Each breath is an effort as I climb back to consciousness and away from the soft embrace of death. My eyes are dim and out of focus, my head swims through the sea of random thoughts, my intestines feel turned upside down, and I blink. I can not feel my legs. I reach out for the life-force around me and find little life left to give me strength. Death and despair surround me.
Next to me, dead, is my best friend, my Soretto. For seven thousand years we studied, trained, taught, fought, and lived together. With fewer and fewer being endowed with the understanding of the life-force, we took the long sleep many times. We have trained more Kuli candidates than any others in all the history of Tyria. Oh, the sweet memories of glorious Tyria.
Once a city, oh so small, then a country, oh so proud, followed by the naming of a distant star system, and lastly, the name of our wondrous galaxy spanning federation. Free, proud, and strong we were and determined to name this group of intelligent, democratic, and strong systems after the one system that had never been conquered and had always been a democracy.
But the warning of Supreme Guardian Tomli went unanswered. No one worried about one lone planet not joining. No one worried that all they wanted was to keep their king. “Just our king. We will change all the rest to a democracy. Just let us keep our king.” All of Tyria answered – if you want the benefits, then you must become a true democracy. We wanted it all. We wanted to stamp out all injustice and in doing so we committed the crime of arrogance.
Who knew a Deep Deceiver remained? Who knew he was on this lone planet? Who knew that their anger at us would destroy all of Tyria? As I lay here, I realize that my Soretto and I knew. As Tomli instructed us in the powers and arts long forgotten by most, our suspicions grew. As the other guardians quit and went to live a life of “peace”, we stayed. When the Supreme Guardian died, we stayed and studied more because we knew he was right. There was no one to appoint us Supreme Guardians as peace was everywhere. So we took our first long sleep, only to awake to the rumblings of what was to come, as that lone angry planet was now a lone angry solar system.
So we trained another generation and slept. We awoke to alarms and our long sleep was interrupted by Kuli who needed help training for war. The hate now consumed an entire arm of the galaxy and our appointments as Supreme Guardians was shadowed by the darkness spreading across the galaxy. We suggested allowing them to have their king. “No! Not now.” was the answer. We thought, “if not now, when?”
We slept. When we awoke, the galaxy was engulfed in a battle with the king. When we pleaded for negotiations, the darkness finally showed its source as the Deep Deceiver revealed himself and his newly built group of followers as they announced the creation of the Academy of Truth by the Holy High Seer. Our greatest fears had come alive.
But I ramble. I need to record the end of Tyria as it happened and take responsibility for our mistake. All of the remaining Guardians will receive my final orders as Supreme Guardian to look for a solution and atonement. The commands have been sent to the Kuli on the seed ships: Do all you can to find and restore Linthia to this universe and beg for our forgiveness. Protect, serve, and do not reveal our knowledge to the seed colonies. Remove all life-force holders from their colonies as soon as they are discovered and train them as Kuli. Do not allow yourselves to be discovered by the seed colonies under any conditions until they achieve a technology Level Ten. Finally, do not restore me again, as the life force becomes too difficult to control, and I fear you may create another Deceiver. You must destroy my core.
So what was our mistake? The galaxy was almost completely destroyed and yet the Academy still stood. The darkness was moved back to that one solar system at a cost of most of the galaxy. We needed to end this forever. We needed to make sure the survivors had time to recover before the darkness returned. So we built a plan to destroy the entire solar system. No one would escape this time to start down the dark path again. And they didn’t.
But every deed has its price. Two Supreme Guardians, two thousand Guardians, and four million soldiers of the Federation were ready to give their lives for the life of the galaxy. We felt the price was fair and we were prepared. The switch was thrown, the solar system vanished, and we awaited our doom. Nothing. The backlash from the power used to destroy the solar system was to flow into the ships of the blockade. Our linked force shields were designed to contain the destruction and we were all prepared to die. We didn’t.
The Deep Deceiver had tried to open a conduit for a jump using the life force of all his followers. We had anticipated this move and we had all two thousand Guardians blocking the move. We all felt the agony of his followers as their life was drained in the attempt, we all felt the cleansing of the life force as the Deceiver lost control of his power. And then we released destruction upon the entire solar system.
Our mistake was that we forgot to factor in life force battle. All battles with life force cause ripples and stresses in the fabric of space. In this case, the battle was so intense that the stresses actually damaged space itself and flowed down a fault line like glass cracking and created a subspace conduit. The destructive power we released to destroy the solar system did not reflect back out into our blockade. We who were prepared to die did not. The power followed the conduit through the fabric of space itself to the far end of the galaxy. To our shock and horror the power traveled to the Galactic Wing and exploded out near the solar system of Linthia in a spiral cone that engulfed the entire system before it broke open space time itself.
The Galactic Wing was our final stronghold, contained our only surviving ship building facilities, was where we had secretly trained for this mission, where we built the four million man army, and where our last library of Kuli knowledge resided. The systems of the Galactic Wing emptied their cities as they finally were allowed to help in this war. All the systems except one.
Linthia was the only system that refused to fight. They felt our arrogance caused the problem and in the end, as we used dark powers to win, they were the conscience of the federation reminding us that there are always consequences unseen and that the end does not justify the means.
The breach in space time formed a rip in the universe itself. As all things attempt a balance, the opening on the other side pulled all of Linthia through. The innocent on the planets of Linthia vanished with their solar system into a rip in the fabric of space itself. And then space closed and they were gone.
