Sun Shield

Commander Xylm of the Red Bastards jumped when he heard Knthens voice in his head.

“Commander, please meet me in the docking bay.” Despite his powers, Knthen usually used the intercom, and there was nervous emotion in his projected voice. The use of Xylms title, Commander, made him uneasy. The Red Bastards never stood on ceremony; rank was never mentioned when they were on their own. Something was up.

Knthen packed his things into the small storage unit of his fighter. He wasn’t wearing his flight suit; instead, he was dressed in the gold and bronze of the Sun Shields, his cape dull under the florescent lights. Xylm hadn’t seen Knthen in his Sun Shield uniform since the day he arrived, four rotations ago, as their old Sun Shield left to meditate on the side of a mountain.

Xylm crossed his arms, annoyed. “You’re leaving? Why wasn’t I notified?”

Knthen handed him a scroll, the mark of the War Council shimmering on the digital plastic. “I can’t stay. All Sun Shields have been ordered home.”

Xylm caught Knthens shoulder. “The Red Bastards have always had a Sun Shield, it’s a tradition. Why are the Sun Shields leaving us without our resident psychic?”

“The Sun Shields never promised a psychic to you.”

Xylm felt Knthens rage on the inside of his skull. “Don’t you dare put your fear on me.” He tossed the scroll on the floor. “I’m not your enemy. What in the filth is happening with the Sun Shields?”

Knthen touched the golden mark of the triple suns on his forehead, the mark that showed him to be a psychic. “Trust me Xlymn.” Knthen reached for his friend, his palms closing in on Xylms cheeks. Knthen touched Xlymns temples and closed eyes with the tips of his fingers. Xelm relaxed, and his head rested onto Knthens palms. Knthen closed his eyes.

When Knthen stepped back, Xylm shook his head, feeling fuzzy. “What was that for?”

Knthen bowed his head. “I needed to see you, I needed to know for sure.”

“By the holy dark, what is going on?”

Knthen looked away, focusing on his ship. “I think I’m going to be killed.”

“What? Who would kill you?”

“The War Council. Sun Shields have been judged dangerous to the human species, the genetic alterations have, they say, made us inhuman, dangerous. They say we have too much power. The debate is going on in the council right now, we don’t know what the outcome might be.”

“How could they do that?” Xlym shook his head. “They couldn’t. No, this will pass over.”

“Most people don’t feel like you do Xlym.”

“Don’t go then.” Xlym shook Knthens shoulders “Stay here. They will have to come through us to get to you, I know the Bastards would stand with me.”

“It wouldn’t matter.” Knthen tapped the side of his head.” “I’m rigged with a self destruct. All Sun Shields are, in case they go rogue. At least, if I go, I might be able to appeal to the council.” Xlym struggled for words. Knthen lowered his voice.

“Xylm, I need to trust you with something.”

“Anything.”

“If I am killed, the Red Bastards will still have a psychic.”

“What?”

“Xylm. I’ve suspected this for a while, the way you seem to know what someone will say before they say it, the way you calm the hotshots down when their egos get too big. I made myself believe that you were just a talented leader. I never let myself make sure, I never wanted to know. Now I have no choice. Xylm, you are a psychic.”

Xylm laughed, this had to be a joke. Knthens face was sad. Xylm felt his heart beat faster. “How is that possible? I’m not a Shield! Shields are grown sterile in a lab. My parents aren’t psychic. It’s not possible.”

“I don’t know how it happened. Maybe if two Rouge psychics conceived a child in the early days, before the sterility program.” He shook his head. “I don’t know, Xylm, but you are psychic. The Sun Shields would have had you killed if they knew. You may be the last of us Xylm. There may come a time when humanity will need you, and the Sun Shields will be gone.”

Knthen climbed into his ship, and Xylm backed away, his mind still struggling with Knthens revelation. As Knthen locked the restraints in his cockpit, Xylm called out to him.

“You wait. The War Council will reverse their decision, you’ll be back in a standard round.”

“Keep safe, Xylm. Promise me, no matter what happens, you won’t hold my death against humanity. They will need you one day. Promise me.” The cockpit door descended, closing over Knthens head.

“I swear it.” said Xylm, as Knthens engines roared.

“I knew you would.” Knthens disembodied voice hung in Xylms mind, as the ship roared out into the silent black of space.

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