A/N: Yeah, I know, hot&heavy Krytburi chapter. This next one is so much more PG. XD
Chapter Six: Love and a Battlefield
War preparations continued to go on. New soldiers were recruited and more Reds joined the Resistance every day. Of course, the name Resistance was not as fitting now, because almost every Red on the planet agreed with cutting off Blue superiority in some way. Krytus and Kyburi grew closer still, and each day he left the apartment she worried away the hours until he returned. But her work and new comrades kept her busy, as did he whenever he was home. Kiry had met more friends as well, and thankfully went on more sleepovers.
The Reds and Blues were in the initial stages of conflict, minor breakouts on each planet but the major clash yet to come.
"Kyburi, Kora wants us all in the lobby." Kamila, another worker on the team at the apartment complex, poked her head through Kyburi's door. Kamila, like Kyburi, was the mate of one of the Red males living in the complex. As each building housed a team of Red warriors, when Krytus was gone, most of the apartments were empty. They always left a handful of soldiers behind in case of an invasion. Of course, most of the males were not in romantic relationships, thinking them a distraction, but the females of those who were formed the complex's 'task force,' so to speak. Right now they mostly cared for the building and its maintenance but there was much talk of converting to a hospital once the war effort progressed. Kora was the mate of Kyrosys, and as he was in charge of the male soldiers that lived there, she was in charge of the females.
"Alright." Kyburi nodded. Kora was not a force to be argued with.
She followed Kamila down the stairs and met her on the first floor with the other Red females. Kyburi was the youngest of the workers and the youngest to have a mate, but they didn't treat her much differently. A few were many millions of years older than her, but Kamila was only twenty million to her eighteen.
"Greetings, ladies." Kora nodded to them. "As you all know, our soldiers were gone last week on an undisclosed mission." There were some murmurs and nods of agreement. "Well, the purpose of that mission has been disclosed, and the males have all returned safely." A collective sigh of relief spread through the room. Kora nodded in agreement. "The mission was to scout out and recover any oppressed Reds still trapped on the Blue planet." She looked to the doors behind her, and they slid open to reveal Kyrosys.
"Thank you, Kora." He nodded to her, and the pair briefly synapsed, leading to hushed 'awws' from the Reds assembled. Kora silenced them all with an icy glare, and Kyrosys began to speak. This was before the Blues' massive assault on the Red planet, before his patrols had been brutally murdered, when he still spoke volumes.
"Yes, we visited Modulon 5 under the cover of night and retrieved several scores of Reds living under the plague of the Blues. We have brought them back with us so that they may join our cause and live in peace here, where they belong. Many of the males have already enlisted in our forces, and the warrior fire burns fiercely in their cores. A few of them will be joining our ranks and living here, and you are all expected to help the females acclimate. They will be joining you, and we must remember to remain united." Kyrosys nodded to the assembled Red female workers. "I have personally assigned some of you to the mates of the warriors I have selected to reside here. I know I can trust you to guide them and make them feel at home. For now, you are dismissed. I only need to speak with Kriyo, Kirte, and Kyburi. Thank you." He bowed curtly as the rest of the workers filed out.
"Lucky." Kamila whispered to Kyburi as she walked by.
I hope so. Kyburi thought to herself. She didn't know the first thing about mentoring! Sure, Kamila had helped her when she had first come here, but that was Kamila! Kyburi didn't know what to tell whoever it was—
"Kyburi, this is Korosivash." Kyrosys stepped in front of her, an anxious looking Red at his side. Apparently the new refugees had filed in while she was worrying. "She is the mate of Karmakaris, and will be staying here. She has already enlisted under Kora, to work in the hospital and on the maintenance team. I trust that you will aid her in adjustment to our ways."
"Of course." Kyburi nodded, trying to send a reassuring smile Korosivash's way. "Welcome."
The new Red avoided her eyes, and Kyrosys cleared his throat.
"Korosivash and Karmakaris are staying on the third floor," he continued. "Perhaps you could start with a tour?"
