Lone Shee Chapter: The Banshee

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The Final Chapter of the Lone Shee Saga- The Banshee
By Officer 1BDI

It occured to him that he really should probably try and make contact with the Shee Ark, before performing the docking station's final act -- if not only to be thorough! So he rushed through to the Comms room and attempted to establish a communication channel with the other vessel. He strongly suspected the Ark would now be empty -- the Shee hadn't come all this way, only to sit in orbit of Sphericus! But he thought it may seem rude if he didn't at least try and invite any residents to share in tea with cookies and biscuits. So when someone on board the Ark actually did accept his Comms signal, he was very surprised indeed.

But not half as surprised as he was when her image came through on the screen! At first she seemed somehow ugly, and yet somehow deeply beautiful. Her face was so much like a Shee, yet it seemed she had features that were very much that of a Grendel. He had seen faces like this only once before. Faces that as a child had haunted him in his nightmares. This was the face of a kind of someone he had thought to be nothing more than the purest fiction. The face of a Banshee was staring right at him. Her ruby-red Grendelish eyes burned deep into him, and she spoke with a voice quite unlike anything he had ever heard before. "Welcome to Sphericus -- I've been expecting you..."

The Lone Shee felt a thrill of fear.  He was looking at an actual Banshee, a creature he had long believed to be little more than a figment of his overactive imagination.

Yet, there she was, standing before him via the Comms screen, grinning down at him sinisterly.  His mind felt numb; there were so many questions he wanted to ask her, so many blanks he wanted to fill.  But all he could think to ask was, “Why where you expecting me?”

The Banshee laughed.  It was only a soft chuckle, but it filled the poor Shee with dread.  Something was horribly wrong….

“Wouldn’t you like to know,” she said coldly.

The door crashed open.  Three Banshee, accompanied by their Grendel companions, had forced their way into the room.  The Lone Shee whipped around and gasped, his slender fingers clutching the console behind him as he pressed himself against the machine.  The musky stench was overwhelming now, and he briefly wondered if the Banshee also smelled like their pets before one of the Grendels made a grab for his leg.  The Lone Shee kicked it aside and sent it rolling into the wall.  Two of the Banshee grabbed each of his arms and yanked him fiercely from the Comms room.  The third was snapping loudly at the injured beast in a strange tongue that sounded suspiciously like Grendelese.

His captors hauled him into the illuminated hub of the Capillata, where he discovered more Banshee (and even more Banshee Grendels) waiting.  He could see the differences between their species and his own clearly now.  The Banshee were not as slender, but made up for it with a few added inches in height.  Their skin was not a pale blue, but a leathery dark green.  Their necks were shorter, their heads slightly more round, but what made them most eerie were their foul red eyes, as dark and rich as blood.

The two Banshee dragged him through the crowd, towards the portal that would transport them to the Shee Ark.  Some were sneering maliciously at him, but most were shooting glares, even accusing looks, as he passed them.  The Lone Shee knew he would not be able to slip away from this scenario, so he did not bother to struggle for freedom, let alone his portal device, which he had foolishly left in the Meso.

A door to his right slid open, and everyone turned towards it.  A crowd of Norns, his Norns, was standing behind it.  They all looked fearful and apprehensive.  The Lone Shee felt his heart clench.  What would become of his pets?

“You’ve kept yourself busy, Shee,” one Banshee said softly as he stared at the furry creatures with peaked interest.  The Lone Shee did not like the gleam his eye developed as he surveyed the Norns.  Several Fallows, Magmas and Siamese Norns fled upon hearing his raspy voice.  He sounded very much like a snake.

One young Siamese Nornling with Hardman limbs stood his ground.  He glared up at the Banshee and growled with as much fierceness as his little Nornir voice could muster, “Abel angry!  Hit bad Shee!”

Several of the Banshee burst into laughter.  One had such a fit that her friend had to escort her to the Workshop so she could calm down.  The Lone Shee shook his head desperately.

“No!” he yelled, and he was surprised that he could still talk.  “Run bad Shee!”

The Banshee laughed harder.  “He speaks as though he were one of them,” one scoffed to another.  Most of the Norns took the Lone Shee’s command to heart and turned tail, but young Abel stood his ground.  Several of his Hardman kin followed his example and stepped forward.

“Abel hit bad Shee!” he shouted before charging at the Banshee with the gleam in his eye and sent a flurry of punches at his shin.  The Lone Shee was conflicted; his heart swelled with pride over the protectiveness of his Norns, but at the same time, it was full of dread.

The Banshee looked down with a nonchalant expression at the child that was now pummeling his leg.  Then, in a swift movement, he grabbed Abel by the scruff of the neck and threw him across the room.  He hit the frame of the Meso door with a sickening CRACK before sliding to the floor in a heap.

The Lone Shee cried out and threw himself towards the Meso, desperate to break free.  He could heal him…. If he was still alive he could heal….

