Authors: Dhayaa Anbajagane
“You have a week to bring back the driver,” Jake said. “Any more than that and the poison will kill the Commander. Oh, and don’t even think about bringing back reinforcements. Remember that we have your brother hostage. But honestly speaking though, even if you did bring reinforcements none of them would be a problem for a level-S ship.”
“Level-S?” Carlos’ jaw dropped. “How did you get it that high? We analyzed it to be level-AA!”
Q shivered at the thought of a level-S ship taking them on. A ship’s level indicated how strong it was both offensively and defensively. A level-S ship was completely off the charts. It wasn't something that could be manufactured just like that. It was a ghost ship, never meant to exist but in the dreams of the most enthusiastic engineers.
“I don’t know what analysis you use, but our warship
level-S,” Jake said “It’s pretty easy to get it that high when you’ve conquered a few good planets and stolen a treasury of priceless tech.”
Q could see Carlos’ expression change at the mention of ‘conquering planets’. No doubt his brother was worried about the same thing he was. Just what were these people capable of?
Jake gave Q a shove, “Off you go now,” he said. “I’ll have my men deactivate that broken section of the force field for a few seconds.”
“So kind of you,” Q spat.
“You don't have to do this for me, Q,” Carlos persuaded.
Q walked toward the glass wall, “I’m doing this for Aliea.”
He looked at the ground beneath the Demon Riser. Every tower and building looked like blocks of Legos, some a sleek black, and others a charred one. He looked at the destruction all around him, the destruction of the place he loved. He was going to stop of all this, no matter what it took.
He focused on his life energy and felt it surge all around his body. The floor vibrated and threw everyone but him to the floor. His body radiated with a white glow, making him look like a white version of the ‘Green Lantern’.
,” Jake yelled from behind, and then pointed to Carlos. “Lock him up.”
One of his men caught Carlo’s neck in a deathly grip and his brother’s head fell limp to his side. Q isolated his mind from the scenes around him. He needed to concentrate on the task at hand. He shot through the glass wall and into the sky, creating a sonic boom as he sped through the air. The thought of Jake and his threats infuriated him. Waves of anger washed his mind, drowning him in anguish.
“I won't let you get away with this,” he muttered.
From the moment the enemy drones opened fire on everyone, Kai knew exactly where he wanted to hide.
His ship, the Orion.
He and Chris scurried up the Orion’s stairwell, towards the thick metal hatch that smoothly slid open. The ship’s inner walls had a cold, silvery look and reflected a bit of the light that came in through the windows.
“What do we do now?” Kai asked as they headed for the main deck.
“I don’t know,” Chris mumbled.
He sighed. No one knew what to do. An academy that hasn’t been attacked since its inception wasn’t one that would be prepared for a full scale invasion.
“That warship sure is something huh?” Kai said.
Now Chris sighed. He realized he wasn't helping the situation and switched topics. “I wonder where Q and the others are,” he said.
“I hope they’re okay,” she said, sighing even deeper this time.
So much for a better topic
, he thought. He noticed the worried expression on Chris’ face, “Hey, this is Q we’re talking about. He’s a sorcerer, a warrior so rare he’s never been seen before. He’s the guy who would never, ever give up on protecting his friends. Ever. He’ll keep everyone safe for sure.”
Chris smiled, “You can stop rambling now.”
Kai grinned sheepishly. He had to admit he was a bit worried. Chris rarely showed her emotions. She was one of those ‘Three C’ types: cool, calm and collected. Right now though she was depending on other people for emotional support.
Chris looked out a window, “Look at that,” she pointed. Kai’s eyes followed her forefinger. There was a fierce fire raging across the academy. What were once tall and majestic skyscrapers were now covered by tongues of red flames. Kai made the Orion run a quick scan for survivors but couldn’t find anyone in the vicinity.
There were two options, either the survivors had been rescued already or, the more grim one, there were no survivors.
“Do you think the drones took the survivors as hostages?” Chris asked.
Okay, maybe there was a third option as well. And it seemed to be the most likely one. Most of the buildings in Aliea were used as storage facilities for food, weaponry, and spacecraft. The buildings meant for housing would have been empty during the day. That meant the work and school buildings were the ones that were filled with people.
It would have taken a good fifteen minutes before the flames crossed over to those buildings so all the cadets would have had ample time to get out. Most of them probably got into the safety bunkers installed all around campus.
Kai’s thinking was cut short when he saw two men and a few drones coming towards them. Both men were dressed in a black combat suit and had white laser blasters in their hands. Kai stiffened. These men were probably checking every ship in the hangar in hope of finding hidden survivors. He had to find a safe place to hide, and fast.
“Follow me,” he grabbed Chris and led her out of the pit.
Kai looked out the windows as he walked through the corridor that connected the deck to rest of the ship. The cadets alone walked towards them. The drones seemed to have scattered off.
The skyline was still dull and colorless from all the smoke that had accumulated from the fire. The fire itself seemed to have been smothered out. Kai wasn't surprised at all. Aliea’s systems were usually spot on when it came to efficiency.
He knelt down a few meters into the corridor and felt the carpeted floor. He dragged his hands along the rough surface until he felt a tiny bulge protrude out. His hands grasped the bump and yanked at it. A panel lifted out of the floor revealing a primitive metal ladder leading down into a hidden room.
“Where does that lead to?” Chris asked him.
“It’s a secret weapons concealment room,” he said.
