To Battle

     In the distant corridors of the Coma Benedices galaxy, the Zirkanians were feeding.

     Millions of living lights migrated hungrily across the tapestry of space, swallowing every shining thing to leave swaths of inky darkness in their sated paths. Like a mammoth, monstrous beehive their control pod hung in space, Zirkanians flitting in and out with shining streamers in their wakes.

     At the centre of the lustrous globe, welcome news had arrived from the puny planet Earth, and the command centre glowed with excitement. By blinking flashes of light similar to Earth's ancient semaphore, orders were given that five thousand soldiers would accompany Admiral Xa on the interstellar flight.

     They were to deploy at the target in the Pyrenee Mountains, where they would find both an old nemesis and an ancient treasure. Though weakened by their long trip, they were told, their Zirkanian strength and sheer numbers would allow them to easily destroy the former, and bring home the latter.

     Strong and boisterous from their yearly feeding, the troops surged with strong light, and streamed from the control pod in a long river of light flowing towards the young Earth and the ancient God-seed.

     Twenty million parsecs away, Amut'a twitched, stiffened, and fell into the arms of her husband.

     "They're coming?" he said. With eyes closed, she nodded; then shook her head gently when he asked if she'd received from their son yet. Their eldest, Tor, had the blackish skin and telepathic powers of his mother, the quiet strength and fair hair of his father, and the towering size of some forgotten ancestor. He was nearing those Pre years when Gunnar would test and hone his warrior skills, but for his first mission, he had been entrusted with protecting their home and his seven siblings.

     Far away, his parents stood on the pebbled beach of an inlet near San Sebastian, where Gunnar had prepped his battle suit and was punching commands into the console of the wavesled he had long stored there. The length of two humans and shaped like a torpedo, the sled generated continuous sub-sonic sound waves, which it rode underwater in a fast and only slightly bumpy ride.

     "You have secrets even from me, husband," tongued Amut'a, looking at the sleek grey vessel.

     "No, wife; you never asked," he smiled. He flashed her his recollection of stealing the sled on his very first campaign, the Council mission to that flooded distant planet. She read his nearby thoughts easily.

     "And the Council?" she clicked.

     "From them, it's a secret," he conceded. "Among many." He held her body and gaze, and repeated his certainty that the Zirkonians would have traced their STA flight. Again, he told her of Telimar's cunning and loyalty. Amut'a's smile became mystical and maddening once more.

     "I have a secret, too," she tongued. Gunnar rolled his pupils up in a bad imitation of her telepathy.

     "That's no secret," he laughed. "I love you, too, but there's no time for that. There's a big party at the antipode.  Zirkonians are coming. Amenor's people are coming. It's going to be a heck of a get-together.""

    They kissed, and Amut'a watched her husband's wavesled disappear into the Atlantic. She turned and loped easily towards the distant mountains, remembering his instructions that the snows and sun on the Pyrenees were their weapons. Her smile became wide and feral. It had been far too long between battles, she thought; far too long.

     In his sled beneath the waves, Gunnar used water temperature projections to calculate a ninety-minute journey. He knew the council's hover-drone would be waiting at the co-ordinates he'd given Finalta, and guessed he'd have a two-day head start on any unwelcome intrusions.

     There was nothing more to do. He slept.

The End

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