Category Archives: Destruction of Tyria

TT: It was such a boring class

The Tears of Tyria – The Chronicles of J’Rontia

 It was such a boring class

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

“Yes. Very much so!”

 

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

 

“Yes he is.”

 

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

 

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

 

J’Rontia said, “Can you tell me …”

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

The Ruins of Gster – Legacy

The Tears of Tyria – The Chronicles of J’Rontia

 The Ruins of Gster – Legacy

 

 Brught – Capital of Fraist

He knew that he would die tonight. He also knew that his death would not be pleasant. When he came to work for the King, he thought this would be such an honor and his family was so proud. If they only knew the truth they would cry. There was only a small group of the staff who understood how the system worked. Everyone else thought the King was in charge. He, Notire, was not so lucky because he knew about the King’s Chief Advisor.

The King’s Chief Advisor worked behind the scenes and mostly in the dark shadows of the Kingdom. Still, he needed people to ferry messages and handle shipments, to document transactions and to deal with those who failed. So, many of those who went to work for the King found themselves drawn into the web of the advisor and his backroom dealings.

Oh, there are those who love the work. They enjoy threatening people and destroying lives, he was not one of those. Notire was a simple accountant and only wanted for the numbers to balance. His greatest sin in this situation was that he was honest. He had only worked for the King a short time when he uncovered hundreds of inaccurate records exposing many in the government to punishment.

Naturally, the Chief Advisor, who is in charge of punishments, became involved in the investigations. Once he realized how efficient Notire was, he tried enlist him in his schemes. When Notire refused to doctor the books, the Chief Advisor transferred him to Internal Controls so that Notire worked directly for him. When he still refused to help with the illegal operations, the Chief Advisor told him he could have two of his four children live, his choice which ones, or he could quit reporting his findings to the King and start to help.

He refused and a week later his youngest son died in a tragic accident at school. After the funeral, he requested and received an audience with the King. He reported the incident, hopeful for the King’s assistance in righting this wrong. The King sat silent during the report and avoided eye contact. When he finished, the King had a tear in his right eye and told him that his family was also being held hostage. The King was ashamed and apologized for not finding a way to better help his people. Notire did not know what to say and after a while just stood up and left with the King still mumbling.

He remembered going to his office after the meeting and finding the Chief Advisor there waiting for him. The Chief Advisor asked him, “How many of your family members must die before you will lie?”

Notire had felt his heart fall and believed all his hopes were gone. His whole life had been dedicated to the King and his family was taught honor at all costs. He told his kids many times that it was better to die than to lie. How could he save his family by violating everything he taught them was important? Notire thought for a moment and then answered, “They will all have to die because I cannot do as you ask.” Notire slumped down in his chair that day ready to die and praying to his God that some of his family would live.

The Chief Advisor was silent for a few moments. He looked carefully at Notire as if he was a wild beast sizing up a kill and then said, “Fine. I will adapt my plans at a cost. You are now promoted to Head Auditor in charge of Internal Controls. This means that by law your investigations are confidential and that you only report to the King and me. Discussing the results of any of your investigations with anyone else would be considered treason and punishable by death. Not to mention the humiliation your family would feel forever.” The Chief Advisor stood up, laughed an evil laugh, and then walked out of the room.

Notire remembered the day well. He was in torment throughout the workday and had trouble completing anything. His fears were realized when he went home at the end of the day and found that his oldest daughter had died in an accident on the way home from school. It was a long night and his wife never fully recovered from the tragedy. The other two children could not sleep for weeks and refused to go to back to that school ever. The days following her death were tragic and he knew things would never be the same for his family again. The following week he started his new position with the Chief Advisor.

Seven standard years later, and he was sure that today he would finally die. He knew the message he was carrying could not be good because everyone involved in receiving it had already left the building. They all knew that those who bring the Chief Advisor bad news have a tendency to die or suffer horribly. During his seven years in this building, everyone that was here when he arrived had either moved out due to a serious medical problem, usually an injury from an accident, or they died. Almost every single “accident” happened to the people after bringing the Chief Advisor bad news and this message was horrible news.

This was the announcement of another failure to kill the Kuli J’Rontia. Notire did not know why the Chief Advisor was so set on killing this particular Kuli but he had spent large sums of the treasury’s funds in his attempts to kill her. His success rate with killing others was almost 100%, so this young lady frustrated him immensely. Today, he would be receiving notice of another failure.

Notire 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, “What news could be so bad that they all left the building and you have to bring the message?” The deep gravelly voice entered Notire’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.

The shadow spoke again, “Well. What is it?”

Notire gathered all of his courage and responded. “I have only read the cover and it indicates that the Kuli lives.”

Notire could feel the hatred flowing out of the Chief Advisor as he said, “Give me that and wait!”

Notire did not move as the message was read and then read again. It was as if the Chief Advisor could not believe what he was reading. Finally he looked at Notire and said, “The City of Gold. The City of Gold was on that worthless planet and the Kuli rescued it. It could have been mine.”

The room was silent and Notire realized that he had never seen the Chief Advisor stunned before. Whatever this City of Gold was it impacted the Chief Advisor more than the news that the Kuli got away. The Chief Advisor stood up and walked over to Notire.

In a calm voice, the Chief Advisor said, “I need you to find out everything you can on the City of Gold. Then, download it into a Gremner crystal so that I can review it as I have time.”

“Yes sir,” said Notire and he turned to walk out of the room.

“One more thing,” said the Chief Advisor with a return of that his tone sending shivers up Notire’s spine once again. “Send the guard to find the manager of communications and have him sent to me. My auditor should not be bringing me messages.”

Notire knew what would happen to the communications manager but was extremely relieved it was not happening to him. He notified the head of the guard and went to his office to start the research.

There had been mistakes made and bad news given before and the length of the screaming was directly related to the depth of the anger of the Chief Advisor. To help others learn from the mistakes, the Chief Advisor allowed no one to leave the building when an interrogation was ongoing. Notire knew the cost of the four ships sent to Gster so he figured it would be quite a while before they all went home; however, when his research showed him what the City of Gold was, he knew that they might be there a really long time.

The communications manager arrived in the early afternoon and the exterior doors unlocked two days later.

 

The Abyss

The entrance to the abyss is a size almost beyond compare. Multiple galaxies could fit in the area known as the entrance to the abyss. In the middle of the entrance was a lonely rock and this rock was very small, only the size of Thor’s smallest moon. It was composed of an extremely dense material that gave the little rock the same gravity as most average sized planets. The rock had a cave that was big enough to house an entire city the size of Locsit. Inside the huge cave, an old man lived in a small house attached to a small office where he monitored a very unusual communications system.

Next to the communications system was a stasis chamber filled with a liquid that the man was suspended in during the long waits between messages. Today was a busy day as two separate communications came in. One of the messages, the first, was the regular type of communiqué for him. He basically translated that kind of message and then he would forward it deep into the abyss. The second message was different because that type came coded in a very old language. He would decode any messages like that and then enter them in the messaging unit for the machine to apply an algorithm to and then automatically send.

The old man studied the incoming messages and composed his outgoing ones. The first message was ready right away and went deep into the abyss as usual. The message said, “The engine has been found and the white guardian is being trained.”

The old man thought about the second communication a long time. He even ate a leisurely meal before composing the outgoing message. After the message was sent, the old man took his robe off and climbed back into the liquid. He put the tube in his mouth, the plugs up his nose, and then he lay down and turned on the unit. He wondered how long it would be this time before he awoke again.

He lay in the machine waiting to fall asleep and considered the second message. “The blue pair learned how to control the white of the trio on their own. Level ten was achieved with no violation.” The old language messages never seemed to make any sense. He often pondered their meaning but in most cases he was not able to figure it out. He never knew where those messages came from or where they went. The machine would only send them after he was in stasis and all the data was deleted before he awoke. He wondered; were there other old men in caves?

Sleep was starting to take hold and he was thinking about the tens of thousands of years that he had lived in the cave when he had a sad thought, “Was anyone listening anymore?”

 

J’Portia ‘s Outpost

“But you must turn on all the rest. Who knows what danger will come next and he might not be ready for it,” argued J’Rontia.

J’Portia shook his head, “The pathways you followed were active and you knew what they were doing. You are asking me to turn on things that we have no idea what they are for. I cannot do that.”

J’Rontia was frustrated. They had stopped on their way to deliver T’Lhast for training at J’Portia’s outpost hoping that he could accelerate the process of bringing her Soretto up to his full capacity. J’Portia was not willing to do this. She felt as if there was more to it than a lack of knowledge. She asked, “Can you not turn on all the pathways where you know what they do?”

J’Portia shook his head, “No. What would happen if all of the sudden your right leg was way stronger than your left and it moved five times as fast? You would need a lot of time to get used to that before you were comfortable enough to go into dangerous situations with confidence about your performance. Do you really want to place your Soretto into that position?”

“Of course I don’t. But are you really turning on all that you can safely turn on?” J’Rontia watched him and felt him to see his answer in her mind. He would not be able to lie and deceive her easily.

“I can tell what you are up to and do not fear I can control my mind well enough that you would not know if I lied. Still, this is silly. I do not need to lie; I only need you to trust me.”

J’Rontia could sense that this was close to the truth but that he was still holding out. She asked, “Why do I sense that you are holding something back?”

J’Portia was a bit surprised that she was capable of detecting that. He was doing his best to keep it hidden. He decided that he had to tell her or she would not trust him anymore. He said, “Very well. Your Soretto should not ever have more advanced measures that you. That is part of the balance involved in having a Soretto. You are way ahead of him in your training and he must catch up before I turn on too much. You also must be ready for the advancements because you will be involved due to his being your Soretto. Just consider what happened when you discovered the controls and how you used it. I have to make sure you are both ready for whatever I turn on.”

J’Rontia could feel his sincerity and realized that he was trying to protect them both. She said, “I guess I can see how that would be a problem. We do try things out on each other all the time.”

J’Portia was relieved and commented, “I will go as fast as I can. Are you willing to do homework?”

“Of course, like what?”

“I can tell you the areas that I am close to turning on with him and you can explore your abilities in those areas between now and your next visit. Will that be satisfactory?”

J’Rontia said, “Yes. I just have one big worry left.”

“Yes.”

“What if something happens to you? Can you leave us a map?”

J’Portia thought for a while and said, “Give me some time to develop it and I can map out most of it. Good idea.”

J’Rontia smiled and gave J’Portia a hug. Mentally she sent her Soretto the information and asked him to check on the girl. Her Soretto sent back that the girl was anxious and wanted to get to her training. J’Rontia turned back to J’Portia and said, “We will be back in a tenth of a standard year. Will that be a good timeframe?”

J’Portia smiled and answered, “I can be ready. Tell J’Lopt hi when you see him.”

J’Rontia had turned and was walking away. At this comment she turned back around and said, “J’Lopt is going to be there?”

J’Portia gave her a mysterious look and responded, “He will be somewhere you are before you return.” Then he turned from her and clearly had no intention of saying more on that subject.

J’Rontia turned back to the docking port and thought to herself and her Soretto, “The next tenth of a standard year is going to be exciting,”

Her Soretto answered back, “We have never had a hundredth of a standard year that wasn’t exciting.” They both laughed in each other’s thoughts.

 

 

Vrester Outpost

The Kuli training command was thrilled when they heard that J’Rontia was coming to visit; however, the Supreme Guardian in Charge was not thrilled at all with what she wanted.

“No. Absolutely not!”

J’Rontia stood her ground and said, “I must, respectfully insist.”

J’Trdest was average height for a Linthian with dark brown hair, a mustache, brown eyes, and a body built for endurance and power. He had a deep voice that normally intimidated his audience as his volume came up. J’Trdest shook his head and raised his voice a bit as he said, “No. We do not train anyone who has not followed the proper protocols for admittance, you know that.”

J’Rontia paused and walked across the room to shelves full of pictures. She asked, “Who are these pictures of?”

J’Trdest smiled and answered, “Those are our graduates and some of our candidates. All of the pictures are of them receiving an award for exceptional service.”

J’Rontia turned and looked J’Trdest in the eyes with all the intensity she could muster. She asked, “Do you trust me?”

J’Trdest was not prepared for this approach. How did he tell the Kuli’s top Guardian he didn’t trust her? Clearly the Kuli High Command trusted her explicitly based on the missions they sent her on. Could he trust her less? The problem was difficult and complex. He answered, “Yes, with missions. What assurance can you give me that your judgment is of the same quality with the training of candidates?”

J’Rontia smiled. He had walked right into her trap. She answered, “My Soretto!”

J’Trdest allowed a small smile to drift across his face. “Nicely done, I especially appreciate how you distracted me with my students.”

J’Trdest went on, “I am still not convinced but I do want you to tell me what you hope to accomplish.”

J’Rontia had a bit of her mischievous smile on when she answered. “I am supposed arrange training for her to be a “white guardian” for the City of Gold.”

J’Trdest was rather startled. He walked behind his desk and sat down. After a few moments, he said, “The City of Gold is real?”

“Yes. Her mother was the previous guardian and I promised her that I would train her daughter to take over the job. I could train her myself but that would really curtail the work we are currently doing. I am hoping that you will take her on and give her the regular Kuli apprentice training.”

J’Trdest asked, “Is she willing to face the same tests as all the rest of the apprentices? Does she understand what she is facing?”

“Yes. I believe that she does. She did say that the white are not born with their power online. I am not sure what this means but I believe that she will not progress the same as the rest of us do.”

J’Trdest laughed. “Did you say, “As the rest of us do?” Is this the legendary J’Rontia, who broke all the records since Tomli; and you put yourself in the same category as a regular candidate – not likely. All right, I will train if you will agree to one stipulation. She only gets two years to make the first cut.”

J’Rontia’s smile left her face and the intensity returned as she said, “Three years and you have a deal.”

J’Trdest answered, “Done. Can I meet this young lady?”

At that moment, the door to J’Trdest’s office opened and in walked T’Lhast She had a smile of gold on her face as she exploded with excitement when she said, “My mom said you are going to train me!” She reached up and gave J’Trdest as big a hug as she could.

She turned to J’Rontia and said, “Mom said you did a great job keeping your word.” She jumped up and gave J’Rontia a huge hug as she wrapped her arms and legs around her.

T’Lhast turned back to J’Trdest and said, “You said you wanted to meet me. What can I tell you?”

J’Trdest was stunned, surprised, confused, and very happy. He bent down to the little girl’s height and said, “You are all that J’Rontia promised and more. I am very glad I agreed to train you. Can you do me one favor?”

“Of course,” answered T’Lhast. “What can I do for you?”

J’Trdest said, “I need you to only tell me what your mom says. Do not tell any of the other students or instructors that you talk to your mom. You will be able to come see me when you need because I will make myself your official mentor. Can you agree to that?”

T’Lhast twisted her smile into one of those serious faces that kids have when they think adults are crazy. She said, “I can do that if you will do something for me.”

“What can I do for you?”

T’Lhast answered, “I need you to call your sister when we are done. She needs your help and asked for you to call.”

J’Trdest stepped back, stunned once again, and said, “I don’t know where she is. I have not heard from her in years.”

T’Lhast told him, “She is at the Watergarden prison on Groster in Sector Nine.”

T’Lhast turned to J’Rontia and asked, “Can I go tell your Soretto the good news?”

J’Rontia said, “Sure.”

When T’Lhast left J’Trdest went to his desk and sat down. J’Rontia took a chair in front of him.

J’Trdest said, “It will be true won’t it?”

“Yes.”

“Wow. No wonder you believe. What kind of guardian was her mother?”

J’Rontia thought for a while before answering and then said, “She was a “White” guardian and she said in a way that made me feel I should know what it means.” She looked at J’Trdest and saw recognition on his face.

J’Rontia asked, “Do you know what it means?”

J’Trdest spoke in a very quiet voice when he answered, “Many thousands of generations ago, Murhan had a couple of families that were very “skilled” and made excellent Kuli or special agents over the years. When they were under extreme stress, their eyes and hair would glow white rather than blue. The family officially died out a long, long time ago. The genetic enhancements that the Murhans and Linthian used over the years to advance the race were, in many cases, based on what these people could do. After they died out, many thought that they were Ancients who helped improve our race.”

J’Rontia found this interesting and asked, “What do you think?”

J’Trdest responded, “Let me call the prison first and then I will answer.”

J’Rontia nodded. J’Trdest got on the comm and queried the Watergarden prison.

“This is Kresstra of Wreter the commandant of Watergarden, how can I help a Supreme Guardian of the Kuli?”

J’Trdest hesitated a few moments and then answered, “Do you have a prisoner with an ID code of G45hr23TT11 and a bloodline of R4e3W3?”

The commandant replied, “Give me time to run those IDs.”

“Yes we do. She is accused of stealing from the T’Prodts on Ferst in Sector Seven.”

J’Trdest asked, “What did she take? No wait. Let me tell you. She took a blue gem with the initials JTR engraved on the back.”

The commandant said, “Yes. That is correct. How did you know?”

J’Trdest’s voice soften and shook just a little as he said, “That is my gem. Twenty two years ago, my mother died and her home was robbed. The only thing missing was the gem. My sister told me that when she completed her training she would retrieve it for me. Eight years ago, my sister finished her training and disappeared.”

The commandant asked, “Do you have evidence to support this claim?”

J’Trdest’s voice hardened and anger flow through the comm, “You would doubt the word of a Supreme Guardian? I will be at your location soon.”

J’Trdest turned off the comm and turned to J’Rontia with his voice barely under control and said, “Please excuse me, I must attend to this.”

He pushed a red button on his desk and moved toward the window. There was a circle on the floor between him and the window. The area above the circle glowed and then shimmered. There was a flash and J’Rontia saw a man appear on the circle. The man turned and J’Rontia realized that it was J’Lopt standing there.

J’Rontia said, “J’Portia says hi.”

J’Lopt answered, “Tell him to use 13. You and your Soretto need to know that you can use the trio if it is active and you can understand what it is doing.”

J’Lopt grabbed J’Trdest and pulled him onto the circle. The circle glowed and then shimmered. There was a flash and then they were gone.

J’Rontia smiled as she realized once again how complex the web of her life was. Well, at least she knew what to tell J’Portia next time she saw him, although she guessed that she wouldn’t get J’Trdest’s answer any time soon. She left the office to find T’Lhast and tell her goodbye and good luck. After what she just witnessed, she was positive that J’Trdest would do his best to make sure T’Lhast had the best training he could provide.

 

The Ghost

Gster was having a bad day. In the morning, he dealt with a particularly disturbing call from an agent of his mysterious Kuli hating friend about the Kuli incident and how foolish he was to lose the City of Gold. He was informed that he would receive no more assistance from him and that the courts would be receiving lots of information about his shadier deals.

This call was disturbing but quite frankly he was glad to rid himself of the mysterious man. The jobs had turned ugly and he was sure that sooner or later the man, or whatever he was, would have had him killed. The losses would seriously impact his finances but he had plenty of assets and would survive to rise again.

Of course that was before the call from the banking guild. It turns out that the Kuli had purchased almost all of his loans and they were calling them due. Almost every single loan he had was being called. He would have to liquidate over half of his assets in order to pay for the loans. So he contacted his trader, only to find that the trader had just sold all of his business and the new owner’s accountant would get in touch soon.

In the afternoon, he was contacted by a gentleman named Notire. This trader was not very good and it would cost him almost everything he had to pay off the loans, everything except his secret holdings. Gster spent the rest of the afternoon contacting everyone he could to find a better deal, yet no one would even make an offer. Near the end of the day he finally made the trade using Notire and paid off the loans. It was his worst business day ever.

Still, Gster had weathered other crises and getting through this successfully would boost his reputation even more. Business people thought he was finished because they did not know about his secret holdings. He would come back even stronger and everyone would marvel at his recovery, soon he would be back on top. He smiled as he thought this and went into his kitchen to have the chef prepare a special meal for him. It was time to beat down the bad news with some good food.

His kitchen was one of the new models from the artist Horeter. On one side was the preparation area, which held every modern convenience that money could buy. There was a long counter where the chef prepared the delicacies that Gster loved so much. On the other side of the room was a low table with cushions around it. The entire room was decorated in shells from the nearby ocean and the leaves of the bango tree. The entire mood of the room was uplifting and he really enjoyed eating there.

When Gster entered the room he noticed two unusual things. First, his chef was not in the room. He paid four chefs so that one would always be in the kitchen no matter what time of day it was or what time of the year. Second, leaning against the counter eating his food was one of the most beautiful women he had ever seen.

The woman had sea foam blue and amber streaked hair with deep green eyes. She was wearing armored vestments in the style of the Linthian special intelligence forces but all in shades of black. Around her waist was belt containing hand weapons ranging from throwing knives to plasma guns. On her back was a Thomps pack and she wore boots to her thighs. She had on a neck protector with an auto mask and a water breather, both disengaged. There was a jacket over the vestments that ran down to her ankles and up in a cowl to the top of her head. She had long hair with a light gold head band that crossed over her forehead.

J’Lantia spoke, “I am sure you would like this fruit salad. Can I get you some?”

Gster pushed a button on his sleeve and said, “How would you like to die?”

J’Lantia laughed and said, “Who do you think is responding to your alarm?”

Gster answered, “I have 125 guards, all deadly, thirty two house keepers, 56 grounds keepers, and 17 office workers in this home, plus at least one chef.”

J’Lantia laughed again and then put another fruit in her mouth. She loved the flavor of the yellow ones and smiled as the juice ran down her throat. Then she said, “Your guards are all dead and the rest are all tied up right now.”

Gster laughed nervously and said, “I think you are seriously mistaken. You would have to have an army to take out that many people.”

“No. Just me when I am angry.”

J’Lantia straightened up from the counter and looked into his eyes. She could see the fear building as she spoke with strength and anger. “You tried to kill the wrong Kuli in the Ruins of Gster.”

Gster was very afraid now but he thought he saw a way out and said, “Kuli do not kill unarmed men.”

“I am not a Kuli and you still have your arms.”

Gster had known fear over the years and recognized how he felt. Someone should have responded by now and he could see blood dripping from some of her weapons as she moved closer. So he stepped back and said, “If you are not a Kuli, why do you care?”

“Because the Kuli you tried to kill is my daughter.”

Gster saw her green eyes start to glow a bluish green color and he realized what she was. Panic was in his voice as he said, “You are a KR and in this area of the galaxy you are not legal. I warn you that my cameras are on and my alarm went directly to the security of this planet.”

“Your alarm went nowhere and I am not a KR. You appear to be wrong about a lot lately. Perhaps I will let you live and give you a lesson instead of death.”

Gster was terrified but he had to ask, “If you are not a KR or a Kuli, what are you?”

The beautiful woman in front of him smiled her most deadly smile, sending shivers all up and down his spine. “I am the Ghost.”

Immediately, she disappeared and reappeared behind him. She touched him on his back and then was gone again. Before he could recover, she reappeared twice in different parts of the room. Finally, she appeared directly in front of him, scaring him almost to death. He felt liquid run down his leg and the embarrassment completed the worst day of his life.

Gster took a moment to build the courage to speak while she stared at him. When he spoke, only a squeak came out but she recognized it. He said, “I will take the lesson.”

She answered, “Good.”

