Tyria’s Tears – Volume 1: The Chronicles of J’Rontia
Chapter 5: Her eyes are glowing
She was lying in the mud under the bushes on the south side of the bridge. The river was wide and very shallow with crystal clear water. The banks of the river were wide and the grass very short. The only change in the scene as far as you could see in either direction was the bridge. It was a cool morning that would probably turn into a very warm day if it followed the pattern of the past few days. She could hear the animals around her and watched one slither across her outstretched arm. The skin of the creature left a series of cuts on her arm and it burned with an intensity that would have a normal person screaming – she ignored it easily.
Her concentration centered on two main items. First, she needed to remain hidden and could not attract any attention. The second thing she concentrated on the bridge across the river. She had no choice but to cross it and it needed to be done without her being seen. She had been essentially invisible for thirteen days straight with almost no sleep or food and water was very scarce.
The bridge was a beautiful T’Noorse design with a high curve for the main supports that utilized a simple triplex structure that looked as if it would blow away in a light breeze. The design left almost no spots for concealment and she quickly spotted someone trying to cross using shadows and a customize camouflage uniform that matched the surroundings.
She was one of the candidates in this challenge and they all were required to use one of the new camouflage uniforms during at least one stage of the contest. The uniform’s controls were keyed to the user’s brain’s electromagnetic field and required intensive concentration during its use. The uniform was not being adjusted fast enough to compensate for the changes in the light due to cloud cover. The monitors of the contest found the candidate and tagged them. The candidate dropped from the bridge into the river and walked off visibly distraught.
The candidate had come up with a great plan but it ran into a flaw. She had experience with that and was reminded of a playground incident when she was three. Once a day her mother would take her to the city park. They lived three blocks from the park and her mother always walked her. She loved the last two blocks they walked to the park because they were along a wall. The park had a wall completely around it that was made of natural stone infused with a myriad of colors and she enjoyed watching the light reflecting off of the various colors and designs as they walked along.
Once in the park, you could see just about every type of tree the planet had and most of the animals. She loved to go stand by the wild wall. Beyond the wild wall were the dangerous animals in a natural habitat and she could easily spend half of her day there watching. Still, her favorite area of the park was the playground. The playground was near the wild wall so that kids could go back and forth as little kids like to do. She was one who enjoyed running back and forth while she was there. Watching the dangerous animals was the most interesting when the Yurestors came out to the front of the habitat. They would eat anything, including any of the other dangerous animals. So when they showed up there was usually a fight. What made them so interesting was that they were one of the smallest animals in there but they would attack even the largest as a pair or a group depending on what they were attacking. They somehow thought they could win against anything and they often did. It was fascinating to watch them, even if it was a bit gruesome.
The playground item she had the most fun on was the sling. You sat in a flexible mesh that would conform to your shape and size and then you used child thrusters to swing back and forth in all directions. Parents could recharge the thrusters at the entrance to the playground and controlled a child’s time on the sling by how big a charge was put into the thruster. Of course you could drop the thruster and then you lost the rest of your turn.
She loved to use the thruster to swing the sling back and forth until she was swinging as high as possible. She loved the heights and the view was even better. She liked to swing as high as she could to see across the entire park and the bridge beyond. She remembered that day when the incident happened as if it were yesterday. The day was warm with a cool breeze and you could smell the water from the nearby lake when you breathed deeply enough. On that day, the sun was at the perfect height so that the light bounced off of the bridge in a dazzling array of colors.
She was on the swing enjoying the view of the bridge when people started running toward the wild wall. The Yuretors had just appeared and the crowd was gathering to see what they would do. She adjusted her thruster so that she was swinging in the direction of the wild wall and she could see inside but not the Yurestors. So she increased the thrust and swung higher – it was still not enough.
She was a very clever girl and figured complex things out rapidly. She knew how the thrusters control the pressure they used to move the swing and so she removed the pressure controls and turned the thruster on maximum. It was very hard to hold on to the thruster when it was pushing at maximum power but she was able, somehow, to increase her strength and held on without dropping it.
