Sunlight Sonata: Part Eight
Part VIII – Moderato Agitato: First Light
Az paced, running his fingers through his hair and the battle plan through his head. Go there, do that, wait for that signal, and hope that you’re good at getting out of the way. Being good at fighting helps, too. Az smiled, remembering Sayang’s advice to the troops. Don’t get shot. Simple and obvious, but it had made everyone laugh, in the pre-fight nervousness. It was that same nervousness that consumed him now, and the reason why he was pacing across the hot desert sands.
“Sir?” A green Eyrie saluted him as Az turned. Damian, he remembered the Eyrie being called. His second in command. “Time to go.”
Az looked around, checking his flight. Everyone who had formed up around him was in place, with all their gear strapped on securely. “Ready?” he asked, though he already knew the answer. The word came back at him, though, repeated by the eleven mouths of his flight. “Let’s go!” he cried, spreading his wings as he leapt off the hot desert sands.
He doubted they’d encounter any resistance until they got to Faerieland itself. Sayang had said that the desert was unguarded, for the most part. There was too much territory to cover. The nomads survived for that reason. Az sighed, thinking of the caravan that they’d used as a base camp. The children there were normal, as much as that counted for in this world.
The desert was a good place to fly, though. The thermals were better than any Az had ridden before. They were glorious, sensual, an almost physical presence beneath his wings. Before he had laughed with pure joy as he rode them. Now, he simply reminded himself of their mission. He shouldn’t need such reminding. He had a sword at his side, along with two lasers. Virtupets parts combined with the Republic’s ingenuity led to such wonderfully powerful weapons.
Of course, anyone they faced would have the same advantage, but so what? Technology was great, after all. Az smiled, fangs showing. This would be a whole lot of fun. They were nearing the clouds of Faerieland, and Az thought he could make out the dark dots of the robots flying on patrol. Glancing behind him, Az resisted the urge to laugh in sheer glee. He was at the point of the arrowhead, everyone arranged behind him.
One minute, two. The dots were defined now. Three, four. Az placed his hands on his lasers. Five, six. He drew the lasers, and knew that everyone else would, too. Seven, eight. Deep, calming breaths. They were almost there. Nine, ten. “Attack!” Az yelled, as loud as he could.
And everyone – everything – moved.
Az let himself fly on pure instinct, going towards the robots as fast as he could. He could see the surge of his army, the smaller, faster, unladen members gaining on the laden, slower, stronger, ones. It was a wave, and he rode it, letting the energy inherent in it propel him forwards. A Shoyru, robotic and at the head of its own flight, blared a warning at them, something about nobody being allowed near Faerieland. It was shot down within moments of starting to talk.
After that, there were no warnings. There was simply destruction, on both sides. Cries, metallic shrieks, shouts of warning and of victory. It all became a blur. Az’s world focused on the enemy directly in front of him, spun as another entered his vision, shot both at once, darted upwards as quickly as he could, and dove down again, all in the space of a minute, maybe two. Chaos. The thought somehow penetrated his degenerating mind. Chaos was what war was made of. Chaos, pain, and sorrow.
Chaos. The spin and turn, weave and dodge, try and avoid your opponent, shoot for them, hope you hit. Loop around, fire again, on a different enemy. Shout a warning to an ally in trouble, but keep fighting your own opponents. There was no time for anything else. Focus on what was in front of you, but pay attention to everything, whether you think it matters or not.
Pain. A burst of it flowered on his tail, and Az spun, roaring, his fire incinerating the Korbat that had shot him. Az’s wings were seared by near misses, his hands cramped from holding onto the lasers so tightly. His ears hurt from the clamor. And his heart hurt.
Sorrow. The amount of pain, the number of bodies falling, being unable to tell whether the bodies were friend or foe. Hoping, desperately, that they were foes, or friends simply wounded, going to be rescued and taken care of. Hoping, even when there wasn’t a chance. Like when a friend was shot in front of his eyes. Az roared as that happened. A barrier within him broke, and he felt himself change. Black skin, but white eyes and white fire that surrounded him, protected him.
