© Sue Vincent
Twenty-eight-year-old Lance Cain watched as Tamara’s ashes floated away over the small waterfall and down the frigid stream. As a veteran of the Talsan War and one of the few survivors of the Prog Lozab campaign, he had long since learned how not to cry, regardless of how harshly his emotions were twisting in his chest.
But somewhere inside the hardened fighter pilot, a little six-year-old boy was sobbing. That’s how old he was when his Mom died pulling him out of the fire that took his two brothers and three sisters. That was the day he swore no one else would die because of him.
The day he graduated officer’s training (and at the memory, he had to bite down on the inside of both of his cheeks, since Tamara was standing beside him at the ceremony), he not only took an oath to defend the Republic, but to defeat the alien horde that had sworn to eradicate humanity from existence, including his beloved fiancee Miranda, the girl he left behind on their homeworld of Senegale.
“Hey, Dancer. I don’t mean to interrupt, but we’ve got to get going. The sun’s setting, and in an hour it’ll be ten below.”
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The eastern horizon bled the color of garnet, quickening a new morning and the possibility of survival. Once the air temperature rose to somewhere near four degrees C, Tatiana could shed her alien enhancements and revert to humanoid form. She had survived the night crossing of the Gael badlands and once she made it to the northern shore of the Lilthe Sea, Daron would pick her up.
She was beginning to nurture the small bud of hope that was sprouting within her breast when her comm channel crackled to life. There was no doubt that it was Balin and he had been tracking her.
“You really did think you were going to get away with it, didn’t you?”
Tatiana toyed with the idea of remaining silent and pretending he wasn’t sure of her location, but it was pointless. If he was close enough to reach her on her private channel, she had as much chance of escape as a duck in a fox den. “Up until this moment, yes.”
“Wait for me. If we can conclude this quickly, I may yet be able to stop the Dissolution.”
She kept walking across the last vestige of the frozen tundra. “Dissolution was inevitable the moment I took the Eshana.”