After the Nightmare

After the Nightmare

Book Three of the Celestial Serenade

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The soul that sleeps inside the dragon is Caltaran.
If the people he harries awaken him, will he fight for them?

On the eve of Earth’s greatest battle, Gaia is restless. Her people are about to participate in their most elaborate war plan yet. If they fail, the dragon will ravage Earth’s surface beyond recovery. But if they succeed, their alliance with the Caltarans may open travel beyond their solar system – a possibility they never dared dream possible.

Unfortunately, saving Earth isn’t the Caltaran Empire’s only ambition. If Earth wants to maintain their alliance beyond a singular battle, that means participating in their elaborate political dance – a tangle from which Gaia and the rest of the delegation cannot easily disengage.

And what of the warrior they hope to awaken? Does he remember the years he spent decimating two different civilizations? Can anyone hope to deal with the trauma and suffering visited upon that enigmatic sleeper?

Will humanity’s last desperate bid to save their world lead to salvation or destruction at the mechanical dragon’s claws?

The battle’s outcome balances on a knife’s edge…
“I’m sorry.” Gaia’s voice startled Salis. She had set her lips close to his ear, and she offered him an apologetic look as she drew back. “I know it sounds silly but… I had a dream.”

A cold chill of dread rose from the pit of Salis’s stomach. Alrayia used to sound exactly like this when she was young and still spoke of her dreams. “What kind of dream?”

“I’ve hijacked a Ruvalli communications channel,” Maribel declared, and Salis took a moment to marvel at how fast her fingers moved across the keypad of her console. “Hopefully, that will make the computer more likely to accept our codes.”

“Uplink establishing,” the alien scientist, Crir, added a moment later, his mouth tentacles swaying as he worked.

“It was terrible,” Gaia admitted. “The dragon somehow got into your space city. I was trying to get to the Council Chamber so I could warn everyone…”

“I have command access!” Maribel announced triumphantly, causing a small cheer to ripple across the bridge.

“First sequence initiating,” Crir added.

Gaia took a deep breath, leaned closer and continued. “The first time I ran through the courtyard, I saw you kneeling at the base of the statue.” She didn’t have to say which one. “You held your hand out to me, and I came closer. That’s when the statue came to life. It raised its great sword and cleaved the dragon out of the sky.”

Salis’s heartbeat quickened. “The first time?” he asked, finding her choice of words strange.

“We just lost another ship,” Anten growled. “Maribel, status?”

“I’m not sure,” Maribel admitted, sounding frustrated. “It will take a few minutes to cycle through the possible command sequences. We have to test after each one for a positive response.”

Gaia squeezed Salis’s hand again. “I haven’t worked it all out yet. I think the dream may have repeated, but it ended differently the second time. When I ran through the courtyard again, it was empty. You weren’t there. And when the statue came to life, it attacked me instead of the dragon.”

Salis’s heart leapt into his throat. It couldn’t be a coincidence that Gaia had dreamed such a powerful dream on the eve of their attack against the dragon, on the eve of their attempt to rescue the captive soldier hidden within. Anyone else might have been mad that she summoned him here in the middle of a battle to talk about her mind’s conjurations, but Salis believed in the power of his sister’s Sight. And if she had it, Gaia must have it too.

“We can’t hold out much longer,” Anten snapped as another large explosion lit the viewscreens on one side of the bridge.

“I know!” Maribel replied. “I don’t understand! We keep getting confirmations that our commands were successful. The pilot should be awake, but he’s not responding.”

“It’s coming straight for us!” one of the bridge technicians cried in horror.