Mairi sat in the dark room, her knees pulled into her chest, her back pressed into the corner and her eyes fixed on the small ray of light outlining the door. The room was cold.

“What is that Von?” asked Kyra.

“Schematics,” replied Von, not taking his eyes off the glowing data slate. “Fascinating really.”

“Care to explain?” responded Kyra, half amused, half annoyed with Von’s self absorption.

“No other place on the planet has multi-tiered defenses in place like this alcove. This is where we will find Mairi,” said Von, smiling like a child who knows the answer, his arm waving in the air.

The room was also quiet; the kind of quiet that really wasn’t quiet at all. The smallest sound seemed magnified. No matter how hard she tried, her own breathing echoed, or so it seemed. Her heart sounded as if it had moved from her chest to her head and each beat morphed into the footsteps she knew, sooner or later, would be coming for her.

Kyra couldn’t help but reflect back Von’s smile. “So, I take it you have a plan to get past the security, whisk Mairi away, and slip back to Bravo without losing our hides?”

“Oh no, not at all,” replied Von, looking now like the boy who had misheard the question and realized he didn’t know the answer after all.

Not knowing. That was the hardest part. What were these aliens, and aliens they were, going to do, what were they capable of doing? If they were Javalinas, she would know, just as Von knew. She could prepare for the neural trace. But Arc’teryxians were unknown. No history, no knowledge, a complete blank slate. And they wanted what she had, whatever that was. My Janus, she thought. Is there anything I do know?

“What? You’re kidding,” said Kyra.

“Nope, not a clue,” said Von.

“What was that smile about then?”

“The challenge of facing the unknown. Didn’t your Papa ever teach you about the unknown? This is what separates those who ascent to the Zing Tao from those forever destined to serve as Blue Oynx. The unknown Kyra. This is what we live for, this is our calling, this is our time. What’s not to smile about?” said Von holding his arms out wide as if his whole body smiled.

Footsteps tell their own story. Fast or slow, heavy or light, loud or soft. For every step there was a stepper. For every step there was intent and purpose, someone with a mission, someone with orders, someone who knew. The steps were faint but unmistakable. Steady like a spring rain, each one slightly louder than the one before. Would they walk pass or would the rhythm change, would they stop with the click of a heel, the sound of purpose lifting a hand to the door?

“Von, Papa didn’t teach me everything but he did teach me when to lead and when to get out of the way. This mission is in your hands. Let’s go.” said Kyra.

The door opened. Light stabbed into the darkness like daggers into Mairi’s heart. “Mairi,” said Taren. “It’s time. Let’s go.”

Categories: Story, Kyra, Mairi, Von, Taren