Category Archives: Cosmic Tear


“Grie, you’ve got an incoming wireless connection from Osgord,” one of Grie’s friends from engineering said as he poked his head into the rec room. “You should probably take it. It’s your father.”

The Armada was just about to send its fleet through the Bifrost on the way to Earth. Transmissions past this point would be impossible. All correspondence would be relayed by courier ships past this point. Grie stood and walked to the wireless room for his last conversation with family before the hype into the Bifrost, which would be taking place in a few millidays. He stepped into a booth marked, “INCOMING: Recipient Grie Khuda’Mundi, Origin: Osgord Transmission Satellite 5.”

“Hi, Dad. We’re about to head through. Is there something wrong?” Grie was concerned. His grandmother had been in the healing station for radiation poisoning for the past few weeks. Her death was due any day now. “Is it grandmother?”

“No,” the tinnily relayed voice of Grie’s father said over the wireless. “Though she’s certainly not getting any better. It’s about our discussion right before you left.”

“Ah,” Grie exclaimed lightly. “Well, that’s sensible. It is a rather sensitive matter. Is this transmission secure enough to discuss it?” As he asked, he enabled the signal encryption protocols and place his cypher key into the comm unit as he sealed the sound blockers in the booth.

“It’s going to have to be, Grie. We don’t exactly have the luxury of the time necessary to set up something more secure. I’ve done what I can from this side.” Grie’s father sounded distressed.

“Same here, Dad. Encryption protocols active in three… two… one.” Grie turned the cypher key, and there was a series of clicks audible, indicating that his father had just done the same. “Is there something you need to tell me, Dad?”

“Yes. Your grandfather says he wants you to know that the Valkyries have been monitoring this planet, Earth, for a very long time. If you can get in touch with Veriar Khuda’Treer, the Blue should find its own way to contact you.”

“Wait, the Blue is going to contact me?” The Blue only contacted a select few of the Ginnung. It didn’t make Grie any more comfortable knowing that Veriar was under the Blue’s surveillance. Veriar probably didn’t even know. He sure wasn’t Ginnung.

“There’s no other way. Whoever the Blue is, he’s not sharing information with anyone but you. I don’t know why. Whatever’s going on, it’s way above me. Your grandfather knows, I’m sure, but he’s a bit preoccupied with your grandmother right now.”

“I’ll see what I can do. Thanks, Dad.”

“And Grie?” Grie’s father sounded nervous.

“What’s up, Dad?”

“Be very careful, son. I know how much of a risk this is for you. Don’t get yourself killed, alright?”

“I’ll do what I can, Dad. I guess I probably won’t talk to you again for a long time, so be safe, Dad. Take care of Mom.” Grie smiled slightly, and he just knew his father could see it, even if there was no way he could. At that moment, a claxon sounded throughout the ship, and the signal was cut as the TAS Dragon King hyped through the Bifrost.

“Wait, you’ve been helping us?” Mickey dropped his cigarette from between his lips. “But you’re a flipping Dragon Rider! There’s no one closer to the Sheii’Cronell than the Dragon Riders.”

Grie turned to Larry Denton, who had removed his helmet. “You really don’t tell your team anything extra, do you, Denton?” Grie made a face expressing dissatisfaction and turned back to Mickey. “Look, Mister Shore. I am perfectly capable of moving you out of my way, but I think it would be preferable if you would just move.”

Mickey looked exasperatedly to Larry, who nodded, his face grave. He didn’t look scared, though, which surprised Mickey. Now that he looked around, Angus and Summer didn’t look particularly frightened, either. He had no idea what was going on, but this situation clearly wasn’t what it had seemed to be at the beginning. He slowly walked toward the rest of the team and watched the fiasco unfold.

Grie reached down, violently grabbing the Muffin Man by the neck and slamming him against the wall. He then proceeded to remove the Muffin Man’s helmet, revealing Baker’s haunted face. “I present to you the traitor of the Earther Resistance, Wil Baker. This man has been rigging operations, intentionally harming and killing civilians who’ve expressed total compliance with the Monarchy.” He squeezed Baker’s neck more tightly, loosening his grip only when Baker looked like he was about to pass out.

