This Ellie here with the piece I wrote for E.J.'s Tower Challenge. Enjoy!
“Vivacious tiki torchers!” Lezanne yelled, as was her general expression of wrathful excitation.
This phrase, while startling to some, held no sway of president over the others in the room at that moment. This phrase in and of itself needs no further description, as it only appears frequently in our story.
In fact, nobody paid attention to the aforementioned wiry blonde girl until she let out a second yelp, a word considered partially offensive in some circles and then a general screaming dance that drew the attention of captain Nexley, who at the moment walked into the room.
“They’re all over us!” burst forth from the captain’s radio.
“Keep them back, men!” The captain’s reply was cut short by Lezanne who exclaimed:
“Sir, they’ve got to more fleets of fighters bearing down from their fleet’s left flank. The transports are moving in to land. There’s nothing our men can do. Tiki torchers!”
There was silence in the room. The captain turned back to his radio
“Men, fight to your death. We will move the people now!”
“Roger that sir.” The voice replied.
There was a long pause as all the planet’s inhabitants, poised at the ready and listening in to the intercom turned grave faces to the sky where the last of their fleet was perishing to save them.
“You’ve been good men.” The captain said hoarsely.
“Thank you sir. We die doing our duty.” The voice replied, then clicked off the channel. The captain turned to address the room.
“Execute plan 30456.” Into his radio: “Prepare for evacuation. Prep the portal. Code 22. Red squadron, keep an eye on logistics. Throw any blocks into the enemy’s path. I need the rest of the troops and able-bodied men to be ready to precede the women and children through the portal to the other side. We don’t know if the Nal’jera are still friendly. Prepare for the worst, hope for the best.”
The group in the room set to work, flipping a number of switches and poking a quantity of buttons and all in all descending upon the room’s interior decoration (to whit, indescribable machinery) with such verve and gravity as to astonish any modern reader.
Below, in the planet’s complex world of buildings and transport systems men and women rush hither and anon, for the most part congregating themselves and their choice of possessions in a central vertex of the city, a grand chamber directly below the great tower.
The great tower’s many levels held many things, the largest being the portal-room and the above-mentioned control room. The control room, while grand in itself, held a sense of technology and militarily so far absent from the lower level. The portal room was all begot in glowing marble, lined with gold and studded with gems. It was the holy grail of the Pah’jera people.
Lezanne and her comrades, having done all they could to deflect the enemy’s attacks, grabbed their bundles of possessions and hurried out, Major Degrass starting the auto-destruct. Missiles had begun to rocket the city sending parts of it down in flames, but once the enemy knew they were gone, they would stop their firing and try to get into the Pah’jera database. But if all went well, the people would be millions of miles away and the planet would be gone, along with the entire enemy’s fleet.
The portal hummed to life, a glowing pit of light in the middle of the room. Once it was on the captain leaned over it, switching his radio to a different channel.
“Hello. This is the Pah’jera portal, we request permission to come through.”
There was a small pause then: “Permission granted, sir”.
A squad of troopers led the way through the portal. Once on the other side they radioed back: “All’s clear sir. It does seem to be deserted, though…” The man’s slightly troubled voice trailed off into the static.
Captain Nexley motioned for the common-people to go through next. The infant children whimpered, but the older ones gasped with expressions of ‘cool’ and ‘awesome’. The people were going in a steady stream through when a huge explosion rocked the tower. Women screamed, supplies toppled, and a few fell into the portal in a very ungainly manner.
“Hurry!” Captain Nexley said. The stream of people sped to maximum capacity. Another explosion, then another rocked the city. Patches of marble began to fall from the ceiling, smashing into the floor. Loud gunfire exploded in the hallway. Everyone raced through the portal at maximum capacity. The scientists were soon the last on deck, loading the few necessary supplies through.
“Leave the ration-carts!” Nexley yelled. “If the Nal’jera are on the other side, they should be able to provide for us!”
