The Sentry escorted Fei and Dara into the city. Dara’s head down as she followed behind Fei, she resisted the temptations to look at the damage she had inadvertently caused. The Protector virtually destroyed by the blasts. Many of the expressions resonating the sentiment of disappointment as their hard work was nearly torn down so quickly.
Fei did not respond to any requests of his subjects as they were led through the crowd of pleading people. He stopped just before his hut, allowing 17 of the Sentry to disperse. Two stood guard outside the entrance.
Fei motioned for Dara to follow inside. She obliged. “19, 3. Remain close. I will provide further instructions soon.” Fei commanded. Sentry members 19 and 3 acknowledged their orders remaining at the entrance to the hut.
Fei entered his hut sealing the door behind him. He raised his hand to create a seat for himself and Dara. “Tell me everything you know about the green Iku.” He demanded. His voice, although calm, there was a nihilistic tone about it.
Dara cautiously approached her seat. “Iku isn’t green my Sovereign, its red.” She responded. Fei fiercely slammed his fist on the arm of his chair creating a shattered sequence in its cloudy crystal design.
Dara tried to prevent her body from shivering. Staring into the feline slits of yellow in his orange eyes. “Do not lie child. It is not an attribute you possess.” Fei warned, a feint growl in his voice.
Keeping her distance, Dara tried to assess the situation. She drew on her memory of the conversation Lale and herself had. Dara tried to formulate the information that would be the truth without angering Fei.
“There were experiments on Pratham to create a new Iku, only this formula would grant abilities 100%.” Dara began, seeing no benefit in trying to lie again. Fei sensed her increased heart rate. He could smell her sweat. He bared his lengthened teeth. “I will not ask you again.” He growled.
Dara activated her armor. Sparking a small flame that covered her hands. Her red flame burning bright against her sky-blue armor. Fei remained still. “No amount of power you have can protect you. It would be in your best interest to do as you’re told.” He warned.
Dara couldn’t focus. She had told the truth, but he could sense her fear, leading him to believe her to be dishonest. He would easily destroy her without mercy. “Lale found the person on Pratham that altered the Iku.” She began. “She killed them and took the research to prevent it from getting into the wrong hands.” Dara continued.
Fei’s intense stare was causing her to shiver even more. He appeared different than the broken man in the cave. As if he left a piece of himself there, the empathic piece, the very piece she desperately needed now. Her voice shaking as she spoke.
“She knew you secretly take more Iku, trying to increase your strength. She knew it would lead to you taking the altered formula. She was trying to protect you from yourself.” Dara shared, hoping the sentiment would soften his heart. Fei looked away. He gripped his chair, slowly splintering the crystal-like substance further.
“According to the notes, the blending as it is called. No one can survive it. Scientist believe it will create a being of immense power. No test subjects survived?” Fei asked. Dara’s mind was racing. Plotting her escape. She wouldn’t last a second against his strength.
“The mixture creates a power that will be unmatched by any on Pratham. Lale thought it would be too volatile for any person to take.” Dara explained what she remembered. Fei approached Dara. He stood staring down at her.
“Did she give you the mixture? Your transformation has been extremely unique. Even mine was not as eventful.” Fei asked, or more threatened for an answer. Dara shook her head in denial.
“No, I only received the green Iku. I promise.” She said as tears streamed down her face. Fei retreated to his chair. With one powerful stroke, he slashed his chair in half.
“Me? You would betray me? I would do anything for you. Yet, you hid the one thing that would make our dreams a reality?” Fei spat into a blank space, wishing his love were there to hear his disdain for her betrayal. He turned to Dara.
“Bring me the Iku!” He roared. Dara nodded and exited the hut. She ran through the crowd. Making her way to the Rose. The citizens kneeled as she passed through. But she didn’t care. Fear quickened her pace. Dara entered the ship.
She waved her hand in the designated location. Dara noticed the slash marks on the ship floor. She thought for a moment. In her fear, she never questioned how Fei knew about the Iku? Her mind flashed to Lale.
