Providence Ch. 08bytruman11883©
Loman – Celtic/Gaelic; Bare
Rumigan – N/A
Long shadows outlined the sand and dirt as the three figures made their way towards the port. It was hot, the two suns burning, scorching their uncovered skin, but none noticed as they hesitantly took one step after another. Each could be their last; all of them knew it. Cyrus’s men could be watching, waiting, surrounding them.
Their feet hit the grass with soft thuds as they neared the dormant dock. The sun did little to hide them from any probing eyes, but the lingering shadows were a helpful substitute. Small animals scurried out of their way in haste. All three of them were on a mission; any living being could sense it.
Will’s instincts were on high alert with each sound that he heard. He had never had a first hand experience to test his learned abilities. He had never fought in a war, or battled in hand-to-hand combat. He had never had to strategize or plan an attack … or counterattack, rather.
Before the Festival, he had not the position to do so. He had been a Second In Command – in training. Eamon, and Will’s father before his death, had taught him. The best soldiers and strategists in the galaxy had taught him, and his abilities and instincts were becoming apparent with every decision he made. His inner warrior was seeping through, breaking through … shining through. He was no longer the insecure twenty-year-old boy. Will had seen death and despair and war first hand. He had witnessed his King’s execution in front of the entire kingdom.
And now he was fighting it. He was fighting the evil that Cyrus distributed with every turn. He was doing what he was trained to do, what he was born to do. Every fiber of his being reveled in the newfound prospect.
In truth, he also felt guilty… or at least he should feel guilty. He had witnessed his King’s execution in front of the entire kingdom. He should be sullen and grief-stricken. He should be besot with anguish, unable to move on or get out of bed.
And yet, he wasn’t. He was clearheaded and confidant. Yes, he wished circumstances could have been different, that the King and Queen were still alive and ruling. Perhaps someone could say that he was taking advantage of the situation, relishing in his new status as the affirmed Second. But he wasn’t. He was following his Destiny, his path. He had always known that it would be a hard road to travel, but as long as his ‘family’ was with him, he was more than up to the challenge. Especially if he was able to acquire Cyrus’s head in the mean time.
The three had reached the port shortly after leaving the cave, and were greeted by concrete under their feet and several large buildings above them.
The three young men hid behind a corner catching their breath.
“Wait,” Will said, raising a hand in the air signaling for Alec’s silence. He waited and listened for any sign of movement. There was none. “Okay.”
He turned and nodded to Nic, who turned and nodded to Alec. The three continued down the alley, stopping every few minutes, waiting for Will to determine it was safe.
After reaching the last corner before the concealed hangar, Will stopped again. He turned to Dominic, and said, “Nic, stay here with Alec. I’m going to scout and see if I can find anything … or anyone. Wait for my signal.”
Dominic nodded in agreement.
Will looked over the corner of the building, and then in the other direction. Seeing the coast was clear, he ran off towards the right, headed south. Soon Nic couldn’t hear his footsteps, and knew that he was out of earshot, and ultimately on his own.
If anything happened to him, Nic and Alec wouldn’t know until it was too late.
Nic and Alec sat leaning against the large building, crouched on the balls of their feet. Nic kept scanning their surroundings for any sign of movement, keeping his grip on the laser gun tight. Alec checked and rechecked his equipment. They both wanted this mission to go as successfully as possible. No hang ups, no disasters … and especially no deaths.
After several long minutes of silence, Alec spoke. They were careful to keep their voices low.
“Yeah,” he said absently.
“You don’t want me on this mission, do you?”
He hesitated. At first, no … he hadn’t wanted Alec to stay with the survivors. It wasn’t normal; it wasn’t protocol. The protectors were expected to remain on Aevar and offer refuge to any and all royal survivors in their time of distress. Especially Alec, who had been an underground protector, of sorts. His safehouse had successfully remained undetected by other planets’ radar. Alec, unknowingly and quite unexpectantly, had been quintessential in the royal family’s survival and preservation.
The fact that Alec had asked to leave the planet had been entirely unsettling, and Nic had found himself questioning the young man’s motives.
“Um … well, its not that I don’t want you on the mission. Its just that …”
“You don’t agree with my reasoning,” Alec offered.
