The Tears of Tyria – The Chronicles of J’Rontia
The Ruins of Gster – Restoration
The City of T’ouraget
The huge ship had appeared on Hastee’s monitors after it was almost to the surface of the planet. That meant they jammed the security sensors for the planet. The pilots could only have received the sensor frequencies from one source, Gster Construction, and that was a betrayal in her mind. The fire streams and explosions that followed showed how foolish it was to take on the Kuli. She could only imagine what was about to come her way.
Hastee put the entire planet on high alert and readied the security forces. She would not be surprised if the Kuli ship destroyed half the planet before she stopped it, if she could stop it. She contacted her security chief to get his advice on how to handle the situation.
General Barek Tond was not a real general in any way, he just liked the title. He had retired as a prison warden on a backward planet in Sector Four near the end of the spiral arm. He had tried security consulting and built a reputation as efficient and effective. After a number of jobs, he moved up to large companies and secured their more unusual holdings. This was his first job securing a whole planet, even though it was a rather small one.
Hastee watched General Tond as he walked into the room. He was one of those races that had two legs and they always looked like they would fall over to her. Why any intelligent being would want to be tottering up so high off the ground she could not understand. He was not a Murhan or Linthian but looked similarly and was about their average height. He had long black hair on his head and face that hung down almost to his waist. He had three eyes, two blue and the center one smoke gray. His mouth was below his eyes and when he came to a stop he said, “Good Evening, General Tond at your service.”
Hastee could never decide whether to scream or laugh when he did that. So, she just responded, “I need your advice. Read this briefing on the incident tonight and let me know what you think.” Hastee slid over to the window and looked into the night sky. It was a clear night and she could see the smoke from the fires and explosions drifting across the over the city. The news reporters would have lots of questions soon.
General Tond did not move up fast in the security consulting business by being stupid. He already knew most of the information Hastee provided him. Still, he took time to read through it all and found some pieces of information he did not know. General Tond asked, “Are you sure that Gster Construction hired the ship to attack the Kuli?”
Hastee turned away from the window and answered, “I called my boss to update him right after the incident. He could not believe the Kuli were able to destroy the Kiltrin Warrior ship and said that he was sure they would send more. When I asked how he knew, he admitted to offering one-half interest in the planet to an unnamed person if they would eliminate the Kuli from the planet.”
General Tond nodded and went back to reading as he wondered if this time he took a job too big. Hastee looked back out the windows at the clouds of smoke and wondered the same thing. The moon’s glow around the edge of the clouds made for a beautiful picture and she made a note to herself to frame some variations of the view. She started to turn back toward General Tond when she stopped still and her brain raced. Hastee slid to the computer at her top speed and punched in her question. When the answer came up on the monitor she couldn’t believe how stupid she had been. What else had she missed?
General Tond saw her stop and then move to the computer and knew she figured something out. He had worked with her for quite a while now and was very curious as to what she discovered. Her race almost never moved fast and when they did it was important. He was done with his analysis and looked up so she would know.
Hastee noticed that General Tond had finished and asked, “What do you advise?”
General Tond said, “The Kuli are very well known for avoiding civilian casualties and I believe that is why they attacked the Kiltrin ship where they did. The ship’s appearance without setting off our sensors confirms that they had Gster’s permission. The way they slid over from the landing base and attacked just out over the ocean show that they wanted to catch the Kuli off guard, basically in a sneak attack. That it didn’t work does not surprise me. The Kuli ships have such advanced technology that I don’t know why anyone would attack them; however, the sensors also indicate that the Kuli ship has a force field around it and they almost never do that on a planet they do not own.”
Hastee interrupted, “They do own the ruins on this planet.”
General Tond was intrigued by that comment. So, he thought, the situation has many levels. He went on, “My own calculations after the incident determined that their force field has almost completely covered the ruins. A feat that very few races have the technology to do. The feat is even more impressive when you see that they are mapping the ruins exactly. Think about it, a custom shaped and sized force field. I wonder what kind of computing power that takes, not to mention energy. I would also bet that since the incident the Kuli have deployed sensors of their own and will no longer use our sensors to track incoming ships. They will not be snuck up on again. I have more but I believe you would like me to provide suggestions for action as it appears we both know most of what happened.”
Hastee smiled. This is what she liked most about General Tond, he hated to waste time. She told him, “Yes. Please let me know what you advise.”
The General smiled back and said, “Do nothing.”
Hastee was actually a bit shocked and asked, “Why nothing?”
General Tond answered, “Up to now, the Kuli have done nothing illegal. It is their property and they defended it. In addition, our security forces did not attack them and they have no reason to believe we will. It is natural for us to raise our defense levels so that won’t bother them. We should have someone, probably me, go over and ask what happened so that we can assess the threat to the planet. They would expect that and it will keep their little war with Gster off our backs. So unless our boss directs us to participate, my recommendation is to stay out of it.”
Hastee nodded and then spoke, “There is one other piece of information for you to consider. Ever since the Kuli arrived, the moon has remained above the ruins. In that location, the contract stipulations place the entire moon within the area then own.”
“So, this is about way more than we know. Do you have any ideas?”
