" I asked.
"Yes Mina. Oh, and William we understand your predicament but your loyalty strengthens us all." The Eisenmaster noted.
"What loyalty? I betrayed Bedded! I regret it Eisenmaster."
Our superior sighed.
"But I know my place, they don't want me back anyways." William said with his frustration surfacing before submerging yet again.
Eisenmater Isaac responded. "I will only regret our decision on the sixth day. Our supplies are rationed and seven days is what we can afford. I have hope that our shackles can be lifted. Lord Hugo has his weapon shipment and should be encroaching on our position soon."
It was the only thing we could tell ourselves and hearing it from his lips made it even worse in my gut.
"What is that terrible smell?" Master Isaac asked.
"Oh that?" It's from the left tunnel sir. We're not sure but it smells like death doesn't it." William said. We had almost grown nose blind to it over the day.
"No that is exactly what it is. You should have reported this immediately." The Eisenmaster rushed to the left tunnel.
"We thought we'd check it out when the other shift cleans it up." William mentioned as a joke.
The sealed door behind us now was the main point where all tunnels either were left or right of the door. Right led towards warehouses, vaults, and storage. All the while the right contained most of the living quarters as well as a few factories and the biohazard storage area.
The smell intensified. We grabbed our drill spears and followed after him.
His spear was triple tipped with three drills and several grips gave him the best hold. Built into the rear of his staff was an electric prod. He activated his battery and his spear ignited his mini bulb by his hand. With a slide of a switch his tools would be ready as we approached the source of the sound through the dark tunnel illuminated by our hands. In a worst case scenario, the tools made very durable and blood weapons. Hitting someone or something with a power drill the size of a fist does the trick.
"Eisenmaster?" I asked.
"Yes Mina?" He said while we ran.
"Why are our lights flickering and failing?" I said out of concern.
"The river dams and the electrical generators have their maintenance equipment stored in our area but with either the siege or stubbornness to not open those doors, Bedded loyalists cannot make any effort to get the electricity working. And if that power goes out Robin will withhold food shipments. Pretty soon Avisland will lose power if we can't get the tunnel runners to fetch the equipment and the schematics. But the current Masters of the Bedded Order don't really care. Personal generators will keep most of Bedded working just fine except us."
It took longer than we originally thought to find the smell. It was just enough time for fears to build up. It begins with dread.
We saw a soft glow but it wasn't right. I'd seen that light only once in my life. Bio-luminescent bacteria accumulates on the diseased of our tribe, another odd effect of our feathering. I had first seen it when I found a Tunnel Runner dead from a heart attack. He was older, but the distance between tunnels left him alone and the time it took to find him was much too long. It was a faint green now.
Next is terror. Seeing the exact thing you fear and dread feels like a cold boiling that rolls around you and under of your skin and a tightness in your scalp.
We turned the bend in the tunnel.
Two trails of dried blood laced with the light glow were leading back towards the darkness. The owners of those trails laid before us long dead. Decomposition explained the stench now. I looked away as William gagged and the two of us stumbled backwards and puked up our rations.
Now true horror set in. We had seen the source of our fear and it was clear before us. The tunnels were cruel. Now the wound to our psyche had scarred. With our bowel clear and our hearts hardened we followed the Eisenmaster.
"Glass Eye! Analyze!" The Eisenmaster shouted at William.
"Blood loss Sir," he gagged and huffed. "I knew it before I saw the bodies. That trail probably goes..." The gagging stopped him entirely. "It probably leads to the next station."
"No!" Issac said angrily.
"I forget. You're not from around here. There is no station after ours." I said as reality unfolded. "Those are the main living quarters."
"Leave those two on the ground. I need your spears ready. I need to see if the Runner Hold is safe, if it isn't we're truly trapped down here and in danger. The hold can indicate if any of the surface doors open. The Bedded Loyalists control the main terminals for those but ours monitors display all open doors. If Hugo gets one open we can get out of here. There are also emergency portable generators." The Eisenmaster said.
"Isaac sir! What is that?" William said as he stopped dead in the tunnel after we passed the corpses. I didn't know who they were. I'd seen them a few times but a lot of us down here are reclusive. I imagined worms and all manners or horrible traits but William pointed at a thin skeletal body at the end of the blood trail.
"No! No! William said as he wished his eyes where not telling the truth. He knew what it was on sight but didn't want to say it.
"What is it William? Have you seen one of those before?" I said as we approached slowly. "I've seen these I believe but I'm hoping we just have a gas leak and I'm going loopy."
"Semi-bipedal, long lower jaws at a sagging hang, bleached white skin and teeth, carnivore. That is a waste fiend. Pack predator, horde social structure. Highly aggressive, this one had a hole in it's chest there. Died from that wound I imagine."
The bleached corpse stank worse than the last two tunnel runners. As the Eisenmaster examined the corpse with William I heard a screech. I lived in Bedded. Metal plates grinding against others was right as rain around here from the factories both above us and below us.
"Isaac Sir! What do we do?" I asked back to the Eisenmaster. His face was not the confident and wise authority he had been to this point.
"It might be too late Mina."
The high pitched howls were joined by others.
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