Monthly Archives: June 2013

TT: It was such a boring class

The Tears of Tyria – The Chronicles of J’Rontia

 It was such a boring class


She was trying so hard to pay attention to the instructor. He was a nice man and the material would be on the next exam; however, he always took information right out of the textbook and she had finished reading that the first day of class. Her memory was fantastic and she had now read the book seven times because she hated getting anything less than a 100 percent on her work. Still, you can only go over the same information so many times.


The instructor was not listed as a Kuli and did not use a family or planet name. The only name that the students were given was Mr. Bug. This caused a lot of laughter among most of the candidates but it made J’Rontia suspicious. Most of what they did in the academy was serious and the Kuli, as a whole, had a peculiar and dry sense of humor if they had any humor at all.


Her favorite instructors were the Guardian Kuli although they usually only taught combat, surveillance, or stealth courses. When they taught academic courses, they were always able to connect them to the real world with examples from their lives. This made their classes so much easier to pay attention in.


Mr. Bug was teaching the history of an advanced group of people who had destroyed themselves so long ago that no one knew if the story was real or not. It was an unusual story about a wonderfully benevolent people who became so advanced that they removed their solar system from the regular laws of the universe and stepped out of time. Once this was done, they disappeared and a black hole with intriguing properties replaced their system.


They had been involved in many affairs in what is now the Tyrian galaxy, along with activities in neighboring galaxies. Once their system disappeared, the remnants searched and searched but never found out where the system went. Finally, giving up on locating their home, they formed a group called the Order of the Silver Star in a nearby galaxy and dedicated the remaining parts of their lives to helping the civilizations there remain free from tyrants and evil.


The course only had 17 sessions, each session lasted from lunch to dinner, and this was session 17. All of the sessions were just the instructor reading parts of the textbook. It was very boring.


She caught herself staring at his fingers. He had this habit of tracing figures with his fingers on the podium, his legs, and other places where his hand sat for any amount of time. She thought that this was weird and that he should have better control of himself as the Kuli did. Mr. Bug highlighted this habit when he wrote a piece on the board and then traced a shape with his finger on his leg. The shape was roughly that of a triangle where the two vertical sides extended so that they looked almost like legs. Her brain screeched to a halt in her daydreaming as the pattern was recognized.


The intersections of the three lines matched the star chart outline that he had shown for the missing system of the Silver Star. Her brain was racing through the textbook in her mind looking for that pattern and others. She just about jumped out of her chair as she realized the entirely different set of lessons that were now revealed to her about the Silver Realm and the incredible man standing in front her.


She turned her attention the Mr. Bug with a completely transformed point of view and he looked straight at her and said, “Of course there are some who do not believe that the Silver Realm was destroyed. For those in this room who might feel that way, you are welcome to stay after class for additional information.”


 The class ended soon after that with many comments from students such as, “I am glad that is over,” “What a waste of time,” and “I am so hungry.” J’Rontia was the only one left in the room with Mr. Bug.


J’Rontia took a good look at Mr. Bug. After the other students left, he put up his instructor gown and donned his own coat. He did not look old, nor did he look like he was very young; he had light brown eyes with a gold glint in them and smile lines all over his face. He was two legged and from a distance looked like a Linthian or Murhan, yet up close he now seemed to radiate a visible energy that was impossible to define. His hair was white but now he had a confidence about him and a certain spring in his walk as one has when they are young and indestructible, totally different than the shuffle he used during class.


The coat he put on was of dragon skin that rose from his shoulders to the top of his head in a cowl and flowed down from his shoulders to his ankles. His hair fell out of his cowl down across his chest and he wore a neatly trimmed beard that covered most of his face. When he walked, his long coat would sway with each step accenting his stride and giving him an almost royal look. Her boring instructor had completely transformed himself.


Mr. Bug walked up to J’Rontia and said, “I was afraid for a while that you would not figure it out. Still, I had faith. Your grandfather said you would understand in time.”


J’Rontia asked, “The Silver Realm still exists?”


“Yes. Very much so!”


J’Rontia went on, “The story of the boy and girl – is the boy my grandfather?”


“Yes he is.”


“Does that mean that I am …” and J’Rontia’s voice trailed off as she considered what she was asking. It was the wrong question, so she asked, “Will the sacrifice be worth it?”


Mr. Bug responded, “You are what you do and you can do more than you believe. The more you do for others, the more you become yourself. Yes, it is worth it and after a while you wonder why others cannot see the light.”


J’Rontia said, “Can you tell me …”


He smiled and held up his hand as he gently cut her off, “You have learned all that I am here to teach. Tomli and others will handle the rest.”


She looked up into his eyes and smiled one of her mischievous smiles and said, “You act and sound a lot like grandpa.”


“I will take that as a compliment.” Mr. Bugs bowed and said; “Good day,” and then he turned and walked toward the front of the room. As he came close to the wall he shimmered and disappeared as if he walked right into the walk.


J’Rontia shook her head and smiled. As she walked from the room, she heard one of the other students saying, “J’Rontia is so strange. Why would she stay after with that man, it was such a boring class?”