“No,” she lied. Hastee slid back and went on, “The contract gives them the land down to the planet’s core and out to just beyond the moon, although I cannot see a reason why they would care.”
The General shook his head and commented, “I remember an old saying from my grandmother, “When you can’t figure out what a Kuli is doing, you need to either help or run.” Of course the saying sounds way better in her language and we cannot run.”
Hastee smiled, in her own way, and added; “While you are there, ask if they need any help.”
The Ruins of Gster
The ship’s medical room was full of children, anxious children. Their savior was seriously injured and laying in the stasis pod. They had not had anyone, except Greeney, care about them for years and now two angels dropped in. They all were stunned and asking questions about the Soretto, except one little girl. Would he be alright? Would he live? Is he an angel? I thought angels did not get hurt? Where is his mom? And more. J’Rontia did not answer and just kept cleaning him and working on the medical equipment. She did not have advanced enough equipment for this and it would be a disaster if they had to leave.
When she had finished hooking him up she turned to Greeney. “Please take the children into the main room. He will need to rest.”
The kids left the room while moaning about leaving and asking even more questions. All the kids left, except one little girl. “Why don’t you heal him?” she asked J’Rontia.
The ship became silent as J’Rontia turned and said, “I am. That is why I set the controls on the machine.”
The girls shook her head no and said, “I did not ask about the machine fixing him. I want to know why you don’t.”
J’Rontia looked closely at the girl. She seemed to be about eight standard years old but rather short for her age. She had close cropped hair that was as close to white as blond hair gets with brown eyes that appeared to have golden sparkles in them. J’Rontia answered, “I am not a Kuli healer and I cannot fix him. His body will have to fix itself and the machine can help. What is your name?”
“They call me shorty,” she said, pointing at the kids in the other room. “Greeney calls me little sister and my mom called me her little warrior.” She stepped forward to J’Rontia and said, “You are a Blue Warrior like my mom but she wasn’t blue. I saw your eyes and hair glow like hers did, but you have blue and another color too.” She reached out and touched the end of J’Rontia’s hair. “Your hair even feels like my mom’s.”
Greeney stepped back into the room near the little girl and said, “Never mind her Miss. She has lots of stories and I doubt she ever had a mom like you.”
Little Warrior turned to Greeney and said, “I did have a mom, just like I said.” Then she turned back to J’Rontia. “Why don’t you fix him. You have the glow.”
J’Rontia was intrigued by the girl’s comments and asked, “How did your mom fix broken people?”
“That is the lesson I have for you.”
Greeney stepped over and said, “That is enough. You are coming with me and this blue and glow talk is over.”
J’Rontia held up her hand to Greeney and said, “Please. Let me hear her story. I will send her to you when we are finished. ”
Greeney was stunned but did as she was asked. She stepped into the other room and shut the door.
J’Rontia turned to Little Warrior. “I am ready for you to teach me.”
“My mom said not to let anyone in my mind except the Guardians of the Bright because I have secrets that only the Guardians can have. She told me stories about the Bright people and that I would grow to be their guardian. To learn the lesson, you will have to go into my mind and follow the training my mom put there.”
J’Rontia answered her, “I understand and I will try my best.”
Little Warrior looked up at J’Rontia and said, “I have one test to give you before I can let you into my mind. You need to answer a riddle. Will you do that?”
“I leap off cliffs of death for fun, I am hunted by that which I hunt, I monitor pure hate with love in my heart, and my child walks with angels and ghosts. Who am I?”
J’Rontia turned and looked at the computer console for a while as tears fell across her face. Finally, with moist eyes, she turned back to the Little Warrior and answered, “My mother.”
Little Warrior smiled and said, “You can look into my mind. My mom said to tell you to follow the heart sign and to be careful of the bright light.”
J’Rontia asked her, “Do you know why she said that?”
“I have a very bright mind.”
J’Rontia reached out and touched her forehead. Several long moments later, she pulled her hand back from the little girl’s forehead and cried to herself deep down inside. “Your mother was extremely brave and wonderfully special. She loved you very much!”
Little Warrior walked over to the Soretto and took J’Rontia’s hand. She placed her hand over the end of his right arm and said, “Hold your hand here. Think about growing his hand the way my mom just showed you and then turn on your glow.”
J’Rontia turned toward her Soretto with tears still streaming down her face from what she had learned. She placed her hand as the girl told her and concentrated in the manner she learned from the girl’s mother while she was in Little Warrior’s mind. Her Soretto stirred awake and his mind joined hers as they traveled through his brain looking for the area she saw in the girl’s mind. They found the controls that allowed a repair and a regeneration to happen at the same time. She then turned on her glow and they watched the acceleration of the regeneration. In a short time, her Soretto was able to take over the work, promising to rest after he started his other hand growing. JRontia did not know how long this new method would take but clearly it would be a small fraction of the time needed in a medical stasis pod.
J’Rontia disconnected and turned to Little Warrior. “You have taught me a great skill. Your mother would be proud.”
Little Warrior smiled and said, “My mom would be proud of you. He is healing now.”
