Tumakako and Dara journeyed through the heavy snow and freezing air. It would have been torture prior to Dara’s expanded exploration of her powers. The two very rarely rested, and when they would Dara would create small embers to keep her rescuer warm, although Tumakako usually appeared unphased by the elements.
Was she simply adjusted to the cold or secretly freezing to death beneath her stoic expressions? Finally, the two reached their destination after days of traveling. The Eira was dwindling where they were and at long last relief was headed toward the city.
Dara thought often of her people before the fear set in. The realization that with the ending of the storm, meant the freeing of the beast.
Dara remained in her red form the entire voyage. She was beginning to feel comfortable with how to manage and preserve her energy. The trees were bare, water dripping from the branches, and snow hardly covering their feet as they walked.
The ground once again became visible. Off in the distance a small shack stood uneven. Built by someone who was not proficient in construction. The stone and wood barely survived the Eira. Dara continued to follow her rescuer. Tumakako didn’t talk much during their travels.
Only answering Dara’s questions with one word or a nod of her head. At times Dara caught glimpses of what looked like the newly nicknamed Tuma thinking or even more, feeling. But in their short time together, she concluded better not to ask.
“We will rest here for a while.” Tumakako said. Making their final approach, Tumakako waved her hand. The large stone serving as the entrance moved aside. The shack was disguised Pratham technology. Tumakako waited for Dara to enter.
Dara returned to her normal form as Tumakako followed closely behind, with the latter sealing the door behind them. Dara fixed her eyes on another woman opposite her across the room. “Lale!” Dara ran to embrace her. “I’m so sorry, we thought you were dead.
The storm stopped us.” She rambled. Lale hugged Dara tighter. “It’s okay. I know you didn’t mean to. I’m alright.” Lale responded. “I promise, I won’t hurt you again.” Dara said, tears streaming down her face. Lale holding her face in her hands. “Dara, its ok. I’ve recovered from my injuries. Everything is fine.” She assured her.
Lale wiped Dara’s tears. Tumakako moved about the room, gathering supplies. “We’ll get some rest. The Eira will be far ahead of us, making our journey to the city easy.” Said Tumakako. Dara jolted out of the clutches of Lale. “Return? No! He’ll kill me.” She warned.
Lale calmly placed her hand on Dara’s shoulder. “Who is trying to kill you?” Lale inquired. “Fei! He sent 19 after me. That’s how Tuma found me.” Dara’s voice shaking with urgency. “We can’t go back there!” Lale looked to Tumakako for confirmation.
“She speaks the truth. I found her in the grasp of a warrior wearing Pratham armor.” Said Tumakako. Lale shook her head in denial. “Clearly there is a misunderstanding.”
Dara looked deep in the eyes of Lale. “I heard you.” She continued. “I heard everything. I know about Earth. I know about the wars and how they killed your child.” Lale pondered on the validity of her words. Then she remembered, the research inside her ship.
The blending. “Lale, he knows about the green Iku. He knows you hid it from him and gave it to me.” Tumakako instantly stopped her tasks. The room silent. Lale and Tumakako had both hid secrets from one another.
It was better for them to cohabitate as Lale recovered, but her possessing the green Iku was information Tumakako would’ve liked to have known, that Dara naively shared. “He wants the Iku. I barely escaped.” Lale dropped her head at the news.
Tumakako joined the conversation. “You should have told me you knew about Vanakan’s discovery. We must prevent the Beast from acquiring it. He will be extremely more powerful than the two of us.” Tumakako admonished.
Lale nonverbally rejected the idea while not taking too kindly to the reference of the Beast. “Vanakan? I do not understand his involvement in any of this. And more importantly, I appreciate you saving my life, but I owe you absolutely nothing. You made a choice to rescue me.” Lale argued. Tumakako’s outrage was the first new expression that Dara had seen since their time together.
“A decision. I may regret. A pertinacious and ungrateful person, as to reward my efforts with entitlement.” Tumakako retorted. Lale stood close to Tumakako, but the latter did not back down.
