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Imagine Elfangor turning into a platypus, with Tobias sort of superimposed in the background. Yeah, that's a bit of a complicated one.70: The Memories
The one is a combination of a few things I've been wanting to do for a while now. After this, I've got only one idea left, and that one needs to ferment for a bit, so who knows when the next one will come?
Uh, to Tobias fans (myself included), I'll say I'm sorry. But things have been going just too well for him lately and I can't keep that up. After all, he was KAA's whipping boy and I've got to carry on the tradition. It's time for our fine feathered friend (not so feathered at the moment) to get yet another nasty whack from the homoerotic frat-paddle of the universe.
My name is Tobias. War-Prince Tobias. Commander Tobias. Tobias: the Devil Prince. Those are my names now. There was a time when I had a normal name. I didn't have any sort of title. I even had a last name. There was a time when I was just a normal human kid. But that time's long dead. And so is the kid with those names.
I was a warrior now. I a friend to some. A comrade in arms. I'm a leader to others. I'm a brother and a son. I'm even a lover and, in a few months, I'll be a father and probably a husband. There's one other thing I am: on the bad side of a very powerful Andalite.
Counselor Lirem-Arrepoth-Terrouss, head of the Electorate, glared at me through holographic eyes. I was in the Reliquary, where we could talk in private. The Electorate had let me return to earth, but they weren't happy about it. Not long ago, I had helped to defend a planet from a Yeerk invasion. Now, they wanted me to do more.
<War-Prince Tobias,> Lirem said, <The Electorate requests that you return to the service. We know that the Yeerk Order is preparing to invade Hork-bajir again. Captain-Prince Glorfindel is being prepared to launch a preemptive strike against the Taxxon world, the staging area for the invasion. He requests your services.>
If it had been up to me, I would have gone. But I was needed more here. This invasion was the one that really mattered. If the Yeerks won here, the universe would be effected in ways I couldn't possibly understand. If they won on Hork-bajir, it would be bad but not nearly as bad as it would be if the One were to take Earth.
“I'm sorry, Counselor, but I can't leave Earth,” I told him. Of course, he would want a reason. So I gave him one that was part of the truth. “I'm going to be a father soon. I can't leave before my kid's even born.”
<You father did not feel the same. Perhaps you could learn something from his example,> Lirem said. If he had lips, they would probably have been drawn pretty tight.
“With all due respect to him,” I replied, “fatherhood wasn't his strong suit. My father was a great man, and good at many things. That wasn't one of them.”
<Perhaps you do not understand the nature of this request,> Lirem began. <A request from the Electorate to a soldier is not like a request among equals. Refusal is not an option for you.>
“What will you do?” I asked carefully. “Come to take me off to war?”
<No, War-Prince Tobias. I am well aware of how that would end. Likely, you would lead us on a ridiculous chase. And once we finally located you, you would refuse to be of any use to us. We have dealt with...difficult...soldiers before. It is hard to find one who possesses the morphing power and does not want to be found.>
“So what, then?” I asked.
<There are other ways to compel your service. While there is likely very little we could do to you, your family and friends are another matter entirely.>
“You wouldn't dare hurt them,” I said coldly.
<Not physically, no. But we can make life very difficult for them. I wonder what your government would think about David's history. He betrayed you, after all. I imagine they would frown upon that. Am I wrong?
<Or perhaps your people would like to be alerted to Marco's memory loss. I am sure you would all enjoy that experience. I understand your human media can be quite cruel in such matters.>
“No one would believe David's story,” I told him. “We'd all deny it and the problem goes away. And Marco's learned to live with his memory problems. That's no real threat.”
<Perhaps not. But what of Cassie's little ecological projects? One word from us and your human governments can put a stop to them and any future plans. I am sure she would find that to be most unpleasant.>
I shrugged. “Maybe. But something tells me she's got bigger things on her mind nowadays. What, with Rodger and all. Her family's kind of a big thing with her.”
<Ah, yes. That reminds me. I wonder what would happen if we returned young Aristh
Alloran to his mother's custody. His skills would certainly be useful, especially now that we have new Pythagi technology to compete with. And I am sure his mother would be more than happy to have him home and safe.>
That stopped me. I couldn't let them take Al. He was a part of my family. I couldn't let that happen. “Why do all this?” I demanded. “Why am I so damned important to you!?”
