She… there was no point in describing anything. To describe something is to care about what it is. She had no capacity to do that. She couldn’t change a thing. She was now nothing more than a glorified input mechanism for the Hendari ship.
But she was at least aware of the vessel. And she knew when the medical stasis field surrounding Jerry suddenly flickered and stopped.
She didn’t bother opening her eyes. There was little point. She was connected to the internal cameras on the bridge.
She was aware as soon as Jerry opened his eyes.
She would’ve called out to him, but she suddenly realized there was no need. She felt this growing psychic force gathering in the room.
There were two thumps as his feet hit the ground.
He should’ve swayed – she was aware of how injured he was. But perhaps he no longer cared.
He straightened. There was the creak of joints and bones. It sounded like an old tree somebody was trying to roll thin. The wood that made it up was splintering, but that didn’t matter – just as long as a little of the trunk remained. He took a step toward her. She was aware that his eyes remained open, not blinking once. The whites were infected with red lines tinged here and there with crackling black.
She tried to speak to him. She couldn’t. She imagined there was no point in attempting, anyway. Something told her Jerry wouldn’t respond.
Nor would the Observer. Some strange process was happening to them both.
She was at least aware enough of her psychic skills to understand that mental energy kept flooding into the bridge from somewhere, soon becoming so powerful, if an ordinary mind had been in here, it would have been ripped into scraps of memories and broken beliefs.
“Over now. The end is coming. The war is here.” Jerry reached her. There was no hesitating. He pushed a hand into the pillar of light.
The bridge tried to stop him. For the first time, she heard an alarm. It could shake through the room, but it could do nothing more. Growing force gathered around his fingers, crackling over their tips and nails and sinking into her as he snagged hold of her shoulder.
She would’ve screamed if she could, but she was still trapped in her mind, pinned down by the psychic attack Caxus had used on her.
Jerry dragged her out of the light and dumped her at his feet.
She collapsed. At least one eye could open. It was enough to stare up at him. Her hair flopped in front of her face, getting caught up in her eyelashes as she blinked once.
Jerry stood there, that energy now rippling up over his arm, across his shoulders, and over his front.
It played over the broken scraps of his uniform. Then it lifted him up a few centimeters off his feet.
It wasn’t simply psychic force. It was—
There was another alarm. It was so shrill, it sounded as if it could’ve cracked the floor and ceiling.
Her connection to the ship told her it was a warning. Hendari artifacts were porting in.
Sure enough, in a blinding flash of violent light, she saw one appear behind the floating Jerry. He suddenly spread his arms out wide in a jerky move that looked like somebody was trying to dislocate his shoulders.
Another artifact appeared in front of him, then another artifact to the left. All in all, eight ported in. The ship no longer bothered to shriek its alarm. Perhaps it realized, just like Sally did, there was now no chance.
Jerry continued to spin there, his arms opened wide. He looked like he was a neutron surrounded by his loyal electrons.
Each one of the artifacts glowed with this eerily powerful light. It didn’t look natural – just the exact opposite. It was like the antithesis of existence had been crammed down into the center of each of those crystals. As they slowly pulsed, they undermined what it was to be real.
Finally Jerry spun around until he faced her. His eyes had closed, but in an almost groping movement, they opened. His startling stare locked onto her. She could’ve gone anywhere in the universe, tried to port to any galaxy, any cave, any crack in any mountain, but he would’ve still seen her.
She was now in the Observers’ sights, and there was nothing she could do.
She still couldn’t move. Caxus mightn’t be actively in the room controlling her, but that didn’t matter. He’d set up a psychic trap in her mind – one she couldn’t hope to fight against. And it was one the Observers took hold of right now.
With one simple flick of Jerry’s power-covered finger, Sally rose to her knees. There was no energy in her muscles, no strength anywhere in her body. She was just as limp as a beaten rag doll. Hair flopped in front of her one open eye. As every strand swayed back and forth, it didn’t cut the view of Jerry as he reached a hand out wide. His straining fingers stretched, the tendons sounding like tightening nooses. Then he scrunched his hand into a bloodless fist.
Sally shot up. She didn’t travel into the pillar of light again. She simply moved into the middle of the room. Her head was directed at the ceiling, her floating hair suddenly freezing in front of her face. Her one open eye strained even wider as her back arched, her limbs falling limply at her sides.
“The war begins now,” Jerry said in a dead, endless tone. It sounded as if there was no force in it, and yet she could hear the psychic manipulation being pumped through every syllable. There were eight Observers in his head now, weren’t there? And all at once, they were spilling their poisonous bile through his mind and lips.
The ship became eerily silent. The only sound was Sally’s body stretching wide as the Observers controlled her completely.
The Queen couldn’t even scream. She didn’t know what screaming was anymore. This void started to open up in the center of her head. A void that sucked up every memory, every dream. She… almost lost track of her greatest life goal. The King was… what was he again?
“The only way to open the bridge is to create chaos. And the only way to create chaos is to invite it right into our hearts.”
Sally was still connected to the ship. Its scanners were almost a part of her now. So she watched – without being able to turn away – as Jerry opened his hand wide, and one by one, light paths appeared through the asteroid field and out into the sector beyond. They brought… ships.
The Scarax Imperial Fleet.
It wasn’t the first time it had attacked Coalition space, but last time, it hadn’t been complete.
Now? Sally felt as the Observers grabbed every ship from the Scarax galaxy and every single resource they had and brought them all to the Coalition.
Every god, every gun, every treacherously powerful weapon. All of it ported into the heart of the Milky Way.
The war… it was here.
And Sally’s force had been the one to bring it here.
There was no hope now. There would only be fighting.