“Your mom told me your name in the lesson.” J’Rontia hugged Little Warrior and said, “Your name is T’Lhast. It has two meanings. In an old language, it means Bright Light and in Linthian it means Bright Warrior. She said that I am to arrange for your training so that you can be the Guardian for the ruins.”
They opened the door and went into the main control room of the ship. As they entered, an alarm went off on the control panel. J’Rontia quickly accessed the system to make some adjustments and then moved to the monitor. There was someone outside the perimeter in the uniform of planet security. It appeared she was getting a visit from the planet’s security forces. This should be interesting.
A short while later, J’Rontia walked up to the edge of the force field near the man in the planet security uniform and asked, “What can I do for you?”
“I am General Tond. I am the head of Gster planet security. We noticed the incident with the ship and are interested in knowing if you need any assistance.”
J’Rontia looked at him and said, “I appreciate the gesture General; however, I know that Gster Construction, your employer, ordered the attack on us. So, why are you here?”
General Tond was surprised but not shocked. The Kuli usually were a step ahead. He said, “I wanted you to know that the planet’s administration had no knowledge of what happened, nor did we participate.”
“Tell Governor Hastee that we have the records of her communications with Gster and have no intention of retaliating against the planet Gster but will respond should anything else happen. If you leave us alone, we should be gone in a few cycles of the planet.”
General Tond bowed and said, “We appreciate that and wish you to know that we are willing to do whatever we can to help if there are any injuries.”
J’Rontia’s face darkened and she deployed the techniques she learned from Tomli so the General would not see her eyes glow. She responded in a voice that sent shivers up the General’s spine and that he would never forget. “My Soretto sacrificed greatly to ensure that only he was injured. I will personally oversee his healing and no help is needed.”
General Tond could see how hard it was for the Kuli to hold herself back and he knew fear like he had not before. He had recognized her as she walked up and knew her reputation. This was the Kuli’s most deadly warrior, J’Rontia. He had watched the video on the battle she had with the thousands of Kiltrin Warriors many times. It was difficult to control himself while standing in front of one of the deadliest Kuli ever.
Her face remained tight as she went on. “You can tell Mr. Gster that if any of us were near his mother’s ship when it burned we would have saved her. The story that we were there is not true.” She paused for a moment with a pensive look on her face and then she continued. “You can also let him know that his loan on the section 4 projects will be called due tomorrow. Now, will there be anything else?”
General Tond stepped back and bowed. “Thank you for your time and candor,” he said and quietly thanked his family gods that he was still alive. He turned and walked back to his shuttle thinking it might be time to retire again. He would enjoy telling Gster that his loans were coming due. That should be an interesting conversation. How did someone as smart as Gster do something as stupid as attacking the Kuli?
J’Rontia returned to her ship determined to speak again with the Little Warrior.
The City of T’ouraget
Hastee watched General Tond’s back as he left the room and wondered what it was like to have met the famous J’Rontia. He told her about the meeting with the Kuli in his normal concise manner; however, something was different. When he had finished with his short narrative, he gave her his notice that he was retiring and that his company was returning all of the money for this job. Evidentially, the young Kuli was rather impressive.
She was looking out her window across the city when she saw the flashes. They came like lightning down from the sky. Orange and red streaks flashed with the white as the streams hit the ruins with a huge explosion. Hastee reached over to her console to hit the alarm and to close the window’s shutters. It would be too late for most of the citizens living near the water but perhaps some may be saved.
The Ruins of Gster
J’Rontia had just finished feeding the huge crowd on her ship when the alarms went off. The control panel showed three Kiltrin command ships coming into orbit around the planet. The sensors she placed after the first Kiltrin ship was destroyed detected them approaching the planet. J’Rontia connected with the visuals from orbit and watched as the three ships started to come together.
J’Rontia went to the wall and held her hand over a blue triangle. Jump seats slid out from the wall all around the room. “Get into a seat and strap in. We are going to have a bumpy ride,” she said.
One of the kids asked, “Where are we going.”
“We are not going anywhere, we are about to be attacked. Now strap in quickly.” J’Rontia had that tone in her voice that left no question about obeying and all the children attempted to strap in. J’Rontia and Greeney went to each one and made sure that the connections were correct. Then Greeney strapped herself in and J’Rontia went to check on her Soretto.
J’Rontia smiled when she saw him and said, “I see that you have not rested very much.” She laughed and he joined in.
“I found a way to speed the process even more and I should be back up to speed soon.”
J’Rontia walked over and checked his straps. “They are about to attack. They have a three way boost coupling that I believe will power a nuclear pulse gun.”
Her Soretto shook his head and commented, “That will cause a lot of damage to the area around the ruins but it should completely recharge our ship. Are the field converters fully functioning?”
J’Rontia nodded. “Yes. I completed them just before dinner. I also redirected the capacitors so that I can store extra energy for a response.” Her smile was not pleasant as she looked at the damage her Soretto absorbed in order to save them all. She turned and headed out of the room.
Her Soretto watched her leave and noticed that her hair had started to glow. As she closed the door, he realized that her blue hair was not the only thing glowing. Now, her amber hair had started to shine. He lay back down and wondered what that could possibly mean. Well, he knew it did not mean compassion for her attackers. He closed his eyes and concentrated on restoring his limbs.
