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Chapter 10

“This is amazing!” Terra called out to the rest of the group riding with her. They rode through the jungle doing a circuit sweep around the wall to make sure there was nothing close to them . Terra had been chosen To be a part of the group that had been chosen to go. It was an honor ,since she was the youngest of the group by far. Even Dexter a guy she recognized from an older class in the academy was her elder by two years. She smiled at him now and he beamed back at her. She was glad she recognized a face amidst all the strangers. Terra let it all soak in,it was almost like being young again besides the group of men around her thundering throughout the jungle on horseback. She was the only girl so they felt like they had to protect her . They were about to need protection from her if they didn’t stop trying to baby her. Suddenly the troop leader yelled and threw his hand up in a closed fist causing the troop to stop completely. For the first time Terra noticed how quiet the jungle was,only one thing could make it quiet like this. A predator was near. The troop leader,Blackwell, moved to get off his horse and the test of the troop -including Terra- followed. Terra’s playful mood was gone replaced by awareness . She had her sword in her hand. They’d stopped in a small clearing so they could see if anything attacked . Blackwell drew his sword and scanned the trees surrounding the clearing . All was silent and time seemed to stand still for a few beats .

Then the clearing exploded with the hissing of six massive black scorpions headed straight for the sweeper group.The men grouped around Terra with their backs to her and swords out pointed towards the beasts. Terra sighed and waited. She knew that the scorpions would go for the person standing alone not the group and true to form they all went after Blackwell. The men around her grew more taunt as the scorpions surrounded their leader . Terra could see the struggle on every man’s face they’d been raised to protect women and children. The loyalty they had to their leader warred inside them in competition what had been ingrained in them. Terra decided to make it easier for them . She backed up in the circle of men and horses and did a front flip over the shortest soldier . The men all gasped at her but she was already gone towards the nearest scorpion. She slashed downwards when she got close enough to it and cut off its tail. It hisses loudly and spun on her trying to catch her in its claws. She heard the men finally joining the fight around her and she also felt a guy trying to push her out of the way of her fight with the scorpion . Terra pushed back and danced around the scorpion confusing it. It turned but couldn’t keep up and she jumped on it’s back . The scorpion reared up on its hind legs trying to dislodge her. She laughed as it tried to use its tail nub to stab her.

Terra started laughing harder as it bucked and twisted. After a moment she raised her sword and pierced its armor on its neck. With one twist it was dead. The scorpion crumpled to the ground . For a moment Terra sat there on it’s back and looked around . There was only one scorpion left and all the men who weren’t injured were fighting it. Terra really wasn’t needed but she couldn’t fight the force in her that drove her to help no matter how small the fight . She rolled off the scorpions back and ran towards the fight. Several men saw her running towards the ongoing fight and ran to get there before she did. The influx of new men helped take the scorpion down quickly and Terra stood there angrily, with her arms crossed. They would never see her an equal just because of her gender and it was ridiculous. She could protect herself just as well as any of them! Even Dexter was over there fighting the scorpion so she couldn’t be hurt.

Soon all the men came back over to where she stood and one walked directly up to her. “You are a woman learn your place! We fight and we protect you. You are weak,act like it.” Terra glared up at him for a moment then she swung. Her fist caught him in the jaw and he went flying back. Before anyone could grab her she ran after him and continued throwing punches. He was trying to twist to avoid the hits but she was sitting on him pinning him to the ground as she hit him repeatedly. “I’m weak?” Terra screamed. “I’m weak but I can hurt you?” Terra felt someone grab her and drag her off of him. She threw an elbow back and caught her captor in the stomach,she heard him as he fell. Before she could do more then punch the guy she was sitting on again she was once again pulled back,this time by the hair. She screamed and reached back to grab her assailant but Dexter had already gotten there first. He grabbed the arms that held her and flipped the man over using his own weight against him.The bigger they are the bigger they fall. The man’s grip on her hair loosened completely as he flew through the air and hit his partner. It was still in the clearing for moment and then all the men seemed to converge on Terra and Dexter simoutolosey . She’d gotten up off of the ground and was ready for them,the first to reach her tried to punch her and she caught his fist and twisted his arm until he screamed and fell. The second tried to approach her from the back but Dexter grabbed a men in front of her and swung him around to knock down the one behind her. The rest saw what happened and got smart,they all came at her and Dexter at the same time. Terra had trained against several assailants before so she was ready and with Dexter next to her it was over within minutes.

Once the attackers were all quickly dispatched ,she turned and looked at Blackwell waiting for him to make a move as well. He didn’t,he just stared at her then he smiled. Then laughed,soon tears were coursing down his cheeks. Terra sensed the men behind her moving and getting up but she didn’t move. She knew Dexter was watching her back. Those men would never again say a women couldn’t fight since they’d learned who was the better fighter between them.It was Blackwell’s reaction she was worried about. After several minutes of laughter he finally straightened up and waved Terra to him. She slowly approached him when she was within arm’s reach he grabbed her and swung his arm around her shoulders. “You all speak of females being weak and needing protection yet Terra single handedly defeated more than half of you on her her. I ask you now men, who is truly the weaker sex? Terra is a part of this group for now and you will respect her right to fight. Is that clear?” He boomed to his men who at the moment looked downright pitiful with torn shirts, black eyes, and swollen wrists. .

“Yes sir.” One man said.