She could see the Yurestors at the height of her swing and they were pacing and looking for food. She heard her mother tell her that she was too high and needed to back off. She decided to do as she was told but then it happened. A child had climbed up on the shoulders of another to get a better view and he fell over the wild wall on to the grass in front of the Yurestors.
She knew what would happen and also knew that she had to do something. At the maximum height of her next swing she just jumped out of the sling without even thinking about it. She flew through the air in a spinning ball on a path toward the Yurestors. As she started to come down her arc she stretched out feet first and landed on the back of one of the Yurestors snapping its spine. She bent down as she ran toward the next Yurestor and picked up a rock off of the ground. The Yurestor started to snarl and moved toward her. She did not slow down as she threw the rock directly into the teeth of the Yurestor. It hit with a force no one would think possible for a three year old girl, even a very strong one. The Yurestor’s teeth shattered and it stopped its charge in agony.
She ran past the creature and picked up the little boy. She ran with him to the wild wall as she realized she had no plan to get out. She started to feel fear as she neared the wall and realized the mistake she had made. She wondered if that was how the candidate on the bridge felt when that plan collapsed. She felt sad for them because they had to face the consequences alone. She did not face her mistake alone in the park.
Her mother suddenly appeared next to her and handed her a rope. Her mother then turned to battle the creatures that were moving in to have a bit of lunch. Someone in the crowd hauled her and the child she was holding up to safety as her mother engaged with some of the fiercest animals on the planet. Once the children were safe the rope was thrown back down to her mother.
The crowd was full of people in various stages of panic. Some were screaming, others crying, some were working hard to help, and most were just standing there looking around in shock. Her mother appeared next to her and she heard a young boy in the crowd say, “Mom. Her eyes are glowing!” She looked at her mother and saw the glow but saw much more as she realized that she was in huge trouble.
Her mother had blood all over herself plus cuts, scratches, and even a few deep gouges from her battle. But the scariest things were the looks others were giving her as more voices were saying, “Her eyes were glowing.” The local authorities arrived and her mother was taken aside for medical attention as statements were taken.
Many people came up and told her how brave she was and thanked her for what she did. Almost all of them looked hard and long at her eyes and as she looked back she saw fear in some of the eyes that looked so intently at her. Finally one of the authorities, a very nice old man, came and took her away from the crowd. He leaned over and asked her quietly, “When do you turn four years old?” She answered, “In three months.” He stood back up and smiled as he said to her, “That is good and I can work with that.”
No one had been allowed to leave the park during the taking of statements and the nice old man gathered everyone together near the entrance where the other authorities had been blocking any one from entering or leaving. Her mother came and stood by her near the back of the crowd. She smiled sweetly with only a little of the anger in her face from earlier. The old man started to speak, “Every once in a while extraordinary events transpire and people do extraordinary things. Today we were fortunate to have a couple of extraordinary people in the park who were able to assist a citizen in great need.” He paused and the crowd clapped and shouted thanks.
The old man went on, “I just got off the com with the Central Offices of Special Schools. I was able to bypass all the normal red tape, due the skills demonstrated today, and obtain admission to Special Schools for our two newly discovered talents. The wonderful young girl will leave in three months on her fourth birthday and her mother has been accepted into a program that starts one week after that.” The crowd cheered and clapped again. The old man continued, “This is a huge plus for our community as we will be eligible for discovery credits and I will work with these two to decide how we will spend the additional funds to best benefit the community and to leave a honor monument here in the park for their help today. Please let’s give our heroes one more thanks before we clear the park.” The crowd clapped and most came over and thanked her and her mother before they left.
That night her mother told her about the Special School she would be attending. She explained how hard it would be and how she wanted her to be the best she could and always try to be near or at the top of her class. The memory of the conversation made her smile although she was also a little sad as she reflected on how much she missed her parents.
