Kingdom of Stars (The Young Ancients: Timon Book Three) (5 page)

BOOK: Kingdom of Stars (The Young Ancients: Timon Book Three)
6.33Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub

Kim, I'm Timon and the other two are Karl and Sentle. Not to be pushy here, but
we couldn't help but notice that you sort of attacked us earlier, I don't
suppose you know why?" It was a long shot, but asking couldn't hurt, even
as Petra was breathing hard, sounding a bit panicked, clearly getting the idea
and the others with him had gone very still, clearly not understanding at all.

really. I was given coordinates and sent out. I have a life signal signature to
follow, for targeting, but that's all. Yours, by the way. I don't know who sent
me or why, but I only woke up yesterday, so I wouldn't, would I?" It all
sounded matter of fact, but then, how could he tell if she were lying at all?
That probably meant she was. It wasn't like they could use Truth sensing
amulets on a ship, was it?

smiled and tried to seem pleasant, since there was no reason not to.

seems about right. Is there anything you
know? Like where you came
from? That would help a lot. There are some bad people that might want to harm
me and my friends, and if we could talk to them, that might help stop it from

kill them?" The lady who was a machine sounded mildly curious, rather than

I won't lie about it, that's a very likely thing, if we can pull it off."

That's too bad. I'm nearly certain that I can't help you then, since my
programing makes it impossible for me to go against my makers. You don't seem
all that bad, except for your pain weapons. What are those anyway? Cattle prods
for the new age?"

had to think for a bit, before working it all out.

not for moving cows around, they're force lances. Basically... really powerful
pushing devices. I take it you're from the past, given the way you said that
and the fact that there are Ancients involved?"

made a face and then rolled his eyes.

stories Timon. There's no such thing as Ancients. Those were just the bedtime
stories that you were told as a boy so you'd know to do your part in protecting
the world." He sounded as if he were explaining something to a tiny child,
just for a second, until Petra snorted, which carried over the communications
device that Timon had in his side tunic pocket.

exactly Karl. They're real, if not exactly the way we were all told. We can go
into that later. For right now, we need to know what to do with this craft, um,
Kim, I mean. What would happen if we left you here?"

was a brief pause and then the ship spoke again, sounding young and a bit too
innocent for someone that had tried to kill them all not too long before, or at
least take out Timon.

probably carry out the next attack. That or return home for my next orders. I
don't know. I won't until they come up, most likely. It's to keep anyone from
stealing my data too easily."

seemed about right to him, if a bit paranoid. After all, what were the odds of
them really being able to take a craft like this down safely and questioning...

That got everyone to look at him. At least the ones with him. "All right,
we need to leave, now. Kim, you can go home as soon as we're out of here and
disconnected. Sorry about the inconvenience. Tell whoever sent you not to kill
us, please." He hurried back up the ramp, and turned at the top to tell
the other men to hurry up, but didn't have to, since they were both a good bit
more perceptive than that.

didn't wait, making the ramp go away with a hard thought, not bothering to
touch the floor or wall like most would have to do.

get out of here. Don't wait. Bethany
, go
, up and back toward the school.
!" So, he had to admit, he sounded a bit scared and panicked,
but he
something, even without knowing how he did. They were all
about to die. It was a feeling, but one so powerful it nearly rocked him, even
as he barked orders.

took off pretty fast, but it wasn't instant, since she was new and hesitant.
Timon didn't run to the controls, working on his communications device instead.
He didn't wait, bumping Petra off without hesitating, slamming the indicating
sigil for Count Lairdgren down. They were miles away when the sound hit them,
making a terrifying rumble. Then without waiting he made the windows go solid.
There was a flash first, but it was at their backs, so that might not help
anything. No one was blinded by the glare yet at any rate.

his Uncle, had told him about this kind of thing, which meant that he knew the
right words to say when Green, his grandfather, picked up.

here." He sounded too much like Tor for it to be comfortable. Then, they
were the same person, Tor and Green.

is Timon, over the Eastern Ocean. Someone just tried to nuke us."


me restate that, someone just managed to nuke the
about a hundred
miles off shore. Directly in line with Printer."