"Certainly." Kyburi replied uneasily. Korosivash was very different from the rest of the Red females she had met, and would only prove to be even more so. "Here, let me show you around." Kyburi noted the small satchel resting on Korosivash's hip. "What room are you in? We could set your things down," she attempted to make her feel more comfortable in an effort to get the girl to talk.
"302." Korosivash responded quietly.
"Oh, that's right down the hall from Krytus and I." Kyburi perked up, hoping for an opportunity for conversation. She led Korosivash into the elevator. "If you ever need anything, just let us know." Korosivash didn't respond, and Kyburi bit her lip. Maybe she should have let Kamila do this. The elevator door opened and Kyburi found the room 302, the door open to reveal a massive Red male standing at the computer.
"Karmakaris!" Korosivash exclaimed, sounding more energetic than Kyburi had presumed possible.
"Korosivash!" The Red male turned, equally happy. Kyburi watched wistfully as the two eagerly synapsed.
"I was worried I wouldn't be able to find you!" Korosivash admitted to him.
"Why, Korosivash, how inane! We're mates, remember?" Karmakaris laughed, but Kyburi could almost sense something more serious about his statement. "Our kind rescuers knew that!" Kyburi had a sense feeling about this Karmakaris. He seemed to be playing everything up, as if he was a part of some sort of coup. But she tried to brush off the wary feeling and tell herself that he was on their side.
"Right, o—of course!" Korosivash stammered. "I…I don't know, I was just being apprehensive, I suppose."
"Well, we're together now." Karmakaris smiled warmly. "Oh, I'm being rude. Who's this?" He looked to Kyburi, who awkwardly introduced herself.
"Kyburi." She reached out to shake his outstretched hand. "I was giving Korosivash a tour," she explained.
"Ah, well, I'll let you carry on, then." Karmakaris amended smoothly. He synapsed with Korosivash once more. "Thank you so much for your kind hospitality, Kyburi." The Red male said sincerely, and Kyburi felt guilty for ever mistrusting him.
"We're always glad to help our brethren escape the Blues," she responded truthfully. "Korosivash, would you like to see the rest of the building?" Kyburi asked, and Korosivash nodded.
"So, Karmakaris is your mate?" Kyburi asked in interest, hoping to finally initiate a genuine conversation.
"Yes." Korosivash nodded robotically, and Kyburi sighed. So much for conversation.
"You know, I remember when Krytus and I first came here." She tried again, and Korosivash brightened.
"You were captured too?" She asked quickly, and Kyburi looked at her in surprise.
"What? No, of course not! Krytus and I ran away!" She laughed. "Why, captured? You don't truly believe you were captured, do you?" The idea of a Red thinking they were taken from the Blue planet against their own will was so absurd and so foreign to Kyburi that she didn't even consider the possibility of Korosivash being serious.
"N-no. Of course not." Korosivash shook her head. "I'm happy to be here."
"I'm glad." Kyburi responded. But, with time, everybody who had met Korosivash began to question her statement. Like the other females in the building, Korosivash became a part of the maintenance force, but didn't exactly fit in to the established cohesive group. It wasn't that the other females excluded her; in fact they were quite welcoming upon first meeting Korosivash. It was simply that she was different.
Korosivash had never been a vehement supporter of the war. She had always been rather shy when working with the other females, keeping her head bowed and quiet, always declining the other worker's offers to go out. Kyburi had become closer to her only in that she had once lived on the Blue planet too.
"I just can't wait until we win this war." Kamila, working with Kyburi and Korosivash as they were the few younger females on the maintenance crew, had huffed one day. The Red males of the complex had all been gone on a scouting mission for several days, and everybody was feeling the strain of missing their mates.
"Yes, I long for the day Krytus can come home and stay there." Kyburi nodded in agreement.
"What about you, Koro?" Karam had raised an eyebrow at Korosivash, using the nickname the females had given her. In Kora's eyes, 'Korosivash' was just too long to bark a command at. "Aren't you just dying for the Reds to win?" Kamila narrowed her yellow eyes. Everyone at the hospital targeted Korosivash. She was quiet and mild-tempered, unlike most of the fiery and zealous Red female workers. It was widespread knowledge that she wasn't an avid war supporter, and that made her an easy target.