“You can’t kill him, though. The Muffin Man is a figurehead in the–” Larry started off calmly before being cut off.

“The Muffin Man hasn’t shown his face to another living person since I arranged his official death three years ago. Even the few people who know who he really is haven’t actually seen his face or heard his real voice. I may not be able to kill the Muffin Man, but I can sure as the sky kill a dead man.” Grie snarled at Baker as he spoke, as if he were a caged animal waiting to attack his captor as soon as the cage opened.

“Yeah? And who’s going to be the new Muffin Man, huh? And why does he have to have such a stupid sounding codename?!” Larry had wanted to mention that last bit ever since he had joined up with the Resistance. As for his first question, the way his team looked at him made that answer clear. He frowned. Being the Lieutenant was hard enough.

“Well, the codename’s probably because his real name is Baker,” Summer chipped in. “Anyway, Grie, are you going to kill him or should we? I just figure you already got to kill the guy once, and I can’t imagine anyone in this room is a whole lot less inclined to do the same right now.” She realized after saying this that she had said Grie’s name, earning her a harsh look from both Larry and Angus.

“How’d you know his name, Summer?” Mickey asked, exchanging a suspicious look with the Texan, Colt Tyson, who repeated the inquiry.

Summer quickly did something Larry and Angus could never have done. She cited the news. “Grie Khuda’Mundi is the only Osgordian Dragon Rider in the Armada. There was a thing on the news about him a few weeks ago, when they did the special on the Dragon Riders. His picture was on it and everything. Do you guys seriously not remember this?”

Larry and Angus exchanged a look of amazement. They weren’t sure how, but she had just turned the question back on them. “Anyway,” Larry said, “we should probably figure out what to do with Baker here.” He stepped up to Grie. “I’m sorry things turned out the way they did, but you should probably leave before anyone else finds out you’re here. If anyone caught wind of the fact that a Dragon Rider spared even one person, ever, let alone five, that Dragon Rider’s allegiances would probably be publicly questioned.”

Grie nodded, put his helmet back on, and grabbed his knife from the doorframe, putting it back into its sheath on his right thigh. He walked out with silent footsteps. Five seconds after he had stepped outside, he was gone.

“Now,” Larry said, drawing his own knife, “why don’t you guys meet me outside in a few minutes? I’d like a few minutes alone with this idiot.” The team walked out and closed the door. As soon as they had, Baker began to struggle, trying to fight Larry, who used some of the skills he had learned from Terira to temporarily paralyze him.

As he began the slow work in which he was about to take no joy, Larry said, “Would you like to know how I really got my Kohstr deck, Mister Baker?”

Khuda’Mundi’s Confession

As a Minor Admiral, I remember, I was a bit less abrasive than I later became in life. My career had consisted only of quelling rebellions that were inevitable on the outer planets. Due to the dangerous debris from the remnants of other, less fortunate outer planets’ collisions during the Ragn’Rouk, the surviving outer planets were difficult to reach for most cargo vessels, which meant that they mainly had to fend for themselves, supply-wise. This gave them considerably more independence than other planets, which in turn made them more rebellious.

The most distant planet from the core of the system was Nivlahim, a planet which had itself not completely survived the Ragn’Rouk. The initial passage of our system through the Bifrost had altered Nivlahim’s orbit so severely that it had actually rammed another planet whose name was lost long ago. Were it not for the fact that Nivlahim had already had a rather extreme environment for which its inhabitants had heavily adapted, the impact alone would have destroyed all life on the planet. Its atmosphere had dissipated to near-nothingness, and the volcanic activity that followed the collision made what little atmosphere remained highly toxic. But the people of Nivlahim had built most of their society beneath the oceans, and so a loss of atmosphere had little effect.

As if the planet had not suffered enough from the collision, Nivlahim had also been sent into an elongated orbit, causing extreme winters two standard cycles long. Still, its people had survived. The ice above their homes grew thicker, which helped to insulate them from the cold above them. With an entire quadrant of the planet decimated, a hellish winter, and almost no atmosphere, the people of Nivlahim had to form a very different culture from that most formed before space travel became again viable well over a hundred cycles after the Ragn’Rouk.

