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Children of the Light-Chapter 17 by Selah (critique requested)

Children of the Light-Chapter 17

“Ah, Sarhea. It has been a while since I’ve seen you here,” Nakyla called when Sarhea emerged from the shadows.

Sarhea had spent hours meandering through the ventilation system with no real goal or destination. She couldn’t shake the images of Raith with those children. Her thoughts had bounced between how charming the scene had been to why he hid that part of himself to wondering how he could be so reckless in his work when he had such young lives depending on him. It had been enough to nearly drive her mad. Ending up at the training facilities was a blessing in disguise. She needed something to distract her overwhelmed mind. However, she had not come prepared for training. Nakyla eyed her curiously as she approached.

“I could say the same of you. I’ve shown up several times these past weeks to find the place empty.”

Nakyla sighed in frustration. “My duties to the Alpha Team have kept me…preoccupied lately. It is nice to have an evening to myself tonight,” she replied and tossed a wooden dagger at one of the targets.

Sarhea tried hard not to smirk at the reply. Yes, Nakyla had been busy alright, busy trying to track her…She walked over to retrieve her usual weapons.

“Before you get to set in sparing mode, I have something for you,” Nakyla said and walked over to the edge of the platform. She retrieved a cloth bag and tossed it over to her.

“For me? What is it?” she asked as she caught the offering. Inside, she found several rolls of strong, lightweight cloth. Her eyes widened when she realized it contained clothing.

“I picked these up last week, but soon discovered they had been made too small for me. I have no use for them and thought of you. If they fit, you can have them,” she replied.

Sarhea gently pawed through the well-made clothes. They appeared to be the same fitted outfits Nakyla wore for training as well as a set of two of the hunting gear Nakyla had been seen in while out tracking. Sarhea was overwhelmed. Everything she had scavenged was either too loose, too tight or just plain baggy. Even the outfit she wore now was too big.

“I…I don’t know what to say,” she finally replied.

“Don’t say anything until you try them on. The locker room is back through those doors,” Nakyla said as she tossed another dagger.

Sarhea silently took the bag and went to change. The clothes fit perfectly, so perfectly that it almost felt wrong. She was not used to fitted clothing that properly supported her body that was also not restrictive or in the way. She would have to find some way to thank the Malkaian. She remerged minutes later and saw Nakyla’s approving nod.

“Well, I’m glad they will have a purpose. At least now we can spar without your usual stuff getting in your way.”

“Nakyla, I don’t know what to say. How can I ever repay you?”

Nakyla grinned. “Just keep coming to spar. When I don’t practice, it shows in my daily training sessions. I tend to get lax in my moves when I have to constantly deal with the no-talents during the day. It’s rather embarrassing when it causes me to screw up when real talent comes my way. You keep me on my toes,” she replied as she retrieved her knives. “You ready?”

Over the next hour, Sarhea struggled to keep her mind on her task. Her thoughts kept drifting to the children. Toward the end, she found herself so distracted that she missed blocking an attack and caught a hard blow to her midsection. She hit the mat with a grunt.

“You seem very distracted tonight-what gives?”

It was neither of their styles to ask if the other was hurt. Giving and receiving blows was all part of the dance. Sarhea lifted her head and took a deep breath.

“I’m out of practice myself, it seems. Been a little sore recently so I’ve not been training as I should,” she replied.

“You know, I’ve been thinking. As much as I enjoy training in the shadows of the night, I think we need a new challenge. Why don’t you come by during the day tomorrow?”

Sarhea hesitated. During the day, when the training facility was full of guards and soldiers?

“I did not realize that was even allowed,” she finally replied.

“Anyone is allowed with proper authorization. All you need is my invitation.”

Sarhea scowled in thought. “I’m not sure,” she started.

“Oh come on, Sarhea. You’ve got some real skills and we’ve got a new obstacle course opening up tomorrow. I think you’ll find it quite rewarding and challenging. You can train with other weapons and perhaps even try some energy weapons if you so choose.”

As tempting as the invitation sounded, there were other problems, the biggest was namely Raith.