Something connected with the back of the Lone Shee’s neck.  He fell to his knees.  His vision was swimming: there were dark spots clouding his vision (or maybe he had fallen into a cluster of Trapdoor Bouncers).  He felt rough hands forcing him to his feet.  He managed a glance at his creatures before he was hit by another dizzy spell.  One female had settled next to the fallen child and was now snarling at a small band of Grendels that was slowly advancing on them….

The Lone Shee’s captors threw him onto the portal and activated it.  There was a blinding flash of light, and the sterile bridge of the Capillata was replaced with the rich, bronze dock of the Shee Ark.  Minutes ago, he would have been thrilled at the sight.  Now, he glanced warily up at the dozens of Banshee that surrounded him.

“Get off!” one scowled as he threw him from the portal linking the ships.  He landed hard and lay still for a moment, listening to the harsh laughing above his head.  He squeezed his eyes shut and tried desperately to block out the voices.

He had to get out of there.

Something solid and soft struck his side.  The Lone Shee chanced a glance up and was greeted with a lemon to the face.  Several of the Banshee were throwing rotten fruit at him.  Both hands clasped firmly over his head, the Lone Shee searched the room for an exit.  He found it, not two meters in front of him.  An open door led to a second door a ways down a small corridor.  If he could make it to that second door, he might have a chance….

One hand slipped from his head and back to the floor.  He had to time it perfectly and choose a moment when the Banshee were distracted.  Opportunity came with another brilliant flash of light.  Several of the Banshee stopped and turned to see whom else had come aboard.

The Lone Shee scrambled to his feet and sprinted for the door.  There was an outcry from the Banshee; many of them grabbed at him.  One snagged a fistful of his robes, but the Lone Shee tore himself free, dove through the doorframe, and heard the door slam behind him.  Relief washed through him as it clicked shut, and he hurried eagerly towards the second door.

He didn’t realize the Banshee were laughing at him until he peered out the window.  The second door led not to a new room, or even a new corridor, but space.

The Lone Shee had cornered himself in the airlock.

“Damn!” he hissed in a panicked voice.  He reluctantly turned to face the opposite door.  The Banshee were smiling evilly at him through the window.  Some of them were mockingly beckoning him to return to them, while others looked as though they’d love nothing more than to launch him into space.

The Lone Shee was breathing very fast, only vaguely aware that his heart was trying to leap out of his chest.  “There must be a way.…” he muttered madly to himself.  “There must be an exit, there always is!”  His entire journey had been a waste.  He’d come all this way just to meet his demise in an airlock he’d stupidly shut himself in….

“Having fun?”  A flood of anger submerged the Lone Shee’s fear.  He glared through the glass at the Banshee that had hurt his Norn.  “I would have expected no less from your Norns, but for a Shee to get stuck like this…” he shook his head, smiling.  “Well, I suppose I shouldn’t expect much from the Shee who couldn’t spare the effort to look for his friends before they abandoned him.”

How had he known that?  For a moment, the Lone Shee felt unnerved, but he shook it off and stared defiantly at the Banshee.

“But that’s how you’ve always been, Shee.  Even in your youth, you were always so engrossed in your little ‘projects,’ you failed to notice other details: supper calls, evacuation orders… even the difference between an airlock and an escape route.  Perhaps you are closer to your pets than you think.”

“What do you want from me?” the Lone Shee asked quietly.  “Perhaps… we could work out a compromise.”

Deep down, the Lone Shee regretted the offer, but he knew it might be his only chance of surviving this encounter.  He was willing to sacrifice his dignity for his and his Norns’ lives.

His Norns... he could hear their protests through the door, and he craned his neck to look around the Banshee’s cold stare, to catch a glimpse of the poor things.

“Stop that,” the Banshee snapped, but the Lone Shee ignored him.  He could hear them crying now, some were moaning painfully….

The airlock door slid open, and the Lone Shee fell against the Banshee, who grabbed his arm.  “You miss them already,” he sneered as he forced the Lone Shee forward.  Through the crowd, the Lone Shee could see his creatures were locked in cages, five or six to a trap.  They wailed loudly, complaining of crowdedness and fear, but they were luckier than those Norns being individually handled.  Several Banshee were carrying the limp forms of battered and bruised Norns, most of whom were, the Lone Shee noted sadly, Hardman mixes.

The Banshee gripping him leaned close to his ear; the Lone Shee jerked away, but he only pulled him closer.

“All we want,” he whispered, “is to watch you suffer.”

One of the Norn-burdened Banshee gave a sharp whistle.  Several Grendels perked up eagerly and made a mad rush towards her.  She carelessly tossed the limp form at them, and they leapt upon it savagely.  The Lone Shee choked and sharply turned his head away.  He could feel the bile rising in his throat….

“Don’t tell me you’re tormenting him already,” a new voice interjected.  Amid the nausea, the Lone Shee recognized it.  It belonged to the female who had greeted him.

She must have been important; every Banshee stopped what he or she was doing and turned towards her.  Even the Grendels ceased their brutal activities to pay her attention.  She brushed through the crowd with a grace the Lone Shee wouldn’t have thought possible from her species.  She stopped before him, and the two took each other in.

