Terra Nullis or Not

The cloudy-coloured eyes glittered furiously as they watched the ducks move in. The intruders cleared away cobwebs, swept and cleaned.

"Dat’s right, ya take over now why don’tcha?" the small child in the vents hissed. "Maybe ya do deserve ta die after all." She chuckled without any mirth, seeming a million times older than her years. "Not mah choice but now, is it?"

A little voice in her mind answered her. That’s correct. It’s our choice.


She watched them. She knew them each by name. She knew how they worked. She knew that the leader had a scar that she hid, and that the Raptrin that the voice liked so much would likely come back for more one day. The tall skinny boy would probably either curl up and die or leave soon.

Watch them. the voice always said. Know how to hurt them. So she did. The voice always won.

Lyric was as much of a hardened thief as Nylessa was a saint. Marshall was the only one of ‘them’ left, and he posed no threat with the traits he had inherited.

He’ll be the first to go. He’s the one who knows what we are. It was his family that started this. That was a lie, but that was all the voice told.

Of course, the voice was full of ideas. It seemed to take pleasure in playing out it’s plans in her dreams. Sleep was full of poisoned food, puckshooters, sword play and death.

It wasn’t her choice. But she let it happen to save herself.


The little girl sighed. It was that time of day again. Now she would lose the control of her body instead of her mind.

Her limbs swung the sword around expertly. Again and again they made her practice. For hours. Her arms ached. Please, no more. Please… Her softer side that she normally kept hidden pleaded with them.

More. We will have our revenge.

She would have cried if she could have.


Careful…Careful…To the left. Right. Don’t slip. She climbed up the shelves of the pantry. The one good thing about the return on the Brotherhood was the food for stealing. Better than anything she’d ever tasted, the voice let her take it. She knew the nicest things were up the top, and she would have crowed with victory if it hadn’t meant bringing the owners of the Lair upon her.

Our Lair. Our Shadow Lair.

Yes, your Lair.

The light switched on.

Traitor! You called them!

I didn’t, I didn’t, how could I? You’ve been here the whole time!

"Didn’t I tell you? No rat eats that much."

She peered off the top shelf. Leila stood there, with a few juniors and Marshall by her side.

Hide us.

Stuffing the necklace under the huge t-shirt she wore, she jumped the drop to the ground. "Hi dudes." she greeted.

Leila and Marshall had their sabres at the ready. "You’re the one that stole all that food?" Leila sounded incredulous. "There’s hardly anything to you!"

The child scowled. "Shud up!"

Marshall tried not to laugh. "My dear, perhaps ye ought to tell us why you’re here."

"Ah’m not yer dear, ya old birdy."

Leila sighed. Another little feral kid. I thought we left those in the Metro. She grabbed the wrist of the brown-feathered girl, and quickly let go as she narrowly avoided being bitten. "Temper, temper. What’s your name?"

"Ah don’t have a name. Leila." she smirked at the look on Leila’s face. "Hey ya’ll. Marshall, Sparky…" One by one she named all present.

Leila sighed. This is going to go far, I can tell. Little brat. "How old are you?"

"Old enough, silver dude."

"Well little one, what does ye wish to be called?"

"Ah don’t wan a name, ya royal one."

They all looked at Marshall, and a strange look passed over his face. He squatted to be on the same level.

"Where have ye come from?" he asked urgently.

She shrugged. "Ah was born here. I bin here longer den all of ya."

"What did your parents call you?" Sparky asked.

She glared. "None of ya business, ya big sissy! I sin ya crying at night!"

Sparky turned a purer shade of white. "That’s not true!"

"Dudes, ah seen all that ya do, so don’t say ah’m wrong."

Leila ignored that. "Fine. Since you seem so intent on calling us ‘dudes’ that’s what we’ll call you. Dude."

Dude sniffed. "Suits me jus' fine."

"Now," Leila sighed. "What on Puckworld do we *do* with you?"

Dude stepped back. "Nothin’. Ah’ll see ya around." You just might not see me. She pushed out the vent and with a rattle of the beads in her hair was gone.

Silence reigned until one of the younger juniors piped up. "We *told* you we weren’t stealing the food."

Leila and Marshall sighed at the same time. "Tell everyone to be on the look out for her. We can’t have her telling anyone where we are." Leila ordered Marshall.

"Yes, m’lady."

She turned to go, but turned around with a glint in her eye. "‘Royal one’?"

He walked off without answering. The juniors peered at her.

"What? Go sleep!"

They left with a chorus of goodnights, and Leila collapsed into bed. It was a long time before she got any sleep though.


Now what?

Perhaps this is not so bad. Now that they know you are around, they will not be wary when they see you. And then we will kill them.

Dude sighed. She had had a feeling it would be something like that. Well, she refused to get close to them. They would die in the end, and she’d rather kill enemies then friends.

The voice heard her thoughts. They are your enemies. They always will be. You are ours. Insult them, call them names, bring up their past hurts. They deserve it.

She had a rare attack of anger against her ancestors who held her. I should never have put this stupid necklace on. You’re all insane.

You had to. You’re ours.

It was the truth. They had her trapped.

Dude, Marshall, Sparky, the Kabari and this story are all Copyright Rachel Baker ’98. Leila Copyright Leila deSilver, and used with permission. And the concept of the Shadow Lair is Copyright Rachel Baker too, even though it wasn’t used much in this story.