They carried on the same way for two more days. In the mid morning of the third day they heard a rustling in the bushes. Other than birds they had seen few animals.
So they all stopped when they heard the noise. Ven felt herself turning her head to try and place it.
A moment later they all jumped as deerboar jumped from the bushes next to them.
The deerboar looked like a meaty cross between a deer and a boar, though in reality it bore no relation to either of them. The creatures were mostly docile, but could be deadly if cornered.
This one had a thick black coat of fur with brown markings. A blood stain was clearly visible, and the creature had a large open wound on its neck.
It stumbled for a few seconds before collapsing in front of the family. Its breathing labored, it had only moments left to live.
The sight sent great alarm through the family. The wound was clearly a gunshot wound, but human’s were not allowed to own guns. That meant the hunter was one of the masters.
They all sat silent staring at the dying beast. And when they heard more rustling coming from the same direction, their hearts sank.
To their horror, only moments later one of the masters stepped from the bushes, weapon in hand. If it was startled by the humans it showed to sign of it.
The masters, as they were required to refer to them, were in fact a species who called themselves Arzat. They stood between six and eight feet tall fully erect.
They were not amphibians, but they were amphibious. In appearance they looked more reptilian, but they had a coat of short coarse hairs that covered their entire body .
They had tough thick skin that could barely be pierced, four arms, each with a hand that had four long clawed fingers. Their heads were wedge shaped and almost triangular.
At the front point of the wedge were two nostrils, and a wide mouth full of razor sharp pointed teeth. They had four eyes. Two at the front, and two at the widest back part of their head.
This allowed them nearly three hundred degrees of vision. Each eye had a vertical slit pupil like that of a snake. They wore no clothing, but frequently donned armor.
A thick webbing between their toes and the fingers on their lower two arms allowed them to swim with great speed.
This one had a grey skin color and wore no armor, but had a belt with hunting tools slung around his waste. He likely had a vehicle somewhere nearby.
His wide mouth spread into a wicked grin that bared his sharp teeth, several of which were missing.
Ven’s father was between her and the creature, but there was nothing the man could do. The Arzat grabbed his neck with his upper right arm.
His muscles bulged, but he showed no sign of strain as he lifted Ven’s father into the air. With one swift twist of his wrist her fathers neck made a loud crack and his body went limp.
“Noooo!” Ven and her mother both began to scream, but her mother’s scream was cut short when the Arzat dropped the body and his upper left arm swung at her.
Before her fathers body even hit the ground her mother flew to the side. The blow to her head had shattered her skull, and blood flew along with the body.
She was dead before she hit the ground.
For the briefest moment Ven stood silent staring at the Arzat. She had never seen one this close, her parents had done there best to spare her from their brutality.
The seven year old girl was no match for the beast. But she flew at his chest nevertheless, arms wildly flailing and hitting him with closed fists over and over again.
The creature stood, unfazed. He emitted a rapid snorting sound that was the Arzat equivalent of laughter.
He casually pulled her off of him and set her on the ground in front of him, using one hand he held her down, while another hand reached into his belt.
It returned a moment later with a line that he moved to tie her with.
Ven had no intention of letting this thing take her without a fight, and she kicked and twisted and flailed.
When she got one hand loose she punched the thing in the face, gashing open her right fist on its sharp upper teeth. The thing snorted again, and a hand swung at her temple.
The hand connected, and her world went black.
She awoke with her head pounding. Her sleep had been tormented with visions of what had occurred. She felt motion but she couldn’t tell if it was her imagination or real.
Her vision was blurry. As she slowly regained consciousness she decided the motion was real. That was when it all came back to her.
The speed with which it returned sent her into a state of panic and she launched herself out of sleep sitting upright with a sudden lurch.
The ground was hard and cold, it looked like the walls were too. There were bars separating her from a hallway.
She stood up, her body hurting from sleeping on the hard floor, and walked to the doorway in the bars only to find it locked. She’d never seen a prison cell before, but she’d heard of them.
As far as she could tell that’s what this was but she didn’t understand the motion. She turned around to look at the cell. It was barren, with only a toilet. No bed, no food, and no water.
Just then, a noise came from down the hallway. It was a door. Followed by soft footsteps. Two Arzat came swiftly to her cell.
One was the one she had encountered that had killed her parents and captured her. The other stood slightly taller.
He had no missing teeth and was clad in a thin suit of battle armor, his coloring was similar to the first but it had a dark reddish tint to it. His lapel bore an insignia of some sort.
A symbol that Ven didn’t recognize. The Arzat spoke in their language. A series of guttural noises accented with occasional grunts and hisses, every so often looking at Ven.
Eventually they stopped and the Arzat who had killed her parents turned and left. The other stayed and stared at Ven until he was gone.
When it was just the two of them he spoke and Ven understood. His voice was deep and had a constant hiss to it, but he was speaking to her.
“He tells me you have spirit.” He spoke while opening the cell door. “I like ones with spirit.” He entered the cell and approached Ven. She backed into the corner but he was too quick.
He used his lower arms to hold each of her arms while his upper left hand yanked on her hair. She yelped in agony, and he yanked again, snorting each time.
He then closed his lower right fist and punched her in the side. He had to have restrained himself, but the punch still took Ven’s breath away.
Eyes watering, trying not to cry, she used her legs to try and kick at him. The kicks did nothing, and he snorted while yanking her hair again.
He then dropped her, hard, on the concrete, and snorted as he left the cell, locking it behind him and heading down the hallway.
Ven sat silently tears streaming, pain everywhere.
She waited until she heard the hall door close, and only then did she allow herself to truly sob for the first time since her parents had been killed.
Soon, the pain and exhaustion took their toll and she fell unconscious again on the hard floor.
She was in a meadow. It was one that she and her father had been to numerous times. The wildflowers were red and blue and purple and yellow, and they swayed in the wind.
Her father was standing and facing her. He was far enough that she couldn’t hear him, but he motioned her to look behind herself.
She turned and saw the ocean stretching to the horizon, the sun just beginning to think about setting. Then she saw the ship.
A giant Arzat destroyer rising from below the ocean surface just off coast of the village. It’s cannons began firing and the town erupted with multiple explosions and fires.
“Noooo!” She screamed and turned around to her father. He didn’t see the Arzat coming from behind him. Weapon drawn. She triex to yell, to warn him, but she couldn’t.
He’ was yelling something at her, but she couldn’t understand what it was.
“Are you awake?” She stared at him confused for a moment before it all sliped away and she found herself on the cold floor. Still that motion. A ship, it occured to her.
I’m on some sort of ship, she thought to herself.
“Are you awake?” It was a real voice, a mans voice. She looked around confused.
“Where....” She began to ask but he answered her in advance as though he already knew the question.
“I’m in the next cell.” His voice was calm and friendly. “That sounded awful. I’m sorry there was nothing I could do.”
Her eyes began to water with tears as it came back. He could hear her start to cry.
“Hey don’t worry, my names Tirus, and I’ll make sure you’re okay.”
“How can you possibly do that?” She spoke through her tears. “We’re both just humans...” Her voice trailed off as she said it.
“That may be...” He paused for a moment. “But don’t you worry about that either. See I got some friends, and well...” another pause “well you see, we’re gonna steal this ship.”