Marya's Chronicles Chapter 2: Love in the Time of Tension

"Hey, Marya."

Marya didn't look up. She happened to be reading something very good at the time the voice floated into her room, and she didn't intend to stop.

"Marya. Marya!" The voice wouldn't quit.

"What?" she finally replied irritably.

Marya's younger sister, Lirie, came into the room. "Marya, do you see something outside the window?" she asked tentatively, pointing. "I tried to tell Mother, but she's still sick even though Keely and I are well. The others won't wake."

Marya tried to change the subject on her younger sister. "Never mind, Lirie," she said firmly. "What are you doing up so late?" It was the earliest hour or so of Ixionian time, and most of the population lay dormant at that time.

"I could ask you that too," countered Lirie.

Marya smiled. "I was reading," she explained, showing Lirie the book. "When you get older you'll love this stuff."

"What if I don't live to be older?" shuddered Lirie. "Look outside, Marya. Do you see something out there? Dark, and moving around suspiciously?" She seemed scared enough that Marya played along and looked out the window. Lirie helped her along, saying things like "More to your left" and "No, not that way, this way!"

Marya looked until she was certain Lirie was either joking or hallucinating. Then she saw it. "I see it, Lirie!" she cried, and there it was (whatever "it" was at all). Lirie said nothing, following the dark blur with her eyes.

The blur seemed to be digging up the family garden. Lirie moaned in horror. "That was my Jupiter blossom," she wailed. "It was almost ready to bloom!" She ranted about her Jupiter blossom, but Marya turned a deaf ear. She was fighting herself, wondering if she should attack it, go down and investigate, or call for help.

Lirie made Marya's mind up for her. "He's uprooting your Fanpot Cabbage, Marya!" Lirie shouted. The Fanpot Cabbage had been Marya's pride and joy, and the darling of the garden. Most of it was still standing and the rest of it seemed to be salvageable, so Marya chose to attack. She had to get it away from her cabbage.

She threw energy sparks at the blur from the window. Lirie wanted to join in, but Marya restricted her. "Don't ruin it," she warned. She then chased it up and down the garden with her energy beams.

"It's not leaving," Lirie said worriedly. She was right. It was just dodging around the garden avoiding Marya. It wasn't running away.

"What do we do now, then?" Marya growled, using her newfound levitation skills to hurl rocks, sticks and clumps of muddy leaves at the intruder. "At least he's too distracted to keep tearing up my cabbage."

Lirie spoke on sudden inspiration. "Go down there and face him," she said. "I'll come with you for backup."

"Are you crazy?" demanded Marya. "It's the Unknown! We could be facing death or irreversible life complications, or..."

"Remember the cabbage," taunted Lirie.

"Let's go," Marya agreed, suddenly in agreement with her little sister. Marya popped open her window. Lirie flew out first, trying to focus upon the blur.

"There it is!" shouted Lirie. Marya hurtled out the window after her sister. "See it, Marya? Look!"

"I see it," called Marya, "and I'm going in!" She dove, aiming right for the blur and stretching out her hands, which were sparking with power. She flew straight at the blur and gave it a double punch fueled by alien energy.

The blur gave a squeal that sounded unearthly (which it was). But Marya and Lirie knew it wasn't of their race as soon as it did.

"It's an Out-Of-Species!" shouted Lirie. Out-Of-Species, or what could be called animals, were very scarce in populated areas on Ixions. The Ixionians were vegetarians, and pets were absolutely unheard of. They had little use for what they called Out-Of-Species, which anyhow came so rarely that every sort of Out-Of-Species were almost legendary.

Now, Marya and Lirie had been faced with the task of dealing with the Out-Of-Species intruder. Marya had backed off, and she and Lirie hovered in the air watching it dig up their garden. Marya put up a shield from her own alien energy around her Fanpot Cabbage to keep the Out-Of-Species away from it, but the energy shield was not a solution.

Then it was Marya's turn to be struck with inspiration. She turned to her sister as quickly as she could. "Lirie," she stated excitedly, "have you been taught how to make whips out of your energy beams?"

"We just finished last week," Lirie replied. "I'm not very good, even so." She suddenly looked terrified. "Why, Marya?"

Marya gave a satisfied grin. "We're going to use the energy whips as ropes to capture the Out-Of-Species, of course."