Are you certain?"

It could be anything that causes a massive light, then a big sound and all
that. We're flying. I don't suppose you know what to do?"

don't stop. I'll handle the rest."

lurched as something hit them, and flew into the side wall, hard.

It could
be anything of course, but he had a feeling that it wasn't going to be

Chapter two






There was a rattling that buffeted the whole craft, making
it rock so hard in the air that Bethany couldn't keep control of it. She just
shook too much. That wasn't normal at all. In fact, it shouldn't have been
possible. Timon was on the floor, laying face down, using all of his strength
to hold himself in place. It wasn't working very well and a few of the people
just didn't make it, flying against the walls under the strange forces that
were assaulting them.

"Hang on to something!" This came from a very
strained Petra, over his communications device, which was back in his pocket,
but Timon got what she meant. She was the Instructor and had to stay in charge.

Plus, it wasn't horrible advice. There wasn't a lot else
they could do, so they all followed her lead, with people making wild grabs for
the ones that were being tossed about too much. The impact with the ground
didn't register at first, until Tim managed to look up enough to see out the
front window, over Beth's shoulder.

She was bleeding from her face, but had managed to hold
herself in place. By force of will, most likely, Timon figured, since there
wasn't a lot to hold on to up front. The indication that they were down was
that they were plowing up huge amounts of dirt and some trees. That he didn't
really feel it happening was a sign that whatever had just hit them was a lot
different than the normal forces he was used to dealing with. The only good
thing was, when they stopped, they weren't buried totally.

Just mostly. The dark covered all put about six inches at
the top of the shield window in front. It was enough for him to navigate by,
after he freed his healing amulet to be passed around.

"Use the healing amulet. Everyone..." He nearly
froze, the panic of the situation catching for a bit, but he managed to clamp
it down and take a breath. "We need to get back in the air and see who
needs help. Heal first." He didn't toss the amulet, which was on focus
stone and wouldn't break, because he didn't know who would need it first.
Looking around he handed it off to Mindy, since they were clearly best friends
now. Being that he knew her name so well.

It took a bit to get everyone healed, but they did that in
the air, and found where Petra was. She'd actually outrun the blast well enough
and was still flying, but had headed directly for the Capital, because they
might be under attack.

The gesture was sweet, of course, but ultimately silly. What
was she going to do? Stop a bomb with her pretty face?

Timon didn't head that way himself however, just looking at
the area around them. It wasn't touched really. From the way the craft had been
affected he sort of figured the forest under them would be gone, but it wasn't
touched. Even closer to the beach, there was no sign of anything in particular
having happened, except for people outside of their shops and homes in Printer,
pointing at the strange cloud out in the water.

"Okay, everyone needs to be ready to move once we get
back to the school. Petra... How did you get back in touch with me? I don't
remember turning the communications device back on." It was an odd thing
to think about, but there was a gentle chuckle in return. One that sounded
strained and fake, but it probably meant she wasn't hurt too badly.

"Me either, I was a bit too busy for that. My guess is
that whatever hit us and shook the craft like that did it. That or we bumped
into things? I don't know. I'm about forty minutes outside the Capital. We
should clear the line so I can get in touch with the Palace." Then she
clicked off instantly, since it was, after all, an emergency.

He tried not to feel a sense of being abandoned by her.

Settling down in the fighting square with its low stone wall
and dirt interior, Timon called out to people. He tried to make it seem like he
was supposed to be in charge, even though the very thought would be ridiculous
as soon as anyone bothered with it for a moment. He was literally the youngest
person there. Also the one with contacts and magic sitting in his house off

"Karl, can you organize the school side of things? We
need..." What did they need? Nothing was actually damaged as far as he
could tell. "We need to make sure everyone is calm and that we can fight
if another attack comes. I have some magics for it. Mindy and I will see to
that part. Get everyone to the central square and be ready to move if the
Countess calls for us." Not that she would.

