Monthly Archives: September 2013

TT & SR: The Dew was Heavy on the Grass

The Tears of Tyria – The Chronicles of J’Rontia

The Dew Was Heavy On The Grass 

The dew was heavy on the grass and he was soaking wet. He hated being wet, especially when he was in camouflage clothes because he couldn’t change them out. Sometimes, he spent days building his camouflage gear to match the environment and, typically, there is not enough time to build separate sets to keep dry or a place to store them. So, physically, he was miserable and in pain.

 

He looked out across the clearing at the little house with his scopes and found no activity on any of the wavelengths he was scanning. He checked the passive devices he set up the day before in the woods and they all were free of any warning or alerts. He turned back to reach in his pack and his breath was taken away as he fell to the ground in agony.

 

The pain radiating up his leg was excruciating and increasing, although he was not sure how that was possible. He recalled his training on pain and all the techniques the Kuli taught to control it. The techniques were great but they all assumed that the user had a high level of “special” abilities.

 

That was fine for those who were in the school because they had been identified as “special” or had eyes that glowed or could jump twice their height and so on. He was there because one of his distant ancestors had signed a transit agreement with the Kuli for the sector of space his family controlled. The agreement allowed the Kuli unlimited transit rights, required them to help protect the system, and allowed one child, selected by the current head of the family, each ten standard years to attend the Kuli apprentice training.

 

The training was very valuable but also frustrating, especially when he “reached deeply” with his mind into his “energy field,” and found nothing. He even had a Guardian Kuli probe his mind to see if something could be “turned on” in his brain. The Kuli’s comment after the probe was, “You seem to have blocks in the way.” Who knows what that meant? For his training, it just meant that he was always at the bottom of his class and would never become a Kuli. Still, the training was great and he somehow managed to pass each section of the training except the ones where the apprentices had to use their minds to control things.

 

Without the mind control he did not pass critical components of the training and was not allowed to be a Kuli so he did not graduate; however, there was a ceremony and certification for those who completed all the foundation courses. Kuli schools were some of the most difficult and the biggest key to passing was not giving up. The apprentices who failed all failed because they kept quitting. He was amazed at the number of people with special abilities that did not have any determination. How sad and what a waste.

 

The family selected him for the training because his father had died saving the current head of the family, Csut of Trewst. In years past, his part of the family ruled the family business but an early death of one ancestor left no one of age to rule and so it moved to another family branch. The agreement made at the time gave his family second choice at the Kuli training every ten standard years. His father’s sacrifice moved them up to first choice from that point on.

 

The training was an honor but there had not been a Kuli graduate since the Trewst Corridor Treaty was signed. Most of the trainees dropped out about half way through and he was the first to complete the training in a long time so the entire family was very proud of him.

 

Still, there were few jobs available in the family business so he went to work for the Linthian Intelligence Service as a contractor. They were very eager to have him due to his Kuli training and set him up to pre-clear mission locations. The nice thing was that working for the Linthian Intelligence Service was seldom boring, especially when the Kuli were involved. 

 

He rolled over and sat up against the tree while he worked to bring the pain under control again. This planet, Hweort, was going to get an adjustment to its pronunciation – he was going to call it “Hurt.” The methods he was taught did their job and within moments, he was able to return to his recording of data and the business at hand. He was expecting movements today at the little house in the clearing. In the previous cycles of the planet, he recorded a pattern of delivery that brought a supply ship in every four cycles.

 

In the previous visits, the ship would come over the clearing and drop packages. After the ship left, one person would come out of the house and cautiously collect the packages and bring them inside. Today should be one of those days but he was not here for the normal so he hoped for a change.

 

Usually he loved his job and all of the challenges that go with. This mission was different from most and had been frustrating from the start. They picked a poor drop zone for him that had a number of dangerous outcroppings. He was injured when one of his descenders cut out just before he hit the ground throwing him sideways and dropping all of his weight, and his pack, on one leg that scraped along a sharp rock.

 

The medical kit was missing long-term pain killers and contained no flex bandages. When he reviewed his shot list he noticed that they had given him a shot series for a different planet. To top it all off, he developed a serious infection in the cut and was forced to cut the wound and drain the pus multiple times each day. It would have been nice to find some immuno-boost in the kit to eliminate the infection.

 

Once he had the medical issues somewhat under control, he found out that the drop zone was three times as far from the mission site as the plan called for. That was exactly what he needed to find out. He had a smashed leg and now had to travel way farther than he would have wanted to with a good leg. But he, Resurt of Trewst, was not one to quit.

 

When he reached the site, he found the situation was different than his briefing. The clearing was only approachable on two sides due to a lake on one side and a cliff on another. He was not told about the lake and did not have any sensors for under water. He also did not have very many that would attach to rock. That meant a lot of physical reconnoitering and manual reading of sign.

 

His biggest worry was the low number of safe sites available to set up his camps. This made it easier for him to get caught as having multiple camp sites was critical on any long-term mission. In addition, the sites were poor so he tried not to stay in them for any amount of time. That is why he tried to do his data uploads as quickly as possible. He finished the data update from the sensors, put the equipment away, and prepared his camp for a possible quick departure.

 

He moved back to the edge of the woods and got down on the ground. It was close to the midpoint in the morning and the dew was still heavy on the grass as he moved forward. This was dangerous for many reasons, including that the grass would look different after he absorbed the moisture from the area he crossed.

 

He looked out again with his scope and wondered why he was watching this house. The Linthian Intelligence Service, known by many names and acronyms, would hire him to go in and reconnoiter a site and almost never told him why. Often, the mission ended and he was pulled out without ever knowing what purpose it served. Sometimes, not very often, he found out later.

 

He retained quite a bit of guilt over the work he had recently done to prepare for a visit from a Kuli ambassador. He had monitored a city on the planet Quister for many local cycles without detecting any problems, only to have the Kuli ambassador attacked by thousands of warriors right after she arrived with her Soretto for negotiations on a treaty. He still could not figure out how they made it to the planet in such numbers without him noticing. He was glad that the Kuli’s Soretto was able to help and the Kuli did not die. Still, he would always carry that guilt.

 

He heard the ship as it approached from the East and slid back into the woods. The ship was an old transport, probably a Yster Mark 8. The Mark 8 transports were built for the military and thus extremely durable. The military only kept the ships for their guaranteed lifespan but the freighters were built in such a manner as to last many times the guaranteed life. This made them very popular for freight companies and private haulers.