A lean, agile body, like that of a Kougra. Swiftness equal to a Kyrii’s. But still, as ever, his white fire. He laughed as the surge of power washed over him, and fought on He shot without thinking, dodged without moving. And he breathed white fire.
Nothing came near him by choice. Not even those on his own side. Oh, he knew them well enough. His targets were those who wore metal on their bodies, who moved without any choice. And he flew to them, shot at them, found them wherever they chose to hide.
Only when there was nothing left did he land, panting, on the clouds. He staggered as the rush of power subsided, leaving him barely able to stand. A warm hand, concealed by a fingerless glove, caught his arm, supporting him.
“Figures tha’ ya’d be half-killin’ yerself f’ this,” Sayang said, definitely amused.
Az turned to her, grinning. “It was worth it.”
“For you, idiot.” She stared at him, shook her head, and hugged him, squeezing the breath out of him. “Idiot. Y’ should be dead, wi’ all th’ stories they’re telling about you.”
“An’ y’ ain’t happy tha’ they ain’t telling th’ truth?” Az mumbled, trying to simultaneously hug Sayang, talk, and get his breath back. “Y’ shoul’ be, by th’ sounds o’ it.”
“Idiot,” Sayang said again, releasing him. She looked at him, still shaking her head. “Yer an idiot, Azzy. C’mon, I got t’ take you to th’ rest.”
Grabbing his arm again, she started jogging, not giving Az time to protest. Az simply tried to keep moving at her pace, which, though slow for her, was plenty fast for him right then. He wasn’t even looking at anything except the ground-clouds beneath his feet. If he tried to look elsewhere, he’d trip, he was sure.
“She found him!”
Az looked up. He recognized that voice. “Damian?” he managed to say, right before falling on his face. Judging by the laughter, everyone found this quite amusing. Sayang pulled him back to his feet, and Az looked over the people Sayang had taken him to. His flight, all alive and more-or-less whole
“Hello, Drake,” one of them said. A young yellow Shoyru, Az found, looking for the source. He looked sort of ashamed, for some reason. “Glad you’re alive.”
“Drake?” Az asked, curious where that nickname had come from.
“Old Shenkuu legend,” the Shoyru said. “About a warrior who could beat anyone else. And that’s what you are, sir.” He smiled a little.
Az returned the smile. “Tell me the legend, after this is all over,” he said, turning back to the city they stood in. “We still need to clear all of this out.”
“Y’ ain’t going back in there,” Sayang said, her grip on his arm proving her seriousness. “If I let go o’ ya, you’ll jus’ fall down.”
“She’s right, sir.” Az glared at Damian as the Eyrie spoke. “You aren’t fit for duty.”
Az sighed. “Fine. Then you’re staying with me, Sayang.”
“Gladly.” Surprised, Az looked at her. She scowled at him before turning on the troops. “Go on, all of you! He’s right, the city does need clearing.”
There were assorted murmurs of acknowledgement, and Az watched his flight move out, moonlight gleaming on their forms. “What was that all about?” he asked, not looking at Sayang. She’d released him, after taking him to a wall he could lean against.
“Nothing,” Sayang muttered. Az looked back towards her. She wasn’t looking at him at all. She was staring at the clouds beneath their feet. “Nothing at all.”
“Come on. There’s got to be something.”
“It. Is. Nothing.” Sayang turned towards him. Az flinched at the expression on her face. “Believe me.”
“Fine. Then can you tell me the stories you heard? I’m –” A large explosion, followed by a wave of purple light, cut off Az’s words. He looked at Sayang, whose expression was now one of awe.
“They did it,” she whispered. “They freed the Faeries.”
“Good. Can we go home and sleep now?” Az asked hopefully.
Sayang turned to him and smiled. “Of course.”
To be continued...