He floated there, just above the Academy building, Sally behind him. They stared out at the grounds.
A brilliant day met them. The blue sky was only marred above by a few scant, quickly racing clouds. Sally’s fringe kept scattering over her face in the brisk breeze. He could smell the ocean beyond, smell the delicious scents of food from the city behind. And he could hear the chatter of the students below. That undercurrent of fear that had infected everything before the final war with the Scarax gods. Hope for a future they still couldn’t imagine was in its place.
And Joseph now had his own future.
He turned toward Sally. It was just as she turned toward him.
She got that knowing look in her eyes.
He’d been leaning in to kiss her but suddenly grabbed the back of his head.
“I know what you wish to do, Joseph Lance.”
“Yeah. Well… you are a psychic.”
“It’s far more correct to call me a phase creature. I can’t see the future, though. And I cannot read the mind of an Omega guard.”
“Then how did you know—”
“Your intentions are always brilliantly clear, and I’m sure you can see them from across the universe.”
He continued to rub the back of his head. He really hoped that wasn’t the case. While everyone now knew he was a lieutenant and Sally was certainly not a cadet anymore, he still didn’t want every single person in the Academy knowing what they’d do next.
Yet even if this was being made public on all psychic frequencies, Sally Winters wasn’t the kind to back down. She pushed in close, and she stared into his eyes. That gaze… it was everything. It was the look of someone who’d seen so much. Of someone who had so much power at their fingertips. Yet someone who had willingly let it go.
“I don’t know exactly what you’re thinking. But I do know this, Joseph. You are all I need.”
She finally pushed forward, and she locked her lips against his. He felt a rush. It was always the same. It was a rush that wanted to take him back up through the levels of the phase realm to the so-called top of existence once more.
But he didn’t need to ascend. Sally was right. All they needed was what they currently had. He locked his hand on her cheek, drawing her close, drinking in the warmth of the sun that played over her cheeks and the far more inviting warmth of her gaze as she kept her eyes open and stared at him endlessly.
They’d come further than he imagined anyone else had ever come before. Through three iterations, they had met each other. In this last one, their endless struggles had finally counted.
The Scarax Galaxy was defeated. The gods had been pushed back. The Coalition now had the mammoth task of helping the Scarax Galaxy rebuild itself democratically. But all that could be done tomorrow. Right now, he enjoyed the sunshine, and enjoyed Sally Winters in all her glory.
They had a future together. He didn’t know what would happen. But he didn’t need to know. He didn’t have to chart a path through uncertainty anymore. He just had to decide who he would walk through it with. As he continued to kiss Sally, he let his hand slip down, and he clasped her fingers. She grabbed him tighter.
He broke away, pressing his forehead against hers. As they stared into one another’s eyes, the future waited.
She strode through the Academy grounds. It was a brilliant day. The sunshine felt as if it could chase back any shadow.
For make no mistake, there were still shadows in the Coalition and always would be. They’d won the war. It had cost them. Ships had been lost, forces had died.
But in the end, they had done the seemingly impossible and removed the King from existence.
The threat of the Hendari was gone.
The task of remaking the Scarax Galaxy into whatever it wished to be loomed before Lara. That wasn’t it, though. It never would be. They had encountered some of the greatest mysteries of the universe. But Lara Forest was no fool. More would come. That’s the very nature of mystery. Just when you think you’ve plumbed the depths of the unknown, it only gets deeper.
She tilted her head up and smiled at the sunshine, and she kept striding ahead. There was too much to do. Still, a step later, she paused. She deliberately took the time to enjoy the peace they’d earned.
Other battles would come. They always did.
But for now, hope had come back to roost in the Coalition’s heart once more. And Lara Forest would ensure it would remain.
The end of The War of the Gods. I hope you enjoyed this series. It ends the Hendari arc. The Coalition Academy meta-series will continue. Thank you for reading.