Cassa shook her head, confused now. He was inside her mind. Playing games with her. Toying with her memories. “No!” she fell to her knees. How had he done it?
Everything was eerily quiet now, pervaded by the devastation of the Ubris. None of the Deoras had seen the on-coming storm. Not even those like Cassa, who were trained by the Holy Order of the Quantum Solaris to intercept such vile enemies.
The Ubris were the psychic vampires of the neighbouring territory; outnumbered by the Deoras, but nevertheless powerful and dangerous enemies. One never knew when or where they would strike. Cassa stared at the wall in front of her, tears silently falling. How they got passed her perception field she could not fathom, but now it was too late.
She heard a noise and looked up. A figure stood in the door way. His robes were the swirling colours of the sun itself. Though his face was grave, his eyes were warm and compassionate. Around his neck was the triangular insignia of the Quantum Solaris. “It’s not your fault.”
“He took Achilleus.”
“He, and his vile hoards, did not only take Achilleus.”
Cassa looked into his deep grey soulful eyes, searching for an answer. There were none. “But our perception fields…” she started, her hands raised in an almost pleading gesture.
Delta Amon shook his head. “It would appear they found a way to block them,” he explained. It was of little comfort. She had still given Cizo Para all the ammunition he had needed. “It was not your fault,” the old man said, reading her thoughts. He sat down beside her, and put a comforting arm around her shoulders. She wept quietly.
Delta Amon dabbed her face with his own robes. “Word has come back. They have taken a majority of the warrior men to Luna Saevia.” It was several hundred miles away – a city in Ubrisia, land of desolation and nightmares. “They are imprisoned and, according to my sources, under some sort of spell or trance.” Cassa never questioned the validity of his information. Delta Amon’s sources were never wrong. “There is a strong psychic force-field around the location. We can’t reach them. I’ve tried.”
“Who remains in Reguntor?” she asked.
“All those who were in the temples. A few of the stronger priesthood, like yourself. About seventy five percent of the foot soldiers are gone, both men and women. A third of the Quantum Solaris remains in the city.”
He let it sink in.
“And the citizens? How many are left?”
“About half. Mostly women,” the High Priest replied.
“Why mostly women?”
“There used to be a saying on Earth, the planet that our forefathers came from: A nation is not conquered until the hearts of its women are on the ground. Then it is finished no matter how brave its warriors or how strong their weapons.” He looked out towards the horizon. “Today your heart, my brave priestess warrior, is on the ground along with the hearts of the people of Deora.”
“I’ll find them. I’ll get them back! I’ll find a way!” The anger and emotion rose in her.
Delta Amon shook his head, “It is no use. They have won, and they have gone.”
Cassa felt a stab of defeat and loneliness penetrate her soul. She shook her head, “But Achilleus.”
“Achilleus is gone,” he interrupted. “You must see. There is nothing you can do. Nothing anyone can do.”
She slumped against the wall, distraught, heart heavy as a rock. Bewildered at how she had been used and fooled by an enemy so much weaker than herself.
“If we can get through the force-field…”
Delta Amon turned, “Do you think the High Priests have not tried? We have. It is too strong. Now Cizo has our own priesthood working against us.” He took her hand and patted it gently, “You are good, Alpha, but we Delta have been trained in the highest of the magical arts for decades. We are defeated.”
“What will become of them?” Cassa bit her lip, tears stung her eyes again. She swallowed them back.
Delta Amon shook his head, “They will no doubt become part of the Ubris army. They will be used or discarded when no longer needed. They are a pawn, Cassa. Nothing more. Just a pawn in the Ubris power game.”
“Discarded?” her eyes were wide.
“Abandoned to walk the desert and forests most probably. They won’t realise.” He turned and laid his hands on her shoulders, “They won’t remember us. They won’t know their fate.”
“But we will know it. We will remember it!” Cassa cried, with a tone of indignation.
Delta Amon nodded sadly and arose. “And our hearts will be on the ground.”