 

The downside was that they were also popular with smugglers because they could disguise them as standard freight ships even down to painting them with the same identifiers as a certified galaxy transporter. This ship was configured as a Drester Transporter which was a certified carrier in this sector of the galaxy.

 

The ship slowed to a stop over the clearing and sent a drop tone through its speakers. Moments later, the cargo hold opened and a pallet floated down to the clearing. The ship moved forward and another pallet floated down next to it. This repeated until the field held ten pallets all that contained closed containers.

 

Resurt watched the transport ship fly off as he recorded their registration numbers, just in case they were legitimate haulers. He doubted the numbers would be anything but false so he refocused on the pallets as soon as he was done. The containers on the pallets were about his height and a little wider and deeper than he was. All of them had docking air jacks of the same type as found when transporting animals to allow for fresh air or when transporting various types of fresh foods.

 

He had assumed they contained food until he had calculated how much food has already arrived. They would be able to feed six thousand Murhans for three weeks. It was not likely they were full of food. Tonight, he would have to find out what was in the containers.

 

This drop was significantly larger than previous drops and the contents of the containers may answer a lot of questions for him. As he thought about the possibilities, the house opened and a man came out to inspect the containers. He went around all of them with a clipboard and banged on a couple. After taking notes, he returned to the house.

 

A short time later, a remote controlled tractor came from around the back of the house with a lift for the pallets. The pallets were moved one at a time to an unknown location by the cliff. He would have some reconnoitering to do after dark.

 

There were three pallets left when the remote control tractor lost its connection. He had seen it before and quite often the erratic behavior was humorous to watch. The tractors just start swerving back and forth with no clear direction. In this case, the tractor served to the left and hit one of the pallets on the corner busting the door.

 

Resurt quickly picked up his camera scope and looked through the zoom. He could see something moving in the box. Right at that moment, the tractor hit the pallet again and the box crashed on the ground and the door popped open. 

 

For a brief moment, he was able to see into the box. He recognized instantly the uniform of a Kiltrin Warrior and lights started to come on in his mind. This message needed to go out immediately. He carefully slipped backwards out of his hiding place trying to control his urge to run. When he cleared the danger area, he stood and moved as rapidly as possible with the leg damage he had.

 

When he arrived at his camp, he quickly uncovered his equipment and set up the communications equipment. He had stealth equipment for sending his reports but they only went to a local beacon and would not be checked for a few cycles when the checkpoint came in his mission. This information needed to be sent higher up. He decided to use the pulse system in the faint hope that it might not be detected and if it was, it might not be on long enough for the Kiltrins to track. He realized that the moment he hit send they would probably notice and track the signal close enough to find him. In any case, they will know he is here and that he had a reason to send a message.

 

Resurt composed his message and then had to decide where to send it. There was a chance that someone could respond rapidly before the Warriors could escape. That would demand a longer transmit time and almost guarantee that he would be caught. There were not very many good choices.

 

He chose the emergency channel for the Linthian Intelligence Service. This would go to all of their local assets and the Kuli assets in the area. He reasoned that it was most important to get the message out in time for someone to do something about the danger present. In addition, he did not know who he was scouting for on this mission or when they would arrive and he could not have another failure on his record.

 

His message was short and direct; “Kiltrin Warriors in shipping containers in uniform with weapons J45Y34Hs.” After he sent the message, he sat down and started to clean his wound. He realized that unless help arrived fast he would probably be dead by the dawn. Trewst seemed a long way away and he hoped that this time he brought his family honor.

 

 

 

The Kiltrin radioman operating the detector system saw the blip and called his supervisor. They reviewed the blip and decided to check the recordings on their monitoring satellites to see if any transmissions went out. The download revealed a short burst of activity that was directed toward a Linthian communications repeater in the center of the solar system. The message was very short and could not have contained more than one sentence.

 

The Kiltrin Commander examined the information and decided that there must be an observer on the planet. He brought up the timeline and saw that the burst came right after the container fell over in the field. It was possible that they had been comprised but he was not sure that it mattered. Their numbers were so much larger than their opponents’ that he could not see how foreknowledge would help.

 

Still, there was always the possibility that the pulse did not go through or that it was a standard report and the observer saw nothing. It was best to eliminate the observer – after he found out what was sent. He gave the order to send the Warmunts to see if they could pick up a scent to follow. The animals would find the person, if they existed.

 

 

 

Resurt had just finished dressing his wound when he heard the howling of the Warmunts. It was almost night time and he had just started to believe they were not going to hunt him. It would be a long night. He had been hunted by Warmunts and was always capable of eluding them in the past; however, that was when he was not injured. This was going to be difficult.

 

 

 

J’Rontia woke to the sound of an alarm blaring. The alarm was accompanied by a flashing purple light on her computer panel, indicating that it was critical and time sensitive. She slipped out of bed and checked the computer’s monitoring system. The message panel showed that they had just received a priority pulse message. The message had been broadcast in all directions from a satellite in orbit around the planet Hweort. So, no one knew that she was near and technically she did not have to answer.

 

She was actually, or should she say, technically, on vacation. She and her Soretto had just dropped off the girl they found on Gster with a promise to return later and train her. The facility would provide her all of the training and education that a candidate would normally have at the time they would be considered for an apprenticeship. Once T’Lhast reached that level, J’Rontia would return and handle the training she needs to be the Guardian for the City of Gold. In the meantime, she was directed to take some time to relax.

 

She was also not in a hurry to return to J’Portia’s outpost, so they were doing a little sight-seeing on the way. After a day of hiking, they had both been sleeping heavily when the alarm sounded. She was curious about the message because there was seldom a priority message sent by pulse. There were many methods that were more secure. This meant that the signal must be coming from a Linthian ambassador, a Linthian liaison, Linthian Intelligence, or some other non-Kuli agent with access to priority equipment. She found that to be very interesting.

 

 Her Soretto walked up as the message came up on the monitor. The message was short and direct; “Kiltrin Warriors in shipping containers in uniform with weapons J45Y34Hs.” They looked at each other with understanding. They both went into motion as if they were one. Within moments they were strapped in and moving with all speed toward the planet J45Y where agent 34Hs was in danger.

 

J’Rontia asked the question that on their minds, “Do you think it is the same agent?”

“Yes. I imagine that the mystery of the attack on us with the Kiltrin warriors is now solved.”

J’Rontia turned to her Soretto and said, “I heard that the agent who scouted that planet for us was devastated at his failure to warn us.”

Her Soretto nodded and then commented, “We will be walking into a trap.”

J’Rontia smiled a very mischievous smile and answered, “Of course.”