<It is not you who are important, Commander. It is what you represent. If you are allowed to refuse a request from the Electorate, what message does that send to the rest of our people? There can be no army without authority, no authority without obedience, and no obedience without punishment for those who do not obey. I do not relish the thought of making your life difficult, War-Prince. I respect you for your past and present services rendered. I want only for you to fight for us against our mutual enemies.
<I understand why you refuse. I have children of my own. Leaving them to fight the Yeerks was not a decision I enjoyed., and not one that I wish to ask you to make. But I have no choice. We need your help, Tobias. But if you refuse us, we must take action to prevent others from doing so as well. It is easy for a soldier to think of reasons not to go to war. Ours is the difficult task of giving him better reasons to fight. So I will ask you again: will you honor our request?>
I understood where he was coming from. And I wanted nothing more than to tell him I'd go. But I didn't have a choice, and the terms of the war wouldn't allow me to explain it to him. I knew he would decide he could handle it better than I could. He'd start to take charge and hold council sessions over it. The word would spread, and then the secret would be out. And if that happened, it was all over.
So I didn't have any real choice. “I am sorry, Counselor Lirem. But we all must learn from the mistakes of our past. The Andalites have learned from Seerow's mistake. Now, I must learn from Elfangor's. I have to stay on Earth.”
Lirem sighed. <Then you leave me no choice. Commander, as of this moment, and until further notice, you are suspended without pay. You will retain all rankings and possession of your ship, but all of your liquid assets are frozen until such a time as we agree to return them.>
Suspended without pay. It didn't sound too bad. But there was a problem. I needed the Electorate's money. I was about to leave for Alpha front, and I had a family to feed. And I was unable to access any of the money I had saved because they froze it all.
But I didn't forget that Lirem had been merciful. He could have stripped me of my titles and discharged me from the service. He could have taken Al and Ax. He could have done so many things worse. Instead, he had left me with a choice. This could all go away, just as soon as I gave in.
The Electorate still has a lot to learn about humans.
I went into the house after that. I doubted I'd be back in here any time soon. In some ways, it made me a little sad. I had come to like the place. But there were plenty of things I hated about it. The biggest thing being Naomi. I don't know if you've ever seriously considered murdering someone in cold blood, but if you haven't, have a conversation with Naomi and you'll know how it feels.
Everyone was there. Naomi, Jacques, Jordan, and Sara. Ronnie and Cassie. Menderash, too. This was the last time I'd see him for a while, too. He was heading back to the homeworld. The Electorate had sent him here a couple of months ago to find out what I was doing on Earth. Now, they didn't care what I did on Earth; they just wanted me off of it.
The Omegamorphs were there. That's the name we gave to Jake's team. He, Marco, Ax, Jeanne, and Melissa were lounging around. They wouldn't be going anywhere. Loren, my mother, and Dan, Rachel's father, were standing with packed bags. They would be coming with us. Dan lived about an hour's drive away from Alpha front, and he decided he wanted to catch a ride with us. Loren was coming with us all the way.
Naomi was clearly torn. She wanted Rachel to stay as much as she wanted me to go. But where one of us went, the other followed. I'd be glad to get away from her for a while. She was as bad as my other relatives. I said my goodbyes to her first. “See you in Hell, Naomi.”
“I can't imagine a worse punishment.”
I nodded to Jordan and Sara. Jordan doesn't like me very much, I don't think. She's a lot like her mother. And I think she blames me for taking James off to Alpha front. The two of them have a thing going and she wasn't happy that I was taking James away from her.
“Can I come visit you guys sometime?” Sara asked. She liked me more than most of her family; probably because she's so much like Rachel. And she seemed to be pretty good friends with Al. And, as weird as it sounds, I get the impression she has a thing for David. I try not to think about that one.
“No,” Naomi said instantly.
“Any time you want,” I told her. I turned to Jacques. I guess it's kind of weird, but he and I don't have any sort of relationship. He's Rachel's step-father, but neither could ever come to think of the other in terms of father and daughter. He respected her too much, and she already had a father. Technically, if and when Rachel and I get married, he'll be my father-in-law. But we all know my track record with fathers. I didn't get attached to him. He was just...some French guy who we lived with for a little bit.
“Keep an eye on them,” I told him, nodding to the Omegamorphs. “Especially Marco.”
“It is Jeane who needs watching,” he replied. “Take care of your family, Tobias.”