Today, she was in one of the most critical assignments of her school. Only the top candidates were allowed to come to this restricted planet to take this test and she was the top of her class. The final part of their exercise was to infiltrate the building across the river and make it to the judges’ room undetected. So far, only three of forty-two candidates were still undetected. In the history of the school, only one person ever made it all the way on the first try. It was believed by the instructors that Tomli’s feat would never be duplicated and yet all of the candidates, except two, made bets that they would be the ones to match the feat. She didn’t bet but she had no intention of failing.
She moved back through the city away from the bridge to an area of the town that was dark and narrow with alleys and questionable characters on every corner soliciting anything you want. After changing into vagrant clothing she blended with the citizens wandering the streets. She located a delivery vehicle and fell into the gutter near the truck.
She laid in the gutter for a few minutes and, as one would expect for that area of the town, no one seemed to care or notice. When it appeared safe she rolled under the vehicle and pulled herself up into the undercarriage. It was a long morning under the vehicle. The dust and heat combined with the stress of hanging off a narrow track for half a day would have caused any normal candidate to give up or drop. She was not a normal candidate and so far had mastered every challenge they gave her. As the sun went past noon, the vehicle finally crossed the bridge to deliver on the other side of town.
After a while, the vehicle rolled through a narrow alleyway and stopped at a store. She dropped down and rolled to the curb. She came up beside a garbage collector and carefully checked for city cameras – there were two. Both of the cameras were blocked by the delivery vehicle so she took off the vagrant clothes, threw them in the trash, and activated her camouflage uniform.
She didn’t like the technology but they were required to use it for part of the course. She only had a short distance to go so she had to use it now. The idea that you would trust your life and possibly the lives of others to a technology that could break instead of using your own skills made her uncomfortable. However, candidates with lower ratings seemed to find comfort in the technology. When she slid around the corner she saw her destination.
In the judges’ room, Tomli noticed the power outlet on the far wall disappear for a fraction of a moment and he smiled. He turned to the Head Judge and responded to his taunts by saying, “I said she would be here by sundown and she will.” The Head Judge, J’Grodit, laughed and shook his head. “Not possible,” he said. “When you completed this test, oh so long ago, we had a much different bridge and now the camouflage will not work there.” Tomli answered, “I did not use my camouflage to cross the bridge. I know you are not old enough to remember, but we were not allowed to use camouflage technology. Either way it does not matter, she can do it with or without camouflage.”
The J’Grodit put his hands up in frustration at the old man. He thought himself, “Tomli is starting to lose it,” and he, once again, considered his plans to have him removed from the managing board of the school. No one outside of the Kuli organization knew it but the number of candidates had been dropping and the number of candidates failing out of Kuli training was increasing. Soon this would be the only school left. As the Republic of Tyria grew and peace held, fewer and fewer children were tested for lifeforce abilities and it seemed weaker in those who did have it. Yes, the Galactic Wing would probably always test their children, but we only need one school to handle them. Tomli’s confidence in this candidate would be his undoing. He smiled as he thought of all the changes he could put into place once Tomli was out of the way. It is so much faster to train using technology instead of the “old” ways.
The J’Grodit turned to the window and stated, “The sun will set in five minutes and there is no sign of her out there. It is no longer possible for her to make it in a shorter time than you. Tomli responded, “She still has some time.” From the candidate stage a voice spoke, “I do not need more time.” J’Grodit turned form the window to see who spoke and surprise ran across his face along with anger and frustration.
J’Rontia stood on the candidate stage in full uniform that looked as if she had not done anything since the uniform came from the cleaners. J’Rontia continued, “Candidate J’Rontia reporting mission completed,” as she held out the thirteen markers they had to retrieve, all of which were cleaned and pressed as if new.” J’Grodit was so stunned he could not speak. Tomli said, “Well done. Let me inspect the markers.”
