Disclaimer: This is a story of pure fiction. If you are not allowed to read this in whatever part of the world you are living, then try not to get caught, and legally you shouldn't be reading this. If you are not 18 or older then again, do not read. Lastly, this will contain gay sex between consenting people and if this offends you then click back and ask why you're on here in the first place. This story is property of myself, the author, and may not be copied or used on other sites without my express permission. All characters are fictional.

All comments to ME, greatly appreciated

Chapter Twenty Eight

The sun shone down upon Falcon's face. He raised his hand to shield his eyes from the glare. Raising himself, he peered around with bleary eyes. As far as he could see, the land was dry, cracked, and eerily quiet. He lay on the only patch of green grass in a world that was dying.

He knew if he stepped off his haven of grass, something terrible would happen. It was a gut level response, and Falcon started to sweat as he watched his haven begin to erode slowly. Looking closer, he saw silver creatures the size of an ant, on the outer edges, eating and destroying everything they touched. The rich dark soil was the first to turn hard and dry, and then the grass shoots started to shrivel.

Every time Falcon blinked, it appeared as if his haven was getting smaller. The fear kept him locked in place and even his beast, and his own power, the Feminine, seemed chained behind this indescribable dread. He looked around, trying to find help for something that could prevent the destruction of his grass patch.

The sun went out, and Falcon looked up. The fear was lodged in his throat as he stared at what could only be the World Eater. Eight enormous, metallic pincer arms were positioned around the sides of a cylindrical body, facing forwards. Falcon watched as a white seam, shaped like the petals of a flower, opened in the middle of its cylindrical shape. The arms retracted slightly. White light could be seen, swirling and generating enough energy that the world lit up once more within the centre of that opening. The World Eater moved with amazing speed for its size as it made contact with the moon.

What Falcon could only describe as a mouth, and the arms as mandibles, grabbed hold of the moon and began devouring it. Falcon dropped onto his rapidly fading grass, and wondered why was he trying to stand against something as gruesome as that? A gust of wind, and Falcon could feel Kiri standing beside him. The Avatar touched him on the arm and raised him until they were shoulder to shoulder.

"Be calm, Falcon." Kiri said. "This is not your battle. Concentrate on holding your part of the earth."

Falcon's eyes were drawn back down to the silvery ants. As if a foggy part of his brain were now clearing, he saw that the ants were, in actual fact, thousands upon thousands of miniature Malasii. When he looked up, he could see Sonny four feet away, standing beneath four Oak Heartwood Trees, fighting life sized Malasii. Kale was to the left of Sonny . He sat upon the water as if it were solid, and seemed to be meditating. He too had miniature Malasii, but the waves from his pond were smashing against the horde of enemies.

However, it was the last person that gave Falcon pause. Toby seemed furious and was screaming at Falcon, waving his hands to get his attention. The Prey Prince frowned as the child screamed but no sound could be heard. Toby waved him over to his little plot of amethyst rock he sat upon, urging the Prince on. Turning around, Toby grabbed something behind him, and raised it so Falcon could see what it was. A round wooden frame held coloured cotton threads upon it. Toby pointed to a red thread that was tied to the top of the wooden frame. Falcon looked at the design upon it with a sinking heart. For some reason his mind wasn't absorbing what he was seeing. He lifted his foot to take a step off his grass.

Kiri grabbed his hand before he could leave. "If you move off this piece of the earth, everyone will fall. Stay here."

Gone was the wooden frame, and so was the memory of it. Toby hunched over his amethyst rock with tears running down his face. He looked at Falcon, almost pleading, before he bowed his head. Kiri gave a bitter sweet smile as he looked at Toby. He turned and looked up at Falcon, staring at the Prey Prince with great intensity.

Before Falcon knew what was happening. Kiri kissed him. It was intense, passionate, holding longing and something indefinable in it. Falcon was caught off guard; he was still gasping when Kiri disappeared. Yet, it was Kiri's last words, that sill echoed on the wind and had him crumbling to the ground. "I do love you, my Prey Prince." It was everything he had hoped it would be, but his heart hammered for a different reason. Deep inside, he had the sinking sensation this was a farewell.

