The Epherium Chronicles: Echoes

The Epherium Chronicles: Echoes by T.D. Wilson Page B

Book: The Epherium Chronicles: Echoes by T.D. Wilson Read Free Book Online
Authors: T.D. Wilson
his waist when Maya’s lightning-quick hands snapped the bo at his head and stopped her strike dangerously close to his left temple.
    “Perception.” Maya’s voice was soft, but direct. “Even a split second gained by your awareness can give you the upper hand.”
    Sanchez grumbled in agreement, but silently he waited. Maya lowered her bo and placed the end of the staff on the ground in front of her. At that moment, he made his move. With a strong reverse slash of his sword, he drove Maya’s staff to his right. Maya followed the staff and spun to her left. Knowing he had to keep her off balance, he went low with a sweeping strike.
    Maya jumped over his practice blade and came down with her bo in a lateral strike at his head. He knew he could block the blow, but her strike would leave him in a bad position and no way to counter. Instead, he used his momentum and went into a roll. He found himself behind her now. He brought his blade across his body and into a powerful attack. The blade met Maya’s bo in a vicious crack that echoed throughout the Rec Deck. He stood firm. They were even once again.
    Maya stepped back and smiled. “Good. You anticipated where I would land and how my stance might lead to an opening. You’re learning. Next time I won’t give you such obvious clues. Now, let’s continue.”
    The pair sparred for another fifteen grueling minutes, but Sanchez used the session to not just learn what she showed him, but to watch her demeanor. The longer they trained, the more Maya seemed to relax. She smiled when he executed the proper technique, and she even laughed at a few of his jokes. At the end, he noticed her eyes. They weren’t narrowed as they usually were, but were passive and content. She was always so guarded, but with each moment he spent with her, the more the real Maya emerged.
    Beaten and sore, Sanchez reveled in the thought of the steam shower in his quarters. He knew he was going to need a larger ration, but he’d earned it. He gathered his things and walked with Maya toward the exit.
    Halfway to the door on the far side of the Rec Deck, Sanchez noticed a crewman practicing handstands on parallel bars and the sight brought a memory to life from his childhood. He pointed the crewman out to Maya and explained how he used to do the same thing on his bicycle handlebars when was younger. One day he’d had his brother take a vid of him showing off for a girl he’d liked down the street. Everything went smooth until his front tire landed in a hole in road. He went flying off the handlebars and landed hard on his shoulder, breaking his collarbone. To add further insult, the bike continued to roll and landed on top of him. “Yeah, the biggest reminder of that accident was my brother’s laughter.” He snorted. “Hell, I would have laughed too if hadn’t hurt so much.” He rubbed his shoulder out of reflex. “It wasn’t all bad news though. The girl I was trying to impress came to see me in the hospital the next day.”
    As the pair entered the hallway, Sanchez took a deep breath. He formed a smile as he let it out. “She kissed me on the cheek and called me a crazy fool. She wasn’t wrong.”
    After not hearing a reaction to his story, he glanced at Maya. To his surprise, her attention wasn’t on him, but locked on to something farther down the hall. He followed her gaze and caught sight of four people approaching them in the hallway. He recognized Kadin first. The man’s blue eyes stood out even more than Maya’s. At his side was his copilot, Raven, who leaned against her squadron leader with her arm tucked into his. Two more of his Phantom squadron followed behind them. All were dressed in identical exercise apparel, but even more surprising to Sanchez was the way they walked. All four were in step. Not close on timing during a parade, they were exact. It wasn’t just uncanny, it was borderline hypnotic.
    As the group approached, Raven turned her head toward Kadin. He wrapped his

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