Arsha looked out the window of her ready room and sighed. The deaths of her crewmembers during the operation that foiled the Under-Splitters weighed heavily on her mind. This was the first time she came to face mortality of ANY kind. She felt that the whole thing could have been avoided if she screened Melgem better. Her door then chimed. “Come in,” she sighed. Oak stepped in.
“We’re making our approach to the Drelda Forest,” he reported.
“Thank you,” replied Arsha. She left her ready room and entered the bridge.
“Fae escort confirmed,” reported Shalvey. “They’re ready to shrink us.”
“Give them the all-clear,” directed Arsha. Shalvey relayed the go-ahead as yellow light surrounded the ship. The ship then got smaller, smaller, smaller still, and stopped once it was proportional to the Fae escort. Fairies, Sprites, and Pixies led the ship to a docking bay inside a tree. Nazay extended the landing struts and docked the Endeavor safely inside the tree. The ramp lowered as Arsha, Shalvey, Oak, Orthena, and Melandra departed. A Fairy then approached the group with her procession. The procession consisted of her husband, the favorites of her harem, and her guard, the Empress’ guard. Rellmeer Almaydia, the Empress of the Fae Republic, was meeting Arsha personally.
“Welcome,” she greeted in a terse manner. “I understand you require parts for your ship.”
“Correct,” replied Arsha in the same manner as Rellmeer. They stared each other down for a bit…then a snort came from Rellmeer, then a snort from Arsha, then both ladies started laughing as Rellmeer pulled Arsha into a hug.
“So wonderful to see you again, Little One!” cheered Rellmeer. “Let me get a look at Realmfleet’s newest Captain!” She broke off the embrace to get a look at Arsha. “A fine looking Captain, if I do say so myself!” she praised.
“Thank you,” bid Arsha. Rellmeer’s antennae then twitched as they sensed something. She hid it rather well.
“I know you’re just here to collect some parts,” she offered, “but the Fae Republic is perfectly willing to take anyone wanting shore leave.”
“Very kind of you,” replied Arsha, not wanting to refuse the offer. All Fae subspecies are, after all, generous to their allies and friends and refusing their generosity is considered bad luck at best, very dangerous at worst. “I think we’ll take you up on that offer,” continued Arsha.
“Splendid!” cheered Rellmeer. “Come with me! I have a rather tremendous view of the Republic from my palace tower and I don’t believe you’ve seen it yet!”
Arsha and Rellmeer arrived in Rellmeer’s bedroom and looked out the balcony to see the Fae Republic going about its business. Fairies and Pixies were preparing their pollination squadrons to help the bees, Sprites were fixing roads, computers, lights, roofs, and other various aspects of life, all working to make the Fae Republic better. A Fairy senator could be seen working a drill for building a road. “Beautiful, isn’t it?” sighed Rellmeer in happiness. “700,000 years ruling the Fae Republic and I never get tired of the view. Progress makes this place better.”
“Yeah,” mumbled Arsha. Rellmeer realized that Arsha’s mind wasn’t on the view.
“All right, what’s eating you?” she asked.
“Hm?” quizzed Arsha.
“I don’t need my antennae to see your sadness,” replied Rellmeer. “You’ve been distracted by grief for a while and I’m guessing this is recent.”
“…It is,” mumbled Arsha.
“…Do you wanna talk about it?” urged Rellmeer. Arsha sighed before explaining.
“My first assignment was to help investigate Lord and Lady Varsek’s murder,” she began. “Next, I led a kingdom of Merfolk into battle. Later, I uncover a plot to cover up abuse towards a sentient people. A few months later, I was kidnapped and held for ransom, then helped uncover a Splitters’ plot and foiled said plot while losing five crewmembers in the process. I attended their funeral and then it all came crashing down how dangerous my life is right now. I’m supposed to be keeping watch over these people, yet five people died under my command.”
“I think I see where this is coming from,” realized Rellmeer. “You’re trying to bring everyone home.”
“That’s my job,” confirmed Arsha.
“Arsha,” replied Rellmeer, “that’s a conceit most captains have.”
“A conceit?” asked Arsha.
“Every captain always believes, early in their careers,” explained Rellmeer, “that they can bring everyone home and let them get on with their lives. It always comes as a shock to them when someone under their command dies. However, they seem to forget one thing after they really experience mortality.”
“Go on,” urged Arsha.