Lirie looked even more frightened. "But we can't. I'm too inexperienced with whips. I'll hurt the Out-Of-Species, and Lady Dharang said that no matter what, Out-Of-Species are too rare to injure!"

Marya sighed exasperatedly. "Oh! Fine, I'll rope him myself." She extended her hand, and a fine whip of energy skipped from it. With a shout, she flung the energy whip at the Out-Of-Species and, dodging here and there, managed to make a loop tightly around the creature's ankles, or where she thought its ankles might be. The Out-Of-Species, incapacitated, toppled over.

Triumphant, Marya turned around and faced her sister. "Go wake Mother and Father," she instructed, shooting another beam at the Out-Of-Species and roping it more tightly. "Tell them I've got an Out-Of-Species secured in the garden."

Lirie nodded solemnly, then flew to her parents' window, popped it open from the outside, and flew in, while Marya held fast to her energy ropes. The creature was beginning to struggle against its bindings.

There was a shout from the room Lirie had just flown in via the window. "AN OUT-OF-SPECIES!" it shouted. Marya almost lost hold of the energy ropes tying the creature. As soon as she regained control of the "ropes," her parents' window opened, and out flew her mother, then her father, then Lirie, who was holding a fussy Keely in her arms.

"Did I just hear my daughter say that there is an Out-Of-Species in my backyard?" exclaimed Marya's father, a rather excitable personality called Pengro Chang.

"Yes," Marya replied. "And if you don't hurry and help me you'll never see get to see it." Pengro Chang was a strong believer in Out-Of-Species, though he had never seen one, and he had always wanted to see one. This was an opportunity he was not going to miss.

Pengro swooped in next to his daughter. "Let me handle this, sweetheart," he said, gently pushing Marya off to the side. With one fluid movement, a bolt of reddish energy flew from his hand and collided with the Out-Of-Species. The creature promptly fell to the ground, whether sleeping, unconscious or dead Marya did not know.

"Father!" wailed Lirie, as Marya released her energy ropes that had been binding the Out-Of-Species. "Father, how could you? Lady Dharang told us that in the event of an Out-Of-Species encounter, we must do whatever we can not to harm it! And've harmed it!"

"Lirie, darling, I've done nothing but subdue it," Pengro reassured his daughter. "Dearest child, it'll wake soon. I just put it out for a second so we could relocate it. Perhaps we'll get to study it!" Pengro looked ecstatic at the idea.

"Look, Father. You can examine it," Marya said placidly. "I just want it away from my cabbage."

"I'll examine it far away from your cabbage."

* * * * *

"Okay, when I said far away from my cabbage, I didn't mean the attic," Marya muttered. She had mostly said this to herself. The rest of her family was too immersed in looking at the Out-Of-Species lying on an old dining table to take in anything else.

"What's it called?" breathed Misha. She looked up from the creature. "How'd you come across it?"

"Well, I don't know what it's called, Misha," replied Lirie importantly, "but I know how we came across it. I happened to peer out my window and see a blur moving. I tried to wake you, but nobody would wake. Only Marya was any help at all." Lirie smiled at Marya, who smiled back. "She was the one who first captured the Out-Of-Species."

"On the other hand," said their father, who was riffling through study notes across the room, "I may not know how we came across this Out-Of-Species, but I know what it's called." Holding a notebook fat with writing, he flew to where his family stood around the creature, watching its every move. "By my calculations, it's probably a Wracmunger."

None of his daughters had ever heard anything of the sort. "That name," Misha declared, "is almost as foreign as the head of my Educational Center's name."

Marya had to agree. "Yes. That Kevin name is one thing, but a Wracmunger? What's that?"

"It's an eccentric name for an eccentric Out-Of-Species," said Pengro knowledgeably. "Many records, including my own, state that the Wracmunger has been spotted only about four hundred times in the Ixionian people's rich, six billion year history of civilization."

"That's cool," one of Marya's younger sisters, Davia, contributed. "Maybe we should turn it in for investigation. There could be an Institute or something that would love to study such a rarely encountered Out-Of-Species."

"We won't do that just yet, Davia," Pengro told his daughter. "There are hardly any Out-Of-Species around these places, so there are hardly any people around that would like to study them. We have no uses for Out-Of-Species but to let them thrive if they will, wherever they live."

"So, are we going to release it?" Davia's twin sister, Tae, asked.