“Back at you,” I responded. Then I turned to Ax. “Ax...”
<I deeply regret that I am not going with you, Tobias,> he said after I trailed off. <I long for the day when we will fight side-by-side once again.>
“Don't worry. We will,” I assured him. “Cao Cao wouldn't have gotten very far without his Xiahou Dun.” I knew he wouldn't understand that little joke. And I didn't have the heart to tell him the Xiahou Dun was Cao Cao's most trusted general, even after he lost an eye in battle. A man named Cao Xing shot it out with an arrow. Xiahou Dun pulled out his eye and ate it; he said he couldn't throw it away because his mother gave it to him. And yeah; he was nuts.
I turned to Marco. He wasn't one for nice goodbye speeches, and I...well, I've never been much for talk. So I told him something I thought he'd appreciate. “I'd give you a nice long goodbye speech, but you'd forget it.”
He nodded. “Good point. Do I get a hug at least?”
“Not from me.”
Rachel gave him a look. Then she shrugged. “What the hell? You won't remember it.”
After she hugged him and he stopped celebrating exaggeratedly, I turned to Jeanne. “Keep him on a leash.” Then I thought about that statement. “Never mind, he'd probably enjoy it.”
Melissa looked from me to Rachel. “What exactly is it that you two do to each other?”
I turned to her. Melissa was our newest Animorph; and I still wasn't happy about it. It was far too late in the game to start tossing in rookies. Worse, I'm afraid she might be suicidal. I think she might be in this just to find a way to get herself killed. But I had been outvoted on this one. “Take care of yourself. Melissa,” I told her. “Or let Jake do it for you.”
I wasn't sure what to say to Jake. He was my fellow general, the other leader. He may say I'm in charge, but as far as I'm concerned, he's at least an equal. I decided to say the only thing one general could really say to another when one marched out to war and the other stayed behind. I looked around the house and told him, “Good luck.”
“It'll all be here when you get back,” he promised. “Watch yourself out there, Tobias.”
I nodded. “Guraff's dangerous, but he's not anything I can't handle. And I don't think Kalroth will be much of a threat. It's Salheer who worries me. You sure you can handle him?”
“No. And I'm not sure I can take the Visser, either. But we don't have a choice, do we?”
“There's always a choice, Jake. But we made ours.”
“Yeah. Yeah, I guess we did. Good luck, Tobias.”
It felt great to be back on the Reliquary, in the air. Rachel was happy to be hading off to battle again. David and James seemed a little nervous. That was probably because James had never been to this front of the war before and David, being a rat, always looked nervous.
Cassie and Ronnie were taking other transportation. They had decided to make the move to Alpha front official, so they had a lot of stuff to bring from their homes.
It occurred to me that, sooner or later, Rachel would have to find out that I'm not getting paid anymore. And I'm not an idiot; I know that trying to hide it from her would only end up making things worse. So I called everyone together; not a difficult task, considering where we were.
“There's a few things I need to tell all of you,” I began. “First, I've made some decisions. This war....it's consuming us. Look at where we live, what we do all day. There's nothing else in our lives right now. And as noble as that may seem, I can't let it go on. You all need lives outside of the war.
“So Al and David are going to start going to school.”
<But I don't wanna,> David whined. In a more controlled tone, he continued, <The war already takes so much time. How do you expect us to keep up school lives, too? Our grades will suck, I doubt we'll ever find time for homework or anything...>
“Hey, I managed to keep up straight A's, so pipe down,” Rachel said to him. “It wasn't a picnic, though,” she muttered.
<Prince Tobias, with all due respect, what could possibly learn from humans? My grasp of science far exceeds that of even the most advanced human; and even that of most Andalites. As is my understanding of the English language and mathematics. What could I learn from a school?>
“History, for one thing,” I told him. “History has a habit of repeating itself. We must learn from the mistakes of the past, and we can't do that if we don't know them. And besides, making some friends his own age won't hurt you, either And you, David, had to drop out of school around his age. We took that from you. And now, I'm giving it back.”
<Thanks, but I really don't want to->
“This isn't about what you want,” I interrupted. “No one wants
to go to school. But it's a normal thing. Something not war-related. And if we don't have those sorts of things, we'll all go crazier. I'm enrolling both of you as soon as we get to Alpha front.”
James raised a hand. “Do I have to go, too?”