“Dara I am giving this to you. No one can know. Should something happen to me. It is your duty to prevent this from ever getting into the wrong hands. Only you will be able to open this compartment. Authorization code: Our Secret. Do you understand?” Dara remembered the instructions Lale gave her.
“Rose, authorization code: Our secret.” She requested. The metal crate revealing itself. She paused to think for a minute. She placed her palm on the crate. Dara retrieved the altered formula vials. Holding it tight she made her way to the front of the ship.
Looking out the visor, she could see Fei making his way toward her. His presences parting the sea of people. Dara launched herself into the pilot seat and fired up the ship. The citizens stood clear for its departure, confused on what was transpiring. The ship began to take flight.
Dara struggled to maneuver the vessel out of the city. She had never seen a ship prior to Lale and Fei’s arrival, let alone fly one. Dara instincts tried to take over and aid her escape, but her bones rattled as Fei’s roar was almost deafening to the ear. “Rose, help me fly this thing!” Dara begged. The navigation panels lit up, as Rose took over controls and transition into autopilot. “Get me outta here!” Dara commanded.
Suddenly, there was a thud more aggressive than simple turbulence. Fei dropped into the exposed area of the ship’s interior in his feral form. Dara prepared to protect herself from his attack, raising her hands in fearful defense.
Fei lunged to seize her by the throat. Dara’s body instinctively activating her armor and engulfed itself in her red flame energy. In a blinding flash of light and fire reminiscent of the mountain blast, she released her energy and the ship exploded. Fei’s body was blasted away. Only Dara’s enflamed body remained in the sky.
The citizen’s saw the explosion from behind the wall. Dara’s power on full display. The Sentry funneled out of the city to rescue their Sovereign. Dara looked at her hands, realizing her power. She took a moment, feeling the energy. Her power feeding off the Sun’s rays.
She felt limitless and weightless. Dara noticed the rushing citizens and knew they would not understand what happened. She quickly chose to flee. Dara soared through the air, away from the city not sure where she would go.
The Sentry found Fei in a small crater unconscious. They scrambled to wake him and helped him to his feet and out of the crater. “Go after her.” Fei demanded. “We can’t my lord.” 15 suggested. Fei breaking free of their aid. “Why?!” Fei asked, still reeling from the powerful attack he survived.
The Sentry all kneeled. “The Eira, it will be upon us and with the protector destroyed, we need all energy and resources at our disposal to survive the vicious elements.” 1 responded. Fei aggressively waved his hand in rejection.
“I can survive the Eira!” He growled, trying to pursue Dara on foot unsuccessfully, wobbling with every step. 6, 5, and 10 stepping in front of him to halt his advance. “My lord, the Eira is not a simple storm. It will undoubtedly kill you before you’re able to reach her. It would be wise to wait it out before pursuing her. That’s if she survives it herself.” 19 suggested.
Fei pushed a couple of the Sentry aside, but they would not desist. 2, 3 and 4 preventing him from persisting. “My lord, you will die. You cannot endure such a calamity. Especially at this strength, you’re injured.” 19 reassured him. Fei stood breathing heavily. The blast had hurt more than he realized. He had reverted back his normal form against his will. With his body exhausted, he decided to heed their warning.
“So be it. I will return to prepare the city for the Eira and inform the citizens of her betrayal.” Fei let out begrudgingly. The Sentry escorted him closely back to the city. The citizens awaited confused and afraid, while Sentry lined up before the crowd, kneeling before their Sovereign. Everyone began to follow suit. Murmuring heavy on the air. Fei acknowledged their reverence.
“Rise great people.” The citizens obeyed. “Our Empress is dead.” He informed them. “She was slain by our very own Dara the Merciless. True to her name, there is not even a body left to celebrate and bury. I have no doubt, it to be a revenge murder.” He said. The citizens murmuring louder even muttering questions.
“Silence as your Sovereign speaks!” 7 commanded to the capacity crowd. Fei would not continue until the hush fell over them. “Being the compassionate Sovereign, I took pity on her. We were all deceived. As you have just witnessed, she attempted to flee in our Empress’s ship when I confronted her.” He continued.