"I…would just like an end to all the fighting." Korosivash struggled to say, scrubbing a glass window more fervently.
"So, even if the Blues won?" Kamila raised an eyebrow, resting her elbow on her mop and putting an accusatory hand on her hip. "Would that make you happy?"
"Well, I-I'm sure that they would be just in their castigation." Koro replied softly.
"For the love of Sentients, Koro, I've never met someone who spoke more like a Blue than you!" Kamila exclaimed in exasperation. "And I've met Blues!"
"Sorry." Korosivash stammered, and Kyburi frowned.
"Kamila, I think that's enough." She reprimanded quietly.
"Oh, come on, Kyburi, you know she's not on our side!" Kamila rolled her eyes. "I don't even see how you and Karma-whatshisname got into this complex! It's for the dedicated warriors." She said snidely. Korosivash bowed her head and didn't respond.
"Ridiculous." Kamila shook her head, swinging her sopping mop and thwacking it against the window Korosivash was polishing, leaving a dripping wet splotch all over the once-clean glass. "You missed a spot." She said wickedly, picking up her mop and bucket and strutting down the hall. "Come on, Kyburi." Kamila commanded decisively, implying there was no option for argument. After all, she was several million years older than Kyburi.
"Sorry." Kyburi mouthed to Korosivash, who simply shrugged, and began to clean the window again. Kyburi, still feeling guilty, had gone over later and apologized again.
"I mean, you know how Kamila is." Kyburi was saying. They were seated in Korosivash's apartment, Kyburi trying to make good out of a bad situation and Koro staring blankly into space. "Really, don't pay her any mind. She just likes to be intimidating."
Korosivash didn't respond.
"And to me, too." Kyburi continued on. "I mean, she's the only other Red here our age, you know? I don't want to injure her feelings, and she is older than me." Come to think of it, Korosivash was older than the both of them, at twenty-three million years, and she was still put down by every female in the complex. "So, I just wanted to let you know, I'm sorry. She shouldn't have punished you for your views. After all, we know you're still on our side, right?" Kyburi looked at Korosivash closely. This was the moment of truth. "Koro?"
"Oh." Korosivash flinched. "Right. Of course. The sooner the war ends, the better."
This satisfied Kyburi but only a brief second, as she quickly caught the ambiguity.
"But, with the Reds winning, right?" Kyburi repeated, and Korosivash avoided her eyes.
"Isn't that what you all seem to think?" She asked quietly, and before Kyburi could interrogate her further, a joyful cry in the hallway was heard.
"The warriors have returned!"
"Krytus!" Kyburi exclaimed suddenly, all doubts of Korosivash forgotten. She ran out in the hallway to find other females racing down the stairs and gathering in the elevator to see their mates. Jubilant shouts went up among the females, but Korosivash stayed in her apartment.
In the celebration that followed, Korosivash and her questionable allegiances were forgotten. As time went on in the hospital, everybody generally ignored her, the more spirited females like Kamila sometimes calling her out on where her loyalties lied but other than that leaving her alone. Kyburi sensed that Koro did not fully enjoy her life at the complex, but still probably considered Kyburi her closest friend, as she only ever offered to Kyburi to spend time together after hours. Kyburi knew it was not because she wanted to discuss politics, because their views were vastly different, but more because she was victimized and alone. Kyburi didn't mind Korosivash's company; she seemed quiet but soon proved to be an excellent conversationalist. The only problem was when Kamila saw them spending time together and called Kyburi out on it, leading to her learning to visit Koro in secret. Kamila was still her friend, of course, as were all of the Red females in the building, but she and Korosivash had their moments. In fact, things were going rather well at the complex.
Until, the spark to ignite the war they had been waiting for, exploded.
Everyone was shocked when the Blue Sentients attacked before the Reds did. It was assumed that the more hot-headed race would make the first move, but the Blues had been aware of that all along. They wanted a surprise attack, to squash the rebellion in its early stages to avoid further conflict.
