I had an idea. A brilliant idea… It needed to be executed immediately. Heading off to Inaja’s room I entered in without a hitch. This was a lot easier than expected. Closing the door quietly behind me I turned to face the room and ran directly into Inaja.
“Oof!” I bounced off him and looked up in horror at Inaja staring down at me surprised and possibly annoyed.
“What are you be the doing in here?”
“I- uh, need help with something…” I then rambled on about the missing snotling and how I needed help catching it.
“You’re lieing..” He said narrowing his sharp cat eyes.
I stared up at him wide eyed… and ran! I couldn’t think of anything clever to get me out of the situation.. I would think of something later and in the mean time. Stay away from Inaja. This good idea would have to wait.. for now.
We were almost to Footfall. After getting a lot of the SOS crew to stay behind and work on the temple for the Ecclesiarchy, we went about the market to get more minors to help with the building. Inaja went about and mingled with the crowd making sure the people who came to help were given food. I brought up the idea to the rest of the crew that we should find a spokesperson among them who might hold some weight with the community to get more help for us. A few new groups were rallied with his help and everything seemed under control from there. I set up some outdoor lighting for the now temple workers and soon we were off. As we left we blew up the ruin and told the Ecclesiarchy that we had made an example of the men to blame. I think they just gave them Vult’s body. They don’t need to know the whole truth. Hopefully things would get figured out and they would find someway to be at peace on that planet. But that was all behind us now.
Arriving at Footfall, I was having deja vu all over again. The city seemed to be holding its breath and it reaminded me a lot of when we had returned from Rain. Shit was about to happen..
Going to Zulfikar’s we looked around at the devastation of the area. This was not like when we came back from Rain. This was much much worse. Explosions had gone off, here and there was broken rubble, and destroyed livlihoods as far as the eye could see across the markets. Arriving at the gates to Zulfikars the guards looked on edge. There were walls blasted through, and the men looked a bit scuffed up and heavily armed (more than usual).
“Are you working for the Kasiballica Mission?” Zulfikar boomed across the table.
We sat at a large meeting table similar to the feasting table but without the spirits and good vibes. Zulfikar’s fist hit the table and I jumped and stared wide eyed at the enraged man.
“Janoor can vouch for us.. We came immediately to tell you what the Kasiballica Mission commanded.” I spoke up glancing to Janoor. “We tried sending you a message to meet with us.”
“What message?” Zulfikar said between gritted teeth.
Sigmund explained all that we had been doing to Zulfikar and he stared in silence from one person to the next as we sat quietly across the table from him.
“If you really are working for me, and you have not turned against me, then I need something from you. Kill Farouk.”
And with that we left.
We arrived at Farouk’s without a hitch. Inside the ballroom looked much different then I remembered. The once elegant room stood in shambles, broken glass lay scattered across the floor. The only thing that looked untouched was the chandelier..
“So he sent you, did he?”
Farouk looked like shit. He stood across the ballroom floor from us leaning heavily in the bar. His hair was wild and his once beautiful clothes were tattered and almost blown off his body in places.
“Zulfikar will kill you as soon as he is finished with you… He will send orders to have you killed just like he has for me… His godson.”
He grabbed two vials from the table and chugged them both down. Neon liquid ran down from his lips and dripped down onto his clothes staining where they hit the fabric. He spun his finger in the air and music started to play. I peered past Emir to see a DJ standing behind a booth on one side. Giant headphones on his head, he nodded with the beat and his fingers flitted across the board in front of him. Man that dude lived to party. Zarko dashed after Farouk and went flying through the air has his foot touched the dance floor. Note to self.. Don’t touch the dance floor..
The battle was fierce. We had a few close calls. Nyx and I fought next to Krieger to get the surprise on Farouk as he wrestled with Inaja and Zarko. Zarko retreated back as he looked like he was about to pass out. Blood dripped from his face and torso. Farouk laughed madly and stuck himself with more drugs from hidden syringes he pulled from his pants leg. With a quick warning from Nyx, Inaja dove behind a pillar and Farouk, now isolated, turned to look as Nyx let out a shout that rang out in my ears. I flinched at what was about to come. I shut my eyes tight as I imagined, Nyx removing his headband and opening his third eye to Farouk. What Nyx could do was…. Frightening.. I stuck close to Nyx’s back and waited for the screams.. but they did not come. I opened my eyes just in time to see Farouk charge with his sword high straight toward Nyx. My adrenaline took over and everything seemed to move in slow motion as his powerful swing came down on Nyx. Nyx wasn’t moving fast enough.. He was going to get hit! I grabbed the collar of his jacket and pulled him closer to me, the sword barley a hairs length from the man I loved. Farouk HAD to die… This was personal now. Another swing and another came at us. I dodged easily but Nyx couldn’t keep up. He was struck and knocked down.. I grabbed ahold of him and drug him behind the DJ booth. I shouted to the DJ for help but he couldn’t hear me. He quizzically looked down at me and gave me a thumbs up as he kept nodding to the beat and spun more music onto his sound board. I couldn’t really be mad… That dude lived to party.
