The Hunter of Fire

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Fantasy  |  House: Fantasy Realm
Commercé, the continent overrun by a perpetual storm and to some degree perpetual money. Humans and Kraeka both have fought over it in colony form and Rin has somehow gotten stuck in this fight by joining the Hunters. Never trusted to be strong enough to any real work she just wants a way to prove herself, though the way that happens wasn't exactly planned.

Submitted: November 09, 2018

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Submitted: November 09, 2018

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I take a deep breath of heavy, humid air as rain sets siege to my raincoat. Gusts of wind make the air feel only bearable enough with just the curse of water getting into my eyes. My name is Rin Kazashi, a green recruit of the Demon Hunters who had been sent to a base over in Commerce. I hate it here from the perpetual storms and hard to breathe muggy atmosphere. If it wasn't the natural environment around me then it was probably my colleagues I didn't much like. Not that I have any real problem with them it was just they seemed to not really like me all that much. I had only just arrived a few days and the only person who seemed thankful or glad that I was stationed here was the commander as he had given me a short tour.  Thunder rumbled in the distance bringing me out of my daydreaming. If there was anything good about the storm hanging over the continent it was that you could predict its patterns easily. Right now it was just gusty with light rain but here soon a more severe patch would arrive. I found it amazing that the whole place wasn't underwater by now, though some say the demo- I'm sorry the Kraeka, had done something to the soil and earth of the land to prevent constant flash flooding. Not everywhere, of course, as there is plenty of marshland spotted around in places. A storm precaution signal blares across the base to signal anyone to at least get under some cover. The base had been built with plenty of covered walkways and drains to keep it dry enough to travel between buildings. I may not like the storms or muggy air, but I do enjoy the sound rain makes when it hits a raincoat. So I tend to walk between the courtyards during the slower parts of the storm. No one dared to stand out during the severe portions though as large hail or high powered winds tend to rip through the area. I heed the cautions and quickly jog into a nearby rain bunker where some other Hunters on a watch shift had taken cover in. I received glares from the others upon entering and I mostly ignored them as I take off my raincoat to dry off. I straighten my blouse and slacks before sitting down by a lookout window to watch the storm roll through. I glance back at the others who are with me glad I was mostly being ignored, except for maybe a few side glances. I learned when I arrived that the people who had been stationed here had worked hard for it while showing some inkling of skill. The commander had shown pride when I arrived, whereas he had put it “Being stationed here was a badge of your power.” So as such everyone else has given less of a warm welcome. The age difference was fairly large, where I am 18 everyone else is mid-twenties and up, so I get treated like some unwanted child. A good example is exactly the kind of shift I'm doing at the very moment. The shift given to me was a ‘Reactionary Watch’ or more simply ‘We don't need or want you here so we gave you the one job that isn't needed at all.’ My shift after my tour yesterday and my shift today have been unpleasant, to say the least.  I rest my head in my hand to lean on the windowsill as the storm brings a grey screen of water into our direction. The wind had picked up to bend the trees a bit and give life to the full grass out in the plain outside the base. I was here to master my techniques because of the constant skirmishes, not to get bullied by my higher-ups because they feel I don't belong. I look down to my side and realized I forgot to put my weapon up with my coat. I grab the sheath of my sword and unsheathed the blade, revealing its smooth curvature. It was a light blade at about the length of my arm, curved slightly at the middle to indicate that it's meant for slicing not stabbing.

 

“What is she doing here in our bunker? Isn't she supposed to be sucking up to the commander or something?” I realized I was scowling and made a loud noise as I sheathed the sword back. Some of them flinched as they realized the rain hadn't covered up their words. I was fairly agitated about it so I got up swiftly and threw my raincoat back on.

 