“I’m not so sure your commander would approve of my presence here,” she finally replied.

“That’s right. I heard you had a run in with him a few weeks back.”

Sarhea scowled as she looked at the dagger in her hand. That memory conflicted with the very recent image of Raith that currently haunted her thoughts. How could one creature insight two very different images? There was the raging beast that’d caught her spying, and then there was the carefree, fun loving guy who played with orphans in secret. Sarhea shook her head.

“I ended up in the wrong place at the wrong time. I thought about joining the cleaning crew and ended up in that lower launch area without proper authorization. I got accused of being a spy.”

It was strange sometimes how easily the lies came forth.

Nakyla looked at her thoughtfully. “Well, what was he to think when you suddenly befriend the second in command of citizen documentation, the city historian, the mate of the intelligence director and a very dear friend of his father? All these hold high security clearances or are associated with those with knowledge of sensitive information. To one such as Raith, it’s fairly reasonable to question such sudden activity.”

Sarhea frowned as she lowered her wooden daggers. “So he has you investigating me now?”

Nakyla chuckled as she threw one of her daggers at a target again. It hit dead center. “Raith does not have to tell me to investigate anyone. I already do it naturally-it’s kind of a Malkaian trait. Though I suppose the creatures you befriended would be some of the best ones to learn about this city from. I do remember telling you the task would be beneficial. I just didn’t realize you would start at the top.”

Sarhea only huffed as she tossed one of her own wooden blades. It hit next to Nakyla’s. “If only Raith would see it that way,” she mumbled.

“You just let me handle Raith-he owes me. So will you come tomorrow?”

Sarhea hesitated. She really was not sure.

“I normally go to the rec center with Aleena during the day. I’d feel bad about ditching her to work out in a better place.”

“Bring her along. It would give me a chance to properly meet her. I’ve only really heard stories about her and she does not seem to be the same woman from those stories, or the same woman I met a year and a half ago.”

Sarhea scowled fiercely for a moment. Nakyla had just taken away her only valid excuse to decline. She finally sighed in resignation. “Alright, I’ll come, and I’ll bring Aleena with me if she wants to come.”

“Great. Come to the main doors and not however it is you currently get in here; come right after lunch. Tell the guard you have invites from me and he’ll let you in. I’ll meet you here at this platform.”

Sarhea nodded her understanding.

“Now let’s go one more round, this time only one blade each,” Nakyla said and took her stance.


“I’m both excited and nervous,” Aleena whispered as they neared the entrance that Nakyla had told them to approach. “From what you’ve told me of Nakyla, I look forward to reacquainting myself with her in a positive light. But I’m not so sure about this new obstacle course-Mouser has already been preparing for injuries,” she continued.

Sarhea raised a brow as she approached the sentry at the door. There were others giving their invite information and it made her feel more at ease that they would not be the only outsiders present.

“Sarhea and Aleena-guests of Nakyla,” she announced to the sentry who looked up the information on his digital tablet. He silently waved them in and moved on to the next in line.

“So no one knows what this course is all about?” Sarhea asked once they were finally inside. She had to pause and gape at how much larger the cavern was all lit up.

“No, it’s been in development for months. Master Talen…yes, he demands to be addressed as Master, is a freaking Faldaran puzzle genius. Everyone thinks he’s completely mad, and no one knows exactly why he was commissioned for this project. But it’s been kept concealed the entire time, so it will be a surprise for everyone.”

“What? How does one conceal an entire obstacle course?”

Aleena quickly pointed at the far end of the cavern. Large sheets of material draped down from the vaulted ceiling. Sarhea had always thought the room ended there. In the darkness, it had been impossible to tell that the cavern continued beyond the obstruction. Everyone seemed to be heading towards it.

Sarhea felt the hair on the back of her neck rise as a sudden chill raced down her spine. Her gaze soon spotted a familiar scowling face. Raith was standing near the weapons platform where she was supposed to meet Nakyla and he was chatting with a group of rather official looking soldiers. His gaze darkened as he paused and started heading their way. Aleena’s eyes widened as she shrunk back behind Sarhea. There was no trace of the man Sarhea had seen yesterday. This was the familiar bully that made her bristle in distaste.

