Chapter Two: Dawning

Seni’s head was so pressed into her legs, her ears rested on top her knees. Her hands were as tightly pressed against the crowbar. Though her eyes were shut, she could tell her face was being shadowed. Gingerly, Seni turned up.

Narl, from on top the crate she hid behind, stared at her- his eye’s seemed flat, pale. He tried to speak, but his voice cracked a little before the words were understandable. “You’re safe now.” He offered her his paw. “They’re all gone.”

Seni, a young mrow barley an adult, held on to him and pulled herself up. She continued to hold to crow-bar with one paw. Narl didn’t offer anymore words. He walked slowly down the lane. The corpses drew her green eyes in with a mix of fear, and relief. The great huge monsters now fallen on the floor, crumpled like discarded pieces of paper.

In her awe, she almost ran into Narl. He had stopped abruptly. Eyelids hanging heavy, he bent down in a soft, tender motion. Seni gasped…it was the brown female, the one Narl had protected. She took a step back, afraid to offend him.

Narl didn’t even notice the spotted mrow. The back of his hand was against her cheek, and he lightly ran it down the entire side of her body, whispering something. His facial expression changed in a flash- from lament, to a fierce determination. Narl untied the blood-stained rag around her foot. Seni watched from over his shoulder, scared to say anything as he stared at the cloth.

He stood up in a jerk. Then, without even turning his head, tied the bloodied rag on his right arm, tightly securing it. Narl pressed ahead. She didn’t ask any questions about it…but followed his fast pace toward the quarters.

The other slaves, so tired, had slept through the loud shouts and snaps. Some of them were so tired, they would never wake up. The yellow-spotted mrow rubbed her hand against her palm. What would happen now?

Narl flashed on the light. Seni was taken off-guard, staring with a surprised look on the rising mrows from their unpolished wood boards. One of the wriggling mrows chocked out, “Where….where are the lizards?”

He didn’t even blink. “Dead.”

The writhing group of slaves’ eyes flashed open. Those who were strong-willed enough sat forward to stare at Narl. “But…” A wiry brown male squeaked, “How…?”

Narl shouted this time, learning forward. “I killed them!”

“You…” A deeper voice groaned. “You…you idiot! You lousy moron!” He turned his head sharply to face the other mrow- a grey, mangy tom. Offended by the lack of support, Narl glared at him with malice and bared his teeth. “They’re going to be angry! They’ll KILL US ALL!”

“Who will kill us?” Narl roared. “WHO?” He stretched his neck, pushing his face close the grey mrow. “They’re all dead!” Seni, with the other frightened slaves, watched the argument in shock from the shadows.

He leaned forward as well, throwing his arms back. “There are more! Those monsters rule this planet! You have sentenced us to death!”

Narl shot back. “Me? I have sentenced you to death? We are all ready sentenced!” He spread his arm, claws extended, waving at the others. “We are dying!”

Gingerly, a female mrow grabbed the grey-one’s shoulder when he opened his mouth. “Quiet, Kizo.” He shot a glance at her, but obeyed.

“These beasts are monsters. You know-“ He turned his head to look at the scared group, “You all know! Everyday one of our brothers does not wake up! Day in and day out, we follow them. Hoping that our loyalty will spark some goodness within them, and they will let us live.” Narl breathed heavily. “Well- there is no goodness! No matter what we do- no matter what we say, they…will…kill…us.”

He flashed a fiery glance at Kizo’s female companion. “They will kill her! However hard you work, if she is here she will be murdered!”

            “Bastard!” Kizo spat.

            In a strong motion, Narl shot up his right arm. The bloody cloth dangled in the gray mrow’s face. “They will- they have.” He took a half step, turning away from him. “Listen to me!” He barked, then whispered, “Learn from me.”

            “We are condemned. Our names are painted in blood…” The slaves huddled together, holding each other to shelter from the horrible words. “This station- this Shipport- is free! No longer do we have masters.

            But, we are not saved. As long as Gowaks are still alive on Meribel, we are not safe. No Mrow is safe. So-“ He barked, turning over his shoulder to glance at Kizo, “Are we going to cower here? Die, here, scared? Or- shall we rise? Take the power we always had, though often forgotten, and die, killing these horrendous viruses? Die- purging the world of their horrible claw, saving our children- and our life?”

