74 Fire

It took a while to make the former prisoners understand that Khan's group required their help. George and the others needed even more time to convince them to stand up and start working.

Starting a fire on Istrone wasn't an easy task due to the mana flowing inside the plants. The constant bad weather didn't help with the matter either, but Khan was out of options.

Some of the prisoners turned out to have experience with fires that involved wild vegetation. They had received special training from their families to help them with similar situations, and the other recruits did their best to follow their instructions.

Moreover, two prisoners had the fire element. They couldn't cast spells, but their training had taught them how to heat their mana. Their ability quickened the gathering and preparation of the materials required to start the fire and allowed the group to be ready many hours before the arrival of the night.

Luke, Dorian, and other recruits sealed the various passages in the cave with branches, wood, and rocks. That method couldn't stop Lieutenant Sehlolo's eventual outrage, but it could buy them some time, especially since it prevented the smell from reaching the end of the underground structure.

Khan even kicked the narrow entrance until it crumbled. The recruits showed astonished expressions when they saw him hitting rocks for almost half an hour, but the cold aura surrounding him stopped any desire to talk to him.

The rain didn't stop falling, so the group had to create a fire that could resist it. They gathered many piles of dry branches under the trees behind the cave and lit them up through rudimental methods and fire mana before waving makeshift fans toward the flames.

The resilient vegetation and the relentless rain fought the flames, but Khan had made sure to prepare enough dry materials for the task. The group had a time limit, so they had to succeed on their first try.

A few trees eventually took fire. Their large crowns ended up working against them since they blocked part of the rain, and the flames reached the falling water once they were too intense.

Also, the group was lucky enough to witness a strange reaction. The mana made the trees more resilient, but it transformed into powerful fuel for the flames once the plants died.

Starting the fire turned out to be the only hurdle in the task. The flames grew intense once the mana burnt, and the reaction became unstoppable after that event.

The flames spread once entire trees took fire. The recruits limited themselves to throw more dry materials and dig holes on the ground to keep the cave away from that destructive force.

Black smoke rose in the sky and created a long trail that spread high and wide. The beacon was in place, but everyone in the area could see it. The Kred who had gone hunting couldn't miss that, and Khan knew that they would hurry back to the cave to punish the culprits behind that horrendous act.

Khan didn't do much after the fire began to spread on its own. He sat near the cave and entered the meditative state to relieve his muscles of the stress accumulated during the battle.

He felt beyond exhausted. Khan had been awake for almost three days and had endured the blows of a first-level warrior. His insides hurt, his feet were sore, and his eyes begged him to sleep, but he didn't relax just yet.

The Global Army might arrive after the Kred, which would force the recruits to fight again. Khan couldn't allow himself to rest before such a significant event.

Anxiety built among the recruits as the minutes passed. The noise caused by the falling rain and the crackling of the fire filled their ears and prevented them from concentrating.

The recruits were basically warning the Kred about their successful rescue mission, but everyone knew that Khan's plan was their last real hope to leave the planet. Still, they couldn't help but shake as worries and fears built inside them.

The Kred had captured many of those recruits right after the crash. Those who had managed to put up a fight were too injured or inexperienced to achieve any result. They had no confidence in their ability, but a deadly battle was approaching, and they had to make the best out of that time.

A loud noise suddenly resounded while the group stared at the fire, meditated, or conversed to disperse the pressure that had filled their minds. The event startled them and even awakened Khan from his meditation, but the latter didn't move when he sensed that the sounds came from under him.

Slight tremors ran through the ground. The recruits quickly understood that Lieutenant Sehlolo was trying to escape the cave and prepared for the imminent battle, but confused expressions appeared on their faces when they saw that Khan remained in his spot.

Khan had faced the first-level warrior Kred and had sparred with Lieutenant Dyester for months. He knew how dangerous empowered soldiers could be, and Lieutenant Sehlolo was even a mage.

The chances of the group to defeat Lieutenant Sehlolo were non-existent. The situation wouldn't change even if all the recruits were at their peak condition and didn't have fears hindering their movements. Their opponent was a second-level warrior and a first-level mage. Only death waited for them if the soldier decided to kill them.

The entrance of the cave exploded and sent rocks and debris forward. Lieutenant Sehlolo's tall figure came out of the new opening before jumping next to Khan in an instant.

Her mouth opened when she looked at the massive fire raging through the forest. She appeared in pain at the sight of the burning trees, and blood even flowed out of her palms when she tightened her grasp.

