Chapter Ten, Part One

"And so it begins."

"He is...?"

"Livid, of course. It will make him appear to be the hyena, gleaning after the kill."

"What is the purpose of our presence, anyway?"

The man, clad in gleaming silver armor from head to toe took a pause. "Unsure, for now."

"We will be here long?"

This time, he didn't reply.

His interlocutor, unmoved, turned back to the scene below. They stood at the lower catwalks of the hovering warship, exposed to the chill night air. Their ship lay low to the crest of a high peak, miles from Morra. But even from this distance, they could hear the crumbling of stone and sporadic explosions as gas lamps and piping were hit.

"Crude tactics," the other said absently.

The other nodded his head. Catapults sent rocks and debris high into the skies of Morra, flying over the walls and crashing down inside, wreaking unseen havoc and destruction. Some crushed things metal or stone or flesh, others sent a cascade of stone and mortar hurtling to the populace below. A few small airships buzzed around above the city, but none were able to gain enough altitude to effectively offer any resistance to the incoming boulders. Most likely, they were just denizens looking for a way to escape.

"No armed ships at all?" The second man shook his head.

"I, and Varsala, am curious as to how they've arrived so soon."

The second man turned to face him. "Why don't we ask?"

The formidable helmet covered his expression, but the grin escaped in tone. "Halifax, I've always liked your nerve."

The second man, who was also clad in silver head to toe, bowed low. "Commence, my lord?"

"Immediately." He turned and retreated to the doorway that led back into the ship, while the second man, Halifax, began in the other direction towards the end of the catwalk. The walkways branched off every twelve feet in perpendicular crosswalks about twenty feet long. At the end of each crosswalk, a thick steel cylinder bolted into the reinforced beamed walkways. The cylinders underneath were capped with a mechanical device, and suspended under each mechanism was a small fighter airship, armed with various projectiles and missiles. They were built for speed and maneuverability, with two cockpits in each ship for stability and efficiency. He went to the very last split from the main path and turn to his left. To this last ship, Halifax stood and turned, awaiting the return of his companion.

A few minutes passed. The explosions were concealed but unceasing. Morra was a large city and it could take a good beating, but to be caught off-guard past midnight was a clever tactic. Old, but clever.

The first man re-entered the catwalks and strode resolutely towards Halifax.

"Trouble, Aethos?" Halifax questioned, noticing the hurried and irritated steps that clanked on the metal grating.

"We'll have a look. Strange things happening in the fatherland, and we won't be there to stand by our lord." Aethos reached Halifax.

Halifax turned up to look at him. " 'Strange things?' " He echoed.

"Varsala wouldn't speak of it. Our goal here is postponed until notice." He squatted down, peering below the low lip of the warship to the scene before them. Halifax stood beside him in silence.

"We should hold," Halifax said after watching another projectile disappear into the center of the city where the palace lay. "And at this rate, we won't have a mission after tonight."

"Unless the gods have mercy on them, I believe you're right," Aethos nodded. His dark eyes behind the steel mask reflected the faraway fires and pillars of smoke that were beginning to rise to the sky.

The End

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