Sunday, 16 October 2011

The Road Ahead

Clad in her paladins armour Mona Deveraux looked fierce, the gloss black of the armour, the heavy blade on her back and the pistols on her hips. However, even with the attire, the scowl on her face and the anger in her voice, Carmilla did not care and was unrepentant. Her torso and arms were buried in the rear sensor array of the Coercer class destroyer she was building.
"You can't do it Carm. Espcially not without telling your wife. She has a right to know."
"And she'll find out..... pass me a molecular bonder please?"
Mona looked around and picked up the tool and handed it into the hole in the ship then knelt down beside her.
"It's not right Carm."
"I have to do this Mona. But look on the bright side, you're coming with me."
"Me?" Carm smilled at the shock in her voice, "I'm not compounding your...."
"Your job is to guard me Mona and make sure I'm not a silly cow getting kidnapped, assaulted, arrested, shot, killed or a number of horrible things."
"But you are leaving your corporation!" The wail in her voice belied the look on her face.
"Yes, but I'm not getting divorced... or giving up my collar. So I still need you. Anyway... look upon this as an adventure."
"Huh, I know all about your adventures Carm. I'm not sure it's a good idea."

Carmilla pulled out of the hole and closed it, flaring up her welding torch and sealing the hatch. For the time it took to seal the hatch, smooth it down and buff the armour to a high sheen they were both silent. Mona looked across the bay, dozens of ships were here. Frigates, destroyers, cruisers, even the vast hurricanes at the far end. All of them had been built, either in part or directed by her ward. How long had she planned this?

She watched as Carm handed the gear over to the workers who were fitting in the weapon systems and making the final checks. Frowning as she watched the old orange robbed priest walk to the front of the ship and seemingly shake something at it, Carm with her head bowed. Piety? From the Destroyer? She shrugged and by the time she had walked over he had moved onto the next ship.
"What was he doing?"
"Blessing the ship. I prefer to have it done to all mine before I go into battle. And all of these will be going into battle."
"You sure you won't reconsider?"
"Nope. Now come on, we have to visit the planet below. I need to check on my estate."
"You have an estate here? I didn't know about it.... nor did Ithiria if I recollect my list of your possessions."
"She runs an entire alliance. She doesn't have time to catch up with every little thing to do with me. That's your job."
Carmilla smiled. Mona didn't.

The shuttle ride to the planet below was quiet and as they departed the coldness outside bit deeply. Snow covered the ground and the trees, their breath came out in fierce clouds. Not far away from the shuttle pad a horse drawn carriage was waiting. Lanterns were being lit around the edge of the landing pad, and down the road towards the estate. Night was closing in, the stars coming out.
"You really do like to surprise dont you. Hand lit lanterns.... and that carriage doesn't even have an engine. "
"It does, it's a horse. It's called binky."
"How do you know?"
Carmilla frowned as she walked over and patted and rubbed the animal with familiarity.
"Because I called her binky. In the back hun...."
Carm and Mona sat in the back and the driver turned to them from the seat and handed them both heavy blankets with a smile.
"Here now, you both wrap up warm. And hold tight, the road ahead is cold and could be dangerous. More wolves have been sighted in the forest."
"Never a more true word said my friend."
Carmilla looked up at the stars and sighed, a mixture of happiness and sadness. One chapter of her life was closing, and another was opening. It would be a sad time to leave the Disciples, but needs must she mused. There were things that needed to be done and promises to be kept. She reached up and touched her collar, a gesture that Mona noticed, and she saw the welling up in her eyes.
"Carm...." Mona reached over and grasped her hand gently and squeezed it, "She'll understand. Few have been as loyal or dedicated as you have been. The road ahead will be dangerous, but you will never be alone. Ever."
Carm pulled Mona towards her and gripped her in a hug. The old driver looking around grinned and started singing an old matari folksong as the snow started to fall again and the carriage jingled towards the estate hidden in the depths of the forest.

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