Tuesday, March 22, 2016

The King's Challenge #251 and #252

TKC 251 and 252

Less than an hour later, Damin and Lyra join us in Gennerin’s camouflaged shuttle. Hidden under a canopy of trees and further blended with nets, branches and leaves, the shuttle becomes the command centre as a matter of practicality.

Other shuttles fly further afield to guard the terrain, while being far enough removed to not give our position away. The bulk of the force has returned to the vicinity of the Spire to keep the Glonu distracted there.

Damin and Siri fly into each other’s arms. Joseph and Hal immediately begin muttering together, while Marian and Hanna fall into intense discussion.

No one, not us, not them, speaks of the horror that went before this reunion. Perhaps no one will ever speak of it. War forces a soul into silence.

While the rest of the Arc troop is fed outside, we gather in the central area. This time Siri refuses to budge, daring everyone with a fierce gaze to say anything to the contrary. Kay grins at her side.

I explain the plan.

As expected, Lyra nearly disembowels me with her fury. “It is suicide! Why Damin? Send someone else!”

Damin grips her hand. “I trust no other to do this.”

Her lips compress and flames erupt around their clasped hands, her elemental self ignoring the usual controls. Abruptly she withdraws her hand and smacks it flat upon the metal table. Flame licks at the surface, skittering from her fingers to spread.

Commander Gennerin backs up, his eyes wide. Thereafter he hurtles to his feet to bow from the waist. “My Lady,” he breathes. “We believed you lost.”

Lyra swallows and retracts her fire. Until this point her features had been in the shadows created by the bulkhead where she is, and thus the Ilfin has not yet marked her eyes, but the flames are an unmistakable sign. She gives me a look, which I meet with a skewed smile.

“Gentlemen, meet Iniri Makar,” I murmur, watching her.

Sighing, she straightens. The light captures her eyes in that moment. The blue is sapphire in the halogens overhead, while the green is emerald. It is akin to staring into my orb.

Every Ilfin in the vicinity slams to knees.

Touching my nose, I grin at my sister.

“Stuff you, Enris,” she mutters. “I have no knowledge of that past.”

Gennerin glances at me from his lowered position. I gesture, and he straightens. “At ease, everyone,” I add when the soldiers on board do not move from their knees. They rise, but are no longer the focus of my attention.

Standing myself, I lean over the table and grip Lyra’s wrist. Ignoring Damin when he shouts denial, I press my orb into the palm of her hand and force her fingers to close over it, holding them in place.

“Deny it now,” I say, staring into her eyes. I lift my hand away, leaving her in possession of the orb.

Siri’s slender fingers creep in to rest upon Damin’s shoulder, for Damin has frozen. He stares at Lyra as if he has never seen her before.

“What is going on here?” Commander Gennerin demands, his gaze flicking from me to Lyra, to Damin, to Kay, to me, and back and forth.

I ignore him. I am waiting for Lyra to react.

Long and silent minutes pass.

Finally the dark-haired woman with her two eyes looks up from her closed hand, but she is no longer Lyra. Iniri Makar is now gazing at me.

She opens her hand and displays an empty palm. Her eyebrows hike up and she offers me a twisted grimace. “I am the orb.”

“Yes, sister,” I whisper. “Indeed.”

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