“Was he alone?”  Her voice was surprisingly crisp, nothing like the gristly rasp of her fellow Banshee.

“Yes, apart from his little ‘companions’,” the male Banshee answered.  The Lone Shee could hear the smirk in his voice, and he wanted nothing more than to send a proper blow his way.

“And his ship?” she continued.  Her eyes were intently focused on him, as though they were trying to burrow into his mind.

“A few genome blueprints, some tools of interest, though we already have quite a few of them, but nothing of much use to us.”

The female Banshee briefly considered this.  She finally broke eye contact and glanced around the room.  “I want the caged Norns transferred to the appropriate terrarium.  The Hardmans can be put in the Grendel Terrarium, but make sure they’re actually disabled this time.  Take the useful tools and shelve them in our workshop.  Is the Shee’s ship clear?” she added without skipping a beat.


“Destroy it.  We have no use for it, and it’ll only slow us down.  Take the Shee to the brig…”

“We don’t have a brig,” one Banshee interjected.

“Then throw him in the crypt,” she fumed, “which will hereafter be referred to as ‘the brig’.”  The Lone Shee didn’t hear this alteration, though.  He was too crushed by her previous order.

They were going to destroy the Capillata.  Granted, she was just a mutated jellyfish that had been genetically altered to serve as a flying laboratory, but he had grown quite fond of his creation.  He couldn’t let these horrible beings hurt her.  His eyes searched frantically for a lever, a button, anything that would allow the Capillata to break free from the Shee Ark.  Maybe it was sentient enough to flee on it’s own.  It was unlikely, but it was his only hope.

Just as he spotted it (a small purple button behind the portal that linked the ships), he felt the male Banshee pull him back.  They were taking him away.  He might never have another chance to free her….

He struggled fiercely against his captor, but it only prompted two more Banshee to help restrain him.  As the Lone Shee stained against the arms that bound him, he felt something hard and cool brush against his hand.  He briefly glanced down, then did a double take.  One of the Banshee had smuggled his Bondis’ didgeridoo from the Capillata.

There was no time to think: the Lone Shee wrenched his arm free, snatched up the instrument, and threw it at the button with all his might.

He never saw the didgeridoo hit its mark, or snap in half as it slammed against the wall.  The entire ship lurched violently, and everyone was thrown from their feet.  The Lone Shee flew headlong into one of the cages and bashed his head against the bars.  The only thing he recognized before plunging into darkness was the frightened screaming of his Norns.

*     *     *

Consciousness was slow to creep back to the Lone Shee.  He could only sense a few things, none of which immediately registered with his brain: the flickering of light, the rustling of cloth, the cool stone floor he was sprawled upon….

His eyes fluttered open.  A pair of cold, blue eyes shone back at him through a wall of flame.

The Lone Shee gasped, sat upright, and scooted backwards into a stone table, smashing his head into the edge.  He swore loudly and winced, clasping the spot firmly.  He chanced a second glance at the being with the blue eyes.

It was nothing more than a stone statue, one of many that had been set on the table, which appeared to run along the curved walls of this dark and dreary room.  The poise and dress suggested it was meant to depict a High Priest, with its mystic eyes peering from beneath a heavy hood to study the flaming bowl it held.

The Lone Shee was surprised by the icons.  Though well respected among their fellow Shee for their valuable discoveries, the High Priests’ infatuation with what were considered the “unconventional sciences” had given them a notoriety that had lasted right until the species’ departure from Albia.  Of all the beings in the populace, they had been considered the least orthodox….

Until the Banshee were factored in, of course.

“I’m sorry we put you here,” a familiar voice spoke from the shadows, “but we’re rather short on space.”

The Lone Shee let his hand slip back to the floor as he slowly turned to face the Banshee.  She was perched on the table across the room, watching him with an unreadable expression as a second statue looming above her.

He moved to rise to his feet, but found that easier said than done.  As he bent forward, he was overwhelmed by a throbbing pain in his side.  He gingerly felt the afflicted area and hissed shortly when it stung in response.  He was definitely bruised there, and probably bleeding as well.

“I see they were less than careful with you when they brought you here,” she said brusquely.  “I’m not sure I blame them.  After that little stunt of yours, your ship broke free and fled,” she frowned.  “My friends were eager to tear it apart.  I suppose they settled for you, instead.”  The Lone Shee slowly settled back against the table, feeling rather annoyed with his “host.”  He strongly suspected the Banshee had beaten him while he had been unconscious.  

Which reminded him….

“Where are the others?”

The Banshee blinked slowly.  “He speaks properly,” she said airily to herself.  “Who would have guessed….”

“Where are the other Shee?” he repeated, his voice stronger.  A small smile grew on the lips of the Banshee.  She looked as though she were playing teacher to a moderately thick child.

“Why, they’re dead, Shee,” she said simply.

It took a moment for the full impact of her statement to sink in.  He felt numb, cold.  A chill was running its persistent course up and down his spine.

