“Can we make it?” The tremor in Mary’s voice added terror to Sung’s words.
“Yes.” Sung cleared his throat, determination once again obvious. “Straight to McAllister. Don’t try to make it back to the command station,” he ordered.
Amazed, Colli sat watching as Keleon manipulated the controls of his precious vehicle. A flip of a gray/green switch turned the outer hull opaque. A soft whoosh accompanied an upward motion that gave Colli the sensation of floating.
Gravity took over and pulled her into the seat. Additional pressure pushed her deep into the cushions. A loud thump sounded. The engines softened to a hum.
“We’re home.” Mary’s voice caressed the silence with a joy that Colli shared.
“Where,” she turned to Keleon.
“Twenty miles off the coast. Another five or ten minutes, and we’ll be at the gates of the complex. Unless we run into resistance.”
“Be careful. Get us there sooner if you can.” Dread bubbled in her belly, before it twisted through the rest of her body.
Keleon didn’t question her order, he simply obeyed. The journey to McAllister was filled with silence.
A gentle snow began to fall. Keleon adjusted controls to increase the density of the outer hull. Ice gathered, glazing over the transparent forward shield. Visibility decreased.
Sung patted the back of Colli’s seat. “If we don’t get back to McAllister soon, they’ll shut everything down.
Colli turned to look Sung in the eyes. “Who are they?” Do I want to know?
“We’re not sure where they come from,” Sung answered. “They just showed up about a century ago. So far we’ve been able to fight them off.”
“But?” Mary spoke up. “I hear a but in your expression.” Fear quivered in her voice.
Sung sat back. “That was before they had an ally to guide their power.”
“Not…” Colli couldn’t bring herself to say the name aloud.
“Chernbog.” Mary whispered it for her.
Colli remembered Illianna warning that Trevan could end up like his uncle.
“Hold on,” Keleon warned. “We’ve got major turbulence.”
Before Colli could ask any more questions it hit. The ship dropped into the treetops, then bounced back to half the altitude Keleon had been struggling to maintain.
A groan shook the hull, as the ship descended again, and ricocheted into thick clouds.
“I’m not sure how much more she can take.” Keleon gave the dash a loving pat. “She’s already taken a lot from the friction of reentry. Maybe, if we maintain this altitude, we can hide until we get back up river.”
“Do it.” Sung turned to Mary, leaving Keleon and Colli to work together.
“The voices are shivering with cold.” Colli leaned close to Keleon. She didn’t want Mary to hear the fear she couldn’t hide in her voice. “If we don’t get back soon, they may not be able to help us.”
“We’ll get back.” The words ground out between Keleon’s clinched teeth. “Tell them we’re on our way.” He winced when Colli dug her fingers into his arm.
Before she could complete the communication, they descended from the clouds. Wind shook the craft. Driving snow pelted the hull. Numbing fear spread through her.