She should have known, because it was too quiet. Zeetha had become too used to the sounds of battle to listen for them in the midst of conjugal bliss.
And in the morning, Mechanicsburg was lost.
Not fallen. Not burned. Not destroyed.
As if it had never been there.
Many of the armies had fled. A few lost clanks littered the field of former battle and one lone Wolfenbach monitor ship patrolled amongst the clouds.
“…no…” Zeetha breathed. Her heart fought to sink into the core of the planet and leap out of her mouth at the same time. It couldn’t be happening. Not again.
Those few humans still on the field leaped in terror as a new howl rang over the plains below where Mechanicsburg used to be.
Axel Higgs, roused from the depths of the clank they had shared, looked out over the empty battlefield and the vast expanse of mountain range where Mechanicsburg wasn’t.
“Huh,” he said. “It’s never done that, before.”
Rage overtook her. Such epic fury had leveled a pirate fortress, but Higgs held her off until her body failed her and she collapsed in a fit of tears.
“…not again… not again… lost all over again… [I was beginning to think I had gone mad…]”
“[You are not mad. Skifander is real,]” soothed Higgs. “[And Agatha is alive. We must live with these two faiths, Princess.]”
“You… speak Skiff?”
“I’ve been around,” he said with a half-smile. “That’s not important, right now. Right now, you and I need to find out what happened to Agatha, and maybe even Mechanicsburg, and set things right.”
“How can I possibly—?”
“Let’s start by rounding up a few remaining witnesses, eh?”
Fighting! That, she could focus on! Zeetha grabbed a sword and prepared to leap out and do battle.
“But you might want to get dressed, first?” Higgs suggested.
Zeetha looked down at his shirt on her body and blushed.
That had been two years ago. A chain of vigorous interrogation lead her and Higgs to *this* snow-swept, hidden mountain range. Where a secret, hidden lair of the Knights of Jove may just be keeping a time travel device.
The problem with that was, that snow-swept, hidden mountain ranges were just *teeming* with secret, hidden lairs. All owned by different Sparky nutjobs with differing agendas and associated secret societies.
Some days, Zeetha felt like she was going through them in alphabetical order.
She shook one of the surviving, robed adepts until he woke. “Where are the Knights of Jove?”
“…dunno…” he squeaked. “We’re the Shrouded Cavalcade of Eee…”
Another day, another smoking ruin of a formerly secret, hidden lair.
“I’m coming, my Zumil,” she said to the whipping wind. “I’m coming. Remember all I taught you. Rememb—” She fought the sting in her eyes.
She had a promise to keep.