 

Resurt was almost out of energy. He had lost the Warmunts five times; however, whenever he started bleeding they would catch his scent again. He stumbled and fell to the ground. His face hit a sharp rock and he blacked out.

He saw the drool rolling off of the four large fangs as he opened his eyes. He heard a voice behind him saying, “Don’t move or it will have you for dinner.”

He could feel them placing the binders on his wrists as he tried to clear his head. The fall left a cut on his face and the blood was caked over one of his eyes indicating he had been out for quite a while, too long in any case. Once the binders were in place, he was severely kicked in the side and flipped over. The scene was not pleasant as four intense Kiltrin warriors leaned over him and snarled various taunts and insults. Two more warriors held the Warmunts as they strained against their chains. He was in trouble.

It was early in the morning and when they threw him down in front of the little house the dew was heavy on the grass. He was thirsty and sucked some of the moisture off.

The Kiltrin Commander, leaned down so that their faces were almost touching and said, “I want to know the location of your campsites and where your equipment is.”

Resurt spit in his face.

The Kiltrin Commander took a knife and stabbed Resurt in the leg where his wound was. He tried to hold his tongue but ended up crying out. The Kiltrin Commander laughed and said, “Let’s start again. Where is your equipment?”

Resurt answered, “I hear that Kiltrin mothers eat their good looking young and that’s why you are all so ugly.”

The Kiltrin Commander stabbed him again and his cry was louder and longer. The Kiltrin Commander then took the knife and shoved it into the wound, turning it and grinding it into the leg bone as he said, “Every insult increases the pain. Tell me what I want to know and I will let you die fast.”

Resurt smiled weakly and said, “After I sent the message, I threw the equipment into the lake. Have fun finding it.”

The Kiltrin Commander made a motion with his hands and a map was given to him. He asked Resurt, “Where did you throw it in? Remember, the pain increases with each wrong answer.”

His vision was blurry and the pain could not get much worse. Still, he knew that the longer he held out, the better the chance that a contingent of troops would arrive and stop the Kiltrin’s plan. So he said, “I have blood in my eyes and cannot focus.”

The Kiltrin Commander motioned again. One of the troops unhooked his binders, moved his hands to the front, and hooked them back up. He took his shirt sleeves and wiped the blood out of his eyes. When he finished, they placed the map back in front of him. He pointed at a large outcropping near the edge of the woods by his first camp. He had thrown some waste there to hide it until it was time to leave. Maybe that would distract them for a while. He knew that this was going to get worse before it got better and it was already extremely bad but he needed to stall as long as possible.

 

 

The Kiltrin Commander had a number of surprises that would throw wrenches into Resurt’s last minute plan to stall. The first surprise was the Kiltrin Commander making him walk with them to the spot he had shown them on the map. Once there, the Kiltrin Commander walked up to Resurt and smiled as he said, “You will go under water for the entire time they are searching for the equipment. I would advise you to be as exact as possible. Now show us the exact location.”

Resurt looked out over the water and realized that his deception was not going to last very long. Still, he could not quit when lives might be on the line. He tried to come up with an alternate plan. He walked slowly along the shore and made a show of peering toward the water as if to see something better and of limping on his bad leg. After a brief survey of the shore, he returned to a spot where a small stream flowed into the lake. He then stepped off 30 steps and intently examined the bank.

Resurt turned and said, “I dropped them here but the current appears to have moved the majority of the pile.”

The Kiltrin Commander walked over and, as he walked past Resurt, he clubbed him across the head causing him to drop to the ground. The Kiltrin Commander pointed to the water’s edge and said, “This looks like the spot where you threw your garbage cycles ago. Did you think we wouldn’t review our satellite coverage once we knew you were here?”

The Kiltrin Commander walked up to Resurt and kicked him in the side and rolling him over onto his stomach. The Kiltrin Commander then took out his knife and sat on Resurt’s back. He stabbed the knife into Resurt’s leg near his wound and eliciting a scream from Resurt that seemed to please the Kiltrin Commander greatly.

The Kiltrin Commander continued, “Now it is time for you to die. And by that I mean die slowly.” With that he jabbed the knife in to the wound again as an evil smile spread across his face at the same rate Resurt’s screams rose.

The Kiltrin Commander removed the knife and stood up. He took a walking staff from a soldier nearby and brought it down on Resurt’s injured leg causing Resurt to roll up into a ball as he convulsed in his distress. The Kiltrin Commander raised the staff even higher for another blow. He had just reached the highest part of his swing when an unseen force hit him and propelled him headlong into the lake causing him to scrape along the rocky shore on the way. Immediately the Kiltrin warriors move into combat mode and activated a warning call.

From the brush stepped a young woman. The woman was taller than most men with a trim and fit body that flowed as she moved like a jungle cat. She wore combat gear that had lifter boots and control gloves with only her face and hair visible outside of the uniform. The uniform was plated with brown and tan flex plates connected with black and green struts made of miniature indestructible triglass modules. The colors and components were faded and easily blended in with the brush she emerged from. The surface of her uniform was not damaged but had many indications of combat. She had very long, thick, and curly hair that was a reddish amber color with sea foam blue streaks through it and hypnotic dazzling green eyes. Her voice was soft but firm as steel and she spoke with the confidence borne of much adversity.

In her left hand she held an impressive sword that glowed with a soft blue light that pulsed with energy waves. The sword was gold handled with an engraved guard covering part of her glove. The blade was double edged, almost half her height, and contained luminous writing down its center on both sides. The scabbard for the sword was also decorated in a matching elegant manner and was hanging on her right side under her cape. The dark camouflaged cape was attached to her combat uniform on the right and left edges of the center plate with silver clasps shaped as the Kuli leaf of freedom with gold outlines. The cape had a high cowl rising above the shoulders to the top of the head and inside of the cowl you could see the signature outline of a Kuli combat field generator for head and critical organ protection.

She wore black and gold Kuli force distribution bracelets on both wrists that were outlined in silver and her right hand was still open from her recent discharge against the Kiltrin Commander. She had a determined look on her face as she surveyed the scene in front of her.

J’Rontia said to the Kiltrin Commander, “You may surrender and spare many lives.”

The Kiltrin Commander laughed and answered, “We have been waiting for you, J’Rontia. This whole operation was trap for you that has now been sprung. This time it will be you who surrenders or dies.”

Resurt heard a voice in his head, “Can you walk at all?” He was about to answer when the voice said, “You do not have to talk. Just think the answer and I will know.” He replayed the last injuries he sustained in his mind and realized that he may never walk again if he didn’t get to a medical center soon. The voice responded, “Do not worry. You will walk again and more.”