Pengro didn't answer right away. Instead he walked to the attic window and looked out it. "The streets will soon be filled with commuters," he remarked. "If we want to get this young Wracmunger out of here unnoticed...yes, we do want to get him out unnoticed...we'd best start now."

So the family prepared for the departure of the Wracmunger. They set off within the hour, while it was still not quite light. The Wracmunger had been, yet again, subdued, and shoved into a spherical containment chamber. They simply flew off into the early morning sky with the Wracmunger's containment chamber balanced on Marya's back. She had offered to take it; she had superior strength even among her innately strong people.

"So, where are we going to be releasing it, Father?" asked Misha.

"Yes, dear," said Marya's mother, who was called Pan. "Misha has a point. We don't know where to drop it off at."

"Don't worry, Pan, darling," replied Pengro reassuringly. "Anywhere far from the city is fine. Remember, most people have never seen an Out-Of-Species and like it that way. If they saw one, they'd probably kill it."

"Don't let that happen to this little Out-Of-Species," said Marya fondly. The spherical containment chamber rattled on her back.

They flew until they were so far away from all cities that not even the most noticeable of all the buildings had faded away, to be replaced by the little-seen natural undergrowth. Ixionian plants and oddly shaped rocks poked out, the plants growing in their own awkward patterns. A rushing river flowed nearby, and it was decided that the bank of the river would make a good place to release the Wracmunger.

"Okay, Marya," called her father. "Put it down and open it." He gestured to the carrier on her back.

Marya set down the spherical containment chamber and looked at it for a few moments. "Say good-bye to our Out-Of-Species buddy," she said. "Good-bye, litte Wracmunger. My Fanpot Cabbage better not suffer any lasting damage from what you did to it."

"I hope you live long and well," Misha added. "Don't..."

Right then, Misha was interrupted by both a curious rustling sound in the background and Tae. "Stop, Misha!" she cried. "Look! Someone's there!" She pointed to where the sound was coming from. "I hear them!"

Marya had heard it too. "Stay where you are!" she cried brashly. "I'm going after them!" She left her family where they were standing bewilderedly, and chased after the rustling noise, which too was on the move. She shot flaming orange energy beams at the sound's source.

The rustling stopped as soon as the first blast hit. Marya, startled, stopped firing at it. Then came something that surprised her even more. A voice spoke.

"Wait! Stop! Cease fire!" it said. It had a bit of an accent at the edges of the words. The phrasing was a little too curly and feminine, though the voice was male. Marya knew the race that spoke Ixionian with that accent.

"You!" she demanded. She couldn't see who she was yelling at, but she could hear him, and directed her voice at where she thought he stood. "You're Ziranian!"

The Ziranians were the inhabitants of the planet Ziranez, a female-dominated planet that was constantly at war with Ixions. Their difference in beliefs was the only real reason they were always fighting, though several sources gave many, many more reasons, most of them exaggerated or downright ridiculous. Because of the senseless reasons and frequent warrings, most Ixionians hated the Ziranians, and vice versa.

Marya heard a sharp gasp from whoever she was talking to. "Don't," the male voice said. The speaker came forward out of the shadows. It was a boy who looked just a little older Marya. He was dressed in the Ixionian uniform that the governments decreed the lawful clothing of the planet.

Marya looked at him, then frowned. "If you're one of those Ziranians," she said, throwing contempt on the word, "why are you wearing Ixionian clothes? Are you a spy in hiding?"

The boy bent near to her ear. Marya could see his features clearly, and the boy did not look any more Ziranian than she did.

"Miss," he whispered. "I know you've got a lot of questions just now. Follow me and I'll answer them." The boy started to fly. Marya followed him, knowing then that he could not be Ziranian. Ziranians could not fly.

Marya flew after the boy until she saw him alight on a tree. She sat down next to him. "I've got questions for you, Master," she said almost as soon as she had been situated next to him. "Why do you have a Ziranian accent? You're clearly Ixionian."