The Osgord: Mind Games

You look blindly into the dark of your mind. As you stare through the realm of your subconscious, you find yourself walking through your home back on Nivlahim. You never thought very much of it, but now that it’s so far away, you can’t help but want to shed a tear over losing it. You stop for a few moments in your room to pick up the plush ulfr which had once been all you had of your mommy. Now, instead of a simple child’s toy, you have a warrior’s sword. You set down the stuffed animal and walk out of your room, determination writing itself onto your face. You have something to do.

Moving out of your bedroom, you find the family room to be in the same state of disarray in which you left it last. Looking about as you move through to the door, you see the residue of plasma discharge along with the massive corpses of the wyrms Shilo defeated with such deftness. Thinking back, you still can’t believe what happened. If you hadn’t tried to help, she may have survived. Then again, you may both have died. The past is the past, though, so there’s no real way to know now. No sense blaming yourself…

The doorway is demolished, but you step through it gently. On the other side, the heartwrenching sight of the lobby is there to meet you. After all, this is your own mind. What else would reside there beside your memory? Finished with the sorrow this sight brings you, however, you reach into the depths of your mind and restore the room to its state before the attack. The wyrms’ corpses disappear, and the massive light fixture is restored to its former state hovering over the center of the lobby. Apart from the lack of people, there is only one difference in the room from your previous memories: In the very center of the lobby, there is a black pillar with green light woven through the material like ribbons in the fog.

You walk toward the pillar, remembering the last sight you witnessed there: Shilo’s eyes turning dark. As you suspected, the entrance to Shilo’s mind is standing before you. You need to talk to her directly. You place your hand on the pillar. The world changes in an instant, a burning rush of wind pouring over you.

You find yourself standing on a road constructed of what seem to be large pebbles set in sand. Looking about, you don’t recognize the place from any of Shilo’s memories. The trees are even strange. Looking more closely, you can’t quite place what it is, but something about the color of the leaves is wrong. You straighten up and begin looking about for Shilo.

As you look about, you take in some of the stranger aspects of the world around you. The buildings are made mainly of wood, and the roofs appear mostly to be thatched. There are no pulse cars in sight, but there are short, wooden trucked trailers hitched to the yokes of large, four-legged beasts. You’ve never seen animals quite like them, but their similarity to hrossaks is remarkable.

As you approach the nearest one, you hear the sound of herd animals being brought in your direction. You turn toward the sound, but there’s a hill between you and the herd, so you can’t really see anything. While you’re waiting for the herd to approach, the beast behind you snorts. You jump at the sound, quietly laughing at yourself for being startled inside your own mind before reminding yourself that you’re inside Shilo’s mind, not your own, as strange as that is.

“Keri?” Shilo’s voice is easily recognized, but it’s strangely distant. Looking up, you see her herding a large group of big, fuzzy animals over the hill. Looking around, she almost seems perplexed to see you here, her face engulfed in concern. She pulls down her cowl and pushes the hair in her face behind her ear. “What’s going on? I haven’t heard anything from you for days!”

That’s odd. The attack on the Osgord was just yesterday. “What do you mean?” you ask. “The Osgord was attacked. You helped me figure out what was going on, and I got tossed into space, and then Keliar’di was there, andIgothurtandmyeyesdidntworkandtheworldwasallglowyand–”

“Whoa, whoa, Keri, wait up!” Shilo’s finally made it to you, and she crouches down to look you in the eyes. “I haven’t talked to you since our first night on the Osgord.” She looks more closely into your eyes, and her eyebrows raise at the sight of something. “Ahh. I see what’s happening. There’s a series of tomoweh in your mind’s eye. Someone’s implanting an experience on you.” You give her a confused look that clearly states you have no idea what that means. “Let me explain. When you woke up, and all those things were happening, you hadn’t actually woken up. You’re still unconscious.”

You sit down on the ground, crossing your legs and gathering your focus to think more about what’s being said. “So what you’re saying is that I’ve basically been having a terrible dream?”

“No, Keri,” Shilo says, sitting down in front of you. “You’re awake, but your mind is essentially imprisoned in the will of another. And considering the depth of space we’re in, there are only two people I can think of that would be able to affect your awareness so completely: The Monarch or the Matriarch. And since you’re not dead right now, I think it’s safe to say it isn’t the Monarch.” Shilo swings the bag strapped to her back around and into her lap. Reaching into it, she pulls out a ragged book that looks a few dozen cycles old.

“What’s that?” You reach out a bit, wanting to see what’s in the book. She just smiles and hands you a small, red fruit. You take a bite out of it. It’s crisp and sweet with just the right hint of sour. You smile. “What is this?”

Shilo’s eyes look over the edge of the now-open book and says, “I have no idea. This place is a bit of a mystery.” You give a quizzical look. “This isn’t from my memories. It’s from a vision given to me by the Matriarch when I finished my training. It’s not her vision, either. All Valkyries are shown the vision upon completion of their training. It’s from the old skies. It was entrusted to the Matriarch by a man she called, ‘outside of time.’ I’m not sure what that means, but if I had actually gotten to meet her and ask face-to-face, I’m not sure she’d know, either.” She smiles and returns to the book.