Falcon awoke with a start. He felt shaky as if a part of him was missing. There was something about the way his dream had been set up that seemed familiar, almost ritualised. He rubbed his head as he thought about it. As the anchor for the Feminine, he would be foolish to disregard a dream. After all, they were his tools for forecasting the future.

He tried finding his connection with Kiri and felt a cold chill race up his spine when he felt no response. Great pain and the taste of fear ached in the back of his throat as his mind tried to bring back the memory of his dream. This lack of connection with Kiri and his dream were in direct relation to each other.

An intuitive inkling made him struggle out of bed in search of Sonny. With the two of them together, there was nothing they could not achieve, and something was very wrong with Kiri. He could feel it on a gut level and, even as he thought this, he knew that he might not be in time.

Terse came up to him and put a restraining hand on him. "You shouldn't be out of bed so soon."

Falcon stood up, determined to show how capable he was. He felt his legs wobble and growled in frustration. "At least tell me what's wrong?" Terse persisted.

"I need to get back to Sonny."

Terse had heard enough. If Falcon was at his full strength she would not have dared to try this, but she had the advantage. Placing her hand on his forehead, she conjured a deep, dreamless, sleeping spell into him. He turned to look at her, snarling at his betrayal before his head rolled forward and he went crashing back onto the bed. Using the wind as a stretcher, she arranged his body more comfortably on the bed.

Stroking his face, Terse realised how young the Prey Prince looked in sleep. As far as she was concerned she would protect him, even from himself, if it were necessary. He was a strong looking man. There was a connection that was growing between the two of them. She felt a little nervous when she thought of him waking up. It was known he had a sharp temper with those around him. But his health was her priority.

Eighteen hundred Malasii ships landed on the Earth. Each ship held two hundred Malasii and they swarmed over the land looking like a silver mercury mass, rushing out of the ships into tight battle formations. They had landed on the vast desert plains that had once housed the Power Source of the Masculine.

Sonny was scouting, hidden behind a shield of invisibility. He had over twenty thousand foot soldiers ready to march out but, in comparison to the horde rushing out of the ships, they were vastly outnumbered. Sonny looked grim as he realised the number of Malasii that could have over run them if he had not destroyed so many of the ships earlier.

However, the rest of the Dragon riders were coming in to help. The Ciaran had also agreed to bring many of the ground force vehicles to help even things out. Sonny was going to disrupt things a little before the enemy was ready to march.

Sonny's cousin, Keira, from his mother's clan, walked up beside him. Although she couldn't see him, she could sense him. "How are we supposed to win against such odds?" she asked.

Sonny looked in her direction. Kiri had taken her into the abyss for intense training with nineteen other candidates, but Kiri had secretly admitted that she had been his favourite. It made sense that Kiri would favour her. She had been considered one of the weakest warriors in her clan. Now, looking at her, and sensing the great power within her body, she was one of the most respected warriors in the entire predator nation.

She had also been a beacon to those clan members who had been considered weak. Now, there were tests to discover how many predators held the Avatar gene. Even the lowest ranking clan members could gain prestige if they had a small trace of Avatar blood. Sonny focused on what she was trying to say.

Concentrating on her words, Keira looked at the massing enemy. "I want to help."

Sonny wrapped an invisibility shield around her before replying. "If you come with me, I can't guarantee your safety."

She smiled briefly before speaking. "I'm willing to take my chances. What are you hoping to achieve?"

Sonny turned to stare at the steadily growing enemy. "I'm going in hard and fast. Their ships are my first targets. I have a spell brewing, but it needs a few minutes to activate, and I want to plop it smack dab in front of them. The spell is designed to recognise the Malasii and hopefully wipe out half of their forces, as well as incapacitate their ships. But I need two minutes breathing space to ensure that the spell works in it's designated area."

"Very well," Keira said, "I will make sure that the enemy don't get near the spell site. It won't be necessary for you to go anywhere near there."

Sonny shook his head. "I have a better chance of getting out alive than you do. This is my job."

Keira stared fiercely at Sonny. "Your life is more important than mine, and going off on this mission borders on suicide. Your leadership and strength would be put to better use back there." She said, pointing in the direction where their main battalion of soldiers were, a few miles away. "This is something more suited for someone like me."

Sonny was about to argue, when Keira gripped his arm tightly. "I need to do this."