“We got quite a few during the Grendel invasion, which was a surprise.  We thought your species had the ability to at least fight back…”

He could hardly hear her over the dull buzz in his head.  All he could think of were those horrible words….

“…but, alas, they apparently didn't.”

They’re dead, Shee.  They’re dead.

“We cornered the survivors and gave them the option to join us.  They refused, of course….”

Why was it so hard to breathe?  He knew his lungs were working; he could feel his chest heaving with every gasp….

“…We sent them down to Sphericus, as they requested.  A pity they hadn’t visited the planet before…”

…Or maybe that was his heart….

“…They might have realized it’s virtually uninhabitable.”

His head cleared enough for him to notice her sliding off the stone table.  She crossed the room in slow, graceful strides and knelt before him, placing one hand on the wall for support.  She cupped his chin with her free hand, and they stared at each other, eye-to-eye.

“You are not a mere Shee,” she muttered.  “You are the lone Shee, the last remnant of your sorry species.  But don’t worry,” she smiled.  “My friends and I will ensure you don’t go to waste.”

Perhaps it was something in her eyes, or the harsh, mocking tone of her voice, but the Lone Shee was suddenly overcome with anger.  Before he fully realized what he was doing, he threw himself at her, shouting foul words at her ugly, reptilian face.

He didn’t get very far.  Something strong and cold wrapped itself around his torso and whipped him back, holding him to the wall.  The Banshee, who hadn’t removed her hand from the wall, or even flinched during this display, smirked as he struggled against the strange new binding.

“We’ve made some changes to the ship since your species left,” she breathed.  Her fingers traced a spiral on the wall, and the Lone Shee could feel the binds tighten.  He inhaled sharply as they dug into his injured side, and the tears that had been threatening to fall for quite some time finally spilt forth.

They were going to kill him.  The Banshee would have their fun, and then they’d kill him, like they’d slaughtered so many of his friends.

“Why?” he choked.

“Because,” she growled, and for the first time, her eyes narrowed in fury.  “Our ancestors deserve retribution.  They were ridiculed, ostracized, punished for being different.  But the tables have turned.  Now, we are the superior beings, and you are the minority.”

“We never ostracized you!” he wheezed.  The binds were becoming unbearable now.  “Your ancestors chose to leave Albia!”

For a moment, the Banshee looked taken aback.  But her eyes returned to their narrow state, and she leered at him once again.  “You foolish fool.  Do you really believe your species was so innocent?”

The Lone Shee didn’t answer.  He never got he chance.  The door slid open and the male Banshee with the gleam in his eye stepped into the room.  The female turned and released her hold on the wall.  The binds melted from the Lone Shee, back into the wall, and he fell sideways, gasping for air.

The two Banshee spoke in sharp Grendelese to one another.  After several minutes of dialogue, the female shot a disgusted look at the Lone Shee before rising and sweeping out of the room.  The male followed her out, and the door slid shut behind them.

The room was void of sound, except for the Lone Shee’s ragged breathing and the occasional crackle of the fires around him.  For awhile, he kept his eyes shut and tried to imagine that he was back home, in his humble Albian abode, sitting before a blazing fire while flipping through the latest genome article over tea and chocolate biscuits.

He tried so desperately to imagine all this, but the illusion was too easily shattered.  He couldn’t escape being locked away in this cemetery, mentally or otherwise.  He shot a futile glance towards the door, only to find it had vanished entirely.  This did not surprise him, partially because he expected this sort of security from the Banshee, but partially because his hope was wearing painfully thin.

*     *     *

The Lone Shee was not sure how much time had passed since the Banshee had left him to wallow in his own sorrow.  To be honest, he wasn’t too concerned with keeping track.

During one of his routine visits, the Banshee with the gleaming eye had “accidentally” revealed their plans.  They were not, as the Lone Shee had feared, going to kill him.  Instead, they were going to splice his genome and muck around with his genetics, specifically a few brain lobes of interest.  They were going to stupefy him and force him into servitude, but not before they threw some Grendel genes into the mix. They were going to turn him into one of them.  To the Lone Shee, this seemed a fate worse than death.

Somewhere behind him, the door opened.  He tensed, waiting for heavy footsteps to approach.

But whoever entered made a soft patter as they slowly crept up to him.  He held his breath and listened cautiously.  It might have been a Grendel… except it was walking far too slow.  After a long silence, the creature moaned.

The Lone Shee whirled around: that was a Norn’s voice.

Standing before him was a distressed female Hardman, clutching a lifeless Abel close to her chest.  Her left eye was badly swollen, she was covered with scratches, and she limped as she took another tentative step forward, but he could still recognize her as the adult who had earlier tried to protect Abel.

She took in his appearance with wide eyes.  “Shee ill,” she rasped.

The Lone Shee ignored this for the moment.  How had she gotten into the crypt?  Was he the only being who did not have access to the door?  Had the Banshee simply overlooked the thought that one of his pets might escape and come looking for him?

