“Your highness,” Haradeth said. “I understand your concern, but there will almost certainly be an Alohym in the ship. You are needed there to slay it, otherwise the mission fails.”
Tythel sighed heavily. It wasn’t that they were wrong. It was just… “I don’t like that anyone is going to be on their own.”
“Leave the airlock open for me,” Synit said. “I’ll go in if I’m getting overwhelmed.”
Tythel nodded, knowing there was no better option, and trying very hard not to think about the fact that, if Synit was getting overwhelmed, it was very likely she would be unable to make it inside. “Once we have control of the vessel, Bix can turn those weapons on anything that showed up. With her jamming communications, as long as we leave no one alive to flee, the Alohym won’t know what happened.”
“It sounds so easy when you put it like that,” Eupheme said.
“The Shadow’s embrace hides in the details,” Tythel said, acknowledging Eupheme’s point. “There’s a thousand things we can’t plan for that might show up, or might become problems, or might already be there.”
“And at least a hundred of them probably will,” Armin said. “Rule one – every plan collapses at the enemy’s gaze.”
Tythel nodded. “Can Dor, Fundamental Principles of Combat. I didn’t know you read it.”
Armin flushed. “I haven’t,” he said. “It’s something I heard once from someone that stuck with me is all.”
“Who?” Eupheme asked.
“Someone,” Armin said. He looked around, desperately searching for an exit from the conversation, and failing that he sighed. “Nicandros.”
Tythel’s nictitating membranes flashed at the name.
“It’s unlikely he’ll be there,” said Poz.
“For now.” Tythel glowered at the table. “But we have to assume at some point we’re going to come up against him.”
Silence filled the room for a moment. “There are some,” Synit said, choosing her words carefully, “that said he is the greatest human soldier alive.”
“He is,” Poz said. “I was there with him, during the early days of the invasion. We fought Alohym in their full power, before we had access to arcweapons of our own. He was wearing scale mail and had a sword. We never won, but we lived.”
“And that was before he had arcweapons. That was before he had imperiplate.” Tythel sighed. “He’s dangerous.”
“He likely won’t be given standard imperiplate,” Synit said. “Given what he’s capable of, he’ll be given a custom built suit. One that suits his tactics and tools. Higher grades of suit are possible, but they are all customized to their users. Too expensive to make them available for standard ground troops. They’ll use mithril for their construction.”
“Mithril?” Tythel asked.
Synit nodded. “The world the Sylvani came from?” she said. “That was a world rich in a particular metal, mithril. A type of iron that is infused with power. Extremely rare. Most of the Sylvani’s mithril had been used to construct their own ships. There wasn’t enough for the Alohym to build their own ships from it. They needed it for certain projects…but they will use it for some of the Elite suits.” She fixed Tythel with a muli-irised gaze. “Ghostflame will not penetrate it.”
“Flath,” Tythel swore flatly, then shook her head. “We can burn that bridge when we reach it. For now…we should all sleep. I’ll be hatching another one of the eggs before we leave. That phoenix will stay behind to make sure the other eggs have someone to hatch them.”
“They won’t need it,” Armin said firmly. “Nothing will happen to Sarven. Not on my watch.”
Tythel smiled and thanked him. She was trusting him with the only family she had left. And she appreciated that he made a promise he actually could keep.
Everyone knew that there was no guarantee she would survive the battle.