This is Issue #22 of DeathWatch, Book II: tentatively called Heart Of Ilona, an ongoing Serial. Click that link to go find DeathWatch, the first in the series, or start from the beginning of Book II!
* * *
The Kriegic warships were not fast — the Hellebarde moved across the night sky like a slow, lumbering whale, nestled in the scudding clouds, aetheric engines pushing it along in their low, throbbing way. It went out in front, ahead of the rest of the fleet, while below, infantry and cavalry rode in.
The ships would be the first wave, the cavalry the second, by the time the infantry showed up, it would be merely to mop up surviving soldiers, and to install a shell government from which to launch mob control, and possibly design an offensive against the rest of the Luminorian peoples.
The Ilonans would simply be the first to fall.
Sha stood at the railing, looking down, watching the mountains below sailing past. She felt a not in pleasant buzz in her head from the whisky, earlier, but she’d left the party, as it were, needing to get away from the tension of Garrett and Danival, who could not seem to sit near one another without arguing every three minutes.
She glanced over at Kieron, who had left at the same time she did, and for the same reason.
He stared out into the dark of the night, not bothering to look down, but looked out ahead, to where the horizon promised he would find Jules again.
He didn’t save Nathan. He couldn’t.
But maybe he could help save Jules.
At the rail, he held Sha’s hand, and let the dark move over and through him, trying to focus on what was coming, rather than what had already passed.
Perhaps when it was all done, he would be able to reach his family, his father.
There was nothing to be done for it, now.
* * *
“I don’t know as it’s reasonable for the Captain of our ship to get drunk while on a mission,” Garrett said, eyeing Danival thoughtfully.
“I do not know as it is being reasonable for civilian to join mission for army he was never part of,” Danival growled in response.
“Alec, you are done picking fights now, yes? Is extremely boring and growing insulting,” Danival said, glowering.
“Are you going to keep putting me down for something that happened ten years ago?” Alec wondered, his tone full of fury.
“Is your imagination,” Danival sighed, looking exhausted, all at once. “You are jealous of dead man. I change course of ship to save boy on your terms, and you are happy. I change course of ship to save woman on my terms, and you are angry. Difference is I saving woman because she is wife of man I loved and hurt. I no can save him. Maybe I save her. Now you are mad. Alec, if Kriegic homeland is no angry I commandeer fleet to my own purposes within their war, why are you?”
Red faced, Garrett sighed, putting down his glass. “Goodnight, Danival. I’m sorry. I’m not thinking clearly. Maybe I am just jealous, or angry with myself for having thrown away something good.”
“Goodnight, Alec,” Danival said quietly, and let the man leave without further pressing. Upon finding himself alone in Sha’s quarters, however, he felt more than a little awkward, and let himself back out. He stumbled into Garrett in the hall, however, Garrett who was more than a little drunk, and staring up at him.
“I didn’t love you,” Garrett said, looking pained. “Not right, anyway. I mean I loved you, but I was a kid, and you knew everything, and I thought it was too easy, that it would get pulled out from under us. That you were being foolish, that–”
“–the world would notice, and would tear us apart anyway. You were saving yourself heartache,” Danival said, shrugging. “You were young, and stupid. Like I was young and stupid, when I leaving Nathan,” he said.
Garrett looked pained, and said, “You loved him more than I knew.”
“I love him still,” Danival said plainly.
Wounded, Garrett nodded, and turned to leave, but the massive Krieg shifted to easily bar his way, one hand reaching to touch the other man’s shoulder. “As I am still loving you, Alec.”
Garrett dared to look apologetic and hopeful all at once. “When this is all over, Danival–”
“If we live, Alec. If we live, maybe we talk about it, then. Until then–” He shrugged, smiling. “No point in working self up, yes?”
“I really am sorry. And I hate being jealous,” Garrett said, looking somewhat irritable.
Danival bowed his head and kissed Alec’s forehead, saying, “No one likes it, Alec. Now, let us be leaving Onaya’s quarters. She loved him as well, and I am thinking her fresh grief may need more space than my nostalgia is leaving.”
* * *
“Think they’re done yet?” Sha wondered, glancing at Kieron. “My buzz is dying, and I think maybe if I sleep until noon tomorrow, maybe I’ll feel human.”
“Doubt it,” Kieron said, glancing her way.
She elbowed him in the side, saying, “C’mon, now — your bedside manner’s shitty!”
“I just meant you never sleep in til noon!” Kieron said, squirming away, rubbing his ribs. “If that’s what’s going to cure you, I’m afraid you might feel fucked for a good long time yet, Captain.”
“Not a Captain without a ship, cadet,” Sha sighed.
“Then I’m not a cadet, Captain,” Kieron said archly. “Or should I call you Sha?”
The roll of Sha’s eyes was so hard, she nearly gave herself a headache. “Nngh,” Sha grunted, pursing her lips. “No.”
“Captain it is, then. But feel free to call me Kieron,” he said, turning to walk her back to her rooms. “C’mon. I can always help you kick them out, right? It’s getting late. We’re going to end up in the thick of it before long. We’ll have to get in and get Jules and get the fuck out without getting dead, and frankly, I’m still not sure how they plan to do it without killing everyone in the city state.”
“Yeah,” Sha said, frowning slightly. “I’m not, either.”
* * *