As the rain greeted me it luckily drowned out whatever noises they had made behind me. I ducked under a small rain over and sat on the bench inside while still fuming with emotion. I like to think I take my job seriously and don't like being a laughing stock for an entire base when none of them know how strong I actually am. Before I joined the Hunters I studied an old art of manipulating another person's aura with your own. It was fairly difficult to do as you had to breach their defenses to touch them, and I wanted to be good at it. Not long after joining I got through training with flying colors. Higher ups noticed I had combat prowess and sent me here, to Commerce, as a part of an elite last defense for the nearby trade town. The wind howled to bring rain into the small shelter I was under, so I slammed a rain shutter down to close it off. The solitude was relaxing with the rain pelting the metal. My thoughts roam around now that my short spurt of anger wasn’t keeping them bound. I understood the hate I got from my colleagues, it’s just I wanted to be respected for the skill I have. How was I supposed to prove I was just as strong if no one ever gave me a chance?  The pattering slowed down as the cell in the storm passed onwards. Relieved I won’t get soaked, I bring the shutters back up with snap until they click into place. Now that the drizzle was bearable to walk in, I bring the hood of my raincoat up and continue outwards towards the outside of the barracks. Halfway across the courtyard, something tickled my hearing, causing me to look out towards the base walls. The air vibrated with sound, cracked as it vacuumed back in, and clapped it all back out at once. Deep in the distance of the forest was an odd sight of energy as waves emanated out, if only for a moment. White light flashed to blind me momentarily and as soon as it had happened the energy vanished. What I thought was the drizzle pelting my raincoat instead happened to be my heartbeat pulsing in my ear. Instincts blaring signals to my body cause me to tense up and stumble any movement. There in the distance, peeking out over the canopy of the forest, I saw a grand fireball rise into the clouds.

 

I ran. Actually, I’d say I slipped around frantically towards the Barracks. It wasn’t my job to report a sight from watch but I had to at least let the first defenders know before the sirens blared. Though the only noise I could hear was the sound of water and my footsteps… A realization dawned on me as I reached a wall of the Barracks.  Nobody knew something was out there. I cursed the name of a few people, turning around to dash back to the watch bunker. I stumble on opening the door and slam it open, clambering inside while panting. Those within jumped from the sudden noise or yawned with drowsiness. THEY WERE. The anger welled up but I breathed deep and set it aside in my mind.  

 

“Hey welcome back greenie.” The male who spoke to me had his back turned on his binocular ports. In fact, all of them weren’t giving any thought to actually doing the work they were assigned.  

 

“Thanks. I take it I missed a tea party or something? Have you guys looked outside even once today?”

 

“Hey, can it rook. We know how to do our job and don’t need you barging in he-” I stormed up to a set of binoculars, shoving the male aside. “Hey watch it! You could ask!”

 

I ignored him and peered through to search the forest. Sure enough, I saw a pillar of fire again, which caused a cold sweat to form on my body. I breathe a shaky breath and turn towards the scowling watch.  

 

“Northeast forty. Moving slowly probably will be noticeable at forty-five.” I step aside, standing firm with a glare fixated on his skull.

“Tch. New kids always think they know everything.” The male steps around me to look into his equipment. “What are you even blabbering about the only thing in that direction is rain and wi-” His voice dropped as his face paled.  

 

“Jae? What is it?”

 

The others had some concern finally show as if awakening from a mental sleep. The male pulled his face from the binoculars frightened. He glanced back at me and all I did was glare back at him. He puffed in anger before releasing a frustrated sigh.

 

“The greenie is right! We have visuals of fire pillars at forty-five degrees, NorthEast. Notify the scouts right now and keep tracking the visuals.” Puzzled looks all around as the rain pretended to be the silence in the room. “Now! This is not a drill!” Eyes widened from his yelling and everyone clambers into chairs to look outside as preparations for the alarm to blare was made.

 

“I'll be heading back into the base, I have to be briefed before reacting.” I turn as a hand grips my shoulder. I look at the Male who held me back with a cold stare. He didn't have the same angry expression as before with fear being prominent in his face.

 

“I was an asshole before. I think I can speak for everyone that we all have been acting like one. If… if you hadn't come back to do your job we wouldn't have known…” He was shaking. His fear was starting to shrug off onto me as I began to get nervous. Was there something out there I hadn't seen other than the fire pillars? He shakes his head to seemingly clear his head. “You need to get going. Being late for the briefing is bad and I feel they need you the most.” I was taken aback mostly from the simple sincerity of his apology and deflated a bit from my anger.

 

“A-aye Jae. Just keep watching it.” I turn and dash out of the watch bunker. As soon as I was out of the door I heard the siren blare out into the base and realized that I didn't recognize it. It was certainly one I never heard during my training as they were short low vibrations of noise. This one sounded like the siren on a transport got caught on a particular shrill note and was changing pitch only slightly. It honestly hurts my ears so I tried to cover them as I ran to the barracks.