Nakyla appeared out of nowhere and stepped into his path. The pair hesitated as they exchanged challenging glares. Raith finally straightened, his eyes narrowed, as he turned and walked away. Nakyla’s hard gaze melted into a welcoming grin.

“Sarhea! Aleena! I’m so glad you decided to come!” she called out jovially.

Aleena was hesitant as she moved back next to Sarhea’s side.

“Are you sure it’s ok if we’re here?” Sarhea asked as the Malkaian arrived.

“Sarhea, what the hell was that all about? What did you do to piss Raith off like that?” Aleena blurted.

“Don’t worry about him, he’s just a little bent out of shape today. And Sarhea’s done nothing that won’t fade in importance over time,” Nakyla cut in and motioned for them to follow.

“I’ll tell you later,” Sarhea whispered as they began to move.

Nakyla shot Sarhea a questioning glance. “I hope you guys came prepared to work out.”

Sarhea smiled in response. She’d put some of her normal clothing over the top of a set she’d received from Nakyla. She didn’t want to stand out in the dusty blue outfit until she had to.

“Yes, we came ready.”

Nakyla nodded as she paused at a junction between rooms. “Well, we have just about everything here to try. I’m sure you’ll find it much more challenging than that sad excuse of a rec center. Behind me are the old obstacle courses and the energy vaults, traditional weapons training and hand to hand combat takes place on the platform over there, but the real attraction is whatever’s behind that giant curtain,” she reported.

Aleena brightened considerably at the mention of the energy vaults. “You mean…I can try out some energy weapons?”

Nakyla grinned. “As long as you can prove you know how to handle them, sure.”

Sarhea smirked at her friend’s sudden giddy excitement. “So Nakyla, when do we get to see this new attraction?”

“Here any time now. Oh, look, here comes Talen now.”

The trio’s eyes easily spotted the multicolored Faldaran inventor. His feathered body was a rich mix of blues, reds, yellows, and creams. Rumor had it that he was not really so uniquely colored, that he used a variety of dyes to make it so.

“Gather round, gather round all you curiosity seekers,” came his deep and showy voice as he climbed up to the podium. Quiet fell over the crowd as everyone moved in. “Four months ago, I was approached with a problem. Refuge City’s soldiers and guards were not being challenged enough. They had reached a plateau in their training that could not be improved upon. So I was asked what I could do. After much consideration, it came to me that what they needed was something that challenged not only strength and speed, but also agility and intelligence. I devised a revolutionary idea that combined an obstacle course with…” he paused with a showy grin, “…with a puzzle.”

He waved a hand, signaling his assistants to allow the concealing curtain to drop. The heavy material was released and rippled down to the ground. Astonished whispers and gasps erupted from the gathered crowd. Sarhea’s eyes widened as she struggled to comprehend just what she was looking at.

A tall tower that reached nearly to the cavern ceiling over sixty feet above stood in the revealed space. Heavily padded horizontal bars roughly a foot in diameter protruded out from the center support at all levels. Not one appeared to be the same length. Some had grips on them, others didn’t, and the floor around the device was also heavily padded.

“What the…” Aleena whispered in shock as she stared up at it.

Sarhea and Nakyla could only shoot each other questioning glances.

“Introducing the newest achievement in state of the art strength and mental training. The goal is simple; you simply have to reach the top,” Talen continued then paused to push a button that sat on the podium.

The sounds of motors winding up suddenly overcame the hushed whispers filtering through the bewildered crowd. Sarhea’s jaw dropped as the bars protruding from the device slowly began to move. Each level seemed to move in a different direction, and as the motors came fully alive, it seemed that each level moved at a different speed.

Silence had fallen over the room again and everyone wore a similar shocked expression. Talen seemed quite pleased at the effect the reveal was having. His proud gaze fell to a group at the front of the crowd.

“Commander Raith, do you approve of your new training device?”

Sarhea saw Raith break from the group, his astonished gaze remaining on the spinning contraption until he reached the podium.