It wasn’t until Nivlahim began sending out its own ships two hundred cycles after that, looking for other survivors of the Ragn’Rouk, that the other planets of Thorlinthia even knew they had survived. Because of this incredible feat, in fact, the people of Nivlahim became known to the Thorlinthian people as the heroes of the ice for quite some time. Then, upon the annunciation of the Monarch, they rejected the Thorlinthian identity. They were proud of their planetary heritage, and they refused to adopt the Monarchy and abandon their republic. The Monarch refused to accept this and sent the Armada to forcibly occupy Nivlahim. That sparked the beginning of the rebellions.

The Armada was never able to overtake Nivlahim. Due to the nature of the atmosphere, troops could not be landed above the ice, and ships were immediately overwhelmed when they tried to land in the cramped Nivlahim docks. The Armada’s assault ships held no measure against the ice, which was miles thick. Eventually, the planet was merely quarantined. No cargo would be taken to Nivlahim, and any ships leaving the planet were to be destroyed.

Upon word of the first assault on a Nivlahim ship reaching the planet, we discovered how well suited to war the Nivlahim were. Swarms of small fighters and bombers would launch against a single ship at a time, making short work of the quarantine. Larger ships followed. They were slow and clumsy, but they were so heavily gunned and armored that our ships were no match for their fleet, which flew in close formation toward the core. Then, when they reached the fourth orbital range, they stopped.

They had been sent out to remove the quarantine and any members of the Armada from stopping their trade with the other outer planets. Their cargo ships were unlike our own, equipped with weaponry capable of destroying any small debris in their way and maneuverable enough to work around any debris too large to destroy. Their technology was then shared with the outer planets, and those planets formed the Ginnung Domain. The highly militarized void between the Ginnung Domain and the Thorlinthian core worlds became known as the Ginnung Gap.

After over a thousand cycles of all-out war, the Monarch declared a cease-fire. But secretly, he had formed a military organization completely independent of the Armada. Composed entirely of Khuda’Cronell females who possessed unique genetic makeup, the organization was known as the Valkyries, alluding to the great Valkyri’din who had fought in the Eternal War of scripture. The Valkyries were assassins, straight and to the point. They utilized two-person crews and the latest technology to achieve nearly unlimited military strength with only a handful of ships, called Valkyrs.

Valkyrs 1 through 4 were all built within the same cycle, and they were quickly utilized to infiltrate the heavily armored ships guarding the Ginnung Gap. Within hours of arriving, the Valkyries left the ships to die in the cold of space, their crews freshly killed inside the only things keeping them warm. As they moved from ship to ship, the Armada moved in behind them, disposing quickly of fighters that had once been superior to their ancestral counterparts. As they worked through the Ginnung Domain, the Armada occupied the worlds that had seceded from Thorlinthia all those many cycles before. It was not until only Nivlahim remained that the Armada stopped moving outward.

The Valkyries moved in to infiltrate Nivlahim’s cities, but Valkyrs 1 and 4 were gunned down by the people of Nivlahim. Only Valkyrs 2 and 3 remained, but upon reaching the docks of Rym’Yotn, Nivlahim forces overtook Valkyr 2. Valkyr 3 managed to land, and when the boots of the Valkyries touched Nivlahim deckplates, the war was as good as over. More deadly than any ship, Valkyries had strange power that gave them impossible speed and reflexes. A single Valkyrie was stronger than a hundred Special Operations Armadians. Though they carried a repeater for suppressive fire, they tore their foes apart with their bare hands. In centidays, they had moved to the Capi
tol in Rym’Yotn. A full surrender was declared by the Nivlahim senate, and the war had ended. All the worlds of Thorlinthia were united under the Monarch, and the tales of the blue-haired angels of death faded into legend.

Nonetheless, the occasional rebellion still sprung up in the outer worlds, and the Armada spent most of its time providing a preventive presence in the Ginnung Gap, still riddled with dead ships such in number that it was just as hazardous to travel through as the debris fields.