There was conviction in her face. But she was under his protection, now that he was King. He held his duty sacrosanct. She saw he was about to refuse, but she shook him once more. "I foresaw this battle. I know what I must do. You are not supposed to be here." Sonny paused, looking at her questioningly. "The Avatar created a number of scenarios while I was training within the Abyss," she explained. "One was a mock battle almost identical to what we are facing now." There was respect and awe in Keira's voice when she spoke Kiri's name. "He taught me to be who I am, and showed me how to fight when the odds are against me. I can never pay back my debt of gratitude. In my way, I want to prove to him that I am worthy. This is my way to do that. I will go in your stead."

As a Predator, Sonny understood a debt of gratitude. It was part of the moral code that was a part of Predators social values. Once they gave their loyalty, it was hard to break. In her own way, Keira was stating where her loyalties lay. If she needed to do this to pay the debt and make her feel worthy, then Sonny couldn't refuse her. It was also surprising to hear her talk so much and so openly.

"One last thing," Keira said. "I saw the look on your face when you and the Avatar returned from the Abyss a little earlier." She frowned as she tried finding the right words. Speaking her mind had always been something she was never comfortable with. She had remained quiet out of fear for so long. Now that she had status it still felt awkward. "There was hurt in his eyes when you turned and walked away from him."

Sonny felt his shoulders tightening. He had not wanted to confront Kiri and had used the upcoming war as a way of avoiding the issue. Nevertheless, he didn't want to talk about this with Keira. It was insulting. He was ready to give her a scathing remark, when her next words registered.

"There were times that he seemed almost possessed, making sure that we re-enacted certain scenarios and were prepared. Almost as if he knew what was going to happen next. So I started wondering. What if everything that is happening now was already planned. What if the Avatar had foreseen all of this?" Looking at the building storm on Sonny's face, Keira stuttered to a halt.

"Keep going," he said in an ominous voice.

"W-w-well," Keira stuttered in her nervousness, "he did something very similar with Prince Falcon. He has also been pushing him away. But, consider this. The Avatar protects those he cares about with everything in him. So why would he start trying to make you and Prince Falcon mad? What does he have to gain by doing that?" Dawning realization crossed Sonny's face as Keira continued. "I figured that, if Kiri were trying to push you both away, then he was trying to protect you the best way he knew how." Keira watched as something cold and terrible slid across the Predator Prince's face. It held great rage and, swimming in those blazing eyes, fear. "So if both you and Prince Falcon are not beside the Avatar, then what is he going through right now?" Pointing towards the ever growing enemy, she continued. "I know our Avatar enough to understand that he would not be sitting idly by while those he loves are fighting against overwhelming odds."

Her words left Sonny gasping. From the depths of his mind and soul, Sonny felt his beast stir, rising from its metaphysical cave. An image appeared in his mind. Most of the picture was blurry, except for a piece of red silk wrapped around a crack in the wooden frame. Sonny stared at that hastily wrapped silk. Blood seeped through, turning the thread almost black. Sonny's vision zoomed in on the blood trail running down the side of the wooden frame. With each blood increment, more of the image came into sharper focus, showing what the wooden frame held.

Sonny snarled when the picture was shown in its entirety. Everything was there. All the decisions that Kiri had chosen, all the avenues he could have picked, and many he had refused because he had seen those he loved in pain, and wanted to ease it. Kiri's life tapestry was laid bare. Further into the tapestry, Sonny began to shake his head in denial.

He saw the decision Kiri had made about Sonny's father, and realised that holding back the vortex of the mind had drained resources, and that Kiri was using all he had left to power up his last spell. Still, Kiri had chosen to help hoping that his body would be able to sustain channelling so much power all the time. It was as he got closer to the red thread upon the wooden frame that Sonny's knees nearly buckled.

Kiri had made sure every aspect of the war had been covered. He had supplied resources and power to everyone who asked. And, as Sonny took note of this, everyone including himself had taken advantage of that, believing that the Avatar was inexhaustible. But there was a limit to what Kiri could channel physically, and the war had made them forget. A sob escaped from his throat as the vision forced him to continue deciphering the tapestry.