After all, they were just a bunch of school kids.

"Got it. Sentle, Rodale, get with the Instructors and
set that up. I'll go and see what the Countess wants done." At least he
had the good sense to seem a bit anxious about that. Timon opened the door with
a thought and pulled his communications device. It took some tapping, but he
had it lined up right to get in touch with Holly about ten seconds later, his
fingers moving a little faster than normal, thanks to fear.

"Printer here. Go."

"This is Tim Baker. There was a nuclear explosion over
the Eastern Ocean. An attack on me, if I was told right. That's... A really big
and illegal explosive device. Probably an attack by the rogue Ancients. Petra
went to the Capital, but we should check in there. We're scrambling the kids
here, just in case you need something. I have an extra communications device,
which will be going to Karl." Timon didn't know his last name or title at
all. So he made something up. "Your new school student commander. I have
some magics to pass out. Some fast craft and all that. Bethany will be heading
that part up." Because he was going to be busy, he didn't doubt. "I
should have that ready in about fifteen minutes. I want my stuff back, when
this is over." It was a bit heavy handed, but in emergencies things could
vanish, if you weren't clear about that right off the top.

"Understood. Thank you, Countier Baker. I'll see what I
can find out from here. Could you make a craft available to me for transport,
if needed?"

"On it. Still about fifteen minutes. We'll assign
someone." Not that they had other pilots that were any good yet, other
than him. It was a bit of a pain, but it was his job really, so why not?

Most of the kids got out there, looking shaken, but not more
than a bit bloody, since they'd mainly gotten a chance to heal up already.

Then Timon did something a bit strange, by calling the other
three people to come up by him.

"I'm going to make this smaller, so I can land at my
place. It doesn't have a real landing area for it." He didn't have a dorm
room, so had rented a little space above the local tavern. It was loud at
times, no doubt, but had a bed, and a new magical restroom out back, that was
serving as his rent for the room. The Tavern keeper was a woman, who ran the
place with her two decently young daughters, and their husbands. It wasn't a
new building, but they didn't live in it, so let him have the room for a few
improvements to the place.

It wasn't that he couldn't afford to pay gold for it, but
they'd offered the deal and really, not wasting all his coin made a certain
amount of sense to him. Especially with the way Trice spent it.

Not that she
it that wasn't the case at all,
but she'd started a campaign of acquiring properties and investing in
businesses already, as a hobby. She'd never mentioned it directly, but Timon
was almost certain that she'd been skimming coin from Tor for years, and was
using these new things as a way to hide her previous wrongdoings.

Though stealing from Tor
really. Not for her.
That part didn't thrill him, but it was clear that his older brother and his
new wife had been together, more than once or twice. For years even. It was
part of the noble way, and he wasn't supposed to be bothered by it or jealous,
but he hadn't been raised in that system, so it was hard to keep in mind all
the time.

Still, it meant that they weren't going to starve, anytime
soon and kept his new wife busy enough that she wasn't too worked up over him
leaving after three weeks of being married. Actually, that part was almost
expected, according to her, since it was clearly an arranged thing. People
would understand her marrying a twelve year old a bit
if she
wasn't living with him all the time.

It just made more sense to most people.

Shaking his head Tim focused and shrank the craft around
them, leaving two seats in the back and one up front for the scary giant woman.
Then he raised the thing up a bit and settled in front of the Sheepskin. That
was the name of the Tavern. It was supposed to be traditional, but he didn't
know the origin of the name.

"Home. For me at least. I have the room upstairs. Um,
Beth, could you stand guard here? You too Mindy, Karl can help me with the
lifting and toting." It was just a bit sexist of him, he realized, as well
as unfair as either girl could have done it just as well, but neither seemed to
mind being excluded from the task for the moment. He really didn't want to
leave the craft unguarded since it was just on the street, hovering over the
slightly uneven paving stones.