So there I was, a Minor Admiral suppressing another small rebellion, when the Bifrost came alight. It was well known through the Armada that flying too close to the Bifrost would result in the total destruction of your ship, but this was not the light of a core explosion. “Admiral, we’re picking up some strange signals from the Bifrost!” A young ensign panicked as he announced his news without even standing from his console. “There’s a very large ship out there, sir. I’ve never seen anything so massive.”

It must be one of the ancient worlds, I thought. If a world collided with the Bifrost, it would surely spew strange radio signals, and small bits would likely remain of the planet, large enough certainly to be confused with a ship.

No such luck. “Sir, we’re receiving the signals on every wavelength. It doesn’t sound like noise. It’s almost like…” The ensign trailed off, concentrating more intensely on his displays. I pulled up the signal.

A noise rang throughout the bridge. It was almost like a voice, but there was something more animal to the sound. Nevertheless, the same sound repeated through the bridge. “See if you can clean that up. The ancient worlds produce all sorts of interference.” The ensign nodded and spoke quietly to a handful of enlisted men that worked under him. They nodded in turn and got to work removing the signal noise by comparing the signal on varying wavelengths.

“Garf’kan, Fehmadadi bara. Defri serai farjin? Fehmadadi jibah serai farjin!” Such was the content of the message. It was being broadcast on all wavelengths in raw audio. This was a distress beacon, but who–?

“Sir, the ship just passed Nivlahim! It looks like it’ll reach the Ginnung Gap in ten centidays.” The minor officer speaking from battlefield detection was frightened and rightly so. If that ship was moving quickly enough to close that void in only ten centidays, colliding with a planet could be enough to eliminate all life on the planet it hit within five.

“Does it show any sign of slowing?” I grimaced. Here was our first extra-Thorlinthian contact since our system’s passage through the Bifrost, and we faced rapidly expanding crisis. If it slowed down enough, we could aim our weapons to its foremost points and keep it from hitting a planet.

“Y-yes, sir. In fact, it appears to be slowing at such a rate that it will stop of its own accord by the time it reaches Valhal’s orbital range.” That was too quick. Acceleration that great would crush any ship.

“Double-check those calculations! Cease all cargo traffic between that ship and the Ginnung Gap. Maneuver all available Armadian resources along its previously projected flight path. If that ship isn’t really stopping on its own, I want to be able to stop it before it hits the core worlds. And take us as close to that ship as we can get.”

A chorus of “Aye, sir”s resonated through the bridge. Orders were spread along through the ship, and we moved with a military precision one normally only saw in battle. The next several centidays are well enough known to the public.

The ship stopped exactly where it was expected to stop. When we approached it, its hull became visible, and everyone on the bridge or with a feed to the external cameras could tell the ship had been badly damaged. When it began ejecting cylinders, we realized that there was a cargo ship still in the area. It was later discovered that it had lost its wireless to the debris field and hadn’t received the order to leave the unknown ship’s flight path. One of the cylinders hit the cargo ship, and the cargo ship vented into space. The fighters standing by reported later that they had received orders to do so, but no one ordered anyone to destroy the other cylinders. They did anyway. Other Armadian vessels began to fire on the ship, which released four smaller versions of itself that began to fly back to the Bifrost. All but one was destroyed or immobilized.

The final alien ship reached the Bifrost, which lit up brightly once again, and was gone. A few Armadian ships had followed too closely and disappeared into the Bifrost themselves. Investigations were launched, and technological advances in materials, plasma shielding, and drive systems were made in the next cycle that would have taken tens of thousands more cycles. Two cycles later, the Temporal Manipulation Drive System was announced, TMDS for short or Timids to technicians and pilots.

A cycle after that, the ships that had disappeared into the Bifrost reappeared, repo
rting having been gone only centidays, and the Monarch announced those unfortunate travelers that had been encountered to be the Murhan of old, citing the technology used as evidence. He announced that we would go after them with massive new ships of an entirely new design being built at that time and destroy them, finally avenging our ancestors’ fate of being thrown through the Bifrost.

