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Chapter 20

With the base of her floating king, Scarlet knocked out Theo’s piece and replaced it with her own. Theo, who had been hunched over, shot up.


“How- what?! No, no, you could not have beaten me, again. Best six out of eleven!” Scarlet shook her head, but set up the game board one more time. From where he sat by a window, the King chuckled. “Theo, just admit defeat and move on. She was taught by the best after all.” Turning to face him, Theo rolled her eyes. “Oh sure, don’t flatter yourself. If anyone on this air ship is the best at chess- it’s myself. I am a six time reigning champion!”

“Which is why Scarlet has beaten you thus far?” The King didn’t even lift his head from the book in his hand as he sounded off the offensive. Theo was prepared to respond, but the First mate entered into the room. Bowing, all four pairs of eyes were on him. “Your highness, Captain has asked me to inform you that we are coming up to Nereids Bay on the port side. We are set to lay back to land in twenty minutes.” The King nodded, dismissing the first mate from the room. Forgetting about replacing the chess pieces to their proper places on the board, Scarlet hopped from her seat. In the process she hit the table, knocking all everything to the ground as she rushed to the window. Pressing her hands to the cool glass, Scarlet pushed herself against the surface. She couldn’t hear Theo wondering what had gotten into her, the King’s light chuckle, or even Renee who was now next to her. All she saw and heard was blue. Endless, beautiful, shining blue waters. “They’ve never seen the ocean.” The King’s voice floated freely around Scarlet, but she remained mesmerized to the view in front of her. She kept her eyes on the ocean, even as the ship turned, until she couldn’t see it any more.

Scarlet longed to see the magnificent blue beast once more. “Oh, you had the building painted!” Theo was now next to the two humans, speaking on the rather nice sized home sitting up along a rock side. “The grass seems greener this year. Is that a new fountain? You really fixed the place up sire.” The King, who still sat with his book in his lap, shrugged. “It was all Dolra. It’s been at least three centuries since she’s come here and yet she insist on keeping it ‘updated’. Now please, everyone take their seat. Captain Pau’per is the finest woman to ever serve until the title for the Great Adventure, but it doesn’t mean that landings are rocky.”

“Well she’s done quite nicely thus far I would say.” Theo turned from the window and took a seat across from the King. “For what she has, but, if we were to expand the size of my Metal Birds then perhaps it can be used for civilian use as well as military.” As Scarlet took a seat on the couch, Renee following after her, the King let out a sigh. “For the millionth time Theo, no. Not yet at least. Your current fleet of Birds has barely been tested; and didn’t one of them stop working? I’m not going to risk the money, time and power needed to expand on a project that might fail. I refuse.” Theo’s face grew dark, and her eyes got so narrow they looked as if her golden glow was cutting through. The King must have hit one of her nerves. “Then I guess it is a good thing I am on this trip, sire. I can give you an up and close test of my finest creation to date! Minus Lil Grey- that’s what I named my new smoke bomb.” The King placed the book in the shelf beside him, suddenly tense at the mention of Theo’s smoke bomb.

What’s a smoke bomb?

Renee shrugged, not quite sure either. The sir ship begun to tip down at that moment, and Scarlet clutched the couch in her hands. So far her first air ship trip had been uneventful. The greatest surprise she got was seeing Theo come out of her personal cabin after lift-off. The werewolf then explained that she was on the trip to fix and test some of her latest inventions that the Navy hoped to use against Muis. She was also apparently quite upset with Admiral Wiles and Captain Kerns; for something they said about Pals. The subject was not brought up again, not even at dinner that night. Though the bed was small, and the whole cabin hummed slightly, Scarlet slept peacefully and woke just in time to watch the sun rise for the first time in months.

Up until the current moment, Scarlet hadn’t thought about them landing. The take-off had been as shaky as the King had warned, and she was sure their landed would mirror it. Scarlet glanced to Renee, who looked relaxed but Scarlet could see the slight hint of worry in her eyes. Waving, Scarlet got her attention.

We’ll be fine.