 

All around the base groups of frantic Hunters were scrambling to get positioned around the walls to defend if need be. Only a handful of people ducked into a small building on the side, including myself, for a briefing as the first force to deal with any situation.  We all settled down quickly as the commander walked in holding a small communication radio the size of his hand. His presence was a demanding one and even with his age, his expression could be intimidating. He was still an Officer like most of the base, just a few steps higher in the ranking.

 

“We will have the briefing shortly everyone. The scouts are still in route to the specified locations.” A quiet settled around us as the radio occasionally sent in a few patches of static noise.  

 

Alpha reporting in! We have visual of contacts estimating two hundred yards from our position.”

We all tensed up when we finally heard the first scout squad report in. Even though the audio was traveling by aura it still seemed to be interfered by the permanent storm above that caused it to cackle.

 

They all seemed to be… wait that can’t be right. Hey, one of you go do a second count that can't be right.” A pause. A panicked voice comes back. “Fifty-one Fire Demons. I repeat fifty-one Fire Demons. They look to be low to mid-ranking soldiers and the one in the back. No, I don’t think I've seen that many medals on a female one before. Hey, what rank does that symbol on her shoulder mean?

 

A few of my colleagues go white when they hear how many Kraeka there were, which is the proper term for their kind.  It’s not just any Kraeka either, as they were the very powerful Fire Kraeka. They were currently known as the strongest out of all the known kinds and is the current political powerhouse in their council. My spine grows cold thinking on how this isn't a simple skirmish. They had sent a small invasion force. The radio came back to life with some static bringing us to attention.

 

Hey don't joke around it’s impossible that she saw us. We're two hundred yards out and in shrubbery there's… wait it does kind of look like she's staring at…” A few of us in the room gasp at the same time as the scout speaking. “Disengage. I say disengage, dammit, move! Fuck! Why is the ground so hoaaaAAHHH!!

 

First, a large sound of wind followed by a short cut off booming noise. Not long afterward a distant explosion shook the walls of the building and rattled my thoughts. The rain kept pattering as the room’s silence was broken again by the radio.

 

Scout group Beta reporting in. We saw an explosion one hundred yards away we are disengaging from the area and returning to base. We believe alpha is dead, as that was their last known location. We are sixty-five, North East from the base. Last known location of adversaries from Alphas scouting is fifty-five, North East. I repeat we are disengaging from the area!” We hang our heads in silent respect. The situation was worsening quickly and creating a small panic in the room.

 

“We’re so dead.” A lady had actually curled up in her chair to my right. “Fifty-one Fire Demons. It usually takes five Hunters to fight one of them! How are we going to fight that?” Her words bring an emotion that ripples to the others in the room.  

 

“Pull yourself together woman or you're going to die with those being your last words.” The Commander finally spoke up. His voice brought their attention, though none of the others would look him in the eye. “Based on the limited information gathered, here is your briefing. There are fifty-one Fire Kraeka out there at approximately one kilometer out, if even that far, and closing in at a fairly paced speed. There is at least one high ranking soldier with the group.” He waits patiently for this to reach everyone’s thoughts. “The force sent is more than just a simple skirmish force to test our manpower. No, this force wants to blow the place up and we're not going to let them. Is that clear?”

 

“So you want us to end up like alpha?” A Male this time speaks up from the back, causing our commander to squint his eyes towards us.  

“What did I do to deserve potbellied babies like you lot? Too selfish to fight for your own land?” They continue to avoid his eyes. These were some of the people thought to be the best of our force and yet they’ve all gotten too comfortable not actually fighting!

 

“I'll go, sir!” I shot up from my seat with fire on my words. If no one else was willing to do their job then the necessity called to me.  A few people chuckled when I rose but were quickly silenced by the stare of our Commander.

 

“Finally a spine.” He looked me over before continuing. “A shaken spine, but still a spine nonetheless. Those who laughed are demoted a rank starting today and must perform janitor duties for a year. If we survive thanks to your incompetence.” He beams a welcome gaze in my direction. “It would seem you are to be alone for this as the first reaction squad. Not to be rude but while you're out there I'll be preparing a base evacuation in the event you fail. Do you understand your orders soldier?”

 

I salute him with a shaky hand from both enhanced fear and swelling anger.

“You can count on me! SIR!”

 

“Atta girl. The brief is over! Those heading out to fight may leave. May the Chaos favor your life in death. The rest of you are to stay. Right. Here.” I take my motion to leave as fast as I possibly could out of that room and rush towards the gates to avoid the point of his anger.