The boy sighed. "That will take some explaining. Clear your schedule, Miss." He folded his hands in his lap. "My father is not an Ixionian. He is a Ziranian man. Don't interrupt me, Miss," he said warningly, seeing Marya's mouth open. "Yes, he is a Ziranian. Years back, long before my birth, he and a group of forty other men left the planet, being unable to stand getting crushed by the women. They fled to Ixions to acquire power over the women instead. They soon realized that despite the common ancestry of the Ixionians and Ziranians, they looked too different to pass as Ixionians. But they were not going to be returning to Ziranez anytime soon. So they found an undeveloped area of land and settled there. It was little more than a primitive camp, the living conditions. It still is." Here the boy paused, more for the dramatic effect than anything, Marya guessed. Then he resumed. "Many of my father's friends were disgruntled. Two were found dead. They all wondered if they were better off on Ziranez getting controlled by girls. Then one day changed everything. After almost two months or so of living on Ixions, one of my father's comrades reported that he had taken an Ixionian woman as a wife. She had borne him two daughters, and she was going to go live in the encampment where he was living. My father and his friends were delighted. They had not known that they could have children with an Ixionian. But there was no stopping them now that they knew. Soon after my father's friend brought his wife and daughters to live with us, my father found my mother. He was the second of his posse to have a child with an Ixionian, and the rest of his friends were not far behind. One of them, who had left his Ziranian wife when he left the planet, took an Ixionian wife too. Not long after all the marriages, my twin brother and I were born. My twin was a stillborn, but I lived. My father never told my mother about this life he had. As immoral as it sounds, my father met my mother, she had me, and my father took me from her."

"Then what?" queried Marya, who had gotten quite interested in this boy's story.

"Soon the ranks of the people living there swelled to three times the population of those that had originally come," he continued.

"So you've been living over here all your life," interrupted Marya, trying to follow this boy's story.

"Nope. That's one thing," he said. "I was a young toddler when it happened. We were betrayed by one of my father's friend's wives. We were lucky enough to have news of it early enough to destroy everything and move, leaving behind the woman of course. Her reputation was tarnished."

"Oh," said Marya, bemused. "So you've been living here most of your life, then."

"Yet again, no," sighed the boy. "Only recently have we moved here. See, we were almost discovered just two weeks ago. No betrayals this time, but some people walking around came across the remains of a feast from the night before and almost found us. We moved here from all the way across the planet."

Marya sat and pondered that. After a moment she said, "Do most of the children of your father's comrades look as Ixionian as you do?"

"All of them look just as Ixionian as you and I do," the boy said. "Ixionian genes trump Ziranian genes. I even got an Ixionian name. It's like my father never was a Ziranian."

"What's your name?" asked Marya. "I'm Marya."


"Nice to meet you, Colocrus," said Marya cheerfully. Colocrus did not smile back, though.

"It's not nice to meet me, Miss Marya. Not at all. It's dangerous for a beautiful Ixionian girl like you to know a Ziranian like me."

Marya smiled. "No, it's not. You don't even look Ziranian and you speak perfect Ixionian."

"My people have ways of telling, and they will be able to tell," said Colocrus. Worry seeped into his voice.

"But there's nothing to fear. The Ziranians aren't at war with us. We have no need to fear invasion," said Marya, though she wasn't sure. She knew how erratic things were with Ziranians. Calm one day, warring the next.

"One of Father's friends was a Predictor," Colocrus informed her. "He predicts war. He says he can already feel the tension of it in his soul. I think many others are feeling it too. I've heard it's a pretty big rumor."

Marya thought back. "I think you're right about it being a pretty big rumor," she said slowly. "Now that you mention it..." Marya remembered flashes of school. Students talking in whispers...but she'd never thought much of it...what had they been speaking of? Perhaps this warring theory? Had it been?

"It's all tension," Colocrus repeated.

Marya put her hand on Colocrus's shoulder. "You'll be fine." She smiled. "We'll be fine."

Unexpectedly, Colocrus turned her head towards his and kissed her. "Yes, we will." Marya stared at him. Ignoring how odd she looked with her eyes wide and piercing, he pushed her off the tree bough they were perched on. She fell all the way to the ground. That shook her out of her stupor.

Before Marya had any time to speak, Colocrus yelled down at her, "You'd better go. I saw your family with you. They'll be wondering where you've gotten to." He waved good bye to her, and just before she took off he called, "What were you guys doing all the way out here anyway?"

"Releasing an Out-Of-Species. Do you get many of those around these parts?" she replied.

"So many we're swamped in them," shouted Colocrus. "I hope we'll come across your little Out-Of-Species friend before long." He stopped, and Marya started to fly. She was almost out of earshot (pretty far, since Ixionians have a very long earshot) when he yelled, "Visit me?"

"Of course!" she yelled back, and then she was gone, banking a turn away from her love in the time of tension.

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