Read Allies (Warriors of Karal Book 5) Online

Authors: Harmony Raines

Tags: #Romance, #Multicultural, #Science Fiction, #Science Fiction & Fantasy, #Alien Invasion, #Colonization, #Exploration, #First Contact, #Galactic Empire, #Genetic Engineering, #Multicultural & Interracial, #General Fiction

Allies (Warriors of Karal Book 5) (10 page)

BOOK: Allies (Warriors of Karal Book 5)
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And then they were, the sudden end to the battle almost overwhelming him, and they veered off to the right, sharply, as the drag ceased.

“You did it, Niko,” Petra said to him and a look of relief crossed her face.

He nodded, his hands trembling as he set the course and flipped to autopilot. “Let’s get closer to the probe. And hope that it has new orders for us, because to go any further would be a complete waste of time.” He saw the look of disappointment on her face, but she knew he was right. If they went on and found a planet that was habitable, it would be a worse torture to know that it would almost certainly be inaccessible to her species.

The council would never risk more Karalian cruisers coming this way.

 

Chapter Seventeen – Petra

 

Niko had always been confident in everything he did. But she had watched his face as he fought to exit the wormhole and knew that this had been the most dangerous part of the journey. His words when they had reached the other side had confirmed her disappointment. It had obviously been as bad as she had thought. Even his skill as a warrior did not manage to disguise just how much danger they had been in.

Did they have to go back the way they came? Risk the wormhole—or maybe there was another way home.

“Is that the only way back?” she asked.

“I have asked the computer to calculate a return journey that does not take us back through the wormhole.” Niko was staring at the information that appeared on the screen. To Petra it was a jumble of numbers and letters. An unreadable as an alien language.

“What does it say?” she asked.

“There is a way around, but it will take four months.” He was still looking at the screen as she sat back in her seat and sighed.

“So what we do? Do we go on through the next wormhole? Is that the way we have to go to get home?”

She felt a bit stupid asking him, but she had no idea in which direction they were supposed to go. It was like being lost in the middle of a city that she didn’t know. All the buildings looked the same, or in this case all the stars and the planets looked the same. She could travel round and round in circles and never get anywhere; she felt despondent.

“There is a wormhole a day’s journey away. That’s where we will head once we pick up the information from the probe.” They travelled quickly to the probe, but even before they got there the computer bleeped, signalling it was already downloading the information.

“Would you like some tole?” she asked, undoing her seatbelt and getting up, leaving him to study the information that was coming through.

“Yes, please.” His voice was distant as he frowned over the computer screen, and she left the control deck and went to the kitchen. There, she filled up the kettle and set it to boil. Then she went to the cupboards and took out two mugs. She spooned the red powder into the mugs, and by the time she was finished, the water was hot enough to make the tole. Pouring the water in, she watched as it turned red; she had this intense fascination with observing it. It was like making blood. She smiled to herself at her own weird fascination.

“We have to go back.” Niko was standing at the door, his face pale and devoid of his normal colours. Petra looked to him and her heart raced in fear. What could possibly be so wrong that they had to return through the wormhole?

“I thought we were going to go a different way?” she asked, and then waited for him to answer, knowing she wouldn’t like it. She had no idea what was wrong and feared the worst. But what was the worst? Had something happened to Karal, or Earth. Or her mother…

“There has been some trouble, in another sector of space. I downloaded all the information from the probe, but all Karalian vessels have been ordered to rendezvous on a planet called Tikira.”

“And what’s on that planet?” Petra asked, picking up his mug of tole and passing it to him. She took a sip of her own; it burned her tongue, but she needed the buzz of the caffeine to keep herself going. All her energy seemed to be drained. She was scared.

“I have no idea. I will dig deeper into the information. But it is not a planet I have heard of.” And with that he turned and walked back to the control deck, Petra hesitated, thinking of how their time together had been so perfect. Now it seemed as if it was all about to fall apart. They were not going to go and find a new planet for the human race, or return to Karal, instead they were being told to rendezvous somewhere deep in space.