Sweat beaded across her forehead as J’Rontia reached out with her life-force toward the city. She broadcast an overwhelming sense of fear in the direction of the water front. The thought that went with the fear was to get as far away from the water as possible. Soon her hair was so bright that the children on the ship needed to close their eyes. She could feel that her efforts were not enough so she detached a part of her brain to look inside itself.
In her brain, she could see the pathways she was using as bright as can be. She followed them, wary of the warning of Tomli. She found three locations where the pathways appeared to be restricted. She did not know if damage would result if she modified them but she had to increase her broadcast power. She was about to open one restriction when she heard his voice say, “The blue bird has power to burn, the amber bird strength to endure, but the white bird is control and should always fly first.”
The line was from a children’s story Tomli told her when she was very young. Looking at her brain, she realized that one of the obstructions was tinted blue, one white, and the third amber. She concentrated and opened the channel to the white.
In moments, there was a panic on the water front as citizens ran screaming away from the water and some unknown terror. The crowds swarmed over each other in a panic as they moved as fast as possible from the water front. The streets were strewn with dropped items of all sorts as people stopped whatever they were doing and just fled. Soon there was no one left except an old man with a broken leg who was hobbling as fast as he could away from the water.
The old man slipped and fell to the ground. Tired and in pain he got up slowly. He looked back at the water that he loved so much and tried to make sense out of the fear he felt. He was still looking when the flashes from the sky burned the vision out of his eyes. Moments later, when the wave of water struck him, he smiled with the understanding that death was upon him and that he was content. It had always been his wish to die in the water he loved so much.
J’Rontia turned back to the ship’s console and checked the level of energy in the capacitors. They were almost full. She looked toward the kids and gave them a smile to let them know everything was going to be alright. She walked over and sat in the control chair by the viewing screen. The screen activated and she could see the three ships that were attacking her. She switched the view screen to one of the sensors she had placed in orbit.
The close up view of the ships revealed three huge Kiltrin command ships of Murhan origin. These were expensive and luxurious warships that were custom built in the Yustry Shipyards. They had a unique design feature that allowed them to couple together to greatly increase their destructive power. Of course the Kiltrin Warriors should have read the fine print on their contracts.
J’Rontia took visual and spectral readings and sent them by hyperspace to the Kuli Council. Then she repeated the process to the Linthian Council and the Murhan Council along with the clause from their contract with Yustry Shipyards. The great ships fired a third volley while she waited for a response. The Murhan Council responded with a confirmation that those ships were sold under a contract with the clause in it.
J’Rontia directed the small sensor to move forward toward the Kiltrin command ships. The sensor moved into a small slot in the first ship’s hull near the docking bay and connected to the computer of the ship. Using a code reserved for the Kuli, she activated a hidden subroutine. The sensor backed out of the slot and returned to its position in orbit with all of its systems recording the activity.
The City of T’ouraget
Hastee turned back to the window and watched as the sky lit up a second time. The second volley generated additional explosions that moved out from the ruins to the lake and sea where the shock waves and tremendous heat created more steam and waves. Added to the first volley, this series created a mini tsunami that travelled rapidly across the lake striking and destroying all of the boats and docks except the largest. She watched in horror as the waves came over the docks and into the business district.
Hastee’s attention was drawn back to the sky as more flashes flew down to the ruins. She could not imagine anything withstanding the force of those attacks. The smoke and steam prevented her from seeing the ruins but she recognized a nuclear pulse attack when she saw one and knew that little in the galaxy could withstand the force. Evidentially, Gster did not appreciate the Kiltrin ship being destroyed or his loan being called due and was looking for some revenge. Did he think these were the only Kuli left alive?
Hastee turned back to her console and started the process of determining what the damages were. The estimates of casualties were high as building after building was discovered to be destroyed. Gster was killing tens of thousands of his own people without a second thought. Hastee directed the computer to prepare a report of all the activity and messages related to this incident. She had no intention of this ruining her/their reputation. The Republic would receive all the needed information to investigate this disaster properly. She also submitted multiple copies to safe locations in case parts of the government proved corrupt.
She had almost finished when General Tond entered the room. Hastee finished the directions for the computer and turned to address General Tond. “What can I do for you?” she asked.
General Tond bowed toward her and spoke, “Naturally, I kept working to help you and the residents of this planet in this time of need. I also have some interesting information for you.”
Hastee was a little surprised that he stayed. She asked, “What information?”
“It seems that we have almost no casualties on the waterfront.”
“What?” Hastee exclaimed in great surprise.
“Yes. During the first strikes, something scared the people along the water front and they all went screaming hysterically away from the water. Their panic spread and within almost no time just about everyone anywhere near water of any kind was fleeing for their lives from some unknown terror.”
Hastee slid back on her tentacles and was filled with awe as she realized that this assistance could have come from only one source. She looked back at the General and asked, “Do you think the Kuli caused them all to run?”
General Tond smiled and nodded. He said, “I think that my first assumptions were wrong. I don’t know how their force field could have held up, but after reading the reports coming in I believe our visitors are still there and probably even madder than they were before.”
