• Published 9th Jul 2019
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The Dusk Guard Saga: Hunter/Hunted - Viking ZX

An ancient, lost empire is on the verge of returning from its imprisonment, and the Dusk Guard have been dispatched. Their mission? Retake the city, secure it, and above all, keep its ancient ruler from seizing control once more.

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Chapter 3

Alright Hunter, he told himself as the control yokes jerked in his hooves. You’ve got this. Nice and easy, just like she said.

“Nice and easy.” Sky Bolt’s voice echoed at his side again. He didn’t bother to look. His eyes were fixed on the instruments in front of him, pressure dials and power readouts, all dancing as The Hummingbird powered forward through the sky. An increasingly aggro’d sky.

One that seemed less and less welcoming by the minute.

Nice and easy, he thought, his eyes darting to the most important instrument of all on the console: The compass. He eyed their heading, checking first the current reading and then those on the various rings around the device. Not long now, he thought, eyes darting to the fold-down map in the upper right corner of his vision. Sky Bolt had helpfully charted their course for him atop one of the covers. All he needed to do was follow that and keep the ship steady, and—

Another gust of wind struck The Hummingbird, the aircraft shaking and skittering slightly to the side. He tightened his grip on the yokes, hooves locking down. He could feel his wings twitching, trying to react to the sudden motion and “correct” their course. Naturally, if he did that, all he’d accomplish would be looking foolish. And maybe smacking the muzzle of his teacher with an outstretched wing.

“Relax,” Sky Bolt said from beside him. “This isn’t some early-model airship. The controls have safeties into them. They resist external force, prioritizing force from the yokes. Just keep a steady hoof.”

“Right.” He nodded, eyeing the sky ahead of them and the compass with alternating glances. We really should have started one of us on this earlier, he thought as he watched the compass heading sway once more, The Hummingbird’s course once again sliding with the wind. Then again, this thing’s been under construction until just recently, and with everything else that’s been going on, plus the chaos of getting a unit like ours supported …

Should have, would have, oh well, he thought, one of his father’s old sayings leaping to mind. Now there’s nothing left but to make do.

He checked the compass heading again. The heavy dial had eased slightly to the right from the indicator he’d marked with one of the rings. Another degree or two and—


Sky Bolt’s single word almost made him jump. I was checking, wasn’t I? He bent down closer, eyeing the compass reading. Was it the wind? The heading was swaying, but not that badly. The device was rocking in its cradle, staying as level as possible with each shake of the ship, but he didn’t think the heading was that off …


Crikey. He’d definitely made a blue if she’d repeated herself twice. It couldn’t be their heading. Was it one of the other dials? Had his tension thrown something off? His eyes darted over the control board, rapidly snapping from dial to dial. Airspeed … fine. Pitch … fine. How can something I do so naturally require so many complex readings?

“Relax,” Sky Bolt said, and she shifted, leaning forward and more fully into his field of vision. “Altimeter.” She tapped the small indicator. He turned to look at it, and as he watched, the number flipped down once more.

He let out an exasperated sigh. “How?”

“Well, for starters, it doesn’t have a setting next to it to notify you what your altitude was,” Sky Bolt said. “Just an autopilot setting. And since we’re not using that …”

Hunter nodded. “I forgot what out altitude was supposed to be, and lost track.”

“In your defense, we are flying through some pretty disagreeable weather. With all the pressure fronts and wind shifts, I wouldn’t exactly call this an easy training. Usually if you’re going to hand someone the yokes of an airship, you do it under a clear sky so they can get the feel for it. For somepony who’s being asked to pilot one through … Well, whatever this weather is—” She waved a hoof at the spinning snow scything past the airship windows. “You’re doing just fine for a first time.” She paused, settling her haunches back on the fold-down bunk she’d been using as an extra seat while he piloted the airship. “So, you think you can get her back to the proper altitude?”

He glanced down at the controls, trying to remember the crash course she’d given him at the start of the whole exercise. Also, I really don’t like the name “crash course.”

“Relax,” Sky Bolt repeated. “Just think of it like the opposite of you teaching me Tempest and Hurricane. You show me something, I mess it up, you correct, I get better.”

“Is that really the best comparison?” he asked as his eyes searched the control board. There had been multiple ways to make the adjustment, if he was remembering correctly. He needed the one that kept the airship the most stable. “I mean, if you do something wrong there, you just go off balance or something. If I do something wrong here, I risk plowing this thing into the ground.”

