Previous: Chapter 8
Chapter 9 (Never on time)
I panted, as hard or harder than Aiga who slumped over me. I could hear Helius’s labored breaths to my left. My hands trembled, and every muscle screamed in protest, but I reached out and patted Aiga on the top of the head.
She didn’t stir and the plain white room felt enormous. It smelled like rust and rubbing alcohol while the beep, beep, beep of the machine hooked to Igu had a steady rhythm.
“How is Igu?” I asked, throat scratchy. Some water would be nice. Or, since I was an adult now, beer.
Aiga smiled up at him, her brow creasing. “Always worrying about others first. You know you nearly died yourself.”
“I’m fine. Though, a bit thirsty.”
A low chuckle bubbled up from Aiga’s chest and warmed my cheeks. She was so beautiful. Pushing off me before my body could get any ideas, she turned around and brought over a glass of water.
I drank it down and a second and third.
Aiga placed the cup back on the shelf in the center of the room. “Igu is fine. She woke up a little bit ago, but she is still exhausted. Like I’m sure you are feeling.”
“I’m fine.” I couldn’t show any weakness in front of Aiga. She’d still treat me like a child if I did, so I tensed my muscles and moved to sit up.
“No, you’re not.” She rested a firm hand on my chest, and despite the difference in our size, she easily held me down. “You need to conserve your strength for the journey ahead.”
I blinked. “What journey?”
Aiga bit into her lower lip then scratched her nose. “Well, needless to say, the Regime knows about you five, and they are desperate to put an end to you.”
A lump formed in my throat. “Why all five of us? I’m the only one who made contact with the terrorists. Shouldn’t it only be me?”
“If only that were the case. The five of you, especially Igu, are special. You five have a chance to fix so many problems.” Aiga leaned over and kissed me on my forehead.
I nearly fainted as an inferno burned behind my cheeks. “I. Special?”
“Very. I’ll explain more about the Soul Generator when we get to Yarsek.” She brushed her fingers down my cheek, and someone—probably Helius—scoffed. “Just rest until your uncle returns with the horses, and we’ll—”
Boom! The entire house shook, and cracks spiderwebbed across the roof.
Aiga gritted her teeth. “Too soon.”
Helius stepped into view. “You can always count of the Regime and their agents to be early. They’re annoying like that.”
Pershis and my mother stepped into the room, shaking their heads. My mother, all lean muscles and wrinkles from raising my troublesome self, hurried to my side while Pershis shook her head. “The fire wielder, Weron, hasn’t returned yet and a group of five Regime Hunters are knocking on our door.”
“Get Tima and Igu onto a horse, and get them and the other three out of town.” Aiga looked at Helius then my mother. “Will the two of you help buy them some time?”
They nodded as my other two uncles came into the room, saying they would stand guard, too.
“I’ll reach out to Weron,” Aiga said. “Tell him to meet you at the edge of the Gyutrop Forest.”
Pershis nodded as more explosions ripped into the front of the house. “Do you think he was able to get enough horses and supplies for all of us?”
“All that matters is getting enough for you and the five.”Aiga grabbed a pack and placed all four soul crystals, my friends’ soul crystals, into it with a map and a few jars of ointment. “Get them to Yarsek no matter the cost. We can’t stop the Regime without the Eco Savior.”
None of this made any sense, but when I opened my mouth to protest, one of my uncles, I think, hoisted me up onto his shoulders and hurried me to the back door, slinging me over the saddle, face down. My mother came over and kissed me on the forehead, telling me to be safe and that she would catch up soon. The quiver in her voice said she was lying, but I couldn’t find my voice.
More explosions preceded the roof of Aiga’s place collapsing. Aiga and Helius stepped out, a bubble of water and force sheltering themselves and my three friends. Everything whirled a bit, and the next thing I knew, one of my friends was on the horse with me, and we were riding hard.
The bouncing sensation made me want to puke. I tensed my gut, but I wasn’t sure my uneasy stomach was from the constant pounding my gut was taking or the fact that I had left the two women I loved behind. My mother was strong, but Aiga was just a healer. She wasn’t a gladiator like my mother hand been.
Explosions grew distant, but the total amount of them increased. The buildings around the town faded in the distance. We had made it, yet the horse skidded to a stop only about half way to the Gyutrop Forest.
I pushed myself up to see. To stop my midsection from being pounded into dust.
Rehleew was riding with me, and Kanli with Igu. Ewmak held onto Pershis, who shook her head, tight.
Spread out in a line twenty feet ahead of us were five Regime Hunters, probably a full set, in their sleeveless tunics, late afternoon sun glimmering off their metallic tattoos.
Next: Chapter 10