“Those crewmates,” continued Rellmeer, “knew the possibility that they might not see their families again existed, yet they believed the mission of protecting the Realms from any enemy outweighed any risk. To constantly dwell on their deaths would only belittle their sacrifice.”
“You’re saying I should just move on,” guessed Arsha.
“Well, I’d hardly put it like that,” replied Rellmeer. Arsha considered what the Fae Empress just said.
“Not something I do easily,” remarked Arsha.
“A strength AND a weakness,” observed Rellmeer.
“…Perhaps,” sighed Arsha. Rellmeer then hugged Arsha in sympathy.
“Have you at least visited Thengo?” she asked. “I’m sure she can help. She is an excellent counsellor.”
“…I haven’t,” replied Arsha, “but you’re right. I AM overdue for an appointment.”
“You have time now,” urged Rellmeer. “Take advantage of it and talk to Thengo.” Arsha then gave a small grin.
“Thanks for the talk,” she bid.
“It’s what I do,” returned Rellmeer.
A few days had passed and nothing interesting was going on, so Arsha decided to watch a bit of a plot compilation of her favorite reviewer, Zadera. He was a Blender, upper torso of a brown-furred Inu with a light patch on his front and the lower body of an aqua-legged Cecaelia. He was waving a scanner over a wrist communicator when he heard a teleportation spell finishing. He looked up to see a clone of him in mad scientist gear and a robot puppet with only a hover-skirt and three-digited claws for hands. “How’d it go?” asked Zadera.
“About as well as we thought it would,” reported his mad scientist clone, Doctor Craziloon.
“Well, I wouldn’t say it’s all bad,” softened the robot, Bordo. “We feared the lower decks had been totally compacted, but some sections actually are intact for the most part. However, most of the armor is buckled and had been torn to shreds from the impact.”
“Not to mention, the lower towers,” continued Doctor Craziloon, “are scattered across about half a por of the moon’s surface.”
“Just give me the long and short of it,” directed Zadera. “Is it salvageable?” Bordo and Craziloon looked at each other before shaking their heads in the negative with pained looks. Zadera let off an irritated growl.
“I’m sorry, Zadera,” responded Craziloon, “ but, even if the towers were intact enough to generate the fields necessary to raise us off the surface, structural integrity won’t hold in its current state and half the computer systems were fried when the emergency power grid overloaded.”
“If Relegay hadn’t transferred into the Gazer with us,” supplied Bordo, “she’d be dead.”
“There’s lots of material we can salvage,” continued Craziloon. “Most of the cargo bays are still intact and, overall, the ship is there.”
“If we had five years and a team of space-capable engineers,” mused Bordo, “maybe we can do SOMETHING, but those are in short supply.”
“Maybe…” suggested Zadera, “maybe we could ask Dor to help us. The Furious Army Orbital Station has gotta have resources that we can…”
“Bordo is being needlessly optimistic, Zadera!” interrupted Craziloon. “This isn’t something you can slap some magi-tape on and call it a day! Some of the metals used in the ship’s construction are not native to the Realms! Not to mention all the systems that were tied to wholly into Lord Maliz’s presence on the ship! Trying to bypass them would be nearly impossible!”
“DAMN IT!” swore Zadera as he slapped his chair.
“Don’t take it out on us, man!” snapped Bordo. “None of us are happy about this!”
“It got us!” growled Zadera.
“Who got us?” asked Craziloon.
“The Creature!” replied Zadera. “Of course, we didn’t find the Creature in the Realms! It was onboard Revieweron-1 the entire time! And then, when it saw that we were on to it, it attacked and destroyed the ship! Revieweron-1 was the only thing that could hurt it! Of course, it’d try to take it out!”
“Zadera,” interjected Bordo.
“And now, it’s gone and all we’ve got is the Gazer!” continued Zadera. “We don’t stand a chance against…!”
“It wasn’t the Creature,” interrupted Craziloon.
“Oh no,” argued Zadera, “I’m convinced now, more than ever, that…”
“We accessed the flight archive,” reported Craziloon. “We know what happened.”
“…What?!” quizzed Zadera.
“It was a terra-mite,” explained Bordo.
“…Again, WHAT?!” called Zadera. At that point, someone knocked on Arsha’s door.
“Come in,” she bid. Thengo entered the room.
“I’m not interrupting anything, am I?” she asked.
“Not at all,” assured Arsha. She motioned for Thengo to sit. Thengo took to a table designed for a Drider. “Honestly, I should have done this on the way here,” muttered Arsha. She then told Thengo the exact same thing she told Rellmeer.