“Hah! Like I’d let you do that to my baby,” Sky Bolt said, though a quick glance in her direction showed that her wings had lifted slightly in a defensive manner. “That’s why we were at the altitude I set. Which was …?”

“Um …” He glanced at the dial. I’m pretty sure that we’re lower than we’re supposed to be, so the starting number must have been higher. So … “Thirty-five hundred feet?”

“You’re guessing, but you’re correct,” Sky Bolt replied, and his stomach dropped.

Right now we’re hovering right around three thousand. How’d I manage to lose five-hundred—?

“Relax, Hunter.” Sky Bolt leaned forward once more. “You’re still three thousand feet above plowing into a snowbank somewhere. We’re over the frozen plains, a few dozen miles south of running into a mountain. So just move her back to the proper altitude and you’ll be fine.”

"I’ll be fine," she says. I feel like I’m about to make everything go sideways. He ran his eyes over the controls again. I really wish she’d let me watch a while before jumping to hooves-on training.

Granted, he thought as he reached the end of the control board and started over. If she had, you’d probably just have ended up chinwagging and not paid the slightest attention to what she was doing. But at least you wouldn’t be trying to square the—

“So how’s Thistle?”

“Eh?” The question jerked his attention away from the control board. Sky Bolt was looking at him with a wide-eyed, expectant look on her face.

“You were gone all day yesterday,” Sky Bolt said, leaning forward slightly and turning her head so she could give him a knowing stare. “It was your day off, and you have been seeing Thistle a lot, especially since she broke up with her last coltfriend …”

“How do you know about that?” he asked, jerking his eyes back to the controls. Which one was it!?

“Uh … duh, you talk. And I’m pretty sure Dawn’s been keeping tabs on it just because that’s sort of her job?” The last bit of her statement stretched into a question, as if she wasn’t positive that was what Dawn was supposed to do, but at the same time wasn’t really questioning it. “But anyway, you took yesterday off, so …”

She doesn’t know, Hunter thought as his chest let out a subdued pang. Either that, or she hasn’t connected the dots. “I uh, didn’t take the day off to see Thistle. She was working anyway.” Please don’t ask further, please don’t ask …

It wasn’t entirely a lie. He had seen Thistle. When she’d followed him to Swift’s grave. And that wasn’t something he wanted to share with Sky Bolt, as friendly as the young pegasus was. That was … private. And hey! There it is! He tapped a control with one hoof, watching and waiting expectantly. After a few moments, he felt the telltale heaviness settle against his body, and the altimeter began to rise.

“Hey, nice job,” Sky Bolt said. “And now—”

“Check the heading,” he said, nodding and looking down at the compass once more. A glance at the number Sky Bolt had written atop the map told him that he was almost just on the edge of going too far, and he turned the yokes to one side, The Hummingbird going into a gentle turn. The navigational tools were different than the ones he’d been trained to use in the Rangers, but they followed the same principles.

“Good,” Sky Bolt said. “See? I told you that you just needed to relax.”

Get my mind off of one thing, maybe, he thought as he adjusted one of the dials around the compass. But relaxing that wasn’t.

“Anyway, you’re almost at the end of this section of the loop. You want me to take over, call it a break for now?”

“Oh yes please,” he said, sinking back and letting go of the controls and moving to slide out of the seat. “I would like nothing better.”

“Hang on.” Sky Bolt held a hoof out in front of his chest, blocking him from leaving the seat. “Before you leave, you need to engage the autopilot. The Hummingbird isn’t going to let a gust of wind throw her rudder or flaps out of alignment, but if you don’t set the autopilot, she won’t notice if she ends up facing the other way either.”

“Right.” He nodded. Autopilot … autopilot … autopilot … There! A switch sat to one side of the compass, helpfully labeled. Manual … automatic … weather?

“Weather,” Sky Bolt said, as if sensing the reason for his hesitation. “It accounts for gusts and inclement elements, focusing on averaging out readings over time rather than making by-the-minute corrections.”

“That’s …” He looked out the cockpit glass. “Pretty impressive.”

“Yeah,” Sky Bolt said, motioning for him to move. “And really expensive.”

“Good thing we have a budget, then,” Hunter said as he stared out the glass. The Crystal Mountains were off to their right now, The Hummingbird on an almost easterly course. Below them stretched the frozen plains of the northern end of Equestria: a flat, white tundra shrouded in snow.

