He stumbled through the brush, his wounded leg leaving a trail of blood behind him. It should have healed. Why was it not healing? The thought plagued him as he ran. He could not be caught. His younger son would be merciful, he was sure, but Farran was too much like him. The years had made him hard.
The trees suddenly ended and he tripped over the edge of a paved road. Baraz lay gasping for breath on the hot asphalt for precious minutes. He had to keep moving. To make it to the abandoned portal. He painfully pushed himself up to his knees, then his feet. He swayed in place.
As he took a halting step forward, the sound of an approaching vehicle filtered through the trees. Baraz slowly turned his head and narrowed his eyes at the red blur that appeared around a sharp curve. A second later, his world erupted in agony. His roar of pain was buried beneath the squeal of tires and the smell of burnt rubber.
Baraz blinked his eyes open and rolled his head to the side. He lay on his back twenty paces from a smoking wreck. Through the front windshield of the vehicle, he could see two dead men, their bodies hanging limp from safety harnesses. As he watched, breathing shallowly, the back door of the red vehicle opened and two figures spilled out onto the road.
The larger one, an older man, held a weapon in his hand and kept the smaller figure behind him. Baraz forced himself to his feet. At his movement, the weapon swung in his direction. The human yelled something in a language he was unfamiliar with and began backing toward the tree line. Limping, Baraz followed him.
The human pulled the trigger. The bullet went wide, striking a tree on the other side of the road. The miss seemed to rattle the man, as he pulled the trigger three more times. He missed each time. Baraz moved faster. By the time the human thought to try again, he had the man’s arm in a bone breaking grip. The limb snapped with little effort.
Baraz watched the man’s face contort in agony. He expected a scream, but the man glared at him defiantly.
“What is your business here?” Baraz demanded.
The man clamped his jaw shut.
Over the human’s shoulder, Baraz saw the smaller figure raise their head. An opaque veil hid their face, but he could feel the weight of the gaze. Baraz frowned, but pulled his attention back to the human man.
“Tell me and I may spare your life.”
The man’s glare darkened. “I won’t tell you-” The smaller figure hissed something and the man’s words broke off.
Baraz raised an eyebrow.
“The ambassador has a meeting with the base.”
Baraz fixed his gaze on the smaller figure. “The ambassador.”
The human gave him a stiff nod.
Baraz snapped the man’s neck without giving him another look. As the human’s body crumpled to the ground, the smaller figure turned and ran into the trees. Baraz watched for a moment, before he gave chase.
The ambassador was remarkably fast for a human, weaving between the tightly packed trees as if made for it, but Baraz caught up in a clearing. He lunged forward and the two of them slammed to the ground. The ambassador let out a soft grunt, but nothing more. Baraz rose to his feet stiffly with the ambassador’s arm gripped in his tight fist.
Being struck by a vehicle and romping through the forest had not improved his injury or his mood. Baraz growled to himself, as he towed the ambassador behind him. Across the clearing, a copse of trees grew around the retired portal platform. As far as he knew, no one had used it in centuries.
He pushed his way through the trees and shoved the ambassador forward. With a soft gasp, the figure stumbled forward and landed at the base of the steps.
The ambassador’s veiled face turned to him and he imagined he was receiving a lethal glare. He ignored it.
The ambassador climbed the steps to stand in the middle of the overgrown platform. Baraz quickly moved to the control panel and set the portal for his home world. The platform began to vibrate immediately. Baraz climbed the stairs to stand next to the ambassador.
As the ancient portal came to life, distant yells floated on the wind. Baraz jerked his head in their direction. They were too far away to make out clearly, but he imagined it was his sons. Coming to kill him. The portal activated in the next second and the trees faded to darkness.
When he opened his eyes, it was to the unflinching light of a vast desert. Scorched earth as far as the eye could see. Movement from the corner of his eye, drew his attention from their predicament to the ambassador. The small figure was facing away from him, shoulders tense.
“What have you done?” a familiar voice hissed.
The ambassador turned to face him and pale hands slowly pushed the veil back. A familiar pair of ice blue eyes glared at him.
End of Prologue
Okay! That's the prologue. I'm going to edit the first couple chapters soon, so expect to see those toward the end of next week. :)