Pendulum Ch. 11: Runes

Deck Two showed no sign anything had happened. All the destruction was limited to the middle part of the Tuatha De Danann. When Deirdre had made her way up from Deck One, she had still been in shock, her attention laser-focused on getting out of the chaos and into Brilann’s quarters. Now that she had calmed down, and her brief discussion with the oak seer had distracted her for long enough to give her a chance to sort her thoughts, she was once again able to look at the world from a broader perspective.
Everything was where she had put it. The reagents, the runes… Deirdre felt a surge of adrenaline. Her runes! Her hand shot to the side of her uniform. The bag was still dangling from the belt. The acorns were inside, clicking softly as she opened it, all of them, except for the three she had used for the jump.
Anger welled up inside her. She gnashed her teeth. This meant searching for tiny little acorns on the large bridge, hoping they were still intact. Their plans hadn’t included going back through the destroyed parts of Deck One. They would prepare themselves here, then move over to the hangar near the bow of the ship.
The destruction had hit the Tuatha De Danann from the opposite side, and while the bulkheads had kept the bridge itself intact, parts of the corridor didn’t even exist anymore. She had registered that only in passing while she had been with Brilann, still affected by the heavy fog in her brain in the crash’s aftermath, but the memories were still fresh. Fine. She’d put the suit back on and go back, but first she’d make sure she still had enough pine wood. The piece she had used for the jump had been consumed in the ritual.
She grabbed her box with paraphernalia and added it to the other things she planned to take with her. It all fit inside two medium-sized bags, one of them a rucksack she had to adjust to carry over the suit. Deirdre had no choice, she couldn’t work with an incomplete set of runes, and asking Brilann for his wouldn’t work. Runes were attuned to the caster personally. She checked her bags one last time, sent a quick note to the arch druid, then made her way down to the bridge. Again.
When the elevator doors opened on Deck Two, there were two technicians sealing a breach in the wall. One of them nodded at her, while the other didn’t even notice her presence, or didn’t care. She returned the greeting, then marched towards the bridge as fast as she could without breaking into a sprint. The corridor lay in twilight now. The light sources were still shut off, but small lamps were attached to rails on the wall, lifting small areas out of the darkness. Deirdre reached the section where the outer wall had been ripped open. The artificial gravity here was out of order as well, so she had to carefully move hand over hand, clung to the rail. A technician was working on either side of the breach, and her suit was connected to a security cable, but climbing over this abyss made her heart pound faster and harder, as she was exposed to the uncaring, dark wastes just a step away.
She slipped, scolded herself, renewed her grip, moved on, and more than just once. Thankfully, the chasm wasn’t that wide. When she reached the other side, she moved on quickly, with her feet firmly attached to the ground again.
The hard soles of her boots caused no sound here, which made it all feel surreal. She had sped up the moment she felt gravity again, but it still was like walking underwater, an experience which she had never experienced, but could imagine perfectly.
Deirdre felt twenty years older when she reached the bridge.
The heavy door was closed. What was that damn security code again? She should have taken a note. After waiting only a moment, it opened with a hiss. The figure waiting inside, looking at Deirdre, was Fionnlagh. He hung in the air, grinning at her.
“Good thing you came. I was waiting for you. Was just about to send you a message.”
Deirdre raised her eyebrows.
“I was sure you would come. You need your runes, don’t you?”
Seemed like the little Faerie had paid more attention than she.
“Thanks a lot. That’s gonna save me more time.”
“I know. And you owe me two favours now.”
He smiled mischievously.
“Alright. I see you’re keeping track.”
She grinned. He might be serious, but there was no way to find out now. Either way, she was happy to have her runes back without having to search the whole bridge for them. How he had done it that quickly, she didn’t know, and she wouldn’t ask him now, anyway.
“You going to leave now?” Fionnlagh asked.
“I will meet with Mister Adams at the hangar in–” She opened her system interface and looked at the clock icon. “Twenty minutes. So I still have a bit of time.”
The Aes Sidhe looked at her bags.
“That’s all you gonna take down with you?”
“Yeah, I was hoping it won’t take so long. Although, it’s my first time, so I can’t be sure.”
“It’s the first time for all of us.”
“You’re right,” she said.
She opened the little bag still hanging from her belt and put the three runes in. Then she stuffed it into her rucksack.
“Maybe it’s best to get on my way now. Better to be early than to be late.”
The Aes Sidhe nodded.
“Don’t forget to bring me a souvenir when you come back.”
Deirdre laughed.
“Will do.”

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