After I had volunteered to test the first ship with a TMDS on a suicidal whim, I was promoted and assigned by Mi’Olnr Khuda’Cronell to lead the Armada with him in the newest flagship, the TAS Fhit, one of the new Qzceno class ultracarriers. A Sheii’Cronell would be accompanying us to test out his new team of fighter pilots, the Drig Reidrs.

I was told that I would receive the greatest honors if the operation was successful. Five cycles later, the new Armada, completely refitted with new hull designs and TMDS propulsion, headed through the Bifrost, and I left my home to destroy another’s.

I was going to destroy the homeworld of the one creature whose body had made it through that fateful day cycles ago. In my pocket still, I carried the soft slip of cloth that bore a picture of two of the creatures holding another, smaller. When I held that slip out, it still emitted a small sound which I could only assume was the laughter of that small child. When I ran my thumb over the characters on the back, it spoke that foreign word, “Kahlisa.”

Great One, my name is Gril’Die Khuda’Mundi, Grand Admiral of the Thorlinthian Armada, and today, my ship has arrived over a world innocent of my people’s blood. And I will kill them all. Forgive me.

Valkyr 52

“–tention required. Repeat: Unidentified craft detected. Valkyrie attention required.” A tinny voice echoes through your quarters. You open your eyes to a red glow. You rapidly extricate yourself from the harness holding you to your bunk and make your way to the cockpit.

“Display unidentified craft.” Your voice cracks. Rapid removal from hype stasis is not unlike awaking from a coma. Despite full functionality, none of your organ systems have been used in quite some time, and they behave as such. This is why you hate distance hyping. No matter how many times you do it, there’s always the chance that the automated systems will encounter a problem they haven’t been programmed to handle. As the primary pilot, you are the only person in the vessel to be awakened. The display lights up in a gentle, dim red that is not difficult to view after your eyes have been closed for so long. A series of numbers appear, denoting the edge coordinates of the craft. It’s large. No, it isn’t large. It’s huge, the size of a small city.

“Enable visual approximation of unidentified craft.” The computer obeys, rendering a rough, three-dimensional image of a small asteroid that has very odd features that seem artificial. The strangest part is the asteroid’s proximity to the Bifrost. It seems to be impossibly close to the Bifrost’s event horizon, but you can’t figure out what’s keeping it there. “Enable full Valkyrie control of Timids.” You speak almost ethereally, driven by pure amazement at this point.

“TMDS controls are now released of all automated functions. Valkyrie has full control.” You miss the gentler voice that had been utilized by the computerized systems in Valkyr 51, but only Valkyr 52 has been properly fitted with the same rapid response controls included in the Armada’s latest 52-F Dragon. But unlike the Dragons, which are simply equipped with pre-programmed, short-distance hype vectors, the Valkyr 52 had manual controls. At this moment, you are simply grateful for that particular feature.

You flinch slightly as the pilot seat engages its contacts with your flight suit. The cockpit is sealed off and filled with liquid as your helmet engages its breathers. When all air in the cockpit has been replaced with the liquid, the systems begin to pressurize to approximately 12 standard atmospheric pressure units, and your breathers force highly oxygenated air into your lungs at an equalizing pressure to prevent your chest from being crushed. Your own slowly extracted plasma is injected back into your bloodstream to increase your blood pressure in order to prevent your blood vessels’ collapse. Your eyes shine brightly, filling your helmet with a cool green as your heart’s muscles are strengthened to prevent heart failure. You grasp the TMDS controls and engage fully manual hyping for the first time in Thorlinthian history.

Were it not for the fact that your entire respiratory system is currently fully regulated, you would surely gasp or skip a heartbeat. Instead of simply feeling that familiar exploding sensation immediately following the implosion of a hype, you now look into a form of space you could never have imagined before this moment. Remembering your objective, you attempt to move toward the strange asteroid. Despite a crushing sensation against your body, however, all visuals seem to indicate that you have not moved. You look for the asteroid and are surprised to find it only an arm’s distance from your left side. Yet that isn’t possible. Your position hasn’t changed.