J’Rontia said, “Interesting. What is the reason for the Kiltrin passion for trying to kill me?”

The Kiltrin Commander answered, “The Prophecy of the Fallen predicts the return of the Kiltrin Galactic Empire after your death.”

This time it was J’Rontia’s turn to laugh. Resurt was amazed at how beautiful she was as the smile and laughter lifted the warrior image for a brief moment. Then she turned serious once more and stated, “I will look up that prophecy on my next break; however, I doubt that my death would help you wrest the Linthians from their dominance in the galaxy.”

The Kiltrin Commander was now back on his feet and had moved toward her. He said, “You, and I assume your Soretto, are vastly outnumbered and outgunned. I also have more than enough ships to blockade any hope you may have of assistance. The gates to your cage are closed and you would do well to surrender.”

J’Rontia replied, “You only have six ships of the line and that is not enough to stop even one Kuli ship and nowhere near enough to prevent a Linthian Cruiser from coming here. But enough talk. You need to choose, surrender or fight.”

The Kiltrin Commander said, “We have a dark force generator on those ships and right now we have a matter slammer pointed directly at you. You underestimate me. You destroyed one of my brothers on Quister and another brother on Gster because they underestimated you and now you do the same for me.”

As he finished speaking, the Kiltrin Commander motioned with his hand and a blast came from the sky onto the area J’Rontia was standing generating a brilliant white flash as waves of energy descended from above. Dust flew up obscuring vision and a tremendous heat wave flowed out from the impact. Resurt felt his heart in his throat as he knew J’Rontia was dead and he had failed her again, this time worse than ever. He deserved whatever horrible death the Kiltrins had planned for him.

The Kiltrin Commander was smiling an evil grin that made Resurt sick as he said, “The great J’Rontia goes up in flames.” Then he laughed for a long time, only to stop in mid-laugh. The wind was clearing the dust away and a shadow could be seen. A long blue light rose out of the shadow up into the sky following the haze left by the matter slammer. In seconds, explosions sounded in the sky and what looked like a fireworks display went off. They looked back to the shadow as more dust cleared and a filthy figure emerged with a shining sword of blue.

J’Rontia  spoke, “Did you think we didn’t register the matter slammer as we approached? Why do you think the sword was glowing? It seems as if the Kiltrins have forgotten what the Kuli’s main mission is. We work with developing civilizations to help prevent misuse of technology. Your matter slammer, which is a silly name that does not match how it works at all, is studied by young candidates as a weapon to never use. Its energy is easy to capture and return to the sender. Now, let’s return to talk about your surrender.”

The Kiltrin Commander smiled but did not laugh this time as he said, “I am not done with you. I have another surprise.” He then turned and motioned one of his warriors to approach. The warrior was not in a regular armored uniform. Instead, he was dressed in a black robe with a gold belt around his waist. He had his hair tied back in a ponytail with a gold ribbon and was wearing a skull cap helmet. His skin was leathery and had scars all over it in grotesque patterns with no hair. He wore a gold band around his head, one on each wrist, and one on each ankle.

The warrior reached out with his hands and rotated them in a quick spiral pattern and the sky started to disappear. The faster he moved, the darker the sky became. He continued for a few moments and then he unleashed a light pulse on J’Rontia. She had raised her hands and connected her wrists together while he was rotating his hands. The pulse hit her and threw her back into the brush, searing the ground and vegetation around her. She quickly rose to her feet and sprang forward. She almost made it to him when she was hit with another pulse.

Thrown back once again, she rose slower and prepared this time for the pulse. When the pulse came she was holding the sword straight along the path of the pulse with her bracelets touching each other. The pulse flowed into the sword without the destruction of the previous ones and the force distribution bracelets glowed. J’Rontia swung her arms and flung the charge back at the warrior.

The warrior caught the charge and kept rotating his hands increasing the pulse and dimming the sky. While he was clearly not the Lord of Light, he had some of the skills and was a dangerous opponent. J’Rontia braced herself and targeted the sword once again. This time the charge was too much for the sword and she was thrown back once again.

JRontia rose from the ground slowly and pulled a brass colored device from her belt. She clipped it on the sword and stood once again ready for the pulse. The force hit her hard sending her into the lake with a large splash and she disappeared under the water. The Kiltrin Commander stepped forward after a few moments to peer into the lake where she vanished. He saw nothing and started to smile.

Resurt figured that this must be the end. He wondered what he could do and found nothing. He went to his knees and prayed for help. He had not prayed in a long time and did not feel worthy. He asked to be forgiven for the two traps he had led J’Rontia and that his failures would not harm his family.

The warrior held his hands still waiting. Suddenly, the water next to him erupted. He turned immediately and let loose the pulse in his hands. Simultaneously, the brush at his back parted and J’Rontia’s Soretto emerged at a run. He let swing with his blade as he came, slicing the warrior in half with one mighty blow. In moments, J’Rontia emerged from the water where she entered.

She removed the brass colored water converter from her mouth and placed it back on her belt. She stepped from the lake with water slipping off of her uniform leaving it dry. She looked at the Kiltrin Commander and said, “Must we continue or are you ready to surrender?”

At the edge of the nearby field, one of the thousands of warriors that had gathered stepped forward from the rest and said, “It is time to stop these games.” He then disappeared, only to appear next to J’Rontia’s Soretto and attempt to deliver a serious blow with his sword, but her Soretto dodged out of the way. J’Rontia’s Soretto moved as quickly as lightning and as he rotated he brought his own blow to bear on the warrior. The warrior vanished again.

The warrior reappeared off near the field again and said, “Now!”

The sky lit up as beams and pulses of various sorts fell upon J’Rontia and her Soretto knocking them to the ground. The forces were so strong that the Kiltrin Commander was flung back into the lake. The warrior said, “Again!”

The sky lit up once more as the forces continued their attack on the two. J’Rontia and her Soretto could not be seen through the flames and dust. The warrior smiled and said, “At last.” Then he died as a blade thrown by Resurt cut deep into his neck after penetrating a slight chink in his armor.

Resurt flew to the ground after the throw. The effort had taken almost all of his remaining energy. He tried to rise but fell again. Then he was being turned over on his back. He looked up and saw the Kiltrin Commander above him and dripping wet. The Kiltrin Commander was extremely irritated and said, “You just don’t get it. This is a trap for those two. If those blasts had not killed them, we would have continued our attack until we found something that would have.”

The Kiltrin Commander stood up and started to unsheathe his sword. He continued, “Now it is time for you to die.”

