SoT:Firesong Part 10 – Protocols

Worry creased Ken’s brow as he stepped off the lift and approached his apartment. He paused outside the door and concentrated before slumping with relief. Tapping in the entry code, he stepped through the door to find Angela asleep on a couch.

He padded over to her and lowered himself to kneel on the floor next to her and reached over to stroke her hair.

Angela’s eyes slid open and she groggily sat up. “What time is it?”

“Just past 28:30.” He pulled himself off the floor and onto the couch next to her. “I’m sorry for leaving you at Rett’s like that,  but I had to get out of there before I made things worse. I stopped by your apartment — should have realized you’d be waiting for me here.”

“I looked for you in the Sanctuary and the training hall first. Figured you’d have to come back here at some point.”

“I was going to go see Mom, but realized she was likely sleeping. I went to see Arete instead.”

“How’d it go?”

“They hadn’t installed the memorial before I moved away.” He shook his head slightly. “The vids Rett sent me didn’t do it justice. I wasn’t expecting the AI to recognize me and start asking about Caelynn and why it took me so long to come see her. She’s been gone twenty-three years and she’s still keeping me on my toes.”

Angela chuckled. “They did a good job capturing her personality.”

Ken smiled softly. “Yeah, they did.” 

Angela lay her hand on his arm. “So are you all right now?”

“Yeah, I am.” He patted her hand. “Do you want to just stay here? You can have the bedroom.”

Angela shook her head. “I’m going back to my apartment while it’s still mine. I just wanted to be sure you didn’t take anything Rett said to heart.”

Ken caressed her cheek before pulling her close to kiss her forehead. “Meli and I talked about this before I went to pick him up. We knew he’d take the news poorly. I asked her to let me be the one to tell him about Linc so I’d be the target for his anger. I was ready for it.”

“He’s in so much pain.”

Ken nodded. “It’s been a long time since I’ve seen him this scared.”

They both rose, and Ken slipped his arm around Angela’s waist and held her close to his side as he walked her to the door.

She felt his steps falter and his body tense, and looked up at him with concern. “What’s wrong?”

He remained quiet and nodded to the control panel by the door and the blinking light indicating an urgent message. Breaking away from Angela, he pressed the button to answer the alert.

“Sorry to bother you, Ken,” Lee Shikra appeared on the small vid screen. “I’m actually looking for Angie.”

Angela and Ken exchanged glances. As Head of the Order, Ken was the highest ranking officer in Dawn’s Light’s magical combat division. But his magical bond with Caelynn — now the leader of Dawn’s Light’s greatest enemy — prompted the Director to order that he stay away from anything involving the Alfath. This meant all information was reported to Angela, the second most senior officer until Rett returned to duty.

“I’m here, Lee,” Angela stepped closer to the panel. “What’s up?”

“We’re monitoring a situation in Raqmu. Two hours ago reports of ground trembles and loud rumbles came in from Siqit. Satellite imagery shows the cliff above the Court has collapsed.”

“Do we have anyone on-site yet?” Angela refrained from looking at Ken as she focused on the report.

“Negative. According to the Director’s office, there is no reason to think this is anything other than a natural geological event. Local authorities are handling the investigation and will call us in if they believe it is warranted. I wanted to let you know in case it develops into something later.”

“Thanks, Lee. Keep me informed.” Angela closed the connection, took a deep breath, and turned to Ken. “I could send a team to observe,” she offered.

Ken didn’t try to hide the worry in his eyes but shook his head. “I’d know if something happened to Caelynn or Linc. I trust they are both all right.” He took a deep breath. “I don’t believe for a second that The Court just happened to collapse, but even if it did, we know it was the Alfath headquarters. Leaving the investigation and clean-up to local authorities breaks several protocols.”

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