 

I check to be sure I have my sword on hand as I stop by the checkpoint guards. I didn’t want to dawdle on collecting any items I could use and trusted my skill with this blade. The guards both look at each other and back to me in confusion.

 

“...Rin? The new greenie? Please don’t tell me they're just sending you out there as the first line of defense.” He held an exasperated look which fit my mood pretty well.  

 

“If the rest of the Reaction Squad had any spine that would be great.” My anger showed greatly as I huffed breath out of me. It certainly helped mask the other emotions rising to my head. They open up the gates to bring a gust of wind through it, pelting us with rain. “Promise me the base will buy me drinks if I come back alive.” The serious look I gave them brought a laugh out of them.

 

“You can't even legally drink Rin, you still have two years to go.” The mirth in his voice is betrayed by the fear in those eyes.

 

I shrug casually at the two of them to feign my own fears.

“I think if I survived this I deserved an early chance.”

 

I continue out of the gate before they could respond and walk out a couple of yards before the gates behind me shut, causing tears to well in my eyes. I was absolutely scared stiff. Walking felt awkward as my mind barraged me with reminders that I was more than likely going to just be blown up on sight. I climb a small steep hill while trying to dry my eyes with the angled rain making it difficult. Once at the crown I catch my first glimpse of real Fire Kraeka standing before me. I had never actually seen one except in advertisements for women's skin products. Our society may dislike them in general but we revered them for their natural beauty for some reason or another. Their skin held various shades of reds ranging from pink to deep maroon. The leather armor most of them wore clung to their skin to show off their curves and hissed from the rain falling above. The steam was actually intimidating as it created a small cloud of fog making the main body of their group a bit difficult to see. Sweat formed only to be washed away as the group of Kraeka come to a halt at the base of the hill. Breath escaped from my mouth as I realized I was actually holding it. I close my eyes, bring more air into my lungs and re-open my eyes as I take my sheathed sword and set it into the ground beside me.

 

“Fire Kraeka who stand before me, say your reason for trespassing on this land!” I felt stupid as soon as the words came out of my mouth but the release had me on a high.

 

The Kraeka on the front line stopped their actions, which at the moment looked like a prepared charge, and looked amongst each other in confusion. I wasn’t here to immediately fight them and was hoping I could avoid such a dangerous conflict. Their laughter told me another story as the noise traveled through their group. I shook certain thoughts out of my head and straightened my back.  

 

“I will only repeat myself this one time! What reason are you trespassing this land for?!”

 

The overhead clouds brought sounds of distant thunder reminding me another big shower was on the way. Only these sounds of the wind or rain kept the silence from creeping up my spine. Cackling laughter erupted. Not from the main body of the Kraeka in front of me, but from deep in the back of their formation. An immense bonfire had sprung up from behind them to touch the base of the clouds above, creating a mist as the rain pelted it. Even though I could feel its heat from this distance I still shivered out of fear. The group began to separate orderly as a sole being walked to the front, all the while still laughing. After reaching the front of their ranks the enraged flames surrounding her dulled and I was able to get a really good look at her. Unlike those around her, she had actual metalwork for armor. It did not cling to her body but still gave a figure to it all the same. Other than the dents and battle scars on the armor she also donned a large variety of medals. None of which made any sense to me, of course, other than my odds of surviving decreasing. I try not to flinch or show a change of composure in her presence.

 

“Your eyes betray you… human.” The armored Kraeka smirks over at me. Her voice felt rough and yet it seemed to travel smoothly to my ears. “You show unwavering confidence and bravery but yet…” her gaze washes over me, her eyes blazing. “I see your nervousness in you. An understanding of 'what ifs', but a will to try anyway.” She spits to her side in a disgusted manner. “Your comrades are cowardly to send one like you to their death. I am here to conquer this land on orders from the king himself and I will not simply let a brave one like you try to stop me.” Her military roar in approval around her as she brandishes a halberd about twice her height. “What say you, human! Fight or flight before me!”

 

I take up my sword’s hilt from the ground and point it towards the armored Kraeka. “You speak as if I know and fear you. All I see is a weathered, respectable armor on a being before me. However, I cannot budge.” I crouch down into a more prepared position, readying my hand to unsheath my sword. “By your hand, I may lose my life, but I shall not budge either way!”