The shock waves blew through the galaxy and the remnants of Tyria were destroyed. All that was left were the warriors who swore to die for the galaxy that was now dead.
The days before our attack were dark as galaxy-wide resources and manpower were used up. The only warships we had left were built by the Murhans of the Galactic Wing. One of the last systems in the federation to be attacked, the Murhans’ ship manufacturing facilities were still intact. All of us at the battle were also of that race as their atmosphere was not breathable by other races. Only one race existed now and we just blasted most of them somewhere unknown to a fate we can only imagine. We destroyed all our friends, all our allies, our beloved galaxy and banished into exile the only ones who warned us. Our shame is complete and Tomli’s prophecy is fulfilled by those he trained to prevent it.
But I am swept up into the emotions and sorrows of the story again; time is short, so I return to the narrative.
The fleet now had a new duty. We must start over in new galaxies. Our explorers had only visited three galaxies, all at the limits of our fuel. The ships of the blockade are stripped and destroyed as we refit eight cargo ships and eight scout ships to take the needed people, fuel, and supplies the great distances between galaxies. We will go to the nearest eight galaxies with 500,000 people to seed in each. We estimate around 5,000 per habitable planet with 2 to 3 Kuli per planet.
But that is not all. On planets all over the galaxy people are dying horrible deaths. Someone must check all the planets for possible survivors and supplies. Before the war we had over 17,000 habitable planets, now we only have 2,138 to search. This is a job for the Kuli. Scout ships are assigned and we all go out. Everywhere we go hope dies a little more.
Five secorits later the seed ships are ready and the Kuli are recalled. My Soretto and I will finish the final searches. Twenty-nine planets remain. We are assigned a Commander’s Personal Cruiser of great speed that was spared scavenging so we could use it to search the final planets and catch up with one of the seed ships. Most of the fuel was removed and our trip was planned with great precision.
Our search became more and more hopeless as planet after planet was dead. The last three planets are all in a row pointing away from the Galactic Wing. Hope rises. The first planet lost its atmosphere in what must have been moments. The second held out in agony for a long time. Evidence of attempts to survive are at every landing site, but all life signs turn out to be animals and they are almost dead. All of our hopes are on the third planet of the groups and our final planet to search.
We have no life signs anywhere except at one of the planet’s poles. As we approach we are attacked with lasers, missiles, and finally unmanned small craft. They make no impact on our shields at all. We approach the camp cautiously and then land. Thousands surround our ship pleading to be taken on board. I reach out with the life force trying to answer the questions in our minds. They have the plague of Torusis.
Our defeat is complete and our path chosen. We can not leave these suffering people and fly off to another galaxy with our guilt. Yet we can not open the ship doors without being overrun. Even if we clear the area and successfully leave the ship, surely some will have the knowledge to take the ship and flee, only to infect those on the seed ships. My Soretto and I set the ship’s controls to an almost impossible jump that will land the ship in the middle of where Linthia used to be, using all the fuel and preventing any escape.
We work non-stop for many cycles of the planet. On the seventh cycle, the ship takes off and we have no idea how they overcame the locks, but it is gone. As the ship breaks atmosphere we find out that the programmed overrides worked as the ship jumps before anyone would have. Three cycles later we are more convinced that rigging the ship was a good idea as we discover the specific strain of plague we are fighting is an old one the deceivers developed.
Knowing the strain did not help as we could not find the needed resources to battle the plague. Everyone wants us to use our healing powers to save them and they do not understand why we can not. How do you explain to the dying that it is life that gives us the ability to save them and almost all the life in the galaxy is now gone. In their frustration and agony they finally attack us in great numbers.
We are expert fighters and thousands die under our skilled hands. They are sick and weak, yet their fear drives them on as they can not believe we are still standing against them. Bit by bit we are wounded and start to slow down. A flying knife out of the crowd slips through and strikes my Soretto in the neck. It is a fatal blow with our limited resources. He smiles and surges forward as I follow. Their front breaks and we feel our hope return as the fall back. But our hope fades when they surge back again. When my Soretto finally falls it is near the end, almost everyone is dead. We stayed to die with them and die we shall.
It is not just the dead around me that is so depressing. It is the realization that of the thousands of Kuli still alive, most will also die. When the remnants of Tyria arrive on their new planets their immune systems will be vigorously attacked by the native organisms of the planet. The Kuli will be at their limit helping everyone heal from these biological attacks and helping their bodies adjust to the new environment. It is doubtful that many of the colonies will survive the first year and even less likely that the Kuli will.
I drift again. Before I send this I need to give you one additional piece of information. After the battle, I got up and went to find the deceivers’ hideout. They must have a lab nearby and that means communication systems. There is only one ship I wish to track – the Commander’s Personal Cruiser. I need to know that the last deceiver was stranded.
My strength wanes as I prowl a dead planet in a dead galaxy. After many cycles I find the lair of the deceiver. I was correct in that there was only one. The locals working with him thought he was a priest of the Holy Order of Tyria and never suspected him. The protections are easily overcome and I fire-up their long-range communications. The ship is at the old coordinates of Linthia. I am ready to send my final message, when the screen fills with static from the outside in toward Linthia. When the surge converges on the ship everything blurs. After the convergence the ship is gone. Is it destroyed?
With my strength gone and my hopes with it, I can only say good bye. May you do better than we did.