Resigning yourself to the fact that the manual controls seem not to work, you disengage the hype and feel yourself explode, the sensation that indicates the end of a hype. Your proximity alarms light up, and you see that your position has in fact moved to nearly the exact position of the asteroid. Gripping the controls even more tightly, you maneuver the Valkyr away from what is from this distance obviously a space station. Panicking, you realize the stealth systems are not engaged. Looking about, you see no external signs that the station has reacted to your presence, but that means nothing in space, where there is no need to speak quietly. For all you know, alarms are sounding throughout the station. Quickly, you activate the stealth systems one by one, starting with the gaseous metamaterial shielding, now spread about the skin of the Valkyr and held in from the expanse of space by a cool plasma field only an atom thick. By the time you finish, your Valkyr should be hidden from any sensors.

Nonetheless, you feel uneasy as you approach what appears to be the main docking area of the station. It appears to be open, but looking more closely, you can see that there is a plasma shield. If you tried to fly into the dock like that, you’d probably just bounce off the shield, muddling all the sensors and stealth systems on the Valkyr. Instead, you set about analyzing the frequencies of electromagnetic containment used to hold the plasma shield in place. If you can neutralize the signals with the Valkyr’s own plasma fields’s containment signals, you should be able to pass through, but you would have to do it quickly. Despite this, the signals appear to be constantly changing, probably to prevent exactly such an attempt.

Operating on a hunch, you re-engage the manual hyping system. You find yourself again in that fascinating form of space that even now you cannot seem to properly describe. You adjust the controls to move the ship just inside the docking area. As you suspected, you appear to be at both points simultaneously. You turn the Valkyr to face yourself. Just as surely as the approach of death itself to all living things, you find yourself looking at yourself twice over, from each perspective. Beginning to feel a sensory overload, you disengage the hype once more and find yourself inside the dock, fully concealed.

You land the Valkyr and wait for the cockpit to depressurize, feeling anemic as the extra plasma is removed from your system. Finally, your suit’s restraints disengage from the seat, and you move to the
airlock, feeling impossibly light, even more so than when in deep space. This is probably simply due to the decreased pressure felt on your body, but it is a freeing sensation. You move out of the Valkyr, mapping your exact position in your suit’s location sensors. You quickly scan your surroundings, looking for a door. Just as you spot it, however, it opens. You leap to cover, hiding yourself and remotely utilizing the Valkyr’s sensors to look at the door again. No one’s there. You move inside. The door closes behind you and air rushes into the room you’ve just entered. There are garments of a strange-looking material settled neatly onto a bench. There are no obviously missing sets.

You open one of the compartments on the thigh of your flight suit, removing a small tube. You compress the tube and release it, acquiring an atmosphere sample as you move toward the next door, which has opened on its own just like the previous door. You place the tube in an opening on your wristplate. Your helmet’s display shows that the analysis has begun. You move down the passageway that awaits you past the airlock. The passageway is unusually tall and wide, unbefitting for a space station, which should waste as little space as possible, since more space meant more volume to be heated, which meant more energy consumption.

Suddenly, you notice that there are no handholds on the bulkhead. You gently float to a stop, slowly drifting to the center of the station’s mass. How is one supposed to maneuver about without handholds on such long passageways? Realizing quickly, you spin about and kick off at an angle toward the opposite end of the passageway. You repeat this many times, noticing a slight burning in the less conditioned part of your muscular structure. Clearly, you’ve suffered slight atrophy from your long journey back from Earth. Oh, how Jake would laugh at your current state of fatigue after all your boasting that giving birth wouldn’t have any long-term effects on your physique. Stupid husbands…

You finally make it to the end of the ridiculously long passageway. Looking back, it must have been at least 4 miles long. No, you think to yourself, it was 5 rosts. Slips like that would reveal the mission to be more than just deep space long hype conditioning. Earth mustn’t be discovered yet. Not yet…

The door is open, as you expected it would be. What you did not expect was the vast expanse of greenery that would await you on the other side. Looking up, you see that the room is lit by the Bifrost itself. It’s incredible.