You take another bite of the fruit and take another look at the world around you. The color of the leaves is yellower, not because of season but because the star in the sky has less blue in its spectrum. The animals around you are all completely unknown, but you can’t shake the eeriness of the buildings. The village is so small, it reminds you of a bedtime story. Outside of time is probably a perfect description of anyone who’s seen this place in real life.

“Here it is!” Shilo cries out. You look back to her, your attention focused. “Well, that explains why we’re able to talk here… Oh, that makes sense. Hmm…” She tells you no details of what she’s reading, and it’s all you can do not to grab the book and read it yourself. Instead, you take another bite of your fruit. “Well, I can only think of one way to get out of this simulation, Keri.”

You have no idea what she has in mind, but Shilo has never let you down. “What do I do?” When you see her confident smirk, you can’t help but smile back at her.

“You have to try to reach out to the Matriarch and…” Shilo begins to fade into a dull gray silence. She stands up, grabbing your hand and pulling you into a hug, trying to tell you more before she fades completely, but you get nothing.

“Wake up, Keri,” the lie of a voice reaches into your ears like milk, but you can’t let yourself be distracted by this false reality. Opening your eyes, you look into the shining world around you. You’re back on the Osgord, though you suppose you never left, and this isn’t actually an accurate indication of your location anyway. You begin searching the void with your strongest glow. “Can you see?”

There it is! The planet is so far away, but the path of green light you feel can’t quite be hidden away. Too much effort is going into simulating the events onboard the Osgord. On the planet of the same name, you feel a presence stronger and warmer than anything you’ve ever felt, even compared to memories of your mother. Grasping hold of the sensation, you try your hardest to scream out to it with your mind, “I see YOU!”

For the third time, you open your eyes. This time, however, you know everything is real. You’ve been brought to the medical bay, and the Medical Officer scrambles over to you, calling over the communicator in her hand, “She’s awake, sir!”

Exhausted beyond reason, you feel the strength of your glow fade, sapping strength from your body as well. ‘Good job, Keri,” Shilo speaks in your mind. Smiling, you close your eyes again, saying, “I need to rest a bit.” As the Medical Officer grips your hand, you grip it back.

Then, another voice echoes in your mind, accompanied by that same warm sensation you felt before. As clearly as if it had been whispered into your ear, the voice says, ‘I’ve been waiting a long time for you, Keria’Ledrii. Enjoy your trip. I’ll be waiting just a bit longer.’

SR: A Light in the Darkness

The Silver Realm: A Light in the Darkness

I used to think I was a great warrior and was so very proud of the history of my warriors. I am a member of the Order of the Silver Star and over the years won every personal battle I fought. I moved up in the ranks easily and few were even able to provide me a challenge. I won many accolades over the year and was even an undefeated general at one point – then I went to Hrunt.

The Hrunt system was under attack by the Tourab Empire and they pleaded with all the surrounding systems to send help as surely we would be next in the Empire’s expansion. Our system answered the call for many reasons. As a general of the Order, I was chosen to lead a group of 35,000 troops sent from the Gloster Federation.

We arrived on the battlefield with a string of victories going back to the days of my great grandfather. The glories of years past drove us to victories in the first days and brought hope to a devastated planet. We took the battle field and soon mastered the ground driving the Empire back. None could stand against us and I personally battled their best without difficulty. Then we met up with the evil one they called the Emperor’s Hammer and our world changed.

I was inducted into the Order of the Silver Star as a young soldier who was barely out of school. After my third war, I was given the Amulet of Freedom which I wear at all times. The Amulet is a high honor and contains the essence of truth. It was only this that saved me on my first encounter the Hammer. I had led the charge up one of the lonely hills in the battle zone in a total rout of the Empire’s soldiers. They had no chance against our superior skills with weapons and our advanced fighting techniques. When I reached the top of the hill he was standing there alone. He smiled an evil grin that made my skin crawl and we slowed our pace to a walk. As we approached, he raised his sword to the sky and lightning came down and struck the weapon in his hand. His whole body glowed as the lightning flashed and a dark gray outline formed in the air around him. He brought the blade down as the lightning abated and moved toward us.

He was on my right side and one of my lieutenants felt the force of his attack first. When the blade came down it struck the lieutenant’s sword and an explosion shook the ground and a wave of destruction flowed out from the sword. Hundreds fell in that first blow and most of my troops stopped in their tracks to see what I would do. I moved directly toward him.  

It was clear to me that he was surprised. He did not expect that anyone would come after him once he unleashed the lightning in his sword; however, this was not my first encounter with an entity that had supernatural powers. My sword was given to me by the Last Knight of the Silver Star and when he dies I am destined to become the Last Knight if I survive that long. I believed that my sword would take the day and walked up to the Hammer with no fear in my heart.

The Hammer hesitated and that allowed me to get into a comfortable position. We moved around assessing each other as adversaries do when there is a level of respect. Then he attacked. His sword swung around as he spun in a circle after a feint to draw me off guard. It did not work as I anticipated that move from one such as him. When the sword came around, I was ready with a stroke of my own and the swords hit with a tremendous force.