Renee nodded, giving a small smile as the ship was jolted again. Renee’s face paled slightly before regaining it’s normal color once more. It was then Scarlet realized that she could hear shouting, and the ship glided to it’s port. No one said anything, the ship’s slowing engine and the muffled voices filled the silence. It could have only been a minute or two since they had officially landed, but the first mate was before them again. Bowing, he gave them all a soft smile. “Captain has given us the orders that de-boarding is now allowed. Enjoy your trip, all.” Bowing once more, the man left the same way he came. The King stood first, as the doors were unlocked and opened by an outside worker. “Very well, let us.”

The moment they set foot off of the ship, the four beings were shuffled into a private car and driven away from the grand house. Cain had informed them that morning at breakfast that his first matter of business was to tour Jengu, the main port that the navy operated out of. Theo had to come, but he requested that Scarlet join him. Honored, and slightly excited at the thought of spending the whole day with him, she agreed. Renee went where ever Scarlet went, she didn’t have any other choice to choose from. As they sped through the outskirts of a bustling town, Renee took the chance to really look at Scarlet. She was talking to the King, who almost didn’t need Renee to translate for him anymore. Theo sat beside him, hunched over a notebook as she mumbled to herself. The werewolf was dead set on making sure all her calculations were correct. Renee looked back to Scarlet. She gave a small smile, responding to the King. They spoke about her hair, she wished to cut it and he believed she looked fine now. Renee frowned slightly at the thought. Scarlet had never had hair shorter than at her lower back- any shorter was against the Code. Now she wished to have it above her shoulders? Renee was not fond of changes- and her hair was not the only thing Scarlet was changing. She strolled out that morning in a pair of beautifully tailored pants, claiming they were a gift from Pals. Luckily for Renee, the King wasn’t welcoming towards Scarlet’s wardrobe change either. He believed her to look more regal in gowns over pants. Theo adored it, giving Scarlet her full support. To Renee’s demise, the King did not force Scarlet to change. He sub came to the human and werewolf, claiming that if Scarlet was pleased- then he was as well. So she sat now next to Renee, in the olive green pants tucked snuggly into a pair of boots. Scarlet paired the pants well, with a white button down shirt and a relaxed leather vest. Renee stared at the sheer sleeves, watching their flowing movement as Scarlet spoke. Suddenly they stopped, and Scarlet was looking right at her. She asked Renee if she was okay. Renee nodded, and Scarlet gave a hesitant nod back.

The rest of ride Renee kept her gaze out the window, wishing her and Scarlet were alone. So the only person Scarlet could talk to was her. It was a selfish thought, but Renee was a selfish person. Just like Scarlet, she had her secrets kept from others. When they neared the base, the car slowed down just long enough to be cleared past security and allowed in. From there they drove through the self-sufficient town to the largest building around. Theo climbed out first, not waiting for the driver. She closed her note book and strolled straight into the building; not waiting for anyone else. The King followed after her, and offered a hand to Scarlet once he was standing. She accepted it, and thanked him. Renee was not offered a hand, not that she truly wanted to be in all truthfulness. Following after the King and Scarlet, who in returned followed after Theo, the group entered into the building and straight into a reception area.

“Your highness.” A tall man, with a thick bushy mustache who was thin in every part of his body but his belly, was waiting for them and bowed at the sight of the King. “Admiral. I trust you remember Dr. Deaeque?” Admiral Wiles rose back up, smiling. His white teeth contrasted nicely against his dark skin. “Of course sire! One does not forget the hurricane that is Theodora Deaeque.” Theo let out a small growl. “That’s Dr. Hurricane Deaeque to you!” The Admiral’s face got tense, but the smile remained. “Of course, forgive me Doctor.” He then turned his attention to Scarlet and Renee. “I do not believe I have had the pleasure.” Admiral Wiles looked to the King, who looked to the two human girls. Renee took a step forward and placed her hands on her hips. “Renee, last name’s not important. I’m a translator for Scarlet here.” Grabbing Scarlet, Renee pulled her forward and she felt her friend stumbling over her feet. “Her last name is also not important.”