 

If it was something one must always remember about the Fire Kraeka is that they respect honor above almost all else. I was shaking horribly when I spoke those words. My hands sweat as she only mouthed the words ‘good’ to me with a smirk. Her halberd was raised into the air and swiftly slammed back down in flames to signal the start of the battle.

 

The first Kraeka to rush me wasted no time getting to me. I was being underestimated as they weren't using any abilities from the start. Clicking my sword a little from the sheath I waited for any kind of attack. The Kraeka was overly aggressive, raising a blade high over their head to slash down. Once she got in range of me I made one swift motion to unsheath my sword to slash horizontally. As the blade began to touch skin I focused more on our surrounding aura. I beckoned her aura, pulling it to me and draining the aggressor of their strength. My blade made a clean cut as shock overtook her face before collapsing. At the bottom of the hill, I see the armored one scowl and more climb up to rush me. Now that I had someone else's aura it was hard to contain its powers within me. I sheath my sword again and concentrated on changing the element I had pulled from the Kraeka. I decided Air was a better use than Fire in this instance and focused back on those coming at me. This time I don't allow them to get near me as I release my blade again. The winds pick up around me as a booming slice is sent towards my foes. The time they had to react was as thin as the line they now had at their midsection. I decide now is a time to get aggressive before the Kraeka also starts to throw abilities at me and chase the sonic wave towards them. I still had some overflow of aura so I use it to increase my speed and clash with the line of Kraeka below. My blade collides with one of them as she looked at me dumbfounded. It was then I realized I was actually matching her strength. I kick out at her to knock her back a few feet and bring the point into her chest. I get another surge of power into me. Thinking of what element I wanted to use now I catch a glimpse of a blade coming at my head. I narrowly duck under it, kicking out the feet of the Kraeka who swung. I finally thought of what I wanted, feeling a surge in my right hand before bringing it to their face and discharging. The potency of their aura was like molasses so it felt sluggish when it was used, but the sheer power it brought to my body was euphoric, to say the least.

 

Now overpowering the grunts the Armored Kraeka had sent at me I fought them with more confidence and no hesitation. I kept slicing them down while releasing the aura I had gained to keep pace. After being surrounded I released my aura as Earth to slam the ground with a shockwave to knock them over. After recovering from this action a sharp pain in my right side reaches my sense as I was sent flying several meters away. I roll across the soggy ground and push up in time to see a halberd come down where my head was. The armored Kraeka lifts it up, revealing a burned scar in the earth. She motions for the few survivors to stay back. I was cocky at this point after fighting the weaker ones, so I charged into the range of her halberd only to have to defend against her blow. The impact alone caused me to sink into the earth. Fear crawled into my mind again as I realized her strength so I try to hop back, but she was faster. Using the halberd as leverage she slings herself at me to deliver her foot squarely into my jaw. I almost blacked out from the blow alone, just managing to keep consciousness by absorbing some of her aura while we made contact. I couldn't tell how far I was launched off my feet or slid on the ground. Head reeling from the blow, I try to get up only to struggle on shaky arms.

 

“That technique of yours is annoying human.” The armored Kraeka was flexing her hand on her halberd while scowling. “I only faced it once and felt weak. I’m curious about how you obtained a lost skill but I'm afraid I don't have time for that.”

 

She charges at me with incredible speed putting me into a panic. I had no time to focus the aura into a different element so I discharge it as Fire into the surrounding puddles to create a mist. A gust of wind as the halberd slams the ground at my side is the only indication I got that she had lost vision of me for a moment and I go in to make a few cuts along her joints. Even with all the aura I had gained I wasn't able to cut her defenses well, but anything was better than nothing. She curses to herself and circles her blade with enough force to send the mist elsewhere, once again revealing my location. We eye each other warily, which gives me the time I needed to switch around my energies. I charge in for a final attempt to deal real damage to her. She swings the halberd across at me but with all the power I had received while fighting gave me enough strength to properly deflect it. This caught her off guard as I bring an electric aura to my blade and thrust at her head.

 

I breathe heavily as exhaustion catches up finally. My throat tightens with each breath and this causes me to cough. Something felt off though once I try to move my blade. I yank at it again before I look up to see her holding onto my blade with her hands. I let go of my blade and just fall back onto the wet ground out of breath. She continued to hold it, her hand bleeding and getting charred as the electricity surges around it. She casually flicks it to catch the hilt and stoops over my body to sheath my blade slowly. I was puzzled by this action and froze up with her so close to me.  