He raised his sword above Resurt and the heavens exploded. Everyone near the lake fell to the ground and the earth shook severely as with an earthquake but not the same. The warriors in the field numbered in the thousands and yet only three were still standing when Resurt looked across the field. All of their faces were turned to the sky. Far up, way above the clouds, there were explosions and flashes of light. Off on the western horizon, additional explosions were lighting up the sky. They all turned to the eastern horizon where even more explosions lit up sky.

The Kiltrin Commander lifted his comm and asked, “What is going on?” He was answered by static.

They looked upwards again as a new object drew their attention. A ship was descending through the chaos. Resurt noted that the ship was not like other ships. 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 Kiltrin warriors went to work with their anti-ship guns and explosions filled the sky striking the vessel. The explosions had no effect on the 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. The warriors engaged every weapon they had firing on the ship. The ship glowed at each impact and then flashed silver threads that consumed the gun that sent the round.

Soon there were no weapons firing and a ramp descended from the ship. After a few anxious moments, a woman walked down the ramp with confident strides and a commanding presence that quieted the crowd that had grown raucous. She was dressed in a warrior’s uniform with full armor.

Her black boots rose above her knees and had a silver band around their tops. Her pants were laced with light armor that had vertical silver force lines glowing from her boots to her belt. The belt was silver and had a large silver and gold buckle with a strange symbol on it. 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 an unknown material Resurt 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 elbows. 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 one of the most beautiful women Resurt had ever seen. When she came closer, he could see symbols engraved on her helmet’s gold band. The symbols did not mean anything to him but he would remember them always: άγγελο

The woman walked over to him and knelt down. She placed her hand on his injured leg and he felt the pain float away. He was amazed and tried to speak but could not find the words. After a few moments, she reached out, took his arm, and helped him up. He stood tentatively at first and then, as he realized his leg would handle the weight, he stood firmly. The woman had started to walk him to the ship when she heard a voice behind her cry out, “Stop!” She turned around slowly.

The Kiltrin Commander was moving toward them and said, “You are not going to take him. He will die by my hand today.”

The woman answered, speaking in a soft but firm voice, “You need to prepare to die. J’Rontia is more than you can handle already or didn’t you notice that she destroyed all of your support ships in space.”

The Kiltrin Commander responded in an angry tone, “She is dead and you will be soon if you do not leave him.”

The woman moved her hand at lightning speed and a knife imbedded itself deep in the Kiltrin Commander’s mouth. The Kiltrin Commander had a shocked look on his face as he sunk to the ground with a gurgling sound emanating from his mouth. She turned back toward her ship and found herself facing the thousands of warriors who were moving from the field to cut off her path back to her ship. She smiled.

One of the warriors stepped forward and started rotating his hands in a quickening spiral pattern. The woman let loose a laugh as one would when a child did something foolish. She reached into her jacket and withdrew a beautiful sword. The sword was longer than her arms by half again and it had strange symbols and drawings all over it. She lifted the sword to the sky, spoke a few strange words, and the sword started to glow. Resurt watched as her smile turned into a determined grin that carried a warning as plain as a huge sign with flashing lights. He could see that there was no fear in her and her confidence flowed as water out of her.

Clearly, the warrior who stood there did not expect the level of intensity now in front of him. The warrior motioned and two more warriors stepped forward to join him. Each one prepared for battle, taking out weapons and trying to find an intimidating stance. On cue, all three attacked as one.

Lightning, plasma, and light itself flew out toward the mysterious woman in what appeared to be a fatal attack. Resurt couldn’t help himself and he quickly dove behind a small rise in the ground. With a speed defying reality, the woman brought her sword into position in front of herself and started moving forward. Flaming bursts of plasma struck her sword with flashes of bright colored lightning and a round burst of concentrated light. Smoke billowed in the air and flashes of blue lightning screamed outward from the blast in tentacles of sound, light, and force through the smoke as she disappeared into a growing storm of destruction.

The three kept up their attack. They continued even though there was no hope that anyone could have survived the initial stages of the attack.  Still, Resurt noticed that the blue flashes were not emanating from the same spot, they were moving steadily forward toward the attackers. Then he saw the tip of sword emerge from the smoky haze in front of the destruction.  The determination etched on the face of the mysterious woman who held the sword cut to his heart as he could see the personal pain she felt and at the same time shook him to his core as he realized how she had turned it into her strength. She appeared slowly out of the smoke advancing steadily through the continuing attacks toward the three Kiltrin warriors.

Their faces now betrayed the fear they felt even as they continued their attacks. Her sword continued to absorb the energy blasting her almost continually with the shocks of impact causing shutters to flow through her. Resurt could even feel the ground vibrate with the impacts as dust kicked up from her boots with each step. The forces involved were so great that her path across the ground was marked by indentations from her every footstep.

The mysterious woman stopped about three body lengths away from the warriors and, lifting her eyes to the sky, shouted words in a language he did not recognize. When she looked back at the attackers, he noticed her hair was glowing as bright as the flashes of blue lightning. She tipped her head down and the glow around her eyes intensified briefly followed immediately by a concentrated burst of blue light from her sword. The burst flew out and struck the first warrior throwing him backwards and into the air at least twice his height while his body exploded into blue flames and then it evaporated in mid-air. Her eyes glowed twice more and each time the sword simultaneously erupted with blue death for another attacker.

The death of the third attacker left silence hanging in the air as lightning does in a summer storm. Resurt felt the tension in the air as the Kiltrin warriors realized that their best had fallen to the unknown woman. The far field was full of thousands of warriors and they started moving toward the mysterious woman. Surely she could not handle all of the together. Resurt said to her, “It will be a good day to die. Let me stand at your side that I may die with honor assisting you.”

The woman turned to him and her eyes sparkled with a strange fire and she said to him with a mischievous smile, “I have no intention of letting you die as I was sent here to take you to your destiny. Besides, we will not have to fight these. There are others who wish to cleanse the galaxy of these hired killers.” She then turned toward her ship and started walking.

Resurt stood and picked up a sword from one of the fallen warriors. He was prepared to die and fell in at her side. The field full of warriors started to move to intercept them. Resurt was sure that this was the end and he was content. This would be honorable and with his leg feeling better he knew he would give a good accounting for his life. He smiled as a sense of calm fell over him. Resurt moved up next to the woman with his sword held high and prepared himself for the coming battle.

