An odd sense of detachment overtook her. The weapon became an extension of her arm. She fought three men, her defense almost perfect. If she left an opening and one of her opponents attempted to use it, Liyanna was quick to counterattack. At the back of her mind, she worried over her opponents’ inability to tire. In a while, she would slow, someone would notice, and the fight would be over. It angered her when she thought of what would happen if she lost. Kelor-dan’s deceit and Pellinor’s betrayal fueled it further. Her movements became sharper and faster. Symbols engraved on the staff glowed bright red matching the haze in her eyes. Her enemies were retreating but she continued to harass them. A voice ordered her to stop but it seemed so far away and she was too numb with anger to listen to it. She felt them panic as she knocked one of them senseless. The one at her right left his chest open, she raised her weapon… Suddenly, she was lifted off the ground. She struggled to break free.
“Liyanna, stop!” Her head whipped to the side and saw Reno. The numbness receded but the anger remained as she realized: It was a test?!
“Reno. Put me down,” she said, keeping her anger at bay.
“Your weapon is still glowing.” Liyanna looked at her staff. He was right but it was gradually turning orange.
“I told you this was a mistake.” Pellinor materialized from the shadows. He flicked a speck of dust from his shoulder.
“Whose idea was this?”
“Not mine,” Pellinor said at the same time Reno admitted: “It was mine.”
“I needed proof that you can defend yourself.”
“Did I pass?”
Reno studied her.
“Uncle, put her down!” Mindy demanded.
Reno turned to look at his niece. “How did you get here?”
“By walking,” she said sarcastically. “It doesn’t matter how I got here. Put my best friend down.” As soon as Liyanna’s feet touched the ground, Mindy hugged her. “I’m sorry.”
The show of affection made Liyanna forget her anger. “I’m sorry, too.”
“I hate to break this heartfelt reunion, but time’s a-wasting,” Pellinor said, effectively breaking them apart.
Liyanna saw her former opponents near the doorway as Reno gave one of them instructions. The person she had knocked unconscious was awake. He had his arm around one of his fellow fighter’s as they left the training room.
“Don’t go after them,” Reno approached Liyanna’s company. She wasn’t sure if he was talking to her or to Pellinor, whose eyes were a little too bright.
“Who’s going after who?”
“Control your pack, Halfling,” Pellinor said and walked out.
“What’s his problem?” Mindy asked.
Liyanna’s hand went up to the scratch on her cheek. She had caught Pellinor staring at her face when Mindy barged in.
Reno’s office resembled a sci-fi movie when Liyanna and Mindy entered an hour later. A Tiger’s eye stone spun at the center of the table emanating a wave of energy which manifested into images and code hovering around the long table. Half of those in attendance were Black Guards while the other half consisted of Pellinor and his men. None of them were in uniform but they had come heavily armed judging from the two piles of weaponry stacked in a corner.
Everyone stood the moment they walked in. A chair was vacated for Liyanna. Once she was seated, everybody settled down. Meanwhile, Mindy occupied the chair at the Comms area with round glass mirrors held together by a metal frame. The control was a crystal ball which Mindy seemed to be familiar with as she confidently moved her hand over it.
A Guard officer who was in the middle of delivering his report when Liyanna and her friend came in resumed. One out of ten in Merleina was illegally traveling to the third dimension in search of missing family members and friends. The Council kept the information under wraps while it investigated how these civilians were still able to cross to the third dimension. The Elders would completely lose control of the situation in a number of days.
“They have already lost control when they let their fear rule them,” Liyanna said. Sara’s prophecy was still fresh in her memory. She extended her hand to Reno. A stone disk materialized and dropped on her palm. She pushed the vision into the stone and released it. The disk replaced the first stone on the table. The images played before them. The audience grew silent at the sight of the glass tanks Reno called stasis chambers.
“How did you come by this information?” Reno asked.
Reno retrieved the disk. “We’ll continue in an hour.” The Guards and Sentries filed out. Those who stayed behind were Liyanna, Mindy, and Pellinor.
Reno tapped the table with two fingers in a tap-tap-tap, tap-tap pattern. A door behind his desk slid open and Arturion’s impostor walked in.
“Liyanna. I know.” The impostor plopped on the chair, earning Pellinor’s glare.
“S7504 has been very helpful in giving us intel about his employer’s activities and on how to deactivate the drones used for abducting our people. He will be leading a squad to destroy the data they’ve collected about us.”
“I’m going with S7,” Mindy said.
