1. The entrance soon came into full view. With less than a handful of meters to go, Kyber stepped away from Kelen and signaled for a halt. “Cooter, hold back,” he whispered to the point man. Giving his fellow Seneecians a wave to join him, he faced the others. “We will emerge first and confront Duruk. I will inform him of your presence here, but I will demand that you be given asylum status.”
2. The shuttle vibrated as two warheads were fired from the belly of the craft. Everyone stared at the twin beams of light arching forward, striking the bay’s outer doors. There was a miniscule flash of light as that section of the hull evaporated, leaving a yawning gap. From where they were, they could see some of the shuttles within the ship had been damaged, but for the moment there was no way Duruk or his men could come after them. Not unless he used the massive warship itself to give chase, which Kyber believed the man would.
3. Kelen and the others turned their attention to him. At the same time, the major snorted with laughter. “The isotope must have read my mind. You are focusing on those transport portals and completely forgetting about the fact that there could be a hell of a lot more on that world in the way of technology and who knows what else. We’re only scratching the paint off this ship. We have no idea what’s beneath.”
4. Kelen breathed in Kyber’s musky scent and burrowed her nose deeper into the soft, short curls covering his chest. She noted that his pelt was no longer coarse. Since their rescue, they had begun their recovery. Along with ample food, rest, and no longer being stressed with trying to survive on a minute-by-minute basis, they were healing mentally, physically, and emotionally.
5. “My one, I do not know what will happen when we land. I do not know what atrocities Duruk and the others will inflict upon us. But I want you to know this. My life has changed because of you. For the first time since I began my career, my time in the service is no longer my entire focus.” He undid his harness and got up from his seat, then went over to her, stopping beside her and lifting her chin to meet his gaze. The lights from the console shone on his pelt, emphasizing his otherworldly appearance. “I never believed I would have a future outside of the military. Yes, I hoped one day to find someone who would help me continue my line, but…” He gave her a soft smile. “How could I have prepared myself for someone like you? Kelen, I do not expect to survive what is to come.”
6. She presented herself military style, remaining silent and aloof until the moment when she was directly addressed. In truth, her stomach was tied in knots, and the palms of her hands were sweaty. She had no idea what she’d find when they finally led her to Kyber. She had no idea what would be left of the man she had fallen in love with, was still deeply in love with, but it no longer mattered. They had the chance to live their lives together and she’d accepted the challenge for the both of them. All that remained was discovering whether or not Kyber was physically and mentally capable of coming with her.