The resulting explosion would have killed most men and a concussion wave swept across the battlefield leaving much destruction in its wake. After the blow, I still stood in front of the Hammer with my sword held high and the Silver Star’s Amulet of Freedom glowing as a beacon in the night. The Hammer was stunned that I was still standing. As he looked around, I dropped quickly to the ground to try and catch him off guard as I spun and then swept around with my sword. The Hammer did not have time to get his blade in a defensive position and my sword struck his legs with all the force I could muster. The blade went through his legs gleaming with silver as the blood flew across the ground. I watched him fall to the ground as I prepared my killing blow.

Just as I was about to finish him off, the ground around me evaporated and we both fell into a fresh crater tumbling into separate piles at the bottom. I stood slowly while surveying the newly formed terrain around me. The Hammer struggled to sit up and you could see the agony on his face as the pain from the loss of his lower legs struck him. For the first time, he understood what it meant to face an equal. I moved to finish my job when, suddenly, on the edge of the crater, I saw a figure appear. The figure was in a dark robe that was almost black yet escaped the totality of that color with unusual light gray patterns that swept across it in a lively yet disturbing way.

The figure lifted off the ground and floated down in front of me just to the side of the Hammer and I recognized him. The emperor asked, “How did you survive that blow?”

I did not answer and directed my stance in his direction.

He looked at my amulet and reach out to touch it. I swung my blade to cut off his hand and somehow it missed. He laughed and touched my amulet. There was a bright light and he screamed in agony as he was thrown back onto the ground next to the Hammer.

The emperor arose and said, “You are not a Hrunt! What are you doing here? We did not attack your system.”

I answered, “The Hrunt asked for help and we answered.”

“You fool. This is not your battle.”

I replied, “Regardless, we are here and we are helping.”

The emperor gave me a disgusted look as he said, “You will wish you never came if you do not leave now. I will give you a safe passage out of this system if you leave today. If you do not, you will wish that you had not been borne.”

I leapt forward with my sword swinging and struck the emperor on the upper arm. The blow did not penetrate deeply but it did throw him to the side on top of the Hammer. I followed with a spin and a jump to avoid any of their sword action, which I did, and brought my blade down with all the force I could muster on the two of them. The blade went through the emperor’s arm and pierced the Hammer’s side.

The emperor screamed in agony, slapped his remaining hand against his belt buckle, and vanished. The Hammer, realizing that his master had left, did the same thing and disappeared also. I foolishly thought that I had won the day. After I crawled out of the crater, I looked around and realized how many of our troops had died in the engagement. There were no cheers of victory as the two evil ones escaped with their lives and we knew they would return.

Two years later, I stand on the ground that we recently “won” in battle and look at my remaining troops. Of the 35,000 that came to save the Hrunt, only about 500 are left. The Hrunt army is still 25,000 strong as they replace their losses regularly. The problem is the age of the new recruits. They are either very old or extremely young and my forces spend almost all of their waking time training or stopping a breach in our line. There are no smiles anywhere. We have withstood the best that the enemy sent and I have won every encounter with the Hammer, who is now not much more than an apparition. Still, we have lost many battles and the wins come further apart all the time. Yet, it is not the battles that we have lost that destroyed the spirit of my men. It is this battlefield that we cannot seem to get out of.

This place really smells bad and no one ever gets used to the odor. Over the years, on various planets, I have experienced other really foul smells and they all would seem to go away after I was around them for a while. That is not the case for this particular battlefield. It isn’t just the decaying corpses, the burnt flesh, or the explosive residue that stays with us; it’s more the atmosphere of despair that creeps into our souls and damages everything that makes us who we are, making the smell a live thing that attacks us at our core with our every breath.

The emperor never returned to the battlefield but his presence did. Ships would fly over and drop diseased corpses on our camps, into the streams and lakes we drink from, and on us during battles. Soldiers of the empire would light themselves on fire and run into our camps trying to set everything they could touch on fire. In the middle of the night, tortured animals would be set loose in our encampment. The list of dishonorable tactics deployed goes on and on.

My soldiers wanted to leave and go home, even though it would be the first defeat ever since the establishment of the Order of the Silver Star on our planet. So that afternoon, I decided to kneel and pray. As I knelt, I could hear the question roll through my mind in a soft voice, “Do you want to quit?” I could also hear, even louder, “You cannot win, go home before it is too late.” The conflict in my mind was complex and I was torn. I prayed for guidance and another voice, a quiet, gentle female one I have never heard before asked, “What is the right thing to do?”

I know what is right. I must stay and try to win against this evil even if costs me my life. Without our help the Hrunts would have lost long ago and my oath to the Order of the Silver Star requires me to help the weak against all evil. This question galvanizes my thoughts and brings strength back to my convictions that I almost lost. I am ashamed that I even considered leaving. The people on this planet do not deserve to suffer like this without any assistance. I changed my prayer. Instead, I asked for a ray of hope for my troops and a light in the darkness for this planet. As usual, I did not receive an answer. When I finished my prayers, I came down from the hill and attempted to rally my troops once again.