Moments later, Resurt was startled by a sound in the brushes to their left and jumped back into a defensive posture as two figures emerged coated in dust. The mysterious woman laughed and walked over to the first figure smiling sweetly. Resurt was shocked as he recognized the two figures. The mysterious woman reached out and gave a huge hug to J’Rontia and then her Soretto. She said, “I am so proud of you two. Do you need help with these?” The mysterious woman pointed to the Kiltrin warriors.

J’Rontia answered, “No. We had our ship disable most of their weapons so it will mainly be physical combat and I think those with advanced training have already stepped forward. I am glad to hear that you have a job now and appreciated greatly your timing when you arrived.”

The mysterious woman gave J’Rontia a smile and one more hug. Then she looked at Resurt and said, “I suppose we should be going.” She looked back at J’Rontia and her Soretto and said, “Tomli sends his best.” Then she stepped back away from the still advancing warriors to allow J’Rontia and her Soretto a path to the enemy. With quick movements, they engaged the Kiltrin warriors and started battling toward the field. In a very short time, they had cleared a path to the ship for the woman and Resurt.

When Resurt reached the ship’s ramp, he looked back on the battle. He could see that J’Rontia and her Soretto were moving rapidly through the enemy troops and showing no sign of fatigue. Their movements were in sync with each other and the enemy was cleverly prevented from taking advantage of any chink in their formation. Since the Kiltrin ships were blown out of the sky, Resurt was pretty sure this group would no longer be bothering anyone.

He turned back to the ship and the mysterious woman spoke, “J’Rontia and her Soretto will be fine and you do not have to feel guilty any more about the surprise the Kiltrin warriors gave her at their last encounter.”

Resurt was shocked and started to say, “How did you …” when she cut him off.

“We have been watching you a long time. It is time for you to see the choices you have and the possible destiny awaiting you.” The mysterious woman smiled at him again and shut the door.

 

As he stood up, he realized that his shirt was wet. The dew was heavy on the grass and had damped his clothes as he looked out over the field. Once again, a trap to kill J’Rontia had failed. He did not look forward the telling the King’s Advisor the news. People who presented the King’s Advisor with bad news had a tendency to suffer serious accidents. To top it off, he would have to inform him about the mysterious woman who retrieved the Linthian scout. None of it made any sense to him.

He was also mystified by the Kiltrin warriors. They could tell that J’Rontia and her Soretto were far superior and yet they continued to attack right down to the last warrior. Why? Surely those two could not have tracked them all if they fled. It made no sense to him. He had just watched J’Rontia’s ship leave and decided that it was time for him to go.

It took him quite a while to disassemble his hideout. Finding a location where he would have a good field of vision was difficult because it also had to be one that no one would consider. Since it is easy to figure which spots have the best view of the area under surveillance, everyone can figure out the best spots. The trick is finding a spot that is almost as good but does not appear to be good at all. Then you have to blend in so that if the enemy is two steps away they still don’t see you. He was an expert at becoming invisible.

He finished repacking his equipment and shouldered his large pack. Then he turned to walk to his ship and stopped – stunned. She was standing two steps away from him with a deadly serious expression on her face. He could not see her Soretto but he knew from what he had recently observed that he would be close.

J’Rontia spoke softly, “Why should we let you live?”

He did not expect that question and stuttered as he tried to recover his composure, “I – uhm – well –  you see.” He paused and then continued, “If I do not report back he will be even madder at you.”

J’Rontia let loose a cold laugh that sent shivers down his spine and then said, “He is already trying to kill us so why would we care?”

He answered, “Well, if I don’t return, he will kill all of my family.”

J’Rontia said, “Perhaps you should have considered that before you went to work for him.”

He was not getting anywhere in this conversation and he realized that he had nothing to offer her for his life. A cold fear stole over him as he thought of his family and what would happen to them. He said to her, “I have nothing to offer you for my life. Please let me return so that my family will be spared. He will most certainly kill me for bringing such bad news.”

J’Rontia asked, “What is your name?”

He answered, “Targo of Brught the Capital of Fraist.”

J’Rontia responded, “I do not kill without a reason; however, I will ask you to deliver a message. Can you agree to that?”

“Yes.”

J’Rontia stepped closer and, looking him in the eyes, said, “Tell him: “Look behind your chair in the reception room.””

He was surprised once more and asked, “Is that it?”

She stepped back and, as she was turning away, said, “It will be more than enough.”

He sat down as the tension release left him weak. He wiped the sweat from his brow as he watched her walk into the trees. It was a long time before he had the strength to stand and go to his ship. As his ship was leaving the atmosphere he looked back at the planet and a final shiver went up his spine. He wondered how someone could be so beautiful and deadly at the same time.

When he arrived on Fraist, he went directly to Brught and the King’s Chief Advisor’s building to request a meeting. The King’s Head Auditor, Notire, met him at the door and collected a brief report of the incident. As Targo described the events Notire’s face grew more and more grim and almost haunted. The Head Auditor went inside for a few moments and then came back out and said that the King’s Chief Advisor would see him.

Targo entered the hallway into the building’s main reception hall. The room was huge and very dark making it almost impossible for an average person to see the other side. At that moment, the lights came up just enough that he could see a figure in a chair at the end of the room. It was only a shadow that he saw but he knew no one would sit in that chair except the Chief Advisor. With venom dripping from every word, the shadow spoke slowly in a careful and measured pattern with deliberation, “Come forward and tell me why you are entering my presence instead of the Kiltrin Commander?” The deep gravelly voice entered Targo’s ears and he could feel his hair on his neck rising and fear stopped an answer from coming out of his mouth. He struggled to breathe as the air left his lungs and he found he could not inhale. He struggled to force his body to keep moving as he made his way across the room to the solitary chair.

Targo could see the figure in the chair but no details as the light was on him and the figure remained in shadows. He stopped two body lengths away from the chair and bowed his head. Then he spoke, “The two Kuli the Kiltrin warriors were sent to destroy fought well against the advanced warriors but somehow survived the attacks. There was another woman who entered the fray at a critical time saving the scout and removing him from the battle scene. After that, the recovered Kuli surged forward against the three chosen ones and destroyed them with a sword of power. The rest was cleanup for them. I can say that the Kiltrin warriors fought to the death, every last one.”

Silence hung in the room like a thick cloud of smoke and Targo continued to struggle to breathe. His concentration centered on controlling his instincts to run from the room and to scream as fear filled him. He waited for what seemed an eternity before the shadow spoke.

The King’s Chief Advisor said, “Very concise. I shall expect a detailed report by tomorrow. Now, I sense that you have more to say.”

Targo was nervous to the extreme. He had promised J’Rontia that he would deliver the message but fear had changed his mind. Now he had no choice. It was as if the King’s Chief Advisor could read him mind. He gathered his courage and thought for a moment to make sure he repeated the words accurately.