The Hardman frowned.  “Bad Shee hit Abel,” she said darkly, her grip on the child tightening.  “Abel ill.  Abel rest.  Abel no eat, Abel no run.  A-Abel rest.”

She shuffled next to the Lone Shee so he could have a better look at him.  He gently pushed aside a patch of Abel’s fur to check his skin color, and was dismayed to find it was gray.

“Maybe… maybe Shee push Abel?” the Hardman murmured quietly.

The Lone Shee stared at the female for a moment.  He couldn’t understand how a tickle would help her son, and he shook his head, asking himself more than her, “What?”

“Shee push Abel!” she repeated, her eyes wide and hopeful.  She pressed the Nornling’s limp form into his lap and stared at him expectantly.  The Lone Shee understood now. She thought he could heal her son.

He gingerly cradled the child and bought him closer to his face.  He didn’t need his medical scanner of the HoverDoc to feel Abel’s shattered spine.  The Nornling wasn’t breathing, and the Lone Shee sadly suspected that he hadn’t been for quite some time now.  He set Abel’s still from back into his lap and looked at the Hardman.

“Abel….” he began slowly.

“Abel no rest,” she interrupted.  She snatched up her Nornling and held him up to the Lone Shee.  “Shee look.  Shee push.”

The Lone Shee was taken aback by this sudden display of urgency.  “I did look….”

“Shee no push Abel!” she scowled.  “Maybe push Abel….”

“I can’t do that,” he said helplessly.

“Maybe push gadget!” she cried, and he noticed her voice had developed a frantic pitch.  “Maybe gadget push Abel!”

“I don’t have any gadgets!” he said tersely.  The angered Norn set her son back in the Lone Shee’s lap, grabbed his hand, and pressed it firmly into Abel’s chest, right where his heart should have been beating.

“Shee push Abel!” she shrieked hysterically, holding his palm against Abel as though it would pump life back into his listless body.  He stared numbly at his own hand, and slowly turned his gaze to her face.  She was frowning at him, breathing deeply as she tried to restrain her Hardman genes.  But her eyes were welled, as though she already knew, deep down….

He gently slipped his hand free and grasped her arm.  She stared at him, determination and desperation shining in her bright eyes.

“Shee no push Abel….” He inhaled sharply.  “Able… Abel is dead.”

For a moment, the Hardman just stood there, and the Lone Shee wondered if the Norn could even comprehend “death.”  But all doubt was shattered: the female released an appalling screech.  She ripped herself loose from his grasp and began storming around the room, babbling a string of basic Sheeish mingled with her own language.  The Lone Shee was too startled to react.  Never had he seen a Norn respond to a death in such a manner.

Her voice bounced violently off the walls of the cavernous crypt, and the Lone Shee remembered that they were not alone on the Ark.  He set Abel off to the side before he leapt up to restrain the female.

His side seared with pain in response to the sudden movement, and he fell against the table with a hiss.  The room grew quiet as he slipped to the floor, cursing beneath his breath.  He glared sideways at the now-subdued Hardman.

She was watching him with large, apprehensive eyes.  “Shee injured?” she whispered.  She looked shaken.

“Yes!” he growled, clutching his injured side.  The Hardman backed away at her Shee’s harsh tone, and he forced his expression to soften.  “I’m sorry, but you must keep quiet.  If the Banshee hear you….”

“Bad Shee hit Shee?” she asked.  The Lone Shee hesitated, then nodded.

“Yes, the bad Shee hurt me,” he admitted.

She timidly approached him and grasped the sleeve of his robe, studying him carefully.  “Shee die?” she murmured, her voice trembling.

“For the moment, no,” he responded curtly.  His Hardman didn’t seem convinced, however, and ventured further.  “Bad Shee die Shee?”  She wanted to know if the Banshee would kill him.  He spent a great deal of time staring at the floor, at Abel’s crumpled body….

“Yes,” he sighed softy.  “Shee die.”

The female’s face contorted, and with a frightened wail she flung herself at her master, wrapping her tiny arms around his waist and burrowing her face into his robes.  He shot her a bewildered look, but her grip only tightened as she nestled her head precariously close to his wound.

The Lone Shee took her into his arms and shifted her so she was now crying openly into his chest.  He stroked her back absentmindedly, a feeble attempt at comforting her, as he contemplated their predicament.

‘This can’t possibly be the end of all things,’ he mused solemnly.  ‘Our kind never took to defeat so easily, and I’ll be damned if I leave this world without a struggle.  Especially if I am as they tell me: the Lone Shee.’

Stopping the Banshee from expanding their reign of terror was a problem with a cryptic solution.  He was but one Shee fighting against a species with pronounced sentience and Grendel brutality.  And time was of the essence; if he did not act soon, he would be spliced before his plan could take action.