Hastee looked out the window where she could see a fifth series of attacks taking place as they spoke. She wondered if the planet would have to be evacuated when this was all completed. Gster was a fool.
Hastee turned back to the General. “If you want to post-pone your retirement for a while, you can assist with the evacuation.”
General bowed and said, “Agreed.” He left the room quickly.
Hastee turned back to the window in time to see the entire sky light up as an explosion took place far out past the moon. “I guess the attacks will stop now,” she thought. Hastee went to her computer to see if she could arrange for transportation for her citizens.
The Ruins of Gster
J’Rontia switched off the viewer after the explosion. The children all saw the small hole blow out the side of one of the command ships. The resulting disturbance twisted the coupling causing it to interrupt the flow of energy during the next volley and the energy collapsed back on itself melting the couplings and tearing the ships apart. All three blew apart in a series of explosions that lit up the sky and guaranteed no survivors.
J’Rontia turned to the children and told them they could unstrap. She nodded at Greeney as Greeney moved to help the others. Then she went in to see how her Soretto was doing. J’Rontia entered the room and saw him sitting up and smiling. J’Rontia wondered how he could be so happy all the time when so many people were trying to kill them. She smiled back.
Her Soretto asked, “Did you get them all?”
J’Rontia smiled back and said, “Yes I did. I wonder if they will send more?”
“I don’t think so. I saw what you destroyed on the monitor. Those were some very expensive ships. When you add in the cost of the first ship and the costs Gster will have with the Republic cleaning up the mess he just made, I think he is going to be short of money for quite some time.”
J’Rontia nodded and asked how he was doing. He showed her his new stubs, one on each wrist. She asked, “Would you like to try something that I just learned?”
Her Soretto answered, “I would love to.”
J’Rontia told him to keep his healing process going and she entered his mind. He joined her as she followed the pathways for healing once again. The process took a while but they finally found the trio of restrictions she was looking for. She examined them closely and found the white one. When she removed the restriction she felt his joy as the process accelerated.
J’Rontia left his mind and asked, “How does it feel?”
“Like the difference between night and day,” her Soretto responded.
“Good. I wonder how long this will take now.”
“Look at my wrists,” her Soretto exclaimed.
They both looked down at his wrists and watched as the stubs grew before their eyes. Within moments, they could see the beginnings of his hands. J’Rontia smiled at him and went back into the other room by the children. She was looking for a particular child, T’Lhast.
T’Lhast saw her and smiled. As J’Rontia approached T’Lhast anticipated one of her questions and said, “I was never worried. My mom told me that you are the best warrior in the galaxy. How is your Soretto doing?”
“He is doing great. Your training helped a lot as did some information from an old friend of mine.”
“Good. Are we going to start my training?”
J’Rontia smiled at the precocious child. She was going to enjoy her time with this little girl. J’Rontia said, “No. That will have to wait till you are on a different planet. Right now I need your help to finish my job here. Will you help me?”
T’Lhast was clearly disappointed that her training had to wait but she said, “I guess.”
J’Rontia took the little girl outside and they walked away from the ship toward a tall spire. As they approached, T’Lhast spoke, “This leads to where my mom is.”
J’Rontia said, “We need to visit her. Can you handle that?”
T’Lhast looked at her and said, “Of course, I visit her all the time. She talks to me best when I am with her.”
J’Rontia smiled at the little girl and told her, “I just did not want to interfere between you two.”
“She is expecting you and has for a long time. She cannot finish her work until you help her.”
J’Rontia had no idea what the girl was talking about but she nodded anyway. When they reached the spire she asked, “Do you know how to go inside?”
T’Lhast said, “Yes. You can come to. Just do as I do.”
T’Lhast walked up to the spire and placed her hands on two triangles and then she faded away to nothing. J’Rontia reached out and placed her hands on the two triangles and felt the power flow through her as the device slipped her out of phase and she dropped through the ground into an underground room where she came back into phase. A very interesting experience she thought.
J’Rontia looked around the room and drew a breath in awe at the beauty. Everywhere she turned there were gleaming surfaces of polished metal. She was standing next to T’Lhast and in front of a control console. She examined the console and recognized the symbols as those from one of the ancient languages. She reached out and turned on the monitoring system. All around the room the walls turned into monitors displaying the various systems of the city.
T’Lhast smiled as J’Rontia turned on the various components. Her mother had told her that J’Rontia would be able to fix things. She hoped that J’Rontia could help her with her mother. She waited patiently while J’Rontia worked with the computers to learn about the city.
J’Rontia had the answers she needed in a short time. The computer console was very intuitive and she learned fast. It was a good thing because she could tell that T’Lhast was running out of patience. J’Rontia smiled at the little girl and asked, “Where to now?”
“To my mom!” the girl said. T’Lhast took off at a run toward the green striped door on the far side of the room. J’Rontia hurried to catch up.
They travelled through many doors and a few lifts until they came to an area marked “Restricted.” T’Lhast said, “My mom is in there but I can’t go in. I have tried but the door won’t let me. My mom said only those with the blue can go in. She said that I don’t have the blue. She said that I will grow up to have part of the white, which she says is better, but that I can’t enter until then because only the blue are born with the power turned on.”