He understood why Kiri had been channelling more and more power into him and Falcon. The Avatar wasn't going to come back from this last spell. All the responsibility that he had carried, and the energy draining that Kiri had done to prepare everyone, meant there wouldn't be enough left of him to come out of this last spell alive. So, he had made sure that the two anchors would be able to work as individual units when he was no longer here. It also explained why Kiri had been ferocious in ensuring that he and Falcon could tap into the kinetic energy of the Masculine and Feminine. The vision came to its conclusion.

Sonny opened his eyes, and felt as if he stood at a precipice, his heart screaming and lashing his mind with sharp barbs. His hands shook as he wiped the tears from his cheeks. Keira looked on with concern. Sonny stared sightlessly at the enemy.

"You go and find out what our Avatar is doing." Keira said with finality. "Leave it up to me to activate and protect the spell."

Sonny looked down at Keira, his voice toneless. "You will die if you try to do this alone."

Keira gave Sonny a steely glance. "I am Predator born; we do not fear the battle field. That is part of the creed of my clan, and also your mother's. Do not insult me further."

For the first time, Sonny looked at the determination upon his cousin's face. He gripped her forearms, in the way of a warrior, before nodding his acceptance. There was nothing left to say. Sonny took one last glance at the enemy, handed over the spell, and teleported towards his men. He needed to ensure that the rest of his commanders knew what to do. Once that was done, he would be able to concentrate on Kiri with a clear conscience.

Keira took a deep breath. She focused on her enemy and lowered her head. Then she was sprinting over the distance to reach them. The land whispered beneath her feet, shielding her from view, and helping her travel faster, over and sometimes through, the land. The trees whispered their own encouragement as her speed became too fast for the naked eye to see.

In her hand, she held a red glowing ball of energy. It hummed as it spoke with her, mind to mind. Falcon had outdone himself with this little alteration of an enemy weapon. The ball of energy knew it was destined to burn out as it held Sonny's destructive spell within its body, but there was a peace it had never felt before. Falcon had assured the energy ball, called a Krystaff, that the rest of its species would have a place on Earth. They were going to be allies. At first, the Krystaff had been reluctant to communicate with Sonny because he had destroyed so many Malasii ships and therefore many of its brethren. Now that Keira had taken over as liaison, there was a little more ease.

The amazing thing about these energy entities was the fact they were all linked. Falcon had altered this one's design, and the euphoria and happiness it felt as it connected with the Earth's core meant its entire species felt the same joy. The Earth's core had embraced it like it had not experienced since its own home world had been destroyed. They had been cut off from a divine connection, and were slowly dying because fear and pain had been their only constant source of energy. Now, the remainder of its family were preparing to escape from the Malasii ships to join their new allies. But this one had a mission, and each Krystaff was prepared to endure the agony that would ensue when one of them was destroyed. This mission was something, this particular Krystaff wanted to complete.

Enemy sensors were triggered as Keira approached them. The Malasii, as one, turned and tried rushing her. The Krystaff zoomed around her body, almost reaching light speed, and cut off any Malasii that got close enough. Keira felt its joy as the remainder of its people escaped the ships. The remaining Krystaff were headed towards the mounds and an unsure, but hopefully better, future.

Beams shot out from the Malasii ships using sensors to track her every movement. The Malasii surrounded her like a tidal wave of silver liquid. Keira snarled and drew upon the rage of the beast. Her movements became a blur as she slashed and kicked. She silently thanked Kiri for the armour and weapons she was using, as they turned the Malasii into dust.

However, with each Malasii she cut down, three more took its place. She looked toward where the ships had been, and snarled once more. Spinning, she built up kinetic energy and used it as sound to push those around her further back. A loud staccato of sound knocked back those closest to her, hitting those behind them. A circular open space gave Keira enough breathing room to sink into the ground. She travelled under the Earth, but the sensors from the ships still tracked her. Large pockets of earth exploded upwards as she travelled through the Earth energy network. Three of the pathways were destroyed and Keira had no choice but to return to the surface.

The enemy ships were twenty metres in front her. The Malasii made a droning sound as they spotted her and converged. Keira dug deeper into her well of rage. The beast inside roared, and she felt herself morph into her beast/human mode. Her armour moulded to this taller, bigger and stronger version. The Krystaff gave off a battle hum of its own, as it rose and sped towards the ships. Keira raced after it, knocking anything that got in her path to the side. Her speed and agility increased as she drew on the rage of the beast. A feral snarl rumbled from her chest as the Malasii tried to overwhelm her with numbers.