“I can’t hear you man!.” Blackwell shouted even louder.

“Yes sir!.” They all said and snapped to attention saluting Terra and their captain. Terra scanned the men until she found Dexter who was laughing holding his stomach. He shot her thumbs up. ’You know Terra , you seem like a fun girl.” Blackwell whispered to her smiling.

Terra’s eyes snapped open and stared into the darkness around as she recalled her dream. That day had been the first day she’d actually interacted with Dexter and they’d been inseparable ever since. Before that day she’d been making due on her own determined to get through the next couple of years then leave the city and biome for good until she found her brother. Dexter single handedly pulled her out of her depression. When she’d initially met him it seemed like he was trying to make her another notch on his bedpost but as time went on and she refused to cross that line with him he backed off and they formed a deeper bond. He became her best friend. Everyone knew they spent most of their time together but he still went out with other girls. Terra never met any of them. The one time she’d asked him about them he simply said they weren’t around long enough to meet her. She took that as confirmation that they were all one night stands and didn’t matter. She’d never dated. Besides one kiss she’d almost shared with Blackwell during her first year in the academy she hadn’t attempted any type of romances because Daniel was still too heavy on her heart.

And even once she felt like she could manage a relationship the only man she had eyes for was the one man who literally seemed incapable of having an actual relationship past the bedroom with anyone. Not to mention the drama that seemed to follow relationships in general. She was single and yet found herself caught between two men. One was her past and the other could be her future and she didn’t know what to do. She’d prefer not to have to choose between them but she had a feeling that Dexter was right about her not having that option. She sighed and slumped farther into her pillow. Dexter didn’t talk to her for the rest of the day and when night came she unsurprisingly found herself sleeping alone. She thought about his statement earlier where he accused her of never considering that their relationship would withstand the test of time. She felt guilty because he was right, she never had because she believed him to be incapable of such a union. Thinking back on the past week she wondered if that truly was the case.

“Here they come! Watch out!” Deon yelled to his team who was running on the surface of the water behind him. They were running on top of the water towards the island that sat directly in the middle of the aquatic biome. They could have traveled below the water but since they were supposed to gain an audience with the leader of the biome it was better to be detected earlier by sentries. Ten aquatic sentires were running towards them now with their blades drawn. As he waited deon couldn’t help but notice how beautiful they all were, men and women alike. With bronzed skin,sun streaked hair and hazel eyes they were all drop droppers. “ Damn. She can run at me anytime.” Deon heard one of his teammates mutter in admiration.

“Stay focused, they don’t exactly look friendly.” He called over his shoulder hoping they would take his words to heart and defend themselves. He silently watched as the sentries slowed down and came to a stop just outside of deons striking range

. A man stepped forward and glared at them. “I am Xavier. Who are you? Why do you come?” His voice rang with impatience.

“I am Deon, from the jungle biome. We request a meeting with your leader.”

“For what purpose?”

“We seek an alliance. The desert biome seeks to destroy us all.”

“The desert biome does not concern us. They are too weak to pose a threat.”

“ Your people are blind if you think that no one can touch you. You have not left your biome for many years now. You do not know what the outside world holds.” Daniel replied calmly.

“ We have no need to leave our biome and you have no reason to come here. We live in peace because we see no reason to involve ourselves in the petty dramas of those below us.” Xaviers gaze passed over all of them before it came back to rest on Deon’s face.

“Be gone. Your petty disputes do not interest us and are not worth the attention of our leader.” Xavier stoof there confidently waiting for them to follow his orders.

Deon scoffed and drew his sword. “Guess we will have to go through you then. I know how your people function. Once a challenge has been issued the battle is fought only between the challenger and the challenged. I challenge you Xavier.”

Xavier laughed heartily. “You think you have a chance against me? This is where you die then.” His team backed back from him as he approached deon.

“Micheal take everyone and go back to the city. Whatever the outcome of this battle may be the president will need to know of it.”

He could see michael hesitating in the corner of his eye. “But sir-”

“No butts! Move it now!” Deon yelled and as he met the first strike of Xaviers blade head on. Soon all of his attention was focused on the opponent in front of him. He quickly realized he was outclassed. The aquatic people fought with a fluid grace that he didn’t possess himself. He soon found himself overwhelmed by the spinning xaviers blade. He desperately blocked as he attempted to find a hole in his opponents guard. He heard Xavier laugh as she continued his assault. Deon took a step back and and gasped as his legs were swept out from underneath him. He raised his sword even as he hit the surface of the water. Xavier knocked his sword out of his hand stood over him dangling his sword over deons chest. “You are weak. Come back when you get stronger.” Xavier laughed again as he and the other sentries turned and walked back towards the city not concerned with the potential foe at their back. Deon dropped his head and allowed his body to sink under the water. He had bruises on every part of his body and a deep gash on his leg. Not to mention his wounded ego. The aquatic biome were truly fierce warriors like the legends said. He wasn’t up to their standard yet but he knew someone who was. “Deon!” He heard his name before his head went underwater. He opened his eyes and gazed at the bright blue sky above him as he floated silently waiting. “Is he hurt? Help me grab him!” He heard mia’s voice right beside him now. “What do we do now?” Her voice was anxiety ridden. “We go home and regroup.” Deon said softly trying to keep the pain out of his voice. “Yes sir!” He heard courses around him as he felt his body being lifted into the air.

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