Your helmet beeps quietly at you, and you see that the air is within Thorlinthian standards and devoid of any detectable unknown viruses or bacteria. You set your suit to refill its air supply and supply you direct with the fresh air. The smell of plants fill your nostrils, and you smile unconsciously. Grabbing the branch of a nearby tree-like plant, you begin to maneuver yourself toward the center of the complex, where you had noticed a small tower before entering the station. Again, the door is open. You begin to wonder if the station is an old Thorlinthian project that was abandoned and now trying to start itself back up or if it’s something significantly… older.

You move more easily down this passageway, now accustomed to the mode of travel necessary here. It must be designed this way to prevent its personnel from experiencing muscular deterioration during their time here. You make it to the next open door and are surprised to have arrived at what must be the center of the complex. While it contained yet another large greenroom, at the center was an upward sweeping of the ceiling into the tower. You work your way to the hatch leading to the tower main. It dilates open, and you work your way toward the top.

The passageway becomes narrower as you reach the end, the door opening slowly to a room basked in red light. Maybe someone was in stasis here. You enter the large room, its bulkheads covered in instrumentation and its floor riddled with strange writings on thin pads like paper.

Looking about, you see what must be the stasis area. As you had begun to suspect, the facility is much older than Thorlinthian travel outside the Bifrost. An incredibly tall man with red hair looks past you into the room, frozen in a strange form of stasis, seeming to be completely suspended. But that would kill a man. Concerned for this man who must be long dead, you press your hand against the edge of his stasis pod. It was oddly warm to the touch. No, it was warming itself. The stasis was disengaging.

Looking away from what was sure to be a gruesome sight, you cannot bring yourself to let go of the pod. What had compelled you to come here? What had caused you to disregard the safety of the two still in stasis on the Valkyr 52 and explore this facility? What had opened all those doors?! You begin to look about, searching for enemies, drawing your repeater from its holster under your armpit. Still, your hand will not release the pod behind you. Suddenly, something grasps your fingers.

“Is this a dream or a nightmare, young Thorlinthian?” A voice behind you as you turn in response to the grasping emanates throughout the room, seeming as if it had never been in stasis at all. But it was the man with the red hair who was speaking. Even as you moved the repeater to his face, it disassembled, its parts staying where they disengaged from the rest of the device. By the time your arm had spun toward him completely, a mere 5 milliseconds, the repeater had been reduced to nothing more then a handle.

Something you’ve never felt before begins to arise from within the deepest recesses of your heart. For the first time in your life, you are truly afraid. From stasis, this man had brought you here, and fresh out of it, he had achieved in a moment and without effort what took you a g
reat deal of concentration and five minutes, disassembling the repeater with only his mind. This was a being of a power much greater than yours. No, his power was on level with that of a Sheii’Cronell.

“Well, no, I don’t have quite that much power, Mrs. Kendrick.” That was impossible. How could he know of your marriage? Did he know of Earth? Was that English?! “Don’t panic. I know everything you know right now, Mrs. Kendrick. Please, have a seat.”

Looking around, you realize that not only was there a chair directly next to you that wasn’t there before, but the room had completely changed. Were you in the same room? Seeing no other choice, you sit.

“Mrs. Kendrick, my name is Jil’Hanr. I run this station, as I’m sure you suspected already.” You nod. “Well, we’ve taken a great deal of interest in the Thorlinthians. In fact, this station exists exactly because of the Thorlinthians. I understand you’re a descendant of the Qzicy family, yes?”

You nod, adding, “Qzcivden takes its name from our family.”

“Then you are aware of a document known to your family as the Traitor’s Journal?” You look at the man, Jil’Hanr, with curiosity. Was he saying that the document was true? “It is accurate to our knowledge, yes. At least, it is consistent with other knowledge we’ve acquired from this side of the Galaxy Tear, what your people call the Bifrost. In any case, this means I have much less to explain to you. This is about your son, Drake, and your niece, Terira. We have something very special in mind for them…”