J’Rontia wished that she understood what T’Lhast meant by “part of the white” but decided to wait till later to find out. She was pretty sure that what she learned today about the white bird was connected to the girl’s comments. Tomli taught her a lot of things indirectly and the knowledge seemed to come when she needed it. So, she would trust that this was another one of those pieces. She turned to the door and started to examine it as she said, “I am sure that your mom is correct so you better stay back. I have had the blue to one degree or another since I was born so I should be safe.”
J’Rontia saw two ancient symbols on the door for death. One of the symbols was for death by poison and the other for death by radiation. Next to the door was a panel with seven colors on it. The colors were spread out as if to form fingerprints from a seven fingered hand. She examined the panel and smiled as the image came directly into her mind on how to use the panel. She was about to place her hand on the panel when she noticed that the button near her thumb had three colors on it – blue, amber, and white.
J’Rontia move her thumb so that it pressed on the white part of the button and lined the rest of her hand up as directed. The door swung open and she stepped inside. The door closed immediately behind her and the lights in the room came on.
A voice spoke, “I am glad that you have arrived. I have waited a long time for help.”
J’Rontia looked toward the voice and saw a white table with a skeleton lying on top of it. She moved closer and said, “How can I help you?”
The voice spoke again, “I can no longer operate the equipment because the main power cells ran dry. When the Kuli first came, it was about a thousand years after held off a major attack and I was almost completely out of power. Thousands of years earlier, we had arranged for the Kuli to come to the planet but it was assumed that I would still have power to communicate our needs with them when they arrived. That last attack drew down my power so much that I could no longer waste energy for communications. Still, we had an agreement that this year they would come to charge me. So I waited in silence till you came.”
J’Rontia was thoughtful for a while and then said, “Will a channel burst on a spire charge your cells?”
“No. You need to send power to the three smaller spires at the same time or it will reflect back.”
J’Rontia answered, “I can do that. I currently have seven trillion zrytors of power available in burst from my capacitors.”
The voice was excited when it answered, “That will almost fully charge me and is more than enough to restart the star engines. How were you able to bring that much energy?”
J’Rontia said, “I didn’t. We were attacked and I had my force field absorbing the energy and then transferring it to my capacitors.”
“Spatz! Those are some powerful capacitors. In my time, only the ancients had that type of holding capacity.”
J’Rontia was curious and asked, “You are not one of the ancients? You use their language.”
The voice laughed, “We are not the ancients and that is our language. We based most of it on their language when we discovered one of their civilizations during our space travel years.”
J’Rontia asked, “May I ask who you are then?”
The voice responded, “We are the bringers of brightness. The symbol of a hand pulling a sun is ours. Although we never left this arm of the galaxy, we did travel for a number of years until we realized how dangerous our inventions were becoming. Then we dismantled most of what we didn’t need and hid the most dangerous ones that we thought we might someday need or that we could not destroy. Like this weapon.”
J’Rontia was startled, “I thought that this was a hidden city that I was restoring.”
“Yes and no. This is a city, one of our greatest achievements, but it is also our most dangerous weapon and I was placed here to make sure that it did not fall into the wrong hands. I have waited a long time for your help.”
J’Rontia was not sure how this was going to play out. She asked, “Who are you and where are you? Also, once the weapon is powered up, what are your intentions?”
The voice did not answer right away. The white table started to glow and the wall behind it lit up with monitors showing multiple systems. Then the voice answered, “May I draw some power from your ship? I need it to show you what you want.”
J’Rontia sent a thought to her Soretto that power would be bleeding off the ship a bit and told him to keep a watch on the energy flow. Then she said, “A small amount of power will not be a problem.”
The room came to life and system after system turned on. The voice directed J’Rontia to watch a number of screens as the information started to flow to the equipment that had been silent for so long. The screens showed J’Rontia the story of her people and the city building of the city. Then the voice spoke again, “I am T’Lhafter, the last brightness. I was given this name because I am the last of my people left alive.”
J’Rontia interrupted, “What about the girl? Isn’t she your daughter?”
“Yes she is. However, she is only half of my race. The other half is from the man on the table there. He was a Kuli that crashed into the ruins during my last battle and died after years of helping me. The child is ours.”
J’Rontia said, “I guess that only brings up more questions.”
The voice answered, “Correct. However, I do not have time to answer everything. Let me be brief and then we need to bring the machine back online before it automatically self-destructs when it runs out of emergency power.”
The voice continued, “I was born to be a part of the machine. My race was dying off and this weapon needed to be safeguarded so my parents agreed to allow their child to be customized to be the machine’s guardian. The machine was built into my body as I grew and I was adjusted to communicate directly with the weapon. I still had all the parts of my people but as time went on I accumulated various machine parts. In the end, I was more a machine than a person.”
The voice paused for a few moments and then continued on sounding rather sad, “For hundreds of thousands of years I have lived and fought those who would use the weapon. When the time came that someone could destroy this machine of death, then my work would be complete, but that never happened. All that anyone who discovered it ever wanted to do was use it to eliminate an enemy. All that is, except the Linthians and the Kuli. However, neither group had the technology to destroy this machine.”
