“I believe an explanation is in order,” said Asad.
‘Several explanations,’ added Qorvass.
“Indeed.” Ismael took a haggard breath and exchanged looks with Rholtam. “But first, we must inform everyone of the ceasefire. Does anyone here have a working phone or com device?”
Asad shook his head. “My earpiece was destroyed in the fight.”
“As was mine,” said Ismael.
They both looked at the young black man, who seemed to have difficulty removing his gaze from Ibai even as he answered them.
“...I didn’t bring anything,” Hector said. “I figured it would just get broken.”
Ismael turned to Ibai, who was still trying to put his pants on Melchor. They seemed a little snug around the thighs. “Ibai, can you... tell our forces to stand down? Quickly?”
Ibai popped up to his feet again, leaving Melchor with an impressive butt crack. “Sure thing, Papa!”
Ismael held up a hand. “Ah, but before you do--please, release the reaper.”
“Aw, but we were gonna go on an adventure...”
‘We’ll take a rain check on that adventure,’ said Chergoa. ‘Ha. Get it? Rain check?’
Ibai laughed. “I do get it! You’re funny!” He let her return to Emiliana and then teleported away in his underwear.
The feeling was that of a slow boil, beginning in the pit of his stomach, reaching up through his chest and all the way into his head.
It had been thirty years since he’d felt anger like this.
Raw fury. So powerful and blinding that he knew the dam inside him would burst if he so much as moved. And he wanted to save this anger, to bottle it up inside and use it later. But right now, he couldn’t even blink. He just stared at the wall, expressionless, waiting for his brain to stop feeling so numb, for his sense of reason to start working again.
It was just too much to process at once. Everything Axiolis had told him.
The children, captured. The Rainlords, at war with each other, in addition to the Vanguard.
Zeff had thought he would be able to handle it better than this. They’d both been members of the Vanguard. The notion that she might leave on a mission one day and never come back had crossed his mind before, as the reverse had undoubtedly crossed hers. They’d both known it could happen. They’d planned for it.
But not this. Betrayed by their own comrades. This was something else.