The Order of the Silver Star: Restart
The Final Exam
Resurt woke in the morning and found the AI looking down at him. “It is time for your final exam.” Resurt smiled and climbed out of his bed. Today was going to be a great day and he was really looking forward to the test. He was confident that he would pass. He loved the technical aspects of the Gate and went through the training faster than all but one in the history of the Gate. Today was going to be his day.
It did not take Resurt long to dress and grab a little breakfast. He stepped in the main hall of the Temple happier than he had been in his entire life. He took two steps into the hall and felt pain slam into his shoulder. He turned toward the entrance of the Temple and the location the blow came from. In front of him were materializing three men. The men were shimmering in and out of his vision as if they had an invisibility screen that was fading in and out. The problem was that every time they appeared they shot him with something. The repeated blows had pain coursing through his entire body. He could not even lift his arms to protect himself. How had they entered the Temple without him knowing? What about the alarm? Why had he let his guard down? He dropped to his knees in agony. His head was ringing and his vision was starting to go. He saw the boot approaching his face and then his whole head exploded. He blacked out.
Resurt woke for the twenty-third time in total agony. He knew it was twenty-three because it was the burns that made him black out and he could count the burn marks on his arms and legs. All they wanted was his code number to the Gate computer and they would take away the pain. All they wanted was everything that he was. He knew that they would destroy the entire gate system this time if they had the controls to the computer. He also knew he was the last person able to bring the gate system back online. He could see that the Temple was capable of training many candidates at once. Yet, the history showed that only three had tried the training in the past 10,000 years and they all failed. Perhaps this was why. Could it be that the others were kidnapped as he was and failed to survive the torture? He remembered why J’Rontia respected him – because he would not quit, even until death. Well these fools would have to learn that also, even if the price was high for him.
Knowing that he might die did not stop him from trying to think of a way out of this mess. He desperately wished for an opening of any kind. He was here because he got careless in the Temple. He felt that it was protected and that he was safe there. The history of the gate’s construction and life should have taught him different. The enemies of the gate attacked from every possible angle. He should have known better. Well that was enough yelling at himself. Now, how could he get out of this?
He reviewed what he had tried so far and why the ideas had not worked. Something was not right about this place and he wished he had J’Rontia’s mental powers. The Kuli he had trained with would have done some mind trick and escaped. Unfortunately, he had the “block” or whatever it was in the way of using his mental powers. Wait! How did he know the block was still in place? Or, perhaps he could get rid of it somehow? They never said he didn’t have the mental powers, only that they were blocked.
He knew he might only have moments before his tormentors returned so he moved into the meditative state he had been trained in as fast as possible. It was here that his efforts failed. He tried to “open” his mind but nothing happened, again. It was like a door stood in his way. He could almost “see” the door with light leaking around it. He opened his eyes in frustration and looked around the tiny room he was in. Stone walls, dirty stone floor, and a stone ceiling so damp that water droplets were formed regularly and dripped down to the floor creating small puddles so that he was always wet. He was chained to the wall opposite the only door. The walls were green in spots where slime grew. The cuffs and chains were rusted and covered with filth. Human feces and urine were scattered on the floor as there were no personal facilities. Not that he could use them anyway, chained as he was.
He looked at the door knowing that it held his torture. He knew that any minute, the men would return and try to make him talk again. He looked at the old rusting hunk of metal. The door was battered and old. It no longer fit properly in the frame and he could see the light from the bright hallway sneaking through the sides into his dark room. He watched the handle. Soon he would see it turn and the men would enter. First, he would hear the key turning the lock and then the handle would be free to turn…
He closed his eyes and returned to his meditation state. He focused on the “door” he had seen all these years. There was no handle but there was a symbol on the door in the shape of a woman reaching for a star. He covered the symbol with his right hand and felt his hand warm. His father’s voice entered his mind. “Only you can unlock the door. You must want the life on the other side. It will be a life of service and great sacrifice. You have the knowledge needed to unlock the door already in your mind. Choose carefully as much hangs in the balance and you must only commit if it is permanent.”
The sound of his father’s voice lifted his hopes in this dark place. He did not need time to think. He had made this decision long ago. He pictured the symbol of freedom from the amulet the Angel wore and set it next to the woman reaching. The door vanished and light flowed through his mind. Understanding hit him and he felt the fool.
Resurt sat up in his bed. There had been no torture, only his own fears. The final exam was just a mental war with his own darkness in his own mind. He wondered how the Artificial Intelligence was able to make it so real. He remembered one of his instructors at the Kuli School. They had said, “Those who are afraid of darkness and death will always be under its influence and those who live in the light will continue to shine in the darkest times.”