“So what importance do you serve being here on my base?” Renee wanted to punch the man in the jaw- to whip out the sword on her hip and cut him into a million pieces. “Besides being my honored guest,” the King stepped in the space between the three humans, forcing the Admiral to move back, “Scarlet is the Blessed human. I’m sure Captain Kerns informed you being she was at the meeting last week despite me demanding your presence.” The Admiral studied Scarlet, his eyes wide yet they moved like a predator. Once, not so long ago, Scarlet would have hunched her shoulders in an attempt to shrink herself. She would move back and try to free herself from the gaze. Perhaps it was her training, or the fact she was wearing pants- it could have even be her new boots that elevated her just so off from the ground. She didn’t know what had overcome her, but instead of backing down she found herself raising up. “If you’re done studying her,” Theo stepped up to them, breaking their stare down, “which I’m the only one on this planet granted permission to do so, I would like to be taken to my Birds. The one that stopped working preferably.” The Admiral looked between Scarlet, Theo, and lastly the King. Nodding, he motioned for his Captain to step forward. “Kerns, show Theo to the Hanger.”

The tour of the overall base of Jengu was interesting to Scarlet, but also extremely boring. The Admiral, and King often spoke words that she did not know or did not understand. Most of the tour she followed quietly behind, eyeing everything. The small group ended the tour within one of the smaller hangers, but with ceilings still so high. Lined at first were several war vehicles, all standard for any fighting base. Beyond that, were creations of metal that Scarlet had never seen anything of the sorts. If she could, she could call them a metal gilder but with more. “Last but not least,” The Admiral held a hand out towards the beasts, “Dr. Deaeque’s Metal Birds.” Looking to the line of Metal Birds, Scarlet noticed Theo up on ladder. Her back was towards them, and she hunched over the front of the first Bird in the line. As the came closer, positioning themselves to see her face, the fire torch in her hand went dead. Straightening her back, Theo popped her goggles from her eyes to her forehead. They left a clean ring around her eyes, the rest of her face being darken with soot and oil. “I take it that your tour went well Admiral?” She lowered the metal lid over the engine, the sound echoing around them.

“Of course Doctor, I trust that you have my Bird ready to fly once more?” Theo hooked the fire torch onto the ladder and grabbed onto the side rails. Releasing her feet from the rungs, Theo slid down; landing softly on the ground. “If you’re speaking on the subject of my Bird, then yes. I believe it is. A simple test flight should tell us.” Theo grabbed a rag that stuck out from her back pocket and rubbed her hands on it. “When will you test it?” Theo shoved her dirty rag against the Admiral’s crisp uniform, “Give me five minutes.” Theo begun to walk off, but stopped and turned. “And don’t touch my Bird.”

Theo returned in six minutes, and Scarlet assumed it was just to annoy the Admiral. One thing Scarlet had learned in their short time together that he was a stickler for punctuality. Theo returned to them cleaned face, her goggles resting in their normal spot on her head. Climbing into the back seat of the two-seater Bird, Theo locked herself into the seat. Placing a set of radio transmitter over her ears, she motioned for the doors to be opened. The Admiral made the call, and the hanger’s two large doors were open. The Bird’s engine roared to life, and propeller on the nose the Bird sprung to life. Theo adjusted her goggles back over her eyes, and then the Bird begun to move. It was slow, but smooth and moved by them with a gentle breeze. The group followed the Bird outside, joining it as Theo turned it onto a patch of dirt. “I’m all set, am I clear to go?” Theo’s voice crackled in the radio resting on the hip of Captain Kerns. Another voice, a male one, gave her the all clear and the Bird begun to move. Scarlet watched in awe as the Bird sped down the dirt patch, taking off just moments before it would go straight into a sand dune. The Bird continued to rise, and at one point seemed to get higher than any air ship Scarlet had seen. The Bird flew high, but not too far from the base; always circling back. “It’s a beautiful day today, isn’t it Captain?” Theo voice crackled once more, and with the Admiral’s permission, Captain Kerns responded. “Yes it is, care to join us back on the ground?” A growl came over the radio, “Very well. I’m bringing her in.”