Linking with each other, the Malasii turned into a large blanket that went racing towards Keira. She saw it coming and ran towards it. Her claws came out, shining with their own power and ripped the blanket to shreds. Onwards she moved. The Krystaff had already reached the ships and was burning holes in the hull as it raced through as many of the ships it could. The sensors had started making piercing, wailing sounds as the Krystaff went through the last Malasii ship.

Its red colour looked faded, and it seemed disorientated. However, Keira was busy keeping the Malasii's attention solely upon her. The screaming alarms had the Malasii turning to spot the disorientated Krystaff. Keira gave a battle challenge and charged. She drew on the power of her Avatar heritage, and shoved a kinetic shield around the weakened Krystaff. The sensors had finally adjusted to the new enemy, and energy beams shot toward the disorientated Krystaff, while Malasii attempted to shoot it out of the sky by using parts of their liquid bodies as spears.

Keira gritted her teeth as the barrage of attacks drained her kinetic shield. She didn't have the ability to tap deeply into the Masculine or Feminine, but she had her own reservoir of power. Kiri had been teaching her to draw off the friction of energy, the same way he had taught his two anchors when Masculine and Feminine clashed in every day life.

The enemy closest to her didn't know what hit them as she charged over to where the Krystaff still weaved in the sky. She tried linking with it, but wasn't working. She kicked, clawed and screamed her way to it. The protective spells built into her armour began to fade as more and more Malasii attacks seemed to get through. One particularly powerful thrust finally broke the protective spells on her armour and punctured her lung. Another followed after it and pierced near her heart.

Her rage sustained her, even though it was a mortal wound. She made it to where the Krystaff had sunk from the sky and rested on the ground. The Malasii had piled on top of the protected Krystaff to prevent access. Keira had nearly gone past the point of becoming completely feral. She waded through them, delighting in the destruction she was causing. Time seemed to stop for Keira as the bodies disappeared until all she saw was the quivering Krystaff. They were still outnumbered, but Keira picked up the Krystaff and held it to her chest, keeping the kinetic shield around the Krystaff and wrapping another around herself.

The Krystaff sent a weak mind link to Keira and told her that they needed to hold out for thirty more seconds. The Krystaff told her that it was very hard holding the spell. It was draining on its life source. But, like her, it was determined. As the enemy rushed around them, constantly hitting the shields, the Malasii ships targeted its sensors upon the two and discharged beam after beam. It had been only a minute and a half since they arrived on the periphery of the enemy location, but it felt like an eternity as the kinetic shield wavered. Keira couldn't move anymore. Her adrenalin level was sinking rapidly and her body felt slow and sluggish as her lifeblood flowed down her chest. She couldn't afford to staunch the flow magically; her power was tied up in maintaining the shield.

She laid on her side and put her hand over the heart wound, staunching it as best as she could. She put the Krystaff closer to her, knowing that her body would be a pitiful defence against the Malasii but, if it meant one more second before the spell was activated, it was worth it. Besides, the Krystaff had a shield around it too. That was another added second for more time.

Her hair turned grey and her face started to age as she used her own life essence to maintain the shield against the hammering it was taking. The Krystaff began the count down. There were only twenty seconds left. It too was finding it hard to communicate, but it tried to make the effort as it watched the strain Keira was making to protect them both.

By ten seconds, Keira was slipping in and out of consciousness. She didn't even have the strength to keep her hand pressed to her chest. The Krystaff began to hum. A tune it had known when it was just a newborn spark. Keira lifted one side of her face in a peaceful smile. Blood filled her lungs and she coughed it up. It hurt to do so, and she mewled her pain before she started to sink in and out of consciousness again. Her heart sank as her last conscious thought flickered in her head. She wasn't meeting the deadline.

The Malasii, sensing victory, doubled their efforts to break the now fading shield. With one last pulse of energy from the ships' weapons, the shield collapsed. There was a loud chattering sound as the Malasii rejoiced. In their minds, this one being had caused major damage and the Malasii wanted revenge. Their anger was also targeted at the rogue Krystaff. The report had already gone out that all the Krystaff on the remaining ships had fled. There would be a penalty for that. The World Eater would be told of the insubordination.

