Viva Llael Resistance!
A petite woman with tightly braided blonde almost white hair and pale eyes.
Shock and irritation warred within Sabina, as she listened to the decision her charge blithely made for the both of them, without so much as a glance her direction, no less!
“wait. . . what? We`re just going to go ahead and follow this stranger, why?” She said, trying to bite down on the level of incredulity in her voice. This girl was, after all, the boss’s daughter.
What followed next was a show of backbone and a bit more snobbery than Sabina was really prepared to suffer with any kind of equanimity. She managed to stifle her pique as Rowan explained to her, as if she were a dimwitted child, that joining the resistance was the most logical course of action. Not only had the stranger promised her assistance in locating her parents, but this invasion seemed to have offended her on a personal level. These filthy Khadorans thought they could overthrow her government and confiscate her lands and properties? Well, they seemed to have another thing coming, if this irate 15 year old had any say in the matter.
With a sigh, Sabina capitulated. What else was she supposed to do? Her master had charged her with the safety of this willful young girl, and she really, desperately, needed his tutelage. If she was being honest, the girl wasn’t so bad. She was just such a blue blood! Sabina allowed herself a moment of mirth as she imagined how young Rowan would hold up against the rigors of life as a soldier of the Resistance. This was probably going to be quite amusing, and a great learning experience for the headstrong teen.
In the years to come, Sabina would look back on this confrontation with fondness. This was the very moment the girl she would come to love as a little sister, came into her own. Her memory of that day would be a proud moment for her, till the end of her days.
That moment, bearing their declarations of fidelity, would change the course of their lives forever.
From the wet cave by the lake where they were held up, the girls and their jack traveled for quite a while, bouncing from one war torn battlefront to the next. Each new set of orders came with the hope that Rowan would finally locate her parents, and each chipped away at her heart a little when those hopes were proved false. She could see her little sister was starting to fray at the edges, after about 2 years of constant fighting and searching. She no longer seemed to really have any hope of finding her family. When they got new leads, the girl didn’t show the same spark and enthusiasm that she used to. Sabina started to worry that her young soul was being crushed under the weight of lost hope and war horrors. Even Johnathan, their Jack companion, started to show concern for her emotional state. Sabina and he would work out funny tricks and surprises to lighten her mood, and gain a few precious moments of genuine happiness from the girl, only to lose it, once the show was over. Johnathan would sit and talk to the girl for hours until lights out, breaching her to tell him one more story, one more joke, one more anything, just to keep her engaged.
It was a clear winter day, when Sabina got confirmation. She had held back on informing her charge of the information that her parents had been spotted not 3 miles away, engaged in hostage negotiations with the Khadorans, until she could confirm for herself that it was truly them. She could not stand the thought of seeing her poor little sister crushed again, when the lead turned out to be false hope. Her hear soared when she spied them through her glass, and she kicked her horse so hard, the poor thing screamed its pain out, even as it surged forward, towards where her master and his wife sat before a small fire on the outskirts of their military campground.
When they spotted her galloping like a bat out of hell directly towards them, her master’s first impulse seemed to be to defend his wife, pushing her behind him as he readied his magic and two jacks sprang up beside him. as she slowed to a stop and held up her hands, she could see all of the emotions flow across his face in a matter of seconds. There was confusion, understanding, hope, and fear, all at once. A small hand reached around him and pushed him aside as his wife recognized Sabina and her feet brought her stumbling forward, her hands beseeching, and her cheeks wet with tears. She didn’t speak, only plead with her eyes, boring into Sabina`s very soul.
‘Why does she look at me this way? What have I done to hurt her, so?’ Sabina struggled to understand the pain she seemed to be causing Rowan’s parents, by her mere presence, alone. Then her mind caught up and pieced it all together. Her mouth came a second behind…“She lives. Don’t be sad, your daughter is alive, and will be well, once she knows you live and breathe, too. Milady, please don’t despair. Get a horse, and we will go to her, right now.”
Of course, “right now” was too much to hope for, as Rowan’s father was a mistrustful man, and required a lengthy interview before he believed Sabina enough to put his wife in danger, “gallivanting off chasing phantoms.” It all proved worthwhile to see the look on Rowan’s face, as she spied her parents for the first time in 2 1/2 years. The naked joy and vulnerability Sabina saw there made her remember Rowan when she was a small child, and her heart filled and broke, at the same time. She realized that Rowan was no longer hers. She had her parents now, and would naturally want to be with them. If ever there was a bittersweet moment in her life, this moment fit that particular cliche quite perfectly. Rowan, looking over her father’s shoulder as she embraced him so fiercely, captured Sabina`s gaze, and she knew it too.
Sabina worked harder than she ever had to hold in her tears, as she watched the family reunite. She tried to suppress her feelings of abandonment when a heavy blow landed on her shoulder. She had half a second to suck in a gasp before Johnathan had her cradled in his arms like a baby and was rocking her, entirely too forcefully, in an innocent attempt to alleviate the pain he felt coming off of her in waves. He didn’t understand the cause of her pain, but he certainly recognized her distress. She couldn’t help but smile, and beg him to put her down before she became sick all over his circuitry. By the time she was on her feet, she was smiling again, realizing she wasn’t alone, after all.
“Is this the J series I sent you to obtain, 3 years ago, Sabina?” She heard Rowan’s father question, that familiar note of greed coloring his tone.
“Well, yes, Milord. This is Johnathan V. He has been with us ever since the night that word of the invasion reached us. Saved your daughters life more than once. He is a fine Jack, Milord.” She answered him. To her horror, she recognized a bit of defensiveness creeping into her voice, at the end.
“Excellent.” was all he said, as he reached a hand out to Johnathan and touched him in a very possessive manner. Sabina watched as Johnathan reared back and broke the contact, and her master’s face became thunderous. “He is damaged, Sabina. He will not allow a bond. It is him, blocking me, I can feel it! You have allowed him too much freedom. He is ruined. I suspect we shall have to scrap him for parts.” He seemed to take no joy in the statement, just a cold assessment of the facts, as he saw them.
At precisely the same moment, Sabina, Rowan, and Johnathan shrieked out “NNNOOOO!!!!” Sabina`s father staggered back, his hands going to protect his ears. Incomprehension shown all over his face as he watched his daughter and apprentice throw themselves in front of the Jack, to shield it from him. The jack’s arms came around to hold them close, as if he could shield them, in turn.
Rowan went to war for the jack who had saved her life so many times, telling her father of each and every instance Johnathan had ever demonstrated his loyalty and courage in her defense. She spoke passionately, but eloquently, finally throwing down her own, personal, gauntlet. “If you ever think to disassemble him, to take him from this world, or even just from Sabina, you will wake up the next day to the news that I have fled to Khador to marry the first farm boy who will have me. Do not doubt my words’ father, you have no idea what I’m capable of now.” She stared him down, daring him to treat her as the child she used to be.
Her mother’s cry of despair, as a response, pretty much sealed that deal. Her father allowed Sabina to keep Johnny, but his displeasure was so tangible, that Sabina was forced to leave after a short time. She arranged to be sent to another warcaster to resume her apprenticeship on the battlefront, with Johnny by her side. Leaving Rowan was more difficult than she thought it would be, but the young lady she had come to love so much assured her, with a wink, that they would meet again soon. " There’s a lot of invaders to kill, sister mine. The resistance wont want their best trio separated for long."
As it turned out, the Resistance only gave them 6 months separation.
. . . But that, is a different story.