In an instant, she was gone and he fell to the floor. It was a long time before he could stand up. He started to understand his situation better as walked through his home and found dead guards everywhere but no other employees. Still, he could not let go of his belief that one woman could not do all of this. Nor could he swallow the idea that the great Gster could be so helpless. Surely the planet security staff would come to his rescue if they knew. As he went through his house, he could not find any communication devices that worked. His fear began to leave as he decided that he had hallucinated due to the stress of the day. His fear was slowly but surely replaced with arrogant frustration at being confounded all day. He decided to go into his garage and use one of the shuttles to fly to planet security and get some help.

He placed his thumb on the control panel of his shuttle and activated the security program. The ship requested his eye print and he leaned forward to look into the sensor. When the door opened, he felt some of his confidence returning. The system would have notified him if there had been a breach so she had not entered or messed with his ship’s security.

He watched the door shut so that he knew no one else entered the ship. He then ran the scanners and did a complete system diagnostic. A smile came across his face as he realized that she was not invincible if she even existed at all. He found his old confidence returning and he was sure that he would get out of this. If she existed, the woman would be sorry she ever interfered in his business. He engaged the engines and exited out of the garage and started toward the city.

The shuttle was a small eight seater with a Thorst engine that allowed for extended space travel if needed. Naturally, it was equipped with the best of everything. He set the auto pilot for the nearest security base and went into the back to get a drink. He desperately needed a drink. As he was reaching for one of the glasses the ship lurched up toward space and accelerated throwing him backwards into the back wall. The Ghost was suddenly next to him with that deadly smile and his fear returned in a rush.

“Going somewhere Mr. Gster,” she said with a gravelly and angry voice.

Gster trembled with fear and lost control of himself for the second time in his life. Slowly he slid to the floor and started mumbling incoherently. Gster was a big man. He was only of average height for a Pliixian but was built stout and strong and taller than this Ghost. Many times, when he was younger, they compared to him to the main trunk of the Frester tree. He had blue eyes with short green hair and pointed ears on the bottom. His nose was bulbous and small with large holes and he always wore a mustache. He gave the impression to others that he was physically powerful and he enjoyed the deference others gave him because of that.

 There was no evidence of that power right now. Gster lay on the floor in a heap still mumbling in his drool. Suddenly, a hand reached down and picked him up like he was a rag doll and threw him forward in the ship. Gster crashed against the seats like so much garbage and then rolled off onto the floor. He had just started to come to his senses when he was picked up again and tossed back into the bar, sending glasses and bottles flying in all directions. Before he knew what was happening he was picked up and shoved down into a seat breaking the seat mounts and crushing the arm rests.

Gromut Gster was no longer the powerful man he had been. He was a weak child in the hands of The Ghost. When he could think, he was astonished at her power. With only one hand she lifted him with no effort at all. He was learning to believe that the Ghosts he heard rumors about are real. He passed out.

When Gster returned to consciousness, he was aboard an old cargo transport ship. He looked around for his captor but did not find her anywhere. He started to rise and found that he was buckled in. He unhooked his seat belt and stood up. He immediately fell back down into the chair. He was in agony all over. He should have considered the effects of the abuse he suffered at the hands of the Ghost before he stood up. He was sore and he saw bruises all over himself.

The Ghost walked into the room and said, “Well. I see that you are awake.”

Gster turned in his seat and saw her standing near the entrance to the cargo hold. She was as beautiful as the first time he saw he. He could not understand how someone so beautiful could be so deadly.

Gster replied, “I may be awake but I think you broke all the bones in my body.”

The Ghost laughed for what seemed to Gster a very long time. Then she said, “You only have one broken finger. The rest is just sore. I can assure you that I break what I want to break and no more. If you want all your bones broken, I can break them all for you.”

Gster believed her and responded, “What do you want from me? I have nothing against the Ghosts. I didn’t even know that you existed for real until now.”

“You have a campaign against the Kuli and your recent attempt was against my daughter. I take that personally!”

“They killed my mother! They all deserve to die.”

The Ghost was intrigued, “Why do you think they killed your mother?”

Gster started to sob and had trouble speaking as he said, “I was on the comm with her when a Kuli transport went by. She said it wouldn’t even try to save anyone. The Kuli cut off all the communications and flew right past them. She was looking out the window yelling at the Kuli transport when her ship exploded. I know because I was on the comm with her at the end.”

The Ghost spoke quietly, “I checked the records and there are no unaccounted for Kuli at that time. They all were far away. I don’t know what she saw but it was not a Kuli.” She then raised her voice and the edge returned to it as she went on, “In any case, my daughter was still in training at that time.”

Gster responded, “J’Rontia is your daughter?”

“Yes.”

“What do you want with me? Why don’t you just kill me and get it over with?”

The Ghost sighed, “I don’t enjoy killing, even if I am an expert at it. I also try to limit my killing to solders and mercenaries, such as the guards you hired at your home. I avoid civilians unless they are neck deep in harming people such as you are.” She paused and then went on, “There are only a small number of people with leadership ability in this galaxy and we need them all to be working in the right direction, for good. So I am willing to spend the time with this lesson to see if you will learn or not.”

Gster no longer cared. He hated the Kuli and would never believe they were not responsible for his mother’s death. It did not matter to him if he died trying to avenge her, he considered it an honor.

Gster replied, “You are a murder machine like your daughter and you can go to hell with her.”

One swift movement of her hand and Gster was out cold. She knew the value of turning a man as resourceful as Gster and so she wanted to try one more thing. She called her dad for help.

Tomli’s arrangement with the Linthian Council only allowed him to use advanced technologies if he had documentation of their use from his travels through time in the time ship. When he received the request from J’Lantia, his first answer was no. She explained the lesson she hoped that Gster would learn from the little trip and eventually he saw what she was trying. So he ran his search and found that the event she wished to initiate had happened.

His daughter had the name J’Lantia because it means lone warrior. She picked it herself when she left the Matriarch’s training. The KR purges had not been good to her family and friends so she felt that she could not live as a Kuli and, although it disappointed him, he understood. When she entered the Matriarch’s training he was worried about the conflict it might set up. There had been very few over the years who completed both trainings successfully. Yet, today, his heart was given rest as he could see her struggle about what was right. Gster deserved to die if anyone did and yet she still wanted to help him see the error of his ways so that many could be helped. So he would support her and he sent the device she asked him for.

He had been tempted to find out the results of its use but he knew how dangerous it was to move through time with knowledge. Besides, his arrangement with the Linthian council only allowed him to use advanced technologies under limited circumstances. Still, all of his experience told him that she would not get the results she expected. Time travel worked that way.

The Ghost came to the conclusion that she had hit Gster harder than she planned, which was an unusual occurrence. Of course her dad also responded faster than she would have ever believed. It was as if he knew she was going to contact him and had everything ready. Although that was how he was. As a girl, she knew that he always knew more than he admitted to. The look in his eye would often be enough for her to just tell all. She was glad her daughter was able to spend so much time with him during her Kuli training.

She had the device hooked up to the two ships and decided to go ahead with the plan while Gster was still passed out. She could explain it all to him when they were in position. Moments later, the space around them spun apart and they fell through time into the past.

When they stabilized, she checked the calculations and sure enough they were in place. She started the engines on both ships and set the courses. She had just settled into her chair with a snack when the proximity alarm went off. She saw the thousands of fragments flying toward them and tried to maneuver out of the way. To her dismay, the tether between the ships broke and a fragment hit the device.

Lightning flew out of the device the ship Gster was is moved on while her ship stopped. The lightning increased as the device destabilized and soon the whole area around her ship was glowing and sparking each time a fragment came into range. Then the ship began to spin and the universe imploded around her.

When the commotion stopped she checked her instruments to find out what damage was done to her ship. The control board came back clear. She checked her navigation and found that she was back to the place in space and time where she started. She sat back in her chair and wondered what happened to Gster. He had no idea where he was, let alone when.

She sat there for a long time. She needed to return the device and had promised that she would after she finished her trip and before she did anything else. It was a real long time before she made the call to return the device. Even though he would be nice, she hated having to tell her dad that he was right.

 

The Abyss

The ship landed gently in the cave on the lonely rock and a tall man stepped out. He did not look old, nor did he look like he was very young; he had light brown eyes with a gold glint in them and smile lines all over his face. He was two legged and from a distance looked like a Linthian or Murhan, yet up close seemed to radiate a visible energy that was impossible to define. His hair was white but he had a confidence about him and a certain spring in his walk as one has when they are young and indestructible. He wore a coat of dragon skin that rose from his shoulders to the top of his head in a cowl and flowed down from his shoulders to his ankles. His hair fell out of his cowl down across his chest and he wore a neatly trimmed beard that covered most of his face. When he walked, his long coat would sway with each step accenting his stride and giving him an almost royal look. As he came close to the little house his image started to shimmer and he slowed down. Moments later he walked right through the door into the office without opening it.

He saw the old man in the stasis pod and smiled. He remembered training the old man when the old man was just a boy. That boy became one of his most dedicated troopers and later an extremely reliable observer; a post he had held for tens of thousands of years. The tall man bent over the stasis pod to get a good look at his old friend. He smiled again.

The tall man moved to the computer and held his finger over a small sensor. The computer lit up a second sensor over which he placed his eye. The machine now came to life and printed out a message sheet that the tall man read carefully. The paper read, “The blue pair learned how to control the white of the trio on their own. Level ten was achieved with no violation.”

The tall man walked slowly over to the only window in the building and looked out through the cave toward the lights of the stars of the Tyrian galaxy. His thoughts drifted over the history of his life and a sad smile appeared softly on his face. His heart had become very heavy over the span of his years as he battled the evil in the universe. The victories seemed oh so short and the failures way too long. Still, in the end, good always won because every crisis inspired some unlikely hero or heroes to rise to the challenge. He never knew which of the seeds he planted would sprout but, consistently, enough always did.

He sighed and took in a deep breath as he considered how good it was to be alive and to be on the right side. He turned and walked over to the messaging system where he placed the message in the shredder. He reached into the pocket of his coat and removed a black leather-bound book that contained actual pages made of paper. He placed the book on the desk and laid a metal on it that he retrieved from another pocket. “It is time,” he thought.

The tall man took one last look at his good friend and dedicated warrior wishing that he was able to speak with him. The desire of his heart was to answer all of the warrior’s questions from his years of service and suffering; however, that was not the reward chosen. He turned and walked through the door again. His stride sped up and he was on the ship in no time at all. He set the controls and smiled again as he drifted back out of the cave. Once the ship reached space, it turned toward the abyss, shimmered, and was gone.

The old man awoke confused. The clock indicated that he had barely slept at all and yet no alarms were ringing nor was the messaging system lit up. Once he was able, he got out of the liquid and stood still while the machine cleaned him off. While he was being cleaned he noticed the book. No one had used books with paper in tens of thousands of years except on the worst planets and they did not have the elegant leather bindings that he saw in front of him.

When he picked up the book and read the cover, he cried tears of joy. This could have come from only one person and that person died a long, long time ago. He picked up the medal on the Book, gazing on the elegant symbol of the Silver Realm etched into the metal with an amber gemstone set in the middle of the design. He turned it over and read the inscription, “Knight of the Light – SRT.” He had to sit down.

It took a long time for him to recover from the shock of the discovery but finally he lifted the band that was attached to the medal over his head and allowed the medal to hang from his neck. He opened the book and read inside the cover: “This book is given as a gift to the recently knighted Samuel R Thompson of Clearwater from the planet Oxwood in the Klypas system from the Steward of the Realm, given this 213th day of the 43525th year of the reign of the Silver Sovereign.” The message was followed by the embossed seal of the Steward of the Realm.

The Knight Thompson opened the book and flipped through the pages looking at the beautiful calligraphy of the hand-written and wonderfully illustrated masterpiece. The tears of joy returned again and he felt his heart would burst as his deepest dreams had come true with his knighting and the gift of the book.

After cleaning up and setting the security, the old man left his little home and walked slowly to the back of the cave. He held up a crystal to his communicator and in moments the wall parted in front of him to reveal a small ship. He entered the ship and turned on the systems. He moved in front of the computer and held his medal with the amber gemstone facing one of the sensors. The system came alive and a stasis pod slid out from the wall. He entered the pod with a smile knowing that the next time he awoke he would be back home. The old man kissed the medal and laid it on his chest. Then he took the book out of his coat pocket and laid it over the medal. His face brightened as a smile filled his face unlike any he had for years. His heart was full of love for his family, the Silver Realm, the Steward of the Realm, and the Silver Sovereign, all of which he had thought were long gone. The old man watched the monitor as the ship moved away from the lonely rock. When the ship entered the abyss, he pushed the control and the pod closed. The old man slept the long sleep for the last time.

The lonely rock of the abyss was silent for only a short time when the space in front of it shimmered and a ship appeared. The tall man checked his instruments to see if the old man was gone. “Good,” he thought. He reached out and readjusted the controls to search the space between the rock and the Tyrian Galaxy. He found the anomaly he was looking for and sent a command. The panel in front of him flashed a confirmation signal.

Moments later, a great and unusual ship approached. The ship was in the shape of a pyramid. The ship turned with the point toward the cave and slowly settled into place in the rock until only the top showed. The sparkling city of gold shone even in the dim light of the distant stars. The tall man adjusted his control panel once more and the view of the city of gold disappeared and was replaced with a view of bare rock.

The tall man set the security controls so that only two specific people could enter the city of gold. He looked again toward the Tyrian galaxy and a single tear ran down his face. A sad sweet sorrow crossed his face as he thought, “The tears of Tyria will fill an ocean before the evil is stopped.”

The tall man’s ship shimmered again and was gone.

 

Gster’s Legacy

When Gster finally regained consciousness, he was traveling in a small transport ship in an area of space he did not recognize. Ahead the monitor was showing a ship in distress. The visuals showed a medium sized cargo transport on fire and drifting, apparently without power. The information he was collecting indicated that one of its engines had exploded and sent its fragments ripping through the rest of the ship and space around it.

The pleas for assistance were flooding his communications channels. He had no time for this now, he needed to return to Gster Headquarters and straighten all this Ghost mess out. He became irritated by the constant pleas for help. He turned on his comm and told them to shut up. He listened to the pleas of their captain for a while and then turned off the sound as he moved near the ship that was now on fire. “Idiots!” he thought as he came close. Did they think he was a rescue ship? Anyone could see that this ship was barely big enough to transport one person and their luggage. There was not a chance it could be used to rescue all the people on a ship that big.

He was almost all the way past the ship when he saw a woman through the glass of the main cabin pounding on the glass with one hand as she held a comm in her other. He had to take a second look as some things about her were familiar and his heart tugged for a bit but the moment passed. He remembered his anger at his situation and thought “I don’t have time for this.” He went to close the visor on that side of the ship to block the view when he saw the reflection of his ship on the glass of the cargo ship’s main cabin. He was in a one-man Kuli transport.

The realization of who she was hit him with a force that shook him to his core. He was moving to turn the radio back on when the rest of the other ship exploded. Fragments of the other ship slammed into his transport and he was thrown against his restraints with enough force to tear his flesh. The concussions, explosions, and flying parts continued for what seemed an eternity. At some point, he lost consciousness.

When he awoke, the alarms were blaring and he looked to the control panel. Errors flashed across the panel as the ship was trying desperately to repair itself. He was numb as he considered what had happened.

After a considerable amount of time the ship completed its repairs and the board was clear. The ship queried the pilot for a new destination. It received no answer. The body in the pilot’s chair was still poised over the video feedback from the explosion. Somehow the machine had broken and the scenario was looping through the viewer showing the disaster again and again. Without the desire to eat or drink, the body in the pilot’s seat had long ago ceased to function – but the video continued to play as the little transport ship drifted into the abyss.

 

The Silver Realm

Sliding out from the stasis pod the first thing he noticed was the skin on his hands – the wrinkles he knew so well were gone. When he climbed out, he realized that he did not have any problems with his knees or back. A glance in the mirror required many moments of wonder as he stared at a young man instead of the old man he was so used to.

His uniform had disintegrated and when he looked in the refresher he found a brand new Knight of the Light uniform that fit him perfectly. On his monitor were all the recordings he sent home during his first three years as a trooper of the Realm. He plugged in a speed reader and reviewed them all as he landed and docked.

Knight of the Light, Samuel R Thompson, left the ship to a hero’s welcome. The crowd that awaited him seemed like half of the planet of Oxwood, although later he learned it was only estimated at twelve thousand. He had barely stepped onto the platform when his wife and two kids ran up to him and they all embraced until they almost fell over.

The Governor of the planet greeted him home and presented him with the key to his new home. All returning Knights received a new home and a pension for life along with automatic admission for their children and grandchildren into the Academy of the Realm. There was a parade and he had to speak three different times about what it felt to be a Knight.

What could he say? Everything that happened to him was considered confidential. Besides, who would believe him? So, he told them of the honor to serve and how proud he was of his family. He went on about the value of service to the Realm and thanked them all for showing up.

Late that night, he retired with his wife into their new bedroom and hugged her until she almost broke. She brushed her red hair out of her face, looked deep into his eyes, and said quietly, “The Steward of the Realm told me that you have lived thousands of years and that I could listen to your stories if I would promise to tell no one. I agreed.” She had tears running down her face as she wrapped her arms around him and went on, “I am so sorry that for you it was so difficult.”

He cried in her arms for a long time.

 

The Linthian Council – KR Decree

The Linthian Council – KR Decree

His mouth tasted terrible. It was that dry, sticky feeling that came with a taste like the bottom of your feet after a long hike. Although, he wondered, did anyone ever actually taste the bottom of their feet? He opened his eyes and the bright light hit them and sent that small shock to the body letting it know that it was time to wake up.

 

He sat up in bed and stretched his long arms and legs, hitting the walls of the small cubicle on the ship; even though it was a first class cabin it was still small. He pushed a button and the bed split in half with one side partially retracting and the padding rolling on to the bottom so he would have a small desk as he spun sideways.

 

He opened his mouth and inserted the oral refresher. The nanobots roamed around in his mouth cleaning and then providing nutrients to his teeth, gums, and tongue. When they finished, the rod glowed green and he put it back in the wall. He laid his hands on the table and feet on the step on the floor and started the nail cleaner. This one even massaged your hands and feet while it worked. He never had access to this equipment before and was enjoying it immensely.

 

When all that finished, he pushed the button for the refresher. It removed his clothes and more nanobots went over his entire body as they cleaned and provided nutrition. Kulis did not normally receive any special attention and usually cleaned themselves with wash rags and electro-sanitizers. So, he was determined to enjoy this as it may never happen again.

 

He sat back down with his new clothes on and considered his life. The events of the past few cycles had started to wear off and the questions surrounding his summons to the Council had now moved to the front of his mind. He had spent almost his entire life as a nobody and all that had changed recently. J’Rontia was already quite famous when they met, mainly because she was the top candidate Kuli in thousands of years and someone tried to kill her. The investigation that followed the assassination attempt on her at her final training exercise exposed a whole group of people in and out of the government and in and out of the Kuli organization who harbored resentment and fear toward the KR products.

 

He hated the term “KR product” for many reasons, including the implication that they were not as good as “natural” born individuals, but never heard a term that he liked better. There were two main groups against the KRs. One, wanted them exterminated and considered them an aberration against all natural born creatures. The other group felt that they were dangerous and needed to be quarantined to protect everyone else.  

 

The immediate result of the investigation was to bring this entire mess out in the open. The Kuli, as expected, took care of their own and the punishment was severe. The government fired all of their conspirators and those who actually took part in the attempted murder went to a rehabilitation center in the Gorpro system. It is pretty much guaranteed that they will not be seen again, at least not any time soon.  Still, all of that brought the whole situation with the KRs to the front and feelings were very mixed.

 

The KRs were a huge military success and the Linthians and Murhans had been able to almost completely eliminate their regular military forces. The vast majority of people in the Galactic Wing felt they owed a huge debt to the KRs and did not wish to bring back the armada that had existed. Still, they were concerned about the few that became unstable and the horrible things they had done. Most of the planets created identification processes for the KRs and their children acting as if they were their own heroes in waiting while sending them off to special schools.

 

The problem was complicated by the planets that did not have a system in place and by the KRs who did not wish to leave. There was also the matter of those with special skills who were not KRs. Should they have to leave also? This was a huge concern among families with long histories of producing talented Kuli candidates.

 

He shook his head as he considered once again that he was probably one of the KRs and may have to spend the rest of his life restricted to a single planet, except when on a mission. He sighed as he realized that for him that would be a huge move up from his childhood. He was so glad that he was able to see his parents and arrange for them to move into Linthia proper.

 

His salary was not large but using almost all of it he was able to move them out of the ghetto they lived in and provide pretty good medical care for them; however, after he set it all up he received word that his pay was not needed as an anonymous donor had purchased a lifetime retirement package at a top Linthian home care provider for them. When he found out that his parents were upgraded to a top package, he actually broke down and cried.

 

He contacted the company he had worked with and asked who purchased the upgrade. They said they were contacted through an attorney and had no knowledge. He thought he knew who was responsible and he was even more determined to be worthy of the help he had received.

 

During the investigation of the attempted murder, the Kuli released information on J’Rontia stating that she was not one of the KRs or their descendants. This greatly increased her popularity in the galaxy, especially when it was revealed that she had experienced other attempts on her life. The down side was that this latest attempt brought him into the picture as her savior and, at the same time, propelled him into the whole KR debate as no one released any information about his origin, leaving the news speculating about his origin. He was not in a comfortable spot.

 

The Council did notify the news outlets that they would be making a decision on the whole KR matter in short order so the news reporters figured he would be discussed at that time. He was not sure what they would do and spent considerable time thinking about it.

 

A familiar knock sounded on his door and he pushed the button for it to vanish. J’Rontia was standing there with one of her famous mischievous smiles and asked, “How many times have you used the refresher equipment this morning, less than ten?” The sight of her almost always made him smile. She was as tall as he was, and he was taller than most males, standing at 17.8 troes. She had beautiful hair that was naturally thick and curly with sea foam blue (the color of the water on Thor’s resort moon) and amber waves running through it. He always had trouble deciding which color was prominent and he actually believed she could control it and changed it each day to match her mood. In extreme combat, her hair turned as blue as the sky on Rhondtor and even glowed like her eyes did, although usually her head was covered and she wore an eye cover computer when they went into a combat zone so he believed he was one of the only people who knew. Right now, her hair fell to her narrow waist and highlighted the shape of her body. She always wore some form of combat gear and almost never had any skin showing, except for her face. The combat dress allowed you to see that she was very fit but did not accentuate any particular assets. She dressed very professionally and often wore the Guardian Kuli combat robe that she had won when she completed her final exercise in record speed.

 

“I only used it once this morning and twice last night,” he answered with a wink.

 

She lightly punched him on the arm and said, “I knew it. Are you ready for breakfast?”

 

“Yes, can we eat in private?”

 

She nodded and they walked quietly to one of the private meal closets. They sat down and the computer flashed the menu in front of them showing available food items, one at a time, in a hologram on the table in front of them. After it described each item, the computer would say, “The cost for this selection is complimentary.” They could not help but smile each time.

 

J’Rontia said, “They must not be mad at us or they would not spend all this money on us.”

 

He responded, “Who is paying for all this?”