“It’s pretty bleak, isn’t it?” Sky Bolt asked, matching his gaze as she moved back into the pilot’s seat.

He nodded. "I can’t imagine who’d live up here. Or why.”

“People live on the Ocean. Ponies, griffons, minotaurs …”

“Yeah, but that makes sense. The Ocean is a source of ethereal crystal. This?” He waved a wing at the wide expanse of white outside the windows. “It’s just … nothingness. Their city must have looked like an icicle.”

“Hey, they made it work,” Sky Bolt said, glancing at the map and then folding it back out of sight. “I’m pretty curious to see what it looked like myself. What sort of insulation materials did they use? And crystal ponies? What did they look like?”

“We’ll find out, I guess,” Hunter replied before glancing at the door. “So … am I good to go?”

“Yeah,” Sky Bolt said, her eyes back on the controls once more. “That’s enough for today. We’ll do a little more tomorrow. For now, you should probably get suited up. Just in case something does happen.”

“Right.” Sky Bolt had grabbed him as soon as breakfast had been over, so there hadn’t been time to get changed. And given our team would be taking the airship … “Hey, how do we go about cleaning our suits? Mine’s got a funky odor.”

“Dawn has a cleansing and sterilization spell,” Sky Bolt said. “Were you practicing with the armor the last time the cleaning crew came through?”

“Three days ago?” he asked.

“You were. Take it to Dawn. She’ll clean it up, though she might give you flak for it.”

She probably would. “Thanks. And thanks for the lesson.”

“Not a problem,” Sky said, snapping the autopilot off and adjusting the airship’s altitude controls. He felt the deck press against him once more, The Hummingbird rising closer to the dark grey storm of clouds above. “If Nova’s free, it wouldn’t hurt to send him in here.”

“I can check,” he said, putting a hoof on the cockpit door. “Anything I should let Steel know about the weather?”

“Only that it’s getting worse,” Sky Bolt said with a shake of her blue mane. “I can’t make sense of it, either. It’s not acting like it should. Granted, I’m not about to go flying out in it to take readings, but it feels like it should be getting weaker, when instead—”

A dull rumble echoed through the cockpit, distant but deep. Hunter’s ears flicked. He knew that sound. Sky Bolt did as well, judging from her expression. “It’s getting worse,” he said. “If that thunder rumbling was any sign.”

“Yeah,” Sky Bolt said. “I really hope it is something to do with that empire coming back, because that would suggest it’d burn out once it is back. If not …”

“Right,” he said, taking the unsaid implication. If not, this mission’s going to get a lot more stroppy. “I’ll let Steel know. And send in Nova, if he’s free.”

He nodded and slid the cockpit door open, stepping into the common room. Steel and Nova, both fully suited short of their helmets, looked up at him as he closed the door behind him. One of the duffels of winter gear was spread across the table in front of them, its equipment in varying states of being packed. Nova was holding a pair of snowshoes in his magic, apparently in the middle of trying to work out how to attach them to his armored hooves.

“Was that thunder we just heard?” Steel asked as Hunter stepped up to the table.

“It was,” he replied with a nod. “We didn’t see it, but the clouds are definitely rumbling.”

“I see …” Steel said. “Would I be right in guessing that the weather’s getting worse?”

Hunter nodded again. “Slowly but steadily, yeah. Worse, it doesn’t look like a single storm. It’s more like … a lot of little storms kicking up all over the place.”

“Lovely,” Steel said, turning back to the table. “One more thing to worry about.”

“Sky Bolt also wanted to know if she could give Nova a pass at learning how to fly.”

“Really?” Steel asked. Nova looked up, eyes wide with surprise. “I don’t see why not. If the weather’s getting worse, giving him a crash course now wouldn’t be a bad idea.”

“Boss?” he interjected. “It sounds better when you don’t call it a ‘crash course.’”

“Good point.” Steel turned to Nova. “Well, Spec?”

Nova seemed to consider it for a moment before sliding the snowshoes back to the tabletop. “Seems like a good idea to me,” he said. “Right now?”

“Head on in,” Hunter said, motioning toward the door. Nova nodded and trotted through, sliding the door open and shut with a quick glow of his horn as he went.

“So,” Hunter said as the latch shut with a faintly-audible click. “How goes the check of the winter equipment?”

“So far, so good.” Steel reached into the duffel and pulled out a long, metal rod. “They’re about what I expected.”