            “I don’t want to die…” A small voice from within the crowd echoed.

            Narl furrowed his brow. “Good. Then you should work your hardest to fight it. To fight for life- for freedom. Will we die fighting for life?” He shouted, mouth opened wide.

            There was nothing but the heavy breathing of scared, frightened mrows. Huff… Huff… Huff.

            “Yes.” A black, muscular mrow shoved his way out of the crowd. His green eyes stared with determination, straight into Narl’s. “I will.”

            Seni blinked, turning to look at the black mrow. Turning forward, she chirped. “I will.”

            “I will.” Kizo growled.

            The other mrows, slowly changing from fear to the most faded hope, barked in unison. “We will fight!”

            Narl’s smiled at the corner of his lips. “You-“ He pointed at the black mrow, “Come help me move the bodies.” He nodded, following Narl out of the room. As soon as the tip of his tail left, the remaining slaves began to murmur. What was going to happen now, what were they going to do? None of them left their chambers, but stood motionless and muttered.

            —

            “I’m Chambo.” The black mrow said, heaving the Captain’s torso over his shoulder. Chambo was a muscular one, almost bulky, with a green triangular gem and a stub for a tail. He owed his strength to his former position as a slave; witch was to pull open the massive doors for entering ships. Narl had seen him at the side of the Ship Bay, but never really knew him.

            He didn’t look up, or respond to the comment. The two hauled the monster over to the garbage incinerator. When the revolving latch opened, the mrows tossed him into the flames on top of the seven other beasts. A few hot sparks crackled and jumped from between the scales, before the latch closed again.

            Narl turned solemnly. “Go back to the chambers…I want to get the last one myself.”

            Knowing fully well who the last one was, Chambo nodded and left. When he reached the Slave’s Quarters, he found himself witnessing the middle of a conversation.

            “The Gowak’s there are fully armed… They’ll always be on guard, on the outside.”

            “Yah and the Mrows there might panic if they saw us coming.”

            “We need to alert them, somehow….”

            “And earn ourselves even more guards?”

            The group finally noticed Chambo’s confused presence. Already been hand-picked by Narl, they instantly granted him some unofficial rank of authority. “We need to free to slaves at the plantation.” Seni mewed, stepping closer to him. “But we don’t know how.”

            The Dray Nut Plantation was northeast of the Ship Port, and one of the only three structures in the Durop canyon with the port.  Many of the slaves here had once worked for the huge farm, before being traded once they got less physically desirable. These mrows knew that the Gowaks here carried huge, sniper guns- not just the puny handguns of their former masters. 

            “And,” Kizo said, “If we just run in there, the slaves will panic. We will need their help if we don’t want to end up perforated.”

            Chambo took a step back from the crowd. “Why…why don’t we call them? The Gowaks don’t answer the communications, so it would be just to the slaves.” He mused.

            “Won’t work.” A gray female chirped. “I used to be over there. Beast answers the comm personally. He doesn’t trust ‘mops’ to relay a message.”

            “Maybe we can send a spy?” Seni shrugged. As she finished the sentence, Narl reappeared in the chamber.

            “To dangerous,” He spoke as if he had never left. “And how would anybody even get over there without being spotted?”

            A small mrow, barley an adult, spoke from the back of the crowd. “I don’t know. But we need to get the word out that ships can’t come in here…They’d be expecting to see the Captain.”

            Seni leaped forward. “Oh! I got on idea!” She screamed.

            Turning swiftly to push her off his shoulders, Narl hissed a little. The spotted mrow stepped back. “What is this plan?” Narl hissed.

            Seni’s tail swished from side to side. “They only save the audio, right? Not the visual?”

                        —

                        Kizo leaned over the flashing control panel. “Ugh…good thing none of the Calling controls were destroyed.” His eyes glided to look at the huge, crackling gape in the silver board. “Though we’re going to have to open all the doors manually now…”

            “Hush!” Narl spat under his breath. He turned over his shoulder at Seni, who was standing in the projector. Her ears and knees were wobbling. “Are you ready?” She took a deep breath and stiffened her self.

            “Uh-huh.”

