1.1 – The girl runs.
The heat radiates off the black asphalt sending waves into the air. The heat distorts the girl’s small figure from a distance. She looks from side to side taking in the sights around her. The two lane residential road is flanked by rows of white painted two story houses, each following the clean and kept look demanded by the housing association. The lawns each mowed and weed free. Each house an embodiment of the American dream.
Though it was only three in the afternoon, the summer sun still shone brightly across the sprawling neighborhoods. The longer days ensured the land stayed heated as much as possible. The mile long road was empty except for her running. With each blink She feels her legs pushing step by step, the strong muscles of her body. The breaths of air in and out. The feel of the warm air rushing past her brings a smile to her face, though she knows she shouldn’t smile with her father watching in the distance. It was nearly irresistible with the feel of the wind against her body. She feels as though she is floating on a cloud.
In the distance her father stands at the top of the driveway blocked in the shadow of the house. He makes sure she does her laps, not slowing down one bit. She looks his way anger filling her for a second as the memories flood back. He had come home early forcing her to go outside and start her work out. She knew if she slowed down or slacked one bit he would yell at her to do another lap around the street. Now she didn’t care. Soon. Things would change soon. Her smile returns.
“I can feel it.” She says still running. With each blink the breeze seemed to feel better against her skin.
“Soon his tyrannical rule will end and I’ll leave him sitting full of fear, he’ll see my wings and claws. Know I am not his powerless little girl. He’ll know my whims could punish him in any way I want. Soon my man will come and it’ll start” She thinks. Her running pace increases, the mirage coming off the pavement fades as she gets closer to the house. Her father watches unable to fully grasp how quickly she is running from the distance. She comes to her senses realizing she had sped up to much. She pulls herself back but the feeling of the energy in her legs overrides her thoughts. She didn’t care anymore, soon her man would come and with him, any fear would disappear. She increased her speed, each step on the hot pavement propelling her further, faster. She reveled in the thought that she was doing something forbidden. Her father’s mouth drops open as he watches her speed up, his vision was bad, but he could see her clearly moving faster then she should be able to. The sight of him dumbfounded left her giddy inside.
“This isn’t possible” he thinks to himself. “How can a person run so fast?” He looks on as his 17 year old daughter finally slows down as she reaches the edge of the lawn. Her large smile sparks a tinge of hate in him. He had made her run, punished her, why then was she smiling there, staring down the road. Her eyes filled with strength, strength he had never seen. Could he really stand there and not do anything, could he not open his mouth and speak words? This aura she gives off had silenced him, an aura of power he had never seen. Instead of speaking he stayed there standing, mouth a gap, unable to grasp what change had occurred. The wonderment of the moment refused to end. As she came to a stop, a glimmer of color and light appeared. The brief second of appearance happened so quickly he couldn’t
understand what he had seen. But now, a boy stood in front of his daughter, his smile mirroring hers. “Where had he come from?” He said out loud.
For her father it was an instant, but for her the second seemed like a minute. The minor gasp of air as the initial red glimmer forms the large square outline. The center of the large square glimmers blue, tinting the colors behind it. She can feel the power in the field, her joy nearly uncontrollable. A slightly smaller black outline forms in the center of the large box. As the center fills with this engulfing blackness, the blue tinged border melts into a dark green. The black box, the doorway as it is referred to, fills up. An instant later an arm juts from the center. The hand and arm are quickly followed by the right leg. The green color turns yellow as a boy’s head and chest exit the blackness. The red shirt the boy wears flows from his body. The yellow turns gold before the whole shimmer disappears as the boy removes his last arm and leg. The red shirt meets dark blue jean shorts going to the top of his knees. The white sneakers look a little worn as his feet touch the ground. His black hair gets caught in the light breeze blowing backwards.