“I must say, Talen. I’m truly…at a loss for words,” he finally replied hesitantly.

“Ah, I figured you would be. But don’t worry. It’s not as dangerous at it appears. You will also have complete control over its speed. When it is finally conquered, it is easy enough to rearrange its conformation for a new puzzle. You care to be the first to try it out, sir?” he asked with a grin.

Snickers arose from the crowd when Raith shot him a concerned sideways glance.

“I’ll be the first to try it!” came a shout from near the front.

Sarhea quickly spotted a pair of tall, lanky Cassarians step forward. It didn’t take much to see that they had to be related. From a distance, the only way she could tell them apart was one had brown hair, the other blond. The brown haired male received an encouraging pat to the back by the other before he stepped forward.

“Very well, Askar. Just don’t get hurt,” Raith replied as he took an alert stance.

“No worries, sir. I’ve got this,” he replied with a grin.

“Come on, Askar, show ‘em how it’s done!” the blond male shouted in encouragement.

Sarhea couldn’t help but smile at the pair’s enthusiasm but also worried that someone was about to get hurt.

“Alright, young man. As I mentioned earlier, all you have to do is make it to the top,” came Talen’s voice.

The crowd grew silent as Askar turned his focus to the spinning machine. When the lowest bar swung slowly within his reach, he grabbed ahold and pulled himself up onto it. Before he could plan his next move, a bar coming from the opposite direction caught him across the back and knocked him straight back to the mat. He hit with a huff and remained down for several seconds.

“Oh, tough break there, soldier. Come on, try again,” Talen prodded.

Everyone was silent as Askar finally got back to his feet and critically eyed the contraption. Sarhea could sense his aggravation. Askar began his second attempt at the challenge. He made it up several levels before a faster moving short bar caught him behind the knees and sent him tumbling. He bounced off several lower bars before he finally hit the mat. It took him much more time to recover from that fall.

Over the next half hour, several overconfident men attempted to master Talen’s grand puzzle. All of them were knocked down before they made it twenty feet off the ground. The crowd cheered and cringed at the attempt and failure of each one.

“You gonna try it, Nakyla?” came a strong voice from behind them.

The trio of women turned to see Bud standing there with his arms crossed over his barrel chest. His gaze never left the current fool attempting the task. Nakyla snorted.

“I will eventually, but at the moment, I prefer to watch,” she replied.

Bud finally glanced down to them when the current attempt ended in painful failure. He seemed surprised to see Aleena and Sarhea.

“Oh hey Aleena…and friend who took down Kaden.”

Sarhea tried to give him a genuine smile. “I’m Sarhea. Nice to meet you…I’m sorry, I do not know your title,” she started.

Bud allowed a smile. “Just Bud. I don’t care for titles.”

“How about you, Bud? When you going to try?” Nakyla asked with a smirk.

Bud’s ears fell back as he scowled. “I ain’t ever doing that. I know well enough that I’m no match for that crazy machine. I’ll stick to my usual courses,” he grumbled.

Nakyla grinned as if she’d already known the answer.

“Raith’s not going to try it, is he?” Aleena asked when they saw him step closer to watch the next crazy guy get knocked down.

“I imagine he’s going to try it sooner or later. Everyone expects him to. Getting this thing built was his idea after all. I just think he got more than he asked for,” Nakyla mumbled, her amber gaze locking on the commander. “I personally hope I’m standing right there when he tries. I’d so love to see him get knocked down a notch. He can’t be good at everything.”

Aleena’s eyes widened as Nakyla snorted in frustration. Bud became uneasy and glanced away. Sarhea wondered what had happened to cause the very obvious tension between Nakyla and Raith; she hoped she was not the cause.

Several more attempts were made before Nakyla finally stepped forward.

“Alright, let’s do this,” she growled and began moving through the crowd.

They parted slowly to let her through. Sarhea and Aleena looked at one another briefly before following after her. They paused at the edge of the crowd as Nakyla prepared.

“Come on Nakyla! You can beat this thing!” Bud called out as he arrived next to them.

