Beyond the Sky: Epilogue

Among the Stars

  “You’re what?” Velli spun around from the window, facing Captain Benson, Ingrid Orsen, and Agent Selva as they stood in the Envoy Compartment. “You said we’d find my family!”  
Benson said, “And we will, just—not now. We’ve been recalled, for evaluation and planning.”
“Then send me back down!” She wondered how Naaca and the others fared, in Ghanat-Tahj.
“I’m afraid we can’t do that,” Orsen replied. “To put it gently as possible, we must avoid any further contamination.” Her statement finished with a glare towards Benson, though less intense than before.
“So I’m back to being prisoner?” Just her, it seemed. Glint Sparkhands, the Shadowstalker, appeared disinterested, or even thrilled. “What about Princess Takji?”
“I can’t exactly go to Mespreth City and ask for her back. She agreed to keep the secret, as much as she can.”
“But you don’t trust me.”
“It’s not that. Think of it this way: you’d get nowhere, trying to save your parents or your brother, if I sent you back down. At best you might not get captured and beaten to death by slaving goons. But if you come with us, you can help us figure out how to proceed, and best contact your world. You’ll help not only them, but many more.”
“You already saved the world once.” Selva shrugged. “Why not again?”
Takji slid the doors aside and stepped out onto her palace balcony. She felt a sense of unease every time she did this—no bulletproof glass, and who knew if snipers hid in the buildings nearby? It was stronger tonight.
Mespreth’s lights glittered under a starry sky. A cosmos not dead or mysterious, but teeming with life. She looked down at the city, blocks of townhouses arrayed below the palace hill, and the Commerce District skyscrapers beyond, windows glowing yellow and streets bustling with activity. The TV reported on the nuclear blast and confrontation, but how many knew how close it really came? Lawmakers in Parliament, brokers in their offices, children at play, all went about their business in naïve ignorance. She shuddered.
There’d be questions, she knew. Right now her father’s advisors kept a respectable distance, presuming a harrowing ordeal spent avoiding JNF captivity, but sooner or later they’d prod, and make bare the holes in her story.
And one day, perhaps soon, everything would change.

Cover image: by Arek Socha


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