 

“Is there a reason I'm not seeing black right now? You could easily defeat me right here.” My fear clearly showed in my voice. I swallow when her black eyes lock into mine.

 

“Battles are more than falling every foe you fight human.” She was actually grinning at me. She stands herself up with a groan. “In this case, I have lost. Strategically speaking, I alone could wipe the base out but I also do not have the force to hold it. Your cowardly people finally came out of hiding and dealt with the few you haven't slain.” She glares up at what I assumed were other Hunters behind me. “If the weather cycle is true the bad part of the storm is coming up, meaning I'm out of time also.” She extends her hand out to me to help me off the ground. "Of all things to lose my first battle, it was you Human."

 

I was shocked and had to remind myself of their nature before taking her hand. She brings me off the ground with ease and stabilizes me to be sure I don't fall over again. I turn around to see the others prepared to jump to my aid but I felt it would be futile for them. The Armored Kraeka sighs, picking up her halberd to stand beside her.

 

“May I ask your name. It's customary for us to know those who defeated us.”

 

“It's… Rin. Rin Kazashi.” I blink a second, my mind was still foggy.

 

The Kraeka nods slowly. “I am the Great General Kaede. Kaede Hioln.” The name sounded familiar to my memory but I couldn't put my finger as to why. We shook hands briefly before she headed back where she had come from. I watched her walk away silently, taking in the scenery of the mist flowing off her body. Through the smoke of the charred grass the other Hunters rush over to me in concern and joy.

 

“Greenie! Greenie that was amazing! Where'd you learn to fight just like a freaking demon?”

 

“Did you overhear that name? Kaede. THE Kaede. How are we even alive right now?!”

 

The rest of the words they said were a blur as I blacked out.

 

Thunder rumbling in the distance brings my eyes open but the commands my brain gives to get up are received in protestant pain from my limbs. I groan while finally looking around my surroundings. It was all depressingly white in decor which indicated to me I was in the base's hospital. My sword sat next to my bed sheathed with mud covering the fine leather holder.  

 

“Hey, greenie. Not even Kaede herself could put down your spunk eh?” A Hunter I just realized was even in the room had spoken up. I recognized him as Jae from what one of the other watch guards had called him.  

 

“Here I thought I was in heaven. Nope still in reality then.” I sigh and lay back into the cushioned bed.

 

“You'll be in heaven after you have one of these.” He brings out a big bottle of a Commerce Gin with a big grin on his face. “A gate guard brought it in, saying he made a promise to a certain underage drinker.” He smirked as he leaned over the bed to hand it to me. I cradled the bottle, turning it slowly to etch its design into my mind.

 

“You're right I am in heaven now.” Uncorking its top I take a big swig to let an unknown burning sensation wash over my throat. I coughed violently as my body warmed up, which brought attention to pain in my sides. Jae heartily laughed at me.

 

“To think I watched a human not only solo fight a Fire Kraeka but to also straight drink Commerce Gin! The Hunters on the Homeland would think I'm crazy!” He makes a big motion around his head that makes me laugh and quickly grimace as I felt the broken ribs in my side.

 

“She called herself Kaede but I can't seem to remember where I had heard the name.” Corking the bottle I handed the bottle back over to him.  When he grabbed it out of my hands I received an extreme expression.

 

“You do know... Kaede right? Great General? Old War Legend?” I went still as an important memory came to mind.

 

“The undefeated Fire Kraeka. I fought Her?!” I couldn't believe I forgot how much weight that name had carried.

 

“Yeah!” He laughed some more. “She also let you off with your life!”

 

I slump deeper into the bed to let it surround me on all sides. “Gods help me, how am I alive.”

 

“You probably made an impression on her. You know how they like honor in all things.” He held up his hands as I glared at him. “Well, Green- er I mean Rin. I need to get back to the watch. We, along with other bases, are now on higher alert. Not everyone can solo a Kraeka so it's best to stay prepared.” He gets up, leaving the gin on the chair. I nod at him as he leaves the room and let out an exasperated sigh.

 

I was probably going to be in the here a while from my broken bones. I try to lift my legs and feel searing pain there too. I turn to look out the window with slowly darkening scenery. It was storming outside, lightning and thunder across the landscape that never ends on Commerce. The cool air conditioning was easy to breathe but was still heavy from the outdoor humidity. Turning back, I settle into the blankets while thinking of how much I hated this place before I drift into a painful sleep.

 


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