“Ah our first brave female warrior. Good luck to you!” Talen called.

“I don’t need luck,” she growled as she caught the first bar and pulled herself up.

Nakyla made it through the first thirty feet or so before she seemed to be at a loss. Sarhea had not seen anyone make it past that point. Not much was happening at that level and it seemed to be a place for the participant to rest before continuing. The trouble was that the next short bar, which moved swifter than the one she stood on, was nearly out of reach, and if she did make it, the bar on the next level would be ready to knock her right back down. Nakyla rode her current position a few circuits before finally making a grab for the small bar. She took a hold of it just as the upper large bar was about to pass. She tried to quickly pull herself up on the small bar enough to reach the grips on the larger one as it passed. She hit her target but was not quick enough in pulling herself up. Her grip slipped, and as she struggled to adjust it, the small bar came back around and caught her across the back. Her grip was wrenched free and she fell.

Everyone gasped as she landed hard across her midsection on the beam she’d rested on. Even Raith looked mildly concerned despite the chill Sarhea had noticed between them. Nakyla grimaced as she tried to regain her composure. She finally reached for the smaller bar again, but missed, and this time fell and bounced off several lower beams before hitting the mats at the base hard on her back. She groaned as she tried to sit up, but quickly abandoned the effort. Sarhea and Bud quickly stepped up to assist her.

“You alright?” Bud asked and reached a hand down to her.

Sarhea knelt at her side, waiting to assist if needed. Nakyla’s eyes opened and she gratefully took the hand Bud offered. “That was brutal,” she whispered as Bud helped her stand.

“That was a good try, miss Nakyla of the Alpha Team. You managed to make it further than anyone else!” came Talen’s now obnoxious voice.

“I’m going to pluck and stuff him,” Nakyla growled under her breath as she leaned on Bud’s strength to make it back to the edge of the crowd.

“You sure you’re alright?” Aleena asked as they arrived.

“I’ll survive. I’ve lived through tougher hits out in the field. But man, this thing is impossible,” she grumbled.

A ripple of excitement washed over the crowd. Sarhea felt her energy spike just as a shadow approached. Raith had removed his jacket and tossed it over to Bud. Bud had to quickly release Nakyla to catch it, leaving the winded Malkaian to rely on Sarhea. Raith’s gaze was stern as he cast a quick glare at Nakyla while kicking off his boots.

“It is not impossible,” he stated matter-of-factly and turned with determination to the edge of the mat.

“Commander,” Bud started with a strong hint of concern but left the rest unspoken when Raith shot him a determined glare. Bud glanced down at the women with worried eyes.

“This ain’t gonna be pretty,” he whispered.

Nakyla glared daggers at Raith’s back. “I hope he eats mat,” she spat spitefully.

“Now I’m the one who’s curious as to what’s going on. I thought I was the one on his shit list,” Sarhea whispered.

“It’s just a little matter of differing opinion,” Nakyla growled and shot Bud a dirty glare. The large Kalatian bit off any words he was about to say and glanced away.

The crowd grew quiet once more as Raith began the test. He moved swiftly through the lower levels as most the recent tries had done. When it got to the more challenging sections, Sarhea quickly noticed that he relied heavily on the artificial strength offered by his right shoulder. She scowled at the realization that he had an unfair advantage. He made it to the section where Nakyla had faltered and paused on the resting beam as he analyzed the path beyond. No one had successfully made it beyond this point. He suddenly reached up and grabbed the short bar with his left hand and used his strength to reach the next with his right. With the advantage he had, he was able to pull himself up before the smaller bar came back around to knock him down.

Sarhea could feel her energy churning within as she watched him. Raith was simply mocking them now, and it was pissing her off. Forget what she saw in him yesterday; right now he was being an arrogant jerk. Every chance he got, he cast a superior smirk down at Nakyla. The Malkaian’s own fury was readily seen.

Sarhea’s eyes widened as she caught a glimpse of faint energy lines. They danced haphazardly around the spinning contraption. She couldn’t make sense of most of it, but she received the impression that Raith’s journey would soon be over. She quietly pulled the loose top over her head, revealing the fitted clothing she’d received last night.