Kai and Chris climbed down into the passage, closing the panel after them. They walked through a narrow passage until it opened into a room. Kai placed his hands on the metal walls and felt his thoughts go through his fingertips into their cold surface. The lights automatically turned on and filled the room.
“Did you just use your Elementa?” Chris asked.
Kai nodded. He specialized in the Elementa of Metal, an Elementa that was very rare and insanely hard to control. It was a pretty cool power to have though. He had tweaked around with it and found out he could control the Orion with the signals he gave out using his Elementa.
“What do we do about those cadets?” she asked. “They seem to be getting ready to board the Orion, and I’m guessing a closed door won’t be enough to stop them.”
“Of course not. We’re going to give them a warm welcome,” he grinned. “Those guys won’t know what hit them.”
“Shhh,” Kai said. “They’re coming.”
Chris nodded and kept still.
He could hear the voices of the enemy cadets come from above, their steps slow and heavy.
One of them whistled, “Look at this beauty of a ship,” a voice said.
Kai put his hand on the wall.
, he thought. Two loud thuds sounded in quick succession.
“Okay, we’re clear,” he scrambled up the ladder and opened the hatch. When they emerged they were greeted by the sight of two enemy cadets lying flat on the floor, completely unconscious.
“What did you do?” Chris asked.
He picked up two pointed cylinders next to the men, “The Orion has a few rockets lined up on the inner walls in case intruders manage to gain access. Pretty easy to direct those at these idiots.”
“We still have to save the others,” she said, her darting eyes showing that she was working on multiple problems at the same time.
“You know we can’t take on the enemy, don’t you?” Kai asked. “We don’t know anything about them. We don’t know who they are, what skills they have, what weapons they possess. Nothing.”
She calmed down a bit, “What do we do now?” she asked.
He stared at the cadets they had knocked out. They wore black suits and a kind of visor around their eyes. Their weapons lay on the floor next to them. Kai noticed that they were advanced energy-powered blasters, which wasn't that big a surprise.
He had no idea how strong these enemy men were in combat. The only way to find out would be to head to the enemy camp itself and that idea was just-
“-brilliant!” He jumped up, much to the surprise of a bewildered Chris. “I have a plan,” he said. “We can wear these enemy cadets’ uniforms and sneak into their camp.”
“And?” Chris waited for him to finish.
“That’s it. There’s no ‘and’,” he said, his face all pumped up and confident.
“So you want us to head into enemy camp,” Chris recapped.
Kai nodded at her.
“But you have no idea what to do after that.”
“And you think this plan will work.”
“Well,” She shrugged. “Normally I’d pound you to the ground for such a stupid plan, but I don't have any better ideas so I guess we’ll go with this one.”
They both changed into the black suits and armed themselves with the guns. The visors seemed to have broken, so they didn’t wear those.
They opened the Orion’s hatch door and lowered the exit stairwell. Kai quickly scanned the surroundings to make sure there was no one around. He was relieved to see there wasn’t another soul in sight but it made him feel lonely as well. He had never thought he would see Aliea this quiet and dull. It was like someone has sucked the Academy of all its life.
He pushed the thoughts away and focused on the task at hand. A simple slip up could cost them their lives.
“Keep your gun ready,” he told Chris.
Kai ran down the stairwell and looked around, wondering in which direction they should head.
Chris walked up to him, “The enemy camp is probably next to the warship,” she said.
“Shhh,” he said impatiently. He closed his eyes and concentrated, honing his senses. The noise around him quieted, and he heard faint marching sounds coming from the left. That meant the camp was in the opposite direction.
“To the right,” he ran as fast as he could with Chris running right next him. The marching noises were rhythmic. There were a lot of people heading towards them, probably an army, and Kai didn't have to guess whose army they were.
Kai’s mind was trippy and jumpy. He constantly turned back to check on the distance between him and the army.
“Um... aren't we supposed to join the army?” Chris asked. “I don’t think joining and running away are the same thing.”
Kai was still checking the road behind them, “We can’t walk into that army just like that,” he said.
“So, what are we going to do?”
“Our best bet is to hope these uniforms help us get into their camp.” He looked at the largest tower in the area, the Demon Riser. Its black surface radiated a timeless defiance. It was a building that represented immense power.
“Shouldn’t we head to the Demon Riser instead?” Chris asked, “It’s highly probable that the enemy is using it for their temporary headquarters.”
“No one can attack the Demon Riser,” Kai explained, “Its defenses are too good. The enemy would never be able to get in. But if they did actually get in, then there’s no way we can breach it.”
She sighed, “Why is everything so complicated?”
Kai heard loud whirring noises coming from a few buildings away. He looked around him, trying to pick out where the sounds were coming from.
“There,” he pointed to a dome shaped structure peeping out from behind a few buildings. There were a lot of ships constantly landing and taking off a mile away from them. “That’s the enemy’s home base,” he said. “If we infiltrate it, we’re a step closer to taking Aliea back.”
They walked together, side by side, towards the camp. Kai didn’t know what the dome-shaped building had originally been meant for, but right now it seemed to have been converted into fully functional battle camp. There were plenty of hovercraft entering and exiting the building. Huge battleships lay around the camp, armed and ready to wreak havoc. It looked like the whole camp was preparing for Aliea’s annihilation.
Chris poised her laser blaster, ready to respond to danger.
“What are you doing?” he whispered, “Are you crazy?”
She looked at him, confused.
“We’re going in as cadets, not enemies,” he said. “Don't raise your weapon.”