As he rattled off ideas in his head, his fingers brushed across a strange growth on the Hardman’s neck.  It shivered at his touch, but he didn’t take notice of it.  Seconds later, a stinging sensation forced him to jerk his hand away.  The “growth” was dangling from a thread, the other end attached to a tiny hook that had speared the Lone Shee’s finger.  He recognized it immediately as PST-003, the Hoverhook Bouncer that had roamed his ship since his return from the Toxic Norns’ world.

The Lone Shee stared at it stupidly as it twirled innocently from his fingertip.  His eyes narrowed and he felt the rage that had been building within him soar to full height.  He viciously tore the Bouncer from his hand and, with a vivid curse, sent it flying.  It landed smack-dab in the center of one statue’s bowl of fire, where it squealed at the abrupt change in temperature and rolled out of the basin.  It hit the floor with a soft SPLAT and lay still as tiny flames consumed it.

He silently watched the entire process, his dark eyes never straying from the Bouncer’s path.  As it lay smoldering in the statue’s shadow, the Lone Shee was struck with an idea.  It was a horrible idea, and far too violent for his liking.

But it was the only way he could find.

He turned his attention back to the Hardman, who was sniffing
quietly in his lap.  He would need her help, and perhaps the aid of anyone else that had escaped the Banshee.  It would have to wait, though.  For now, she needed time to heal.

He resumed stroking her, and they sat together like that for a long while, keeping watch over Abel until his body was claimed by the ages and disappeared into a cloud of dust.

*     *     *

The flames within the stone basin flickered gently around the flask.  A pale, shaky hand tipped the contents of a transparent beaker into the fire.  The flames flared ardently, and a smoky liquid within the flask began to boil.  

With grim satisfaction, the Lone Shee turned away from the statue and gingerly stepped off the table.  He slid the beaker behind one of its legs and proceeded to the next statue.  Anyone watching would have detected a significant limp.  He groped behind the base until his fingers found the broken light box.  He removed it and observed the contents: the Hoverhook Bouncers within were cascading off the walls of their fortified prison, much to his pleasure.  Just as he had replaced the box, he heard the door slide open.  He stayed still, listening for footsteps.  They were too light to belong to the Banshee, and to quick to qualify for Grendels.  He turned to greet his Hardman and her new companion.

The Norn’s arms were clasped tightly around a pair of teleporters.  Her friend, an Ettin who was barely into his youth, grasped several flasks in one hand and a small brown sack in the other.  They obediently approached him and dropped the objects at his feet.  The Lone Shee winced as the flasks clattered loudly in the cavernous room.  The Ettin had yet to master the art of common sense.

He scratched them both behind the ears and went to work on the bubbling flask.  The Hardman tugged impatiently at his robes.

“Yes?” he sighed impatiently.

“Shee no look!” she glowered, seizing the brown sack and pressing it into his robes.  The Lone Shee stooped over and peered into the open bag.

“These are just cookies,” he sighed again.  He’d been hoping for some proper tools or ingredients….

“Shee like cookies,” the Hardman insisted.  She removed one, a chocolate biscuit, and shoved it haphazardly into his mouth.  The Lone Shee stood upright and shot her and indignant look, but was surprised to find her glaring back at him.

“Shee no eat!” she complained.  The Ettin eyed her cautiously as he snuck a few cookies out for himself.  “Shee push gadget, Shee push tool, Shee push toy.  Shee no get food, Shee no rest!  Shee yes push!” she ranted.  “Shee eat food, no intensely ill,” she concluded, snatching back the stolen cookies and waving them at the Lone Shee.

He tried to answer, but failed through the mouthful of biscuit.  With a bit of effort, he swallowed and retorted, “I’m not going to get sick.”

“Shee ill,” she grumbled, raising the hem of his robes to point out his pale hue.  The Lone Shee ripped his robes from her and shuffled away in annoyance.  “Shee injured,” she added knowingly as she watched him limp away.

The truth was, he could not remember the last time he’d eaten a proper meal or had a decent nap.  The Banshee weren’t too keen on feeding him regularly, and when he wasn’t being thrashed around, he was too busy to sleep.  There were experiments to run, inventions to protect, and enemies to watch for.  He simply didn’t have time for rest.

Soon, he wouldn’t have any time at all.  He was willing to make sacrifices now for future successes.  He just wished his Norn could understand that.

The Hardman was still trying to glare him into submission.  With a sigh, the Lone Shee took a few more biscuits and chewed them in defeat.  He motioned for the Ettin to bring him the two portals.  They were not Warp-accessible, but that could easily be fixed.

There was much work to be done.  Determined, the Lone Shee grabbed a handful of cookies and crammed them into his mouth.  He needed the nutrients, he reasoned as he picked up an unbroken flask, and he needed the strength.  Besides, these cookies were delightfully addictive.

*     *     *

The crypt was silent.  Long ago had the basin fires of the High Priest statues burned out.  The burlap sack of quirky cookies lay empty and forgotten in a corner of the room.  Even with his keen eyesight, the Lone Shee could hardly make out the edges of the stone structures that surrounded him.  The only lingering light came from the hollowed light box; his Hoverhook Bouncers, once a cloudy grey, now glowed like embers.

