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Vlad hunched to fit his wide shoulders through the small door below-decks on the Nexus Wave. The candlelight shimmered over the smooth, fitted silver of the warrior's enchanted armour. He frowned when he straightened inside the quarters. 

"What are you doing?" he asked his old friend. 

Chem looked up from the stack of parchment. Notes and diagrams scrawled in different inks, corners torn and crumpled, stains from wax and drinks. Chem shrugged and looked back to the writings. 

Vlad took a deep breath. His voice had an edge to it, a mix of anger and concern. "Every member of The Guard has been working towards this day for over a year. All of our spying and hunting and fighting... The discovery that the Vlaniqk were behind the troubles plaguing Citadel, the discovery of Vixx's plans... We wait now for Kitty's return and the beginning of the final strike against our most dreaded enemies..." 

Chem sighed, interrupting Vlad. "And yes, I'm here reading old journals about memories that may not even be true." 

Vlad sat on the bunk beside the smaller, leaner man. Once Chem had been a rogue adventurer and Vlad his barbarian ally, wandering between the walled cities of an untamed world, seeking risk and reward. Over the years they had somehow become so much more. Champions of a mighty fortress in the dark beyond the sky. Heroes of a hundred worlds. The Commanders of The Guard. Yet whenever peace dawned on the horizon Vlad would leave on one of his nomadic walkabouts, returning as he did almost two years ago when the horns sounded the call. And whenever that call went out, when it was time again to become saviours, Chem would always return to these journals.  

Vlad could not judge him; they each had their own quests and their own questions. "Do they yield any more clues?" he asked. 

Chem shook his head. "They never do." 

A call came from above-decks. "Flares sighted!" 

The two friends climbed quickly and joined the others. Dakk was perched on the shoulder of his Golem, Bekki, giving her a final polish before suiting up. Torvel, the captain, strode over to meet Vlad and Chem.  

Torvel was a minotaur, huge and hoofed and horned, but only a few inches taller than the massive Vlad. "It's Drake's vessel, on course. Carrying both Kitty and the key." 

Vlad grinned. "She did it." He looked down at Chem. "We will have battle soon."