“I see you’re going to give the good commander a run for his money. Good. I hope you make it to the top,” Nakyla hissed.

“Guys, he’s still going,” Aleena reminded them as she watched.

Sarhea cast a quick glance up to the point roughly half way to which Raith had made it. Based on his previous tactics, she could tell where he would most likely make a mistake.

“He’s not going for long,” Sarhea replied with a huff as she removed her shoes.

Sure enough, not long after Raith cleared the area Nakyla made it to, he incorrectly relied on his artificial strength. He pulled himself up only to catch the next bar across his chest. Sarhea could tell it had caught him by surprise. He tried to recover and pull himself up onto the bar and lay flat on it, but as soon as he did, the next one skimmed across his back and knocked him off balance. He slipped and fell over the edge. Sarhea felt great satisfaction in seeing the hint of panic in his eyes as he desperately tried to grab ahold of anything. His hand finally snagged a grip on a lower bar, but before he could utilize it, another bar hit his dangling legs and broke the grip. He caught a bar across the midsection, knocking the wind from him, and then slipped to fall freely the rest of the way to the mat. He somehow managed to land on his feet in a crouching position. He panted heavily before moving free of the contraption.

“That was a good try, Commander. You’ll have it mastered in no time,” Talen exclaimed.

Sarhea defiantly stepped forward and toward the machine. She ignored the bitter growl she heard from Raith as she passed him. Silence soon fell again as Sarhea stood before the machine. She could feel the energy welling within, but she ignored it; she wanted to do this without the guides’ help. She paused briefly to calm her emotions before leaping abruptly for the first bar.

As expected, the first few levels went so quickly and easily that she hardly noticed them. Long forgotten memories from her home world came flooding back. Her living quarters had been high up on the side of a sheer rock wall, safe from anyone who did not wield the Guardians’ power. She had often scaled its sheer face for fun and for the challenge. Granted, nothing moved as this contraption did.

She reached the section where Nakyla had been knocked down. She rode the resting bar a few minutes as she analyzed the path above. She did not have Raith’s strength and would have to rely on precision timing. After a moment, a plan came to her. She waited until the upper bar had passed before jumping for the smaller one above her. As soon as her hands were locked in place, she began to swing her body. She ignored the ache in her muscles and concentrated on her next move; she would have only one chance. As the upper bar was about to pass, she whipped her legs up behind her. She felt the padded bar make contact with the back of her knees, prompting her to release her grip. She was now dangling from the upper bar. She swung over and grabbed it from underneath while wrapping her arms around it. She barely had time to pull herself on top before the smaller bar passed below.

Sarhea heard several gasps from below as she tried to catch her breath; the maneuver had been more taxing that she’d anticipated. She vaguely heard Talen congratulating her for a clever move as she analyzed her next moves. It was not long before she’d made it to the point where Raith had failed. The bar that had skimmed his back to knock him off swung a mere eight inches above the one below it. She soon realized there were two bars on the next level; one was longer than the other. Raith had tried to pull up on the shorter one before the bar above knocked him off.

Sarhea smirked when she saw what she had to do. She wanted to conquer the tower, but just making it further than Raith had would be satisfying enough. She reached up to grab the end of the longer bar and quickly pulled herself up to sit on its end. The bar that had knocked Raith off whirled by within inches of her body. The next several bars all moved in the same direction, but at different speeds. At one point, the three of them were briefly staggered, much like stairs. A calculating smirk crossed her lips. Yes, this was an insane challenge, but if one took the time to properly analyze it, the path would be revealed. She resisted the urge to smirk down at Raith as he had done to them. When the bars prepared to stagger once more, Sarhea pulled herself up and quickly bounded up the revealed stairs and leapt up to grab the grips on the higher fourth bar as it passed.

