Short Story – Oela

Oela – Yela searched the site of her ancestral home, hoping to find answers before the oncoming storm of Colonists arrived in the Quadrant. What she found, however, was something she wasn’t expecting (Genre – Sci Fi, Genre – Fantasy, Rating – 12) (Picture Credit – Sweetie187, Flickr)

When Yela held up her flare above her head, she felt the world sing.

The light scattered high up into the depths of the domed ceiling above, pushing away the shadows to the furthest depths of the room. The pungent smell of damp disappeared as Yela rebuilt the ruins that she saw in front of her in her mind’s eye.

Where she stood would have been a walkway, from the broken tiles and missing links that allowed her to see far below into the drop beneath her. Where there was silence now, hundreds of people would have scurried across with their offerings to their deity, Kalq the Endless. The dome had been built in his honour, suspended in the middle of the space ship to represent the universe that the Kalqens believed hung in Kalq’s loving embrace. What was now dull yellow had been rich gold, where there was broken towers had once stood high pillars that would reach up to the sky. There were eight pillars, one for each of the eight traits that the Kalqens believed would benefit their kind in both this life and the next.

“Yela,” Lani’s voice crackled over her radio, “what does it look like?”

Yela reached up to press the talk button on her radio, not wanting to take her eyes of the world around her.

“It’s beautiful,” Yela whispered, “it really is.”

“Wish I could see it,” Lani remarked. He sounded happy though, that Yela had been able to find her ancestral home.

“You’ll see it,” Yela replied, “once I get the area secure. Can’t have our best pilot being eaten alive can we?”

“Like you’re be any different,” Lani muttered.

A sound caught Yela’s attention.

“Something’s here,” she said, as she jumped down off her little pedestal, the remains of one of the eight pillars. From the design that she could make out down the side of the column, this one looked to be that of hope.

Yela’s heart beat fast in her chest, as her hand went for her sword at her belt. She wished she had her gun, but to bring a firearm into a place as holy as this would have been as good as spitting on it.

No, when you came into the arms of Kelq, you came only armed with a sword.

“Hello?” Yela said out into the darkness. She threw her flare down in front of her, watching the shadows for movement.

Something scuttled behind her.

Yela quietly unsheathed her sword, falling into a practiced crouch. It didn’t sound large, but then there were creatures in these ruins which you could barely see, and they could kill you with so much as a bite.

“Whose there?” she asked, pointing her sword into the darkness. She picked her way forward across the bridge carefully, mindful of the holes that had appeared in the structure over the years. It was amazing that it held her weight now, after all this time.

Maybe it was meant to be, Yela thought to herself. Every footstep was calculated, every movement thoughtful.

There was still a noise ahead of her, a scuttling inside the central dome. The noise echoed through the entire domed chamber, before drifting off into silence once again.

“You okay?” Lani’s voice said from over the radio. Yela ignored him.

“Come out,” Yela whispered, as she crept closer to the dome, what had once been the alter for Kelq.

A tiny yellow beak poked its head out of the hole in the top.

It can’t be, Yela thought, her breath catching. The beak was followed by a small, thin head and an comically elongated neck, before the entire creature had appeared from out of its den and was sitting ontop of the dome, looking at Yela with interest.

A Kelqaw, Yela thought. These creatures were nothing more than myth, or even that. Barely a handful had been recorded, and they had all been at running Kelq sites throughout the quadrant.

The Kelqaw cocked its head to one side, hopping up and down on the dome, its claws clacking against the metal. They were considered the messengers of Kelq, the ones who would carry his messages down from the gods to the mortals below. They were revered in a number of different space cultures throughout the Quadrant, mostly because of their bioluminescence.

“Hello,” Yela whispered, reaching out her hand towards the Kelqaw. The creature stopped bouncing and peered at Yela’s hand inquisitively, before leaning down and pecking gently at the ends of Yela’s fingers.

It took all of Yela’s strength not to move as the Kelqaw launched itself from its perch and onto her oustretched hand. The bird was heavy, it was a predator of these vast halls after all. Yela fought to keep her arm outstretched as the bird dipped its head down and up at her.

“What do you what?” Yela whispered.

The bird cocked its head to one side and gently nudged Yela’s face.

“I don’t understand,” Yela whispered.

“Hey,” Lani’s voice came over the radio, breaking the quiet, “you okay down there?”

The Kelqaw looked at the radio and then back at Yela.

“It’s my friend,” Yela said.

I’m talking to a bird, Yela thought. Even if they were no ordinary bird, it was still a creature. Fascinating and wonderful, but still as mortal as she or Lani.

The Kelqaw dipped its head again, before launching itself again at Yela’s shoulder.

Yela yelped as the bird settled on her shoulder, shifting its weight carefully so as not to hurt her with it’s claws. It lowered its head, looking Yela straight in the eye.

Oh, she thought, that’s what you want.

Sometimes, in the stories, a Kelqaw would choose a human for it to bond with. They were generally messengers of Kelq, or warriors who helped bring peace across the quadrant.

Yela was just a scavenger, a survivor.

And yet, she thought, as she slowly stood up on her feet. The Kelqaw remained balanced on her shoulder, ruffling its feathers to keep it’s balance.

Yela reached up and pressed the speaker on her radio.

“I’m coming back,” Yela said, “and I’ve got a friend.”

“A friend?” Lani said, “in the middle of the deserted Kelq temple?”

“Yeh,” Yela smiled at her new companion. It was a sign that maybe she was meant for more in this world than just scavenging. She had been chosen by her god to save the quadrant from the very real threat of the Colonists.

“I’ll call you Oela,” Yela said to the Kelqaw. The bird squawked in agreement.

In Yela’s mother tongue, Oela meant hope.

Photo Credit: Photo by Joel Filipe on Unsplash

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