Targo said, “J’Rontia asked me to give you a message.”

“Well?”

Targo answered, “Look behind your chair in the reception room.”

“That is all?”

Targo bowed again and said, “Yes.”

The King’s Chief Advisor said, “Leave.”

Targo immediately turn around and left as fast as he thought possible without insult. When he went through the front door of the building he realized he had not been breathing. He hoped he would never have to return there again.

Notire watched Targo leave in amazement. J’Rontia just avoided death again in the largest attack yet and Targo left without being tortured or killed. Notire was terrified that he would be called into the room next. He thought of his family and prayed. He found that he had become very religious since he started working for the King’s Chief Advisor.

The King’s Chief Advisor wondered if the chair was set to explode when he stood up. He probed mentally for changes and found a device on the back of the chair near the bottom. He could sense many changes in the original design of the chair so he knew a small box was attached. He probed the box and found subtle traces of psychic energy, some electronics, but no explosives. He got off the chair and walked around to the back to examine the object.

It was actually more like a pouch than a box. He cautiously removed the pouch and took it over to one of the lights for a better view. It was a simple design and he opened it carefully. He could sense no danger and removed a small viewer from the pouch. He clicked the button and the viewer showed pictures of a young boy playing with his mother and father. There were ten pictures and he watched them over and over again as his heart warmed with the memories.

He walked into his office and then to his bathroom where he looked in the mirror. There was a bitter man looking back at him who had a hint of redemption in his eyes. He clicked the button once again and text appeared, “Please come home.” He bowed his head and a single tear ran down his face. He looked in the mirror again and watched the tear. It flowed down his cheek to his chin and rolled over and started down his neck.  Halfway down his neck the tear stopped as it ran into a hideous scar.

He looked at the scar and the memories surged forward bringing hate and anger that was uncontrollable. The hint of redemption left his eyes and was replaced by an evil determination. They had taken too much away from him and he could never forgive them. The galaxy let them do this to him and it too would pay. The hate filled him once again and he turned from the mirror and walked back into his office.

The office was a rectangle with a door at one of the long ends and his desk at the other. The door to his bathroom was on the long side on the right when you were facing the desk. There were no pictures on the dark grey walls, no windows in the room, and the ceiling, which was painted pitch black, was as high as four men. The floor was smoke colored shiny marble with a gold trim for baseboards. There was only one light in the room and it sat on the desk pointed toward the lone chair in front of the desk.

He slammed his hand against the chair as if he was hitting someone sitting there. The anger did not subside and he hit the chair many more times before finally walking around the desk to his seat. His chair had a back taller than him with sides that stuck out forward, throwing shadows across him unless the light came straight on. He leaned back in the chair almost disappearing from view. He was angry.

He recalled his youth as memories flowed through his mind. He had been the brightest and at the top of all of his classes. His connection with the life force was stronger than any other students’ had been in years and his abilities continued to grow every year. He won award after award for his technological advancements in school and the Linthians prospered greatly from inventions of his going back to his twelfth year. But the pleasant memories stopped when the Linthians shut down their technology research after the Star Channel incident.

The Linthian Council ordered all ongoing and new research, not sanctioned by them, terminated. How ridiculous was that? The Linthians took over the entire galaxy by their management of advanced technology and now they were stopping? It was crazy. Plus, all advancement in the Linthian society was based on a person’s success with inventing new technologies and finding profitable ways to sell them. So, he and a group of his friends continued their research and were caught.

He rubbed the scar on his neck and concentrated on his next step. This J’Rontia was irritating, especially knowing how successful she was at the Kuli training. Many of her record there surpassed his by large margins. She was almost as irritating as her grandfather and J’Lopt. The only woman he knew who irritated his as much was the Matriarch. The delivery of the viewer let him know that they knew he was behind the attempts and the message showed that her supporters were weak. They should have killed him with a bomb instead of just delivering a message. The great warrior S’Hortio once said, “The best time to strike is when it is not expected.” Yes. It was time to take things up a notch.

He dropped the viewer in his disintegrator and took out his comm. He had a new plan. J’Rontia must die and she must die soon!

 

The ship lifted off of the planet and J’Rontia let out a sigh as she wondered if they would ever stop trying to kill her and her Soretto. Once they exited the ship’s gravity, she set the course for J’Portia’s outpost.

As the ship was leaving the star system, J’Rontia’s Soretto walked into the room with fresh clean clothes on. “Your turn to clean up. Where are we going?”

J’Rontia smiled. “You clean up rather well. To J’Portia’s.”

He looked at her a little curious. “I thought that you might be heading to the Kiltrin home world.”

J’Rontia sat back in her chair in deep thought for a few moments. “I never considered that.”

“Well I think it might be time to take the battle to them.”

J’Rontia looked at him with her mischievous smile. “You are becoming more and more fun to be around.”

J’Rontia’s Soretto smiled back and said, “It would be an opportunity to try our new combat suits that Tomli created for us.”

She got out of her chair and walked over to him. She grabbed his shoulders and pulled him toward her as she planted a serious kiss right on his lips. He reached out and hugged her tightly. She stepped back and gave him a little wink and said, “Set a course for the Kiltrin home world. After you set the course, it would be nice to have someone other than a refresherbot clean my back.”

The ship’s course was changed in record time.

 

Resurt was frustrated. The mysterious woman had said almost nothing since they entered her ship. She directed him to enter the stasis pod and, when they arrived on this planet, told him to follow her. He asked questions multiple times and she would only nod and say, “You will learn your fate soon enough.” After the third time he asked, she only nodded and smiled.

He walked behind her as they descended the ramp to the ground. He could see a man standing near the bottom of the ramp in a military uniform. He had black boots that rose above his 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. His pants were laced with light armor with vertical silver force lines glowing from his boots to his belt. The belt was silver and had a buckle with the symbol of freedom engraved on it. He wore a breast plate that covered his body from the neck to the waist. The plate appeared to be metal but flexed with his movements and seemed to change shape so that there was no discomfort to the wearer.

He was wearing a long jacket made of the same material as hers that ran from his neck to his ankles and was open in the front with a catch chain at the waist. He was holding his helmet which had a gold band that ran around the forehead area and above it was covered with a black metal. The helmet had a drape that would probably cover his ears and the back of his head and neck as hers did. In his hand, he held long gauntlets similar to hers. His hair was cut short to the length of the width of his little finger. His hair was dark brown and he had an even shorter beard. His face was handsome, firm, and squared off. His eyes were light brown with a golden hue to them and they showed smile lines etched with pain.