The Bird flew over them a few more times, before returning back on the dirt path. Stopping it a few feet from them, Theo killed the engine and pulled the radio transmitter from her head. Pulling her goggles up, she leaned over the side of the Bird. “See? Running like new. It was a simple wiring issue. Now, who wants to come up with me?” The Admiral stepped forward at that moment. “No, you are not allowed to fly it again. I refuse!” The glint that Scarlet was use to seeing flashed through Theo’s eyes. “Hmm, let’s see,” She leaned against her arms, “I invited the Metal Bird, I built the Metal Birds and now I fixed this Metal Bird. I’m taking it up again. Your highness, care to join me?” The King shook his head, refusing. “Thank you Theo, but not today. Perhaps tomorrow.” Theo shrugged, not at all offended. “Scarlet?” Suddenly, all eyes were on her. Theo’s mischievous look told her to say yes, but everyone else’s told her to say no. Looking to Theo, Scarlet nodded; her heart all but bursting from her chest. “Wonderful! Someone get her a ladder!” Both the King and Admiral looked ready to protest, but Scarlet only ran towards the Bird. Reaching it, there was lean-to ladder that she quickly climbed to the front seat. “Here, put these on and strap in.” Theo handed her a leather cap, goggles and radio transmitter built in. Scarlet strapped it to her head, and then closed the harness over her chest. “You ready?” Lifting a shanking hand, she gave Theo a thumbs up. “Okay! Hold on, cause here we go!” The Bird roared to life once more, and before Scarlet could blink was moving down the dirt pathway.

The whole situation suddenly became very real to Scarlet. She hyperventilated, her hands turning white from their grip on her harness. “Okay Scarlet, see all those buttons and switches? Don’t touch anything, those are all controls to the weapons of the Bird. We’re not trying to kill anything. At the moment. So just, sit back and enjoy!” The nose of the bird tipped up, shaking slightly. It continued to shake and then the ground was no longer below them. The bird climbed higher, the shaking slowly fading away. The Bird leveled out, and smoothed itself. The wind whipped around Scarlet, and she opened her eyes- not realizing she had closed them. In awe, she looked around and dared to stretch a hand out to touch a cloud. “It’s amazing, I know.” Theo’s voice cracked into Scarlet’s ears, laughing. “I’ll show you something great, hold on.” The Bird begun to tip towards the right and Scarlet turned her head. Looking to the ground, they flew over a quaint looking town. The people below all stopped, and turned their eyes to the sky. A child waved, and Scarlet had to wave back. The Bird tipped back, and they flew through a set of clouds.

Theo landed the Bird back on the dirt path, the whole thing bouncing a few times before remaining on the ground as she slowed. By the time they reach the group of being once more the Bird was crawling and stopped perfectly. Pulling the goggles from her face, Scarlet released her body from the harness as a ladder was brought over. Reaching the ground once more, Scarlet turned to face the group.

It was amazing. I loved it.

Renee smiled, and the King commented that he was glad she enjoyed it. The Admiral and Captain both stood dumb founded, and confused. “Sire, I insist that you take a spin with me. Please, this’ll be my last trip of the day. I promise!” Theo used her finger to make an X over her heart, her large eyes growing wider. She took the term ‘puppy eyes’ to a new level. “Please sire, let me show you what she can do!” Her trick worked upon the King, and he agreed to go up in the Bird once. He placed the same helmet on that Scarlet wore prior and strapped himself in. As she begun to move the Bird towards the pathway, Theo gave a large wicked looking grin towards Scarlet. Then the Bird was off, flying through the sky as it had moments before with Scarlet.

“You were right Theo, it’s amazing.” The King’s voice crackled over the radio. “I know, want to see something that will truly take your breath away?” Theo laughed slightly, and the engine revving came from the radio. “Theo- what are you doing? THEODORA!” Theo’s laugh grew louder and Scarlet took a step back. The Bird went from a simple glide into a ninety degree angle before flipping. “THEODORA!” The King’s scream could be heard without the aid of the radio, and a few milling workers stopped and turned to the sky. The Bird did two more flips before leveling out and then returning to the ground. When the engine finally came to a rest, the King pulled his helmet off and hopped from the Bird. He landed gracefully, and didn’t seem in any pain despite the easily ten foot drop. His eyes were so glassed over, a simple glance seemed to kill. Theo landed beside him, hunched over before standing straight. “I ought to kill you! What the hell was that?” The King looked up to Theo, his hands fisted at his sides. “Payback sire. For yesterday. You challenged my chess skill.” The King took a deep breath, stepping back. “You infuriate me.” His response was much calmer, and his face relaxed once more. Theo gave a small smile and pulled her goggles up. “I could still have you killed you know.” Theo’s smile grew wider, “But you won’t.” The King frown slightly, and walked away.