 

She answered, “The Linthian Council is who I was told is responsible.”

 

His face twisted a bit as he considered that and then he said, “It makes no sense.” He started to say more but saw the current selection the computer was displaying and said, “Menu – select.”

 

J’Rontia laughed, “Are you always going to take the fruit?”

 

He said, “Maybe.”

 

She said, “Menu – select.”

 

They didn’t talk much as they ate because they both took good food seriously. Their last few missions did not have much in the way of food, let alone good food so they understood how long it may be before this opportunity came again. They finished almost at the same time and decided to just sit back and relax for a while before going back to the main compartment where the other passengers were sure to be full of questions.

 

“How do you handle being famous?” he asked.

 

J’Rontia thought for a moment and answered, “I really don’t think much about it. I have been so busy, as you well know, that there is not much time for consideration. Still, I do have news outlets trying to speak to me whenever I go in public when they know I will be there. I try to handle that by not letting anyone know where I am going to be. Also, as Kuli, we do not have individual net contact access so almost all of my correspondence is filtered by the Sector 4 command as is yours.”

 

He noted, “Until our recent incidents, I never received anything. Now, they tell me that I have various invitations to news programs and grand openings; however, nothing that I have wanted to read.”

 

J’Rontia laughed and said, “I cannot remember receiving information that I wanted either.” She continued, “The thing about being famous is that it does not affect most of the missions we go on. I do have to factor it in when we have an ambassador role because they will have more security surrounding us and more events to attend. For the most part, our lifestyle insulates us from the majority of the effects of fame – and I LIKE my lifestyle.”

 

He nodded and then smiled as he said, “and my partner.”

 

J’Rontia stood up and he followed. She reached over and gave him a hug saying, “I have the best partner ever.” She looked at him for a minute with a smile that he would be more than happy to die for and then turned serious as she said, “Let’s go face the galaxy.” He was not as nervous as he had been and knew he could face anything at her side. He grabbed one more piece of fruit, shoved it in his mouth, and headed out the door.

 

The Linthian Council chambers were intimidating and impressive. The council members sat on a raised platform that included chairs for each that floated above the floor. The chairs wrapped around the front giving each member a desk to write on if they wished. The desks were the interactive models that connected to the building’s central computer and provided multiple updates in either monitor mode or 3D mode on top of the desk. Any display could be transferred to the center of the room and displayed on the wall or served up as a hologram in the middle. The walls were all muted colors and were almost invisible, partially due to the lighting scheme, giving the room the appearance of being extremely large and highlighting the members and speakers in the room.

 

The speakers stood in another raised area to the side but in front of the members. There were three floating podiums that the speakers could use that had most of the projection and computer features of the members’ desks. The audience area was backed by a movable wall so that the room could accommodate small or large audiences and still leave the impression that they filled the center of the chamber while having that open feeling due to the features of the walls.

 

Behind the members, a holographic display showed the galaxy in 3D as it rotated on four axis in slow motion sometimes giving the first time viewer a bit of vertigo, depending on the species. The area behind each speaker dimmed when they were actually speaking and gave almost a halo effect around the person.

 

Today the council consisted of the twelve official Linthian members, the Murhan representative, and one member from the new Tyrian Republic. The council had arranged a unique relationship with the Tyrian Republic. Due to their standing in the galaxy, they had a veto member on the Republic’s assemblies and the Republic had a veto member on the Linthian Council. The Linthians were full members of the Republic and guaranteed all of the same rights but were allow more self-government than any other system, even Murhan. Since the Linthians offered extensive support to all systems joining the Republic, they had all signed off on the agreement with no exceptions.

 

J’Rontia sat next to him in the speaker section and, except for the presence of two Supreme Kuli, there was no audience. He had expected Tomli to be there but he was not. This did leave him a bit apprehensive, although Tomli did have a rather full schedule and this may not be very high up on his priority list.

 

The representative from Tyria started the meeting by saying, “We wish to begin by letting both of you know how proud we are of your accomplishments and how grateful we are that the assassination attempt was foiled. We also wish to report that the alleged connections of the attack to the King have proven false. The attempt to discredit the Kuli may be coming from the same group that attempted to assassinate you, J’Rontia.” He paused for a moment to allow all of that to sink in.

 

When he did, J’Rontia and her Soretto heard another voice in their heads that said, “Do not respond to the comments on the King. You will receive additional information later.”

 

The representative went on, “We have some questions for you and some answers also. I would like to have the Kuli address your backgrounds and then we will start the questioning.”

 

At this comment, the Supreme Kuli, T’Drofe stood up and moved to one of the podiums. He turned to the two and said, “We have records on J’Rontia’s ancestors that show she has her fantastic skills from naturally occurring DNA adjustments that are common to many of the Linthian families since the time of last Linthian DNA adjustments as a race. He turned to the Council and continued, “Her Soretto is rather unique. We do not have the information on his birth parents. He is not related to the parents he had as a child. We have had our best geneticists review his DNA and they cannot tell us if his DNA is naturally enhanced or if it has been altered. He has some of the most advanced DNA we have ever seen but without knowing who his parents are we do not know if it is natural.”

 

The entire room went quiet as everyone processed this information. With many of the people in the room looking at him, he started to feel very uncomfortable. In his mind, he felt a calming presences flow over him and he recognized J’Rontia’s influence. This time it was different. His new abilities showed him how she entered and what part of the brain she worked with. She signaled for him to follow her touch as she moved around his brain and showed him what he needed to do to relax and redirect the anxiety he started to feel. In moments, he had learned more about himself again and told her thanks as her presence left his mind. He turned back to the council.

 

The Section 8 member, Yseter Qzucy, spoke, “All Linthians have altered DNA, which is what makes us Linthians. That is also the reason that the Murhans and the Linthians separated and we are no longer one system. While it is true that the Linthian Council greatly restricted DNA manipulation a long time ago, my family has always believed that we should be the best that we can be and any alterations that come naturally from our previous changes, or already exist in Linthians, should be treated as natural. The Council designated me as their representative to review his DNA and I can state that there is no section of his DNA that does not exist somewhere in my family’s line. My whole family and all of our planets support the declaration of J’Rontia’s Soretto as a naturally enhanced being. We believe that this is the reason he matches so well with J’Rontia.” Shockwaves swept the room as the most politically powerful member of the council, and a regular detractor of the Kuli, endorsed J’Rontia’s Soretto by comparing him to his own family. In addition, all official Council members are monitored during the meeting and cannot lie without triggering an alert on the other Council members’ displays, giving his proclamation extra weight when it is finally broadcast to the public.

 

J’Rontia’s Soretto was not able to hide his surprise but recovered rapidly. As he came back under control a message popped up on his podium top. The message read, “Surely you didn’t think I would let you go before the Council without my support?”

 

There was no author listed but he heard J’Rontia in his mind as her touch told him, “Tomli.” Tomli continued to surprise them. Who would have thought he was working with Yseter Qzucy.

 

The Council members went into private mode, where the galaxy hologram moves in front of them, gently blocking the view and sounds. They spoke among themselves for quite a while. When their chairs came back into view, the Council Chair, J’Lopt stood and walked over to J’Rontia and her Soretto. J’Lopt was a former Supreme Kuli with an honorable and storied history in the galaxy, mainly loved by all. He asked, “May I probe?”

 

The Soretto smiled and said, “Of course.”

 

 J’Lopt placed his hand on the Soretto’s forehead and closed his eyes. His mind felt the new presence and was surprised at how light it was. The presence smiled and said, “Don’t worry. I already know you and who your mother is. I want to thank you for exposing the connection to the King. Yes, we know that the Tyrian representative is wrong. For now, you must remain quiet.”

 

He felt another more familiar presence enter tentatively. J’Rontia said, “He is speaking to me also and asked that I join you two.” He could feel both of them in his mind and he could not help but smile.

 

J’Lopt went on, “You will be contacted by Qzucy after you leave. Follow his directions exactly. You will also be asked at various points in the future to work with banned technologies. If these directives come from Tomli or Qzucy, you have the blessing of the Council. We put a plan in place years ago and our agreement with the Tyrian Republic allows our existing plans to continue. I do not have time for questions now, but may after the meeting. Also, feel free to ask either of the above for more information, although they may not be willing or able to answer.”

 

J’Lopt paused for a split moment and then went on, “You are the product of a naturally advanced mother and an unknown father. Your mother put the blocks in place to protect you from outside people and from some adjustments to your father’s ancestor’s DNA. J’Portia can help you work through those problems. Lastly, you need to know that your work is extremely important to the galaxy. Some of us believe that your work, both of you, will allow our races to survive the terrible times that are coming. You have more friends than you know and ghosts and angels will be watching over you.”

 

J’Lopt left his mind leaving him and J’Rontia with more questions than before and she “smiled” mentally as she left. J’Lopt spoke to the room, “Qzucy is correct. His DNA and mental functions are no more complex, advanced, or dangerous than members of the Qzucy family. I second his declaration of J’Rontia’s Soretto as a naturally enhanced being.”

 

All of the remaining official council members declared the same. The Murhan representative proudly declared, “Murhan has no veto.” The last representative to vote was the Tyria Republic’s. He opened his chair and stepped forward so that he stood in front of J’Rontia and her Soretto and spoke directly to them as he said, “I am not a science expert; however, I do recognize exceptional abilities when I see them. The fears people have of those with advanced abilities deals with how they use them. I see no reason to believe that your abilities are being directed toward anything other than protecting Linthia and the Republic. The Tyria Republic has no veto.”

 

The representative then leaned forward and quietly spoke to them, “I will be following your careers carefully to make sure that your handlers use your skills properly.” The Tyria Republic’s representative returned to his seat and the chairman sealed the decree and the votes.

 

The chairman spoke to J’Rontia and her Soretto, “You may sit in the audience now as we finish the matter of the KRs. The chairman turned toward his colleagues and the galaxy moved in front of them once more as they entered into private conversation.

 

The time passed slowly as they waited in the room. There was no talking as they sat wondering what the council was discussing. The fate of all people with special abilities hung in the balance and those in the audience understood only too well what that could mean. For thousands of years, the Kuli helped those who had difficulty with their technology advances and tried to prevent technology from destroying people and civilizations as happened at the peak of Linthian power. The Kuli sought out those with special abilities and trained them in the safe use of their powers. Now all of that might change as more and more people were scared of those with special abilities, fearing that what happened with the KRs could happen to others also.

 

The galaxy hologram moved back behind the councilors as they prepared to reveal their decisions. The chairman spoke, “The council has made a decision on the KR situation and the difficulties surrounding people with special skills.” Clearly this was part of prepared comments and he was going to be rather formal. The chairman continued, “The Murhan people have worked hard for thousands of generations to improve their genetic make-up without changing who and what they are, as many other races have also done. This process has been very successful but, as with all technology, reached reasonable limits where some did not feel Murhans would retain their character and so the Murhans and Linthians split. The Linthians continued to work to improve themselves until some technology problems arose where they felt safe limits had been reached.” The chairman paused at this point to let the admissions sink in a bit and so people could process the reasons why the Council was even in this position.

 

When the chairman continued, he was a bit more sober, “The weight of the responsibilities the Linthians and Murhans have as technology and economic leaders place us in military situations quite often. It was in an effort to reduce the impact of these military obligations that the KR project was allowed. We were trying to help the entire galaxy without being an excessive drain on our own economies.” He paused again and then said, “We succeeded in this goal but with some unintentional consequences. The enthusiasm that some of the people with the KR gene set have for excessive violence was not anticipated, at least not outside of the battle field. In addition, they were designed to be sterile and the way the abilities magnified in the following generations was inadvertent.”

 

The chairman sighed and went on, “We believed that the situation was under control until the arrival of a grandson of a KR warrior. The warriors were sterile and there were many preventative measures taken; however, the birth of a son should have been impossible with the code used. Still, it happened and he grew to be known to most of you as the Lord of Light and the leader of the destructive Religion Wars. Since that time, many are suspicious of anyone with special powers, even the Kuli are not as welcome as they once were. Now, with the attempt on J’Rontia’s life, we are forced to examine the situation and come to a conclusion.” The chairman sighed once more and then sat down.

 

The room was on edge as those in the audience tried to understand why he stopped. After a few moments, Yseter Qzucy stood up and spoke, “The situation is dire as there are many planets where even the hint of special skills will cause crowds to gather and destroy the being that appears to have powers beyond the common. We have tried to support the establishment of advanced schools and gave rewards to societies that placed their children in these schools. Yet, we still have large areas where anyone who appears to have eyes that glow or bluish tints to their hair is hunted down and killed.” Yseter Qzucy’s voice crackled with emotion as he spoke and all in the room could see the determination in his eyes as he went on.

 

He said, “We can no longer watch innocents suffer or die. It is with great regret that the Council has passed, unanimously, the following decree.” Yseter Qzucy read the decree.

 

Linthian Council of R’Sterlix – Decree 87334

 

Whereas, the advanced skills and powers of a small group of beings, having been used without proper ethics and training, has caused great consternation and suffering; and

 

Whereas, the public’s response to these beings causes discord, riots, various forms of violence, and illegal terminations; and

 

Whereas, the Tyrian Republic has requested the assistance of the Linthians, Murhans, and Kuli in their efforts to handle this situation; and

 

 Whereas, the current efforts to mitigate the problems of these beings, notably the KR2s and their descendants, are not proving effective;

 

Therefore, it is decreed that all new born beings in all the areas of influence of the Linthians, the Murhans, or the Tyrian Republic will be tested for advanced skills. The parents of those who are found to possess such skills will be given the choice of dedicating their children to one of three lifestyles; the Kuli, the Valiant Warriors of the Matriach, or the special skills schools of the Linthian military.

 

Furthermore, any citizens of the above who demonstrate advanced skills are directed to report to the nearest Kuli Guardian Station for testing and possible placement within one tenth of a standard year of discovering they possess such skills.

 

Yseter Qzucy paused and looked out at the small audience and it was as if a dark shadow fell over him. He straightened himself up to his full height with his stern expression emphasizing his words as he added, “My family has many members with special skills. We have spent generations improving ourselves as have many families in the Galactic Wing. I can assure all that we will bring this experience into the process for testing. My family will design the tests and regularly monitor them to ensure that people with special skills are not included in those identified as having advanced skills.”

 

Yseter Qzucy turned and faced the representative from the Tyrian Republic and said, “We will be ready to test newborns within one half of a standard year, adults within one standard year, and children within one and half standard years.”

 

The representative nodded and said, “That is an acceptable timeline and the Tyrian Republic will be eternally grateful for your assistance in this delicate matter.”

 

J’Rontia’s Soretto almost let out a shout when he saw his readout but J’Rontia had reached his mind first and calmed him down. He still had much to learn about his new abilities and how to control them. The readout indicated that the Tyrian representative had lied about being eternally grateful and everyone in the room knew. He was pretty sure that those results would not be part of the broadcast to the galaxy and wondered what it meant. He thought that the meeting was over when Yseter Qzucy sat down and he expected to hear that the meeting was adjourned when J’Lopt spoke again.

 

Instead, the chairman said:

 

These changes and our entrance into the Republic also necessitate an examination of the structures in question. First, we will discuss the military. The Murhans and the Linthians will have a separate military from the rest of the Republic because our military will have these special people in it. In addition, the Murhans and Linthians will not draft any of our population to the military of the rest of the Republic. Instead, we will bear the entire cost of our military ourselves. Due to this separation, the Galactic Wing is allowed to vote separately on any declaration of war from the Republic.

 

The Kuli have always subjected themselves to the will of the Linthian Council although there has never been a formal agreement. The Council has determined today that the Kuli are now a separate entity from the Tyrian Republic and all other political organizations. They will have voting advisors on the councils of all the military organizations in the Republic including the Linthian and Murhan military and the Valiant Warriors of the Matriarch. All of their participation in military matters requires the approval of a newly created Kuli Council consisting of Supreme Kuli elected by Supreme, Guardian, and other advanced Kuli guild members.

 

The Kuli are assigned the duty of policing the KR Decree. They are required, as part of the agreement for their separate status, to enforce the decree and punish those who refuse to follow its parameters. They are required to continue to follow the Kuli codes as written today and will receive funding from the Republic for their technology, police, advisor, and military services. The amounts of funding are set as a percentage of the systems’ populations and cannot be changed without unanimous agreement from all parties.

 

The past generations have benefited greatly from the KR2 warriors. Known by some as The Valiant Warriors of the Matriach, they won many of the battles of the Religion Wars and in other actions have greatly reduced the Galactic Wing’s reliance on its traditional military; however, many of those same warriors have a poor record of adjustment to regular society. We cannot discount the honorable service they provide and the sacrifices they have borne for us. Still, we must restrict their homes and their families homes to a planet designed to handle their special needs. In exchange for this restriction, the planet will be semi-autonomous and receive taxes from all planets that send people to them and will be paid for their military contributions.

 

The Council has three planets that are currently undergoing transformation and they will be able to select the one they prefer. The Council will give the warriors the treasure of Bandora the Lean to use to build their world. The treasure comes from one of the planets during the Religion Wars and the warriors have earned it. The warriors will be ruled by their own Council of seven consisting of their current Matriarch, one Kuli, one Linthian, one Murhan, and three elected warriors. Any selection of a new Matriarch will require the approval of the Kuli, Linthian, and Murhan Councils.

 

J’Lopt looked very tired as he finished and J’Rontia’s Soretto wondered how old he was. He marveled at the stories he knew about J’Lopt and could only imagine how many more there are. Some of this decree confused him as very little would actually change for the Kuli and the warriors. These rules were very close to what was already happening and, in some cases, how it had been for many generations.

 

Looking at J’Lopt, reminded him that J’Rontia had promised to share the true story of J’Lopt’s battle with the Lord of Light. He needed to remind her about that promise. The Council was finishing up the formalities of voting on the decisions just explained by J’Lopt and he was anxious to leave. He liked it best when it was just him and J’Rontia training or working together.

 

One of the Supreme Kuli walked up to him and clasped him on the shoulder saying, “Congratulations.” The Supreme Kuli, T’Drofe, handed him a medal and said, “You are now officially no longer an apprentice and have won the Honor of the Ancients for your prevention of the assassination. The Kuli would have been vilified if that plan had been a success.” T’Drofe turned to J’Rontia and said, “You continue to make us proud and your training of your Soretto is incredible.”

 

When he turned away, the other Supreme Kuli came up and clasped him on the shoulder delivering similar congratulations to both of them. A powerful realization came to him as he understood he was now a Kuli and that he had not undertaken the final trials.

 

J’Rontia smiled at him and said, “None of the trials are as intense as what you went through. Besides, I wouldn’t want you to score higher than I did!” They both laughed and turned toward the door.

 

Standing in front of them was the Tyrian representative who said to J’Rontia’s Soretto, “Congratulations on two counts. Now, you are not considered one of those who will be quarantined and you are a full Kuli. How does all that feel?”

 

J’Rontia’s Soretto smiled back at him and said, “I am thrilled to be able to continue to serve J’Rontia and help the galaxy stay as safe as possible.”

 

The Tyrian representative smiled an evil smiled and said, “You are only able to do what we allow. Today the dominance of all the Linthian and Murhan technical superiority has come to an end and you are all now placed in nice boxes so that we can keep a proper control over you. The Tyrian Republic is now the driving force in this galaxy.” The Tyrian representative laughed a horrible sound, turned, and walked out the door leaving the two of them standing there shocked. How had he drawn that conclusion to what had just happened?

 

There were only two other people left in the meeting room as they moved to exit the room. Yseter Qzucy and J’Lopt were deep in a conversation on the other side of the room so they figured they would get together with Yseter Qzucy later. They had just reached the door when they heard J’Rontia being called. They both turned back to see J’Lopt gesturing to them to come over to the council members’ seating area. The door shut as they turned away from it. When they reached the council’s seating area, the hologram moved to the front of the chairs.

 

Yseter Qzucy spoke, “No one can overhear us now. We have a special message for you from the old council. When the Tyrians asked us to join the Republic, they worked hard to eliminate our council and strip our sovereignty; however, they wanted our wealth and technology to be a part of their Republic. Therefore, we reached a compromise. We kept some of our sovereignty, especially in the areas of technology and war, and the Republic would only have representation and veto power on our council. In addition, all of our previous council decrees were allowed to remain in effect. As a result, the Republic believes that we cannot do anything without their permission anymore. However, we have a large number of activities ongoing that were put in place before we became a member and we have no intention of sharing knowledge of those activities. Still, we can no longer create new projects without Tyrian approval.” He paused as he often did to let the impact of his words settle.

 

J’Lopt continued the conversation in a very serious tone and with a wrinkled brow looking at them with his head tipped a bit to his right side, “We previously promised you two to Tomli for a project he is working on. You are to report to the Wartrag system and he will contact you. Stop by the Rhomsati Resort where we have made reservations for you. Enjoy your time there as it may be the last vacation you have.”

 

Yseter Qzucy spoke again with a softer voice as if he was addressing his grandchildren, “Today we gave the Kuli and the Warriors official status and income that they did not have before with the Republic. We did this because the Linthian and Murhan peoples no longer support many of the advanced technologies. The Religion Wars were terrifying and our society learned the wrong things from those wars. They wish to hide. They hope that if we abandon our technologies, then everyone else will also; however, we have an opponent in the King and the Deceiver who helps him that is capable of using the most advanced technology. They have done a great job in helping our people become convinced that there is no danger in the galaxy anymore, even as our Guardian Kuli are hunted down and executed. So we needed to act while we still had the people’s trust and votes.”

 

J’Lopt interrupted him saying, “But that means there will be a time when the people no longer trust and no longer will vote. There will even be a time when the council is not allowed secret decrees for security. If Tomli is correct, the whole Galactic Wing will refuse to help when they are needed the most. We must be ready if that happens.” 

 

J’Lopt continued, “The Linthians have more wealth than is imaginable. During our years of supremacy over the galaxy, we amassed wealth beyond people’s wildest dreams. Over the past generations, the council has converted the wealth into forms that could be hidden in obscure locations around the galaxy. You two will be given some of those locations so that you will never run out of funds. Also, J’Portia is only one of the medical and research stations we have hidden throughout the galaxy. Tomli has permission to use any of the advanced technologies if he needs it to counter technology brought forth by the Deceiver. The wording of that decree was difficult but it is all legal.”

 

Yseter Qzucy went on, “We will provide you with copies of the relevant council rulings so that when others turn against you the truth will be available for all to see.” His ring glowed amber twice and then he spoke again, “I have to go. I wish you the best of luck. My family may speak against the Kuli and many of the things we talk about here but you can always count on us if you are in trouble.” He handed each of them a ring similar to his own and said, “These are Qzucy family rings and once they are on your fingers they will adjust to you and become invisible forever, whether on or off. You will be able to sense them in a room but no one else will. You do not need to wear them but if you need us, just put them on and press the star. That will activate a stealth beacon and someone will come to help.” Yseter Qzucy slapped his right hand on his left wrist and raised them up to his mouth and said, “May the Ancients protect you.” Then he left the two stunned Kuli standing with J’Lopt.

