We proudly present our first-ever ShakesQuill reader-created story, "Aetherion." While unfinished, we're truly impressed with the work of JoAskura, wisewebwoman, Wizard_of_Odd and MikeEss, who have helped piece together a story that could still yet go in so many directions (feel free to add more if interested).
She stood up and the pain ripped through her body in the form of an ache in every muscle she had and a couple muscles that had spontaneously formed - their soul reason for existence being to ache. "This is ... , " she questioned aloud as she looked for the first time around her surroundings, " ... San Diego." She slowly started to piece together the events that had led her there. Then, her perception made itself known and she noticed the cops running toward her in all directions. Doing that patented "I've got my gun trained on you yet I am still running toward you" skip-waddle. And shouting. She dedicated herself to start piecing together things faster.
There were several things she noted as the local cops approached her, firing off in her back-brain in no particular order.
1) They looked like penguins.
2) While she had vague timeline of the events of the last 72 hours, she had no idea who *she* was.
3) She was in the middle of a divot out of the beachfront. Not quite an impact crater, but rather, it seemed that the sea had forcibly ejected her from it's depths and sent her skidding into the dunes like a runaway car. That part, she was a little hazy on.
"There was something about the Aetherion..." She muttered, feeling like she was forgetting something. The tide had rolled in, washing wet sand over the tops of her tattered shoes.
"FREEZE, LADY! HANDS WHERE WE CAN SEE 'EM!"
(Oh, yes.) She thought. (The penguins.)
As she slowly put her hands up she noticed the gloves. That off white colour worn by doctors and dentist. Was that a smear of blood on the right one? Her heart began to pound.
“We said up, lady, put those hands where we can see ’em”. The lead penguin was only twenty feet away from her now. Burly, red faced, blue steel gun glinting in the sunlight, pointed directly at her.
She put her gloved hands in the air and looked in the sand all around her. There must be a purse? Something, anything, that would tell her who she was.
Burly was now in front of her with his cohorts ringing around her. As if she were a spectacle in a freak show they had all paid to watch.
Someone grabbed her arms from behind and she felt the cold hard steel of handcuffs through her gloves.
Burly began reading out her rights.
“But what am I supposed to have done?” she said, bewildered, “Tell me what you think I’ve done!”
"What I think don't matter, lady, it's what the judge thinks you should be worried about." Frantically, she tried to find the missing piece to her mental jigsaw puzzle. Unfortunately for her, however, she only had one piece and the rest of the puzzle was missing. The officer, sweating profusely, led the bewildered woman to his squad car.
San Diego had not been kind to either of them that day. Officer Burly was fortunate, after hauling in his prime suspect, he had a nice air-conditioned office waiting for him...and a couple of granola bars. Okay so he wasn't THAT fortunate; but it would be a far cry from the nightmares that awaited his prime suspect.
Burly's partner, Officer Breicher, took her out of the car and into the station. As they pulled up to the station, the panicked woman screamed, "What have I done?!"
Burly turned around and looked at her with contempt and muttered simply, "Traitor."
She was stunned first by the harshness of the word. She had a fleeting sense that this must not be real, that an accusation like that couldn’t possibly refer to her. "Traitor" was a word applied to Others. She couldn’t be one of Them. They were evil, calculating, cold, emotionless, and without regret. They did horrible things to other people.
Then, slowly, the awful reality and the awful implications made themselves the sole focus of her thoughts. She felt lost, her sanity leaking away - it seemed like even the ground beneath her shoes became insubstantial, liable to give way at any moment.
Then the Aetherion drifted back into her thoughts. Somehow she knew it was an important clue, maybe even the key to unlocking her fragile memories. But what was the Aetherion, and how was it entangled in her problems?
(To be continued?)