By Kachi Ugo
All rights reserved.
Exactly twenty minutes after they had set out for the fortress, the formidable structure rose out of the horizon. It was a massive structure that challenged, defiled, and then defied scale. It sat sprawling over acres of the barren desert. It looked like a castle out of the early fourteenth century with huge towers here and there connected by suspended stone walkways. The whole structure sat on a roundish base that could have been the border of a small city. Around the fortress was a tall see-through wrought iron fence with flood lights pointing in and out.
The grounds within and surrounding the fortress were rife with powerful looking Elementals. Her SUV was still far from the fortress, but Sarah could make out the different colors of the different Elemental magic on the uniforms of the patrol men. She couldn’t see that far, but if she could, she would no doubt have seen the no nonsense look the men carried on their faces.
Even beyond the grounds, along each walkway and through the large windows into the passageway of the central massive roundish tower-like structure, there were Elementals, pacing, looking, searching, scrutinizing … guarding.
Few moments after they had departed the barn, Sarah had given the order for the advancing army to remain quiet. She planned for them to stealthily advance on their target. She wanted them to get as close as they could before they were spotted. It would give them the element of surprise, which could be the difference between hundreds of deaths or just tens.
In the quiet and AC cooled compartment of the SUV, Sarah felt her thighs vibrate. She pulled out her phone and looked at the caller ID. It read: Babe.
“Hello, Daniel,” she said into the phone.
Daniel Tobi’s voice was devoid of emotions, and he went straight to the point. “Call of the attack, now.”
Sarah feigned surprise. “What attack?”
Daniel refrained from responding for a few moments. Then, he said, “Evidence has been found that suggests you intend to attack a GEA fortress in Sahara Desert. Call of the attack now, or you and your people will be slaughtered like pigs.”
“The GEA will kill innocent Elementals?” Sarah asked, filtering a tint of surprise into her voice. However, her mind was already racing. Daniel’s confession had brought to light several issues.
If this was in fact a GEA fortress, then when she attacked, she would become persona non grata number one. They’d hunt her down like a criminal, try her before the Quad Panel, and then execute her without scruple. Then there was the issue of their planned surprise attack. If the GEA already suspected an imminent attack, then they’d have informed the fortress. Sarah and her army would be walking right into a trap.
Then there was the issue of the fortress being a GEA installation again. It meant the guards weren’t just knockoff Elementals. They were highly trained Elemental combatants. And from the looks of it, there were more than a hundred of them present at the facility.
Sarah realized with a twinge of fear that her army stood no chance against the GEA forces in the fortress.
“Sarah? Are you still there?” Daniel called.
“I am,” she replied.
“Those aren’t mercenaries in the desert, babe,” Daniel said in a soft voice—a voice he and she knew provoked sensual emotions in her. “They’ve been trained in the art of Elemental warfare. They can do things with their magic that you can’t imagine. If you attack the base, you’re dead.”
Sarah didn’t reply. Anger was already roiling in the pit of her belly.
“He’s as much my son as he is yours,” Daniel continued. “Come home. Come back to me and let’s work through proper channels. Please…”
“Proper channels?” Sarah replied in a steely low voice. She squeezed the phone so hard its back panel broke off. It was all she could do to keep from yelling at the love of her life.
Seconds later, her anger got the best of her. She yelled into her phone: “Not only have you failed me, Daniel, you have also failed our child! You. Are. Worthless. You know that, right? Don’t call me again. You don’t care about our boy. You only care about your command. Cruel bastard!”
Immediately she said that, she felt an intense feeling of regret wash over her, which further enraged her. She cut the call and threw the phone to her side. She looked at her driver through the rearview mirror. His eyes were fixed on driving; he neither responded to her nor showed any sign that he had heard her conversation with Daniel.
Good, Sarah thought.
The advancing army—the flyers, the surfers, and the riders—had formed into a diamond formation, with her SUV and that of the Seven Strong Men at the center. Though she had seen the fortress from afar off, they were now heading towards the last sand ridge after which the fortress would be laid bare before them. Then, they would be easily spotted by the GEA forces, who were probably already waiting for them.
Sarah realized she had a choice to make. There was no way to take the fortress like she had planned. There was no way they could defeat the security surrounding the installment. Unless she sacrificed her whole army just to get in and sneak the Time Traveler out. But then, she’d be condemning more than a thousand teenagers and young men and women to terrible fates.
“Ma’am,” Ali’s voice came over the inter-SUV intercom. “We are nearing the last sand dune. We are awaiting the order to commence the attack…” Ali was the most senior member of the Seven Strong Men, the one who had opened the door of her SUV earlier. He was also her most trusted confidante and a fire Elemental.
Sarah didn’t waste a second coming to her decision. It didn’t matter how many people died. The whole world could fall into a bottomless pit of darkness and doom for all she cared. Nothing would stop her from getting back her baby.
To death or to victory.
Knowing that her word would seal the fate of her ardent followers to death, Sarah gave the word without any twinge of guilt or needful remorse.