As the doorway portal behind him closes a ring of gold forms above his head. The ring spins shooting spikes of golden energy up into the air. The energy breaks apart fading into nothingness after leaving the ring. The boy takes a step forward golden energy flowing behind him leaving a trail. The trail swirls forming a cape flowing behind him, the last trailing edge occasionally tearing off and fading into the air. The father watches the boy walk up to his daughter, kneeling before her. He takes her left hand kissing it. The gold trail fades behind him.
“Amelia, I told you I would return.” The boy says looking up at her and smiling.
“I know you would.” Amelia replies. He stands smiling, their hands still gripping each other tightly. Her father looks on in astonishment. He watches them stand there hand in hand unable to grasp the strength and maturity in their faces.
“Let your wings go.” The boy says. Her smile widens as she lets go of his hands and raises her arms. A gust of wind rushes away from her as golden power flows from her arms up into the air. She swings her arms down quickly to her side, the power flows out forming what looks like wings behind her. She giggles lightly as she jumps into his arms kissing him on the lips.
“We’ve really done it Jason.” Amelia says looking into the boys eyes, their noses lightly pressed together.
“We did.” He replies.
“They’ll try to stop us.”
“We’re ready.” He says. A ring of golden power circling her head.
Chapter 1.2 – Horror sets in.
“Hey Cora, are you paying attention to the screen?” The man says standing behind the metal chair and leaning against the back.
“Of course I am. Why do you always have to trouble me with those constant complaints about the screen?” Cora replies spinning the metal chair to face the other man. The other man removes his arm from the back of the chair as it swivels. Cora looks up at the man as he returns the stare. A light laugh echoes from the corner of the room behind the other man. Cora and the other man turn to look at the shorter person laughing in the corner.
“Shut up.” Both men say to the third, shorter man laughing in the dark corner. The scolding causes the man to stop laughing.
“Oh!” The taller man says still eyeing the shorter man. He moves his hand over Cora and the chair to point at the screen Cora had been facing originally.
“Putting your arm over my head is disrespectful Jegara.” Cora says bringing his gaze back to the taller man in front of him.
“Then do your job and stop exaggerating the facts.” Jegara says bending down so his face is only inches from Cora’s face.
“Red” Cora says not changing his gaze from Jegara.
“Maybe it was a pink or green?” Jegara responds. Cora scoffs at the question.
“Go back to bothering Aneath.” Cora adds.
“Nooooooo.” The little man in the corner says softly. Cora laughs as he turns away from Jegara to face screen he was monitoring.
“A new born, again.” Cora says with an obvious depressed tone.
“Don’t say that like it’s a bad thing.” Aneath says in his squeaky voice.
“It’s pitiful, by this age the Farasha were among the planets and suns! Not a single red had been born in 800 cycles.” Cora replies his voice getting louder as he said it.
“He’s right.” Jegara says standing upright before continuing “Aneath that is. Not you Cora, you’re too stupid to realize how good it is that they are taking so long. They barely have space travel, which is what happens to those who inhabit the rare I minus planets.”
“Not having Irius on your planet isn’t a drawback. The Ling advanced well without it.” Cora shot back, anger flashing across his face.
“But they took three times longer to leave their planet than the Farasha did!” Aneath squeaks out as he looks over at the two at the front of the room.
“They also had a large quantity of Dorn. Just because you don’t like the metal doesn’t mean it can‘t be melded to the same strength as Irius. These people don’t have any of it; the strife of their own kind seems to mirror that of so many races we’ve wiped out.” Jegara says grimly, walking away from Cora’s chair.
“Oh not this again! We know you never fought in any wars. Don’t act like it was a bad thing when you have no idea. Every guardian agrees what was done was necessary.” Cora responds arrogantly, waving his hand in dismissal. Jegara looks back over his shoulder frowning as Cora still sits rigidly in the padded metal chair.
“Just make sure you note the red in our update.” Jegara says dejectedly still looking back at Cora.