She stopped at the bottom of the ramp and when they smiled at each other Resurt could see the joy and love in both of their expressions. She turned and said, “Resurt, I would like you to meet the General of Orinth.”

The General stepped forward and clasped Resurt’s arm while bowing his head slightly. “We have been eagerly awaiting your arrival. It is a great honor you do us.”

Resurt was shocked and didn’t know what to say. After a couple of uncomfortable moments he stumbled out, “Thanks. I am glad to be here. I hope I can be of use.”

The General straightened up, unclasped his arm, and stepped back. He said, “Before we train you, the priest will have to explain why you are here and then you must decide if what we want for you is what you want. Please bear with us as the rules only allow the priest to describe the duties we would like you to consider.”

Resurt now felt bad for his frustrations with the mysterious woman. He turned to apologize to her but the General started speaking again.

“I apologize. I have not introduced you to your escort. Resurt, let me introduce one of the Stewarts of the Order of the Silver Star, άγγελο. The closest translation in your language would be Angel; however, the priests tell me that the best translation is “she who carries the light from the Silver Star.”

Resurt could see that the “Angel” found all of this rather humorous and was quite taken with the General. Their magnetism was obvious to anyone standing near the exchange. Resurt answered, “She was an Angel for me, rescuing me from certain death.” He turned toward her and bowed his head as he saw the General do.  When he looked up he could see by the look on the General’s face that it was the right thing to do.

“Let us take him to the Priest without further delay.” Angel stepped forward next to the General and they started across the landing walking side by side and with a quick step. Resurt hurried to keep up as he smiled at the two who clearly wanted to take care of business so that they could have some “alone” time.

Resurt looked around the landing platform as he hurried. The platform was round and imbedded into the rock itself. He saw no seams as if it was carved completely on site, yet there were no shaping marks. The rock showed blast marks everywhere with no clean spots indicating a large number of ships and/or years of use. There was a rock wall around the platform preventing the view of any other part of the planet. He had no clue where he was as the sky was bright and no stars were visible. This was becoming more and more interesting.

They walked through multiple empty stone buildings, hallways, and courtyards on the way to the priest. Finally, they paused at a simple old wood door with no markings on it. The General looked at Resurt and said, “You must go in alone.” Then he opened the door and stepped aside.

The priest was sitting at an old wood desk in a high back leather chair. He looked up when Resurt walked into the room and gestured him into a seat in front of his desk. Resurt sat down in a small wooden chair with a low back and arm rests. The chair was not comfortable nor was it uncomfortable. The priest motioned with his hand and mouth for Resurt to be quiet. Then he reached down behind the desk and retrieved a box that he placed on the top of the desk. It was a wooden box about two hands wide in a perfect cube. There was a symbol of a woman reaching out and holding a star etched into the side of the box. Otherwise it was a plain box with no sign of seams or fastenings. The priest gestured for him to touch the symbol.

Resurt reached out with his right hand and touched the outline of the woman. He felt an electric pulse flow through him as the need arose to trace the figure. As he traced the figure, he felt energy flow down his arm and into the rest of his body until he was tingling all over. The need to touch the box grew stronger and he placed his hand completely over the symbol. Instantly he was floating in the air above the desk with one hand on each side of the box. He could see blue waves of energy pulsing from the box up and around him. The sensations were intense but not unpleasant.  

His mind filled with images, stories, and emotions as the box communicated the history and duties of the Gatekeeper. He lived and felt the successes and failures of the previous Gatekeepers as he flew through time starting with the building of the Gate. Time lost all meaning for him as he learned about the sacrifices made to protect this corner of the Universe from a powerful evil.

The history of the Order of the Silver Star was fascinating and he finally understood the truth behind his family’s legacy. The stories of the interaction between his family, and the Order, especially the part about the Trewst Corridor, also explained many of the mysteries behind the Kuli and the Murhan/Linthian Empire. He was surprised at the large amount of activity currently taking place in the universe that he thought was rather calm. The Gster incident was particularly intriguing to him and only the prophecies interested him more.

When his instruction was completed, the blue waves subsided and he found that he was back in the chair in front of the priest. In front of him on the desk was the box but without any etching. He turned it around and could not find any of the symbols he saw before. He set the box down and looked at the priest.

“Look at your hands.” The priest had a rather suspicious looking smile on his face.

Resurt looked at his hands and found that he now had scars on both. The scars formed the symbol of the woman reaching out and holding a star.

The priest said, “You have been approved as a Gatekeeper candidate. The marks allow you to enter the temple, if you wish to take on the duties and responsibilities of a Gatekeeper.”

“What happens if I decide not to train?”

“In time, the marks will return to the box and await another.”

Resurt stood and walked across the room toward a medallion hanging from the wall. He recognized all of the artifacts in the room now that he touched the box. He asked, “So, what I just went through was just the overview?”

“Yes.”

“How long have we gone without a Gatekeeper?”

“Ten of Thousands of years.”

“How have we kept the evil at bay?”

The priest was no longer smiling. He rose and walked to a cabinet where he removed an old book. The book was worn and bore a strange symbol on its cover. He opened the book to the front cover and Resurt saw a picture of a man. The priest had tears in his eyes as he continued, “The Silver Realm made the sacrifice and the Silver Sovereign has fought long and hard with his own people to keep the evil at bay.”

The priest paused as he wiped his eyes and then he continued, “The Silver Realm’s home system is dying and the war is almost lost. We were losing hope when the Angel arrived and gave us a new Paladin. Now all we need is a new Gatekeeper and the Order of the Silver Star can return to its mission.”

Resurt now had the final pieces to the stories from the box. He knelt before the priest and said, “I am not worthy to enter the temple but if granted permission I will gladly dedicate my life to the most worthy mission I have ever encountered.”

 

The priest wiped his last tear away and a small smile spread across his face. “Let’s get you to the temple.”

 

 

A pair of eyes watched the young man named Resurt walk to the temple. Resurt held his hands out and pressed them onto the door handles. The doors glowed blue and opened. The glow extended out to Resurt and he walked into the temple. The priest knelt in front of the temple as the doors shut giving prayers in thanksgiving.

 

The man behind the eyes had smile on his face as he was reminded of another scene he observed only days before. The man turned away and walked toward a stone wall. Just before he hit the wall the tall man shimmered and disappeared. As he disappeared his smile grew larger as he remembered the scene and how much things had changed in such a short time. In his memory, the same young man was lying face down in tall grass. The dew was heavy on the grass…