Nic furrowed his brows in confusion. “No, that’s not it either. You’re a good guy, obviously a good protector. I understand you wanting to get off the planet. Shit I can’t wait to break gravity and get the hell off this rock … and get Mabyn the hell away from Cyrus. But … I guess I just wasn’t expecting it, you know? Protectors are expected to stay on Aevar.”
And he did know. The night before, he couldn’t help but ask … even though Alec had been entirely certain that Will would deny his request outright, and if he hadn’t been lucky, Will would have demoted him as well. He was walking a fine line with the royal survivors, and was choosing his words and actions wisely. The last thing he wanted was to find himself, or even worse Koen and Isabel, at the hands of Cyrus.
He had a mission, and he would be damned if he was going to fail them.
“Can I ask, why you requested to leave with us?” Nic was giving Alec his full attention now.
“I just feel like … I not only serve Aevar, but I serve Aevar’s leader. With King Eamon dead, that leaves Koen.” He thought for a moment, trying to choose the correct words. “Koen is my first priority, ensuring his safety. Cyrus is a threat, and I feel like staying on Aevar will only put Koen and Isabel at risk. I honestly feel like I have something to contribute. If I didn’t think this was the right thing for them, I wouldn’t be here.”
Nice nodded. That settles that, he thought, with a smile.
Alec sighed inwardly, when he sensed that he had won over Nic’s approval.
“How is Mabyn doing, with all of this?” Alec asked.
Nic’s smile vanished.
“Well, she’s pretty scared, I can tell. She tries not to show it, but … you can see it in her eyes. She’s terrified. I wish I could do more for her, but I don’t know anything about kids, you know? I’m surprised she hasn’t figured that out yet.” He laughed shortly, sardonically. “Maybe she has.”
“You’re good for her.” When Nic gave him a surprised look, Alec continued. “She has no one. You saved her life. From what I gathered, she probably didn’t have a father, and her mother was more than likely working constantly. You’re the first father figure, adult role model she’s had in her life. She looks up to you.”
Nic’s eyes grew in astonishment, and asked blankly, “How do you know all of this?”
Alec gave him a smile. “Its my job.”
“I take back everything I ever said.” Nic clasped a hand on Alec’s shoulder in a friendly gesture. “Glad to have you on board.”
Will moved from shadow to shadow, inspecting every noise, every disturbance, every feasible possibility that there were eyes watching them, ears listening to them, soldiers surrounding them. He couldn’t remember the last time that his senses were on such a high alert before the Festival. Ever since that night, his hearing, sight, smell, touch, everything was sharp, elevated, like an inborn, finely tuned weapon. He felt like he literally heard everything.
And the problem was, he wasn’t hearing anything. Everything he examined turned out to be nothing. And yet he couldn’t get passed the foreboding in his nerves, the anticipation of an attack. His skin tingled with the unseen eyes watching him. Why couldn’t he find them? He knew they were there, if he could only discover their hiding place.
After several minutes of searching, and finding nothing, he chalked it up to nerves. After all, he had been thru quite an ordeal in the past thirty-six hours. Surely, his already frayed bravado was crumbling. Not to say that his reliability as a soldier or Second was in question. But he couldn’t help the feeling that something was going to happen. Give it up, Willie. There’s nothing here, he concluded inwardly after finding yet another shadow empty.
He turned and continued on his journey around the port, having made a large circle leaving him just due east from his starting point. He rounded one corner, and took a right. Will found himself fifty feet ahead of Nic and Alec’s shadows across the alley. He could see that they were huddled, hiding.
He called to them, under the guise of a birdcall, and Dominic returned it. Will readied his weapon, prepared to cover them if any shots happened to be fired. Alec came first, crossing the sunlit alley quickly. Having reached the other side, he resumed his crouching position next to William, keeping quiet until Will spoke. The last thing Alec wanted was to unveil their position accidentally. He’d be smart, and wait for Will to make the first move. After all, it was quite obvious he knew what he was doing.
Nic crossed next. The harsh suns’ rays lit the alley, and brought his once shadow-clad body into the sunlight. It only took a few seconds for him to reach Will. The three caught their breath, the intense heat of the midday desert suns already fatiguing their bodies.
“So?” Nic asked after several long moments of silence.
Will shook his head. “Nothing. There’s no one here,” he said, even though it was quite obvious he was convinced.
