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Okay, this week’s Team Challenge was ‘Faeries in Space’ in a maximum of 1500 words. Yes, you did read that correctly… I’m still thinking ‘WHAT’? Anyhow, I took huge liberties with my Welsh heritage and mixed my myths, but here it is. Word Count : 1,447

Cyhyraeth folded the black fabric of her cape around her, and bones protruded from her silhouette like knotted wood covered in tar. Shifting her shoulders hurt where the gnarled stumps of what once supported magnificent wings still ached. “You severed feather and muscle with Arthur’s sword, Auralis.” The yellowed pegs of her teeth gleamed like ivory. “I have kept my promise. This Captain Coraniaid is the last of your descendants.”

Druid Mother Gwiddonod could not return the rainbowed quiver of lustrous feathers to her, but the vision she burned into Cyhyraeth’s anguished brain homed in on Auralis’ blood-line like a magnet to steel. None had escaped in the two thousand years of her hunt. Now, in the year 2303, mankind’s hunger for conquering other worlds had given rise to effortless space flight. The mist-like particles of Cyhyraeth’s spirit drifted through the fleet of moored vessels, finally thickening to imitate flesh and bone when she stood upon the star-craft with ‘VANQUISH’ etched into her hull. The end of her quest was in sight.

Cyhyraeth melted into the deepest shadow of the cargo hold. A layer of ice formed on the steel canisters as the ship warped out of Earth’s atmosphere. Cyhyraeth was accustomed to weightlessness. The filaments of her bones glowed, and, like wisps of ash dance above a bonfire, she drifted slowly from the deck, her cloak billowing in an oil-black cloud. The dry parchment of her skin radiated a golden glow as she closed her eyes and centered her powers on the orb of fire raging in her chest.

The fiery illumination lifted the pitch black of the cargo hold to a vista of shimmering orange light. Opening her eyes, Cyhyraeth scanned the rows of steel crates, locating the few which appeared white-hot where the flicker of her life force reflected back at her. The cowled hood floated away from her skull, and thin lifeless hair clustered over her head in a tangle of silvered strands.

The three crates she stared at vibrated gently. The grey hue of the polished steel faded until the walls of each container resembled glacial ice. Fireflies danced inside their confines, each one a delicate faerie framed by wings which created a haze of movement at their backs.

“There you are, my Ysbrydnos.” Cyhyraeth’s eyes glowed with anticipation. “My kindred souls, soon we will be one.”

As the spaceship hit maximum propulsion, even without seeing them, Cyhyraeth felt the gravitational pull of the stars dragging through space, the streaks of light painting colored stripes across her vision.

“Captain, to the Bridge, entering Docking Station Seta jurisdiction in three minutes and twelve seconds,” an emotionless voice intoned, the sound echoing around the cargo hold.

Docking station? A blaze of white light flooded from Cyhyraeth’s grinning mouth. You no longer have three minutes, Coraniaid. Whipping her body around, the black garb becoming a black tornado, the walls, deck, and bulkhead doors rattled as though a demon’s anger tore at their fibers. The whole ship shuddered and a blood red strobe of an emergency light burst into life. The laser-like beam whipped around the space, staining the walls in crimson rays. The blaring klaxon pulsed in the air, punctuated by the bored automated declaration. “Containment breech in cargo hold D4. All hands to general quarters.

” Cyhyraeth came to rest, the golden orb inside her flaring into a halo of light. Beneath the black cowl, the flesh on her wizened features flushed with rose-tinted blush, and her lead filled gaze gleamed with splinters of sapphire. Her smile illuminated pretty to beauteous.

The pounding of boots on metal walkways rang through the bulkhead partitions. The cargo compartment door hissed as the pressure in the hold equalized before the hatch swung open. Six uniformed men entered, each one armed with a plasma rifle raised to shoulder height, the lens of a retina synchronized data processor covering one eye.

The final soldier through the door tapped on his cochlea communicator and said, “Terminate alarm system in cargo hold D4.” The sudden silence stunned the humans. The red light ceased rotating and spotlights mimicking natural sunlight flooded the room.

A movement behind a steel crate caught Captain Coraniaid’s eye. The plasma rifle hummed as he lifted the barrel and primed the chamber. “Raise your hands and step forward slowly.”