I awoke in the morning to the sound of explosions with dread that another attack had started before we were ready. Today could be our last day. I decided that I would go out in style and quickly put on my dress armor. I walked out of my tent into confusion as everyone outside was looking up into the morning sky. A ship was descending under heavy attack from the Empire.

The ship was like no other ship I have ever seen. There was no defining shape as it seemed to morph as it came down. The color was silver with gold stripes on what became the bottom. The explosions that had destroyed almost all of our supply ships had no effect on this ship and it was not deterred in its course.  The final shape as it landed was a square box with four feet on the bottom.

I ran to the front of the group forming around the ship with no fear as I remembered my prayer from the previous day. A ramp descended from the ship and anticipation rose as we all prayed as never before. After a few anxious moments, a woman walked down the ramp with confident strides and a commanding presence that quieted the crowd.

Her black boots rose above her knees and had a silver band around their tops. On the front of each boot, in the silver area near the top was the symbol of the Order of the Silver Star, an outline of an angel with a star in her outstretched right hand. Her pants were laced with the light armor of our Special Forces, except that hers had vertical silver force lines glowing from her boots to her belt. The belt was silver and had a buckle with the symbol of freedom from the amulet engraved on it. Everyone around me was kneeling and bowing down, leaving me the only one standing as is proper when greeting a dignitary.

She wore a breast plate that covered her body from the neck to the waist. The plate appeared to be metal but flexed with her movements and seemed to change shape so that there was no discomfort to the wearer. She was wearing a long jacket made of a material I had never seen that ran from her neck to her ankles and was open in the front with a catch chain at the waist. Her helmet had a gold band that ran around her forehead and above it her head was covered with a black metal. The helmet came down and covered her ears and the back of her head and neck as it draped over her jacket. On her hands, she was wearing gauntlets that covered her jacket sleeves and ended just before reaching her elbow. The only part of her body showing was her face.

Her hair was in her helmet except for some that came out around her neck and flowed down over her breast plate. The hair was bright blue and so radiate that it seemed to glow. Her face was firm and delicate at the same time with deep hypnotic blue eyes. She had thin lips, a thin face, and clearly was the most beautiful woman I had ever seen. Still, I could not miss the tremendous power that she exuded. When she came closer, I could see symbols engraved on her helmet’s gold band. The symbols did not mean anything to me but I will remember them always: άγγελο

She stopped at the bottom of the ramp and asked, “Are you the General of Orinth?”

“I am known by that title on some planets.”

“I am here to assist you.”

I felt my heart leap in my breast as I realized a prayer answered. I did not know what to say, so I reported as I would to a superior. “Excellent. I could use another 15,000 troops, weapons, food, supplies, and the use of this ship.”

She smiled and I felt my heart lift even more. Then she laughed and said, “I am afraid you misunderstand. I am here to assist you. You will have my services for three local days. Then, I am afraid, I must move on.”

My hopes were dashed to the winds. Just when I thought things were turning around we were back to where the day started. I said, “Sorry. I thought…” I paused. I really didn’t know what I thought.

The woman spoke as I tried to regain my thoughts. “What exactly did you pray for last night?”

I was stunned for moment and then said, “I asked for a ray of hope.”

She smiled a very mischievous smile and said, “I guess that I am Ray.” Then she laughed some more as the troops around us joined in. It was the happiest I had seen them in a long time.

When the laughter settled down, she asked, “What are your plans for today?”

“I was going to attack their headquarters.”

“Very well, let’s get to it.”

She reached between her coat and her side and pulled out a magnificent sword. The sword was as long as mine with strange symbols and drawings all over it. She lifted the sword to the sky and spoke the Oath of the Order of the Silver Star.

She turned back to me and asked, “What approach were you going to take?”

“I was planning to go across the front behind the trees, after that we will travel in the river, and finally we will come up behind the hill.”

She nodded and said, “I will go straight up the hill in a frontal attack.”

“They are the strongest there. Why would you do that?”

She smiled that smile again, “Because they are strongest there. If we can defeat them at their strongest, then there is no hope for them and we regain the momentum. Plus, that is where their anti-ship weapons are. If we destroy them, then your reinforcements will be able to arrive along with supplies.”

I looked on with surprise as she continued, “You have fifteen ships in orbit awaiting a clear path. Shall we go make one?”

What could I say? Nothing had prepared me for someone so bold and confident. Worry ran through my mind about what would happen to our new hope if she was killed. She was looking at me and it felt as if she could hear my thoughts.

She said, “Do you believe in your prayer?”

I was ashamed. I knelt, bowed my head and said, “I apologize. I am unworthy.”

She laughed again and then, becoming serious, said, loudly so all could hear, “You are one of the most worthy warriors of the Order ever. The Order commends you on your dedication to this cause and the valor with which you have served it. In honor of our fallen Knights and with my authority as a Steward, I now anoint you a Paladin of the Order of the Silver Star.” She took her sword and tapped both of my shoulders. “Please rise.”