“Grateful for you? Why were you out here all alone again?” Lale asked mockingly. Tumakako’s face turning a deep red. “Tread carefully girl. I know many things. My actions are as swift and damaging as your words.” Tumakako responded.
Dara watched the two share an intense stare down. Finally, Lale, broke the silence. “I will return to him. I can convince him to give up this desire.” Lale said, grabbing her shards.
Dara yanked on Lale’s arm. “He will kill you too! He is powerful. He survived the same type of blast!” Dara exclaimed. Lale held Dara close. “He will not survive the next one.” Tumakako interjected.
Lale stood up in rebellion. “You underestimate your future Sovereign old woman. I wonder how he will receive your insolence?” Lale warned. She began to make her way for the entrance.
Dara grabbed onto Lale, trying desperately to prevent her from leaving. “I will return to Fei and convince him that you are not his enemy.” Lale said inelegantly looking into Tumakako’s eyes.
Lale kneeled to console Dara. The two wrapped their arms around each other, squeezing tightly. Dara felt so relieved she hadn’t killed Lale but started to feel her hate for her returning. The motherly vibe Lale was portraying reminding Dara of the very mother that Lale stole from her.
“Fear is not in your blood. I promise, you have nothing to fear.” Said Lale as she released her embrace. “Sometimes, the people we care about give up. The responsibility is ours Dara. Even when they don’t realize they are giving up on us. To bring them back. Only we can do that for them.” Lale said calmly.
Lale kissed Dara on the cheek, then made her way over to Tumakako, taking her by the hands. “I will send word for you both to return after I have spoken with Fei.” Lale offered. “I need no invitation to enter that city. You would be wise to remember, that it was I that found you. Not the other way around.” Tumakako urged.
The two warriors shared a long nonverbal contest before Lale exited the shack. Visible from the inside, Tumakako and Dara watched Lale head off towards the city. “Come child. We must prepare you for the inevitable war for our planet.” Tumakako said.
She took Dara by the hand and left her home. Once outside Tumakako waved her arms in a specific pattern to transform her home into her own personal vessel. Its reconstruction took longer than Lale’s ship, verifying this to be outdated Pratham technology.
“War? I thought she said she can help Fei?” Dara questioned. The two boarded the ship, the interior looking the same, just in a more condensed manner. Tumakako took the helm and prepare for takeoff. “She will ally with the one she loves over goals and ideals.” Tumakako said.
Dara stood beside her as Tumakako piloted the ship. “That’s why you must become ready. You’re the only one on Tetcht strong enough to defeat him if he finds a way to obtain the raw Iku.” Tumakako said. Dara looked puzzled as the ship zoomed off in the opposite direction of Lale’s departure.
“I knew your mother. Dara………You received the red Iku as a baby before I killed Vanakan and left the city.” Tumakako explained. Dara pondered, trying to make sense of what she was hearing. “I have much more to tell you. But for now, we must start your training. His experience and power vastly exceed your own. But I can bridge that gap.” Tumakako continued.
Dara’s expression displayed that she finally understood. Her skin flushing, beads of sweat dripping down her face.
“Lale doesn’t know you were given the altered red Iku prior to her giving you the raw green version. Once I recognized her Pratham heritage, I couldn’t tell her the truth. It’s because of this, that I know, they will undoubtedly turn on us. Once Fei and Lale confirm your power, I fear Lale will not stand in his way, just as he did not when she killed your mother.”
5 months later
Lale approached the city walls. The stone fully encircled the city. In the center stood the monumental cylinder tower. The Protector was completely restored. Sentry 2 and 7 stood outside the entry gate.
The grass had returned to Tetcht, the Sun melting away any evidence of the Eira. She approached the gate keepers. “Halt.” One called out. Lale stood still. “Don’t you recognize your royalty?” Lale sassed. After a moment, both Sentry members kneeled in reverence.
“Forgive us Empress. It has been over a year since we have seen your face.” Sentry 7 reasoned. “Where is your Sovereign?” Lale asked giving a wave of forgiveness. “Forgive us again my Empress, he has forsaken that title.” Sentry 2 informed her.
