Chapter 55 The Measure of Love
Kallitris leans to me, hugs me with his wing and kisses in the lips. The pale light from the windshield hits his webbed wings and they light up dark amethyst-purple. What a magnificent creature he is. I would love just to be with him. I wish it was that simple. So many thoughts, so little time.
“It’s all good” My boyfriend says. “Take me to Leot, I’m not going to hurt him. I just need to talk to him.”
Yeah. Right. Seems too simple.
“Demi, this is Salix.”
My friend’s voice in my head is bewildered, scared and desperate. As if he found out something he did not know before.
“I located you outside of the base ship. Are you taking him away? That’s not going to buy us any time. The base ship is locked in on Narr. We tried to manually override the command to release the bombs, but we have failed. We have about half an hour left…”
Why did I think that Kallitris needs to be on the base ship to give the order to bomb the city? How could I make such a mistake?
Kallitris’s hands caress me tenderly and I’m torn between giving in to my feelings and a realization that he is infinitely smarter than us, and he allowed me to manipulate him into the wild goose chase of “Leot”, because the bombing will go as planned, whether I lead it or not.
I’m being played easily. He is barely suppressing amusement about our little “game”. It was a folly to think that a goofy erahi and a dumb human can outsmart a powerhouse of a creature several million years old. How stupid even to try. I feel cornered. I have to answer Salix.
“I pressed the emergency button. There was no response from Leot, and there is no indication that I was heard. Over and out, friend.”
“It’s over, then, Demi. Literally.I saw it coming, and you did not believe me.” Salix’s voice is flat and somber.
“Do you know who is following me? Can you see me on your screens? Is there anything behind my destroyer?” I ask, but Kallitris finally releases me from his smothering hug and I have to give him all my attention, terrified that he can hear my communication with Salix.
“So, what is your plan, Demi, when there is no Leot? Are you done having fun with this craft? I told you that you can have it after we get the job done. Can we go back now?” Sheirer is not irritated, and he is not bitter about me deceiving him. Neither would you, watching your child play with you. What are you going to do? Get mad? No, take him by his little hand, bring him home.
So he smiles and takes my hand. I have a dark foreboding, but somehow hope that whatever is following me is Leot, or a shop sent by Leot…
I look up in the distance, and there are mountains. A beautiful, tall range of mountains.
“Great view.” I whisper.
“Oh yeah. Narrian mountains. A weird range. I have been there.” Kallitris chimes in.
“Demi, it’s not Leot, but it came back as Level 2 Multipurpose non-offensive intergalactic carrier… Wait a minute…
But I don’t have a minute. Salix’s voice in my head interrupts again. What? What or who is it? Well, whatever it is, it is not who can save us. The hope dissipates just like the mist over that magnificent view. I feel that I have run out of options.
“Fly in the direction of the mountains. Do not change course. Full speed.” I say loud enough for the sheirer to hear.
“You want to go for a walk? Fine.” He grins, but then frowns, watching the numbers on the screen. “My sweet boy, you need to either adjust the height or reduce the speed.”
“Nope. It’s all correct.”
Kallitris shakes his head, and starts pressing buttons on the dashboard. The ship flies higher for a while, but I return it back to its original course with an order in my mind.
This thing sure can go fast. The flight is inebriating. The mountains advance quickly and I can already discern various crevasses and vegetation covered slopes.
“We might have failed to stop the bombing, but Almaz will be the last planet you’ll ever destroy.”
I can’t believe I said it. But I have no more illusions about the situation. We can’t resolve this peacefully.
“Demi, I love you. You are my prince. It takes guts to rule the empire. Sometimes you need to make unpopular choices. These erahis are like rats, they are everywhere.” Sheirer’s eyes take on a deep blue color I’ve never seen before.
“Oh, God, Demi, no! Don’t do it, he is not a creature, he is an event.” Salix’s voice in my head is so stressed, it is suddenly quiet and haunting.
My heart is overflowing with sadness, love, a sense of a loss. But I have no more fear. In all of this I can’t understand his message. Even if I did – it was too late to turn back at that moment.
“It’s not just that, Kallitris. You were using me this whole time, because I have the Faith Star in my mind. I’m your key to taking over everything in sight, sticking it to Leot – oh, you will be the all-powerful Emperor now, right? You were grooming me to be your Tool this whole time!!!”
The mountain side advances, and my boyfriend is still trying to press buttons on the dashboard to lift the ship, but I override his actions through my parasite. The ship goes up and down as we fight over control. I see the trees on the screen. They are making fast symbols with their foliage. Seems like the same “talking” trees, like on Ashtarma and Crumbling Rose.
“No, Demi. It is you who I love. The Faith Star is just that… a bonus. You are Leot’s creation, you smell like him, you are part him. He broke up with me… He threw me away. But I still love him. I love him in you. Please let me correct the course of the ship!”
Wow, I’ve never heard him plead for anything. It’s always barking orders and punishing those who do not follow his orders right away!
There is longing in sheirer’s eyes. Only someone deeply in love can understand this profound longing. I can. But the price of my love is the lives of countless creatures on my man’s path to ever-expanding desire to dominate.
It is all he has time to say, though. Right before the inevitable impact he covers me with his wings, as if protecting from what is to come. The skin of one of his wings touches my cheek. It is surprisingly soft and tender. Kallitris is not just all around me, he is inside me. His mysterious and enchanted personality fills up my mind in a desperate desire to ease the self-imposed pain of the suicide.
Before I take my last breath I hear Salix’s voice in my head: “Whatever you do, don’t hate him, or you will turn into what you hate.” He is sobbing. The transmission ends abruptly.
The explosion is fierce, and it must be spectacular as we hit the side of the mountain at an immense speed. It’s all that high-octane fuel of his. Not that we’d have survived if it did not explode. The last thing I see is the clandestine purple mist. It is sparkling and feels hot on my face.
I did not see how Leot’s ships entered the atmosphere of Almaz shortly after we crashed. I did not witness his people disable the weapons on Kallitris’s base spacecraft, and deal with the panicked population in the city of Narr. What I saw, though, was my ship, Arileot14, land at the foot of the very mountain I died at. Then I heard a very familiar voice begging Leot to recover my body to possibly start a regeneration process.
“There is nothing to recover. There is no body left.” Was the answer.
Several visions pass in a blurr. It feels like a dream. I find myself walking across a field on Crumbling Rose. There are many massive black stones scattered around. I come to one of them and look inside. It flashes purple and I see Leot appearing on it. He is his regular featureless light skinned blob of a twelve-tentacle squid, sprawled on a black stone, but in this dream he is smiling, because he has the face of Ari.
Leot extends one of his tentacles, and climbs up my arm. He injects neurotoxin under my skin, and it feels awfully good. The feeling is soothing, rather than usual exhilarating. I love it. I love him. His eyes are deep and hypnotic, and I don’t even care that in reality he has no eyes. What is reality anyway? I embrace him and hold him tight. He is my creator, he is my father.
We’re finally together.