Chapter Twenty Two
“Welcome to my home,” Sarah said as Rilletta stepped through the portal, followed by Hannah and the others. “I am honoured to have you.”
“And I thank you for receiving us,” Rilletta said. “We have much to discuss.”
“So it would seem.” Sarah led them to the dining room, where the table had been removed and more chairs brought in. Carl leapt to his feet and rushed over s they came in, closely followed by Hannah’s father.
Alex pulled his daughter into a hug. “Thank God you’re okay. You should have told me, Han! I would have found some way to keep you away from the wedding.”
Hannah hugged him back but said nothing.
After a long moment, he sighed. “Yes, I guess I never really gave you reason to trust me on this matter,” he sighed. “I’m sorry.”
“It’s okay, dad,” she said softly. “Really, it’s okay.” She sat down next to him. “I should have known, really. And I could have found reason myself but I wanted to be at Kayleigh’s wedding. I can’t believe she…”
“I can,” he said. “There’s something profoundly unnatural about her attraction to Adrian. It’s been gnawing at me for a while, but I tried to ignore it because I wanted her to be happy.”
“You could be right. I know mum thought something was wrong – she tried to bring it up and got screamed at.” She paused and bit her lip. “Mum,” she whispered. A second later she and her father were both weeping in each other’s arms.
Sarah bustled over to them. “You two go and talk to each other. You don’t need to be here – Ema can keep you up to date – but I think you need some time.”
Hannah looked like she might argue for a minute, but then she rose to her feet and left the room, her father close behind.
“Tara,” Carl said. “Collette. I’m glad to see you both well.â€ He looked over Collette’s shoulder to Agrona. “Is this your heart friend , Coll?”
Collette nodded. “This is Agrona, Uncle Carl. Agrona, this is my mother’s brother, Carl.”
“Honoured to meet you, sir.” Agrona gave a little bow.
“And I you, young lady,” he replied.
“I want to borrow you later, Collette,” Sarah said. “I have a challenge your particular abilities may help with and we might as well get some extra training in while you’re here.”
“Of course, Doctor Tyler,” Collette inclined her head.
Sarah smiled at her and turned back to Rilletta. “Now what did you need to discuss?”
“The Core,” she said. “Alaryia-miria believes that if Matthias-idan, Sonia-ida, Lyrrekka-ida and the rest of you are willing to join forces with her, Estara and Ystelyan, you can weave a far better containment for the Core than it previously had. Especially if we can get as many of the throne holders and guardians on side as possible for a secondary containment.”
“The guardians should help,” Ema said. “The Earth guardian is certainly willing to.
“Indirian says he will as well,” Matthias said. “Ystelyan should talk to Valeria. I’m sure she and El will help.”
“Yes,” she said. “He’s going to. But I should warn you there’s a risk in confining the Core so closely.”
“I know,” he said. “But as things stand, the risk from not doing it seems much greater-” he broke of as Ian came running in waving a tablet. “Ian?”
“Dragon sightings! Emms must be having the dragons he captured buzz planes for some reason.”
“Shit!” Carl jumped to his feet. “Is he mad?”
“I don’t know about mad.” Matthias took the tablet from Ian and scanned the article. “But sane is not a word I’d apply to him, no.”
“I was getting to that,â€ Rilletta said. â€œNaria told Ystelyan he was having her do that. I’m not sure why.”
“No, me neither,” Matthias replied. “But we may have something here. All these sightings are in northern European airspace. Let’s plot them as they come in and see what we get as a pattern. It may help narrow things down.”
“I’ll get right on it,” Ian said. “He’s trying to break our secrecy, isn’t he?”
“Yes, very clumsily,” Matthias said. “He’s going to scare people into some sort of pogram if he’s not careful.”
“For all we know that’s what he wants,” Sonia said.
“This is just about a worst case scenario for my family,” Carl said. “This Emms person may be human but he’s effectively created an extra-dimensional invasion. We’ve always been terrified that something like that would happen to us.” He paused and swallowed visibly. “And it should be taking precedence, but the family doesn’t know about it because Marian is keeping it from us. She’s gone crazier than I thought.”
“Carl, chill,” Tara said softly. “It’s not unsalvageable. We need to try and reach the cadet lines before Marian does. They’ll be aware of the situation and may even try standing up to Marian.”
“The way she’s acting she’ll probably wipe them out if they do.”
“That’s precisely why we need to reach them first, to warn to them to be careful. If they go along with her they can get the news in to the family. As a group they may be able to do something, and that’s what we need.”
“You’re right,” he said. “Who is she unlikely to have reached yet?” The two of them stuck their heads together and began making notes.
“So,” Sarah said. “We hem in the Core and it might be risky. What else.”
“Let the Heart out to take up the slack, right?” Sonia asked.
“Yes,” Rilletta said. “Al thinks once it starts reaching speakers it will calm some of their predjudice and help avert a civil war as well. That would be a good thing.”
“Indeed,” Matthias said. “But we don’t know where it is.”
“I do,” Rilletta said. “And so does Al. We’ll take you there.” She hesitated. “Al thinks we’ll need Melusine as well. Apparently it’s fixed on her as its key.”
“Eh!” Mela said. “Is that what it wanted? Me to release it?”
“Yes, exactly. We’re not entirely sure why or how that happened.”
“It made her collapse at Waldhafen,” Daniel said sharply.
“That would have been the range, I think,” Rilletta said. “Halia certainly thinks it was. It shouldn’t be a problem close to it. The Heart would never deliberately harm one of its children.”
“I’ll do it,” Mela said. “We don’t have much choice if the world is to hold together.” She smiled at the concerned expression on Daniel’s face. “You worry too much. What else can we do?”
“I don’t know,” he said. “I wish that I did. And I wish I knew how you ended up being the key to a lock you didn’t know existed.”
“I wish I knew as well,” she said. “But I am and we should get this over with.” She looked at Rilletta. “When are we going?”
“Once Yst has spoken to Queen Valeria,” she said.
Salia looked up. “Can I come too? I want to see mummy!”
“Well, it certainly should be safe enough with the amount of firepower we’ll be taking,” Matthias said. “Better than leaving you here, actually.”
A/N: A second Science Fiction Ficlet is up at my Dreamwidth and there are a couple of others in my head. If there’s enough interest and the story proves to have legs I’ll polish them up and post them here on the main site. So if you’d like to see this please let me know.