She turned me toward the troops and raised a cheer. “May we live well, may we cherish our families, may we honor the Order, and may we follow our Paladins into hell and win!” The troops repeated the cheer three times and then they gathered around and congratulated me until my shoulders hurt. The atmosphere had completely changed and their eyes were bright again. We had not seen a knighting in the field nor had anyone been knighted a Paladin in thousands of years, it cleansed our souls.

After some time, everyone settled back down and she asked, “Are we ready?”

“Yes.” I turned to my men and said, “Form ranks in 4D with the Hrunts as your cores.”

The troops quickly formed squares of 100 men with the Hrunts in the middle of the squares and my men on the outside with the Hrunts’ best troops filling the gaps where I no longer had enough to complete the square. Each of my lieutenants took the lead of a square and formed up behind me and my group of special mission forces, although only twelve remained of a force that originally held 200.

I led them to the bottom of the hill where she joined us. We were now a fierce looking army and all of the troops held a sparkle of determination in their eyes I had not seen in a long time. Hopes were high as we prepared to assault the enemy’s stronghold from the worst possible approach.

I returned to the front of the assembly just in time to hear laughter broadcast loudly over the battle field. The Hammer stood at the top of the hill with the Emperor standing next to him. He bellowed into a sound amplifier, “Did you bring your daughter here to die?” He laughed more and the Emperor just stood by silently. After a bit, the Hammer yelled some additional insults and bragged about the destruction of our force and how the Hrunts are running out of men to die. Finally, the Hammer bellowed, “You better hope your daughter dies because if she doesn’t, she will be mine.”

I looked at the strange but beautiful woman warrior at my side and she smiled. It was a smile that radiated confidence and no little mystery. I knew that the men would follow her into the jaws of death itself but at that point in time I could not have given you a solid reason. I turned to my men and gave the command. We started to move forward and the enemy attacked.

The guns thundered in the morning air as they sent explosive rounds toward our position. We braced but kept moving forward, waiting for the impact and death that would follow. It never came. The woman’s ship flashed silver threads that consumed the rounds from the guns before they did any damage. We were thrilled and started to run up the hill like the young men most of us were not.

We had always just accepted the losses from gun attacks and never considered that we could move in close without huge losses. The explosions taking place over our heads created a light show that was spectacular if deadly. She had truly brought a light into the darkness in many ways.

We were close to the top of the hill before the enemy moved to engage ground forces and additional weapons. They rolled their engines of death forward to the crest of the hill. Their favorite was hot oil. They had catapults powered by various sources that propelled canisters filled with oil into our midst. After two years, we were ready for this. We all had modified our armor so that we had cloth with a paste on it that overlapped all the exposed areas. We also carried a shield that we used to protect our faces and to deflect most of the oil. Still, it was easy to make a mistake or slip and then the damage could be severe.

They also liked to retarget their large guns close and use less power so that they would deliver a large amount of shrapnel into our ranks. The armor we wore prevented any serious damage unless you dropped your shield at the wrong time and the shrapnel hit your face. The problem was the minor damage the shrapnel inflicted. Little by little a soldier who was not careful had their armor damaged and the soldier became less and less efficient.

The worst came from their projectile weapons. The weapons were not accurate over a long distance but deadly as we came closer. The projectiles would not penetrate our armor but they would bruise the soldiers they struck and if they found a chink in the armor they could cause a serious injury. As we closed on the top of the hill, their soldiers stepped to the edge and started firing their weapons at us with some effect. Some of our troops fell in the front lines, but this time no one stopped and those that fell rose up and continued on if able. Clearly the woman was making a huge difference.

I was close enough at that point to see the enemies’ faces as they realized that all of their tactics made no perceptible difference in the speed or quantity of troops racing up the hill at them. The woman and I reached the frontlines of their troops at the same time and our swords flashed at speeds that were barely visible. We drove through the line as a Knife through creost. My elite troops were only steps behind and widened the path even further allowing the squares to enter and then move sideways in their attacks. The additional squares would flow forward and then move sideways at a new spot alternating left and right. Soon the enemy was in a rout over the sides of the hill while we continued on toward the headquarters.

The woman fighting at my side never tired or slowed down during the attack up the hill or during the head-on assault against the massed troops at the top of the hill. She was like a fine-tuned war machine that was untiring and extremely accurate. When we engaged the enemy at the top of the hill her blue hair seemed to glow and her eyes took on an almost eerie appearance that obviously upset the men she faced. As we finally broke through their main lines, we paused and sent our troops in squares after the remaining groups that fled down the sides of the hill and the balance of the squares formed up behind us.

Once we had reformed, we looked down on their headquarters. Standing directly in front of their main ship was the Hammer and the Emperor. On their sides and behind them were soldiers that we had never seen before. These troops were wearing advanced armor and held cutting-edge weapons such as plasma guns. The ships that they protected were not the battle carriers we had seen before. These ships had interstellar capabilities and progressive weapons systems. This equipment was banned on planets with a level of technology such as this one. The emperor had crossed some serious lines this time. I was about to say something when I heard that evil laugh over the sound amplifier.

The Hammer said, “Surprised. I warned you about bringing your daughter into battle. Even your best troops cannot stand against these.”