I shook my head. “No; you're an adult. You can do whatever you want. Maybe go to college or find a job... I especially encourage that second one.”
“Why?” James asked.
<'Cause he doesn't want us freeloading off of him all the time,> David answered.
I shook my head. “No, I'm fine with that. It's because we aren't going to be living in the Reliquary. I love it here, but how can you have any sort of normal life living on a warship all the time? You should have a place where you can bring friends, a home you don't have to hide.”
“What's with all the sudden changes?” Rachel asked him. “You never cared about any of this before.”
“That's because, before, I was never thinking about what would happen to us after this war. That's something I need to consider. And the way things were going, there wouldn't be anything left of us after this all ended. It's time we all started building lives outside of this fight, whenever possible. Now, I don't mean to let any of this interfere with the fight. If I need you, I'll pull you out of school for a mission. But we have to be able to grab onto any sort of normalcy we can. I know what it's like when every moment of your life is completely off the wall, when even everyday things are odd. And that's not a life I'm going to force on any of you.”
<If we are not going to be here on the Reliquary, where shall we live?> Al asked me.
“We'll get a place in town,” I told him. “Somewhere you can bring company.” I sighed. This next part wasn't going to be fun to explain to Rachel and the others. “Also... The Electorate has requested that I return to Hork-bajir and fight in an attack against the Taxxon world. Since I can't afford to leave Earth, I refused. But they weren't happy about that.”
<What did they do?> Al asked.
“They froze my assets,” I answered. “We've got no money. Nothing new coming in, and everything I've saved I can't touch.”
“No problem,” Rachel said. “I've got a rich step-father, remember? No offense, daddy,” she added to Dan.
“None taken; Jacques is loaded.”
“Yeah, and you know Marco owes us,” James added.
<At the very least, I am confident in my ability to gather funds...questionably,> Al told me.
I nodded. “Yeah, we've got those options. This shouldn't be too difficult.”
<I don't know...> David began. <Somehow, I can't see a bunch of self-righteous Andalites just letting Jacques and Marco bail you out. I mean, I'm just thinking about what I would do if I was them. And if I was them, I'd make sure no one helps you out.>
“Not everyone's like you, David,” Rachel muttered.
<Wasn't Lirem the guy who wanted to 'quarantine' Earth at the end of the First War? Maybe not everyone's like me, Rachel, but this guy is definitely pretty close; if not worse. I think we're probably going to be on our own here.>
“What else is new?” I muttered.
I felt woke up to someone shaking me by the shoulder in the middle of the night. Instinctively, I shot out an arm to grab the throat of whoever it was. Then I remembered where I was; who I was. I had been having a dream. Sort of. I was reliving one of the memories from my Howler morph.
“What is it?” I asked quietly. Loren was standing there. She nodded over towards the other end of the ship. I nodded back, rolled out of bed and followed her. Thank Crayak Rachel's a heavy sleeper as of late. When we were far enough away from everyone else, I whispered again. “What is it?”
“This seems to be the day for getting bad news out in the open,” she whispered back. “So I guess I should tell you know. While you were off fighting for Hork-bajir... I got the call.”
I wasn't sure what to say to that. I knew what call she was talking about, but I had hoped it would be longer. “How long?”
“According to the Andalites? I've got about a week.”
I cursed under my breath. “Is there anything-”
“Nothing,” she interrupted. “If the Andalties can't think of anything to do about it, you know humans definitely didn't find anything.”
“Tried it,” she interrupted again. “Tobias, how many times are we going to go over this? There's nothing to be done. Noting but to accept this with whatever grace I have left.”
“So that' sit? Just...accept it?”
“Sometimes, Tobias, that's all there's left to do. Just sit back, get comfortable, and say, I'm going to die.”
I should probably take a moment and explain this. If you haven't guessed it already, my mom is...well, she's dying. Slowly. Some sort of blood disease. I'm not sure what it is. The Andalites diagnosed her with it on the homeworld and she never bothered to get information from a human doctor about it, so I don't know what we call it here.
She knew she was dying when she came to Earth. She hoped she could see our kid before her time was up but...well, I guess that just wasn't how things were going to work out. They never do, do they?
If I don't seem too broken up about all this, there are a few reasons. The first is that I found out she was dying almost as soon as she got here. I more or less came to terms with it then; as much as anyone can get over this sort of thing. I had done everything I could think to do. Logically, there was nothing to do now but accept it. But I didn't want to be logical. My mother was dying! What kind of person just sits there and accepts that? Not me.