Sarah Justice’s command came just as they surmounted the final sand dune that separated them from the fortress. Immediately, huge balls of fire the size of SUVs erupted from the hands of Fire Starters (aka Fire Elementals), and they volleyed it in the direction of the fortress. In seconds, the air was alive with hundreds of massive balls of liquid, dripping flame arcing towards the GEA facility and its company of combatants.
Still racing towards the metal fence, Sarah leaned forward and looked through the windscreen at the rain of fire, which had reached the height of its ascent and was starting to descend upon the fortress. She realized that these were the opening salvos of a long, hard war.
While the initial barrage was still enroute, Earth Elementals began their attack. They moved their hands, and instantly huge boulders of rock rolled out from the sand into the air, leaping after the fire balls. They weren’t as large as the fire balls and some of the boulders couldn’t stand the force of the wind and collapsed back into sand. However, Sarah was impressed by the Earth Elementals with her. This was because she knew it was one of the most difficult things in the world to form a hard rock from dry desert sand.
The time between when Sarah gave the order to commence the attack and when the Earth Elementals launched their volley of rocks was barely up to twenty seconds. In that time, two things happened.
One, they covered a substantial distance to the fortress, such that it became clear that the largest tower in the center was the prison while the surrounding connected towers were ancillary.
Two, the GEA had responded in less than half the time. From all over the facility, GEA Air forces launched into the air above the fortress. Working in concert, these Elementals formed a massive wall of turbulent wind that looked to be several inches thick. This wall then rushed forward to meet the waves of fires and rocks.
In the blink of an eye, most of the fires were put out and most of the rocks were deflected. The remaining that made it through were squashed by GEA air Elementals before they could near the fortress.
Sarah then realized with palpable apprehension that they might not even make it to the front door.
For a moment, there was an absolute silence. Though she was secure in her SUV, she could hear the sound of silence. Then, a war cry leapt from the lips of one of hers. This caused a response from all of her army. Spurred by the deathly frenzy, Sarah’s army increased their speed as they closed the final distance before they met headlong with the GEA forces.
Like the spark before a terrible explosion, the whole area exploded with floods and balls of fire, rocks and sand storms, and tornadoes and powerful air blasts. Screams of pain immediately followed as people were incinerated or swept away by wind or crushed by huge boulders. Sarah was relieved to know that the screams weren’t all young and high pitched, but deep and gnarly, meaning there were losses on both sides.
Sarah had quit focusing on the raging battle around her. As far as she was concerned, it was a distraction to cover her ingress into the fortress. Rather, her eyes lay fixed on the metal fence ahead and the main blast doors of the central tower, which was shut tight. Most of the fortress’s defenses were engaging her forces which had now swarmed the area. No one would have time to intercept her before she got to the doors.
The SUVs of the Seven Strong Men hadn’t peeled away from hers to join the fight around them. And as they drove forward, there was a mix of at least hundred Elementals who kept their SUVs from being attacked.
As they approached the fence, Sarah stretched her hands towards the metal gate. She concentrated and unleashed her magic. The ground under the fence visibly trembled like a ripple moving across the surface of a river. Slowly, a large portion of the gate was sucked into the ground, clearing a path for them, and then the ground solidified again. Seconds later, they drove through and came to a halt before the main doors.
The moment they stopped, most of the GEA forces began to descend on their little party, but they were impeded by Sarah’s Elementals. Sarah opened the door and jumped out of her car. For one moment, she looked around. It was as if she had stepped into a war torn area. Much of the surrounding towers had been hit and destroyed. Littering the desert floor for a vast distance in every direction were burnt, crushed, and incinerated remains of both her people and the GEA’s. Vehicles lay around in burning or exploding heaps.
The calm desert landscape had turned into a picture of desolation and ruin.
And the battle was still raging around and in the air. Not for long, Sarah noted sadly. Her forces were fast dwindling. It wouldn’t be long now before the GEA Elemental combatants finished them off.
A while ago, the whole area had been dark and quiet. Now, it was as bright and loud as day, what with the fires everywhere, and the screams of men and explosions and sound of wind storms filling the air.
Sarah’s Seven Strong Men had already gathered around her. The only thing standing between her and the inside of the fortress were the huge, blast doors that were as wide as city gates. Sarah motioned for someone to break open the doors. Immediately, a huge rock the size of a small truck formed from the desert sand and shot for the doors.
The doors caved in with an enormous, sharp moan. The rock kept going, and the blast doors broke left and right from its trajectory, killing those that lay in wait to ambush them when they came through the door. There were about seven corpses lying scattered in the trail of the blast doors.
The rock came to a halt in the middle of a wide, bare lobby, dissolved back into desert sand, and then dispersed into the whole space with the force of tiny bullets.
Sarah glanced at Ken. The muscular, boxy faced Earth Elemental nodded at her.
“Good work,” she muttered. “Now, let’s get the Time Traveler and get out of here.”
She marched forward into the GEA fortress, her Seven Strong Men following close behind.
To Be Continued…
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