"Your species has a good nose," Khan exclaimed without turning toward the Kred.

His eyes remained on the fire. He was too tired to pretend or beg for his life. The mental barrier kept out his unreasonable feelings and made the cold and cynical part of his mind accept his death.

"It wasn't the smell," Lieutenant Sehlolo revealed while gritting her teeth. "I heard the ground screaming in pain."

The Lieutenant was experiencing an internal battle, and her expression allowed the recruits to keep track of her predominant feelings. Flares of anger would often appear in her eyes, but a helpless sadness always suppressed it.

"I hope this works as a beacon," Khan sighed.

"I could still gain the Kred's favor if I killed all of you," Lieutenant Sehlolo threatened at the sight of Khan's uncaring attitude.

Humans couldn't understand Istrone's pain. They couldn't hear its screams and desperate requests. They didn't feel anything in front of the fire, and Khan embodied that feature in his current state.

Lieutenant Sehlolo couldn't help but feel hatred toward him and the recruits around her. Part of her wanted to go wild and kill everyone. However, her rational side knew how pointless that action would be.

Those recruits weren't guilty of anything. They had simply reacted to the rebellion. Burning the trees was a last desperate attempt to save themselves from a hatred that didn't belong to them.

"Can you promise me something?" Lieutenant Sehlolo suddenly asked as resolve overcame her sadness.

"Depends," Khan vaguely replied.

"Don't tell the Global Army about my involvement," Lieutenant Sehlolo announced. "I'll hold back the Kred if you promise me to remain silent."

The recruits couldn't hear Lieutenant Sehlolo from their position, and they didn't dare to get closer to the alien. They limited themselves to inspect the scene from behind the heavy rain and hope that Khan could handle the situation.

"Do you fear for your faction?" Khan asked after he thought about the reasons behind that request.

The Global Army would definitely retaliate against the Kred, and the culprits behind the rebellion would suffer a grim fate. Lieutenant Sehlolo wanted to save the wolf-like aliens from that.

"I do," Lieutenant Sehlolo revealed.

"Were they involved in the rebellion?" Khan asked.

Lieutenant Sehlolo replied after hesitating for a few seconds, "Some of them."

Khan fell silent and didn't let any of his thoughts affect his expression. Lieutenant Sehlolo often glanced at his cold eyes, but she didn't manage to understand what was going on in his mind.

"Fine," Khan eventually exclaimed. "Protect us, and I'll tell everyone that you had nothing to do with the rebellion."

Lieutenant Sehlolo glanced at the various recruits staring at her in fear. She didn't know if Khan could make all of them remain silent, especially after they experienced such a traumatic experience. Yet, she had to help her faction, even if that meant placing her hopes in a bunch of kids.

The Kred didn't say anything else. She placed a hand on the ground and closed her eyes before moving toward a side of the jungle. Everyone inspected her actions, but no one dared to stop her.

George walked toward Khan once Lieutenant Sehlolo stopped in front of the jungle's edges. His confused gaze clearly expressed his desire to understand what had happened during that interaction, but Khan shook his head before closing his eyes again.

Time flowed, and tall figures eventually appeared among the trees in front of Lieutenant Sehlolo. Angry Kred jumped out of the thick vegetation and set their bloodthirsty eyes on the various recruits.

Khan could sense that some of them had the same amount of mana as his previous opponent. That group of aliens featured multiple first-level warriors, but none of them dared to advance with Lieutenant Sehlolo on their path.

Roars and other animal cries resounded among the group of aliens. Lieutenant Sehlolo and the other Kred discussed in a language that the recruits couldn't understand even if they got closer to them. Their anxiety inevitably intensified at that scene, but all of them knew that they were powerless.

One of the Kred suddenly roared in anger and shot forward. The alien tried to run past Lieutenant Sehlolo and reach one of the recruits, but the soldier appeared on its path in an instant and pushed it back into the forest with a mere wave of her hand.

The Kred showed ugly expressions at that sight. Lieutenant Sehlolo's actions had proven her determination to the group, and the aliens couldn't help but hesitate.

Lieutenant Sehlolo was too strong, but there were many of them. They could reach some of the recruits if they charged at them together. A single soldier couldn't stop all of them.

Yet, the loud noise released by a series of engines suddenly pierced the rain and crackling fire. Everyone looked toward the sky at that point, and broad smiles appeared on the recruits when they noticed a few spaceships descending toward their position.

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