An hour later, standing at William’s side, for review, it reminds her of all those other parades and functions. The Librarian, and daughter. Almost one word. She remembers previous troops headed off from Silver City. This time, though, feels different.
The sun has breached the eastern mountains. “About five hours to Lordsburg, Alaya.”
She tries to think about what that will mean. “Are there—do we have enough?” A wave at the troops lined up in rows. A carpet of different colors, Vashon and Regionals, Maori and the town’s irregulars.
Her father struggles hiding a frown. “We’ll find out.” A glance around. No one is close. And so he leans lower to her ear, and confesses, “Reports count a group about twenty thousand approaching. We have about the same numbers. It’s enough.”
“We hope, father.”
Trumpets blare. The first group starts moving. Vashon. Their brightly colored outfits are more impressive than the locals. The small crowd of tattooed faces leads the column past those reviewing them. Striding beside their mounts. Odd. Tangaroa and his Maori. They halt and wheel to face father and daughter.
The sub-commander gives a nod, then remains straight at attention. Whetu gives a bow. “Miss Way,” he calls.
Then with a shout, he thrusts his fighting stick into the air toward her. All the Maori whoop and thrust their weapons at her in demonstration of their might. The noise deafens her. The stamping raises dust around their horse’s feet. After a few more shouts, they turn, mount, and ride on.
Tears come to her eyes as the long columns of Vashon move past, out of Silver City. Her father’s eyes take a new look at his daughter now. She resists wiping her eyes. It feels like an hour before the Regional forces start to move. At the head are Padilla and Third Squad. As they stop, Billy salutes and shouts. “Alaya!” The others smile as they bow to her. Billy’s red face is all she can see as they ride on.
As wagons start to roll past at the end, she turns to William. The ringing of her name still in her ears, smiling she jests, “We have our own horde.” The dust continues rising upward.
He gives her a strange look. Pride? “Your mother should see you now.”
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