 

J’Lopt smiled a soft and genuine smile of friendship. He said, “So you did not know that the powerful Qzucy was a religious man? Maybe someday I will tell you about the Qzucy family’s true history and which of the Ancient Myths are actually true.” J’Lopt laughed softly and added, “He is also one of the biggest supporters of the Kuli and the Warriors.” When J’Lopt saw their expressions he added, “The Qzucy family are great politicians and their public stances are many times designed to prevent anyone from suspecting what they are doing behind the scenes.” J’Lopt then spent some time with them going over various parts of their plans and answering their questions.

 

It was late in the planet’s day when they left and a beautiful sunset greeted them as they walked out the front doors of the building. Immediately, J’Rontia’s Soretto stepped in front of her and summoned all the energy he could. He built his energy field just in time as a blast hit him square on throwing the two of them back into the doors. J’Rontia leapt into the air as she threw six knives toward their opponents swooping down from the sky with graviton carriers. The knives found their marks and six of the ten would never speak to anyone again as she landed on one of the carriers. Almost instantly, her Soretto did the same on another carrier. The fight was over in seconds and they jumped back to the ground just as the Linthian Council’s security arrived.

 

After a few moments of explanation, they boarded their shuttle to head back to their ship. It was a quiet ride on the shuttle and they were very careful entering their ship. After checking all their security measures and convincing themselves that they were safe. They set their course and were on their way.

 

Two of the planet’s days later, J’Lopt spoke into an encrypted comm noting, “They were attacked as they walked out the front door.”

 

A voice commented back, “Was he able to generate a strong enough field or were they injured?”

 

J’Lopt responded, “They had no injuries at all and the blast spray that hit the building showed a blast force of 15.3 grets.”

 

The voice said, “Then he has more capacity than you.”

 

 J’Lopt answered, “That is correct. He would have been able to stand up to the Lord of Light.”

 

There was a pause in the conversation and then the voice on the other end of the comm said, “His father had to be an Ancient.”

 

J’Lopt shook his head no as he said, “I saw the last one die.”

 

The voice responded, “Could she was been pregnant before that?”

 

J’Lopt answered, “I don’t know. The timeline would say no but with an Ancient – it is possible.”

 

The voice said, “You have done well.”

 

 J’Lopt said, “Then can I retire?”

 

The voice answered, “Not yet, but soon, very soon.” The comm connection was broken.

 

Rhomsati Resort

 

When J’Rontia and her Soretto arrived at the Rhomsati Resort there was no one there to meet them so they settled back and enjoyed the solitude and the amenities. The facility was located at the edge of the galaxy in sector seven on an old space station from before the Colonial ERA. Originally used as a fueling depot for the transport fleet, each docking port had been converted into a complete self-contained luxury suite that included food, drinks, and entertainment. The resort was a favorite of those who wanted to get away from it all, including people. There was no staff and the place was run by robots and automatons – the perfect place to escape to. The facility was surrounded by Kuli training planets, repair stations, and other secret facilities, making the overall security tight as it could ever be.

 

J’Rontia settled into a deep water bath and her Sorretto sat across the room enjoying bowls full of fresh fruit as he studied and practiced controlling the various energy forces with his mind. There were no windows in the room but the walls showed scenes from around the Tyrian Galaxy and left the visitor feeling as if they were in wide-open space. J’Rontia’s Soretto concentrated on adjusting the gravitational fields surrounding his body but was not able to connect with the force. He cleared his mind of all other thoughts and concentrated on releasing his body’s energy field from the forces of gravity.

 

After much work and concentration he was starting to get frustrated when he heard J’Rontia say, “You need to clear your mind – that means not thinking of me also.”  

 

He turned around and saw J’Rontia floating in the air above the bath with one of the biggest smiles on her that he had ever seen. He started to say something and then caught himself as he almost dropped her. They both laughed as he sent her down gently. This was going to be a fun vacation.

 

 

The Dark Sun System – Hrusti City on Ternw

 

In the dark shadows of the forest, in a small ship with advanced stealth capabilities, a woman with seafoam blue hair watched her monitors as a shuttle deposited the Tyrian representative to the Linthian Council at the door of the King’s Advisor. The woman wanted desperately to reach out with one of his weapons and kill him. She had heard him bragging over his unsecured comm to the station’s security officers how he almost killed J’Rontia and her Soretto as they left the Linthian Council building. He was so proud of himself and seemed sure that the people here would make a hero out of him for his attempt. But she stayed her hand. She had made a promise and that promise was worth more than this worthless man’s life.

 

The woman put her emotions back in the box she had built for them and went back to the task at hand. She activated her receptors in the building and prepared to listen.

 

The Tyrian representative walked through the entrance hallway into the buildings main reception hall. The room was huge and very dark making it impossible to see the other side. As his guide led him further into the room he grew irritated. He told the guide, “Turn on the lights in here, a person can hardly see.” The guide said nothing and continued walking without acknowledging the Tyrian representative in any way. The representative demanded again, “I will not go any further until you show me some respect.” At this, the guide turned to the side and exited a door. The representative shouted at him, “Get back here now! You fool. Don’t you know who I am!”

 

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 heard the sound from the shadow as it pierced the darkness. With venom dripping from every word, the shadow spoke slowly in a careful and measured pattern with deliberation, “He knows who you are and wonders why he should care.” The deep gravelly voice entered the Tyrian Representative’s ears as a knife slide between the ribs delivering agony with each sound. The Tyrian Representative felt his hair on his neck rise and fear choked him as the words and their meaning sucked the arrogance right out of him. He struggled to breathe as the air left his lungs and he found he could not inhale. The shadow moved slowly and stood but did not come closer as the proud Tyrian Representative fell to the floor writhing in agony.

 

The shadow spoke again, “The Linthian Council tricked you and you are the fool. You gave their precious Kuli funding they did not have in exchange for what they were already doing. You gave that group of female mutant slime a planet of their own and funding also. And, worst of all, you allowed them to keep all of their past decrees. Did you not think that they planned ahead?” The representative was allowed one breath and then his skin was on fire. The agony from the fire spread from his head to his toes.

 

The shadow spoke once more, “It has been reported to the Republic of Tyria that your ship crashed. I will make sure that you are replaced with a more intelligent representative. That leaves you plenty of time to spend with me as you consider how much you disappointed me.”

 

The representative was picked up off the floor by four servants and taken to a room where he was laid on a table. He realized too late who his real boss was and it was not the King.

 

Outside, the woman with seafoam blue hair realized that killing that man would have been a mercy and turned off her receptors. She knew that someday she might have to face the person in the shadows herself and it increased her determination to continue her training every chance she had. She thought about her daughter and was happy that she had such a powerful Soretto. She knew that all her sacrifices were worth it.

 

 

The Black Abyss

 

Moving out from the Tyrian Galaxy there were galaxies in all directions except one. Far, far out, in that empty, lonely expanse known as the Black Abyss, a small ship received a message. The computer on that ship processed the message and repackaged it to send a pulse toward a black hole even further into the nothing. On the edge of the black hole, an old space station spun just fast enough to keep from falling into the hole and the message was received and processed. The monitor of the station was awoken to review the message. He smiled and composed his own message. The message was simple and he sent it deeper into the nothing. It read, “We were right to help.” He looked out his window in the direction of the bright light that is the Tyrian Galaxy. His life was a circle that was almost complete and he looked forward to his part in the great opera of the people known to some as the Linthians. After a few more moments, he returned to the kitchen for a snack before he returned to his duties.

 

 

Linthian Space – New planet

 

The terraforming on the planet continued at a much slower pace than was projected. Two standard years had gone by beyond the agreed upon end date. This was a complex job that included surface and subsurface work and it was the subsurface work that continued to cause the details.

 

The contractors complained again and again that they did not understand the delays. Continually they found members of their work groups tunneling deep into the planet because their instruments showed they were still moving in a level manner when they were not. The plans had all of the transportation for the planet moving underground and that required a lot of tunnels. What the contractors could not comprehend was how their equipment could continue to malfunction.

 

The contractor was losing money left and right as tunnel after tunnel bored deep into the planet. They were also frustrated because none of the workers ever noticed the problems and so they had to chase down the tunnels daily themselves; however, on a planet this large, they never seemed to find the errors until the tunnels with the problems were incredibly deep. When the contactor reached the point of going bust, they brought in some experts to test the equipment in an effort to demonstrate that it was the planet causing the trouble. They showed the results of their tests to the owner’s representative and, after intense negotiations; she agreed to pay for enough of their overruns to prevent a loss on the project.

 

The contractors were relieved that they would not go bankrupt on this job and begged the owner’s representative to sign a non-disclosure agreement so they would be able to find work in the future. Never had they had so much trouble with terraforming a planet. This place now had some of the most extensive and deep tunnel systems ever. They were so glad to finish the job and leave that they did not notice that none of the workers ordered tickets for transport off the planet as was common after these types of projects.

 

The Matriarch felt bad that the contractors did not make any money; however, she was assured that they would receive some lucrative contracts in the future. She looked around at her new planet and smiled. Perhaps this would all work out. Perhaps …

 

 

Linthian Council Archives

 

In one of the basements of the Linthian Council, a rodent moved across the floor. It had a headache and its body was sore. It had never gone this far from home before and was a little scared. So far the trip was good because he had found lots of food so he kept going. He could smell the food nearby and he became excited. He jumped up on the equipment and felt his fur rising but the power of the food drew him on. He saw the food! He pounced on it and started to eat. It was delicious. After he finished, he realized he could not remember how to get home and his head started hurting even more. He felt a strong desire to move toward a small blue light. He stepped forward and electricity surged through his body and life left him.

 

The technician shook his head when he pulled the rodent out of the equipment. It was hard to believe that this little creature just destroyed the records of so much of Linthia’s wealth. Of course the amounts are not significant, so they say, because the government still has an incredible amount. Still, they don’t even have dust down here so how did this rodent even get in. He shook his head again and went back to work.

 

Qyerrw Ghetto

 

She was crying herself to sleep again. They were so mean to her every day. When she was a baby they said her eyes glowed so they put her in this cage and never let her out. She was now three standard years old and barely fit squatting. There were men who kept an eye on her all the time. They told her that she was insane and would kill people if they ever let her out.

 

Lately, she thought that they were right and that she was crazy. For many days now, late in the night, she would hear a voice calling to her and asking her where she was. It was hard to describe where she was because she was never allowed out of her cage and the light was poor. Besides, they beat her every day, especially if she spoke. The men also beat the woman who fed her. They said that the woman was her mom and that she must be evil to spawn such a creature. The woman came once a day and fed her. The woman would tell her how sorry she was that this was happening and would clean her up as much as she could through the cage. The woman would occasionally tell her that someday angels would rescue her and take her to heaven. She no longer believed the woman.

 

Today she the food was so bad that she spent the last parts of day throwing up. The men laughed every time she retched until the room smelt so bad they had to leave. She was glad they were gone but figured she would die soon as she was shaking uncontrollably. There was a noise across the room and she looked up at the sound. The wall opposite her started to shake and then fell down in pieces revealing a bright light. A beautiful woman walked through the light into the room. The beautiful woman was taller than anyone the girl knew and had bluish hair with a soft voice that she only heard in her mind. The voice told her to relax that help had arrived.

 

The men threw the huge door open and started to lift their weapons. Before they could act, the beautiful woman moved with unbelievable speed, throwing knives and other sharp objects at the men. The weapons ripped at their throats and they all fell to the ground. The woman stooped down and picked her up. She couldn’t believe her eyes as she realized that her mom was right and an angel had appeared. As she was being carried out, she saw her mom run into the room. The angel stopped for a moment and her mom looked at the angel and fell to her knees saying, “Thank you” over and over again as she wept. The angel took her out of the room and up into a ship.

 

When the ship was safely away from the planet, the woman picked up the comm and reported back to her controller. She spoke, “I have successfully extracted another one. She is weak and in bad shape but will recover. I have placed her in status and she will need to go straight to medical.” She sat back in her chair. She hoped her mother would be proud.

 

Across the galaxy,  J’Lopt stepped away from the comm and smiled. His daughter had earned her nickname – Angel.

 

Everything Must Balance

Everything Must Balance

The Watcher appraised his past as he contemplated his next steps. He was the last Kuli left in Tyria after the galaxy’s destruction and the expulsion of the Linthian system from normal space and time through the Galactic Tear. He had spent thousands of years watching the Galactic Tear for signs of the lost Linthians. The rest of the Kuli had taken the remnants of the galaxy, in cobbled together ships, across the gulfs of space to the eight nearest galaxies. The Kuli that came before him worked to prevent the destruction of the galaxy but failed. Ultimately, the end of life in the galaxy was due to the ministrations of the Great Deceiver and complicated by Kuli mistakes.

The Kulis’ last Supreme Guardian, J’Rontia, directed the remnants to seed the surrounding galaxies and do all they could to restore the Linthians to Tyrian space. During his watch of the Tear, he received the Journal of the Traitor and learned that a Deceiver’s apprentice lived and the Deceiver’s poison had spread across what was left of Linthia creating a violent and vengeful population that now considered themselves Thorlinthians.

When information came to him about an opportunity to remove the legacy of the Deceiver forever, he went deep into Thorlinthia to destroy the reconstitution chamber that allowed the evil and knowledge of the Deceiver’s apprentice to transfer to additional generations. His mission was a success and he was also able to terminate the use of an ancient archive of forbidden knowledge by exploding the device along with the reconstitution chamber. He knew his mission was a one-way trip and fully expected to die, probably after serious suffering at the hands of the Thorlinthians.

To his surprise, he was rescued by J’Rontia and her Soretto and then, for unknown reasons, was dropped onto this ship only to find that it was one of the seed ships tens of thousands of years in the past and in the middle of nowhere. This ship was the first seed ship finished and his command ship before he decided to be the Watcher and now it full of mysteries and dead crew men. After many primitive repairs, he finally had enough energy flowing so that he will be able to check the Captain’s log to find out why the ship is in such bad condition and so far in the past. Reading the log is not his only option and he could contact the Kuli of the time he was in for help; however, Tomli’s instructions were to do what “he” thought was best. So, with an understanding of the weight his decisions may have on the future he relaxed in the commander’s chair and connected with the computer and the captain’s log.

The captain’s log is very thorough in its descriptions of the planets that were seeded and in providing details on the disasters that befell the expedition at various points. The New Beginnings 8 was actually the first of the seed ships to be completed and the seed ship builders designed most of the on-board protocols for the long trips using this ship. It was good to see that the captain and the crew used the protocols, thus allowing him to understand the structure of the log.

His interest, at this time, was in how the ship ended up so far in the past and what happened to its crew. The thought of the crew caused him to stop his scanning of the log and he turned to the monitors. The command control center was a mixture of several battleship command control centers. They had taken them out of the original ships and set them up in the seed ships to control the section of the seed ship that was built from that particular battleship. The control centers were covered with monitors that allowed the user to see the various outputs as directed by the ship’s main computer. The ship’s main computer hooked all of the various computer systems from so many ships together and acted as a translation interface to a standard control room computer. This allowed for synchronized command and control through the use of seven pedestal interfaces in the primary control room.

Each of the seven pedestals has their own control orb to allow simultaneous control for separate components of the ship in a battle or planet seeding. Each of the pedestals was positioned in front of a hatch that covered a stasis pod. The control room was in the middle of the ship for protection and away from any escape modules. Thus, each operator had their own emergency stasis pod that they could enter in mere moments if the ship was in peril.

He told the computer, “Display the status of the stasis pods.” The monitor lit up with seven sections, each showing the status of one pod. He was surprised when he realized that six of the pods contained some sort of life form. “Display the information on the contents of the pods,” he commanded the computer. The monitors showed that the pods contained four Linthians and two Murhans. He asked the computer, “Display the Kuli energy levels.” The monitors now showed that all six were Kulis and two of them were Guardians, at least in their energy generation ability. It was exciting to know that some of the crew survived and that he may be able to learn a lot from them.

Each of the six outputs showed flashing symbols indicating that there was a problem. All six of the monitors showed errors on the recovery charges. This meant that he could not restore any of the people in the pods without replacing the recovery capacitors. To use external power would be extremely dangerous and if anything went wrong the occupants would die. He needed to replace the capacitors and recharge them.  Still, the monitors showed that they were safe for now.

He returned back to the Captain’s log and continued his search.  The results showed three sections of interest. The first was an extended stay in orbit around the last seed planet. Then there was a crisis on a nearby planet with an attack by the Thorlinthians, which he was sure dealt with the ships he saw from the Station. The third section of interest dealt with a time period after the crisis and consisted of the latest entries. The rest of the log was the largest and seemed to be rather boring data about the trips between seedings. He did tag the times in the log when the seedings occurred so that he could review those areas to form some idea of how successful the landings were.

He decided to target the area that he believed dealt with the Thorlinthian attack on the people called Fehmadadi by the Captain in his log. He told the computer which areas he wished to review and went into the kitchen to eat a snack while the computer was loading the Kuli reader. Kuli readers are rather fascinating devices as they match the data outflow to the user’s maximum brain processing ability. The ship still had his readings from before the destruction of Tyria and was almost done building the review when he stopped it. He had completely changed since he was this ship’s commander, especially after his visit from Tomli, and now his abilities needed to be diagnosed again.

It took quite a while on this huge ship to find where the diagnostic equipment was and even longer to set it up. The ship did not have day or night and he just ate when he was hungry and slept when he was tired. He could have set the timekeepers for days and nights but he could neither find a reason why nor could he decide what system to set the clocks by. So, he just went by feel and made sure that each waking cycle had time set aside for appropriate exercise and studying. During his search for the diagnostic equipment, he had traveled through almost the entire ship. It was sad to see the number of crew members that lay dead everywhere. At first he thought to move them and proceed with proper disposal; however, after doing that with three of them he realized that the people in stasis had not done that and there might be a reason. So, he only moved those who were in areas of the ship where he now had life support running as they would decompose. They were moved to the nearest area of the ship with no life support and a note was left on them indicated exactly where he found them. Every day brought more mysteries.

The diagnostic was not a fun process and usually Kuli only did this three times. The first time usually was when they became an apprentice, unless they were a Soretto who processed through their Kuli. The second time ordinarily was after they graduated and became a Kuli. After that is was mostly at the times when they were promoted due to a better understanding of the lifeforces, such as when one would become a Guardian, a Healer, or other major change. There were also other more exotic reasons to use the equipment, such as preparation for a core build to use for reconstitution, preparation for certain surgeries on the brain, and other times when the entire body’s input/output system needed to be measured with extreme accuracy.

These tests are not often given by the individual being tested as they can be very disruptive to the nervous system and may leave a person incapacitated for an unknown period of time. Unfortunately, he had little choice. Using a properly attuned reviewer, he could skim through the tremendous amount of data in the Captain’s log in minutes and review only the areas he needed in perhaps one or two sleep cycles. Without the synchronization, he might take up to a standard year to find only part of what he needed and, for some reason, he felt that he needed to work as fast as possible.

The equipment was in one of the medic offices and, after a small snack, he settled into the examination chair. He attached the connectors to his naked body with care. He then strapped himself in and adjusted the pressure to the highest level he could tolerate. He knew from previous experience that the process would not be fun and that the body, on occasion, revolted on its own. Naturally, as a Kuli, he would attempt to control his body throughout the tests; however, only a few Supreme Guardians had enough control to prevent the body from responding on its own. Of course, that is also part of the testing.

He hesitated before pushing the start button. Pain is always different when you know what is coming. He pushed the button and time stood still. This diagnostic was different from before and it seemed that the tests went on forever. He had taken some of the tests before and mainly reacted to the probes. This time he was able to anticipate and prepare his body for most of the trials and responded quickly enough to negate the worst of the body’s reactions in all other cases. His new understanding of his body and the world around him allowed him to finish the tests without losing control once. He stepped out of the chair astonished with how much he had changed. The diagnostics showed that he had the instincts and abilities of a Supreme Guardian but with the lowest training level on the charts for a Supreme Guardian. He would have to find some of the Supreme Guardian training and fit it into his schedule. He smiled a rather mischievous smile and silently thanked Tomli followed by J’Rontia and her Soretto. They believed in him before he believed in himself.

Back in the control room, the new data was fed into the interface and it adjusted for his updated abilities. He started with the “Fehmadadi” incident. The various data points flowed across his mind with the corresponding audio or video context, including advanced data analysis such as emotions from the Captain and crew entries. It was his most intense review he ever experienced and he began to understand why the Supreme Guardians were able to comprehend events at such a greater depth. The story was both fascinating and frightening as he came to realize how vulnerable the nearby seed colony was.

He turned off the review and leaned back in his chair as he contemplated what he had learned. The pieces did not all fit together but he did learn enough to understand how the seed ship ended up in the past. The ship seeded the planet called Terira but there was a problem with the seeding. It turned out that there were already Murhans on the planet and had been for a long time, although they did not have all of the advanced genetics the current Murhans had. In addition, there was a race from the planet with the same DNA ancestry of the Murhans that evidence showed developed on the planet. He was not sure how this was possible as the Murhans supposedly developed in the Galactic Wing of the Tyrian galaxy.

He understood why the ship’s crew would want to spend time there to resolve the issues the DNA brought up. Still, the Kuli running the ship did not have the answers when they left Terira and something about the whole situation stirred an old memory that he could not quite grab on to. He queried the part of his brain where the Tomli memories came from but there was no recognition or vision that came forth. His curiosity demanded answers that were not forthcoming. The temptation to review the logs about Terira was huge, but his present needs demanded that he move on with the information he had already found.

He summoned the computer and asked, “Consider the coordinates from the log that I highlighted and access all archives the ship is connected to and find any related histories.” He went off to the kitchen and ate some troger root. When he returned, the computer had the data ready and there was only one entry about the area in question. The entry had limited information as the complete entry had a security block. What was being shown indicated that the entire section of Galaxy 8 where Terira was located had been marked off limits by the Linthians long before the Murhans separated from them genetically. He tried to access the restricted information but the data was not on the local archives and he was too far out for a system connection. He could use a hype connection, except that they had security protocols that he was thousands of years out of date with, in the reverse.

He went back over the Captain’s log on the Fehmadadi incident. The seed ship had found a perfect planet for seeding, the third planet, and entered the solar system. As they entered, they recognized that the fourth planet was already populated. The planet’s occupants, who called themselves Fehmadadi (pronounce using Linthian standard phonemes), came out to greet them near the seventh planet. The Fehmadadi thought they were returning to visit their planet and welcomed them as old friends.

The confusion continued when they reached the planet. Across most of the planet were extremely primitive settlements of Murhans and other related peoples. The Fehmadadi introduction shows that the seed ship settled in orbit around the third planet for thousands of standard years. It did not contain the information on the exploits of the ship, its crew, and why they stayed although that is in another section of the logs. On the other occupied planet in the system, the Fehmadadi were not silent but did not interfere as they believed in a hands-off approach to other life forms. The Fehmadadi were a private people who explored the galaxies for information only and did not interact much with the people of Terira or any other planet, until the visit to Thorlinthia.

He remembered, when he was at his station back in Tyria, how the Fehmadadi accidentally went through the Galactic Tear to Thorlinthia.  When they came back out they were being pursued by what later turned out to be Thorlinthians. The home defenses were able to repel the little ships that came but the thought that more would come was difficult for the Fehmadadi and they did not have the mental aptitude for war preparations. They asked their friends, the Kuli, for help.