“Fifty-percent organized, fifty-percent chaos?”

“A little more like eighty-twenty, but yeah,” Steel replied. “Sabra’s helping Dawn in the med-bay. She’s sorting through all the medical supplies. Organizing them based on severity of injury they’re good for.”

“Sounds like a good plan.” Hunter stepped forward and picked up one of the snowshoes. It was a basic design, an interwoven ribbing of wooden mesh spread out across a light, metal framework. “I need to ask her to clean my suit.”

“Clean …?” Steel looked up, recognition dawning in his eyes. “Oh right, cleaning was—”

“A few days ago, and I missed the memo,” he finished as he walked over to his locker. “It’s not bad yet, but it is a bit noticeably … ripe, in a few spots. Especially since I was doing a workout in it.”

“Understood,” Steel said, turning his attention back to the tent poles he’d been messing with. “Go get it cleaned, suit up. You know the drill.”

“Yeah, I’ve got it,” he said as he opened his locker, exposing the carefully racked plates of armor within. “On a side note, you’ve mentioned to Sky Bolt that we shouldn’t have to try to do the impossible in these things when we need to use the bathroom, right?”

“It’s been brought up,” Steel said as he plucked his suit and threw it over his shoulders. “It’s a low priority at the moment, but she’s working on a few solutions.”

“Should the fact that you said ‘a few solutions’ instead of ‘fixing it’ worry me?” Hunter asked as the locker shut with a bang.

“Considering that one of the options I’ve heard her exploring so far is a mod that simply removes waste from your intestines via some sort of failed teleportation magic, possibly,” Steel replied. “But I told her ‘no’ to that one.”

“Sun above, thank you,” Hunter said, a faint, watery feeling coursing through his insides. “I’m not using something like that unless I’ve clearly cracked a fruity.”

“To say nothing of the test subjects,” Steel said as he walked around the table and headed for the rear hall. “I’ll keep her grounded, don’t worry.”

Good, Hunter thought as he made his way down the hall. The door to the med-bay was shut, and he lifted a hoof to knock. A mod to get rid of waste using teleportation? A faint shudder ran down his limbs and out to his wingtips. I’m all for magic most of the time. But that? Starkers.

His hoof rang against the metal hatch, a faint “Enter!” echoing along a few moments behind it. He brought his hoof down and pulled the latch back, the door opening with a light pop that was almost lost under another distant rumble of thunder.

Great, he thought as he slid the door to the side and stepped into the medbay. Weather’s getting worse.

“Ah, hello lieutenant.” Dawn’s voice greeted him as he shut the door behind him, carefully running his eyes over the array of medical paraphernalia spread across the floor. The mare herself was standing on the far side of the room, multiples of the emergency medical kits they’d scavenged from the Palace floating in her magic. Sabra was nearby, an array of items and—Hunter assumed—several empty medical kits spread across the medical table before him. The zebra turned and gave him a welcoming nod before turning back to sorting what was atop the table into each of the kits. Dawn, meanwhile, seemed to be restocking his supply of items as she opened new kits and floated the contents out. As he watched, Sabra finished one of the medical kits and slid it to one side. A piece of colored tape—green, though he wasn’t sure what the significance of the color was—floated over to it in Dawn’s magic glow and secured itself atop the latch. The magic field then swelled to cover the medkit, and it floated down behind the table. A quick step to one side showed an open container resting on the deck, gradually being filled.

“We’re checking and clearing each medkit,” Dawn said, answering his unasked question. “The Palace was able to supply a large number of them, but very few of them are uniform, especially some of the less-frequented ones. So we’re sorting them manually, making sure each one has the necessary supplies for each color.” She opened another medkit in her magic, and a cascade of bandages spilled out of it … and nothing else.

“What’s the green signify?” he asked.

“Basics,” Sabra replied. “Bandages, antiseptic, soap, clean cloth, burn cream, and other basic medical supplies.” He snapped another lid shut, Dawn’s magic sweeping it away. “For ponies with minor, self-treatable injuries.”

“We’re going to do another set with water and food,” Dawn added. “Blue tape. Orange, yellow, and red we’ll save for more capable kits.”

“Ranking with severity,” Hunter said, nodding. “I see. Pretty good thinking. Prioritization.”

“And something that hopefully their own doctors can pick up on rapidly,” Dawn said. “Despite being a thousand years behind the times.” She levitated another completed medkit away and then looked at him. “Now, what can I do for you, Hunter?”

