Kiera's Moon (Chapter Five, page 1 of 18)


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"You endanger yourself, dhjan A'Ran."

A'Ran tested his injured shoulder. It would heal once he reached the main craft with the help of the medical unit but was useless in the meantime.

"A leader is a warrior first," he replied. "We have taken the land advantage, which is all that matters."

He stood in the confined main deck of the transport craft after his own craft had been disabled in an ambush. He preferred land wars to the space wars and had been returning to the main craft when the ambush occurred. He sat in the only seat in the tiny craft, studying Ne'Rin, who transmitted from A'Ran's battle command center on the moon that was his interim home. He'd chosen to leave Ne'Rin on the moon this trip. If what Jetr suspected were true, Ne'Rin would do less damage if he didn't know what A'Ran did while away.

"The Council contacted me," A'Ran said.

"They weren't pleased with your message about Qatwal," Ne'Rin assessed.

"They have no means to control me, which makes them less lazy than they have been for a millennium."

"How have they decided to react to your freedom?"

"How do you think? By threatening me, by condemning me, and finally, by seeking a discreet audience with me." A'Ran let a rare, mirthless smile cross his features.

"Their support can be won," Ne'Rin said in satisfaction.

"We will meet them soon at our temporary home. I have warned them I no longer play their games."

"They may find a way to temper Anshan's defiance."

"For their support against our enemy? I will owe them my life," A'Ran said.

"We may not need the Council's support if you maintain as you have," Ne'Rin replied. "They need our ore more than we need them. We can risk their anger. Do you need me to write any new battle plans?"

A'Ran was silent, studying Ne'Rin. For over a week, he'd hoped his instincts to be wrong. He'd hoped Ne'Rin to be the one sending him daily updates to the battle strategies and plans. His trusted advisor had never done so before, but A'Ran hadn't thought any member of his household capable of the complexities of battle planning. In the past three days, he hadn't made a single change before releasing the plans to his battle commanders.

Somehow, he had known the plans weren't Ne'Rin's. They were too … different, too unlike the tactics and war planning taught by Anshan or anyone in the Five Galaxies. Over a period of a week, the tactics had gone from infantile to novice to advanced, as if someone were learning the intricacies of battle planning. Some plans he couldn't use for lack of manpower, timing constraints, or other battle-related reasons, but some were brilliant. Given his experience and lauding as one of the most capable strategic battle planners in the Five Galaxies-- the only reason he hadn't been driven out by the Yirkin despite his tiny army-- he found himself learning a tidbit here and there. And he was impressed. He wondered if all women from his lifemate's planet had such a skill.

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