Stay down.

    The mental command had force enough to pin Tais to the flooring, his fear-stricken body too limp to resist. Above him he heard the gentle thrum of the airship, the swift and steady pops of its cannons, and the bone-shaking impact of light upon the water cruiser. He heard Huna, too, her cries muffled by exhaustion and mental fatigue. Her own blasts came less often now, though still steady.

   Steady and sure, thought Tais. Everything here works like machinery. All measured. All scheduled. Nothing abnormal or unexpected. Except me.

    The last thought brought grim determination to the youth, and he stood on wobbly legs and positioned himself behind Huna, arms flailing for balance.

How do I make fire with my hands?

    Tais was getting better with the art of telepathy, a skill that took most almost a year to acquire and exert without speech.

You can't.

    Huna's own reply was short, a swift staccato between her blasts.

Why not?

Because you are not Delkora.

Well I tamed that bloody beast for you and your father, so I must have some greater talent. Or do I have to discover it for myself?This is this just another test, isn't it?

    Silence was his only answer from Huna, though the hovering airship was more than happy to lend its reply.

Pop. Pop.

    The lasers fell mercilessly upon the small floating cruiser, the proverbial fish in a barrel. The barrage knocked the pair to the decking, Huna giving a cry as she fell. Tais uttered none. He was beginning to become accustomed to falling.

    From the ground, Tais looked into Huna's eyes. He saw fear there. Genuine, cold, fear.

    It can't be a test. The Director would never do this to his daughter, would he?

    Huna stared back into Tais' eyes, the two having a wordless exchange that didn't even take place on the telepathic level. Both nodded. Both stood together, Tais off to Huna's side; together against the airship.

    Tais quickly picked up on the rhythm of the guns, hoping that maybe it would be able to help him do something. Anything. Huna needed him, and he would do all he could for her.

    Even if this is just another test. The thought didn't seem to bother Tais this time, but rather sent waves of cool confidence coursing through his body. Is this what it is to love someone?

    He shook the thought off, and concentrated on the task at hand. Mimicking Huna, he wove his hands in the intricate patterns she traced. They were also full of form and measure in their delicacy, thought, planning, and repetition apart in each movement. He used the echoes of the guns as a metronome, a measure in which to set his swift gestures.

    Come on. Fire. Fire. Please?

    Nothing. His hands fell back to his sides in frustration, warmed only from the fires blazing around him.

Pop. Pop.

    Wait. An epiphany hit Tais, a sudden realization that brought a smile to his face. Huna is right. I am not Delkora, I am not a piece of clockwork. I am Tais, and I am erratic like the earth and stone I grew with.

    With that notion in mind, Tais did what seemed right and natural to him. His arms weaved their own pattern, a living pattern that changed and never repeated, a strict contrast to the uniformity around him. His eyes fluttered shut, he felt lost in his motions.

What are you doing?


You shall kill us both, for sure!

    Tais ignored her concern and continued to will flame into his hands.

    Then he felt something. Almost like pin-pricks, but running down his spine, flaring out his limbs. His eyes widened, pupils dilated. He started to fall backwards, the world turning black around him.

I warned you, Tais.

The End

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