TKC 248 and 249 and 250
I no longer have to wonder about direction. The skies are alight with beams and the cacophony of cruisers and shuttles deafens. The Ilfin have engaged the Glonu in battle inside their sanctuary.
Running, I see little of the terrain. Everything is a blur.
Hours pass and still the battle rages. I hear explosions; ships have fallen, although I cannot tell who they belong to.
As the sun’s hazy presence reaches its zenith for the day, four shuttles head towards me. Whether they are fleeing the battle or reworking strategy is guesswork, but I do know they see me, a lone man running with the hounds of hell behind him.
Three ships circle then, and one gradually reduces height to hover in my path.
I stop running. Thank the stars, I am not even winded, or I will have nothing to defend myself with. Reaching into my pocket, I withdraw the orb and hold it aloft.
Brilliant green light erupts from my fingers.
The shuttle sets down with a thump. Before the engines have even reduced revolutions, the ramp lowers.
A man strides down with ten armed soldiers surrounding him. They do not point those weapons at me; they train them on the countryside. This man knows who I am.
He halts smartly before me, salutes, and bows his head. “Lord Makar.”
Clearly the Ilfin have not forgotten about the son sent into the stars. I do not know whether to be relieved or burdened by this insight. “I am Enris, yes. And you are?” I lower the orb, enclosing it until the glows dim.
The man lifts his head. An older man, one accustomed to leadership and soldiering. “I am Athol Gennerin.”
I lift me gaze to the head of the ramp to find Siri Mur there. “Hello, Siri,” I murmur. I focus on the commander. “You have the Delver with you?”
“Excellent. Tell him to contact Damin to tell him we are coming.” I stride for the ramp, leaving the commander and his soldiers to follow. “I will supply co-ordinates. Oh, and have this analysed.” I hand the man the shale slivers as he falls in beside me. “We believe the Spire is raised with this.”
“Excellent,” Gennerin murmurs as he accepts the trophies. “Hal! Tell Damin we are on our way to them!”
I see a shadow moving behind Siri, but she has my attention. As I reach her, she throws her arms about me and holds me.
“Horin, I am so glad you are safe,” she whispers into my neck.
I swallow. I know this young woman, but the knowledge is Horin’s. Enris has not held a woman in a long time. I am not attracted to Siri, but I no longer remember how it feels to have someone care enough about me to simply come forward and hold me. Briefly tightening our clasp, an appreciation, I step away.
“Siri, I am happy to know you are safe also,” I smile at her.
She claps her hands. “And now Damin!”
Still smiling, I enter the sterile and technological space to find soldiers everywhere, along with the westerner Kay, and the two Messengers Damin told us are now with Siri. The larger man has his eyes closed, no doubt reaching to Damin. He opens them as the ramp lifts to shut behind me.
“Damin sends his relief,” Hal murmurs.
I nod at him, rattle off some numbers to Gennerin, who gestures significantly.
Moments later we are airborne.
The soldiers hit the deck, knees slamming hard. Commander Gennerin is now watching me. Kay, I notice, passes his glance over the bowed troops before resting a curious gaze on me.
“Horin,” Siri whispers.
I shake my head. “I am not Horin.” Taking a step, I brace before the soldiers. “Men, raise your eyes.”
Heads snap up and eyes latch onto me.
“My father is Emperor Linus Makar of Makaran,” and I hold the orb out upon my palm. It burst into green flame. “My name is Enris Makar and I am heir to the throne.”
No one makes a sound other than to whistle in breath and all eyes fixate on the glowing orb.
Enclosing it once more, I snuff those glows. “I am also a soldier,” I murmur, ‘and greet you as a soldier. Rise, my Ilfin, and be at ease.”
Someone laughs, someone claps, and soon all are on their feet. Smiles slip onto faces and the men start whispering together. I meet Kay’s gaze. He inclines his head, saying nothing. Shrugging, I turn to Gennerin.
“How fare you against the Glonu?”
“Not well,” the commander snaps. “Shall we?” He indicates a small chamber left of the common area.
I head towards it, saying, “Kay, if you please.”
“What about me?” Siri demands.
“You are not a soldier, Siri.” I enter the small space with Gennerin on my heels. Kay slips in, giving Siri a look over his shoulder. “Close it.”
As Siri strides forward, Gennerin punches a button and a door slides between us and her rebellious expression.
“She will have your liver for breakfast,” Kay murmurs. “Mine too, probably.”
“Rather that than have her brother standing over us with a blunt pitchfork to do the same,” I say, causing Kay to grin. “Commander?”
Gennerin draws himself up. “We are throwing everything we have planet side at the Glonu here. Unfortunately they have recalled all theirs to this region also and we are outnumbered. We have lost four ships in the last hours. They have lost three.”
“We have not been close enough to it yet.”
Nodding, I sit at the tiny table. “Then this is what we must do.”