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Tuesday, October 9, 2018

Enjoy the Conclusion of "The Rebel" from Melody and the Pier to Forever: Book Two!



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13
2 for CKFBI
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THE HIERON-TAMAN GATEWAY, some thirty-three hundred misons from Aquanicentra, spread its lonely wings over the Verisimilius and Senecum Oceans. The Arilyceum sat anchored under the south one, its two-man crew waiting for the Selaki.
The Imperium was a barely felt presence this far out. There were few if any buildings over the rampways, only simple mooring apparatuses and their thick ropes waiting patiently for someone to come and use them. From the looks of them they'd been waiting a long time. Kaza took note of the fact as one does a wounded animal. When Necrolius Anaxagorius conquered Aquanus, the whole world, like a wounded animal, curled and contracted into itself, into its center.
Still, the lone pathetic single-story building standing at the west wing-junction atop the Pier bore a faded and tattered flag of the Imperium, and was manned by three Tracluse according to Tray, who had Transformed and flown up (cloaked, of course) to have a look around.
Kaza considered the emperor’s overwhelming arrogance. Just fourteen hundred misons from the site of his only defeat, this gateway should've over the years since come to be armed to the teeth with ready and waiting Tracluse and demons, as well as the two gateways heading on towards the Eastern Tangent. But he knew: the next gateway was abandoned. And the one after that? Well, that one was King's Perch, and it belonged to the Saeire Insu.
The wounded animal that was Aquanus had no interest in its empty extremities, and the blunt weapon sticking out its center felt no need to police them, having convinced itself that nothing from them could threaten it. Even in his paranoia—after all, even his own Tracluse were now Emasculated—the Black Coffin had nothing but contempt for the victorious mutineers who years ago had disappeared, and for the prophecy that his destroyer would come someday from among them and finish him.
The Woman of the Sankyan Wilderness vaporized that soulless abomination, but she did not kill him. Kaza looked often into the sky these days, for up there, above the clouds, the invisible atoms of evil had surely spread to all four corners of the world. He wondered if they could "see" what was happening below, over the face of Aquanus, and after coalescing back into the cloaked and hooded monster sitting on his throne at Aquanus' very center, would then know all and come in huge force to demolish the tiny Saeire Insu. Tray had voiced that worry not two days ago, and Kaza could not dismiss it out of hand, much as he wanted to.
It was all academic anyway, he thought. Necrolius had been bested, however temporarily, and soon this gateway would be swarming with Imperials spoiling for a fight. Even if no one showed up, they’d rampage anyway, and cities over the face of the world would burn, and thousands of people would die. That's how the Imperials did things.
But they would have to do those horrible things without two of their warships.
Anurag had sent the Arrowsparrow that relayed his setting sail to meet them. It read:
Gourei & Argentina destroyed.
Dad pissed, bleeding. C ya soon.
(The crews had agreed not to send Arrowsparrows after the first day of their respective trips for fear of angering the Woman. They couldn't be sure the Arrowsparrows wouldn't attempt to fly over the Sankyan Wilderness, and they didn't want to face the potentially lethal consequences should they try.)
The Ari dropped anchor at the Hieron-Taman Gateway on the morning of the thirteenth day in the Senecum. According to the sea paper, they, Kaza and Tray, had had a slightly longer journey navigating around the southern portion of the Wilderness than the Verisimilius voyage awaiting Anurag and Dragha.
He and Tray waited through the day. When night fell, they checked the sea paper.
There was the Selaki, just over a hundred misons north, heading directly for them at seven misons per hour.
With the sun a half-sphere on the horizon of this, the fourteenth day, and bathing the skying spire of the Eastern Sister with orange light, Kaza, rising from the hold after breakfast, looked north and smiled.
"There they are!"
Tray climbed out of the hold, telescope and sea paper in hand. He brought the scope to his eye and gave a happy laugh.
The Selaki was making directly for them, having caught the gusty early morning breeze that signaled it was going to be a windy and glorious day for sailing.
Four hours later the crews met up once again. Dragha had sustained a serious burn on his right arm, having just gotten off the Gourei before it blew up. Still wrapped in white gauze, it "stung like hell's-afire," he reported, but insisted with a dismissive grunt that it would Heal just fine.