“No, you’re not. Pellinor and I have discussed how we’ll divide our men. He brought out a miniature globe. It was a map of the third dimensional Earth with lights marking specific areas. Reno pointed at the green light. “The Sentries will rescue those in facilities near forested areas and unchartered islands.” He pointed at the red. “My men will take care of the facilities in more populated areas. Their system is centralized. Once the main server is out, we move in then move out quickly. How long do we have before the generator revives the whole system?” Reno asked the impostor.
“Sixty seconds max., including boot up.”
“We’ll make it work.”
“You don’t have to. I can delay it for a little while,” Mindy butted in.
“How do you plan to do that?”
“I have a program that could trick the computer into thinking it needs a system update. It’ll shut itself down without triggering the generator.”
“Clever, except you forgot one tiny detail,” S7 said. “To install this program, you’ll need to override five biometric scanners.”
“Mindy,” Reno warned.
“Why should I stay when Kristina’s going?”
“Liyanna,” Reno corrected, “is staying in HQ.”
“She can’t,” Pellinor said. Liyanna was aware he wanted nothing more but to agree with Reno. She assumed the Captain was just following Kelor-dan’s orders.
“Captain, she is vital to our people. I can’t risk her neck out there.”
“She is not powerless. She can fight. You have seen it. Your stray dog can vouch for it.” Pellinor glanced at S7, who rubbed his neck absently. The skin beneath the collar showed blue-black. It didn’t take long for Liyanna to recognize how he acquired the discolored stripe on his neck. She couldn’t help stare at the damage she had inflicted; a few centimeters more and Liyanna could have broken his collar bone.
“What are you not telling me?” Reno’s eyes narrowed in suspicion.
“We’ve agreed to take Liyanna with us after you have seen her fight.”
“You’re evading the question.”
“Kelor-dan sent you his best warriors to help you in your mission.”
“I am merely asking why Liyanna has to join us.”
“You gave your word that you would ask no questions regarding Liyanna’s purpose for joining us,” Pellinor said tersely.
“I did under the assumption that she has relevant information to share. Her safety is our first priority and you want me to allow her, Their target, in the field. Again, why?” Reno’s voice boomed.
“Because I’ll die if I don’t,” Liyanna said.
The two men turned their heads to her. They seemed to have forgotten she was present in the room.
“There’s more chance of you dying out there.”
“You don’t understand.”
“I do. You want to look for him as much as I do. But it’s impossible to trace someone who left part of his Self in that” – he pointed at her necklace – “to become completely human and take on a new identity.”
“What do you mean?”
“Arturion buried his memories of Merleina in that crystal. As a member of one of the most influential families, he knew too much. It was the price he paid to protect us.”
“And me.” He neither agreed nor denied it. “Then, I’m your only chance of finding him.” My soul is bound to his.
He would never compromise your situation.
He didn’t. We did. We formed the bond in the past.
Where’s your proof?
My memories will have to be enough. You won’t find it in your records. The first Liyanna had asked the few people who knew to keep it secret. She would’ve survived the Shift if her bonded mate didn’t die. “Nevertheless, you can’t stop me from going.”
“She’s a big girl now, Commander,” Pellinor interjected. “Besides, you have your dogs, me to lead the best fighters of my kingdom and Kelor-dan’s resources. We’ll make a formidable force against your sworn enemies.”
“They’re your enemies, too.” Pellinor studied the map intently seeming not to have heard Reno. “Alright. I want her protected at all times.” To Liyanna, he said: “Stay with your group.”
“My people will protect her,” Pellinor said.
“My men won’t like it.” Reno shook his head. “How many of the Sentries will guard her?”
“I suggest half of it come from my Order.”
Pellinor didn’t look pleased with the idea. “Very well, my second-in-command will lead them.”
The Captain and the Commander discussed contingency plans with S7. From Mindy’s thoughts, Liyanna learned that S7 offered his full cooperation in exchange for asylum in Merleina. But what surprised the Guards most of all was the man’s ability to adapt quickly to the energies in the fourth-dimensional plane. He was considered the first in his line of work to enter their world and still move normally after a week.
“Assembly is in twelve hours. I suggest everyone retire and prepare before then,” Reno declared.
“Uncle, I’m going with you,” Mindy said.
“You are staying here.”
“I won’t be a liability. I can help.”
“Child, be reasonable.”
“I am not a child. I’m twenty-five.”
“In this world, you still are. And you are acting like one. You’re staying here. That is an order. Or, should I have you confined to your room with a Guard posted at the door?”
Uncle and niece stared down each other. Eventually, Mindy stormed out of Reno’s office.
“Fiery, that one,” S7 murmured in amusement.
Reno and Liyanna glared at the ex-spy.
Wattpad code: 58366003
©MC Babasa 2014
A/N: Feel free to post your feedback as this is the first book. Your comments and suggestions may influence the story as it progresses up to the second book.
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.