“Like it isn’t added automatically?” Cora asks rhetorically. Jegara turns from Cora. The white orb spins in the center of the screen as continuous scans of the planet are done. The red dot dims as the globe circles away from where it had shown up. The orb rotates slightly before the light activates red. Jegara stops as the light illuminates the walls of the room. Aneath and Cora don’t speak their eyes wide, grey skin getting lighter as the blood seems to flow from their faces. Jegara spins to face the screen, the red light still shinning.
“That.” Jegara stutters slightly not finding the words he wants before stumbling through the question. “That’s not possible right?” He runs forward clenching Cora’s chair. He bends over, his head above Cora’s. The red dot on the orb was in a different place from the previous one.
“We’ve never had two that close together.” Cora says hoarsely sitting further forward in his chair.
“Is it a child, can we kill it before influence begins?” Jegara questions his eyes wide, worry easily visible on his face.
“Analysis beginning!” Cora yells hitting the top key to the right of the screen. The computers response flashes above the orb
“ANALYSIS COMPLETE: Female. Age: 14 cycles, 17 earth cycles. Weight 46 Kilograms. Height 5.8 feet.”
“That’s not possible” Jegara says.
“Running diagnostics, and rescanning!” Cora exclaims. The red light flickers off as the white orb disappears then reappears. The red light glows bright again. Jegara stands upright not able to believe what is happening.
“Confirmed” Aneath says, standing up. Cora looks up at Jegara.
“Command five, orders?” Cora says reverting back to military protocol.
“Um.” Jegara stutters out, unable to think of what to do. The red light shifts to pink. The three men gasp.
“No! Is it a cascade?” Aneath asks frantically, running to stand next to Jegara behind Cora’s chair.
“How is that possible there isn’t enough evolved to prime a cascade evolution!” Cora yells. Jegara realizing the urgency of the situation turns and leaps to the captain’s chair in the middle of the room. He frantically flips open a panel on top of the rest, hitting the emergency button. Alarms blare in every room, prompting the personnel to dress and report to stations. The three men stand next to each other in a line facing the rear door as they hear the captain approach behind the door.
“This better not be another refugee or settler barge I have to escort out of the sector.” The captain’s loud voice can be heard through the door as he curses the alarm. As the door opens he continues “Please tell me its pirates?” The light from the scanning panel shades his normal smooth red Farasha face with a bright blue light. The escalating horror of the situation hits him at his first step into the room.
“Sir, I” Jegara says before being waved off by the captain.
“How is a blue on the planet? Were light reds and pinks not being reported?” The captain says walking further into the room, his accusatory tone having little effect on the men.
“It’s one person, a girl. She went from red to pink and blue before you got up here.” Cora answers.
“How is that possible, the reports say they shouldn’t have enough reds for a cascade evolution for another 50 cycles? She wasn’t a red before?” The captain asks.
“She was running down one of their transportation aisles when she spiked from grey to red. There is no history in the genetics and no reds are within influence.” Aneath answers.
“Alert military command of possible evolution cascade in official sol sector, request update.” The captain says walking to his chair and sitting in it. He flips two knobs, a three dimensional display appearing in front of him displaying the solar system. He waves his hand slightly rotating the system before putting his finger at a point just outside of the planet’s atmosphere. The ship’s shutters lightly as the generators power up to full. A dull hum sounds through most of the ship as the engines engage propelling it to the destination the captain pointed at.
“Captain! Command authorizes code A, genocide of the influence sphere.” Jegara says standing at a console to the right of the captain while looking at him.
“Aneath, prepare armory for soldiers. Cora, start the wakeup procedure. Jegara prepare the military drop pods with energy fields.” The captain yells out the orders. The three men scramble out of the room, Aneath to the starboard, Cora the port side, and Jegara to the rear.
“You two, begin setting up the scaled armor for immediate equip. Plasma and flechette rifles with each set of armor.” Aneath commands as he enters the large armory. The technicians begin to move around the room pulling out the equipment that Aneath had named. Jegara reaches the rear of the ship; no other personnel can be seen. He clicks several buttons on a panel. Several lights power on in the ceiling shining light onto the black drop pods the soldiers will be using.