“Actually,” he said, flipping his head around and snagging the neck of his suit with his teeth. “‘ou’d you ‘lean ‘is?” An orange glow settled around one of the legs, and he let go, watching as it floated away. “I sort of, uh, missed our last cleaning day.”

“Hmm,” Dawn said, lifting one eyebrow and giving the suit a critical look as it approached. “Fortunately for you, I do know a few cleaning and sterilization spells, though I’m not the best at them. Still, given a few minutes …” She looked at Sabra, who was just finishing another medkit.

“Sabra,” she said, catching the zebra’s attention. “If you don’t mind, would you go see if the captain needs your assistance for a few minutes? I have some questions I’d like to ask the lieutenant while he’s here. Thank you for your aid, and for the conversation.”

Karibu,” Sabra said, offering a quick bow of his head. He gave them both a salute, then stepped out of the medbay.

“You know,” Hunter said as soon as he was gone. “I do outrank you. I could just, you know, go …”

“Oh relax, Hunter,” Dawn said, still holding his suit in a magic glow as she turned and began finishing off the medkits Sabra had left atop the medical table, her hooves deftly divvying up what was left. A few were left incomplete, and she set them to one side, her magic laying the suit across the table in their place. “For starters, no needles. I promise. Secondly, while you do outrank me, yes, I could simply exercise my right as the team’s medical doctor.”

“Yes …” he replied, drawing the word. He could feel his wings itching. Relax! She doesn’t bite! Much.

No, she doesn’t, another deep, quiet part of him said. That’s what the needles are for.

“Of course, if you did that,” he continued, “We’d be right back at needles.”

“Not always,” Dawn said, her horn lighting up and casting a wide ray of orange light down across his suit. “Don’t forget that I am responsible for the team’s mental health as well as physical. Which is why I wanted to ask you how your day yesterday went.”

“Ah.” Of course. Should have seen this one coming. “Yesterday.”

“It went well, I hope?” Dawn asked, her magic narrowing in on one part of his suit.

“I …” There was no sense in holding it back. “It did, yeah,” he said. “It hurt—it always does, but this time it felt … I don’t know, different?”

“Different? Different how?”

He threw his mind back, remembering the quiet peace of the graveyard, the grey, carved stone of Swift’s memorial. “You know, I don’t know,” he said after a moment. Thinking about it brought back the same old ache … but at the same time it didn’t quite feel the exact way he remembered it.

“Thistle was there.” He’d spoken before he’d even realized it, and Dawn’s magic sputtered, blinking for a moment in surprise.

“She was?” she asked, her magic fading as she gave him her full attention. “I thought she had a delivery to make or somesuch?”

“She surprised me,” he said, staring at the table as he remembered. “She knew it was my day off, so she swapped shifts or something with somepony else at her job to come say hello.”

“And you took her to see Swift Wind’s grave?”

“No.” He shook his head. “I didn’t. She, uh … followed me after I made a bodgy excuse.”

Dawn nodded, her eyes going back to the suit. “And? If you’re comfortable telling me about it, that is.”

“She … actually handled it pretty well. And, if I’m honest …” He brought a hoof up, rubbing at the back of his head and tilting his Stetson forward. “I was really glad she followed me. She …” He wasn’t quite sure how to say what was running through his mind. “She was respectful about the whole thing. Honestly, it felt like she understood, really understood how much it hurt. I was glad she was there. It felt … good, really to share that with someone other than Derpy. It took the edge off. Sharing that with her …” He shook his head. “I don’t know. In a way it kind of reminded me of when I first met Derpy.”

He sat back, haunches hitting the rubbery deck. “Not quite the same, though. Derpy … She and I were … the phrase ‘birds of a feather’ comes to mind. She knew what I was going through. She helped pull me out of it. Because she’s a good pony, and she understood what I was going through, and knew that there weren’t that many who did. She knew what the mire was like, how it pulls you down. Plus, if she could help pull me out, she knew I’d be able to do the same for her.”

“Thistle …” He could feel himself struggling to find the words, to articulate exactly what he was feeling. “She understood. I …” He shook his head. “I don’t even know how to put it into words. But her being there … it helped. Just having her there, by my side, in that moment …” His throat felt heavy. “I think they really would have liked one another, you know? Thistle and Swift. They really would have gotten along.”

