It’s been a long time coming, but The Maker is back! Welcome to the world of Shakazhan – again – where our heroes wait for the Kahlea Grand Master to arrive. Though he may not be there yet, he’s got plenty of resources and angry slaves to send their way. As if the threat of interplanetary warfare isn’t enough, they are also getting attacked from inside the planet. It seems that nowhere, and no time, is safe from the Kahlea’s flunkies. It’s Mariah’s first birthday and everyone is relaxed, enjoying the celebration.
The party was in full swing, Happy Birthday was about to be sung and cake served when Wil got the first tingle of trouble. He couldn’t explain how he knew something was wrong, but it was as if he felt a change in the wind. The hairs on the back of his neck stood up, getting his full and undivided attention. He could see that several of the Cousins, Marc and Ben all had the same feeling, the look in their eyes unmistakable.
“Get the children inside quickly!” Wil’s voice carried all over the compound. The call was taken up by the other leaders. Mothers ran for their little ones. Older children grabbed the younger and they made their way quickly and quietly to the nearest training hall. Guards were posted and the doors locked tightly.
“They can get out in an emergency, but nothing can get in there, at least I hope not! Hammer!”
“Evacuate the children, you see them?”
“Yes, Anvil has already begun. Styx and Quick Silver will also be working at it. Don’t worry about the children.”
“Does anyone see anything? Talk to me!” Comunits popped and crackled with static, something that never happened. “What’s going on? Talk to me!”
Wil ran wildly around the compound checking on the others. Matilda joined him as soon as she was certain the children were taken care of.
“What’s happening, Wil?”
“I don’t know. I don’t think anyone does, but something is up. Sentience!”
She didn’t reply right away. After a short, uncomfortable pause, she answered. “Yes, Wil?”
“Tell me what’s wrong, I can taste it on the wind.”
“I am afraid there has been an insurgence from below.”
“Coming from where?”
Sentience hesitated, her voice deeply concerned when she replied. “From the Chimarria.”
“Why didn’t you tell me?” Wil’s voice was harsh with reprimand. “Where are they coming up?”
“They come from the hills, the mountains and the plains. They have found many outlets which were sealed. They broke through.”
“So what you’re telling me is that we’re surrounded and your bots didn’t stop them?”
The fighters scrambled and the cats prepared to do a swift reconnaissance of the area surrounding them. The foot soldiers and armored divisions took their spots waiting for news.
“Talk to me, Cap!”
“Difficult to see, Wil. There’s an unusual cloud cover. We picked up some life forms in the foothills, but it was cattle, not devils. Dropping below the clouds a wee bit more.”
A few tense moments passed, then Cavitus’ voice broke through the silence. A loud, long caterwaul echoed in Wil’s head.
“I see them! Strange robots to the north-northwest, hundreds of them! Heavily armed, I don’t see energy weapons, but do see projectile weapons. Shall I strafe them?”
“Not yet. If they get within three clix of the compound, open fire.”
“There are more from due west, Wil,” Ariella added.
“I see about a hundred, maybe a hundred and fifty to the southeast. Where the hell are they all coming from?” This last from Escascia.
“Defensive positions. I want my Marines in the tanks outside the compound now! Targets of opportunity. Let’s not mess this up!”
Wil and Matilda ran to the nearest training building, climbing the ladder on the outside wall. They took a position on the roof. It was from this vantage point that they first saw the wave of Blue Devils.
“Look!” Matilda pointed beyond the lines of Blue Devils. Something else, bigger, more menacing followed them in a darker cloud against the night. “What are they?”
Wil shook his head. “No idea. Sentience? What’s with them?” No answer. “Sentience, answer me!Dammit! All right, we do this our way, people! Wait until you have a clear target, let them attack first. Give them the opportunity to surrender.” He sighed deeply, “If they don’t, vaporize them.”
Matilda’s gaze held worry and a hint of reprimand, but she couldn’t deny this was an aggressive move on the part of the Chimarria. She made herself ready. Unlike her last battle with the Blue Devils, she was prepared to kill them.
© 2017 Dellani Oakes
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