Emir took the final shot and it was all over…. I stared down at the man for a moment. This was Zulfikars godson?
I was startled by a crash in the corner and spun around to see Inaja on all fours growling at the sofa.
Wtf happened to him?
He let out a mighty roar and pounced. Pillows and bit of fabric went flying through the air as he slashed and bit at the couch.
“I’ll kill you Farouk!” he yelled with a mouth full of down feathers.
“You’re still with Zulfikar, are you?” A soft voice said from the shadows. A woman with dark blue hair walked forward. I recognized her as the distraught woman from the party. Serene Anguish was her name, I believe.
“You better hurry.. The Kasiballica Mission is on their way to him now.” I couldn’t tell if she was mocking us or helping us.
Subduing Inaja so we could leave was a challenge. Krieger and Emir struggled to knock down the massive feral cat and I jumped into the fray to help much to Nyx’s displeasure. Krieger gave Inaja something to help with Inaja’s hallucinations and soon we were on our way outside. Inaja, ears twitching, muttered about Farouks everywhere as he looked this way and that.
Voxing Janoor, she informed us of a group escaping the compound who needed escorted to safety. The Kassiballica Mission was closing in and we needed at least one of these people alive. We took off toward where they were last seen.
“That’s the bald headed bitch from the Mission..” I heard someone mutter.
We peered out from an alleyway and could see a line of people being quickly gained upon from two groups of tough looking thugs. One of the groups was led by the bald woman from the mysterious room at the back of the bar. Krieger shouldered her long-range rifle and took an expert shot across the square. Her body crimpled and the gang of people shouted in a rage. I blinked in disbelief, only remembering we were here to fight when Nyx brushed past me and stood in the center of the road facing a group directly in front of us. I recognized that stance and determination in his face. I quickly ran over and took a position to his side but standing a few paces behind him for safety. The rest of the crew took up places behind us as well.
Nyx took one step forward and opened his eye toward the group. Whether from the excursion of the strain or the recent battle, Nyx faltered and nothing happened to the group. He fell unconscious from the effort. I quickly rushed forward to grab his crumpling body and the others ran forward into battle. Panicked, I didn’t know what to do. I couldn’t just hide and do nothing. We needed to save those men.. Taking a moment to find a safe place I stashed Nyx’s body behind a large box and did my best to hid him. I kissed his forehead lightly and whispered, “I’ll be back for you..” before I turned and dashed back into the street.
Sigmund ran in front and intercepted the line of men we were instructed to save. They ran behind him but a shot to Sigmund caused them to panic and scatter. Like frightened cattle they scattered and took off down different sides of the road. Running forward to the next alleyway that connected to the one we had arrived from, I intercepted two of the men and ushered them into to safety of the darkness.
“Keep running that way!” I heard the booming voice of Zarko behind them. He quickly appeared from around the corner. “You got these guys?”
I nodded and he took off again to grab some more of the panicked men. I glanced back to where Nyx’s unconscious body lay and said a silent prayer that he would remain unnoticed.
I ran back and forth with the groups of men getting then out of the firefight. Two by two they came and went. Far off I could hear Inaja’s roar echoing down the alleyway passages.
“Farouks everywhere! Must kill them all!”
The last group had gone by and I ran my heart pounding in my ears. I ran till my legs burned and I could barely breathe. I would not stop or slow until Nyx was safety in my arms. Until he remain safe by my side. I skidded to a halt by the box in the aley and practically threw it aside grasping Nyx desperately to me. “I’m here… I’m here.”
The port was under attack. The slave children were getting ushered into ships from Nashats handmaidens. I hesitated as a handmaiden came up to Sigmund with a loaf in her arms. Not a loaf. A child!
“She had no right!” He boomed as she held out the small baby to Sigmund.
“Does it matter?!” she shot back fire in her eyes and venom in her words. “If you don’t want it, throw it aside! Children do not need their fathers!”
Sigmund flinched at her words and took the child. He turned ack to us and looked from one face to another and then finally his gaze landed on me. Nyx took the child and walked into the ship and Sigmund grabbed me and held his face close to the side of my head.
“Take care of Nyx.”
Then he left.