The woman moved an object in front of her face and said, “Why don’t the leaders just fight it out? Or are you scared of losing to a girl?” The object was some sort of sound amplifier and we could all hear what she said.

The Hammer answered angrily, “We will see about that.” The nearest ship emitted a sharp whine and a beam flashed out toward the woman. Instantly her sword was in position and the beam hit the sword which appeared to absorb the energy. When the beam quit, she pointed her sword at the ship and the beam flew from her sword and impacted on the ship causing a huge explosion. Anyone who doubted she was from the Order no longer had any doubts. Only a sword of the Order could contain such energy. The explosion was soon followed by more as the ship blew to pieces and sent the enemy scrambling to get out of the way. She started to move toward them and we followed along.

We were almost close enough for the plasma guns to be in range when the woman’s ship appeared overhead. An orange beam fell on the enemy troops and their ships. Moments later, her ship returned to its original landing spot. I was curious what that was about for a while until I noticed that their plasma guns were not working and that the lights on the ships were slowly going out. The enemy was confused and angry.

This time the Emperor spoke to the woman, “Who are you?’

She answered, “I guess I am Ray.” Naturally, all of my troops broke out laughing at that comment. She held up her hand for everyone to stop.

The Emperor spoke again, “You have no right here. You are using forbidden technologies and this is none of your business.”

She replied sweetly, “Section 4G.5r of the treaty notes that any use of technology above that of the home civilization without the Treaty Council’s permission can be neutralized by any other technologies as long as the other technologies are not used for attack.”

“The council members are all dead so the treaty does not matter.”

Her voice tightened and the steel came out as she spoke striking all with its confidence and strength, “There is one that you did not kill who still lives and who sent me.”

The Emperor hesitated and his voice was shaky when he replied, “He cannot still be alive. It has been tens of thousands of year.”

She answered, “Yet – I am here.”

With confidence returning, the Emperor replied, “Yes, and you will die here.”

The Emperor motioned with his hands and the strange warriors moved forward to attack. The woman next to me looked at me and smiled. I could see that her eyes were glowing blue as was her hair. She said to me, “I will lead. Watch my back.”

I ran as fast as I could and was barely able to keep up. I heard my special forces running hard to catch up with us. In the background, I could hear the lieutenants setting their squares in motion carefully. In mere moments, she engaged the enemy with a level of ferocity I have never seen. When she hit a soldier with her sword, they would either be neatly sliced in half or they would fly back from the impact. I got behind her just in time to prevent an attack on her back and soon my special forces joined me. It took all of us just to keep up with her and prevent attacks on her from behind as she cut through the enemy like they were nothing.

Soon she was twisting and turning to maximize the effect of her attack and to prevent the enemy from escaping. In a short time, she had decimated the enemy’s forces and was moving against the elite troops protecting the Emperor. When we reached the Hammer, she stepped aside and allowed me to engage him.

He was no longer the powerful man I fought years ago. He had maintained some of his strength over the years but I knew that his losses were taking a toll, yet so had mine. Now he just watched as his secret weapons were disabled and as a woman destroyed his special troops like they were nothing. It only took me a few swings of the blade and he was down for good.

After the Hammer went down, there were only five warriors between us and the Emperor. The five stepped away from him toward us to engage. Before they had gone two steps they dropped as spinning metal stars cut through their armor and slit their throats. I had hardly seen her hands move.

She walked slowly toward the Emperor and asked, “Do you wish to surrender?”

“You do not know who or what I am. I will give you no more warnings if you continue.”

She laughed and took another step.

The Emperor swept his hands around and clasped his wrists together. A blinding flash flew out and a concussion wave followed. I was pushed back but not far as I had anticipated this. The woman was not fooled at all and used the flash to move forward and swing her sword. The Emperor was sliced in half.

His armor sealed the wound immediately as he screamed in agony. He reached to slap his belt buckle and escape when he realized that she sliced him above his transportation device. His face twisted in hate and he screamed in rage, “He will only send another. You cannot win.”

She looked back at him and, before his life left him, said, “You tell him we will be waiting.” The Emperor’s eyes rolled in his head and he screamed once more as his life drained out of him.

The woman turned to me and said, “I guess you did not need three days.”

She reached out and pulled me toward her in a big hug. Then she turned to the troops and shouted, “May we live well, may we cherish our families, may we honor the Order, and may we follow our Paladins into hell and win!” We all joined in for three more cheers and then she said she must go.

The two of us walked back to her ship as my lieutenants started mop up duty with the remaining enemy troops and as my special forces dug through the strange soldiers gear and ships. As we walked, I asked her, “How can I ever thank you?”

She smiled again and said, “Go back to the priests of the Order and Complete the Rite of the Paladin. They will be able to help you understand.”

We talked as we walked about the planet and what must be done to restore it. It seemed like only moments and we were at her ship. She started up the ramp and turned and walked back to me. She leaned over and gave me a kiss on the lips. Then she pulled me closer and gave me another deeper kiss. This time I kissed back rather eagerly.

She stepped back and said, “I will return when you need me.”