He hits another button activating a floating assistance lifter. He grabs onto the handle bars that control the lifter swinging it to the first pod. The other end of the lifter latches onto several points at the top of the pod. Several clicks echo in the chamber as the lifter locks onto the metal filler block located at the top of the drop pods. Jegara pulls back hard causing the metal block to come out of the slot it was attached to. He spins the lifter around to the wall opposite the pods. A set of four columns open up on the wall with four rows each. three of the columns have modules for insertion into the drop pods, the fourth column is empty for the filler modules. The lifter fits the metal filler block into one of the blanks, releasing the locks letting it thud against the shelf. With the shelf now filled every module in that row lights up letting Jegara know to grab one of those modules to place in that drop pod. Attaching the lifter to one of the modules he yanks it back pulling the module out of the wall. As the module leaves the shelf the other two modules turn red. Jegara spins around pushing the module back into the slot in the drop pod. The latches on the lifter disengage pulling back slightly from the pod. The locks in the pod can be heard clicking shut. The light above the pod turns from white to blue showing stage one of the configurations is done.
Jegara spins back around to pull a device from the forth row on the top column. The thin arch of metal fits over the top of the drop pod. The sides expand until the device is secure around the entire top of the drop pod, armoring and preventing access to the shield module installed. The light above the drop pod turns from blue to gold dictating the pod is configured and ready for use. The first row on the wall close and the light at the top turns gold. Jegara sighs before continuing to the next pod to duplicate the process until all the pods are finished.
“Rapid wake the command nine first, then rapid wake the command eight and seven.” Cora says standing in front of the first sleep tube. A technician touches several buttons on a panel next to the first tube. The light on the tube shines a dull grey color. The cold air and ice in the tube quickly turns to water as the technician monitors the rapid wake process. Noticing several other technicians standing at panels further down Cora addresses them. “The rest of the soldiers activate five micro-cycle wakes.” the other technicians nod and begin activating the automated wake procedures on all but two tubes. The grey light begins to fade to red as the temperature in the tube raises and several liquid injects are administered to the man. The light turns solid red as the door opens, warm air rushing out of the tube. Steam comes off the black, skin tight, hibernation suit the man wears.
“Command nine!” Cora says bringing his arm to his chest in a salute. The man opens his eyes, he raises his arms to the door frame and steps out of the pod.
“Where is the captain? Have we docked yet? Why aren’t my soldiers out?” The commander interrogates Cora obvious outrage at the situation as he looks around at the technicians working on the tubes housing the men under his command.
“There has been an issue.” Cora says keeping his salute up. The commander looks back at Cora his gaze going up and down the man, his facial expression turning to anger.
“Where is my armor?” The commander asks his voice becoming gruff and more commanding.
“This way sir.” Cora answers before turning to the technicians and continuing. “When Command eight and seven are active, bring them to the armory then the command room.”
“Yes sir!” The technicians respond saluting. Cora leads the barely clothed man out of the room and down a long corridor across the 145 foot wide ship. The sharp tap of Cora’s boots echoed in sharp contrast to the the slap of the commander’s bare feet against the dull black corridor floor. The grey walls and dim light is a welcoming sight to the commander but he pushes the comforting thoughts out of his mind. They enter the rear armory door. The commander pushes past Cora to inspect the armor and weapons lined in a row ready to be equipped to the soldiers still waking.
“Good, you have all been trained well. We may live through this yet.” The commander says, his voice taking on a deeper tone of admiration for the formation of gear. He finishes walking to the front of the line of gear, seeing his command nine gear and drug shot waiting at the front of the section. One technician unhooks the cylindrical drug dispenser and hands it to the commander as two other technicians unhook the armor and begin fitting it to his body. The commander puts the cylinder to his arm pressing the button on the bottom. The red liquid can be seen draining from the small window in the metal cylinder. The haze from the rapid wake clears quickly as the drugs increase his metabolism forcing the sleep chemicals from his muscles and mind.