Cyhyraeth took three graceful steps into the light, her silken cloak clinging to a body of enticing curves, her high breasts barely contained beneath the scooped neckline of a shimmering silver gown.

Coraniaid swallowed loudly.

Cyhyraeth drifted forward, the six men parting to make way, as though the force of her presence drove them back.

Staring into the electric blue glint of her sapphire eyes, Coraniaid muttered, “Do not come any closer. Halt.”

The shimmering silver fabric coated her skin like paint as Cyhyraeth paused mid-step. “As my Lord wishes.” Her attention dropped to the captain’s waist and she froze. “My Lord, your sword… it bears the mark of Arthur Pendragon.”

Coraniaid’s hand instinctively reached down to fold around the hilt. “How do you know of my ancestors. Who are you?”

“I am a maiden searching for you, My Lord.”

Falling back a step, Coraniaid called out, “Myrddin.”

A soldier whose dark gaze smoldered with the burden many hundreds of years experience moved to stand beside Coraniaid.

“Myrddin, look into her soul.”

“Ah, Merlin, we meet again,” Cyhyraeth said, shaking her head.

Myrddin extended a clawed hand, drawing a bolt of lightning from Cyhyraeth’s exhilarated gaze. “You know my ancient name.” His throat began to rattle as though his mouth filled with gravel.

Cyhyraeth’s burst of laughter cascaded like shattered glass. The three metal crates lined up along the wall creaked, a rushing sound inside them becoming louder until the group of soldiers looked along the row, their weapons cocked and trailing the path of their eyes.

The fluttering, beating noise grew louder.

For a moment, as Myrddin dropped suddenly to his knees, Cyhyraeth’s eyes dimmed with sadness. “Gwiddonod has spoken. This new world does not need my faerie kin. Their spirits grow dim, fading, the further from our Mother Earth you take them.”

Coraniaid nodded, casting a troubled glance down at Myrddin’s hunched figure, his cramped features bone white. “Then, I will release them.”

Cyhyraeth grinned, taking a step closer to the captain. Her hand settled on his chest.

Myrddin choked, reaching out and gripping the fabric of Coraniaid’s pants. His voice grated in his dry throat. “No, don’t let her touch…”

Cyhyraeth’s soft body radiated an enticing glow as she pressed her it to Coraniaid and kissed him. A blast of white light filled his mouth, his cheeks glowing fiery red as the blood capillaries in his face collapsed and bled into his skin. Crimson billowed into the whites of his eyes, gradually staining them ruby red. His throat shriveled as Cyhyraeth’s cold breath stiffened the tissue, laying ice down into his chest.

As she sucked the life force from him, the hacked stumps of her wings twitched, the fabric of her cloak tore and ebony wings, glistening with blue-edged feathers reared up behind her, casting a chilling shadow as they spread to their eight foot span.

The steel panels of the three crates buckled and fractured, releasing the rainbow colored cloud of Cyhyraeth’s faerie kin.

Releasing her grip, letting Coraniaid’s cold body drop to the deck, Cyhyraeth’s rose gracefully into the air. The klaxon shrieked once more, and the red light bathed her ghoulish smile. She punched her way through the metal skin of the cargo hold, through the hull and was swallowed by the diamond littered expanse of deep-space.

The glittering dust cloud of her faerie kin followed swiftly in her wake.

The soldiers pressed oxygen masks to their panicked faces and dragged Myrddin, and Coraniaid’s dead body, through the door and into the air-lock. The last soldier through slammed his gloved hand on the button which sealed the inner door.

Resting for only a moment, Myrddin struggled to his feet.

“What do we do now?” the stocky sergeant asked.

“We wait until she has gone.” Turning on his heel, Myrddin’s footsteps echoed on the steel floor plates lining the vessel’s corridors. Descending in an elevator which dropped so fast it slammed his stomach up into his diaphragm, he was striding out of the elevator before the doors had fully disengaged.

Pressing his palm to a bio scanner, Myrddin entered a room lined with opaque white pods. One pod glowed, with the shadowed mass at its centre indicating it was occupied. Stopping beside it Myrddin swept a hand over the glass panel on the top, clearing away the condensed moisture, and peered inside. Cloning his master had seemed like a journey into madness, but now, he was glad he had agreed.

“Coraniaid, you were right. She came for you. Sleep now, until we reach the Vespasian Star System. Then you should be safe.”