General Harl’s laughter boomed in the nearby clearing. I lifted my head as I heard a high pitched shout in response. I glanced over at the soldiers reloading their guns. “Stay here, keep loading I’m going to check it out.”
“Not a problem, sir.” One of my soldiers responded.
My boots scraped against the damaged concrete as I rounded the corner. Broad and tall General Harl stood with his hands on his hips staring at a tiny little girl whose chin pointed at him defiantly. The scene caused me to pause. I didn’t recognize the girl, but she seemed familiar. A lot of the rebels kept their families at the base, because there was no place safer. Never before had I seen Harl argue with anyone.
The girl spat at his feet. “Don’t laugh at me. You’re a pathetic excuse for a man, much less a commander. You are fighting a losing war and you’re doing it badly.”
I felt my eyes bulge out of their sockets. No one I’d ever met would have had the equipment to talk to Harl like that. This girl looked young, really young. But, she didn’t sound it. I took off at a jog.
“You seem like a smart little girl. Maybe, you need to learn to keep your mouth shut.” Harl’s rumbling voice seemed calm. A quick look at his face, and his narrowed, glinting eyes told me otherwise. The other commanders stood around looking nervous.
A young, dark skinned woman rolled up out of the shadows. I repressed a sigh. Amaria, who was a Star Child, would make this worse. To my surprise she didn’t interfere, she stood a bit off to the side. I also knew Amaria only appeared to be a young girl. I glanced at the tiny thing. Maybe she was a Star Child. I couldn’t see her eyes well enough to tell.
Harl shot a glance at Amaria. “I thought you signed on to defend me, Amaria.”
“I didn’t think you needed defending from a speck of a child.” Her cool voice lacked mockery, but her eyes crinkled up a bit.
“I meant, how did she get into the camp.” A few people hid grins behind their hands. I didn’t feel the urge. Harl’s tension truly scared me.
Amaria stepped closer. I could see her strange eyes. They were a dull green, but a gray star ringed the iris. That marked her as one the elusive Star Children. “I brought her.”
The girl made a prim, little bow. “I told her to bring me. I don’t need anyone’s permission to be here.”
A ripple of shock stirred the crowd. I could tell even Amaria seemed concerned. I moved next to Harl, and put my hand on his arm. I focused my attention to the girl. Her outward appearance seemed pretty normal. Long, straight, very dark brown hair, large dark doe eyes, and tanned brown skin that pervaded most of the population. She flicked a smile at me, seeming a bit too amused. Something seemed so familiar about the shape her eyes.
Harl’s voice grumbled up to a roar. “I am the General. You need my permission to be anywhere near here, brat.”
“You’re a rebel.” She smiled with a touch of a vicious twist. “All I’d have to make one anonymous phone call and you wouldn’t be anything.”
My body filled with ice. Fear started at the base of my neck and radiated down to my toes. She could get all of us killed. I started to wonder if Amaria made her first mistake.
“That’d get me killed as well.” She stopped to give Harl a suspicious glare. “Considering who I am.”
I yanked, but Harl pulled his arm free of my restraining grip. “Who are you?”
“The genetically enhanced daughter of Green and Marra Valik.” After she said it, she took a step back. At least she had the proper sense of gravity. Ko, she’s my niece, the thought struck me hard.
“They’re dead, if you didn’t know.” Her tone attempted to come off as a matter of fact and she tacked on a shrug. I could see her eyes glistened with wetness.
Harl rocked back and forth. “Amaria, is this why you brought her?”
Amaria inclined her head. “Of course, General, I knew she would be valuable to you. And, if she was captured she would be invaluable to our enemies.” Her strange eyes settled on the girl for a moment. “She wished to speak with whoever was in charge.”
The girl cut in. “I wasn’t impressed with the leadership. My parents’ legacy is in your hands. All you seem to do is fail. If I wanted to preserve their names, and get revenge, I knew someone smarter would need to be in charge.”