Resurt got out of bed and dressed for the day. He wondered what would happened next. After eating breakfast, he left his room and walked out into the main hall of the Temple. The hall was bright and he looked up at the ceiling which was now transparent. He heard noises on the sides of the hall. In the side coves, the machines moved to the sides and walls came up to hide them. Then, the entire Temple lit up and benches rose from the floor. He heard a noise behind him and turned to see a stage rise up with a podium. Everything was sparkling clean and now looked brand new. The wall and pillars were pure white and trimmed in gold with gold trimmed white doors to the side rooms and solid gold doors on the front of the Temple.
He watched as the door at the front of the Temple opened for the first time since he arrived. People started streaming in. They came and brought him gifts that they laid at his feet and they bowed before him. Soon, the Temple was half full and more were coming in. No one could get close to him because of the gifts around him. This was incredible and more than he ever thought.
A man in gold and white came forward. “Are you ready to receive the key to the city and to open the gates once more?”
Resurt smiled and answered, “No.”
The great hall was instantly empty once again. In front of him was the AI clapping.
“Very well. So you have learned to tell what is real and what is not. Excellent. Now we are ready to restart the gates.”
The AI looked at him with a worried face. This was not the answer he expected.
“Because there is still the matter of my father.”
“What matter? He passed away years ago.”
“No. He is standing right in front of me.”
The man who acted like he was an AI reached out and hugged Resurt. Tears flowed through his eyes as he could finally speak to his son as a father.
Resurt stepped back and held his father’s shoulders as he said, “Now, I am ready.”
A voice from behind him answered, “Congratulations. You are the first graduate in thousands of years.”
Resurt turned around to see a tall man walking toward him. 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.
Resurt immediately knelt and bowed his head as he knew he was in the presence of the Stewart of the Silver Realm.
The Stewart released a small laugh that rolled lightly off of his tongue as music sung. He stepped forward and reached out a hand to Resurt.
“Stand. You may bow before the Sovereign; however, I am only the Stewart.”
Resurt stood and looked into the face of one of the most mysterious characters in the histories that he read. The stories pointed to a man who was almost one hundred thousand years old, quite impossible. They also put him, at times, in two places at the same time. They have him traversing the breadth of the universe in mere days. They have him possessing incredible powers from levitation to the ability to deliver energy bolts directly from his hands. Yet the man in front of him looked remarkably normal and, quite frankly, only about 50 standard years old.
“I have read a lot about you.”
“Perhaps. It is more likely that you read what someone wrote about me.”
“Would there be much of a difference?”
The Stewart laughed with a deep rumble. He clasped Resurt on the shoulder with a firm hand and said through his pleasant smile, “Sometimes so much of a difference that I do not recognize the story myself.”
The Stewart laughed a little more and, releasing Resurt’s shoulder, turned to Resurt’s father.
“The city of gold is ready and the little warrior is in training now.”
“Shall I have him start the gates we have power for now?”
“No. Take him around to all of the gates and prepare them. They all have at least enough power to enter standby mode. Unless some of the Ion cannons are still working, which I doubt after all this time, the standby shields will hold against any attacks. That way we can bring the entire system online when the city of gold moves into place.”
Resurt’s father was nodding in agreement and then became very thoughtful. He asked, “What about Tyria?”
“Tyria and the galaxies around it have no gates. The treaty must stand and unfortunately, the Linthians will not fight as they once did. They have given up most of their technology.”
Both men shook their heads and their faces grew sad.
Resurt was puzzled and asked, “What is this treaty? I have never been able to find any trace of it in the records.”
The Stewart turned back to Resurt and a very sad look came across his face.
“That is for another day.”
Then his face cheered up and he said, “Today is your graduation. I have come to show you the Fires of Perdition and the Cross of Corinth.”
Resurt beamed as those were his two favorite parts of all the galaxies he studied. He didn’t even find it strange that this man knew his favorites when he had told no one. He turned and followed the Stewart into a shimmering spot in the nearest wall.
Resurt’s father was so proud. He walked over to the nearest wall and held his hand up to a sensor.
The computer spoke to him. “Will you be returning to stasis now?”
He opened his shirt and pressed the bottom rib on his left. A seam appeared in his chest. The seam ran around his chest and ended back where it started. A bar moved out from a hidden panel in the wall to loop around his left arm. The bottom half of his torso detached as a cabinet slid out from the wall. His legs walked that part of his body into its resting place. As the rest of his extra parts were put away the old feelings came over him.
There was so very little left of his original body and so many times he had wanted to quit and give up. It was always his son that the Tall Man had used to keep him motivated. Today he felt proud of his son and was so glad that he stayed alive to see him pass the final exam. As his brain case slid into the last drawer he smiled inside. All of the sacrifices would be worth it.
There were so few who survived those days of betrayal and so much had been required of them. The drawer was closing as he started feeling sleepy. While he was drifting off into the sleep of stasis he asked no one the question he had asked a million, million times. How did the Tall Man know when he was a young man to take him so far into the future to have a child? The drawer closed.