Another huge explosion rocketed the building. Huge patches of the ceiling fell down, and then part of the tower’s wall collapsed. The smell of acid and explosions wafted into the room. Overhead the enemy’s planes circled menacingly while a few of their own held back one last area of the city.
Lezanne and her comrades turned and fled towards the portal. As Lezanne stepped into it, she heard an explosion and looked back to see the tower’s roof falling speedily towards her. Then everything was enveloped in gold light. Then she was on the other side and with a rumble and a flicker, the portal went out.
The other people looked surprised at its disappearance.
“The roof, of the tower,” Lezanne panted “Was falling down upon it, last I saw.” Captain Nexley nodded.
“So be it.”
The main group of civilians huddled together in the main room while bands of scientists and soldiers spread out through the hallways, scanning for signs for the Nal’jera. Radios softly cackled; men flitted through the shadows. The Nal’jera had always been more bonded with nature; whilst the Pah'jera had pushed their society to become the most technologically advanced in the universe. They had come close but the Krahkulhain, their deadly enemies, had discovered a new set of laser weapons and had forced the Pah’jera to evacuate their planet.
Lezanne’s group headed down a darkened hallway, it twisted and turned then went put a flight of curly stairs. At the top an open door led into a large well-lit room. Inside sat a single occupant: a young girl of about eleven. She turned and stood when the group entered. Her dress was large and ornate, made from gold and red brocade and layers of blue velvet. She had a large headdress on and her face was tattooed and painted wildly.
She bowed. “Welcome, Pah’jera.” Her voice was young, but calm and steady. “I am Sensi, the Nal’trisha of the Nal’jera. I am the tower-guardian.”
Lezanne returned: “I am Lezanne, a scientist of the tower of the Pah’jera. These are a handful of our elite soldiers.” then turned to the men behind her. “Go and get Captain Nexley, he will wish to speak with this girl.” The soldiers turned and departed, only one staying positioned outside the door. Lezanne turned to Sensi. The girl smiled.
“It is a great honor to be the first Nal’trisha to welcome the Pah’jera. The elders will be pleased. Tell me, why did you leave your world? There is not trouble on your side of the galaxy, is there?”
“Alas.” Lezanne replied, trying to speak in a more dignified manner in the girl’s presence. “The Krahkulhain, darn them, Developed bigger blaster cannons and owned us. We had to scram. Tiki Torchers!”
The girl’s face saddened. “Are these all of your people?”
“Yes. The other ones got crunchified in the battle.”
There was silence as the girl stood thinking for a moment. Lezanne’s eyes wandered around the room. Captain Nexley appeared at the door. Lezanne beckoned him forward.
“Sensi, this is Captain Nexley, the leader of our people.” Sensi bowed and smiled.
“I am Sensi, the Nal’trisha of the Nal’jera, the tower-guardian. We are pleased to bid you welcome.” She smiled then glanced outside. “We must start now if we are to reach the settlement by nightfall. See, nobody lives in the tower anymore, only each year a girl is picked to be the Nal’trisha and protect the tower.”
Captain Nexley nodded in understanding. “Let us be going, then.”
The journey was not long, and led through rolling green hills converted in wildflowers while patches of evergreen dotted the valleys. As night approached, the group beheld a large city glistening on the edge of a long lake. Sensi led the way down into the center, where a golden palace gleamed. Captain Nexley took a handful of warriors and a few of his chief scientists, including Lezanne. They followed Sensi into the court.
Everything was glinting gold, red and blue. Women in ornate costume flitted about, and woman guards stood at the doors. When they were admitted to the throne room, the monarch of the city was a woman, too. The group bowed. Sense walked to the queen and quietly told her what had happened. When she had finished, the queen turned to her guests.
“I have heard the story from this Nal’trisha. Welcome, travelers. We are glad to welcome you. Sensi tells me that the portal got destroyed. So be it. The Nal’jera are ready to welcome you forever. Come; let us gather together in celebration.” She stood and everyone followed her out.
“So after years of war, we finally find a home.” Captain Nexley said to himself. He smiled. He let himself relax for the first time in… forever.