The Kuli had notice the skirmishes and recognized the Thorlinthian technology as an offshoot of Linthian.  The voice recordings from the Fehmadadi ships of the Thorlinthians also showed a language that was closely related to Linthian. When they examined the damaged components of the Thorlinthian ships it became obvious that the equipment was Linthian based but had many pieces of banned technology in it. The crew searched their on-board archives and came up with the Journal of the Traitor as it had been retransmitted by himself as The Watcher.

They explained to the Fehmadadi what they knew about the Thorlinthians and reviewed the resources at hand. There was no way out except to turn their economy to war and prepare for the Thorlinthian attack that was sure to be coming. The Fehmadadi refused and indicated that they would rather die than turn their society into a war machine. They had many advanced skills but refused to consider an option that would change their fundamental nature.

The Kuli explored many defensive options with them and came to the conclusion that the technology the Thorlinthians possessed would surpass any defensive stance they could take. The Kuli sent a shuttle back to Tyria to see if any help was available and then set about working on the only answer they could find – the preservation of a small group of Fehmadadi through the use of a temporal lever.

The mathematics of a temporal lever is a bit beyond his current training in space-time but he understood the fundamentals. For every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction. This axiom works in all dimensions of space-time. The Kuli decided to eliminate all evidence of their presence on Terira and to help the Fehmadadi use a temporal lever to send some of their people into the future in the hope that the calls for help will be answered in time to save at least part of their race.

The Kuli knew that they were not supposed to use a temporal lever as it was forbidden technology. Still, the only other choice would be to allow an entire civilization to fall. They sent their request for help and proceeded with their plans, hoping against hope that help would arrive in time. It didn’t.

The Kuli withdrew all of their members from Terira to work on the project and left a group of trained Terira members to continue the lifeforce schooling for the peoples of Terira. The original crew of the seed ship had grown many times as they all had families. For this project, the families were left on Terira and the crew worked with the Kuli to help the Fehmadadi build the lever.

The theory of a temporal level is simple, to go forward in time, an equal amount must go back in time. The Kuli of the seed ship and the crew were dedicated to the preservation of life and volunteered to go back in time. The ship had the main stasis pods in the control room and they also had the sleep chambers from the original journey in the back. The sleep chambers were inexpensive stasis pods that were not designed for more than one use so they needed to be restored to their original state. Part of the crew went to work on rebuilding enough of the sleep chambers for the crew to use.

Their plan was simple. In order to send a small group of Fehmadadi forward in a self-contained city, they would have to send the seed ship back in time. The formula is extremely complex but the underlying logic is simple. Mass times distance in one direction must equal the mass times distance in the other. Then, there is the rather significant matter of opening a portal and providing momentum for the journey. Based on the technology from the first assault, it was believed that the Thorlinthians would use a form of nuclear bomb to destroy the cities of the Fehmadadi. They built the lever right near a city so that they could use the energy from the blast to open the portal and provide the momentum. This plan fit with their desire to wait until the last possible moment in case help did arrive.

The plans called for the Fehmadadi to go forward one hundred local years and to move in space to near where the solar system will be at that time. The seed ship was to go back in time approximately six hundred standard years and would move into an unknown area of space in a direction that balanced the equation for the Fehmadadi. The sleep chambers had been design for one sleep of up to one thousand standard years so they should have plenty of capacity to park the ship, go into stasis for six hundred years, and come back into the system right after they left. One group worked on the weapon systems to see what they would be able to help with when they returned. Most of the weapons had been left in Tyria and as a seed ship it was only armed with defensive weapons and shields. The group was planning on gutting the ship where possible and using as many materials as they could for building offensive weapons. The outlook was not very positive but based on the weapons in the scout ships, they were pretty confident they would be able to defend their own ship.

He had skipped a lot of the data dealing with the years of preparation; however, two things became very clear. First, they were not able to fabricate offensive weapons. Second, the Fehmadadi refused to build any offensive weapons. Still, they did manage to greatly increase the number of defensive weapons and the planet may be able to hold of the attack until help came.

The temporal lever was completed less than one standard year before the Thorlinthians arrived. Once the lever was finished, they started working on disguising the seed ship and the Fehmadadi city that was to be moved. They had barely finished when the Armada arrived. When they saw the size of the ships and the number in the Armada, they knew they had miscalculated. In addition, the technology they were looking at was thousands of years improved over the scout ships they had seen before and their defenses would not hold. As the Watcher, he understood how the time difference through the Tear can be confusing to those in normal space/time.

He took note of the exact time of the attack by the Thorlinthians. His son used/will use the information to sneak into the past and rescue two Fehmadadi, not knowing that an entire city was being rescued. He pondered for a moment the intricate threads that wove together throughout these events to make a web that continued to draw important people into the continuing story that was the Tyrian disaster.

The crew took their positions as did the Fehmadadi in their city. All of their plans for the temporal lever were about to come to fruition when the Thorlinthians surprised them again. The Thorlinthians brought an Armada with over 200 ships, including one that was a forbidden judgment ship. The Kuli did not have enough power to support the jump without external power and as the Thorlinthians attacked it was clear that they planned on something other than dropping bombs. First, the Thorlinthians deliberately destroyed all of the defenses that the Fehmadadi set up. It was as if fire raged across the sky for days in their local time. The Fehmadadi civilization learned quickly that all that they were or ever would be now rested with the temporal lever.

The battle raged on as the Fehmadadi defended their homes with the courage of champions. As the last defenses fell, the Captain of the Kuli seed ship reviewed his monitors with a grim expression on his face. All of his emotions were recorded in the log and the Watcher could feel the anger and frustration rushing through him. The Thorlinthians had plenty of conventional weapons and did not need the judgment ship. The hatred could almost be tasted after the mental broadcast from the Thorlinthians. He wanted to radio the Fehmadadi city in the lever to let them know what was about to happen but that might have drawn the interest of the attackers. Once the Captain realized what was about to happen, he only had time to tell his crew, “Prepare for a long jump and a rough ride.”

The Captain and his control room staff knew what was about to happen and they could do nothing about it. The judgment ship used a forbidden technology known as Glascing. The technology was forbidden for many reasons but one was its use of unstable power sources intermixed with lifeforce. There was no way to calculate the amount of energy to be released and this completely changed the temporal lever’s effects. The amount of energy that would now be absorbed by the opening of the portal was beyond control and their previous destinations were now a joke with no humor.

The Watcher hooked back up to the computer to review the jump once more in regular time. He was connected to the Captain’s input channels. The Captain tasted fear in his throat as thoughts swirled in his head about being tossed into a star or too close to a black hole or any number of other situations that could extinguish all life on his ship. When the Glascing happened, the energy released was over one thousand times what their computations had showed for a nuclear bomb. The transition into the portal was smooth but the massive energy release threw them tens of thousands of years into the past and off course into the abyss between galaxies. The last thoughts of the Captain before he blacked out concentrated on the Fehmadadi and if they survived their thrust forward in time.

The Watcher unhooked from the computer and sat back again to consider what had happened. The condition of the ship made more sense with this information as did the number of dead crew members he had found all over the ship. Plus, the sleep chambers would not have been able to withstand the energy that flowed with the Glascing in the unshielded parts of the ship and even in the shielded areas the electromagnetic forces would have shorted out the controllers on almost all the chambers, not to mention the destruction to the ship’s engines, life support, and defensive systems from the huge, high intensity energy waves. The same was true of any living things in areas of the ship with limited protection eliminating the hydroponic atriums and other live foods as the Glascing destroyed all unprotested life forms. Any of the crew who did not die immediately would likely have perished before help arrived as there were only six in the protected command center at the time of the Glascing.

The Watcher had witnessed the energy waves that had flowed out of the system from his station near the Tear when the monitoring devices laid by the seed ship sent him their data. He also received some information from his son’s trip, although his son did not yet understand the time dimensions he traversed with wormholes in the experimental ship he used so he did not have the equipment set to record properly. There are very good reasons for all of the Linthian decisions to ban research in certain areas and that ship was full of banned technologies. Not that it really mattered. His son did as was expected and even brought new Kuli to the station, even if only for a short time. His son’s performance ranked up there with some of the best Kuli and he did not have anywhere near their level of training. On the first diagnostic his son took, his skill was up there in the range of Guardians and he was still getting better. His mother felt that he could reach the level of Kuli such as J’Rontia and she was seldom wrong.

He refocused his mind on the present and reviewed the events to calculate time. J’Rontia and her Soretto had fought and slept for over seven thousand years before they died. He had been The Watcher for over fifteen thousand years when the Thorlinthian Armada surged forth to exterminate the Fehmadadi dragging their time distorting fields with them making any relationship to real time impossible to calculate exactly. He was sure that they fixed the time leakages in later models; however what came through the Tear for the invasion of Fehmadadi pulled the fabric of the anti-verse with it. All his calculations indicated that they went about two to four thousand years in Terira’s past when this happened. It must have been a shock when the Thorlinthians returned to the Terira system to find out how much time had passed while they were gone since they thought that time dilation only happened on their side of the Tear.

The Watcher’s calculations brought him to the conclusion that the ship had been drifting for over six thousand years and those in the stasis pods must have known the capacitors would run out long before they made it back. It was time to figure out what to do with this ship and then get to work. He smiled a rather mischievous smile as he considered his options.

The remote space dock he approached seldom had visitors. The repair facility was built during an earlier war when the Linthians needed their ships fixed as close to the battle front as possible. After the war, the facility was sold to a private ship builder who kept a skeleton crew on board and made a respectable profit. The operators of the remote space dock ran a check on the credentials given by the strange ship with the Kuli Central Command. Instead of an instant approval or denial coming up on their monitor as usually happened, they received an audio contact. “Please describe the ship’s model and manufacturer along with their system of registry” the voice commanded. The two operators looked at each other and the bearded one answered, “The ship corresponds to no known model and has no registry. The Commander said to tell you, if you did not approve the repairs, to contact Supreme Guardian Tomli and let him know that the two the Commander was asked two save are alive but one needed serious medical attention.”

The pause on the other side was long and the operators were starting to worry when their screen lit up with the message, “Approved. You can repair jump, minimum life support, essential electronics, one kitchen, one Captain’s Cruiser upgrade, and stasis capacitors only! This is an eyes only – no paperwork and the repairs are to be done by drones and robots only. All billing will go directly to the Kuli High Command.” The operators’ eyes widened as they checked the list from the Commander. The two lists matched exactly and yet they had not transmitted the specific requests. Who and what was on this ship?

The Watcher smiled as the approval details came in. He could hear the fear in the operators’ voices as he communicated with them about the repairs. They definitely wanted him out of the dock as soon as possible but knew he would be there a long time. They also kept his bay completely closed so that no one even knew he was there which saved him from asking. It was amazing how Tomli just knew. He wondered once again how all the threads fit together. The smile returned and he went back to work.

The repairs took two standard years. All the main external engines were now working making a jump easy. The stasis pods took the longest to repair as the capacitors he needed had not been invented yet. He had to remove one from the unused pod and send it to the Kuli High Command so they could prepare specifications to send to one of their manufacturers who now had the most advanced capacitors in the galaxy. He smiled as he wondered if Tomli was the one who selected the manufacturer receiving the job.

He had expected a visit every day from one of the Kuli but it never happened as the ship was repaired and now it was time to go. He fired the engines and prepared to move out of his bay. The exit was perfectly timed so that no one would be in the vicinity and his mood sobered as his lonely existence was about return once more. It is true that the conversations with the operators were brief and that they did not talk about anything except what was absolutely necessary. Still, they were people and he did speak with them. Now he was back to being The Watcher, this time of an almost dead ship that he still didn’t know for sure what to do with.

Later, the Watcher turned his viewer toward the space dock and watched as it disappeared off the monitor. He had left any vestige of civilization behind as he moved out into the void between Tyria and Galaxy 8. He had just sat back to consider his next move when his proximity alarms went off.

The viewer showed an experimental ship that J’Rontia had taught him about. The ship had special characteristics and perfect stealth capabilities but poisoned its crew so it was banned. Yet here it was in front of him. He brought his ship to a halt as the strange craft matched his movements. He was wondering how he would be boarded when a beautiful woman appeared right in front of him.

She was as tall as he was and looked very much like his wife. The thoughts brought tears to his eyes as he realized how much he missed her since she died. The woman in front of him smiled as her thoughts drifted across his mind calming his sorrow and enlightening him. This was J’Rontia mother and she was very pleased with the help he gave her daughter. Knowledge flowed from her directly into his mind and he became overwhelmed rapidly so she switched to speech for a while to let him catch up.

“It is good to finally meet the famous “Watcher” in person,” she said with a huge smile that warmed him to the core. She reached over and gave him a huge hug that brought tears back to his eyes. She stepped back a bit and went on, “My missions required me to know some of what you have done and will do. This made me the perfect person to contact you about your current mission and to answer what questions I can.”

The Watcher asked, “What am I supposed to do with this ship?” She looked at him and said, “You already know the answer to that.” He thought a moment and then nodded that he did and continued, “Okay. How do I move this ship into the future and what do I do about the Thorlinthians?” She smiled one of those devious smiles and said, “A much better question. Or shall I say two?” After a short pause she continued, “The ship needs to go back to the Terira system and remain hidden until one of the Matriarch’s warriors finds it.” She let him think about that for a moment and then went on, “You are to take the ship to the Rotrum Black Hole and use the Schripi anomaly to move forward in time.  It will not take you all the way but it will take you past when the fourth planet was shattered and its life snuffed out by the Thorlinthians.”

He told her he understood and asked some basic questions about how to calculate the entry into the anomaly and other related items, such as where he might hide the ship from the Thorlinthians when they come to occupy Terira. Then he grew very serious and asked her, “How do you handle knowing so much from various times and fitting them all together?” Her whole attitude changed and she answered, “I do not try to put any of it together. I once asked Tomli for a huge favor and he granted it at great expense to himself and his plans. My promise was to do as he and his wife, my mother, asked without questions until I die.”

The Watcher was shocked and he asked, “What favor could be so big that you would give up your life?” Her face brightened pleasantly as wonderful memories flew through her mind and she said, “J’Rontia! Would you not give your life for her?” He immediately answered, “Without hesitation and only my own child could come before her!” She smiled a sweet smile and reached out and touched his forehead. She transferred many memories to him of J’Rontia’s childhood and some of what she has done recently. She stepped back as a sad smile stretched across her face, then she vanished. He wished she had stayed longer but with all of these new memories to enjoy he would not be lonely for a long time.

Two standard years later, he was at the Schripi anomaly trying to finish the calculations for his trip to the future and the numbers did not work out. He must have something wrong and he could not figure it out. He reviewed all that she had told him and realized that at one point she had told him he would find out one of the pieces in due time. Well, it was time and he had not found out what the missing piece was. He decided to relax and try to get some sleep.

The vision came in the night. Tomli smiled at him over a drink in the Rsroter café in old Linthia. The café was surrounded by clouds and it floated in orbit around the planet always keeping the setting sun in the windows. He loved the view and had wanted to go there for years. Tomli asked, “Why do you ask questions you know the answer to?” He struggled to reply as he did not think he knew the answer. Finally he said, “I guess I did not recognize that I had the answer.” “Excellent reply,” Tomli said. He continued, “When you received messages as the Watcher on the station, did you receive any that would help now to complete your mission.” He sat up in bed as he awoke with the answer: balance. He was both excited and sad as he hated to leave such a great dream.

The computer asked, “What do you mean?” He was having little luck explaining what he needed. He tried again, “I need you to extend the formula to include the opposite effect on the anomaly.” The computer answered, “How will you generate the opposite effect?” He relaxed as the computer finally understood. “I want to use the Captain’s Cruiser. We can program to travel as we wish and it can go backwards in time as this ship moves forward.” The computer hesitated for a moment as billions of calculations flew through the system and then it said, “You will be sending it far into the past where its technology has not been invented. This is a violation of the Tommotrion Law and my programming will not allow me to do that.”

This could be a problem he thought. And then it came to him, “Your existence and this ship’s in this time line is already a violation of the law and we will be correcting that. Which is more likely to cause a conflict, a secure ship in the past or this ship in the present?” The computer answered, “This ship and the technology it contains, such as myself. I see your point and my programming will allow that if you use a secure encryption from the Kuli to lock down the Captain’s Cruiser.” The Watcher smiled and said, “No problem.”

Two sleep cycles later he was settling the ship into the atmosphere of a gas giant to await its discovery by one of the Matriarch’s warriors. He wondered who the Matriarch was and decided that this was a good time for some more Supreme Guardian training. Fifty standard years later, he decided he had enough training for a while and needed to go into stasis himself as he waited for the ships discovery. Before he entered stasis he broadcast a final message toward Tyria. He remembered when he was working at the station and intercepted the cryptic messages and wondered who sent them, he never thought it was himself. He had been sending messages regularly, although this last message was simple and would provide a memory when he needed it. It read, “Everything must balance. End.” He entered the stasis pod and smiled as it dropped into the floor.

 

 

On a lonely station, in a decimated galaxy, a lone man reviewed the message he just received. Like the ones before it over the past fifty years it made no sense. He assumed the “End” meant he would receive no more. He smiled. The messages had started coming just when he was about to give up his mission. He thought he was the only one left and had decided to just quit the deep-sleep and all the rejuvenation treatments and let nature finish the job with age. The messages gave him hope and he now knew he could continue on as The Watcher. He smiled more as he walked toward the deep-sleep chamber content with the duty he had given himself.

 

 

On a lonely, forgotten planet beyond the edge of the galaxy in a cavern the message was received by the ancient computer and a program was triggered. The program awoke a very old man. He reviewed the message and smiled through his wrinkled face that was wet with tears. Finally, it was almost time. He went across the room to a communications station and sat down. When the equipment had warmed up, he composed and sent a message to a number of locations, including into the deepest and darkest region of the universe where nothing existed. It read, “Everything must balance. Begin.”

She awoke from stasis a bit confused at first and then saw the message on her monitor. The message read, “Everything must balance. Begin.” Tomli, who supposedly was dead, sent her a message just before the end of the war to go into hiding and to use the long sleep stasis to protect her abilities. He had told her she would be needed in the future and what to program the ship’s computer to look for.

The computer finally received the message it was waiting for and woke her. She had been in the long sleep stasis for thousands of years and at first worried that her fitness was compromised. She went through her daily exercises and found that Tomli was right as usual. She had not lost any of her speed or abilities, although she probably could use more practice in some areas. Still, there is no one trained better than her as she had Matriarch and Kuli training. There were even fewer with her abilities, even the legendary grandsons could barely match her and they did not have her training. The thoughts reminded her of her famous niece, J’Rontia, and she wondered what happened to her and the rest of the family.

She reviewed her computer’s data feeds to see what the current year was and felt that she waited too long, but Tomli had assured her that the message would come when her Aunt needed her the most. She set her ship on a course for Galaxy 8 and started an intensive study and practice routine so she would be ready and up to date when she arrived.

 

 

The Matriarch reviewed the report with a growing sadness. Her forces were the best trained and most powerful soldiers ever. They performed exceptionally but her numbers were still dropping.  The birth rates were always low but their lifespans were longer than most and things had previously balanced. Now they no longer did. She had lived too long and seen too much. Her world was so dark and the Monarch only worked to darken things even more. She knew the dangers of the invasion they had planned. It would task her troops even more. She saw no light, no hope, and with her numbers dropping she felt the future fading away from her.

The door opened to her office opened and her secretary walked in. She said, “This just came in and it makes no sense. You said to bring you anything strange. It was broadband and picked up by one of the sensors you had us place outside the Bifrost. I reviewed all of the equipment settings and have no idea where it came from.” The Matriarch thanked her and took the message. It read, “Everything must balance. Begin.” One single tear hit the page. She walked to the window and straightened herself up. She spoke softly to no one, “Tomli, is it possible that you truly did plan for everything?” The sadness was still there when she turned back to her duties as she knew her job did not get any easier nor did the dark responsibilities belong to someone else but now she knew the others did not all die and at least one was on the way to help her.

 

Her Eyes are Glowing

Tyria’s Tears – Volume 1: The Chronicles of J’Rontia

Chapter 5: Her eyes are glowing

 

She was lying in the mud under the bushes on the south side of the bridge. The river was wide and very shallow with crystal clear water. The banks of the river were wide and the grass very short. The only change in the scene as far as you could see in either direction was the bridge. It was a cool morning that would probably turn into a very warm day if it followed the pattern of the past few days. She could hear the animals around her and watched one slither across her outstretched arm. The skin of the creature left a series of cuts on her arm and it burned with an intensity that would have a normal person screaming – she ignored it easily.

 

Her concentration centered on two main items. First, she needed to remain hidden and could not attract any attention. The second thing she concentrated on the bridge across the river. She had no choice but to cross it and it needed to be done without her being seen. She had been essentially invisible for thirteen days straight with almost no sleep or food and water was very scarce.

 

The bridge was a beautiful T’Noorse design with a high curve for the main supports that utilized a simple triplex structure that looked as if it would blow away in a light breeze. The design left almost no spots for concealment and she quickly spotted someone trying to cross using shadows and a customize camouflage uniform that matched the surroundings.

 

She was one of the candidates in this challenge and they all were required to use one of the new camouflage uniforms during at least one stage of the contest. The uniform’s controls were keyed to the user’s brain’s electromagnetic field and required intensive concentration during its use. The uniform was not being adjusted fast enough to compensate for the changes in the light due to cloud cover. The monitors of the contest found the candidate and tagged them. The candidate dropped from the bridge into the river and walked off visibly distraught.

 

The candidate had come up with a great plan but it ran into a flaw. She had experience with that and was reminded of a playground incident when she was three. Once a day her mother would take her to the city park. They lived three blocks from the park and her mother always walked her. She loved the last two blocks they walked to the park because they were along a wall. The park had a wall completely around it that was made of natural stone infused with a myriad of colors and she enjoyed watching the light reflecting off of the various colors and designs as they walked along.

 

Once in the park, you could see just about every type of tree the planet had and most of the animals. She loved to go stand by the wild wall. Beyond the wild wall were the dangerous animals in a natural habitat and she could easily spend half of her day there watching. Still, her favorite area of the park was the playground. The playground was near the wild wall so that kids could go back and forth as little kids like to do. She was one who enjoyed running back and forth while she was there. Watching the dangerous animals was the most interesting when the Yurestors came out to the front of the habitat. They would eat anything, including any of the other dangerous animals. So when they showed up there was usually a fight. What made them so interesting was that they were one of the smallest animals in there but they would attack even the largest as a pair or a group depending on what they were attacking. They somehow thought they could win against anything and they often did. It was fascinating to watch them, even if it was a bit gruesome.

 

The playground item she had the most fun on was the sling. You sat in a flexible mesh that would conform to your shape and size and then you used child thrusters to swing back and forth in all directions. Parents could recharge the thrusters at the entrance to the playground and controlled a child’s time on the sling by how big a charge was put into the thruster. Of course you could drop the thruster and then you lost the rest of your turn.

 

She loved to use the thruster to swing the sling back and forth until she was swinging as high as possible. She loved the heights and the view was even better. She liked to swing as high as she could to see across the entire park and the bridge beyond. She remembered that day when the incident happened as if it were yesterday. The day was warm with a cool breeze and you could smell the water from the nearby lake when you breathed deeply enough. On that day, the sun was at the perfect height so that the light bounced off of the bridge in a dazzling array of colors.