He sat, leaning wearily against the base of a Shee statue, and listened.  He was clutching one of two altered portals to his chest.  He had sent the other one off with the Ettin, including instructions on how to connect it to the Ark’s database.  The Hardman had accompanied him, with the intent to protect both creature and creation, should the need arise.  

Now, all he could do was wait.

After what seemed like eons, the door opened.  The Lone Shee raised his head and watched the Hardman rush into the room.  She scrambled onto the tabletop and looked at him eagerly.

“Ettin drop gadget!  Ettin push gadget!” she babbled in a hushed, yet excited voice.  The Lone Shee stared at her, hardly believing his ears.  Then, he raised a trembling hand and set it gently on her head.

“Well done, my dear,” he murmured, smiling weakly as he slowly stroked the back of her head.  He glanced up expectantly and searched the room for her Ettin companion.

He could not find him.

“Where is your Ettin friend?” he whispered in a wavering voice.  The Hardman’s eyes went wide and she whirled around to scan the room.  Clearly, she had thought he was right behind her.

“Ettin no come?” she asked, bewildered.  She sniffed the air, searching for his scent.  Suddenly, her hair stood on end and she growled softly.  She crouched down and eyed the door warily.

The Lone Shee didn’t need to ask what was wrong.  He, too, picked up on the musky stench of Grendels and Banshee.  There was no longer the question of what had happened to the Ettin.

Muffled voices conversed behind the door.  It flew open and a flood of Banshee swarmed into the room, their Grendel companions in tow.

The male with the gleam in his eye motioned towards the portal and strode across the room to snatch it.  The Lone Shee watched him with a curious, almost nonchalant expression.  Without dropping his gaze, he murmured to the Hardman from the corner of his mouth, “Good luck, my dear.”

Then he activated the portal.

The device glowed a brilliant blue, so bright that it was almost white.  It vibrated violently in the Lone Shee’s grip before a ring of light exploded from it.  It rippled across the room, through the stunned Banshee, through the crypt’s walls, and into every nook and cranny of the Shee Ark.  The Norn shot a look of horror at her master, but was unable to even cry out before she faded from his sight forever.

And, just as suddenly as it had begun, the ring of light vanished.  The Banshee who weren’t still standing with their mouths agape glanced around in shock.  All of their Grendels had disappeared.

For a few moments, nobody said a word.  A chuckle broke the silence; a soft, inapt laugh that built up and distorted into a manic cackle.  One by one, every Banshee turned to face the hysterical Lone Shee.

“Where are they?” the male Banshee glared.  But the Lone Shee could not answer.  He sat, slumped, at the base of the statue, with scarcely enough strength to hold his head up, yet he laughed more tenaciously than he ever had in his life.

He could hear them whispering around him.  “He’s gone mad.  The Shee’s finally lost it!”  He didn’t care what they thought.  It didn’t matter.  None of it would matter much longer.

Strong hands grasped him around the shoulders and slammed him into the wall.  The laughter died, but a loopy smile was still plastered on his face.  The gleam in the Banshee’s eye was particularly bright now, and he could feel a giggle bubbling within him.

“Where is my Grendel, Shee!?” he roared.

“Oh, he’s quite safe, I assure you.  They all are,” the Lone Shee beamed back.

The Banshee growled dangerously, and his grip on the Lone Shee’s shoulders tightened.

“Let me talk to him,” a familiar voice interposed.  The female Banshee drifted between them and placed a calming hand on her friend’s shoulder.  He scowled at her, but reluctantly released his grip.  The Lone Shee felt him tear the portal from his grasp, but he no longer cared.  It had been designed to work once, and only once.  They would never find their Grendels, or his Norns.

“Shee,” the female began slowly, “What has become of our Grendels?”

“They’ve been sent into the Warp, just like every other creature on this ship,” he replied with a grin.

The Banshee looked taken aback.  Behind her, many of her comrades reached instinctively for their personal portals, only to find that they no longer functioned.  Several swore aloud, some in Grendelese.

“Shee,” the Banshee asked with narrow eyes.  “Why do our portals no longer work?”

“Well,” he began thoughtfully, “in order to gather enough energy to warp out every Norn, Grendel and Ettin on the Ark, I had to tap into its bioenergy.  And, as I’m sure you’re already aware of, all major tools and machines are forced to shut down when the ship’s bioenergy has been drained.”  It was the female Banshee’s turn to growl.

“You are quite the fool, Shee.  Give us a day, and we’ll have the bioenergy levels up to standard.  Or at least high enough to find our Grendels, capture your Norns, and run you through the splicer,” she seethed.

The Lone Shee shook his head pityingly, and his smile widened.  “You’re not getting your Grendels back,” he laughed.  There was an underlying harshness in his tone that made the Banshee raise an eyebrow.  She did not notice one of his hands sneak behind the base of the Shee statue.

“Why is that, Shee?”