The Tracluse on the gateway were by this point taking regular glances over the south wing. They could hear talking below. Eventually they came down the ramp, swords drawn and arrows ready, to look around. Anurag wanted to kill them, and had readied his bow, but Kaza stayed his hand.
"Run!" Kaza shouted. "Run back to the Raped City!"
The men gawked. The lead Tracluse yawped, "Show yourself, spirit! We do not fear you!" He waved his broadsword at empty air.
"The Great Angels of the Coronados are coming!" cried Kaza. "Run! Run now before they arrive! For you will surely not survive their heavenly wrath!"
And with that they laughed and made ready to sail.
The Tracluse, eyes wide with fear, heard that laughter echo eerily, and then they heard it fade away. And then they heard only the wind.
~~*~~
The following day the air was still and sleepy, so Kaza called up his Storyteller wind for both vessels, which sailed on either side of Ae Infinitus. With it they made for the Eastern Tangent at eighteen misons per hour. "Steady and heady," he was fond of calling such a brisk clip. The trip at that velocity would take four and a half days if they didn't press it.
The following morning both ships received Arrowsparrows from the Gaian Tangent:
Armada imminent at next Zero,
1 week. If still alive, hurry!
Tray flew over the Pier to Forever and flashed on the Selaki's deck to deliver Kaza’s order:
"We's going full bore."
“Tell the captain we’re ready to go,” said Anurag.
He would take the night wheel, he told Dragha, and retired to his cabin.
And with that both singleships, under "steady and heady" Storyteller winds that raised the long-undisturbed dust on the Great Pier between them, got underway.
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As they passed King's Perch at midday of the next day, they saluted up to the men and women watching them pass on opposite sides of the Pier to Forever.
The Saeire Insu saluted back. "Hail to the fleet and the king!"
"Hail to the Revolution!" shouted the men of the Selaki and Arilyceum.
The gust of the Storyteller blew over King's Perch like a great exhalation of freedom. The Saeire Insu yelled and raised their fists in victory.
The Armada was coming.
~~*~~
In the early evening of the next day, spotters atop the Towers at the Eastern Tangent cried out:
"Approaching singleship bearing along the south railing of Infinitus!"
"Approaching singleship bearing along the north railing of Infinitus!"
Three hours later the Selaki, captained by Anurag de Bouchard and crewed by Dragha Polaugh, and the Arilyceum, aboard which were Saeire Insu legends Kaza Lucanson and his first mate Tray, dropped anchors.
As they shook hands with the Tower Guards, and as Saeire Insu regulars checked over the singleships and restocked them, Anurag thought of his mother and Orion, of Brinkley and Tal, and of Anthtree and the great floating trees it was named after. Before disembarking he had shot an Arrowsparrow north for Dohbdy. It read:
Made it! Prayers to the you, Poets.
Tell Mom I’m all right, Revolution coming.
~~*~~
Three days later, he and Dragha stood at the stern of the Selaki a mison away from the wooden Pier. Any moment now the Tangent would open and the mighty Armada of the Saeire Insu would sail through. It was the moment he had waited over half his lifetime for. It was the moment all those on Aquanus who truly loved freedom had waited and sacrificed and, in many cases—far too many cases—died for.
Earlier he had grasped Kaza's hand, and the two held the grip tightly. Neither spoke.
He released his hand and took a step back and gave his hero and friend the full Saeire Insu salute.
Kaza, appearing momentarily surprised, returned it.
In those salutes were all the wishes and hopes for the other that both could never speak for fear of damning them before they could germinate and rise towards reality's unblinking daylight.
Dragha said to Tray: "Keep him alive."
Tray said to Dragha: " 'Tis been my jobs for years now, Master Dragha. ‘Twill always be so, I reckons. You's watch o’er the Shark Lord o' the Verisimilius now!"
"That I'll do."
Now, as Anurag watched, the sky over the wooden Pier began to glow in a brightening half-ring of unfocused white that eventually overwhelmed the low, puffy dark-blue clouds and the Great Arch peeking down through them. The half-ring expanded suddenly, and within it more half-rings appeared and grew and melded with it, which seemed to focus the light more and more. It continued to widen and sharpen, and then there was a gigantic soundless flash. When it subsided Anurag felt a powerful thrill shoot through him.