They did not know how prepared the Reds would be for them. They stormed the portal by force and were met by Kyrosys's guards, a force that had tripled in the short year Krytus and Kyburi had spent on the Red planet, partially for security reasons but also because of numbers. The Blues had brought thousands of soldiers and Mobias Command Centers with them, in hopes that their brute force would be enough to cow the Reds into a peaceful surrender.
They had no idea how wrong they were. Kyrosys's guards sounded the alarm seconds after the first Blue wave marched through the portal, and that was all it took to bring thousands of Red soldiers, all armed, to the grounds. Kyrosys and his fellow generals had been preparing for this fight for months, and what the Blues had meant to be a quick skirmish quickly escalated into one of the greatest battles of the war. Thousands of Sentients were killed, thousands more injured. The lobby of their apartment complex was transformed overnight into a makeshift hospital to be staffed by Kyburi and the rest of the females in her apartment maintenance team. She worried every day that Krytus would be brought through the doors.
All daily duties were forgotten as the battle raged. The children did not go to school, jobs were forgotten, but throughout all of this, panic somehow never set in. All of the Reds had been given instructions as to how to prepare for this war, and it came in the form of orderly chaos. What they had not been prepared for was a raging battle on their planet, and the soldiers fought madly to keep the Blues from advancing their lines. Buildings were assaulted by Mobi fire, and it became the main objective of the Red forces to shut the vehicles down. The clash lasted for several days, leaving Red buildings crumbled and slain shells littered the Red planet. They had much to recover from.
"We must launch a counter attack at once!" Krytus slammed his palms on the table. "They will pay for what they have done to our planet!" He and multiple other significant Reds to the cause were gathered the day after the battle. Kyrosys, also present, nodded gravely.
"Krytus, there are too many wounded!" Kora, the Red female who had given Kyburi a job and the head of the hospitals was also present. "To strike at a time like this would be total suicide!" She argued, and several others nodded in agreement with her.
"There has to be something we can do to avenge the fallen!" Krytus thundered. "We will do to their planet twice over what they have done to ours!"
"And we will, but we must wait!" Another general reprimanded him. "There are too many injured soldiers to prepare an attack. In a week, the majority should be healed. We shall strike then."
"But we must—" Krytus was cut off by Kyrosys placing a hand on his shoulder. Every guard in his force had been brutally slaughtered by Blue warriors, and it was unnerving to see the once-articulate general so silent. From then on Kyrosys seldom spoke more than a few words at a time, but they were always chosen carefully.
"A week, Krytus." He said firmly, and Krytus sagged.
"Fine. But it shall be spent preparing." He conceded. "We need weapons, Mobias Command Centers, warriors. Anything we can use against them."
"An excellent plan." Another general nodded. "The Blues will never realize what has hit them."
The entire week was spent preparing. Kyburi worked furiously in the hospital, trading shifts with her Red colleagues day and night to try and heal as many Reds as possible. Females were not allowed to fight in the war, for most of them had Red mates that considered it far too dangerous, and even the single females were still under the protection of other soldiers. Only a few select females were allowed to be active participants of the Resistance, and even they couldn't be on the front lines. The males were fiercely protective of their mates and females. It was one more thing Kyburi loved about the Red planet that she had missed out on when living on Modulon 5; they were a community, a united force, and they looked out for each other.
Kyburi spoke with Krytus in their apartment on the day of the attack.
"Be careful." She finally managed to say. Her core was trembling with fear for him; Kyburi had watched far too many Reds die in her time at the hospital and couldn't bear the thought of the same fate befalling him.
"Of course." He responded dismissively, eyes darting towards the door.
"Krytus." Kyburi's voice shook with intensity, and she stared him straight in the eye, forcing him to look at her. "Please." She begged him, and he sighed deeply, a grave and rattling sound.
Krytus looked at her in complete sincerity, and a sob escaped her. He took her in his arms so that their cores pressed together and kissed her firmly.
"I will be."
Her shoulders shook, wracked with sobs. Kyburi had never cried in front of him before, but now it seemed impossible not to do so. He lifted his hand to her cheek and brushed the tears away with a warm and gentle caress.
"I'm coming back." He reminded.
She allowed herself the tiniest, most broken of smiles. "You had better."