“Because,” he began, and all the laughter died from his face as he removed the Bouncer-filled light box from its nook.  “My Norns are all that I have left.  And I simply won’t allow you to have them.”

With that, he let the light box slip from his fingers.  It bounced off the table, and all eyes were upon it when it hit the stone floor and shattered.

*     *     *

Day 269 (Albian Year 1801)
After much debate, I have decided against telling the Hardman female of my plans.  Not that I don’t doubt her ability to understand it (quite the contrary, actually), but I fear that she would not only advise against the plan, but perhaps try and keep me from completing it.

I cannot allow this.  No, it’s better if I warp her away with the others.  At least she’ll then have another chance, a fresh start at life.

Part of me longs for the same chance, but I know deep in my heart that this is the only way.  If these vile Banshee are not destroyed, there’s no telling how far they’ll go.  I’d hate to see any future that they had a part in shaping.  I can’t even begin to imagine how many worlds they’ll have destroyed, how many wars they’ll have started….

Yes, this is the only way I can ensure the end of their supremacy.  The Hoverhook Bouncers have already been injected with the enzyme.  I’m hoping that by the week’s end I’ll have a fully functioning colony of Fire Bouncers.  I imagine they’ll run their course through the ship in a matter of days.  I hope they make a clean job of it; I’d hate for some poor creature to stumble upon a Norn Terrarium littered with half-charred cadavers….

I must admit the whole death concept still bothers me.  I’m unsure whether it is the pain that worries me, or the idea that I will no longer exist in this world.  I feel a good deal of my fear stems from the unavoidable truth: I am the
Lone Shee, and with my death comes the eradication of my species.  It is one thing to die and be remembered; it is quite another to vanish without a trace.  

My only consolation is that in my death, I am ridding the universe of a greater threat.  If the time comes when I am unable to force myself to liberate the Fire Bounces (for I can think of no other way to free them that does not require my involvement), I hope this thought alone might push me to shatter the glass and release upon them a custom Hell.  If I should perish in the flames alongside them, then so be it.

Ashley let the journal slip from his hand.  He glanced around the crypt, taking in every smudge, every scratch, every speck of dirt or ash that spotted the walls, floor and statues.  He never would have guessed that the Shee Ark had been purged of all life at some point in its rich history.  Even now, he couldn’t find any evidence of such a fire.

Except for, of course, this strange journal, one of many that he and his fellow Hands had discovered hidden on Albia, the Capillata, and this very Ark.  All of them revolved around the same character: a lone Shee who had been separated from his species and was only trying to catch up.
When Ashley first showed the journals to his fellow Hands, there had been some interest, but not enough for people to start considering the stories factual.  Lisa had best summarized the collective opinion: “As far as official history is concerned, he never existed.”

Ashley wasn’t so sure.  The more he read, the more he was convinced that the journals held at least some truth.  They explained so many things: why the volcanic eruption in Old Albia had occurred, why the Capillata had build-in Warp access, where those pointless, squidgy Trapdoor Bouncers had come from….

Ashley signed as he picked up the journal (which was suspiciously burnt around the edges) and stuffed it into his inventory.  Despite the concerns of some of his fellow Hands, he was saving every scrap he found concerning the Shee.  He was hoping to gather enough evidence to begin writing out the Lone Shee’s story, from start to finish.  It didn’t matter if anyone took the account seriously.  At least it would be told.

“Ashley push Abel!” a tiny voice chirped.  Ashley turned to see one of his hatchlings, a little Siamese male, reaching up for him.  With a smile, Ashley scratched Abel’s nose and commanded him to follow him as he exited the crypt.  Abel trailed his Hand with no complaint, and together they headed back to the security of the Norn Terrarium.

~ Fin ~
What started off as a simple idea has now become the final draft of my version of the final chapter of Frimlin's Lone Shee saga. That's right, the Lone Shee's yet again stuck in a tale I wrote: a crummy world of plot holes and spelling errors (and the occasional Futurama quote; not quite sure how they made it in there, but they did).

Reading the rest of the series is a must before you dive into this chapter. You can find all the official chapters, including the Banshee story, here. I also wrote a separate chapter, the Cookie Ettin story, which can be found here (though that story plays no role in this one, so you don't have to read it...).

I dedicate this story to Ashley, the author behind the original chapters. In the event that he sees this and doesn't kill me for butchering his masterpiece, I'd like to thank him for sticking with the series for so long, even when the game seemed dead.

Special thanks to my unofficial beta-readers from A2K: althesaurus, Liamlala, laela, Blueberry (a.k.a. taklayyankovic), malkin, nini, 3kul and Bifrost.

Rating: PG-13 (swearing, dark themes)

Beginning excerpt from Ash Harman's "Lone Shee Saga: The Banshee Grendels."
© 2004 - 2022 Officer-1BDI
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AgentAdamHenderson's avatar
A fitting end to the Lone Shee, Shee as a species and the Lone Shee Saga.

Sad, creepy and perfectly canon in my view.

Great job, you managed to make creatures scary while having everything perfectly in character.