Sarhea pulled herself up to triumphant cheers from below. She panted as she struggled to catch her breath, a great sense of accomplishment washing over her; she’d made it further than Raith. She looked up to analyze her next moves…and saw nothing. The next bar spun slowly over head much further than she could reach even if she jumped. She scowled fiercely as she tried to make sense of the remaining puzzle. The festering energy was building within and when she could see no other option, she finally allowed it release. When she knew she was in sync with the forces around her, she sought guidance. Her eyes widened in frustration as she watched the energy flow lazily around the contraption before moving to flow back toward the ground-they revealed her no way up.

“How is one supposed to reach!” she yelled down angrily. “There is no way to move forward!”

She heard Talen speak, but her fury clouded concentration could not decipher what he had said. Sarhea had had enough. Talen was making a fool of them all; his test could not be completed. She silently demanded the guides show her the way down. She watched them flow straight down the padded side of the central tower. She arched a brow; this was not what she was looking for, but as she continued to watch, she noticed gaps that appeared to line up on steady intervals all the way down. Sarhea sighed as she was prodded once more and turned to face the central tower. Her hands reached out across its smooth padded surface, and when she felt the energy’s prodding, she stepped off the bar and began sliding down. She quickly discovered that it was tapered, growing wider toward the bottom; it helped her remain in contact with the padded surface as she slid. Sarhea was worried that at any second, she would land hard atop a spinning bar, but the energy’s guidance allowed her to slip by seconds before or after that would have happened.

It had taken her a great deal of time and effort to get as far as she had, but only seconds to reach the floor. She hit the mat and crouched low to avoid the obstacles swinging overhead before scurrying out of the way. Sarhea stood once she was clear of the machine and glared up to where she had made it. Her angry gaze met that of a baffled Talen.

“Master Talen, your course is not passable,” she spat in frustration before turning to rejoin Aleena and Nakyla. The two tall Cassarian males she’d seen at the beginning of the venture had joined her friends.

“How the hell did you get down from there like that?” Nakyla finally asked.

Sarhea shrugged. “It was all about timing.”

“That was one hell of a show! You were amazing!” the tall male she’d heard Raith call Askar beamed.

Nakyla shot him a mischievous smirk that Sarhea didn’t understand. “Sarhea, this is Askar and his little brother Lyle. I think they quite admired your performance, as did most of us,” she added with a coy grin.

Sarhea glanced to the brothers and smiled. Yes, she could definitely see the resemblance. Both smiled excitedly as their gazes darted between one another before turning back to her. There was a playfulness about them that was completely infectious; it quickly began to erode away at her frustration. She instantly liked them.

“It is nice to meet you both. Though my accomplishment would have meant more had the challenge not been unfair,” she replied and tried to keep her frustration from returning. “You were very brave to be the first to make a go of it,” she added.

Askar’s grin faded slightly as he shook his head. “A lot of good it did,” he mumbled.

A mocking grin spread across the younger Lyle’s face. “Sure it was. You showed everyone what not to do!”

“Shut up Lyle!” Askar snapped quickly, to which the younger brother only laughed and jumped aside.

Sarhea couldn’t help but laugh along. The two’s antics were quite refreshing after what she’d just been through. She felt a sudden familiar chill race down her spine. A quick sideways glance saw Raith’s dark gaze eyeing their group. She had no idea at whom it was directed, but she wanted to put as much distance between him as possible.

“Hey, as fun as this has been, I’m tired of watching others attempt this stupid test. Aleena, I know you wanted to try energy weapons-how about we find something productive to do and not waste our invitations?” she suggested.

Aleena brightened. “Yes, but…I’ve got to find someone to authorize me.”

“You want to try energy weapons? Well then, you’ve found the right guy!” Askar spoke up. “I can clear you for the vaults, if you have what it takes.”

A wide smile spread across Aleena’s face. “Alright then! Let’s go!”

Children of the Light-Chapter 17 (critique requested)

Selah

18 May 2014 at 21:32:34 MDT

Sarhea and Aleena are invited to the military training facility to witness the unveiling of a new obstacle course. Raith gets a lesson in humility.

This is a little character building scene that I couldn't help but write. It may or may not end up in the final revised product, but it has some fun moments that I felt like sharing...

Hope you guys enjoy!

CotL and characters © ME

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