“He is The God Conqueror.” 2 continued. Weary from her long voyage, Lale’s patience grew thin. “Escort me to The God Conqueror immediately.” She ordered. The two Sentry members obliged. The gate opened revealing the positive adjustments made to the city, everything was clean and symmetrical.
Lale instantly noticed there were far fewer people than when she last stepped foot in the city. It felt different. Hostile, volatile yet it possessed a sense of true unity. She followed 2 and 7 into the massive tower. The sound of stone on stone filled the stronghold.
The Protector was better equipped, sturdier, and better lit, according to 2 and 7’s updates. The Protector could withstand the Aella with ease due to the small amounts of Pratham tech The God Conqueror had provided to the royal architect Ton. The three boarded a lift and began to ascend to the uppermost level.
The lift was exposed, a wooden platform hoisted by cables, capable of stopping on each level. The city still very primitive but advancing at a pace beyond the height of normal human physicality. Lale’s hands grew clammy, her heart racing. She hadn’t seen him in over a year. As they grew closer, she could hear his voice.
By his tone she could tell he was in his feral form. Lale began to fidget in anticipation. The lift reached their destination. 2 and 7 joined the rest of the group. The remaining 15 Sentry members stood as a wall just off the lift. They’re backs turned to her and her accomplices.
Lale exited the lift behind her escort. The Sentry blocked her path. “I was unaware you needed protecting.” Lale called out. “No amount of protection could prevent you from reaching your target.” Fei returned.
The Sentry parted to allow Lale through. Fei sat atop his large throne. The finely shaped stone redeveloped to have three long platform steps before reaching where he was seated. “Leave us. We will reconvene at a later time.” Fei ordered. The Sentry obeyed. Some boarding the lift while others jumped down from the height in a mass exodus.
Fei’s eyes were intensely focused on Lale. Uncertainty seeped into her joy. “You hid the green Iku from me.” He spoked sternly. Lale’s color flushed. “You cost us our son. You cost us everything. We both agreed to never lie to each other. And you omitted much. Now I find out about this raw version of the Iku?! This new transformation, the Blending?” His voice sounding more like a growl.
“How dare you!” She yelled. “Behold! Fei Zeall, on a throne? I thought that was what we fought against? Our reign would be virtuous, not about the ruling itself, but about a world of peace. Yet I see this has been your goal all along.” Fei jolted his head in denial.
“If I remember, you fought for the Council and the A-Kialle. It doesn’t become more throne worthy than that.” He retorted. “I could have ended it all Lalen! We would be Gods. You and I ruling everything. Our son would be alive! You betrayed me for a child you barely know! Your guilt and fear directing your judgement over your heart.” He yelled.
Fei arose from his throne. Lale did not back down or flinch. A thud accompanied each step as he walked toward her, until he stood staring down at her. Lale’s eyes filled with water. “Why? Tell me the truth. What happened?! Why was our son killed?” He asked.
Tears streaking down her face. “Fei.” She spoke softly. Lale began to fold, she didn’t want to fight. The sight of him made her melt. All of her hurtful comebacks fell to waste. She had to be honest. Before she could speak, Fei wrapped his arms around Lale.
He removed her from the ground in a deep embrace. Unromantically slathering her with kisses. “I thought you were gone.” He said letting go of his anger. The two spent the rest of the night in passion.
Hours later, Lale awoke. Fei seated on his throne, chest broad and muscular as only the bottom half of his armor was activated. “How long have you been staring at me?” She asked, listening for the citizens and Sentry. “A while.” He answered.
Lale made her way up to him and sat on his lap. She rested comfortably on his body as he held her close. The two basked in each other’s presences. “I have to tell you something.” Fei said. “I killed a lot of the citizens.” Lale continued to rest her head on his chest.
“I noticed the population had changed. How many are left?” She asked. “I have found a new purpose. A better purpose. And all those who were not in agreement were made obsolete.” Lale sat up to make eye contact with him. “How many are left?” She repeated.
