Born of Betrayal(3)

By: Sherrilyn Kenyon


“No, Highness. I would love to lead Alliance forces. I only have one concern. I know that part of our forces are Phrixian and Caronese.” Misogynistic troops and armies that would balk heavily at taking orders from a female commander.

“You’ll be assigned a male adjutant for handling them… a well-respected Tavali commander. Likewise, you’ll be responsible for dealing with the Qillaq directly, since they won’t take orders from a male.”

That was certainly true.

It was rare for any army to be as integrated with both sexes as the Andarions were. Male or female didn’t matter. Only competence and lethal skill did.

“When would you like for me to start?” she asked.

“Immediately. The Tavali are on their way to you right now with a transport and your new adjutant. The two of you will be flown to their northernmost base, where The League has been making their heaviest strikes. All we’ll need is for you to name your successor for the Andarion armada, until the war is over.”

Galene gestured to Talyn. “We will see it done.”

Nykyrian inclined his head to her. “Welcome aboard, Commander. May the gods smile upon you. Always.”

“Thank you, Your Highness. I promise, I will do you, your mother, and Andaria proud.”

“I know you will.” He cut the transmission.

Galene stared at the blank screen as she considered this latest twist of fate.

Wow. She, the daughter her parents had callously thrown out from their house when she was just a girl, was going to lead their combined forces in the war against The League. If they won, she’d be eternally famous. Revered and renowned. A celebrated war hero equal to the beloved War Hauks who’d once saved their race from conquest and slavery.

If they lost, she’d be executed for treason.

One hell of a gamble. But then, as the Andarion armada’s prime commander she’d die if they lost, anyway. At least as their military leader, it would all be in her hands, and if they failed, she alone would be to blame.

Thrilled and a little scared, she turned toward Talyn.

His beautiful white eyes glowed with loving pride. “Congratulations, Commander.”

She smiled at him. “I shall name you the new prime commander of the armada.”

He shook his head. “I will go with you to The Tavali.”

“No… you belong here.”

“I belong at your back, Commander. Protecting you. Always.”

“Talyn—”

“Mom,” he stressed the word, making her realize that she’d dropped their strict military behavior first, by using his given name. “I will not stay here while you interact with others who could betray you. You will need a support staff you know is loyal to you and above reproach. Now more than ever. If you think for one moment that I will stay behind while you risk your life for all of us, you don’t know me at all.” His gaze burned into hers. “You go. I go.”

She wanted to beat him. But how could she? “You are ever my pride.”

“And you are ever my cherished mother.”

Smiling, she pulled his head down so that she could press her cheek to his. “I love you, mi tana.”

“I love you, too.”

She fisted her hand in his hair. “I should order you to stay.”

“Only if you wish to see me court-martialed.”

She tugged at his hair. “Don’t tempt me, scamp.” Releasing him, she stepped away with a frown. “Call Commander Ilkin. We can promote him.”

“Yes, ma’am. And I’ll personally assemble an Andarion security detail for you.”

Galene rolled her eyes at his paranoia – as if she couldn’t protect herself. She would argue that with him, too, but he was far more stubborn than she was when it came to such things. Years of fighting his steel will had taught her that.

“See it done quickly.”

He saluted her. “Yes, ma’am.”

Her heart swelling with love and pride, Galene watched him leave to carry out his orders. In all the universe, he was the only family she had. The only family she needed.

You should have been a surgeon, Talyn. It was what she’d drilled into him from the cradle. But her ever-defiant boy had refused, and followed her into the military as soon as he graduated primary school.

Evil little booger. Stubborn and headstrong…

Just like his father.

No one could ever tell him what to do. The gods knew she had tried. Many times.

Now he would follow her into war. It was the last thing she’d ever wanted for Talyn. But there was no way to keep him out of it. The time had come for all of them to choose a side.

At least this way I can keep an eye on him.

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