He fell silent, unsure of what to add. The ache in his chest was back, embers of an old loss stirred up in pain, but at the same time, they weren’t the same. There was something … warm … about them.

“You might be feeling all worried,” he said, lifting his head back up and running a hoof along one eye. It came away slightly damp. “But honestly … it still hurts. I think it always will, at least until I, you know, see her again. But …” He took a deep breath. “I guess the best comparison I can make is how it felt after I talked with Derpy the first time. I was deep in the thick of it, and Derpy … Well, having her around sort of pulled me up a bit, you know? It still hurt, but not the same way.”

“Thistle?” He shrugged. “Her being there was kind of a similar experience. I mean, I was shocked at first, surprised, but … After we’d talked, it was kind of like it was with Derpy. Once I opened up … I felt a lot better about it. And Thistle …” He shook his head. “She got it. I knew she understood how I felt. She didn’t try to press it off or pull back or anything. She just … accepted it and understood it.”

He let out a deep breath. “So yeah. If you want to know how I’m feeling, well …” He looked up. Dawn was looking right at him from across the table, his suit clearly forgotten. He smiled. “Honestly, I feel better about it than I have in years. And certainly better about it than I normally would after … well, you know.”

“Which isn’t to say that it didn’t hurt. I bawled, Dawn. It hurt. But it’s like … I let it out. It still hurts … but that just means I loved her that much.”

“Hunter,” Dawn said, a smile of her own gracing her muzzle. As always, it looked refined. Dignified. But there was a warmth behind it, clear as the sun. “Thank you.”

“Thank you? For what?”

“For trusting me,” Dawn said, still smiling.

“Hey, you’re the team doc.”

“True,” she said. “But I’m also the … ‘ice queen of needles?’”

“Well …”

“I’m just saying thank you for being so candid, even with your reservations.” Her magic gripped his suit once more, picking it up. “And, if I may, I’m glad to hear that the … anniversary visit, if I may call it that, went so well. You seemed well, but I wanted to ask.”

“No,” he said, rising. “You needed to ask. That’s your job. To make sure I’m not … gone starkers with grief.”

“Well, yes, that is true,” Dawn said, her horn once again glowing. “But I also wanted to ask, job or not. It is who I am. I know it may not always seem like it, but … I do care for your well-being, Hunter.”

“Well …” Hunter trotted forward, striding right up to the end of the table. “Thanks,” he said, holding out a hoof.

“Anytime,” Dawn said with a smile, tapping her hoof against his. They shook, and then he stepped back.

“So … How’s the suit?”

“Not bad,” she said, her horn glowing again. A glob of … something … floated free of the material. There was a soft hiss as her magic sterilized it, and then she dumped it in a nearby receptacle. “I’d imagine in another few days you would have noticed the smell.”

“Isn’t it enchanted against stuff like that?”

“It is …” Dawn said, horn brightening again. “But there’s only so much an enchantment can do. One more thing to suggest to our resident mad engineer for future experimentation.”

“Easy with how you use that term,” he added. “Did Steel tell you about her idea for making it easier to use the bathroom with these things?”

“No …” Dawn said, brow furrowing. “I hadn’t.”

“I’ll let you ask him about it,” he said as she floated the suit up into the air and gave it a final pass with her horn. “It’s … well, frankly, terrifying.”

“I’ll have to ask, then,” Dawn said as folded the suit and set it on the tabletop. “There. Done.”

“Thanks,” he said, tugging it onto his back. “You want me to ask Sabra to come back in here?”

“If you would,” Dawn replied as he turned for the door. “And Hunter?”

He paused, hoof outstretched. “Yes?”

“Derpy introduced you to Thistle, didn’t she?”

“Yeah.” He nodded. “She did. Why?”

Dawn’s eyes seemed to sparkle. “It sounds like you have yet another thing to be grateful to her for.”

“Oh, she knows.” he said, and slid the door open. Another rumble echoed through The Hummingbird as he stepped out of the med-bay. She knows.

He turned toward the front of the airship. There was work to do, an ancient empire about to return, and a whole lot to get ready for when it did.

But despite all that, he felt pretty good.

Author's Note:

Hey Readers! I hope you're enjoying Book III of The Dusk Guard Saga! Remember, new chapters will release each Tuesday and Friday morning until the story is done, so check back soon! If that's not fast enough for you, I recommend checking out some of my non-fanfic published works to enjoy! You can find them at my website or by going direct to Amazon!

See you next chapter!

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