A Stand (or, rather, Flight) - 4


I hit this point with my draft of book 5 and I was like…this is one of the best story decisions I have made

–Beginning Expressive Narration of Recording 31 - 4-

“I do not think one could argue that you are not,” Sarela says, “especially after that stunt.”

“Do you think Mark will come after us?” Grapefruit inquires.

“How much do you know about the Empire?” Sarela inquires. “Sawapash cannot natively fly.”

“I have been accessing the Spine and reading through some parts of the Databases,” she replies, “and I know of the inhabitants of Buhukiea. I am a Goddess.”

“Whether you are fully aware all the time is another question,” Sarela says with a snicker.

“Vehk,” Lapadj says sharply. “He probably will, but what can he do? Is he going to try to join us up here?” Lapadj gestures with his short arms to the clouds beside them and below them.

“He could have, you know, something to allow him to fly,” Sarela points out. “Any intelligent Empirian does.”

“King Fla’neiel did not for a long time, excluding his Royal Class Flana spaceship,” Grapefruit says.

Sarela, with no hesitation, responds with: “I said intelligent.”

“Vehk!” Lapadj shouts at them. “I am trying to figure out a plan to defeat him without catching the ire of the Distortion Field.”

“I thought you said you did not care about the Distortion Field,” Sarela recalls.

“I do not! But I do if it thinks I am the problem instead of him.” He points to down below, wherever Mark currently is on the surface of Earth.

In the precise location that he pointed to, a stream of water launches up and sprays him. The power of it was not that strong but it was enough to send him floating back a few feet.

He shakes his head. Sarela says, “Well, he apparently came after us.”

“I can tell that,” Lapadj snarls. Then he dives downward, clearly after the source of the water.

“It never ends,” Sarela remarks and flies after him. Grapefruit makes a little yelping noise and follows the two Empirians.

The recording device and the view trails after them, picking up to meet their pace. They descend below the clouds and into the blue sky. The presence of the Sawapash is immediately clear to them. He is floating in the air, visually unassisted by any form of technology. Globs of water encircle his form. Lapadj lights himself up with the power of the Kharat within his tail gem. Sarela glows brighter, giving off an intense hue.

“What are you going to do about this, Lapadj?” Mark asks. “I admit, you tricked me with thinking your anger had consumed you, but here we are. Cloaks broken, power flaring. What are you willing to give to satiate your anger? How far are you willing to go to prove a point?” He glances down. The city sprawls below them. Grapefruit is the only one that lingers on it. The Empirians gives a passing look to it and focus on Mark. “Are you willing to level this city in trying to kill me? Are you willing to sacrifice your mission because of your hatred?”

Lapadj growls, nearly a roar out to the universe. “Stop being so rational. Piekal. Piekal.” He shakes his head. “I want to devour your soul. I want to spread the parts of your body across this city.”

“I will help you do it,” Sarela says.

Then he looks down. “But…” He closes his eyes. His tail dims slightly.

“He is doing a cost-benefit analysis,” Grapefruit murmurs more to herself than to anyone else present in the Earth sky. “The original Human concept was developed in part by Jules Dupuit. He also did Marginal Cost Pricing.” She pauses. “I really do not know why I know that. That has nothing to do with programming, but it is interesting.”

Sarela looks at her and makes a swift hushing noise.

“I want to. I really do.” He enters silence again. He breathes heavily. “Gods, I really want to. But I want this.” He swishes his tail back and forth.

Then he opens his eyes.

I enjoy dramatic cuts.

–Ending Expressive Narration of Recording 31 - 4–

Sarela’s burn on King’s intelligence or lack thereof was so intense.

Also cliff hanger? Without the cliff? Yeah. Pretty much.