The voice paused and continued with a very tired tone, “After the last battle, I found the prophecy of the blue in my memories. Just before I was placed on this planet, I asked our council what I should do if the machine still exists when my time comes to die. The council chamber had only two of the members left alive and yet that day a third person was in the room. The third person spoke, “If that is your fate, then an ancient prophecy will be fulfilled for you.” Then I was given a viewer with the prophecy on it. I will show you.”
The viewing panel in front of J’Rontia held the following:
The bright of white enters the dusk before her final flight
The blue of right will light the brightest night
Blue warrior of unbreakable mold will fight incredibly bold
Blue glow to save the day and the child of bright to lead the way
Power collected bold will save the city gold
And the engine of the stars will rise and leave behind its bars
In the abyss it will stay to hide until the day
The Little Warrior so bright will light the way out of the night
The engine of the stars alive once more will pry open eternity’s door
A final answer to the plea and the ancient ones will be free.
The voice went on, “I never knew who the third person was and he stayed in the shadows where I could not see him.”
J’Rontia was intrigued by the poem and found a number of familiar phrases in it. She had many questions but could tell that the voice was fading. Clearly all the talking was a strain for her. J’Rontia asked, “I was told to power the city of gold and that I would understand what that meant when the time was right. I never figured the city to also be a weapon. How long do you have and what will I do with the machine if you die?”
The voice was unsteady as it answered. “During my daughter’s time in stasis, I used the machine to build a command center that she can control without having to become a part of the machine, although she will not have the years of life that I have had. The machine knows where to go. Once there it will only allow you or my daughter to enter the command center. I programmed the machine to follow your commands for ten more standard years. Then, either my daughter will have returned to guard it by then or it will self-destruct.”
J’Rontia had to ask, “Why didn’t you have it self-destruct in the beginning?”
“Because when it self-destructs it will rip open the fabric of space-time itself and create an unknown number of worm holes and other space time anomalies. The star engines must be drained before it can be dismantled safely.”
J’Rontia said, “What should I tell your daughter about you?”
“She already knows what she needs.”
J’Rontia went on, “Where are you?”
The voice answered sadly, “I am in the machine. When I became pregnant, my daughter needed nourishment that no longer existed here in the city and my condition did not allow me to leave. I gave birth with the help of the machines I built and sacrificed most of my physical body so she could build hers. Then I placed her in stasis until there were others who could help her.”
The story J’Rontia found in T’Lhast’s brain now made more sense and the sacrifice was even more impressive than the little girl understood. J’Rontia wished she could help more. “Can I do anything else?”
“Yes. Return the bones on the table to Linthia for burial.”
J’Rontia moved back to the table and looked at the bones. Her attention was drawn to the left arm of the skeleton. Just above the elbow was a scar on the arm bone in the shape of a triangle. J’Rontia was stunned! How was that possible? She asked, “What was your mate’s name?”
There was no answer for a long time. Then the voice came in a whisper, “I need the power now. I cannot hold the autodestruct off much longer.”
J’Rontia sent the thoughts to her Soretto and he initiated the power burst as instructed. In moments, the machine surged to life and J’Rontia asked again, “Who was your mate?” But there was no answer. J’Rontia checked the readouts and saw that the life was no longer registering. She reached out with her mind and found the woman, still alive, and tried to give her energy. It was to no avail; she was too far gone after all those years. J’Rontia thought she heard in her mind one word, ever so quietly spoken, “Watcher,” and then J’Rontia felt her slip away into the eternal night.
The City of T’ouraget
Hastee had the evacuation almost complete when the air around the ruins started to clear. Perhaps she would be able to see what was left before she had to leave herself. She had the auto washers clear the windows again of debris so that she could see through the glass better. The external cameras, the ones not broken, were worthless due to the filth all over them.
When the bell sounded she turned to the window. What she saw shocked her to her core. She could not believe the sight in front of her eyes and quickly brought as many sensors back online as was possible with all the damage. They showed that her eyes were true and the vision was real.
The marsh and the lake were gone and the bay now extended all the way to the desert. The ruins were also gone – completely. It their place was a gleaming city of gold with six spires rising high to the sky and another group of three surrounding the Kuli ship which was glittering with all the colors of the rainbow. Then the wind shifted and the debris clouds blocked her view once more.
Hastee slumped to the floor. The lost city of gold was a myth, a legend, and in some stories, the home of the gods or the ancients. The city supposedly contained secret weapons that could even topple the Linthians. The walls were believed to be made of gold itself and the buildings full of the riches beyond belief. Hastee never thought any of it was true; she scoffed at those who chased the dreams. Now it seemed that she was the fool, she had been sitting right next to it.
The next morning was forever coming. Hastee never evacuated so many people so fast. They all wanted off of the planet as soon as possible so that they could get away from the water. They were willing to leave everything and anything behind and they were not afraid of the turbulence left over from the attacks on the ruins. Even after one of the shuttles crashed, no one worried about their safety in the air, only about getting away from the water.
