Kiera's Home (Chapter One, page 4 of 7)


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She turned to retreat to the spacecraft only to find the sand had blocked it from her vision as well. Panic stirred at the thought of being lost or left behind on the planet, before she recalled the real reason she'd insisted on coming.

For evidence the Anshan people shouldn't put their hope in someone like her.

Her gaze went to her feet. The last time she'd been on the desert planet, grass had grown anywhere her bare skin touched.

Kiera knelt on the ground and placed her hand on it. The jell-o shield seemed to block the nishani magic. She tried to fling away the thin layer of gelatin from one palm. It didn't budge.

Scraping her hand along the roughened ground, she managed to free a couple of fingers and then pressed them to the ground. She waited for the familiar tickle of grass.

Moment of truth. Her heart raced, and she wasn't certain what she wanted: to disappoint an entire planet full of people or to confirm the weight of this world was on her shoulders.

To her surprise, she experienced profound relief when she felt it. Whatever magic she'd had before was still there, which meant the man she respected most in the universe, A'Ran, wouldn't lose his faith in her.

Her gaze roved the area around her in disbelief. It'd take several lifetimes to rebuild the planet, if she had to touch every single inch of rock during dust storms!

She scraped more of the shield away, until her hand was completely free then planted it on the ground. Grass sprang up around it more quickly this time, and she smiled, awed by the strange gift. She almost believed she could help the planet and people, if the task wasn't so monumental.

"Nishani?" A'Ran's voice made her look up. He seemed to materialize out of the storm and crouched beside her. "Are you hurt?"

"No," she replied, touched by the concern in his voice. He wasn't the best at expressing emotions; whenever something sweet made it through his thick exterior, she thought herself the luckiest girl ever. "Look. It still works."

He knelt beside her and reached out, taking her hand.

"Nishani," he chided. "The air is poisonous to you, too."

He pressed his hand against hers. The gooey exoskeleton resealed, and his attention turned to the grass. He brushed his fingers through it with such reverence and hope, that Kiera grinned proudly.

"How am I supposed to do this for the whole planet?" she asked, smile fading.

"I don't know yet."

The answer surprised her. A'Ran always had a plan.

"We have to clean up the air, first," he added. "Mansr and I have a few ideas, but we need more grey metal."

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