Scarlet strolled the beach, the wind blowing both her skirt and hair around. She stayed close enough to the tide to feel the mist but not to get wet. She had dared to wet her feet earlier, and the water all but froze her toes. So she was happy to stay along the slightly risen dune. Coming to a stop, she turned and faced the water. The sun was near to setting perfectly along it, and she didn’t wish to miss it. “It’s beautiful, I know.” The King came up Scarlet’s right side, stopping beside her. She noticed that like herself, he had removed and now held his shoes. Her heart beat picked up slightly and she turned back to the view.

I’ve never seen the sun so close to us before.

“I have many times, but I’m in awe every time as if I hadn’t ever before.”

You weren’t at dinner. Were you ill?

“No, no.” The King gave a small smile at her concern for him. “I got pulled into a meeting. A group of ‘terrorist’ attacked one of our ambassadors during a trip to Kuko. He was there to talk about an update in our alliance agreement. There is very good evidence that Muis was behind the attack.” Scarlet nodded, glancing down to the sand. They stood far enough just to keep from brushing shoulders, and she looked at their contrasting feet. His were so naturally pale compared to hers.

I thought you might be mad. At Theo or me.

The King frowned slightly. “Theo is a stickler for what she believes is payback. I’m used to it and honestly should see it coming but I never do. I cannot stay angry at her for long, if I even am. I care too much for her.” Scarlet nodded again, glancing to him. “I’m not sure what gave you the impression that I was mad at you. I never have been angry with you and quite honestly I don’t think I ever could be.”

I’m not quite so sure. I’m sure I’ll do something sometime.

“You won’t.” He shook his head, looking away. The two watched the sun set on the water, and slowly sink down into it.

I’ll never see anything more beautiful.

“I agree.” Turning he reached out, pushing back a strand of hair that was pressed against her forehead. As he did, he ran his hand down the side of her face. She could feel her heart beat bouncing within her chest, and the air suddenly getting thin. Resting in his palm, her face fit perfectly in his hand. “I’m drawn to you Scarlet.” He slowly moved nearer. She mouthed out ‘why’ and he shook his head. “I’m not sure, but I am.” He turned to fully face him, and she copied him without thinking upon it. “I am sure, though, that I don’t care. I like it. I care for you, like you.”

It’s impossible for me to not like you.

He shook his head once more, lowing his hand. “No, it’s not liking.” Her heart suddenly stopped and shattered within her heart. “I cannot say that, it would be a lie. What I feel for you, the way that I see you, is nothing I have never felt before. Not even for Dolra. I care for her deeply, but I do not believe I’ve ever loved her… And Scarlet,” He took her face in his hand once more, their eyes meeting, “I love you. Crazily, and in a way that is too impossible to try to ever understand. I love you.” Scarlet’s heart was once again whole and suddenly flying free from her body.

I cannot say if I love you.

“You don’t have to.” Fully taking her face into his hands, the space between them closed in a kiss. Scarlet had never been kissed before, she had no idea what so ever of what she was to do. But, almost as if it was meant to be, she felt her body responding. It was the sweetest, breath taking, heart stopping moment of her life up until that point. Twice, in one day, had her world been blown to a new level. The kiss ended a few seconds after beginning, Scarlet pulling away.

You’re married. We’re wrong.

“I know.” Pulling her back in, Scarlet was lost to the moment. She had now been kissed twice in her life, and both times were amazing. The feelings felt as if the others hadn’t happened, and she was starting all over. Not to forget that they were given by a King. Not just any King, a vampire King. A beautiful man of whom Scarlet was falling in love with.

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