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Last Flight of the Admiral Stalkforth 11

In a single breath all fell silent. Like fog shredded by the wind, the cacophony dissolved into silence. Grefa slowly opened his eyes and peered out between his knees. His entire body trembled as the last vestiges of sound dissolved; it felt as if several Gs of pressure had been banished in the blink of an eye. He exhaled a great breath and struggled to his feet. All around him others rose and swayed back and forth in half-lit night. They murmured garbled words and looked about with wandering eyes. Stumbling together in one ramshackle unit, they began to move about the village, chattering nonsense and waving their arms in the air.

“Your wrist is blinking Lord Grefa,” said a voice behind him.

He turned and saw the Admiral sitting there, smiling oddly. “Ah, thank you.”

“Aren’t you going to check the beam?”

“Yes. Yes of course.“ He flipped open the display screen, scanned it, and nodded briefly. He glanced up at the canopy and then back to the Admiral. “That’s just the High Command checking up on me," he said. "I’m sure you remember how obsessively they monitor their interests.”

“Their interests?” the Admiral said, and his smile widened. “Lord Grefa, if you were planning to kidnap me you should have asked first.”

Grefa shifted on his feet uneasily. “Why do you insist on calling me by that archaic title?”

“Why does it bother you so? Have you renounced your family’s nobility?”

“Of course not, you know I would be stripped of my rank and cast out of the royal family if I did that.”

He chuckled softly. “You can’t use the military to run from your obligations to the nobility forever. Now, what’s keeping that ship you summoned?”

In answer to the Admiral, a roar rent the village’s calm. A thin blade of white light split the canopy neatly down the middle and incinerated thousands of branches and leaves in an instant. A moment later, a small, sleek vessel appeared above the opening. Landing legs unfolded and it descended quickly, coming to rest in the center of the clearing. The engines switched off and a funereal silence settled on Lamptown. Through it all, the Admiral sat peacefully, a sly grin attached to his face.

A walkway shot out of the vessel and a squad of heavily armored troops charged out in single file.

“Giant help us, it’s the Blæc Guard!” someone cried.