They circled around Keira's prone body, "five." The fading Krystaff counted. One Malasii raised its hand, turning it into a razor sharp blade and pierced Keira's body. "Four," Keira had cupped the Krystaff partially under her body. The Malasii pushed her dead body over. "Three," there were humming sounds of disapproval as they looked at the shielded, energy being. "Two," the same Malasii that had pierced Keira's body also smashed down upon the kinetic shield surrounding the Krystaff, and it shattered. The attacking Malasii screeched as its arm shrivelled from the backlash. With its other hand it stabbed into the Krystaff. The Malasii screeched in victory as they watched the ball of energy crackle with displaced energy, fade, and sink into the ground.

From a distance, one of the commanding officers of Sonny's fighting army heard the victory roar from throats of hundreds of thousands Malasii. There were dragon scouts in the air keeping an eye out. They had been told what kind of destruction would ensue if Keira had made it. Judging by the roar, and the fact the ships were still intact, the commander looked disheartened.

He was ready to call a retreat, when he heard a loud explosion. "Report!" he commanded his air scouts.

From the sky, the dragon scouts could see the devastation. A blue bubble had grown and encased the entire Malasii armada; destroying two thirds of the invading force before exploding in a flash of colour. The remaining Malasii ran around in disarray, fear and confusion evident in their movements. This was something they had never experienced until now. It would take them a while to reorganise themselves.

One of the dragon scouts, a Prey, reported with awe and amazement. He claimed that it was only the Malasii and their ships that had been destroyed. There was no damage done to terrain or even the flora or fauna. As a Prey, taught by Falcon and Sonny in many of the old spells, this was an impressive feat of Spellmanship. Destructive spells were always the deadliest for the environment.

The Dragons roared out a chorus for the sacrifice that Keira and the Krystaff had made. The entire army bowed their heads in silence, out of respect, for a minute. It was a hushed, but much more enthusiastic, army that marched forward to meet the enemy head on. For the Predators, Keira's sacrifice would go down in the history annals as her being one of the greatest warriors to help turn the tide of a war.

Far to the south, where the Mounds were located, another bevy of two hundred Malasii ships went to investigate the fluctuating energy signals. The elemental sentinels were activated as the ships got nearer to the Avatar base. Large golem shaped beings made up of fire, earth, wind, and lightning came to life. They stood as tall as the spine of the world. Although they looked as ephemeral as illusions, they were able to hurt and damage, which was proven as Malasii ships crashed to the earth from the impact of a punching, elemental hand.

In the meantime, the mounds were alerted to the possible danger, and Terse reluctantly closed down the portals to the outside world. Those doors had been left open in case any of the men fighting could get back for one reason or another. But it was beyond foolishness to leave the doors open for the enemy to walk through. With Falcon still stuck in healing sleep, it was up to her to maintain the protection of their home base.

Knowing that the elemental sentinels would destroy the ships if they landed, the Malasii dropped out of the ships, free fall, just above the grasp of the sentinels' reach. They expanded their arms, turning themselves into silver, predatory birds. But the sentinels were crafty spells. They created tornados that caught the Malasii in their maelstroms and cast them further away.

The Malasii were tough and formidable foes, but even their bodies could not recover from the pressures that they were impacting against, as rocks, debris, and trees smashed against them. Still, many made it to the ground, where they were able to hide in the foliage. They regrouped and continued their search for the powerful, but fluctuating, energy source.

Terse frowned when reports came back to her that a strong force of Malasii was still in the vicinity. The sentinels were useless once the enemy was on the ground, but there were other spells in place for that. Terse triggered the abyss hounds. Elongated crystal frames were set in place that gave a panoramic view of the surrounding terrain over a three hundred mile radius. The spell Kiri had placed upon them, allowed Terse to track the enemy. So, with a flick of her hand, she was able to zoom in on the enemy.

The hounds appeared as dark mist floating over the ground as they howled with pleasure. Soon, the mist cleared to show four thousand hounds racing towards the blank spots that indicated a Malasii presence. They were awkward looking creatures. They had thick muscle along their shoulders and more power in the forelegs, than their hind, giving them a hunched look. Large canine teeth, and eyes that were pitch black, gave them a decidedly feral and fearless look. They ranged from black or tan, to a rich red in fur colour. With excited snarls they raced towards their prey.