 

She was on the swing enjoying the view of the bridge when people started running toward the wild wall. The Yuretors had just appeared and the crowd was gathering to see what they would do. She adjusted her thruster so that she was swinging in the direction of the wild wall and she could see inside but not the Yurestors. So she increased the thrust and swung higher – it was still not enough.

 

She was a very clever girl and figured complex things out rapidly. She knew how the thrusters control the pressure they used to move the swing and so she removed the pressure controls and turned the thruster on maximum. It was very hard to hold on to the thruster when it was pushing at maximum power but she was able, somehow, to increase her strength and held on without dropping it.

 

She could see the Yurestors at the height of her swing and they were pacing and looking for food. She heard her mother tell her that she was too high and needed to back off. She decided to do as she was told but then it happened. A child had climbed up on the shoulders of another to get a better view and he fell over the wild wall on to the grass in front of the Yurestors.

 

She knew what would happen and also knew that she had to do something. At the maximum height of her next swing she just jumped out of the sling without even thinking about it. She flew through the air in a spinning ball on a path toward the Yurestors. As she started to come down her arc she stretched out feet first and landed on the back of one of the Yurestors snapping its spine. She bent down as she ran toward the next Yurestor and picked up a rock off of the ground. The Yurestor started to snarl and moved toward her. She did not slow down as she threw the rock directly into the teeth of the Yurestor. It hit with a force no one would think possible for a three year old girl, even a very strong one. The Yurestor’s teeth shattered and it stopped its charge in agony.

 

She ran past the creature and picked up the little boy. She ran with him to the wild wall as she realized she had no plan to get out. She started to feel fear as she neared the wall and realized the mistake she had made. She wondered if that was how the candidate on the bridge felt when that plan collapsed. She felt sad for them because they had to face the consequences alone. She did not face her mistake alone in the park.

 

Her mother suddenly appeared next to her and handed her a rope. Her mother then turned to battle the creatures that were moving in to have a bit of lunch. Someone in the crowd hauled her and the child she was holding up to safety as her mother engaged with some of the fiercest animals on the planet. Once the children were safe the rope was thrown back down to her mother.

 

The crowd was full of people in various stages of panic. Some were screaming, others crying, some were working hard to help, and most were just standing there looking around in shock. Her mother appeared next to her and she heard a young boy in the crowd say, “Mom. Her eyes are glowing!” She looked at her mother and saw the glow but saw much more as she realized that she was in huge trouble.

 

Her mother had blood all over herself plus cuts, scratches, and even a few deep gouges from her battle. But the scariest things were the looks others were giving her as more voices were saying, “Her eyes were glowing.” The local authorities arrived and her mother was taken aside for medical attention as statements were taken.

 

Many people came up and told her how brave she was and thanked her for what she did. Almost all of them looked hard and long at her eyes and as she looked back she saw fear in some of the eyes that looked so intently at her. Finally one of the authorities, a very nice old man, came and took her away from the crowd. He leaned over and asked her quietly, “When do you turn four years old?” She answered, “In three months.” He stood back up and smiled as he said to her, “That is good and I can work with that.”

 

No one had been allowed to leave the park during the taking of statements and the nice old man gathered everyone together near the entrance where the other authorities had been blocking any one from entering or leaving. Her mother came and stood by her near the back of the crowd. She smiled sweetly with only a little of the anger in her face from earlier. The old man started to speak, “Every once in a while extraordinary events transpire and people do extraordinary things. Today we were fortunate to have a couple of extraordinary people in the park who were able to assist a citizen in great need.” He paused and the crowd clapped and shouted thanks.

 

The old man went on, “I just got off the com with the Central Offices of Special Schools. I was able to bypass all the normal red tape, due the skills demonstrated today, and obtain admission to Special Schools for our two newly discovered talents. The wonderful young girl will leave in three months on her fourth birthday and her mother has been accepted into a program that starts one week after that.” The crowd cheered and clapped again. The old man continued, “This is a huge plus for our community as we will be eligible for discovery credits and I will work with these two to decide how we will spend the additional funds to best benefit the community and to leave a honor monument here in the park for their help today. Please let’s give our heroes one more thanks before we clear the park.” The crowd clapped and most came over and thanked her and her mother before they left.

 

That night her mother told her about the Special School she would be attending. She explained how hard it would be and how she wanted her to be the best she could and always try to be near or at the top of her class. The memory of the conversation made her smile although she was also a little sad as she reflected on how much she missed her parents.

 

Today, she was in one of the most critical assignments of her school. Only the top candidates were allowed to come to this restricted planet to take this test and she was the top of her class. The final part of their exercise was to infiltrate the building across the river and make it to the judges’ room undetected. So far, only three of forty-two candidates were still undetected. In the history of the school, only one person ever made it all the way on the first try. It was believed by the instructors that Tomli’s feat would never be duplicated and yet all of the candidates, except two, made bets that they would be the ones to match the feat. She didn’t bet but she had no intention of failing.

 

She moved back through the city away from the bridge to an area of the town that was dark and narrow with alleys and questionable characters on every corner soliciting anything you want. After changing into vagrant clothing she blended with the citizens wandering the streets. She located a delivery vehicle and fell into the gutter near the truck.

 

She laid in the gutter for a few minutes and, as one would expect for that area of the town, no one seemed to care or notice. When it appeared safe she rolled under the vehicle and pulled herself up into the undercarriage. It was a long morning under the vehicle. The dust and heat combined with the stress of hanging off a narrow track for half a day would have caused any normal candidate to give up or drop. She was not a normal candidate and so far had mastered every challenge they gave her. As the sun went past noon, the vehicle finally crossed the bridge to deliver on the other side of town.

 

After a while, the vehicle rolled through a narrow alleyway and stopped at a store. She dropped down and rolled to the curb. She came up beside a garbage collector and carefully checked for city cameras – there were two. Both of the cameras were blocked by the delivery vehicle so she took off the vagrant clothes, threw them in the trash, and activated her camouflage uniform.

 

She didn’t like the technology but they were required to use it for part of the course. She only had a short distance to go so she had to use it now. The idea that you would trust your life and possibly the lives of others to a technology that could break instead of using your own skills made her uncomfortable. However, candidates with lower ratings seemed to find comfort in the technology. When she slid around the corner she saw her destination.

 

In the judges’ room, Tomli noticed the power outlet on the far wall disappear for a fraction of a moment and he smiled. He turned to the Head Judge and responded to his taunts by saying, “I said she would be here by sundown and she will.” The Head Judge, J’Grodit, laughed and shook his head. “Not possible,” he said. “When you completed this test, oh so long ago, we had a much different bridge and now the camouflage will not work there.” Tomli answered, “I did not use my camouflage to cross the bridge. I know you are not old enough to remember, but we were not allowed to use camouflage technology. Either way it does not matter, she can do it with or without camouflage.”

 

The J’Grodit put his hands up in frustration at the old man. He thought himself, “Tomli is starting to lose it,” and he, once again, considered his plans to have him removed from the managing board of the school. No one outside of the Kuli organization knew it but the number of candidates had been dropping and the number of candidates failing out of Kuli training was increasing. Soon this would be the only school left. As the Republic of Tyria grew and peace held, fewer and fewer children were tested for lifeforce abilities and it seemed weaker in those who did have it. Yes, the Galactic Wing would probably always test their children, but we only need one school to handle them. Tomli’s confidence in this candidate would be his undoing. He smiled as he thought of all the changes he could put into place once Tomli was out of the way. It is so much faster to train using technology instead of the “old” ways.

 

The J’Grodit turned to the window and stated, “The sun will set in five minutes and there is no sign of her out there. It is no longer possible for her to make it in a shorter time than you. Tomli responded, “She still has some time.” From the candidate stage a voice spoke, “I do not need more time.” J’Grodit turned form the window to see who spoke and surprise ran across his face along with anger and frustration.

 

J’Rontia stood on the candidate stage in full uniform that looked as if she had not done anything since the uniform came from the cleaners. J’Rontia continued, “Candidate J’Rontia reporting mission completed,” as she held out the thirteen markers they had to retrieve, all of which were cleaned and pressed as if new.” J’Grodit was so stunned he could not speak. Tomli said, “Well done. Let me inspect the markers.”

 

Tomli collected the markers and loaded them into the verifier. In a short time, the verifier lit all thirteen lights green. Tomli turned back to J’Rontia, bowed, and said, “Congratulations, Kuli J’Rontia.” J’Grodit, still not totally recovered, walked over and bowed in front of her also and said, “Yes. Congratulations, Kuli J’Rontia. We are very …” He paused for a moment and then went on, “impressed with your performance.” The other three judges came forward, made similar remarks as they bowed also.

 

J’Rontia said, “I am grateful for the opportunity to compete and thank all of you for your contribution to my training. I am honored to accept the title of Kuli that you are offering and will dedicate my life to making your investment in me worthwhile.”

 

Just as she was finishing a glass wall dropped between her and the judges. The door behind opened and three people ran into the room in full military armor shooting plasma guns at her. But she was not there. In the far corner of the glassed off part of the room she moved with lightning speed leaping into the air and taking the last  soldier around the neck with her legs. She squeezed her legs and rolled her body as she continued forward. The soldier’s neck snapped as she wrapped her arm around the next soldier’s neck, unhooked his helmet, and sliced his throat with a sharp finger nail.

 

While he bled to death, she reached for his plasma gun and pointed it at the back of the first soldier in the room and he melted before he could even turn around. She then rolled on the floor to turn back to the door in time to melt two more attackers and the grenades they were about to throw. She picked a grenade off one of her attackers and threw it through the door as she continued on to the wall next to the door just in time for the explosion in the hallway to move past her.  She pressed the security button on the wall near the door and huge protection panels dropped all around the building securing the facility from any additional assaults.

 

The glass panel rose slowly to the rest of the room as she stood once more on the stage. Tomli was by the wall with one of the judges dead at his feet near the control for the glass panel. He looked straight into the eyes of J’Grodit and said, “You have a lot to explain and I am not giving you much time to do it.” J’Grodit looked down and shook his head. Then he looked up at Tomli and pointed to J’Rontia and said, “She could only complete the trials if she was a KR mutant and we cannot have them in the Kuli ranks. You know how dangerous they are and if they achieve our advanced training no one will be able to stop them. You know what happened to J’Lopt when he had to stop one.”

 

Tomli shook his head in sadness as he said, “So the fear of the KR children exists in the Kuli ranks. I am disgusted. Now that you watched her in action what do you say?” J’Grodit commented slowly, “She only used Kuli techniques and I never saw her eyes glow.” Tomli answered back, “In the old days, many of us Kuli had eyes that glowed.” J’Grodit looked up sharply at the comment and burst out, “What!! I never heard that!” Tomli looked at him and his eyes started to glow and J’Grodit screamed as he put his hands over his ears.

 

Tomli stopped staring and continued, “The technique is one of the forbidden technologies that we no longer teach. The Kuli used the methods for thousands upon thousands of years and way before the KR children. We quit using the methods when some of the Supreme Guardians found out that it could damage bystanders as well as those you were aiming at. The damage in most cases was small enough that no one noticed right away; however, when they investigated they found that we were causing brain damage that lasted a lifetime, although in small amounts, in any who were standing nearby for more than a few moments. So, the methods were banned but the ability is there in all who can achieve the advanced levels. All Supreme Guardians discover that ability along with more as they connected with their body at a sub-molecular level during their final transition.”

 

Tomli paused to let everything sink in, and then he continued, “The KRs were not some super genetic experiment about combining DNA and other controlling elements from various creatures to create a hybrid entity. Yes, other creatures had their DNA or similar controlling elements combed to identify unique abilities such as excellent vision; however, we did not put their DNA in Murhans or Linthians, we used that to help us enhance what was already there or to identify the strands that allowed Murhans or Linthians to have the same. You see we found early on that Murhan and Linthian DNA had lots of unused and underutilized pieces, including some that were just turned off. Before you turn one on you need to know why evolution or whatever turned it off. We had trouble with the KRs because there were too many things turned on in the body and not enough in the brain to control them. They suffered from overload all too often. Once the brain was sped up, they did better but their life expectancy went way down due to the higher metabolism. Even Sorettos only helped to a small degree.”

 

Once again he paused. Tomli looked at J’Rontia and spoke again, “This young lady is now the exception for performance. She rates at the top of her class by a large margin and is the only one who will complete the challenge. Each year we have fewer candidates and we have a higher percentage that drop out. We need her more than ever.” He bowed and then turned back toward J’Grodit.

 

J’Grodit bowed his head in shame and quietly said, “I am ready to go before the Kuli Security Council and face my punishment.” Tomli answered, “No. Decree 815.67 gives the Supreme Guardians in the instance of a Kuli murder or attempted murder absolute authority.” J’Grodit’s eyes widened and he said, almost in a panic, “That is only in time of war!” Tomli calmly answered, “The Kuli Security Council declared the actions of the King a war 30 standard years ago.”

 

J’Grodit was pale and dropped to the floor. He pleaded with Tomli, “There has been no official declaration. Every thinks you are crazy about your theories of galactic war. There are more peaceful areas than ever in all recorded history. I do not believe you.” Tomli stared at him for a moment, a long moment, before he responded. Then he said, “Take your com and select command 12 and ask for directive 6a.35.” J’Grodit sat up and did as directed. When the results came back he slumped down and said, “I am sorry. I thought they said nothing because you were wrong. What will you do with us?”

 

Tomli looked at the three remaining judges and he said, “You will report to the Ghost in sector nine on platform A for combat training and deployment.” J’Grodit looked surprised once again and said, “The Ghost is real?” Tomli said, “Many things that seem real are not and many thing that are believed not to be are. The Guardian Kuli did not retreat, they only went under cover. The war is real and you will find out who is behind all of this when you get there.” He turned to three Kuli who just entered the room and nodded. The three judges were taken away.

 

Tomli turned to J’Rontia and said, “You are to take a hype globe and return to your Kuli training school immediately. Decide what you want in a Soretto and give the Guardian Kuli your parameters and do not deviate. You will graduate tomorrow and three days later I need you to leave for Hronthia. You are to travel through Sector 18 and stop to introduce your Soretto to our friend there. J’Rontia looked confused but said, “I will do as you direct.”

 

J’Rontia started to walk off and then turned back. Before she could speak Tomli held up his hand for her to be quiet. He took a device out of his pocket and turned it on. Then he smiled at her and said, “I know what you want to know. Yes. During the combat your eyes were glowing.” J’Rontia asked, “How did they not see that?” Tomli said, “I will teach you. Close your eyes and listen carefully with your mind.”

 

J’Rontia smiled when he was finished and said, “I never saw those pathways in my mind before.” Tomli grew very serious and told her, “Do not follow any without guidance. Until you have the understanding of a Supreme Guardian, you could damage yourself beyond repair.” She nodded her agreement. She started to turn away again and stopped once more. She turned back and gave him a huge hug. With a tear in one eye she walked to the door and then turned back once more and said, “Thanks grandpa.”

 

Tomli turned the device off and returned it to his pocket. He removed a gem from another pocket and placed it on the table. An image was projected in front of him. The person turned around and looked in his direction. They said, “Well?” Tomli answered, “I have kept my bargain. She passed the final test and is now a Kuli with the highest marks. She will graduate tomorrow.” The woman looked down for a moment and then looked back at him. She brushed her sea foam colored hair out of her face revealing some amber streaks. Her face was young but tired and she said, “I am so glad. I know that this was a huge drain on your time and I appreciate it.” Tomli smiled a very relaxed smile, one he hardly ever used and went to cut the communications. The woman said, “Wait!” He stopped his hand. After a short pause she looked up at him with a tear in one eye and said, “Thanks dad.” She cut the communications. He picked up the gem and returned it to his pocket.

 

Tomli brushed the tears out of his eyes and went to prepare for the darkness about to descend on the galaxy and people he loved so much.

 

Prologue – Morning Time

Tyria’s Tears – Volume 1: The Chronicles of J’Rontia

Prologue

The light seeped in through the cracks in my eyes and I knew that morning had arrived. It was irritating and I tried to ignore it and fall back to sleep. It is always a pain when you reach the point where you can now hear all the sounds in the area but you do not want to wake. The creak of the branches, the chirp of insects, and bubbling sound of the nearby brook all disturbed my peace. I wished I could turn off the noise and go back to sleep.

 

The night had been really short and my head had that thick feeling that comes with a lack of sleep. I thought about just staying there with my eyes closed but my body started to hurt. I could hear all the sounds and now feel all of the bumps, bruises, and cuts from the previous day. It was time to get up.

 

I opened my eyes to a brilliant orange sky with green clouds drifting in the distance. This was one of my least favorite planets and it irritated me immensely whenever I had to “visit” here. It was easy for me to say that they forced me to come here, because they did, but it would not be accurate. I always had the choice of letting them turn me off.

 

Others had tried to run, over the years, and they always were caught. Things did not go well for those who ran and when you can live for hundreds of years or more, you do not need a bad reputation, especially when the quality of your life revolves around your reputation. However, a while back they started offering to turn us off if we did not want to “cooperate” with them. Once they turn you off you can live a normal life.

 

I thought of the irony of living a normal life. Why would anyone give up half of their IQ or half of their strength? I know I would not feel normal if I did that. Yes, the rules I have to follow are difficult and totally unfair but I want to stay me and I understand their fear. So, I voluntarily visit and live on this horrible planet for my treatments and training.

 

I swung my feet off of the bed onto the ground and felt the small rocks against my feet. They were smooth and cool to the touch and small enough that it was not uncomfortable as I stood up. I pushed the button on the top of my bed and watched as it retracted into the low, stone wall without leaving any trace of its existence. I often wondered why there couldn’t be regular houses here and why everything had to hide the fact that it existed.

 

I walked over to the cliff and looked down. It was a long way down and the people on the beach below looked as small as ants as they moved along the water’s edge. This early in the morning was a poor time for a swim. The water was always cold and the air was not much warmed. The water also held any number of nasty creatures that would love to try and take a bite of anything considered alive. I gathered myself inward mentally while squatted down and took a deep breath. 

 

I expected my minders to yell or try to stop me but they didn’t. I jumped outward with all of my strength pushing my body out into the nothingness as I started the long decent down toward the water. I wondered what was going through the minds of those who watched me as I flew through the sky on a crash course with the beach.

 

I twisted my arms and attached the support wires to my hips. I then snapped my arms out and the webbing between my arms and my body filled with air. I spread my legs and allowed that webbing to expand bringing me from an almost full vertical into a horizontal position as I flew out over the sea.

 

I smiled as the sea breeze brought that sweet salt smell into my nose along with various odors of dead sea creatures. I could feel the warmth of an updraft and I rolled around to catch the uplift to extend my flight. I chased some birds and tempted fate with close passes along the cliffs. I loved to fly.

 

The inevitable finally came to pass and I landed on the beach with the knowledge that I enjoyed a few moments of total freedom here in my voluntary prison. I saw my minder standing nearby and smiling. As I walked over, I returned the smile and wondered how she tolerated her life. I would not want her job for all the money in the universe as I have enough trouble managing myself and can’t imagine what it is like for her to manage all of us.

 

She looked at me with tired but caring eyes and said, “I have some work you may be interested in.” I doubted it but asked her to continue. She said, “There is a galactic war coming and I need you to handle a very critical mission for me.” I could not help myself and I laughed. “War? You sound like Tomli. There aren’t even the hints of a war out there.”

 

She smiled sweetly while nodding her head the way mothers do when their child says something incredibly stupid that only a child could but that a mother can sympathize with. For some reason, I felt foolish and asked her why she thought a war was coming. She paused and then said, “What I need to know is if you are interested in undertaking a deep cover assignment that will last thousands of standard years.”

 

At this point I knew I was interested but I was a bit suspicious about why she would trust me. So I asked, “Why do you want me for this mission?” She said, “That is the correct question. Think about what I described. You live alone and perform alone – no Soretto and no madness. You leap off a cliff with complete trust in yourself and with no fear. This is a dangerous mission that will require someone who can live alone for thousands of years. I think you can do that.”

 

I was not surprised but not impressed either. There were a lot of people who could do that much. I told her to continue. “I need someone who can follow the exiles without them knowing and who is willing to undergo the deep sleep whenever the exiles are stationary. Communications will be by hype globe and that is why I need someone with KR design so they can resist the dangerous emissions.”

I smiled and said, “and …” She actually laughed and then turned serious with slight glow building in her eyes as she commented, “OK. I do need all of the above, plus I also need someone who can sit by and watch horrible things happening without interfering. Someone who can hold their feelings in check until the right moment for vengeance comes. Someone who is smart enough to do what needs to be done when there is no time to communicate and who can be patient when they do have orders.” She paused and then looked me in the eye and added, “I need you!”

 

I knew that she did not want to say all of that and that she hurt having no one else to turn to. I responded, “May I ask a price?”  She tipped her head to the side with that look that parents have when their child is doing something they are very suspicious about and said, “Yes. Within reason.”

 

I turned to the ocean and breathed deeply of the air to enjoy all of the scents. I could hear the roll of the waves and their crashing on the nearby rocks. I could feel the water run across my feet only to retreat in a while as the waves went in and out. After a few moments drifted by I turned back to see her patiently waiting, which must have been hard.

 

I smiled softly and yet seriously as I asked, “Can I have a daughter? I would like four years of normal life living with a child of my own and then I will do as you ask and never sway from the course.” Her eyes widened as she took in my request.  I could see the conflict in her as she considered what I was asking. She asked, “And after her fourth birthday?” I looked down at the ground and said, “I know that the military would want to take her, but I would ask that she go to the Kuli for training. You know who I want!”

 

Tears filled her eyes and she had to turn away. Over her shoulder I heard, “That will be difficult to arrange and you would not be able to back out – no matter what. He will only make that deal if he believes it is real. If we make this deal he will hold us to it. And he can!” I responded, “I know. I will do as I promise. I will not let you down in either part of the deal.”

 

She was sobbing when she answered, “OK. I will make the arrangements.” She started to walk away when I said, “Please stay a minute.” She turned around and I walked up to her. We looked in each other’s eyes and I reached out and hugged her for a long time. “I have one additional request,” I said. She looked up. I went on, “I need him to pick her up on her fourth birthday. I cannot trust anyone else. If he agrees to pick her up himself then I will know that no force in the universe will prevent my girl from being a Kuli and that is so much better than the life I have been living.” She nodded, “If it is done at all, it will be done as you ask.”

 

Two days later, I held the message that said, “It will be done.” The note was signed, “Mom.” I cried. I put the note in my pocket and looked out over the cliff. I was going to miss these flights. Before I leapt out into space I wondered what my father thought when my mom told him I wanted him to take my little girl into his world instead of having her here in mine. As I soared on the wind that day I decided that I would name my little girl J’Rontia.