“There has to be something to do,” I insisted. “Maybe... yeah. You could acquire someone healthy. Morph them, and then-”
“Tobias, I'm not going to steal someone else's life in order to prolong mine,” she argued.
“You're not stealing anything,” I insisted. “Just ask them. Who would refuse? That's basically murder if they say no.”
She shook her head slowly. “Tobias...Tobias. All things have their time. How does that poem you like go? 'Though the tortoise blessed with magic powers lives long, its days have their allotted span. Though winged serpents ride high on the mist, they turn to dust and ashes at the last. '”
I finished the poem for her. “'An old war-horse may be stabled, yet it still longs to gallop a thousand li
. And a noble-hearted man though advanced in years never abandons his proud aspirations. Man's span of life, whether long or short, depends not on heaven alone.'” I shook my head. “You should know better than to recite Cao Cao's poems to me, Loren. Especially for something like this. He wasn't one for ever giving up. He was one to fight until the last drop of blood left his body.”
She nodded. “Yes, he was. And so are you. But very few people are that strong. And when the end comes, Tobias, and you don't have that strength, its a whole lot better to find a comfortable way to accept it than fight it.
“Think about those first two lines, Tobias. You know what they mean. Everything, no matter how great, has to die eventually. Nothing lasts forever. And I certainly don't get to break that rule. We all have our time to go, Tobias. Maybe I could scratch out a few more years here. But why? Maybe when I die isn't all up to God or whoever, but it's not really up to me, either. Whoever calls the shots knows a lot more about this than I do. If they say it's time for me to go, I trust them.”
“Mom, please, think. Don't give up, Loren. Don't give in.”
“Tobias...that's why you'll be the one to save us all. But that's you; not me.” She shook he head. “Go back to sleep now, Tobias. You can tell Rachel in the morning.” Just like that, she sent me to bed like I was a child. I probably wouldn't have obeyed, but no one had ever sent me off like that before. I was kind of in shock.
I didn't sleep at first, though. I lay there next to Rachel, asking myself how I could do this. Maybe Loren could accept it, but I couldn't. That's one of my greatest weaknesses, I guess. I can never let go. Even before I knew them, I never let go of my parents. Before I found out who Elfangor was, I couldn't let him go. And never, not once, did I ever even consider letting go of Rachel.
So how could I let go of Loren? I wished so badly right then that I could talk to my father. Either of them. Both of them had been able to do it. To walk away from her and abandon her to fate. Because they had no real choice. They had the strength. Why didn't I?
I felt something then, in the back of my mind. A place I had sworn I would never touch. A few years back, I had allowed myself to be captured by the Yeerks. One of them, a woman named Taylor, tortured me for a few hours. And at the end, I think I died for a bit. But Elfangor brought me back, and he gave me a little parting gift: his memories. Utzum
, Ax had called it. An ancient Andalite ritual, now supposed to be more myth and magic than reality. But it was real. I felt it then, and in that moment of desperation, I felt some of Elfangor's memories. But once I came back, once I had some choice, I shoved them away.
There were already too many of us in my head. The human, the hawk...the Andalite would have made far too many. I couldn't have handled it then; I doubted I could handle it now. I had no clue what would happen if I tapped into Elfangor's memories. How many would I get? All of them? And what then? I'd probably become more Elfangor than Tobias.
But would that be such a bad thing? Wasn't that who we needed? I know it was who I needed right then. I needed someone, anyone, who could show me how to let go. I just needed someone to show me the way.
So I guess what happened next wasn't fully by accident. I'm starting to think that nothing is ever fully by accident. But it wasn't really under my control either; again, I don't think anything ever is. Even if I had wanted to control it, I wouldn't have known how. All I know about it is that when I closed my eyes, I'd have told you that my name is Tobias. And when I opened them...
My name is Elfangor-Sirinial-Shamtul. Prince Elfangor. They call me a hero, my people. The people of my parents, at least. I learned long ago what it meant to be a hero to your people: being a villain to the ones you love. It meant that your people, your duty, always had to come first. And everything else, everything that really mattered, had to fade into darkness. Well, not exactly everything. Not always.
I was on leave for a short while. As always, I spent the time at home with my family. Part of it, at least. The most important part was light-years away, and more than likely was completely unaware of my existence. I tried not to think about them, to concentrate on what I had instead of what I lost. That worked approximately as well as you might expect it to.