Illiana heard the bells tolling, warning the residents of a threat to the mounds. Although the place was in a different dimension, the anchor point, where the doors were on the outside world, needed to be protected. The many access doors to the various nations had already been holed up. But the original site of the mounds was their physical tie to the real world. Should the Malasii destroy that site, they would be cast adrift inside this dimension, indefinitely...or until the World Eater destroyed the world.

One of the mounds' defence mechanisms was to slow time. It allowed the residents within enough time to find the best solution to the danger, without running out of time. This was not the first occasion that the mounds had slowed down. In fact, it seemed to be happening on a regular basis.

Illiana felt her heart swell with gratitude that first instance that time slowed. It had been Kiri's idea. He figured that Sonny needed to spend more time with Illiana and, with the war going on, the Avatar announced that everyone needed to spend time with loved ones. She had been overjoyed with the idea, but now the warrior within her wondered what Kiri was getting out of delaying the head on collision with the enemy that was apparently imminent ?

Brushing aside that worry, Illiana walked amongst her people. There were only the female gatherers and the pregnant and the elderly; most of the male gatherers had been conscripted into the army. Every Predator of able body was already out there fighting the enemy. She had wanted to join the fight, but had been told point blank by Sonny to protect their child. During the last couple of weeks, Sonny had spent more time with her.

With time at a crawl within the mounds, Kiri and Illiana had gone into the second phase of their plan, called `understanding Sonny.' Kiri had explained that she needed to be there to help Sonny sort things out. She had listened to Kiri's advice, to just sit there, not speaking, and allowing the Predator Prince to sort out his thoughts. Her patience had paid off, with him opening up to her and talking about the problems of ruling. Instead of making judgements, like most warriors would, she had sat and let him talk about his self doubts. She had nodded her head in understanding, and saw a softer side of Sonny that she had never thought was in him. It had moved her in ways that his commanding personality had not. She had thanked Kiri profusely and, in her joy, had failed to see the pain in the Avatar's eyes.

It was strange but, listening to the comments of others, she learned that she had been the last one to see Kiri. Illiana had been too busy taking care of her people. With the reminder of the bells tolling danger, she couldn't help but wonder what Kiri was doing. There was certainly concern, and some had even joked that Kiri had run. But every time she thought about searching for Kiri herself, she seemed to forget, or something else needed her attention. None knew where he was, and with Falcon still in healing sleep, and Sonny busy leading the fighting factions, none had dared ask the two anchors.

Sonny appeared among them, clearly agitated. He looked at the faces of his people before he spotted Illiana. She knew that look and hurried over to him. "What is it Sonny?" she asked.

"I want you to tell me everything that Kiri said to you before he disappeared."

"I don't understand," she replied.

He grabbed her by the arms. "Think, Illiana, this is important!"

She shook her head. How could she tell this man that she and Kiri had been talking about him? She couldn't, so she shook her head mutely.

He sighed in annoyance. "You were the last one to see him. Did he tell you what he was doing?"

Giving a deep sigh of relief, Illiana thought back. This type of question she could answer. She frowned when her mind came up blank. This was most unusual; she knew what he had said to her, but now the memory was fading.

Sonny looked down at her with dawning realisation. He tried entering her mind, and felt a shield blocking him from going further. He snarled his frustration. Kiri had covered all avenues. He turned away from her. Trying to call him on their mental link had proved elusive too. The first place Sonny had attempted to go to was the Abyss, but he had been denied access. Somehow, Kiri had blocked all ports into, and possibly out of, there. Maybe he couldn't break the hold on the Abyss by himself but, with a little help, there was a chance.

"Will you tell me what's going on?" Illiana pleaded.

Sonny shook his head. "I don't have time to explain. Just know that we could lose the Avatar."

Illiana was left gasping as those around her began whispering. Soon, it would be all over the city. As morale went, that would knock everybody back. She needed to minimize the damage. It was what a Queen would do.

By the way guys, I have a yahoo group where you can see all my writings. I also have another talented and amazing author Lincard sharing his stories too. I will be sending my chapters there first. So become a Member and enjoy. Otherwise feel free to Contact me.

Thanks as always goes to Richard for his fine work in editing!