Hastee was almost done with her job her. Gster Construction would be investigated for its connection to the Kiltrin attack and more than likely held responsible for the relocation costs for all the planet’s citizens. She doubted that she would receive her final payments on her governor’s contract. No doubt the trio would be upset, although they would have done the same.
Hastee looked to the window and saw the clouds clearing again. Perhaps she would see the city of gold once more. She stared across the sea waiting for a glimpse but was disappointed as the sky clouded up again. Now she knew why the Kuli kept ownership of the ruins and wondered if she was correct about the moon that was still stationary over the city.
Night was falling and Hastee was just about to leave when the ground started to shake. She spread out her tentacles and wondered why there was an earthquake on such a small planet. She slid over to the control panel to close the shutters and glanced out the window one last time. There was the gold city is all its glory. She smiled as she realized how beautiful the city was. Another quake came and she reluctantly closed the shutters in case the glass broke. It was time to go. A short time later, she boarded a shuttle with the final members of her staff and they said farewell to the planet Gster.
The Ruins of Gster
J’Rontia exited the chamber and smiled at T’Lhast. “Your mother is a brave woman.”
T’Lhast said, “She was. I am going to miss her. She said to trust you and that you will help me prepare to be the next guardian.”
J’Rontia almost laughed. “I will do my best. Right now we need to get this machine running again. Can you show me the command center your mother built?”
“Yes. This way,” said T’Lhast and she took off so fast she was almost running.
Once the city was up and running, she contacted her Soretto. “You can shut down the force field. I have the city’s field up at full strength. Also, do you have an update on the citizens?”
“Yes,” he answered. “They are evacuating at top speed. I imagine that they will be out by morning.”
“Good. We will leave tomorrow night.”
J’Rontia turned back to T’Lhast and asked, “Do you know who your father was?”
T’Lhast said, “Yes. He was a famous Kuli.”
“Do you know his name?”
“No. My mother said she could not tell me because it might cause a problem when I meet him.”
J’Rontia asked, “Did she say why?”
“Yes. But I promised not to tell.”
J’Rontia smiled to herself as she thought about the events, T’Lhast’s comments about her father, and how attached she was becoming to this little warrior. She said, “We will have to go back to the ship to prepare for our journey.”
T’Lhast nodded and they proceeded to the exit.
J’Rontia entered the control room of her ship. Everyone in the room was smiling at her. She asked, “What’s up?” No one answered. She moved to the next room to check on her Soretto. When she entered the room he was on the medical table. She said, “How are you healing?”
Her Soretto turned to her with a huge smile on his face and held up his hands. Both of them were completely healed. She was thrilled and her joy overflowed as she ran to him and hugged him. He then turned toward her and his legs fell over the side of the table revealing two fully formed feet. J’Rontia was stunned and said, “You are healed? Do they work properly?”
Her Soretto answered, “Yes. The white did the trick. I have looked at some of the other pathways I use and found similar control sets.” When he saw the look on her face he went on, “I did not open any of the others. But I think we will need to have a conversation or two with a high-ranking Kuli soon.”
As night fell the next day, J’Rontia and T’Lhast fired up the huge engines of the city of gold. The machine started moving out from the planet causing massive earthquakes and destabilizing the orbit some as it left a huge hole where it had been. By morning, the big machine was completely off of the planet and beyond the moon. The machine rotated so that the six spires faced the planet and then positioned itself so that the moon was between the planet and the city of gold.
Waves of gold washed over the moon as it shimmered in the morning light. The moon shook and rotated so that its pyramid point was facing down. Slowly but surely the moon moved toward the planet. In the Kuli ship, Greeney smiled as her fifteen children faced a monitor and watched the moon travel down. One little boy suddenly exclaimed, “Look, it fits in the hole.” They all watched as the moon slid right into the hole left by the machine. Soon the planet was whole again and the restoration was complete.
J’Rontia looked at her Soretto and said to herself, “Yes, the restoration is complete.”
T’Lhast watched a different monitor that showed the city of gold moving off into the distance and then vanishing as it entered stealth mode. She remembered her mother and the dying city as she thought to herself, “The restoration is complete.” She missed her mom.
One of the sensors in orbit around the planet recorded the return of the moon to its place of origin, the exit of the city of gold, and the departure of the Kuli ship. Once it was alone in space, the sensor sent a message and then destroyed itself.
Moments later, a ship shimmered into view nearby. The pilot of the ship had sea foam blue hair with touches of reddish amber streaks, a smile that could win wars, and eyes so green they could almost hypnotize you if you stared at them. She reviewed the message sent from the Deceiver’s sensor while her ship recorded the final disposition of the planet and the system. The Ghost was correct, they were still after J’Rontia and they had not known that the city of gold had been here. She could only imagine the scene when it was discovered that not only did they fail to destroy J’Rontia again but that they missed a chance to get their hands on the legendary the engine of the stars.
The mischievous smile on her lips faded as she considered this latest attempt on her daughter’s life. Even with the recent setbacks, Gster was too powerful an ally of the Deceiver to let him walk away. She programmed new coordinates into her ship. It was time for a ghost to visit Mr. Gster and help him see the error of his ways. The mischievous smile returned as she contemplated her options and the ship vanished once again.