            He squatted down against the wall, nodding at Kizo. The gray mrow pulled the coordinates and pressed a white button on his left.

            The screen began to hum and turned black. Seni bit her tongue, waiting.

            “Dray Nut Plantation at Durop Canyon, Code P5600.”  The screen had cut into a crystal clear image of the head Gowak there- a male with a long, plumed flail and some kind of swollen right eyelid.

            “Hello, this is an announcement from the Durop Canyon Ship Port and Service Station, Code S5600.” She spoke with a very rigidly rhythmic voice, though not quite monotone. “We are experiencing technical problems with our computer systems, and will not be able to have any ships enter our station for service or trade. All ships and vehicles will not be allowed inside. We will call you when our systems are restored. Sorry for any inconvenience.”

            The Gowak made a gurgling noise. “Great…uh, we’ll make note of it.” He leaned closer toward the screen, before the screen shut to black again.

            “Call terminated.” A robotic voice rang out before the screen shut off again.

            Kizo leaned back against the controls. “I think that went well.”

            “How long ‘till we call them again?” She asked.

            “Uhh…” Kizo turned to look at the buttons again. “I don’t know, let’s say in a minute. I’ll get everything ready though.” He got back to work on getting the projector ready for a call.

            Narl asked in a rather stern voice, “You remember what you said, exactly?”

            Seni nodded strongly. “Mh-mm.”

            “Good.”

            “Alright then…Get ready.” Kizo pushed back his ear, taking his paw down to his neck, before starting the call again.

                        The same Gowak flashed onto the screen. “Dray Nut Plantation at Durop Canyon, Code P5600.” He sounded slightly irritated.

            “Hello, this is an announcement from the Durop Canyon Ship Port and Service Station, Code S5600. We are experiencing technical problems with our computer systems, and will not be able to have any ships enter our station for service or trade.” Seni repeated the lines in the same rigid voice.

 She made sure not to stop as he began to grunt. “What the hell…”

“All ships and vehicles will not be allowed within.” Seni’s tail jolted straight. She had screwed up. With all her concentration skills, she managed not to pause in her talking. “We will call you when our systems are restored. Sorry for any-“

The swollen reptile apparently hadn’t noticed the one word slip up. He ended the call before she was even finished. Shaking, Seni turned over at Narl. “I’m sorry! Sorry!”

His eyes were a bit lowered, but Narl did not sound angry. “It’s fine. You should say ‘within’ next time.”

With a nod in agreement, she turned back toward the camera. Kizo initiated the call…

“WHAT?” The scratchy voice boomed.

“Hello, this is an announcement from the Durop Canyon Ship Port and…” Seni began the spiel again.

The monster threw his head backward, rubbing his head. “Oh for the love of…not this again!” The call quickly terminated.

As soon as the screen went black, Narl called into the hallway, “Are the signs ready?”

Chambo looked up from the thick sheets of paper, covered with a scrawled message in black ink. “Yes, sir.” 

His tailed twitched. Narl was not used to being called sir…but apparently, the other’s deemed it fit. “Bring them in. I think our next call might be the one.” The stub-tailed mrow nodded and carried them into the communication room. Kizo began to start up the link again. “Stay down until we’re sure.” He mumbled, receiving an affirming nod from Chambo.

The projector flashed on. This time, the figure was not a scaled beast, but a white mrow. “Dray Nut Plantation at Durop Canyon, Code P5600.”

The fact she had strange, slick appendages coming off the top of her head started Seni, causing her to start the robotic lines a little late. “Hello, this is an announcement…”

Glancing quickly to make sure that no Gowak was present in the background, Chambo held the sign over his head, adjusting his position so it was clear to the left of Seni’s head. The orange-eared, mutated mrow squinted her eyes and looked closer at the messy print.

“Do not read this out loud; do not call your master.” Was the first line on the paper, witch continued, “We have killed all the Gowaks here. This ship port slaves are free. We are coming shortly to liberate you and the rest of the plantation.”

The Plantation mrow’s eyes widened, mouth slacking ajar. Chambo pulled out the next sign. “Do not panic. Tell the others, make sure the Gowaks do not find out. You will not be harmed.”

“…for any inconvenience.” Seni finished the lines, and began to stare blankly.