3D

The Double Helix

Tyria’s Tears – Volume 1: The Chronicles of J’Rontia

 Chapter 7: The Double Helix

J’Portia reviewed his data once again to make sure that he understood fully what he was looking at. He was the galaxy’s foremost authority on advanced DNA manipulations and programming. He worked on the Linthian Council’s most secret genetic engineering projects as one of their top scientists. His experience and skill made him, at one point in his career, one of the most sought after genetic experts and his conclusion was the same the second time he reviewed the data. The DNA the data referenced was clearly from one of the most advanced Linthians ever and the person was possibly different enough to be considered a member of another race.

He recognized the baseline work as part of an advanced design from a military project he worked on with a research team hundreds of standard years ago. The mandate for the research was clear – build a better soldier. The focus was on the design of small one and two person surgical strike soldiers. They wanted soldiers created that could withstand unbelievable conditions and prevail, even when seriously outnumbered. The result of successfully producing what the council asked for was for the project to be shutdown and the products to be greatly feared, to the point where they were hunted down by the government that created them and moved them to where they could be monitored. Clearly no one expected them to be as successful as they were.

The success came after a lot of hard work. The team searched all the different types of life forms to find systems they could use. They found eyesight in some birds that rivaled telescopes. They found muscles in some animals that were ten times more efficient than normal Linthian muscles. They found high speed brain neurons and super efficient hibernation abilities. They found components to enhance almost all systems in the body.

The challenge was to modify the Linthian DNA to develop these advanced features without losing what it was that made someone Linthian, or Murhan, the base DNA for the Galactic Wing races. Along with that challenge came the extremely difficult task of discovering all the threads that connect a particular system to all the others.

One of the biggest problem areas was the brain. It was relatively easy to find better eyes, but what in the brain needs to change to handle the better eyes. More importantly, during the development phase what order did fetus or child need the various attributes turned on in. If you turn on a feature before the rest of the body is ready, it quite often never works. Also, what a system needs for development within one creature might not be what is needed to develop within another.

Increasing brain speed and power was the most complex problem of all. Everything in the body is affected when the brain speeds up and if you want better reaction time, you have to speed up both the brain and the nervous system. Yet, they had success and were able to increase the speed and power of the brain tremendously; however, they could not cool it at first.

Cooling was done using the skin and the blood in most creatures; however, the increases they worked with produced more heat than was able to be dissipated using conventional systems. They finally came across a creature that used its hair to cool the brain with roots that connected to an extra layer around the brain. Combined with increases in the standard systems, this proved to be a workable solution.

The DNA data he reviewed showed these characteristics, and more, he was confident that it originated in some way with the KR projects. The part that stumped him was how the powers and advancements were turned off. This should not be possible.

The complexity of adding an advanced feature is huge. When so many things have changed, how can you only use part of it? It is easy to block hearing but difficult to block only the advanced hearing. When they built the DNA for the KR1 it ended up failing. The pieces did not all work together and after about ten years the creations started to experience serious internal defects that prevented any deployment of the entities.

The KR2s worked extremely well but ran at such a high metabolism rate they had trouble working with regular people and tended to become mentally or physically unstable. In addition, the tremendous metabolism reduced their life spans to only a little more than 50 standard years as compared to the normal Linthian lifespan of 700 standard years. The Kuli technique of using a Soretto was tried to help stabilize them, but did not work. The team did not know how the DNA would combine so the reproduction abilities were eliminated from the models. For safety reasons, the team produced only females and did not produce any with a womb.

What doomed the KR2 project was the advanced healing that the team designed into the model. Combat is messy and advanced combat can produce serious injuries. The team targeted extremely fast healing and was able to include the ability to regenerate. The combat tests went extremely well and the KR2 models could even replace a limb within days if they had the nutrients. However, in a very small percentage of the women, the healing system saw the lack of a womb as an injury and regenerated it.

The womb was not considered an essential system and so it was not programmed to heal at the rate of a critical injury so we did not know reproduction was possible until many years into deployment. Even then the results did not generate much concern. Some of the children these women produced were born without the DNA advancements and others with it. This still was not a huge problem as we had made the advancements recessive.

The trouble came when one of these children mated with a Murhan and an old genetic program kicked in. When the Linthians separated from the Murhans by altering themselves genetically, they programmed their DNA so that if they mated with a Murhan, the DNA would build the new person with Linthian specific DNA dominating. For the KR2s, this meant that if their descendants mated with a Murhan, the children would have all of the new advanced features turned on and then grow up without the sophisticated training that the military provided the KR2s from birth. Later, a similar problem showed up when these children mated with each other as there was no dominant genes for the advanced genes to be recessive to.

These births were a problem because now advanced KR2 level people were showing up outside of military control. The government started to get nervous and security began to clamp down. The secret terror came later when the impossible happened. All of the models were designed to prevent a male as the testosterone surge in early development was shown to dangerously maximize the advancement. When it was discovered that a KR2’s child mated with another KR2 child and produced a male, everyone in the program became anxious.

Genetically, that was not possible and there were many programs and in-depth coding to prevent it from happening. Yet it did. One male child was born that changed everything. That male had characteristics that maximized every upgrade they built into the DNA. The child’s abilities far exceeded all the others but the mother hid him. She allowed him to grow up without training or supervision beyond her own. When his powers matured his mother tried to control him but failed. He left and joined a religion that believed anyone who did not agree with them should die and face God. He turned against her and all others who would not convert. The war he caused killed billions and he was almost impossible to stop.

During the time of these religion wars, we were working on the KR3. Once the Council understood the ramifications of their KR2 program’s children and grandchildren, they shutdown our program. Then they hunted down all the KR2s, their children, and, most importantly, their grandchildren and moved them to controlled planets. Plus, they sterilized all of them. This was not a pleasant job and in a short time turned into a disaster. Many did not want to be relocated and others did not want to be sterilized.

All of the original KR2s were combat trained and served in many conflicts. At that time, many were serving in the religion wars. He remembered the military asking him how they could keep control, still use the KR2s in combat, and sterilize them. He had said they couldn’t be sterilized because their bodies would just repair the damage. So, in military fashion, they sterilized them every month. After the religion wars ended, they moved them all to one planet and their numbers began to drop.

The bad press from all of this caused those on the development team to become pariahs in the scientific world. What was worse was that about half of the scientists were secret government employees and there was no record of them being there. As a result, the few with public faces became exiles after participating in one of the most successful projects in genetic history. J’Portia was one of the exiles.

Looking back on all that did not clear the confusion in his brain. The security put in place to track the KR2s was intense and the chance of some escaping, while possible, was unlikely. To evolve another person even more advanced in the time since was not achievable naturally. This had to mean that the DNA he was examining came from the KR3 line. Since he thought he knew where they all ended up, who they married, and if they had children, his facts must either be incorrect or there were more than two created. Even with that understanding, he could not explain the adjustments that allowed the advanced features to be turned off.

His thoughts went back to a time years after the religion wars when the KR2 scientists were still shunned. He was not able to find decent work and he and his family found themselves trapped in a ghetto on a planet in the middle of Tyria just trying to stay hidden to avoid the scorn people heaped on anyone associated with the development of the “blue demons” has they had come to be known. It was so bad, that he had trouble finding enough work to feed the family and both he and his wife had begun to age. Things were looking rather bleak when an unwelcome visitor came into their home.

A Supreme Guardian Kuli walked in without any notification and as if he belonged there. When the family settled down from the shock, he asked them if they enjoyed living there. Everyone said “no” at the same time and with no little amounts of anger. The Kuli went on, “I can save you from this but you will all have to agree to complete secrecy about everything that happens from this point on.”

He asked the Guardian if he could speak to him alone and the Kuli agreed. J’Portia said, angrily, “Now that you have manipulated me in front of my family, I want to know what the catch is. What you are offering, in exchange for silence, indicates to me that the galaxy would not like what you are doing.” J’Lopt smiled and said, “You are correct. I want you to go back and finish working on the KR3 model. I have the Council’s permission and they will take care of you and your family forever. The catch is that you can never tell your family what you do and you will be monitored always.”

The Kuli went on, “We still need these soldiers and even though the public does not like the mess with the KR2 grandchildren, they do love how the KR2s reduced the need for the military to maintain a large force and the successes they had in the field. Clearly the benefits outweigh the risks. So it is critical that we find a stable version that will not have the problem with their children”

The DNA in front of him proved that someone found the solution and it definitely consisted of parts of the KR2 that had been adjusted somehow. Still, this also was based on the almost completed KR3 material he had developed and the person in question was stable with blocks on the advanced features. He examined two of the areas on the DNA sequence that raised additional concerns. These were new and not a part of the KR3 line that he built.

He thought back to where the KR2s were allowed to live. The final location was a former military only planet that soon became known as the Warrior World. Once the KR2s and their families were all on the planet and only off for military maneuvers, the public settled down and the groups calling for their extermination disappeared. The warriors had eliminated the need for a large standing army and the military played that up all the time with good results. Their advanced skills and their super healing ability kept their mortality rate low although their accelerated metabolism allowed them to age rapidly. The fact that a small percentage was able to reproduce managed to bring about a small but stable population.

This also caused a large change for the Kuli as a whole. The Kuli, who previously worked some with the military, pulled back to their studies almost totally. Kuli interaction with the military now primarily dealt with hunting down KR2s or their descendants who went rogue. While the Kuli had advanced skills, the genetic alterations of the KR2s gave them a serious advantage physically; however, Kuli training was far superior and seldom did a confrontation end in favor of the KR2. If there was a male involved, a Supreme Guardian Kuli would handle the return.

J’Portia was working wonderfully with his new team and they had plenty of work to do adjusting the proposed KR3 DNA. His group was given the bodies of any KR2 that passed away. This steady but small amount of mortality gave his group plenty of material to work with. What they found was interesting. It was not the DNA code that created the most of the problems, it was the programming on when and how it was used that caused the corruption of the original blueprint for the model. They used this information to create the KR3’s program controls.

The pleasant memories came to an end abruptly when his thoughts returned to his wife. He had completed the KR3 DNA model and was almost finished with his new program controls when disaster hit. His wife was discovered having an affair with a spy and had been providing information that she stole from the work he brought home. His life was ruined! Their children had just left home a year before for advanced training in the military and now his wife was in jail. In addition, the research board decided that he had been careless and he lost his job. No one would hire him.

Now, as he stands in an isolation station in the middle of nowhere, he examines a DNA structure that is significantly above what his team was working on and he can only imagine the path his work took. His thoughts drifted back to the second time in his life when he found himself in a ghetto on a forgotten planet trying to make enough to eat and not succeeding very often.

He remembered his last day living like that as if it was yesterday. Thirty-seven standards years he had barely survived and he knew that he could no longer go on. The day was dark with an overcast sky, the winds were cold, and his clothes did nothing to provide warmth. His eyes burned from the soot in the foul air emanating from a cruiser plant next door. His box backed up to one of the exhaust ports from crusher and it provided some heat in the night and even allowed him to sleep on occasion. He watched a small animal run by and tried to catch it so he could eat – he was too slow. He knew it was time.

The knife was homemade and took him thirty local cycles to create from scraps in the nearby dump. He was not a real brave man and his courage was gone – he could not bear to face another day of the pain. He took the knife and taped it to his chest with the point directed at his heart. He climbed up on his box and mumbled his last words into the wind.

J’Portia jumped out as if diving into a pool. He started to fall and fear seized his heart as he fell. But he did not hit the ground. Instead he stopped in midair and a deep voice boomed out, “Don’t your children deserve better than to hear that their father killed himself?”

His body was pushed sideways and he rolled over and fell onto his back. As he lay there, stunned, pictures of his children and the wonderful families they would have appeared in front of his eyes. He cried. His grandkids were beautiful and they all seemed so intelligent. A shadow fell over him.

“I can place you back in the same spot and let things run the course you selected or you can stand up and come with me” the voice said. He could not see who was speaking and the figure did not move to a spot where visibility would be easy. J’Portia asked “What will I be doing?” He heard a short laugh and then “you will train some scientists to finish the KR3 job and then you will man a station by yourself in a deserted part of the galaxy. Or, you can stay here.”

“What is the catch?” He asked. This time the voice was serious, “You do not exist. I will have you listed as dead. You will have died while saving some children but for all practical purposes, you will not exist.” The moments dragged on as his heart rose and sank with the possibilities. Finally, J’Portia nodded his head in agreement and the figure stepped out of the shadows. “Take my hand and we will transport to my ship” Tomli said. He did as he was told and his life started over again as an exile.

So now, from his lonely exile, he examined what appeared to be a modification of the KR3 project that he was working on so long ago. The programming he taught his replacement was in here along with two new areas. Where did they come from?

On a hunch, he pulled the data on the one being that was created by the mating of two KR3 children. He shivered as he thought of the destruction that man wrought. The mating had produced a conflict in the DNA with the resulting combination creating almost a superman. The disaster in that being he was not stable mentally or physically.

He compared the two sets of data and then sat down. There was no doubt now. J’Rontia’s Soretto was the offspring of a mating between two people with KR3 DNA. He felt fear flow up his spine. This was not supposed to be possible. They had taken care of all the failed code in the KR2s and made sure that reproduction was not possible in the KR3s. Yet reproduction had happened and somewhere along the way the impossible also happened and a male was created. Yet, this man had level five blocks that somehow worked to control his powers, but what about those who do not? If one KR2 grandson caused so much death and destruction, what would a KR3 grandson do? For a few moments, he wished he had died so long ago and then this would not have happened.

The room around him spun and had to sit down as the realization hit him that even a Supreme Guardian Kuli might not be able to stop one of these beings if they received any decent training for their abilities. Tears ran in his eyes as he thought about his children and the danger he helped put them in. He wept and slept in his chair.

Later in the day, he awoke and was able to clear his head. He considered the facts. Hundreds of years had passed since the KR3s were created and this was the first time anything showed up. That made no sense and something was hidden. Confusion hit him like a sledge hammer and he got up and walked to the window. He had to decide what to do and he could not keep quiet. J’Portia made up his mind and decided to expose his existence and contact the Council.

He was lifting the communicator when he heard her, “Please reconsider.” He turned and for some strange reason was not surprised to see her there. She was still very beautiful and yet now had a tired look on her face. “He is stable,” she noted. J’Portia answered, “They all start out stable. The Council needs to know what they are up against.” She smiled a weak and sad smile. “Do you really believe they don’t know?” she asked. She went on, “It has been my job to keep them under control and I ask you to consider if I have done my job well.”

He shook his head and went on, “I have kept quiet too many times and paid the price personally in many ways, but this could leave the galaxy itself in great danger. Also, I do not see or sense your Soretto, so am I to believe you work alone? Who is backing you up and if you fail, will anyone find out in time? We cannot go through another war like the Religion war. If there are a bunch of these people out there the wars could destroy the entire galaxy.”

She smiled a soft smile and the sun coming through the window glinted off of her red hair exposing blue sea foam colored highlights and a few streaks of silver. She walked slowly to the window and gazed out over the distant stars and time seemed to drift slowly with her. Her voice floated softly as she said, “The galaxy will be destroyed by another and these people are our only hope for recovery. Very few know, but the King is being backed by the deceiver and his followers.”

She paused to allow the comments to sink in. She turned from the window back at him and went on “I can assure you that I have the resources and the backing to hunt down and control any who destabilize.” At that moment, three more women stepped out of the shadows that did not exist in the room. The women were all tall, lean, beautiful and had long flowing hair of various colors with shades of blue drifting through them. Each woman walked slowly and softly over to him and touched him on the shoulder or arm. Then they stepped back and were gone.

She turned and was looking out the window when she spoke again, “The amount of training and work it takes to stabilize a KR2 is hard to believe, the amount of training and work to stabilize one of their descendants is even more intensive. The KR3s, on the other hand, are actually way more stable than you would believe. Yes, there are more than just me. However, the descendants of KR3s who mate with a Murhan or the descendants of KR3s who mate with descendants of other KR3s require a lot of time and resources, unless it is a male and then it takes a tremendous amount of resources and time. I know that you tried to prevent males from being possible and you did a great job with the programming, as did others, but outside forces can negate the programming in extremely rare cases.”

She paused again and this time he joined her at the window. He said, “I am sorry about what happened with you and your husband. He helped me a number of times.” She had a tear in her eye when she spoke, “We have both made sacrifices for the future of the galaxy. You allowed me to live and I will forever be grateful to you for the time my husband and I did have together. No one could have known what was going to happen.”

He stepped away from the window and said, “I will not call the council but I am concerned about my patient and what I can turn back on.” She answered, “He is a Soretto. Turn on his healing and remove the blocks to his intelligence. J’Rontia will be able to access the other abilities when she needs to. One of the sections of DNA you are wondering about controls the development and management of the link they share and will take care of this.” “And the other area?” he asked.

She turned serious and it was as if a dark cloud passed over her face. Her voice was low and soft with a hint of anger in it and as she spoke he felt shivers go up his spine and the hair on his neck stood on end, “That section was designed to prevent access to multiple advanced measures at the same time. It was to help increase stability and prolong their lives. Instead, one of our team betrayed us and was working for the Deceiver. The section controls we put in place were disabled for the second generation and beyond. In fact, the section now heightens the person’s ability to go beyond the program limits with the advanced features. They can even push themselves so hard that they destroy their own body or mind in the process. One day I will meet him again …”

J’Portia was silent and allowed her to have a moment or two. He could see the betrayal in her face and was a bit nervous when her eyes had started to glow and her hair began to give off a bright blue light. When she looked more like herself he asked, “So your group captures these anomalies and puts the blocks in place?” Her eyes shone brightly for a moment and then faded again. “Yes, if we can find them in time. Fortunately, very few KR3s or their descendants can have children and a boy is hardly ever born. We believe we know the locations all of the KR models and their descendants, now that you have found this one.” He was not as confident of her answer as she wished him to be and it showed on his face. “What happens if you are not on time?” he asked. She turned away as she answered, “When they become too powerful for us, we either get the help of a Supreme Guardian Kuli or we have to destroy them.” Her face tightened a bit again as she considered the serious lack of Supreme Guardian Kuli in the galaxy and what that meant for the future.

He nodded to her as he could tell from her look that the conversation was over and she returned a small smile. He turned and walked toward his desk. He knew that when he turned around she would not be there and she wasn’t. He would help J’Rontia with her Soretto but not without reservations and he would unlock what he thought best to unlock – which was probably close to what she was asking.

Back on her ship she considered the visit with J’Portia. She usually enjoyed the confusion people had when she came and went without a trace and without setting off the alarms. The process was really rather simple, although the technology was complex and banned for all but a few “special” warriors. Her ship was designed to be completely invisible on every level and accomplished this with a phase-shifting technology that used almost no energy. Add a couple of hype globes and her “special” soldiers could appear and vanish without a trace anywhere.

Of course, there is the reason the technology was banned. The ships give off extremely dangerous emissions that were not detected when they were first tested because everything was designed to be undetectable. The original crews died gruesome deaths and the entire project was scrapped. During in his investigation of the deaths, Tomli uncovered what the dangerous emissions were and that they could not be controlled without losing the properties that made the ships so valuable. So the ships were taken away to be destroyed by some of the KR models. She smiled, it was a good thing the order did not specify when they were to be destroyed – even better that she and her kind did not have a problem with the emissions.

For her though, the appearing and vanishing was different. She enjoyed more traditional approaches and liked to use her stealth and training to do the same without technology. She and her “special” troops also used various mental manipulations to prevent people from noticing their alarms, from looking in certain directions, and more. She enjoyed hacking into the sensor systems or using known patterns to deceive them making the whole appearing and vanishing event a huge challenge. Usually, no matter which method she chose, she had fun.

The vanishing and appearing was not enjoyable this time as she considered the missions ahead of all of those she cared about. The chances that any of them would survive what was in front of them now was slim. Even slimmer was the possibility they would succeed. It is hard to help people who do not want to be helped, especially when they feel they deserve the bad that might happen.

She docked her ship with the Linthian Cruiser J’Tromian’s Valor and parked in the restricted area of the bay. She walked toward the security desk and as she rounded the corner the soldier on duty saw her. “Stop there and do not move” he said. She smiled and continued to walk. The guard picked up his gun and repeated, “Stop there and do not move.” She continued to walk. He raised his gun and was about to fire when a hand settled on his shoulder and a voice commented softly, “Lower the gun or she will kill you.” He immediately dropped the gun as he recognized the ship’s captain and said, “Yes Matriarch!”

The guard watched as the two approached each other and intertwined their fingers. The sisters shared thoughts for a moment. One of them had red hair with blue sea foam highlights and streaks of silver and the other had blue sea foam hair with red highlights and streaks of silver, or perhaps they were the same. The guard found it confusing to even look at them. Still, you could tell that there was a difference and it centered on the hair.

The Matriarch asked her sister, “Do you think he will cooperate?” “Yes, and I believe he knows more than he admits, even to himself” she noted. She went on, “I did not like lying to him. I think he knew that I was not the hunter. You should have gone.” The Matriarch answered, “No. He knows you and what you said was true, just not one hundred percent accurate.”

She saw the guard turn away as he could no longer look at them and she felt the fear of her rising up in him along with no small amount of confidence in his captain. She looked into the Matriarch’s eyes and said, “I have missed you, but we should not meet anymore or we will end up like me and my husband.” The Matriarch smiled and replied, “No family chit chat? You always do come straight to the point; however, we need to decide what we are going to do about these problems.” She nodded and frowned as she spoke, “You will have to contain and train as I told him. You will have a lot of work on your hands. I can take over the rest of the monitoring.”

The Matriarch looked at her and a slow soft smile spread across her face as she said, “You are just going to handle the entire galaxy by yourself?” She laughed at her sister’s comment and the humor behind it, “No. J’Rontia and her Soretto will be taking care of most of the public job. I will take care of the rest with the remaining two.” The Matriarch signaled her agreement and asked, “Do you think the galaxy will really be destroyed?” She answered, “Yes. Tomli is rarely wrong and the Deceiver will stop at nothing less. He wants total control or total destruction. Although I will continue to try and stop him and his group any way I can.”

The Matriarch looked off into deep space, “I have thousands of standard years to prepare for my part and still I am not sure it will be enough time to get ready. It is a shame that the Linthians refused to participate and even worse that we have to try and prepare with no funds and few resources. We could clean this up in a hundred standard years or less if they would help and allow access to advanced technologies.” The Matriarch continued, “Wish me luck. These will be lonely years and I am not sure which of us has the worst job. It is hard some days to believe that we volunteered for this.” They gave each other a long hug and shared some last thoughts. They knew that this was probably the last time they would see each other. She turned and boarded her ship without looking back.

The Matriarch watched her sister leave and a single tear ran down her face as she returned to her charges and their training. It would take many generations to develop the talents needed and to find the most effective instructional approaches. Her team needed to be able to survive impossible conditions and even thrive.

The Matriarch reflected on the visit. Her sister already had a formidable reputation and she was confident that over the years it would grow. The galaxy did not know her by her real name anymore; they only knew her as “The Ghost” or “The Angel,” depending on what side they saw. The Matriach turned and walked back to the door out of the bay and reflected on her own reputation. The door guard saluted as she went by. He was terrified by her and even more so by those she controlled. As she walked away, the guard prayed silently to the gods of his fathers that “The Matriarch” would live until the others were gone.

