Somewhere along the way, without her even being sure of when it happened, she had accepted this stranger who was not a stranger was part of her. And she could no more desert him when he needed her strength than she could stop her heart from beating.
"Your people," he said his voice husky with restrained passion.
"My people will do what they're ordered, whether I'm there or not," she said and hoped it was the truth. She trusted Atambe. His mannerisms were quirky, but he was a good officer. But that wasn't her primary duty at the moment. "MiCo expects me to protect this planet for another," she checked her chrono, mimicking his earlier action of hours ago, "thirty-one Terran standard hours and some odd minutes and I will carry out my duties whether you like it or not. My love," she said, savoring the sound and feel of the endearment, "I will not leave you and you will not succeed on your own. Remember on the Stjarna? One alone was overwhelmed. Two stood."
She thought for a moment he was going to try to send her away again, but instead he smiled. Her angel smiled and lifted her hand to his lips, caressing it lightly before saying, "Minn stríðsmaður, minn hjarta. My warrior, my heart," he repeated. "Let us stand together."
They stumbled across the rough ground. The light seemed to be increasing in intensity, though it was so bright now, it was hard to tell. Brenda squinted against the glare and wiped at her brow with the back of her hand. The heat was making it difficult to breathe.
Muraski stopped, pulling Brenda to a halt beside him. She judged they were about half a kilometer from the monolith. In spite of the intense heat and the air that was scorching her lungs, Brenda felt a chill pass through her. Its dull, hungering emptiness had frightened her before; but now that she knew what it could do....
She swallowed and squared her shoulders, pushing the fear away. She was a MiCo officer and no matter why they had made her one, she owed the Sol System service. The motto of MiCo flashed though her mind - Nos habitum quis nos have.
She would hold Rudpar as long as possible; not just for MiCo, but for herself and the man beside her. She would not fail him. They had a lifetime to share. It would not end before it began if she could help it.
She squeezed his hand and he turned to her. His expression was stern and his eyes had begun to take on that strange golden glow. Are you ready?
Then let us begin.
They both turned to face the monolith. As if it sensed their presence and intent, it began to pulse. A humming filled the night air around them. Brenda could feel it in her bones and coursing through the ground beneath her feet as it increased in intensity.