Tomli collected the markers and loaded them into the verifier. In a short time, the verifier lit all thirteen lights green. Tomli turned back to J’Rontia, bowed, and said, “Congratulations, Kuli J’Rontia.” J’Grodit, still not totally recovered, walked over and bowed in front of her also and said, “Yes. Congratulations, Kuli J’Rontia. We are very …” He paused for a moment and then went on, “impressed with your performance.” The other three judges came forward, made similar remarks as they bowed also.
J’Rontia said, “I am grateful for the opportunity to compete and thank all of you for your contribution to my training. I am honored to accept the title of Kuli that you are offering and will dedicate my life to making your investment in me worthwhile.”
Just as she was finishing a glass wall dropped between her and the judges. The door behind opened and three people ran into the room in full military armor shooting plasma guns at her. But she was not there. In the far corner of the glassed off part of the room she moved with lightning speed leaping into the air and taking the last soldier around the neck with her legs. She squeezed her legs and rolled her body as she continued forward. The soldier’s neck snapped as she wrapped her arm around the next soldier’s neck, unhooked his helmet, and sliced his throat with a sharp finger nail.
While he bled to death, she reached for his plasma gun and pointed it at the back of the first soldier in the room and he melted before he could even turn around. She then rolled on the floor to turn back to the door in time to melt two more attackers and the grenades they were about to throw. She picked a grenade off one of her attackers and threw it through the door as she continued on to the wall next to the door just in time for the explosion in the hallway to move past her. She pressed the security button on the wall near the door and huge protection panels dropped all around the building securing the facility from any additional assaults.
The glass panel rose slowly to the rest of the room as she stood once more on the stage. Tomli was by the wall with one of the judges dead at his feet near the control for the glass panel. He looked straight into the eyes of J’Grodit and said, “You have a lot to explain and I am not giving you much time to do it.” J’Grodit looked down and shook his head. Then he looked up at Tomli and pointed to J’Rontia and said, “She could only complete the trials if she was a KR mutant and we cannot have them in the Kuli ranks. You know how dangerous they are and if they achieve our advanced training no one will be able to stop them. You know what happened to J’Lopt when he had to stop one.”
Tomli shook his head in sadness as he said, “So the fear of the KR children exists in the Kuli ranks. I am disgusted. Now that you watched her in action what do you say?” J’Grodit commented slowly, “She only used Kuli techniques and I never saw her eyes glow.” Tomli answered back, “In the old days, many of us Kuli had eyes that glowed.” J’Grodit looked up sharply at the comment and burst out, “What!! I never heard that!” Tomli looked at him and his eyes started to glow and J’Grodit screamed as he put his hands over his ears.
Tomli stopped staring and continued, “The technique is one of the forbidden technologies that we no longer teach. The Kuli used the methods for thousands upon thousands of years and way before the KR children. We quit using the methods when some of the Supreme Guardians found out that it could damage bystanders as well as those you were aiming at. The damage in most cases was small enough that no one noticed right away; however, when they investigated they found that we were causing brain damage that lasted a lifetime, although in small amounts, in any who were standing nearby for more than a few moments. So, the methods were banned but the ability is there in all who can achieve the advanced levels. All Supreme Guardians discover that ability along with more as they connected with their body at a sub-molecular level during their final transition.”
Tomli paused to let everything sink in, and then he continued, “The KRs were not some super genetic experiment about combining DNA and other controlling elements from various creatures to create a hybrid entity. Yes, other creatures had their DNA or similar controlling elements combed to identify unique abilities such as excellent vision; however, we did not put their DNA in Murhans or Linthians, we used that to help us enhance what was already there or to identify the strands that allowed Murhans or Linthians to have the same. You see we found early on that Murhan and Linthian DNA had lots of unused and underutilized pieces, including some that were just turned off. Before you turn one on you need to know why evolution or whatever turned it off. We had trouble with the KRs because there were too many things turned on in the body and not enough in the brain to control them. They suffered from overload all too often. Once the brain was sped up, they did better but their life expectancy went way down due to the higher metabolism. Even Sorettos only helped to a small degree.”