Through the tremendous filmy window that filled the half-ring sailed the intrepid warships of the Saeire Insu, the blazing sun of Earth backlighting their billowing virgin-white mainsails and the swooping seahawk on them.
High above hundreds of sea horses streamed through like manned comets.
On the Pier to Forever half a mison away stood two Kumiyaay Warriors, who released an Arrowsparrow each, one over the Senecum Ocean, one over the Verisimilius, heralding the news:
The Revolution has begun.
And there, where wood met Infinitum, stood the king and his entourage. From here Anurag could just see them.
One of them was the Apprentice. He pulled the scope open and looked.
There she was. Something deep in his spirit told him so in no uncertain terms. She looked like she was just about Orion’s age.
She stood next to another young girl in a wheelchair.
He gave the telescope to Dragha, who looked as well.
“Upon those thin shoulders rests the survival of the entire world. May the Pier gods smile on her!”
“May they indeed,” said Anurag.
Just then a female Voice sounded in his head:
You may break the seal of your orders. Godspeed on your journey!
"Dragha. Give the sea paper a dip and hand it to me."
"Yes, sir!"
A moment later he handed the dripping scroll to him.
"Here we go ..."
Anurag smacked the dripping aecxal paper against his open palm hard, once, twice. He unrolled it as the Tangent closed once more, the half-rings reversing, shrinking, becoming more unfocused and dim, the wondrous light of Earth fading away. It winked out, and the portal between the two worlds was once again closed.
He looked down at the scroll.
On it was mapped the Edge of Aquanus, straight as an arrow at this distance, and the two hundred fifty-six warships of the Armada, which were approaching the singleships slowly and with proud silence. Whole swaths of them were disappearing under Antarctic Cottonwood made specific to each battle group. With Dragha peering anxiously over his shoulder, he tapped the tiny glowing yellow image of the Selaki and waited.
Under its data set appeared the words:
With the king's blessing,
lead the VI Van Harrier squadron,
the "Northern Stars,"
to the Imumuth Islands.
Wait there for further orders.
Signed, VTO Hicom Arios Burasho.
Godspeed your journey, High Captain Bouchard!
"Hicap!" cried Dragha. "Hicap! You've been promoted to Hicap! I'll be damned! Congratulations!"
Anurag barely felt Dragha grab his hand and shake it enthusiastically. He was gawking at the still-visible squadron of six warships sailing towards him.
He was their leader, their commander.
One was a tremendous Raretail-class (Neptonian) battlecruiser; two were smaller Olganfury-class (Hieron-Taman) destroyers; the two leading the way were Fribrary-class fast-attack gunboats (called feints; these were Juñite and not much larger than his singleship); and the last, following close behind the others, was a mid-sized medical-supply frigate, Jellico-class: Galarragian.
He did a quick calculation, and felt the breath catch in his lungs.
Something like five thousand Saeire Insu sailors were going to live—or die—executing the orders he gave them.
Dragha was stomping around on deck and growling loudly to no one, "Here he comes, Necrolius, ye filthy cold bastard: the meanest son of a bitch in the Verisimilius Ocean! Here he comes!"
An arrow on the sea paper pointed the way to the Imumuth Islands, complete with bearings. It was unnecessary. Anurag had visited them many times before. They were northeast of Hieron Tamus by nine hundred misons and had, like Anthtree, a tiny, relatively untouched population.
He looked up. Dragha was still proudly growling curses, a wildly angry smile on his face. He caught his eye.
"Orders, Hicap?" he asked, stopping and straightening up. The wild smile remained.
It was real now. This was happening.
Anurag thought of Dohbdy. What would she say to him?
He pictured her smile, and her gentle but insistent faith, unshakeable and quiet, and tried to answer Dragha in like manner.
"Inform the squadron to set sail, my friend. We've got a world to save."

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Thank you so much for reading!
I hope you enjoyed Anurag's journey!
You can read the rest of
Melody and the Pier to Forever: Book Two
here.
There is much more coming in this story,
many more heroes and their adventures,
so be sure to drop by again soon!