Nic studied him, reading his uncertainty, but said nothing. If Will said there wasn’t a threat … than there wasn’t a threat.
“All right, now what?”
Will motioned for them to follow his gaze, and three laid eyes on the hangar where three derelict ships lay dormant. The once disguised hangar was now open to their view at this angle.
“Jackpot,” Nic said, thoroughly excited to see their ticket off the planet.
“I saw it while I was scouting, but I couldn’t get a decent view. Alec, what can you see?” Will asked, as he switched his leading position with the protector.
“Let’s see … alright, the one on the left, that’s a Starbird. Its definitely big enough, but…” He set his eye glasses on top of his head and looked through his binoculars, studying the physical integrity of the space craft. “Damn.”
“What?” Nic voiced right away.
Alec lowered his binoculars, and turned to say, “It’s too damaged. You see that opening on the left side, by the gunners?” He pointed to the object in question. The two soldiers nodded. “It shouldn’t be there. At least, not that big. Someone must have been repairing the internal structure, and they needed to open the gate wider. They tore the door panel completely off. I’ll never get the pressure seal to lock. It won’t even leave the ground.”
“Shit,” Will cursed under his breath.
“What about the other ones?” Nic asked.
He brought the binoculars up to his eyes again, spinning certain knobs to focus. “Lets see … the one on the right is a Juniper Loman. From what I can see, it doesn’t look too bad, but…” He focused the eye piece further, letting his visual expand into the cabin of the aircraft. Wait a minute, he thought. “Damn!”
“What?!” Nic asked again.
“They gutted it. It’s a shell.”
“Shit!” Will cursed again.
Nic shook his head in annoyance and frustration. “What were these people thinking? Jesus, who guts a Loman, huh? I mean … who does that? Its insane.”
“Quiet,” Will commanded.
Both Alec and Nic obeyed him and turned silent immediately, looking to him.
Will had thought he had heard a pop to his left, just behind Nic. But as he searched their surroundings, he saw nothing. He would have sworn that there was something … someone there. His nerves had never quieted since his scouting. He was careful not to let his guard down, even though he nodded to Alec to continue.
“What was it?” Nic asked.
Will shook his head in the negative. “Nothing, I just … thought I heard something. Its nothing.”
Alec gave Nic a look, and then turned back to the hangar with binoculars in hand.
“What about the third one Alec? What do you see?” Will asked, his voice catching somewhat in his throat. It’s the anticipation of leaving, he told himself. He just wanted to get the group as far away from Cyrus as possible. Now that they were just hours away from their departure, his valor was being tested. That’s it, he attempted to convince himself.
“The one in the middle, that’s a Rumigan.”
Nic said, “Damn, its too small.”
“Hold on,” Alec said. “It looks like its in pretty good shape. There might be something wrong with the engine or thrusters, but overall, the integrity looks pretty good. If I can get it running, we should be able to make it work.”
“Alec we can’t fit eleven people on a Rumigan. We’ll be too heavy.”
“No, I can do it,” he said shaking his head. “If I can get it working, we can lighten it, take out anything extra: cargo, supplies. All we really need is ammo and boosters. Anything extra goes.”
“Do you know what you’re suggesting?” Nic asked incredulously. “It’s a Rumigan! Eleven people will never fit ... let alone break gravity.”
Alec shook his head, and turned to Nic. “Look, we’re running out of options, here. This is the only ship that will get us off the planet. I can’t tell you what you want to hear.”
“All right, enough,” Will commanded. “Alec, you do realize how risky this is, right?”
“And, you’re sure that you can make it work?”
He nodded again.
“How are you so sure?”
“I studied ships while I was in training –”
Nic interrupted, “Yeah, so did we. That doesn’t mean anything.”
“Nic,” Will said exasperatedly. “Let him talk.”
Nic rolled his eyes, but remained quiet.
“Like I said, I studied ships while I was in training. I was required to memorize the blueprints of every Aevarian ship, and every other ship from the four other planets. It was sort of a failsafe plan: in case a protector needed to, he or she could manipulate the ship, adding or subtracting, making sure that any ship that they had could meet the requirements of their surroundings and position. I know exactly what should and shouldn’t be in that ship. What’s heaviest, lightest, strongest, weakest. The simulations we ran through in training would leave us in bleak conditions, and we were required to formulate a plan to successfully accomplish the virtual mission.”