Having learnt of the wars on Earth, to Petra, this sounded as if the Karal were gathering their forces. But Niko had said that they never paid much attention to other species, they were always happy to let them go their own way. The Karal were only ever interested in furthering their own technology. So maybe this was something else, maybe they had simply found a new planet. And the council were calling off the search.

“So this could be good news?” she asked, going to join him on the control deck.

“Possibly.” Niko obviously didn’t want to commit himself either way. He was studying the information that was scrolling across the computer screen.

“You don’t think that another mission has found a new planet?” she asked, sitting back down in her seat.

“It could be. I have no idea. All I know is that the Karal have never called all their ships together like this before.”

“And is this message authentic?” she asked. “You’re sure it’s not some ruse to try and lead us into an ambush?”

“No. The message is authentic. The computer has deciphered it, and has identified the codes as being true.” He drank his tole and then passed the mug back to her. “I suggest we rest here and eat. Then we will tackle the wormhole again.”

She shuddered at the thought of that. “How bad is it? Going back the other way, will it be worse?”

“It will be difficult because the pull will be instantaneous. But together with the computer, I think I will be able to keep us from being pulled out of the wormhole. I’m sorry, Petra, I know that it would be safer if we went the longer route. But when the council calls, it is the duty of every warrior to follow those orders.”

“I can completely understand, Niko.” And she did; she might not like it, but she did understand he had to follow orders. The fate of his planet might be wrapped up in the message from the probe. “And I know that you can get us through it.”

They ate a light meal of fruit and dried biscuits. Neither of them seemed to be particularly hungry, and they had an almost silent agreement that they would eat a proper meal once they were on the other side of the wormhole and heading towards the new destination.

“Do you think that another mission has found a planet?” she asked him again.

He finished chewing and then said, “I can’t say for sure. Maybe they’re just calling all the cruisers together so that they can start some kind of evacuation from Earth. But then they would be sending us back to Karal, not a planet in deep space.”

She stood up and began to pack everything away, ready for their journey through the wormhole. “I suppose there’s nothing else for it. The sooner we get there, the sooner we will know.”

He smiled at her, catching hold of her hand and pulling her towards him. “You are so much braver than you know.” He stroked her cheek lightly and then pulled her head gently down so their lips met. “All I know is that whatever we have to face, having you here by my side makes it easier.”

“I wish there was something I could do to help. Sitting still and keeping my mouth shut seems to be all I’m good for.” She smiled sadly at him and then wrapped her arms around him and held him close, wanting to feel the warmth of his body. If these were their last moments they were going to have together, then she wanted them to be filled with their love.

She pulled back from him, looked at him in the face, and said, “I love you, Niko. I know sometimes people say things, just because they’re swept away by the moment, by the danger of the moment, but I do mean it. I never wanted to come to Karal. I hated the idea when my mother told me. And I still think it’s unfair. But now I don’t regret it. In fact, if you gave me a choice now, I would come if I knew that you were waiting here for me.”

“I feel the same way as you, Petra. I love you. I don’t think I’ve ever said that to a person before. I’m sure I must have said it to my father, but the Karal are not very good at expressing their sentiments and feelings.” He pulled her towards him and kissed her again. This time his lips were fierce on hers, and it was only the need for them to move quickly that stopped her taking his hand and dragging him off to bed.

It was as if the same thought had hit him. He released her and, without another word, went back to the control deck where she knew he was making preparations. He had told her he would go over the rest of the information once they were on the other side of the wormhole. That could wait, but the journey couldn’t; once they were through they still had another five days of travelling to reach the rendezvous point.

She cleared the rest of the things away, standing for a moment in the middle of the small kitchen, looking round. She never thought her last days might be spent in a glorified tin can. And then she pushed those thoughts away. She wasn’t ready to just give up; they had travelled through this wormhole once, and surely Niko could take them back through it again.