“70, including the 17 remaining Sentry members. But they are stronger now, possess the Iku in their blood.” Fei explained. Lale exhaled in disappointment. She shook her head at the news.
“Tell me what is going on. No grandstanding or positioning. We’ll both share everything” She said. Fei thought for a moment, formulating his words. “I will find the raw Iku. I will become a God. There will be no more humanity. Only warriors. Warriors who fight for their Conqueror. I will become perfect. I will create the world where our son should have lived. I will destroy it all and rebuild the universe for those who deserve it.” Lale removed herself from his grip. She took a moment to walk around and think.
“This is not the way. Destroying the council and our enemies is one thing. But, wiping out those who refuse to think as you do is not the way to create harmony.” Lale cautioned. Fei nodded. “I no longer want harmony. I want absolution. The enemy of absolution is the opinion of those who no longer matter.” Fei said.
Lale cut her eyes at his words. “How can you say someone doesn’t matter? That’s what they did to you. To all of the people here.” Lale reminded him. “Too long has humanity pursued peace and equality. All while reinforcing the very idea I represent. I am the sum of there lies. The history they tried to destroy on Earth. Those who didn’t value my life failed. I survived for this purpose. I must see my destiny through.” He said prolifically.
Lale seized Fei’s hand, staring deep into his eyes. “Please Fei, fight the desire for power. All power does not belong to you. And even if it did, you would lose yourself to it.” She pleaded.
“Why fight so hard for humanity? Their existence is of disobedience, turmoil, judgement, cowardice and weakness. Earth. Pratham. Tetcht. It’s all diseased with the calamity of humanity. I will permanently extinguish it.” Fei growled. “Humanity has never been your enemy! You are. You’re trying to quell your own weakness by exploiting the weakness of others.” Lale retorted.
Fei pulled his hands away. Pacing back and forth. “You’re right. I was weak. But never again. Never did I expect you to turn on me. My new race would have no weakness. For their God would have no weakness. I will utterly extinguish every miniscule piece of weakness I possess.” He said sternly.
“You weren’t here Lalen, you left me to suffer this place alone.” Fei said holding his hands to reference the Protector. “I am Royalty! You and I are Royalty. We deserve better than everything we’ve been through. But that’s just it. I keep going through these hardships alone.
Pratham, Tetcht, you name the planet. It’s always me who has to suffer by myself. Where were you Lale? The person who is supposed to love me the most? Fei yelled.
“This is not you Fei. This is something else.” Fei’s anger continued to fuel his temper. “This is the real me. I’m no longer restricted by unidentified rules or standards. You need not fear the unchained.
I just need the raw Iku to reveal my true form to match. I will no longer wait around for humanity to evolve with me. I will not run from those who possess their approximation of real power. I am the future.” He exclaimed.
Lale stood astonished at his words. She didn’t recognize her love. Fei paced furiously. “Okay.” Lale said, her voice shaking.” Lale dropped to her knees and bowed her head. Fei ceased his stride. “I can’t live a life where you don’t exist. It is clear my love is gone. I accept the consequences of opposing you. I will not stand by while you carry out your will.” Lale said. Fei attempted to wait out her gesture.
“You have no choice but to kill me. I will oppose you at every turn. I will protect Dara from you. I will kill you if given the opportunity.” She declared. Fei chuckled after hearing her words. “I know you would never kill me.” Without raising her head, she addresses him.
“True. I can never kill Fei Zeall.” She paused. A smile crept across Fei’s face. “However.” She began. “I don’t see Fei Zeall in front of me. I see the God Conqueror. This deity that stands so proudly before me. I can and must kill.” She said.
Fei’s smile swiftly dissipated. He let out a loud roar, startling everyone in the Protector. He stormed passed her bowed head. Standing at the top of the lift shaft. “What was the mission you took? The night they attacked us. What were you tasked to do?” He asked softly.
Lale hesitated. Her confidence, fading. “If Fei Zeall is truly gone. How long do you think The God Conqueror will wait? His patience is far shorter than even your love’s.” Fei said before vaulting down the shaft. Lale for the first time trembled at his words.