He took a breath, and turned to look at Will and Nic, who stared blankly at him. Great, he thought. I’ve lost them already.
“Its all math,” he continued. “I can take the estimated weight of all eleven passengers, compared to the weight the ship must be to break gravity, and then eliminate any cargo that is not needed until the equation is equal. It’s really not that impossible. Difficult, yes … but not impossible.”
“Its all math, huh?” Nic asked.
Alec nodded, “Yeah. That’s all.”
“Uh huh,” Nic said, shaking his head at his dumb luck. He turned to Will and said, “Man … I failed Algebra.”
Will ignored him. “So you’re saying … you have that ship memorized, inside and out?”
Alec gave a lasting, confused look at Nic’s reaction, and nodded. “Its required of all protectors.”
“Wow,” was all Will managed to say.
He knocking hard with his laser gun on the metal railing just above his knees. “How’s it coming, man?”
Alec’s head poked through the opening in the floor panel. He swiped his arm over his forehead to clear his eyes of sweat. He was hot and exhausted, but completely pleased with himself. “Good, almost done. We’ll be ready within the hour.” His toothy grin spread liberally across his handsome face.
“Excellent.” Will nodded in approval as Alec disappeared once again. He reached into his pocket for his comlink, and clicked the transmitter on. “Nic?”
Static sounded from the speaker in Will’s hand, and a voice was heard, “Yeah?”
“How’s it going? We’re almost done here.”
“We … you make that sound like you’re actually doing something,” Nic joked through the comlink. His voice was breathless, and his face was flushed as he heaved yet another box of irrelevant and unnecessary items out of the Rumigan.
“Yeah, yeah. I am doing something … keeping on your ass,” Will joked back.
“Yeah, and my ass is exhausted. Do you know how heavy this shit is? Hey, is Alec sure we don’t need those freezer-cooler things?” He picked one up from the box he had just set down. The dry ice effect emitted from the top, and the cone shape base glowed bright green. He had absolutely no idea what it did, but it could be a cool toy … or something. “Cause, you know … they’re kinda cool.”
“Everything that Alec put on the list has to go. No toys.”
Will laughed at Nic’s antics, and at the fact that he hadn’t laughed for longer than he cared to remember. Before the attack, the stress of his position and shouldering Koen’s imprudent attitude had been an unbearable load. He had often found himself unable to sleep because of the stress of it. Now … there was plenty of stress, and sleepless nights. But at least he had some comic relief as well. God bless Nic and his immature mind-set.
He placed the comlink back into his pocket as he made another sweep across the hangar, searching yet again for any intruders. Alec had found the three comlinks, along with several other useful gadgets, in a small box below the captain seat. They could certainly come in handy in the future, were Alec’s exact words. Yeah, and that’s calling the kettle black, had been Will’s witty internal comeback.
He rounded another corner, looking left, then right.
The lake was quiet. The forest was quiet. The hangar was quiet, save for Nic. Will cringed as he heard glass break and Nic’s swear. He was sure everything Nic had carefully boxed up was now crushed under the weight of his inattention. The boxes could only take so much.
But it didn’t really matter. It wasn’t like they were coming back any time soon. If they were lucky, he would get Isabel and Koen off the planet, and into hiding for months on Cantu, leaving them plenty of time to wage a counterattack. The wheels in William’s head started to turn furiously with the possibilities. Cyrus won’t know what hit him, he thought smugly.
He entered the hangar again, needing to get out of the sun. It was still uncomfortably hot inside the enclosed hangar, but the ventilation and soft breeze gave much needed comfort.
He turned quickly to the direction of Alec’s voice, and headed in that direction. He rounded the front of the ship, walking swiftly to the opening that he knew Alec was in. “Yeah?”
“Can you hand me that screwdriver?”
Alec poked his head out, and gave him a look. “That screwdriver,” he said as he pointed to the object that had rolled out form his grasp. “Can you hand it to me?”
Will stared at him, annoyed. He’s asking me to do what? he thought. He didn’t move from his looming, intimidating position above Alec.
Seemingly reading Will’s annoyance, Alec added, “After this, I’ll be done.”
That got Will moving. He picked the object in question up and handed it to Alec, who once again disappeared from view. A few load bangs and cranks later, Alec reemerged.