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Preparations
The stomps of Kabur’s heavy walk echoed down the hallway leading to Exodus’ chamber. He did not enjoy leaving a battle, especially when he was causing so many casualties to the humans. There were times when he wished the burden of his command did not include as much discussion. Still, for his master, the one who had saved his kind from extinction, he would do anything.

As the doors to the great chamber slid silently open, Kabur’s eyes scanned for the despicable human he was forced to bow before; but there was no sign of Blackthorn. This was the first time he had been summoned for a private audience with Exodus since arriving in this new era. Kabur bowed deeply toward the dark corner from which he heard his master’s voice. He was curious why Blackthorn was not present, but felt relieved that he did not have to speak with the arrogant primitive again.

“My Lord Exodus, I arrived as soon as I received your summons.”

Exodus’ voice shattered through the chamber like the cracking of rocks. “You and the Juka continue to serve me well, Kabur. Report to me of the campaign.”

Kabur stood and looked upward into the darkness. “No force has been able to turn away the Juka, my Lord. We continue to ravage the cities and slay the humans. The dragoons… are performing adequately.” Nothing infuriated the great warrior more than being forced to fight alongside humans. In his mind it was an insult to all Juka.

“You have fought in Yew; tell me what you have seen.”

“The land of Yew changes in ways I have never seen before, my Lord. The very plants of the forest have uprooted and attacked the humans. Animals have become shapeless before the eyes of mine. The ground itself becomes moist and dank. Yet during all this change, the Juka remain safe. No plants attack us, no misshapen beasts threaten us.” Kabur paused for a moment, considering the next bit of information. “According to patrols the Meer have become ill. They would be very vulnerable to an attack of ours.”

From the shadows of Exodus’ voice small lights flickered for a moment, then faded away. The sound of whirring gears increased and quieted again. “The Meer were foolish enough to attempt the Decay.”

Kabur’s eyes became slits at the mention of the Decay. The Meer would only dare to use such magic in desperate times. In the past he had seen leaders and fellow warriors alike crumble to nothingness while in the Decay’s destructive grasp.

Exodus’ grating voice continued. “By attempting to save Yew, the Meer have may sealed its fate entirely, and their own with it. Continue attacking the humans in the cities, Kabur; the Meer can be disposed of at our leisure. Should the Meer somehow manage to save themselves and attack, you are to pull both the Juka and the Dragoons from battle.”

“Retreat?” Kabur was not pleased at this order, although he knew his master must have a reason. “You will have another task for us, Lord Exodus?”

“I may not contact you for some time, Kabur. Should the battle become too complex, I will not have my armies become endangered without my guidance.”

This information was unsettling to Kabur. Exodus had never taken any leave of absence of any kind while ruling over the Juka. “You are… leaving, my Lord?”

There was a pause as the whirring sounds increased and faded for a moment. “My attention is needed elsewhere, if I am to fulfill my purpose. There is a situation that I must prepare for.”

“And… Blackthorn?” Kabur would only refer to Blackthorn as a Lord if he were actually in the man’s presence. “He will be assuming full command until you return?” Kabur asked the question with a dark edge in his voice.

“Blackthorn is not aware of my actions. You are not to inform him of this conversation, or of my orders, Kabur. I trust that you will maintain your secrecy in this matter.”

“Indeed, my Lord.” Kabur grinned in the shadows of his helmet. “I shall.”

Published: May 2002
Please Note: Some dates are estimates as exact dates were unavailable.
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