Once again he paused. Tomli looked at J’Rontia and spoke again, “This young lady is now the exception for performance. She rates at the top of her class by a large margin and is the only one who will complete the challenge. Each year we have fewer candidates and we have a higher percentage that drop out. We need her more than ever.” He bowed and then turned back toward J’Grodit.
J’Grodit bowed his head in shame and quietly said, “I am ready to go before the Kuli Security Council and face my punishment.” Tomli answered, “No. Decree 815.67 gives the Supreme Guardians in the instance of a Kuli murder or attempted murder absolute authority.” J’Grodit’s eyes widened and he said, almost in a panic, “That is only in time of war!” Tomli calmly answered, “The Kuli Security Council declared the actions of the King a war 30 standard years ago.”
J’Grodit was pale and dropped to the floor. He pleaded with Tomli, “There has been no official declaration. Every thinks you are crazy about your theories of galactic war. There are more peaceful areas than ever in all recorded history. I do not believe you.” Tomli stared at him for a moment, a long moment, before he responded. Then he said, “Take your com and select command 12 and ask for directive 6a.35.” J’Grodit sat up and did as directed. When the results came back he slumped down and said, “I am sorry. I thought they said nothing because you were wrong. What will you do with us?”
Tomli looked at the three remaining judges and he said, “You will report to the Ghost in sector nine on platform A for combat training and deployment.” J’Grodit looked surprised once again and said, “The Ghost is real?” Tomli said, “Many things that seem real are not and many thing that are believed not to be are. The Guardian Kuli did not retreat, they only went under cover. The war is real and you will find out who is behind all of this when you get there.” He turned to three Kuli who just entered the room and nodded. The three judges were taken away.
Tomli turned to J’Rontia and said, “You are to take a hype globe and return to your Kuli training school immediately. Decide what you want in a Soretto and give the Guardian Kuli your parameters and do not deviate. You will graduate tomorrow and three days later I need you to leave for Hronthia. You are to travel through Sector 18 and stop to introduce your Soretto to our friend there. J’Rontia looked confused but said, “I will do as you direct.”
J’Rontia started to walk off and then turned back. Before she could speak Tomli held up his hand for her to be quiet. He took a device out of his pocket and turned it on. Then he smiled at her and said, “I know what you want to know. Yes. During the combat your eyes were glowing.” J’Rontia asked, “How did they not see that?” Tomli said, “I will teach you. Close your eyes and listen carefully with your mind.”
J’Rontia smiled when he was finished and said, “I never saw those pathways in my mind before.” Tomli grew very serious and told her, “Do not follow any without guidance. Until you have the understanding of a Supreme Guardian, you could damage yourself beyond repair.” She nodded her agreement. She started to turn away again and stopped once more. She turned back and gave him a huge hug. With a tear in one eye she walked to the door and then turned back once more and said, “Thanks grandpa.”
Tomli turned the device off and returned it to his pocket. He removed a gem from another pocket and placed it on the table. An image was projected in front of him. The person turned around and looked in his direction. They said, “Well?” Tomli answered, “I have kept my bargain. She passed the final test and is now a Kuli with the highest marks. She will graduate tomorrow.” The woman looked down for a moment and then looked back at him. She brushed her sea foam colored hair out of her face revealing some amber streaks. Her face was young but tired and she said, “I am so glad. I know that this was a huge drain on your time and I appreciate it.” Tomli smiled a very relaxed smile, one he hardly ever used and went to cut the communications. The woman said, “Wait!” He stopped his hand. After a short pause she looked up at him with a tear in one eye and said, “Thanks dad.” She cut the communications. He picked up the gem and returned it to his pocket.
Tomli brushed the tears out of his eyes and went to prepare for the darkness about to descend on the galaxy and people he loved so much.