“Right foot.” The rear technician says, waiting for the commander. The commander raises his right foot allowing the technician to lock the armored boots into place.
“Left foot.” The front technician says continuing the armor ritual both soldier and technician had practiced many times before. The technicians finish securing the body of the armor. Cora hands the commander the helmet.
“Lead on command three.” The commander says addressing Cora’s rank. The forward door of the armory opens as the rear door opens again. The command eight and seven can be seen entering as Cora leads the ground commander out the front doors. The two walk up a long hallway along the starboard edge of the ship heading to the main deck. The loud thump of metal boots on the metal deck drowns out any hum from the ship. The door leading to the bridge opens as they get closer. Cora steps inside, but freezes. The commander grows impatient after a few seconds and pushes Cora aside. Cora falls to the left a bit but keeps his balance not taking his eyes off what he was looking at. The commander steps into the room.
“Captain, what is the target?” The commander says while saluting. The captain doesn’t answer, only staring at the forward displays. The forward light comes on again. Gold.
“How?” The commander asks. No answer comes back. The commander grows angry. The marching of the armored man echoes throughout the room. He grabs the captain swinging him around to face the commander face to face before continuing. “Captain I will execute you here if you do not answer me!” The captain is shocked for a second before he regains his senses.
“I didn’t realize you had come in command nine. The severity of the situation has increased dramatically.” The captain finishes right before a loud buzzer sounds. Jegara walks in from the rear door with Aneath behind him. The two stand still in the doorway as the rest of the men look around for a second before moving their attention back to the display. A white symbol for number two appears over the top of the gold light. The captain continues. “How indeed commander?” Jegara runs to the console at the left of the display. The commander lets go of the captain. The captain straightens his uniform, turning back to the forward display.
“#$%@ &&#$ &$’&@ ready.” A speaker crackles as Jegara continues modifying settings on the console, the rest of the room not paying attention.
“Could this be the work of Vino terrorists?” The commander asks as everyone in the room looks to the video display magnified of the boy and girl facing each other on the road.
“If it is, they know how to get past our sensors again. Even remain undetected on the planet long enough to figure out how to make a human register as grey until they open the gate to gold.” The captain responds.
“It’s not possible; no one can go from grey to gold.” The commander says. His voice no longer holding the gruff and commanding presence it did when he entered the room.
“Sir! Military command has replied with orders! Which, how.” Cora says, his voice trailing off at the end.
“Cora?” The captain asks.
“All soldiers are to deploy in a fire wall approach. All non-ship critical crew are to report to surface in secondary gear. Ship Nexus and critical crew are to provide station close weapons support. Acknowledgement of message will update fleet support estimate.” Cora answers, his voice coming out weaker than he could believe.
“It seems this wasn’t such a lucky assignment.” The commander says resolve coming back to his voice. Cora hits several buttons sending the affirmative signal back to the military command.
“No it wasn’t” The captain agrees. Cora taps a few more keystrokes before a countdown timer appears on the screen.
“300 micro-cycles until reinforcements.” The screen displays
“Do we even have a chance to hold them off for that amount of time? That is nearly a forth of their day” Aneath asks.
“Just one? Maybe. Two? No, we don’t. Military hopes we can surprise them. If they just gained power they may not have the knowledge to properly defend military assaults or have the stamina to withstand prolonged bombardment.
“Are you up there my little watchers?” The voice resonates from the speaker silencing the room. The starboard door to the room opens, the command eight and seven walking in.
“That’s being picked up from the boy? He knows we’re here?” The command eight asks.
“A Gold could sense us, but to be so easy, suddenly knowing there is a ship with other species. There is no surprise. Something is wrong.” Aneath answers hurried, worry filling his voice.
