Tulip's Ghost - Book two of the Torian Warriors series.

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Chapter Twenty-Five

As Korom took his solid form, he sent out a faint tendril of mist in search of his brother. Lorzarian was below him, on the level underneath the vast machine.

With a small nod to himself, Korom solidified and picked up the five explosives. Quietly, he eased into the open room, careful not to be noticed by the four males focused on the screens in front of them. Quickly, he moved in the shadows, placing the explosives around the machine as close to the core as he could.

Once the last one was in place, he began backing out of the room, only to be stopped by two huge Garamore males. They sneered at him, their lumpy, grotesque faces turned into cruel smiles.

Taking a step back, he reached for his blades at his hip, only to find the sheaths empty. His blades had been eaten away by the acid blood of the borders in the landing bay back on the command vessel. Damn!

Taking a quick look around, he tried to spot anything he could use as a weapon. Besides all the pipes and wires and tubes that ran from the walls to the glowing machine, he didn’t see anything he could use to fight these males.

A deep voice from the control panel distracted the two males for a brief moment, but what they said had Korom frozen in place.

“Weapon is aligned. Powering up now.”

No! He had to get out of here, fast. If the weapon got any more powerful, he and Lorzarian would be trapped on this ship. It was a death sentence.

Biting back the bile that rose at the stench of the males before him, Korom ran forward and attacked. Using his bare fists, he managed to get one of the males down, but the second one was much bigger than him. He grabbed Korom around the waist, pinning his arms to his side and lifted him off his feet. The male began to squeeze, the hissing, panting stench of the males breath making Korom’s stomach turn. The males face was right by his ear and the hot, heavy wafts of his breath were like wave after wave of sickening bile licking at his nose and mouth.

Pushing back the urge to throw up, Korom began to struggle, but the male just squeezed tighter. Korom’s ribs creaked as he struggled to get a breath. Thrashing wildly, Korom tried to get free of the males grip but it was no use. He couldn’t breath now, his lungs trapped under the immense pressure of the Garamore males hold.

Then, from the corner of his eyes, he saw something moving towards them with speed. Blinking to clear the dark spots that now danced in his vision, Korom focused and saw Lorzarian barreling towards them, long, glinting silver blades in both hands. With a swift move, his brother struck at the male, making sure to cut him in such a way that none of the acrid blood splattered onto either of them.

When the hold around his chest eased, Korom fell to the ground, only an inch away from the puddle of blood now pooling at his feet. He took a second to catch his breath, then rose and turned to find Lorzarian and the other male locked in a battle.

Reaching down to the male he killed earlier, Korom found a small weapon strapped to his lifeless hip. Grabbing it and taking only a second to figure out how it works, he shouted for Lorzarian to get out of the way and fired.

A thick blob of the dark, oozing green slime the Garamores had used on the command vessel shot out and flew right at the other males face. It connected, sizzling and eating away at the deformed flesh in seconds.

The male howled in pain, his big body writhing in agony on the floor. Lorzarian stepped up to him and with one quick move, he drove one of his long silver blades through the males eye socket, silencing the cries for good.

Unfortunately, this small battle with the two warriors had cost them too much precious time. Already, he could feel the immense power of the planet killer bearing down on his other self. His mist side cowered away from the force of the energy, making it impossible for them to shift.

His heart fell, a cold empty feeling filling him. There was only one thing left for them to do. His mind flashed with Tulip’s beautiful face. They way she smiled and laughed. The long talks they had late into the night. The sweet, passionate way they made love. Her curiosity and excitement about everything she saw.

“I love you with all my heart, my beautiful Tulip. Forgive me.”

With those words, he turned to Lorzarian and saw the same understanding look in his brother’s eyes.

Reaching into his pocket, Lorzarian pulled out the trigger for the explosives and held it out to Korom.

“I’m sorry, brother,” Lorzarian said, the hum of the massive machine almost too loud to hear over now.

“Nothing to be sorry for. We both should have died a long time ago. Fate has caught up to us today. I am grateful that it gave us such a worthy cause to die for.”

Lorzarian nodded and handed him the trigger. He stepped back and closed his eyes, waiting for the end.

The power of the machine around them felt like it may tear them apart from the inside at any second. It had to be done now, before the Garamores could fire the weapon. He wasn’t going to lose any more friends in this fight. It ends now.

With one last deep breath, Korom flipped open the protective cover and pressed the button.

Immediately, loud, rumbling booms erupted all around them. The ship vibrated violently, making him stumble and almost drop the trigger. Metal screeched and tore as the fist sized metal balls tore through the hull all around them. It was getting harder to breath. The air was being sucked out through the hundreds of holes made by the Falop balls, but Korom stood tall, waiting for the darkness to take him.