The Matriarch smiled as she picked up on his thoughts. “The Matriarch” sounded like an extremely silly name for someone with the responsibilities she had. Of course, she was sure that “The Ghost” and “The Angel” sounded just as silly to her sister. The thought made her laugh and when she saw the fear in the faces of the crew as she laughed it made her laugh even more. When she finally stopped laughing, she felt better than she had in a long time although her crew would have trouble sleeping for quite a while.

On his lonely station, J’Portia was preparing to leave for the night and some needed rest. A thought prickled his brain and he decided to examine some of J’Rontia’s blood for her DNA. Hours later he dropped into his chair and reflected on his in-depth analysis and the information it revealed. The double helix does not lie and he realized that nothing he invented or created was as unique as he thought. He smiled as he considered the one common thread that he continued to find, Tomli. Tonight he would sleep well after all.

Back on her ship, she had time to think. The day had been interesting and it had been good to see her sister, even if it was for the last time. Their condition caused problems when they were in each other’s presence and the time they had accumulated together over the years was already beyond the safe limits. The rest of her life would be very lonely. She missed her husband the most. They found out the hard way what happened if someone with her condition stayed close to any of the more advanced Linthians for too long. She missed him so much that it hurt and yet she knew they could never be together again. She looked out the viewer into deep space and wondered what he was doing. He was an impressive man and it was hard to live up to the world’s expectations of her when she was known as his wife. It is even harder now as she had to face the loneliness of her chosen mission with everyone knowing that Tomli’s wife died. She cried…

 

Things are not what they seem

Things Are Not What They Seem

T’Mooste forgot where he was for those first moments when he awoke. The confusion did not last long, but it was still irritating because it meant that age was starting to set in again. He did not have time for a rebuild or a visit to a reconstitution chamber, although he did not believe in the reconstitution chambers anyway. So, he would have to be irritated every time he awoke until this mission was over.

 

He hated these long-term undercover missions. They almost always involved either acting as if he was someone else or laying in the dirt and mud forever. Sometimes he was even awarded with a mission that had him doing both. Just once he would like to be himself chasing down smugglers in one of those new high-speed ships. But no, he spent his time in the dirt. The problem was that he had a 100% success rate and his tracks never led back to his employer.

 

This mission was particularly annoying because he did not know the target. How was he supposed to do a quality analysis of the situation without a full data set on the target? This was the most ridiculous mission yet. Here he was in some backwater system on a primitive planet with no backup and a job as a fisherman. Disgusting!

 

He could think of no reason that a value target would ever come to this planet, let alone go near this port. Still, the company’s intelligence was almost always perfectly accurate. Most of the problems came with the information that they left out – like the name of the target.

 

Fifty-seven local cycles later, he saw the ship come in. It was a sleek ship like none he had seen before. There was no defining shape as it seemed to morph as it came down. The color was silver with gold stripes on what was now the bottom. The final shape as it landed was a square box with four feet on the bottom. 

 

He now understood the comments in his directions about the transport vehicle and why they made no sense. Still, he did not know the target and now needed to see who came out because his only notes on the target was to take out the female who emerges. He was curious as to what would happen if more than one female came out.

 

He maneuvered into a new position and adjusted his scope. The Celetron launcher was an extremely efficient weapon and would destroy one person and one person only. The projectile followed the scope’s focus and crosshairs to the person indicated and formed a field around their body’s natural electromagnetic field. The projectile then released a Fortuse burst that basically vaporized the person or entity within the field.

 

The first person out of the ship was a man who stopped immediately on the first step of the ship. The man looked up and scanned with his eyes until he was looking straight into the scope. Then he reached back and pulled the door shut. He just stared and waited.

 

T’Mooste shivered up his spine as the realization came to him who his target was and who was looking at him. He immediately but the gun down, unloaded the weapon, got up on his knees, and put his hands over his head.

 

The man was standing over him in moments. He was asked one question, “Who sent you?” T’Mooste said, “I am dead anyway – it was the Assassin’s Guild and they received the request from the King. I was not told who the target was. I am sure I was not told because that is against our oath. We, or rather I, do not kill Kuli.” The man nodded and proceeded to destroy the weapons. He then walked away.

 

T’Mooste was shocked that he was still alive and then he realized that they didn’t need to kill him. The Guild would have to kill him now to keep this quiet. For the first time in his life he truly knew what it meant to be on the other side of the gun. He was about to leave when she walked up.

 

The target was standing in front of him and he knew her. He knew why they wanted her dead and why they did not tell him who it was. He knelt back down and bowed his head. She touched his forehead and he felt fire burn through his brain and down into his body and he was sure it was time to die. He had heard about their powers and the only two things he could think about were how sorry he was that he took this job and the hope his death would be quick.

 

After a short time, she let go and he bowed even more. “Get up” she said. He stood and at his full height he still needed to look up to see her. She was one of the most beautiful women he ever seen. She smiled and his confusion deepened.

 

She spoke. “Are you willing to take an assignment from us? Before you answer listen to the parameters. It will be your job to shadow someone and make sure that they are not assassinated. You will be given all the resources you need and will answer only to our Director of Asset Security. You will be alone almost always. You will have an implanted T’Ersirt chip to track your movements. You will receive barely enough money to live on but will have the full retirement benefits that the Kuli organization provides. In addition, your family, including your wife and four children (yes I know that and more) will be moved to a secure planet with full Murhan citizenship. “

 

He said, “Yes. I would be honored to work for the Kuli. How can you trust me?” She laughed lightly and said, “You just received a level 4 mind probe and I now know more about you than you remember yourself. Everything was downloaded to the ship’s computer and someone will go through it in great detail as I only review certain things rapidly, but I am confident that I can trust you. Please come with us if you agree.” He got up and followed her to a Kuli security ship that had just landed. She gave the commands to take him to training, move his family, and more. Then she smiled at him again and walked back and entered her ship.

 

On board, she turned to her Soretto and noted, “He will make an excellent guardian for The Watcher until he is fully trained.” Her Soretto started the preparations for departing as she thought back over the day. J’Rontia knew that the best decision she had ever made was her selection of a Soretto. She smiled and shared her thoughts and feelings with him as they took off.

 

 

 

The leader of the Assassin’s Guild received the encrypted message from Kuli headquarters and hesitated to open it. He had been confident in his selection of this assassin as the perfect person for the job, but things go wrong. He read the message.  “The assassin responded as you predicted. You selected the correct candidate. We will remember your loyalty to the Kuli.” A sigh of relief flowed over him and he relaxed back into his chair.

 

Behind him she coughed. He almost jumped out of his chair. He hated it when she did that and no matter how many security devices he put in place she still could appear without warning. She spoke “I will never forget this either. Anytime that your family is in danger, you may call me and I will return the favor.” He went to speak but she faded away right in front of his eyes. As usual, he was not sure she had ever been there. He looked to one of his monitors and saw that his accounts had increased by the amount they calculated T’Mooste was worth.

 

 

The King was mad as he read the reports. Her Soretto was very good at his job and never let her come out first. He also found ways to protect her from everything they had thrown at her. This was costing him a lot of money. He was about to scream when his advisor entered the room.

 

The advisor was smiling and said, “This plan was a success.” The King was confused and could barely contain himself while waiting for an answer. The advisor spoke, “I now have evidence that the Kuli are in communication with the Assassin’s Guild. We will be able to use this to bring more systems to our cause and build more hate against the Kuli.” A slow evil smile spread across his face as he spoke and the King felt fear creep into his heart. The advisor went on, “Now we can start to bring some real pressure to bear and the war will spread even faster!” He, once again, smiled that evil again and slowly left the room.

 

The King was silent for a while and then remembered his father’s dying words. His father had whispered, “I am no longer in control – save us.” He now realized how wrong his interpretation had been and a huge depression settled over him as he realized that things are not what they seem, even in his own castle.

 

Welcome back Commander

Welcome Back Commander

He had power now and would be able to restart critical systems, and hopefully have enough power to find out what this ship was doing here and now. Oh, he knew it was a seed ship; after all, he helped build the ships from the remnants of the fleet.

 

After the death of J’Rontia, he was the senior Kuli and sent this ship on its way. In addition, he selected the crews and worked to divide up the resources. He recognized this ship as New Beginning 8, the one he sent to the galaxy in section 8 beyond the Cosmic Tear in a direct line along the Star Channel. He smiled as he remembered how it ended up that Galaxy 8 was in Section 8 and so he named that ship New Beginning 8. Although that was not the official name, everyone used it. No one really liked how the numbering went but it did prevent at least one war.

 

It seems that the various people were rather attached to their own names for the galaxies and areas of space around Tyria. This led the standards committee to use numbers for everything. We now have twelve Sections of space that start in the center of the Tyrian galaxy and move out in three dimensions as a ball might be divided into twelve equal sections with the ball having an infinite size. The galaxies were numbered based on how close they were to Tyria. Galaxy 8 was the 8th closest. Naturally, everyone used their own names for the galaxies, except in formal communications.

 

It turned out that Galaxy 8 was located in Section 8. Therefore, he felt he needed to name the seed ship going there New Beginning 8 and the names for the rest of the ships fell in line. Interestingly, the crew enjoyed the word play and rarely used the official name of the ship.

 

His thoughts returned to his current situation. He was floating in the space between the galaxies in the years before the galactic war started – in the times when everyone talked peace. He had been without power and getting ready for the end when he saw the derelict ship. Tomli’s visions had helped him in many unusual ways and he knew that his life now had a scope beyond any he ever imagined. Without the most recent vision he would not have scanned the surrounding space and would have floated right past the damaged ship.

 

The engine he borrowed from the wreck he considered a gift from J’Rontia to go along with all of her other gifts to him. It was a good thing that he saved J’Rontia and her Soretto. After all, not only did they select him to be a Kuli, they did quite a bit of his training, and, most importantly, they saved his life in Thorlinthia and that allowed him to save them in this time and place. Wow. What a complicated web had been woven.

 

The seed ship must have been at or near the end of its journey because it was almost totally empty. It appeared that almost all of the supplies and people were gone. Still, he could not know if all were gone until he was able to enter the main control room. So far, he had to do all of his work from the secondary bridge with limited power using an emergency bypass. He had finished installing the engine and he hoped it would interface properly and he would have some power to restart the command computer and possibly repair parts of the ship.

 

The newer engine would never have fit in a normal ship; however, this was not a normal ship. Designed from the pieces of multiple warships, some of the engines just hung from struts outside the main frame of the ship and others were fully built in. This made for a very unattractive ship but one where all he had to do, in this case, was modify one set of mounts and he was able to use a different engine.

 

As he thought about things he realized how ironic his thought was that “all he had to do was modify one set of mounts.” He was only one man and he had little in the way of equipment. It had taken a long time to create a mount that would hold up to the forces the engine would generate. Fortunately, the captain’s shuttle had over half its fuel and he was able to use it almost as a crane – it is not as pretty now as it had been.

 

The engine would not allow for any type of hype or warp travel as it was too small and could not be mounted correctly for that function. Still, it would provide power for the ship’s systems and give him some travel ability. He started the engine and was thrilled when it did not rip off of its mounts.

 

The regular lights started to come on as the power levels moved up and the ship came to life somewhat. He moved to a section control panel and examined the ship’s systems. The control panel used a 3D visual of the ship with zoom and color coded system identification. The system came with various fonts depending on the status of the system. It was easy to see the areas of the ship that were damaged and he quickly realized that some extreme stresses had acted upon the ship.

 

He found one set of crew quarters that was all blue and he zoomed in for details. This location had no system problems and would serve much better as his home than the secondary control room that he was using now. He zoomed back out to review the rest of the ship.

 

He shut off the systems in most of the ship either due to high numbers of errors in that area or because he didn’t believe he would need that part of the ship and wished to save energy. He identified three areas to visit. The first was an internal engine and compartment area that had almost no errors and showed a high fuel reserve – he might be able to repair that engine and achieve the ability to jump.

 

The second location was the kitchen near the main control room. It had no errors in its systems and that could mean some decent meals instead of the rations he found in the secondary control room. Finally, he wanted to examine the control room, especially the stasis chambers to see if he could learn what happened to the ship and crew.

 

He slept whenever he was tired and ate rations while he worked on the engine. He knew that the ship was very limited in its maneuverability and speed with the engine from J’Rontia’s ship and felt his top priority needed to be more power so that he could control the ship better and possibly perform a jump.

 

The work was not easy and at the end of each day he had a mess. The white slime did not come off of his hands easily nor did the green sticky oil stains wash out of his clothes the first time. He never rebuilt the navigation section of a Wroster engine before and hoped he never had to again. He took off three layers of protection compartments around the engine, each filled with something disgusting, before he could even work on the broken parts. Then the components did not match the manuals nor were the spare parts located in the front of the supply room. Instead they were in the back, behind hundreds of boxes he had to move, and then at the bottom of the pile.

 

When he finished putting it all back together he noticed the Torsion Brace and realized that he was going to have to take it all apart again and put the brace where it belonged. The second time he had it all together he placed his hand on the control plate and asked the engine to start. He was nervous and this reminded him of when his teacher asked him to show the class his floating Snark project. When he opened the case with his Snark he was deathly afraid it would sink.

 

When he said “start,” nothing happened and his hopes crashed. He started to walk away when he remembered that this was built by Murhans. He placed his hand back on the control plate and said the same thing in Standard Murhan. This time the panel lit up and the safety plates dropped into position. He heard the whine of the twiners and the rush of air from the blowers. Then a whoosh and red lights turned on all over the control panel.

 

He frowned and considered the display. There was a pattern with the red lights and he zoomed in on the indicators. He moved around to the back of the engine compartment and found a bent panel. He removed the panel and found a broken spring on the Gromttel actuator. He replaced the spring and walked to the control panel.

 

He placed his hand on the panel again and spoke the word. The panel lit up and the safety plates dropped into position. He heard the whine of the twiners and the rush of the air from the blowers. Then all sounds stopped and the panel turned all green. He smiled and stopped holding his breath.

 

He turned to the nearby 3D control panel for the ship and examined the power levels. He held his breath again as the power level started to climb. When the level indicator passed out of the danger zone he started to breath. When the level indicator moved past the warning zone he was thrilled. When the level indicator reached the ready zone he felt relief and realized how worried he had been that he would be stuck here forever. The level indicator did not make it to the jump ready zone, but it came close. The controls were set for a fully loaded ship and with it almost empty he may have enough power output. He would have some calculations for the main computer if he was able to enter the control room.

 

All of this success left him really hungry and hoped the kitchen he found had decent food. He found a refresher and spoiled himself with three refreshes. The clothes in the cabinet were standard crew clothes and he wrapped his Tramall over them. Feeling more like himself than he had in a long time, he went to the kitchen he had found.

 

The kitchen had seating for ten at one large table with simple metal chairs. The far wall was covered with system monitors that lit up as he came into the room.

The monitors covered all of the critical systems on the ship and he was able to double check the results from his previous checks with one quick glance.

 

The wall of the room to his left was full of doors with labels for types of food and drink concentrates. Each door contained a monitor for the food levels in that compartment. Almost all the doors had food but the levels were below ten percent in most cases, except for the door for Szatree which was at ninty percent due to the fact that no one likes it. Szatree was always included on long distance journeys due to its nutritional value; however, it is not pleasant to eat.

 

The wall to the right was covered with monitors that showed scenes from Tyria, mostly from the Galactic Wing. The pictures brought back memories he had suppressed, some for thousands of years, and he had to pause for a while to compose himself. Memories of his war years, his time as The Watcher alone, and then the times as The Watcher with his wife and son staggered him and he had to sit down.

 

After a few moments, he turned to view the wall on the side he entered. There were ten infusers for adding liquid back into the food. These were evenly spaced on the wall with counter space around them so meals could be prepared. He checked the monitors on the units and found two that still held liquid for infusing. Excellent.

 

The plate he prepared had seventeen different foods on it and he was determined to waste nothing. One of his selections was so spicy that his tongue burned through two additional selections. The meal was delicious and he could not move out of his chair when he finally finished.

 

While he recovered from his meal, he considered what he would find in the main control room. He was sure that with what J’Rontia gave him he could enter but he was not at all confident in what he would find in the room. How did so much damage occur, where was the crew, and, even more importantly, how did the ship end up so far in the past?

 

He decided to sleep and eat again before going into the main control room.

 

The door’s power levels were back to normal and all the door functions were intact. He placed his hand on the pad and the security controls initialized. The system recognized him from his previous role in charge of the fleet at the time of the seed ship deployment. After posting his information, the ship asked him for the current passwords. He used the codes he remembered but they would not work.

 

He then took the device from J’Rontia and placed it on the panel. The door responded instantly and asked him to input a new password as the previous one had expired. He complied and the system reset.

 

The door opened and as he stepped into the room the lights and equipment all turned on. The system said, “Welcome back Commander. It has been a long time and it is hoped that your journey here will prove rewarding. What are your commands?”

 

Tomli died afraid of peace

Tomli Died Afraid of Peace

“Tomli died afraid of peace” the article said. The description of his life was mostly positive with a sneer at his final years when he warned against forcing all systems to join the Republic. The author made fun of his insistence on letting the King’s system live in peace. He ended the article noting that Tomli had not been the same since his age sickness and maybe it was more serious than people were admitting. The author did point out many of the wonderful things he did while he was a Kuli and some of the work he did as a Supreme Guardian; however, it was clear that the author saw no need to keep relics of war and conflict, such as Supreme Guardian’s around now that almost every system had joined the Republic. The article spoke a common belief that number of systems not in the Republic was so small that the Republic had nothing to fear.

The article did note that the two Kuli Guardians left, J’Rontia and her Soretto, were more than enough for the minor criminal actions still needing attended to. Forgotten were the Westrong Conflict, the Seargon Split, the Morggain Separation, and more. The past thousand years were full of wars. Still, with a galaxy the size of Tyria, it is true that most systems had not seen war in thousands of years. So, it was appropriate that Tomli died approximately when war died in Tyria.

Thousands of years later, Tomli stood on a hill overlooking the spaceport on M’Yestria. He had a small sad smile on his face that echoed the weariness in his heart. He had just reread the article about his death again. Every morning, he would journey up this hill, take out his reader, and peruse the article one more time as he monitored the work in the spaceport. He would then move to the control center where he would examine the Star Channel, the Hrubbitor, deep space, and more.

The spaceport M’Yestria did not exist on any navigational charts in the entire Tyrian system. No one could see the system without advanced optics and then they would not care. Thousands of years ago this arm of the galaxy was mapped by one of the Linthian scouts during the years when Linthia ruled the galaxy with technologies that made them seem as gods. This system was so far away from the rest of the galaxy that no one was interested in it except a small group of Linthian scientists who found a rare chemical and an unusual life form on one of the planets.

The life form did not have DNA or a similar structure nor did it reproduce in any way they could figure out. Only one existed and, based on the structure it lived on, it was billions of years old. The only food it seemed to eat was this unusual chemical. So, it was presented to the council that this system be kept out of the mapping so that this group could study the chemical and the life form with the hopes of finding immortality.

The actual secret was not what was hoped for. The chemical allowed the life form to stop its metabolism on any given system without necrosis while it built a new system. Then it would switch to the new system and consume the old allowing apoptosis to take place on a system level rather than a cellular level. Basically, the creature just rebuilt itself regularly and so did not have to die as a whole because it controlled death with its systems. Still, the Linthians used this information to adjust their DNA to greatly increase their lifespan.

 Supreme Guardians, with the addition of their mental control over their body functions, learned how to use the chemical to end their lives without actual death. They could infuse their cells with the chemical and then have the systems appear to die with the result being that the body could be tested as dead for days, and then, based on a programmed chemical release, they would restart the systems in their bodies with no damage at all. The hope was that they could use this in combat and someone with serious damage to their body could shut things down with this chemical and then restart after repairs had been made in a medical facility, perhaps days later. That hope did not materialize as the chemical only grew in one location in the system and was never able to be grown anywhere else.

Years later, with its secrets revealed, the use for the system disappeared and, due to its remote location, it was never added to the navigation charts. For thousands of years, it was only visited by Supreme Guardians for their final retreats during which they would review the deep space logs for anomalies that never appeared or to collect the unusual and slow growing chemical for use in those extremely rare times when death was needed.

It was on his final retreat that Tomli had his vision about building this spaceport and what it would be used for. As the last Supreme Guardian, he alone knew the secret of the chemical and decided to rebuild his body one more time, after his death, so that he could complete the work needed to see his vision become reality.

Looking down on the spaceport he felt the cold winds of the winter season chill his exposed flesh. A shiver drifted up his spine as he shook the cobwebs of memory out of his brain to concentrate on the scene in front of him. Thirteen of the largest cargo ships ever were assembled on the hardened surface of the port as they prepared for takeoff. In the hangers, twenty nine ships were in various stages of construction ranging from the bare frames to final touches. The workers milled around in the distance like tiny bugs swarming at a picnic lunch.

The thirteen sat fully loaded with supplies and the largest fuel tanks ever built ready to make another long journey into the dark of space. They only waited for the next group of passengers to arrive and he never knew when they would show up.

Tomli started walking down the long hill to the control center when the alarms went off on the spaceport. He started running. His long strides ate up the distance at a pace only top Kuli could match as he moved toward the control center. The sky brighten as hundreds of flashes appeared over the brown building in the back of the complex. Another group was arriving.

Tomli threw open the door to the first chamber and felt the rush of air that accompanied the exchange of hype areas. The room was marked off in squares with piles of rocks in the middle that glowed eerily as the roof disappeared in chunks with each flash of light. The flashes of light were marked by the disappearance of part of a pile of rocks and the appearance of one or more people. The people were all in a state of shock as they looked around at the chaos in the chamber. Within seconds, all of the areas had some or all of their rock piles removed and people standing in their places. Once the final area was used, a gas exhausted from the floor and everyone feel to the ground. He smiled – another successful transfer.

 

It was night time on the planet W’Rosetry. In the wake of the fierce battle, J’Rontia wanted to walk among the dead to remind her of why they fought so hard. They had won again, but they also watched helplessly as the deceiver’s forces destroyed the planet rather than let the resources fall to the Republic. They had turned the tide of the war and she knew they would win, but at what price. She wanted to give up and after thousands of years of war she just could not go on. Her Soretto felt her thoughts and she could feel his agreement that their time was up. They would have to let others finish the fight.

Her Soretto walked besides her on the way back to the ship and she watched, surprised, as a smile crept across his face. She was curious, what would make him happy about all of this destruction. He sensed her thoughts and pointed at the apartments in front of them. “Look in the windows” he said. She did but was confused at first. Then she understood. She turned to her Soretto and gave him a huge hug as they blended their minds with the revelation. Never again would they have any doubts. No matter how desperate, they would fight to the end. When they entered the command ship of the fleet she gave the order to send a pulse message.

 

Two days later, Tomli stood on the hill watching the thirteen ships lift off from the spaceport full of people and start their journey into the dark of space. His friends all thought him dead. His two best students ever were battling an evil without enough help or time. His beautiful Tyria was dying slowing. And yet, he smiled. In his hands was a pulse message – “We Will Never Give Up.”

The ships moved away from the galaxy core and headed into deep space. Then they jumped, leaving behind a small bright light in his eyes for a short while and then nothing but dark. He knew that he would die on this mission and that this was the closest he would ever be to Tyria, and still he smiled. It was ironic that in the article they said “Tomli died afraid of peace.”