Then she turned and climbed aboard her ship. As the ship rose into the sky I just stood there staring as I realized that I was in love with her. There had been a growing darkness in my heart and now she was like a bright light in the darkness for my soul and this planet. The understanding came over me that I would never love anyone but her and that somehow that was all right. I stood there looking up until one of our supply ships started to land.






Later, far out in space, the warrior woman got out of her seat and removed her uniform. She carefully placed it on a special carrier and the refresher went to work on it until it was sparkling clean. Throughout the cleaning she just stood there watching with a distant look in her eyes. Finally, when the uniform was clean and refresher done, she sighed deeply and turned back toward her command chair.

Walking toward her as if he had just come through the wall of the ship was a tall man. He did not look old, nor did he look like he was very young; he had light brown eyes with a gold glint in them and smile lines all over his face. He was two legged and from a distance looked like a Linthian or Murhan, yet up close seemed to radiate a visible energy that was impossible to define. His hair was white but he had a confidence about him and a certain spring in his walk as one has when they are young and indestructible. He wore a coat of dragon skin that rose from his shoulders to the top of his head in a cowl and flowed down from his shoulders to his ankles. His hair fell out of his cowl down across his chest and he wore a neatly trimmed beard that covered most of his face. When he walked, his long coat would sway with each step accenting his stride and giving him an almost royal look. As he came close he stopped and unleashed a smile that warmed her heart.

This time, she was barely startled by his sudden appearance out of the wall of her ship, not like the first time when she attacked him. In fact, she was very glad to see him and she smiled deeply outside and inside. He had changed her life before and now, after her recent mission, she felt reborn.

The tall man asked, “Well?”

He never wasted a lot of words and was quite to the point and yet all of his words, even a simple well, made her consider carefully her response. She answered with a question, “How often will my missions be like this one?”

The tall man responded, “In what way?”

She smiled again. He always managed to turn a question back to try and make her realize what she really wanted to know and how she really felt. She already knew her answers once she thought it through. She said, “I understand. The evil that was there will be in all my missions and so will the good. How often will I be able to be άγγελο?”

Now it was the tall man’s turn to smile. He knew that she understood now and his work was almost completed. He answered, “I will need you in this galaxy once every year or so to represent the Order. Yet, I sense more to your question. The uniform is yours to keep and use as you wish; however, you may not use the Order’s marking outside of this galaxy, except for the helmet. You have earned the right to wear άγγελο.”

She could not help herself and she reached out and hugged him. She was surprised when he hugged her back warmly and when she looked up he had tears in his eyes, which he discretely brushed away. She stepped back and asked, “Is he your son?”

The tall man did not need to answer; she could see the answer in his eyes. He said softly, “Yes, one of them.”

He anticipated her next question and handed her a small metal object. When she grabbed it, it disappeared and she felt a tingling in her arm. “It will stay with you and when you are needed it will appear and give you a location to go to. One of the priests of the Order or your Paladin will let you know what they need.”

“How will I get across the galaxy in time to do any good?”

The tall man smiled and walked over to one of the panels on the walls. “Touch here.”

She did and the panel slid up revealing a hand print recorder.

“Place your hand here and the ship will almost instantly return to the location I first brought you to in this galaxy. The temple there will be reactivated by the Paladin you just knighted and when you activate this your ship will appear in their temple grounds. Now, I must go.”

She gave him another hug and thanked him again for saving her.

“You have paid that back many times over and you owe me nothing.”

She smiled and he turned away. He walked toward the wall of the ship. He shimmered a little and then was gone. She thought back to when she met him and knew that she would gladly give her life in his service. Of course, the Paladin was a pleasant surprise and she knew that she would happily answer the Order’s calls for help.





When I returned to my home planet, I went straight to the temple. I sat with the high priest and told my story. Then I drew the markings I saw on the woman on a sand tablet. The priest looked at the tablet and smiled. He went to his bookcase and found an ancient book. He set the book on the table in front of me and opened it to the center pages where there was a detailed drawing of the symbol of the Order of the Silver Star. It was a woman with her outstretched right hand holding a star. The priest then unfolded the pages to revel a larger drawing that showed the woman in great detail. The drawing was in color with a silver star; the woman’s hair was bright blue and there was a blue glow around her eyes. Her uniform matched exactly with the one worn by the woman who came to help me. There were strange symbols all over the page but I quickly recognized one set right away: άγγελο. I pointed to it and the priest nodded.

The priest quietly told me, “It is a word: ANGEL. You have been knighted by one of the Angels of the Order. This is the first time in tens of thousands of years that an angel has shown up. It is both a great honor and a warning. The Order has let us know that a Paladin is needed. For thousands of years, we have kept faithful with the tithe. We will now open up our resources to you so that you can prepare the army that will be needed.”

After much planning and a very long day, I walked out into the night alone and crossed the Silver Piazzas to the Star Chamber. I climbed to the control chair and set the coordinates for the location of space we saw the Angel’s ship head for. I sat there reviewing the stars in the path indicated. What crisis was developing in the galaxy that required an army of the Order of the Silver Star and how bad would things get before my light in the darkness returned?