“Aboard that ship was our future. The destiny to provide true stability, peace and honor to our sanctuary. I assure you I will find her and bring her to your justice. She will answer to the people of Tetcht. She will answer for her crime. And she will answer to me.” He continued. Fei’s body was throbbing in pain, but he refused to confirm how wounded he truly was to the crowd.
“Right now, our priority is to survive the Eira. Your safety and security are most imperative.” The citizens cheered following his words. “Once the storm has been lasted, the Vanakan Sentry and I will find Dara the Merciless and put an end to the evil that threatens our city.
I will fight for you great people. Your Sovereign will not hide. I will not fear death. I will lead the charge for us.” The citizens celebrated the message of security from their leader. The Sentry escorted him through the crowd back to his hut. Fei touched many as he went by, encouraging the people to trust him and not fear.
Finally, reaching his hut he tapped 19 on the shoulder, motioning for 19 to accompany him into the hut. Fei sealed the door behind them. Fei removed the bracelets from 19’s wrist. Holding the shards in his hand before doing the same to his own.
In many of their training regiments the Sentry had seen Fei without his armor, but 19 was the first and only to witness their Sovereign in such dire straits. More often than not, when Fei would train them without armor, he still looked in control and rarely needed to catch his wind. “This is for your ears only.” Fei said breathing heavily.
Blood dripping down his body, small searing wounds to accompany his countless battle scars. “I want you to pursue Dara.” Fei said. “My lord, I thought.” Fei interrupted 19’s rebuttal. “Take my ship, it will survive the Eira. Lale and I have been on Tetcht over a year. The Pride will keep you safe. I created your armor; it possesses a quasi-binary connection to mine. This will allow you to fly it. Pilot with your mind, and the Pride will do the rest.” 19 reluctantly nodded.
“Have you been able to listen in on all our communication links between the entire time?” 19 asked thinking he already knew the answer. Fei ignored his question, remaining focused, as not to waste energy.
“If I leave the city again, the citizens will become worried and dysfunctional. That would be a difficult task to ask of you and the others to keep order in my absence.” Fei suggested. 19 was substantially taller than Fei in his normal form. 19 possessed short brown hair and very little facial hair.
He was not quite as broad as Fei, but just as muscular with pale skin. “She has consumed the raw green Iku, and I suspect somehow survived the blending. That is all the information you need to know. Dara is dangerous, but she doesn’t know how to control her power and still is very young. She will be easy to incapacitate. Bring her to me.” Fei ordered. 19 nodded.
“Be quick about this. Should you fail, I will consider it a complete betrayal. Is that understood?” Fei returned the shards and 19 activated his armor, resuming the comradery chatter of his other Sentry members. Not wasting anytime, 19 exited the hut and headed outside the city walls.
The other members asked questions via their link. “Our Sovereign will explain everything upon my return.” 19 spoke brusquely. The others laughed but respected the fact that he would not speak on the matter. 19 tossed the shard in the air and watched as the Pride reconstructed itself. 19 entered the ship and sat in the pilot seat.
19 thought about how he should go about finding Dara. He understood his orders, but now having a moment free from the others and the scary influence of Fei, 19 felt a bit conflicted. “She’s just a kid. She’s Dara’s kid. I can’t hurt her.” He thought to himself. His mind then reflected on the countless beatings he and his Sentry members took at the hands of Fei.
No one on this planet could stop him once he’s healed. Perhaps no one could stop him, even in his injured state, the fury would fuel Fei back to health as he killed everyone who betrayed him. “I don’t have to hurt her. I just have to bring her in.” 19 reasoned with himself.
He began to look through files and flight information via the 3D holographic available to him. 19 swiped through various screens before an idea crossed his mind. “Pride begin scan for most recent heat signature.” 19 ordered.
After a brief moment, a line appeared on screen as Dara’s energy had left a trace for him to follow. “Register that energy and follow its marker.” 19 ordered, very pleased with himself. The Pride boosted into the air and took flight.