As the explosives in the vast room went off, almost deafening him with the intense sound they made, Korom noticed that the glow around the machine was fading again. A small smile spread over his lips. The room around him was falling apart; thick, heavy chunks of metal rained from the ceiling, but his joy came from knowing that the Torians had won. They would live on to fight and protect others who needed them.

The last of the explosives were not far from where he and Lorzarian stood, so when they went off, a blinding flash of light made him feel dizzy, before the force of the blast threw them both to the side. Korom closed his eyes and let his mind drift away to the short time he got to spend with the female he loved. He let himself be lost in her sweet scent, her stunning eyes, her soft, perfect little body as he waited for death to take him.

And waited….. And waited…. And waited.

Frowning, he came back to himself, hating to leave the thoughts of Tulip, but needing to know why he wasn’t dead yet. He opened his eyes to find the scene around him was completely different to what he expected.

There was no destruction, smoke or fire, like he thought he might find. Engaging his other scenes, he found that the room didn’t hold the heavy stench of rotting flesh that he had almost gotten used to on the Garamore ship.

Finally, his ears picked up a male voice speaking to him.

“Korom? Korom, are you alright?”

He knew that voice. It sounded familiar. Who was it, and where was he, for that matter?

“Korom?” Finally, a face came into view, and Korom’s eyes went wide when he saw who it was.

“Commander Kurmar?” He breathed, sitting up. His body felt stiff, and achy all over. His lungs burned and his eyes stung from the smoke, but he made himself get up into sitting position.

Kurmar smiled, kneeling back with a small nod.

“What… where am I? How did you get here? What…” He paused when a sharp pain stabbed through his head, making him feel dizzy.

“Easy, brother,” That was Lorzarain. His brother was close by… and alive.

Looking around, Korom found his brother sitting on the floor a few feet away, his back against the wall. He was looking a lot worse for the ware, his clothes torn and burnt, with black soot covering most of his face as he cradled his left arm to his chest.

“Where are we?” Korom asked again, frowning at the unfamiliar surroundings. They were in an office of some kind, but unlike anything Korom had ever seen before. Vast holo-screens hung in a half circle above a large desk. Behind it, a metal wall with shelving held leather bound books, trinkets and ancient tech Korom couldn’t even begin to understand.

“This is my private office,” Kurmar said, rising to his feet.

“Your office?” Korom’s mind still felt fuzzy and the headache was making it hard to think.

“Yes, my office… at The Eye.”

“The Eye? How did we get here? How are we not dead?”

Korom eased his back against the large desk, too weak to get up right now.

Kurmar lowered himself into a seat in front of them and smiled. “You almost were. I wasn’t sure I would get to you in time. I had to wait for the weapon to be powered down enough to take my mist form and get the two of you out. I brought you here because I was moving too fast to think about the layout of the command vessel. This place I know very well. I knew where to go.”

“You… you pulled us out of the Garamore ship?”

Kurmar nodded. “I did. I was watching the events on Toria unfold from here. When I saw that the two of you were in trouble, I couldn’t stand by and do nothing. As soon as the weapon was weak enough, I was able to pull the two of you out. You have no idea how close you were to death, Korom. I saw the flame, the metal shards only inches away from your head when I pulled you out. You are lucky I am as old as I am, and that I can move so fast. My mist is also stronger than yours, which is why I was able to keep my mist form when you couldn’t take yours so close to the weapon.” He chuckled, but Korom just closed his eyes and tried to push back the headache.

“We did it, brother,” Lorzarian said from beside him, “The ship is in pieces. It’s gone. The weapon is destroyed. Toria is safe... We did it.”

Korom raised his gaze to his brother and saw more than just the joy that Toria was safe. This war with the Garamores had plagued most of Lorzarians life. It had killed their people, driven their family apart and cost countless lives. But it was finally over.

“I need to get back to Tulip,” Korom said, trying to stand. His legs felt weak, and his vision swam. Kurmar was at his side, helping him back down to the ground.

“Not just yet, my friend. You both need medical attention. You took a serious blow to your head and your brother has a few broken bones that need healing. As soon as you are well, I will take you back, I swear.”

Korom rested his head on the metal desk behind him, his body crying with pain and fatigue, but all he wanted, all he craved in that moment, was to hold Tulip in his arms. For a while, he was sure he would never see her again and, knowing that not only was she safe, but that he was alive, made him eager to get back to her. But the pain and dizziness in his head stopped him from taking his mist form and flying out to look for her. He wouldn’t get far in this state.

Nodding to Kurmar, he allowed the male to help him up and half carry him to a medical suite a few doors away down a long, empty passage.

Before he knew it, he was laying in a strange looking healing bed, his eyes drifting closed and his mind filled with thoughts of the woman he loved.

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