Six years. That was how long ago I had left Loren and my son, counting by Earth's time. I hoped; no, I demanded it of the Ellimist, that they were alright. That they were safe and happy. That Loren had found someone else. But if I know the Ellimist at all, he did not care what happened to them.
But I had a few good things here at 'home'. Aximili was one of them. I was not sure how to treat him, really. If there was any sort of 'elder brother' training that I was supposed to receive, I must have missed it somewhere along the line. So I treated Aximili like I would treat any other Andalite. I think he appreciated that.
We were outside of the Scoop when the news came. I was attempting to teach him how to fight. It was difficult to tell whether or not he had any real talent, being so young. But training was good at any age. I knew Aximili wanted to follow down my path, and there was likely nothing I could do to stop him. So instead, I trained him.
<Elfangor!> My father's voice broke my concentration. I turned all four eyes towards the Scoop. I also batted Aximili's tail away. He had been in mid-strike when I looked away and did not yet possess the necessary control to stop before he may have harmed me. <There is someone here to see you.>
<And I am certain you will want to see her,> my mother added from inside of the Scoop. <She seems nice
I heard the undertone in her voice. Nice; as in 'nicer' than the females I usually brought home when I was on leave.
<Who?> I asked. I did not keep many friends on the homeworld. And I did not have any female friends. My heart belonged to Loren.
My parents led a female out of the Scoop to where Aximili and I were standing. To be honest, I found her rather plain looking. Nothing to really stand out about her. A typical Andalite female, approximately my age. <Yes?> I inquired. This had better be important.
<Who are you?>
<Enril-Natarran-Ithnils,> she answered. <I was told to meet with you here.>
<Told by whom?> I demanded.
<By me,> answered a new voice. A male one, and one that spoke with power you could feel. One I knew well. I bowed my torso and lowered my tailblade as low as it could go. A Kafit bird alighted on the ground before me. Slowly, it grew into an Andalite.
He was large, with the body of an athlete. A born warrior who had trained his whole life, even before we had a war. He had been fighting Yeerks since the beginning. And I could not imagine him not being there at the very end. He was perhaps the greatest hero of our time. He was my hero, at least.
<Captain Nerefir,> I said quietly. Aximili, I noticed, was almost hiding behind me. My father was in the same position I was. Enril and my mother stood back at a respectful distance.
<Get up, Elfangor,> he said gruffly. <By the Ellimist, if this is how you act at home, having you on the ship is going to be like a trip to a Yeerk pool.>
<Sorry, sir,> I said quickly, rising. <What brings you here of all places? And who is Enril?>
<The Electorate recently managed to intercept a primitive radio transmission from Sector Seven. A race known as the Uthara is broadcasting their signals into space, wondering if there is anyone out there to hear.> I did not miss the trace of amusement in his voice. <Doctor Enril is the head of the team tasked with investigating the Uthara.>
<What does this have to do with us?> I asked.
The Captain sighed. <Use the muscle that matters, Elfangor. If the Uthara are broadcasting signals intentionally, it means that they are a sentient race. Now who, I wonder, would be interested in that?>
<Yeerks,> I hissed.
<Got it in one. The Electorate does not know anything about the Uthara, or if they were even be a possible race for the Yeerks to infest. So they commissioned Doctor Enril and her team to investigate. And in the event that the Uthara are a potential target, they decided to send me and a Dome ship of my best men just in case the Yeerks manage to find out about this.>
<Only one Dome ship?> I demanded. <That could not stand up to a Yeerk fleet.>
<We do not expect to encounter a fleet,> the Captain answered. <The Yeerks are very busy engaging us elsewhere. At most, we may encounter a single Blade ship, or perhaps a Pool ship. A Dome ship is more than enough for either one. And,> he added, <that is all the Electorate is willing to spare for a scientific inquiry, despite my demands to the contrary.>
I nodded. <When must we leave?>
<Enril's team is assembled. The other warriors are on their way to the Dome ship. All will be ready by noon tomorrow. You are to be there by the time I feed in the morning.>
Again I nodded. He turned to go, and Enril followed. <One more thing, Captain,> I began.
He turned one stalk eye to look at me. <Yes?>
<What is the name of the Dome ship?>
The eye turned away. <The Alloran
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