To her immense relief, Celica opened her eyes to a scene of peaceful silence. The sun was rising slowly over the immense mountains, spilling a sheet of light over the forest around them. She savored the beautiful moment for several minutes, inhaling the sweet air contentedly and resting in the increasing warmth of morning.
Some soft rustling noises behind her made her aware of Peter's presence. She rolled over and found him crouched on his hands and knees, packing some things from around the camp into his bag, of which she saw a bottle filled with what she guessed was water, his trusty map, a small cooking pot, and a sinister-looking knife that she hadn't seen before.
"Where did that knife come from?" Celica asked, and Peter started spectacularly.
"Oh my goodness," He said, putting a hand to his heart, "I had no idea you were awake." He was breathing hard, and he had his eyes shut tight. "Oh my goodness," He repeated.
"Oh, sorry," Celica said half-heartedly, not wanting to drift away from her inquiry. "It's just that I've never seen that knife before. Have you had it this whole time?"
"Yes." He answered immediately, and sounded a bit defensive.
"Alright, alright, I believe you, I was just curious." She propped herself up on one elbow and stared at the knife, which was still in his hand, being pressed against the ground with the hand the he was using to support his weight, the other one still clutching his chest. As Celica watched it, she noticed small carvings around the handle, and some symbols inscribed into the blade itself.
Peter saw her looking, and stuffed it into the bag hastily. He cinched the drawstring and left the bag alone. He stood up and kicked dirt into the last dying embers from last night's fire, and picked up his bag.
"Ready to head out?" Peter said, catching Celica's eye. He looked back at him, and she noticed that he had the same round, dark blue eyes that Michael had. Maybe that was just what everyone's eyes looked like in Terra, Celica hadn't really payed attention to anyone's facial features, probably because half of them were trying to kill her. Still, it gave her a chill that she couldn't explain.
"Yeah, sure." Celica said absently, contemplating the resemblance. She stood up, tried to brush some dirt off of her jeans, but realized they were stains. "Ew. Can we stop in the next town and change clothes? I bet I smell terrible." She groaned as she sniffed her armpit.
"Sorry, but we can't make any more stops." Peter said, "I have enough food for the rest of the trip, and your little episode already has us back half a day."
"Couldn't I just clean the ones I have?" Celica asked.
"Listen," Peter said, sounding a bit strained. "I don't know what the POCC is doing to Amos right this minute. It might be torture, for all we know. It might be nothing at all. Either way, I want to get him out as soon as possible. You didn't know Amos for very long, but I did. He's a strong-willed person. If they're interrogating him, he'll never say a word. They'll torture him until he dies. That's what the POCC does, Celica. They're not like the police in your world." His voice faltered a little at the last two sentences.
Celica suddenly wished she hadn't said anything. Silently, she turned, and walked back onto the road. "Well, shouldn't we get going?" Celica said with a poisonous contempt she hadn't meant to let escape. His anger and frustration were becoming contagious.
"Yeah, let's go." Peter said seriously, walking past where she stood, not looking at her. She had to walk very fast to keep up with him, his legs were so long.
They walked silently like this, Celica at a near-jog just to keep up, until the sun was directly above them, warming their heads and shoulders to an uncomfortably hot temperature. Sometimes Peter would silently signal for them to linger in the shade and rest before continuing.
It was by far the worst day Celica had spent on Terra, especially with the knowledge that this was all her fault. Neither of them would be in this position if Celica hadn't been so stupid. If that night, however long ago it was, she had just minded her own business and let Peter walk away to continue his "odd jobs", Amos would still be safe and Peter would have never had to put up with her in the first place.
She began to contemplate Jumping away and never bothering them again, but then she would be abandoning Peter and Amos. To put them both in this situation and then just to leave would make all this weight on her conscience only densify further.
She throttled her inner self for being so naive. Her curiosity endangered the life of another human being, maybe more than one. She had thrown out the balance between the two worlds, and now the reality of it all was crashing down on her head.
She continued these negative, but realistic thoughts all throughout the day as they walked, and the fatigue that overcame her as night fell barely reached her consciousness through the thick wall of depression and self-hatred that she felt.
That night, when she had been looking out through her bedroom window, looking for the mysterious boy who had walked into the tree, had she ever imagined she would end up here?
The sky faded to an ashen gray as the sun fell past the tree-tipped horizon to their right. Just as the first few stars began to wriggle their way into view, a loud rumbling sound echoed from the direction of the mountains.
Peter and Celica both turned their heads in alarm, and both of their jaws dropped in shock. It looked like the mountains was falling. In the dim light of the dying sunset, a massive rock-slide was tumbling down the mountain's sheer face, picking up more loose dirt and rocks as it cascaded toward them.
Thinking fast, Peter extended his arms, and flexed them slightly, and a large piece of earth below Celica and himself separated itself from the ground, raising both of them up from the path.
The rumbling sound gradually, but quickly, grew into a deafening roar, as it shaved the mountainside clean, destroying everything in its path. As the head of the dusty beast passed under, them, Peter's veins began to expose themselves beneath his skin, blue webs spanning across his slender arms. The effort of suspending both of them, and the piece of rock, was obviously too strenuous.
But what choice did he have? If he stopped, both of them would be swept away by the flow of dirt and stone, and would probably suffocate. Trees were being uprooted and carried away by the torrent, and the way the sheets of soil crashed over their obstacles reminded Celica of a river flowing over stones.
Peter's yells distracted her from her mesmerized awe and she glanced up to see what the problem was. As soon as she had looked up, a large black blur collided with Peter and both of the tanged figures toppled off of the edge of the small floating island.
Celica, horrified, looked in the direction where the phantom had come from, and saw a large helicopter, the sound of the blades drowned out by the rockslide below. Multiple POCC officers were standing in the open loading door, and one of them jumped out to tackle her as well.
Without Peter to hold it up, however, the stone that was supporting her fell, and she was dropped through the air a second before the black monster made contact. He flew straight over her, and landed in the rushing waves of soil with a loud, bear-like roar. She, too, landed in the slide, and was sucked beneath the surface. She held her breath, flailing, panicking, somersaulting through the suffocating avalanche.
It was suddenly silent. Her lungs screamed, and she didn't know which way was out. She tried to swim, to propel herself, but it was no use. She had no control. Her chest was imploding with th urge to take a breath, to taste the sweet Terran air one more time. The movement slowed, but instead of making it easier to escape, the ground only solidified around her, freezing her in her upside down, flailing position.
Just as her thoughts began to fade, and she thought her life was over, glorious air filled her lungs. She was being held up by her shirt, and her eyes were too filled with soil to be of much use. She coughed, expelling several clouds of dirt, and she gulped the air greedily. "This is the girl, not the Unknown!" A booming, deep voice tore through her ears and echoed throughout the forest. Who knew how far they had traveled?
"I found him!" Another similar voice called from what sounded like a long distance away. She was dropped, and she rubbed her eyes, still taking deep breaths of the air she never thought she'd breathe again.
She opened her eyes, now free of any contaminants, to see what was going on. It had gotten quite dark by that point, and she could only see outlines and a small circle of light where a flashlight beam was being thrown. Peter's unconscious face was illuminated by the small circle of vision, and then there was a satisfied grunt.
"Yeah, this is definitely him. Let's get out of here." The flashlight was turned off, and with several bounding footsteps, she was left in total silence and darkness.