The other mrow stared back for a little bit too. “Oh…okay. We will cease, um, shipping activities.”  The screen flashed into black.

She turned around, smiling brightly. “It worked!”

Kizo repeated the statement in an airy, mumbling voice. “It worked…”

“Did they find the shipment of handguns?” Narl questioned, stepping out of the control room.

Chambo rotated his foot. “I think so.” 

He lowered his eyes, going out to see if they had. The other three mrows followed. Near the back of the storage room, littered with splinters of wood and packaging fibers, a small group of Mrows was unloading the red spherical weapons.

“Hey.” One called back at the white mrow. “We counted- there is enough for everyone, just about perfect. A few extras.”

“That’s great!” Seni’s tail shot up with excitement.

“Yah…” He continued. “But, there most defiantly aren’t enough ‘Woks.”

Narl expected that. The Ship Port had a few of the four-wheeled, miniature cargo carriers, but defiantly not enough to carry all of the liberated mrows across the dry rocky canyon.

“If we put three Mrows in every ‘Wok we have- two in the seats and one in the pit, probably carrying a gun- then we’d have 50 left to walking.”

“Great…” Narl rubbed his ear. “We’ll send the healthy, strong Mrows in the ‘Woks to take out the monsters. The people on foot will come after to help with clean-up. Hopefully the Plantation has its own set of ‘Woks…maybe some Sekonots.”

Chambo’s eyes veered off to behind the rest of the group. “Are those rifles?”

            Kizo leaned to look at the pile of large, black guns. The length of the leppa barrel was almost as tall as him.

            The mrow turned. “Uh, yah. There’s about as many as we have ‘Woks- not nearly enough to give each person one. Besides, those things are too heavy to pick up. They were not designed for us.”

            “No…” Chambo kneeled to look closer at them. “But I think I could mount these onto the ‘Woks…”

            “Really?” Kizo popped. “Those would be a heck of a lot more powerful than silly handguns.”

            Narl looked at the black mrow, already examining the huge weapons. “Yes, they would. Would you really be able to do that?”

            “I worked on the ship doors…holding huge chunks of metal together is my specialty.” He smiled in a somewhat goofy fashion.

            “Well get it done quickly,” Narl barked, starting to walk out. “We need to begin organizing. Tell the strong Mrows to get in groups of three and come out to the ‘Woks, and everybody else to bunker down. The Plantation mrows are expecting us soon. Every minute is a chance closer to the brutes finding out.”

            “Will do!” He called. Kizo got up and headed toward the slave courters to tell others of the plan. He found most the mrows setting on their bunks, with wide eyes and dazed looks. With out the howling masters, or their back-breaking work, the mrows had little idea what to do with their time.

            “Sick, Elderly, Women, and Children- stay here. Everybody else, follow me.” Kizo caught an odd feeling in his voice. He sounded confident, almost jolly. The crazy plan of the crazy mrow seemed to be seeping optimism into him. Great, he thought. I’m crazy, too.

            The qualified mrows stood around the scruffy one. He snapped out of his train of thought, and began to walk down to the landing bay. The others- about fourty- followed him in single file. The huge, metallic doors, large enough for the hauling-ships to come through with ease, were already propped open so they didn’t have to be manually opened and closed all day. The metal floor just ended, changing to the dry, dusty rocked floor of the canyon.

            All the Seawoks were pulled out, lined neatly in front of them. Narl climbed out of the back of one, and began to holler at the crowd. “Everybody get in groups of three, at least one mrow who knows how to drive in every group. Everybody get a handgun.”

            They quickly moved to follow the orders. For the former-slaves, it was natural. Kizo separated from the huge heard, over to Narl and Chambo.

            The stub-tailed mrow was working with some bars of metal and a rifle-gun. He had attached the gun to a ball; which was cradled in a triangular-shaped apparatus that came off the edge of the cargo-hold on the back of the ‘Wok.

            “…the ball will allow the rifle’s to swivel, while these bars will hold it up right and take in the recoil.” Chambo stated proudly, rotating the weapon.

            Narl replied, “Great…how long will it take to outfit all of these?”

            “Well…” He leaned back, scratching his neck. “Now that I’ve got the basic idea laid out, I’d say about an hour.”

            “Get to it.”

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