The Blaquesmith Chronicles: Part 4

part of the new "X+5" series

by Matt Nute



THE DISCLAIMER! Yes, the disclaimer! Be warned that the characters within are property of Marvel Comics, unless they're not, in which case they're property of me, and are mine, yadda yadda... Feel free to archive this story, just let me know first!

Ma'hali walked to the transport that would take her and her charge on their first voyage outside the Citadel. While the rest of the world wasted away, scrounging what they could find from the ruined cities, the High Lord En Sabah Nur had nothing but the best. The enormous transport ship reminded her of the seagoing barges she had watched leave the harbors of her home. All in the days before she had become one of many human servants to the High Lord.

Beside her shuffled the High Lord's adopted "son", the nameless child that was Ma'hali's charge. She had befriended him, and been charged with his welfare by the High Lord himself. Strangely, she found a closer kinship with the misshapen mutant boy than with any of her fellow servants.

It was common knowledge that Ma'hali was the daughter of a Prelate, and thus shunned by the other servants, who had lived their entire lives in squalor. Yet the boy knew nothing of rank or social structure, knowing only friendship and loyalty to his one companion. She squeezed his hand and boarded the transport.

As they were shown the way to their meager cabin, Ma'hali overheard the sounds of soldiers being herded into the ship's hold. It sounded like at least a squad of Apocalypse's techno-organic killers. Ma'hali shuddered to think of what their mission would be. She knew that the High Lord had found something worthy of his personal attention up North, in England.

With a shudder, the transport left the sands of Egypt, slowly cruising to its destination. The ship was one of the highest class, but since the Great Wars centuries ago, intercontinental travel was almost impossible. Any vessel traveling more than 100 kilometers had to navigate around radiation zones and other deadly areas of desolation. The trip, that in even a slow airplane would have taken less than a day. would have them at sea for nearly a month.

To pass the time, Ma'hali had brought a bag of ancient textbooks with her. The child had learned to read quickly, becoming proficient in the tongue of the land as well as Olde Englishe, the forbidden language. Thus, Ma'hali kept the texts hidden, sworn to provide the child with the education that Apocalypse forbade.

"I read a long book the other day. Daddy said a man named Does-toy-eff-sky wrote it."

"That's Dostoyevsky. I know. I gave your father that book. War And Peace. I thought it fitting."

"It's a sad book. Kind of like your story."

"Yes, Sara. Now listen..." And Blaquesmith continued...

The child hung upside down from the door frame, fingers tracing over the lines and drawings in the text before him. Flipping the book over to face Ma'hali, he extended his mind to hers,

#Aqueduct?# he sent telepathically. Ma'hali nodded. The boy seemed to have an aptitude for all things mechanical. Not having even reached his teens, he had a voracious appetite for the sciences. In the days since they had left Egypt, he had drawn up plans for a water system that would irrigate crops tens of times more efficiently than the current system.

As a daughter of Prelate Josavhatta, Ma'hali had been tutored by the best, and she had been an apt pupil. Now she watched her charge surpass her knowledge so quickly, it made her proud. Standing and stretching, she scooted past the boy and began ascending towards the deck of the transport.

As she pulled herself into the cool morning wind, she smelled the familiar scents of the sea. The one thing that remained unchanged through the centuries, the mighty sea. Neither time nor war could touch its majesty. Perhaps that was why Ma'hali loved it so.

She heard the child huffing and puffing as he heaved himself up the ladder. She smirked to herself. She knew the boy was as agile as a tree squirrel, he was merely teasing her. Ma'hali extended a hand, pulling him up. He threw his weight forward suddenly, knocking her into a deckhand.

"My apologies, kind sir..." she began. A harsh glare cut her off.

"We may tolerate the likes of you and... THAT," he began, "But I'll be fragged if I'll put up with you running around like a wild beast. Get below!" With tears in eyes, Ma'hali turned and ran.

Slamming the door to her cabin behind her, she cried silently into her pillow. It was one thing to be looked down on by the mutants. But to be shunned by her own kind was a blow too unkind to bear. She felt cold and alone, isolated and abandoned. In her sorrow, she prayed to a God long since forbidden, a prayer to take her from this world she hated.

A gentle touch on her bare ankle alerted her that the child had entered the room. She sat up as he heaved himself up to her bunk.

#Sad.# he stated. Ma'hali nodded, wiping her nose.

"Yes, very sad." she agreed.

#Why?# he asked innocently. Ma'hali thought of a dozen reasons, her abandonment, her hopelessness, but the words caught in her throat. Without a word, the boy reached out, taking her hands in his.

She felt the familiar touch of his mind on hers, and relaxed. She felt her memories open up to him without hesitation. She could feel his pain as he shared her loneliness and despair. She oined her emotions to his as he relived his years of isolation before meeting her. Together, they shared their combined memories of sorrow and loss; then the joy they had found knowing each other.To each of them, the other shone like a sun, giving warmth and comfort where none else was to be found.

Releasing his hands slowly, Ma'hali reached out to the boy, only to see his tiny eyes overflowing with tears. Instinctively, she wrapped her arms around him protectively. As they cried with each other, Ma'hali knew that her prayer had been answered. She was not, and now never would be, alone.

Part 5

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