She hurried to her seat and sat down, making sure her seatbelt was buckled before he asked. When she looked out through the window, she realised that he was already powering up the engines and they were heading towards the beacons.

“Do you think it would be better if you closed the wormhole? Is that even possible?” she asked.

“It is possible I could retrieve the beacons. But it is not a thing for me to decide. As soon as we come into contact with Karal, I will tell them my findings.” His face was set as he adjusted their course, his eyes flicking to the computer screen and then up to the view in front of him, which showed the beacons getting larger. She felt faintly sick and wondered if it would have been better if she had not eaten at all. But Niko had needed to calm down and recover, and she hated him eating alone at a time like this.

Trying to exude confidence and courage, she refused to grip the armrests, as had become her habit, and kept her breathing steady. She wanted him to know that she had every confidence in him, and she knew he was capable of getting them back through this. If not, she just hoped that they had enough food to sustain them, wherever it was that they ended up. A shudder passed through her. She had never appreciated before just how vast space was, and just how lost they might be if they were pulled out of the wormhole.

“What happened to make it like this?” she asked.

“I think that for some reason the wormhole seems to be splitting in two. Something is pulling it out of shape. I’m not sure, I’ve never seen anything like it. But all wormholes are anomalies in the fabric of space.”

“Then let’s make sure we get home and nobody else takes the risk.”

He turned and smiled at her, and when he powered forward, she could see the tension on his face and noted both his hands were wrapped around the control stick. As he throttled forward, their velocity seemed almost too much, considering where they were heading, but she knew that was the only thing that would carry them through it.

The beacons flashed closer and closer and her heart rate seemed to increase in rate to match them. Swallowing her panic, she breathed, in and out, in and out, trying to keep calm. She glanced over at Niko and could see his colours rushing over his face, the strain evident.

And then they were swallowed whole. The cruiser immediately began to judder and he fought for control of the ship, while encouraging it to go faster and faster. Then she prayed; willing it to stay together, hoping they wouldn’t be torn in two. Unlike the last time, she looked into the blackness, and she wondered if there was a black hole on the other side. She had read about them in books once, and wondered if that was what was trying to pull the cruiser into its nothingness.

They hardly seemed to be moving, and she didn’t need to ask him to know that they were in trouble. Helplessly she sat there, seeing the sweat on his face; it was if he was wrestling a large beast that refused to die. No matter how much he throttled forward they didn’t seem to be getting anywhere. And for a moment she thought that they were going to die, that they would be sucked into the nothingness, and nobody would ever know what happened to them. The computer lights flashed in warning and she wondered if it could speak, whether it would be telling them, no, screaming at them, of the danger they were in. She was glad it was on silent.

“Is there anything I can do?” she asked, almost rising from her seat but the seatbelt prevented it. She relaxed back down when she saw his quick glance of fear.

“I have it,” he said, and she thought the colours were going to explode out of him, to splatter all over the controls. But then with a tremendous effort they were free and heading along the wormhole, but their speed was too fast and they seemed to ricochet off the sides, sending them into a spin.

She screamed, and she watched as Niko used all his strength and skill to correct the course, and slow the cruiser. As they travelled through the rest of the wormhole, she found herself unable to breathe. Only when they reached the other side, did she let the air go.

“I hope I never have to go through another wormhole again,” she said.

He looked immensely relieved as he turned to her. “We have another three before we reach the rendezvous point. One of which we have to open ourselves. The sector we are traveling to is closed off without our technology to open wormholes.

“Great,” she grumbled.

Chapter Eighteen – Niko

 

During their flight to the rendezvous point, Niko carefully went over all the details provided in the information collected from the probe. It seemed as if there had been a lot happening both on Karal and on the deep space missions since they had left. One by one of the missions had returned, and data had been collected on various other alien species that had been encountered.

BOOK: Allies (Warriors of Karal Book 5)
10.05Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
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