"We can hold it, I think. Unless a cart comes."
She looked around, but the street was still, except for a few people still
standing and trying to see the big steam spire off in the ocean.

"Then rise up about twenty feet and let them pass
under. If the horses will do it, I mean."

"Ah." It wasn't inspired conversation, but the big
girl smiled prettily enough, showing her nice white teeth.

Karl didn't wait for him, making the door open and hopping
out with surprising agility for a big person, which meant he scrambled a bit to
follow along. The other man wasn't an unknown at the place, it seemed, since
the woman behind the counter raised a hand in greeting to him.

"What can we get for you today?"

Karl froze for a second, but Timon didn't, and headed for
the old wooden staircase without pause.

"Hey Mary. There was an attack earlier, we drew them
out over the ocean, but there might be fighting. I have to get some things from
my room. We might have people in and out for a while." It was a tavern,
but that meant tables and benches for people to sit at. It sort of made sense.

"Oh? I don't suppose anyone will be paying, will they?
Is it a real attack? Rebels?"

Timon nearly lied, then just shrugged.

"Worse. Ancients. Real ones, which I can explain later
if you want. We'll probably have a few in here that are on our side too... I
know that sounds like a joke, but it isn't. Regardless, charge everyone,
naturally. You're running a business here." He kept going the whole time,
but the woman, who was the owner's older daughter, and pushing thirty, but hid
it pretty well, nodded as he moved past her.

"Right-oh. Well, game or attack, we'll stand with our
own, here at the Sheepskin. Especially if people have coin."

It was a bit of a joke, really, her saying that. True, she
helped in the Tavern, but she wasn't all that coin hungry really. No one in
Noram was, compared to some places. It was only fair that they be paid for
their work though, so he nodded back, smiling just enough so that it wouldn't
look like he was scared.

Karl came with him, but stopped in the door, which was a
good idea, since the place really wasn't big enough for the man. The ceiling
was about seven feet high, and Karl was nearing eight. It was big enough for a
bed, with a chest at the foot of it. One that was made of magic. After Tim got
to it he touched the lid and opened it with a thought. It would respond to him,
and probably any of the better builders in Noram, but most people couldn't
muster enough concentration to make it work.

The bag he wanted inside it was heavy with metal bits. He
had a small chest inside too, under his clothing, filled with coin, but not a
lot of it, in case he was ever robbed. He could get more, if he needed, but
leaving it in a box above a Tavern just seemed like a poor plan, so he only had
about twenty gold with him. Most of that was in silver too. He didn't have a
lot of expenses, and he wasn't certain, but he kind of thought that Helga the
Tavern owner didn't realize who he was, other than some boy that was auditing
classes at the new school. Some little boy that had a few magics to lend.

In the sack he handed to Karl were about five hundred
different things. All made, or at least copied, by him. He'd gotten a lot
better over the last six months and had used working for the last week as an
excuse for not seeing his brother or the rest of his family. Tor wouldn't
complain about him building too much after all, since he did it himself all the

The real trick wasn't in just avoiding his brother though.
He also had to stay away from anyone that might work out that something was
really wrong with him, since thinking things about Tor would be pretty obvious
to the man, if they were around him a lot. Timon was a bit worried about his da
and older brother, Todd, who were good hearted people and could keep a secret well
enough. The thing there was that they both had obligations that might bring
them around Tor in the coming weeks and months and didn't have the ability to protect
their thoughts.

Not that he knew of at least.

The other problem was his littlest sister, Taman. She was
nearly six now and already a full builder. Worse, or better, depending on who
you asked, she was
. It remained to be seen if that was in greater
measure than what he had, but she was going to be a problem if they weren't
careful. She was just a child and asking her to keep a secret as big as her own
brother being one of the biggest threats to the world...

Well, no one should have to bear that, should they? Timon
was still
at Tor, and still didn't want to know what he did.

BOOK: Kingdom of Stars (The Young Ancients: Timon Book Three)
6.33Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub

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