“Since I can see you haven’t launched soldiers I assume you can hear me and are wondering what to make of this. Let me give you this piece of advice. Turn around and go home.” The boy’s face is emotionless showing a strong composure. He smiles slightly before continuing. “Tell your military command that this planet is a lost cause. You can’t hope to win. You have not faced a gold like myself before. You only have stories of a time when someone like me existed. And I believe the only other one close to having their gate open this much controls almost half the galaxy.” The boy says looking up at the sky, seemingly looking right at each of them. His pictures clear on the view screen. The commander clenches his fist as his teeth grind, the anger visible on his face. The boy’s words may be true but his pride was called into question.
“Orders are orders.” The commander says. He turns and walks out the rear door, the command eight and seven following him. The captain returns to his chair, flipping a switch to his right. Speakers click on throughout the ship.
“All non-critical members report to armory for combat equipment then report to your auxiliary drop pods located at the front port and starboard sides. All critical personnel take battle stations for atmosphere entry combat and station close weapons support.” The captain says through the speaker.
“Military command gives affirmative for combat deployment.” Cora says.
“All soldiers loading in primary drop vehicles, secondary drop vehicles ready any moment.” Jegara says.
“Forward guns fire salvo at primary target.” The captain says into the speaker. Aneath fiddles with several controls at the rear of the room, setting up primary and secondary targets in the computer, finalizing energy trajectory.
“Firing captain!” Aneath responds. Red energy streaks out of the gun ports to the left and right of the bridge.
“Soldiers ready.” Jegara says.
“Launch primary pods!” The captain yells.
“Yes sir!” Jegara responds locking in the trajectory and initiates launch. The thud of the drop connections disengaging resonates through the ship followed by the shaking of the thrusters on each pod igniting in unison. Cora moves from the communication console, where he had been standing moving to the navigation and tactics display on the right side of the main view screen.
“Jegara, see to your duties in the engine room after secondary vehicles have been launched.” The captain commands.
“yes sir.” Jegara says switching the main display to secondary drop vehicle diagnostic display. Images flash across the screen in rapid succession, showing the doors on each of the secondary drop vehicles. Image after image gives affirmative that the doorways are clear. All doors shut as the secondary launch sequence finishes phase one.
“Entering optimal orbit firing time for second salvo.” Aneath says.
“Begin firing.” The Captain orders. The bridge display changes briefly to the forward screen showing the energy charges firing from the main guns. The display changes back to show the internal camera of each of the secondary drop vehicles. The brand new shiny armor looks large and overbearing on the figures of the technicians. Though they had received training for this, the technicians had let their daily exercise and strengthening regiments lack severely these last 40 cycles. Now these men would have to rely on training that was mostly 50 cycles’ old, using muscles that were mostly atrophied. Once they had sat on firing lines, empting plasma, energy and flechette charges in rapid succession. Now when they get down to the battle field they would face something their training would be no match for, with bodies completely unprepared. The captain looks at the screen knowing he is sending them to their deaths but reluctantly gives the order. “Launch secondary vehicles.”
The camera switches back to the doorways. The thud resonates louder as the vehicles break away from the ship. The ship shakes more violently as the secondary vehicles ignite boosters and rocket towards the planet. The screen switches back to the amplified view of the surface, and their two targets. The red light enters the view for a second before the whole screen becomes obstructed.
“First salvo hit on target.” Aneath sounds through the bridge speakers. Jegara steps away from the combat deployment console and leaves through the rear door running to the engine compartment at the center of the ship.
“Cora, engage decent at optimal time.” The captain says.
“Yes sir, waiting for secondary vehicles to reach appointed time.” Cora responds. The two watch the screen, the cloud of dust from the first impact is nearly 100 feet in diameter blocking out all sight of the targets. The captain inspects the image subconsciously knowing something is off. He scans the image focusing on how the houses surrounding the blast had shifted. The blast seems to have been powerful enough to tilt the houses away from the blast point, but none seem to show damage from debris consistent with a surface hit. Cora looks back at the tactics screen before continuing. “Primary drop vehicles and secondary salvo arriving at planet surface any moment now. Secondary drop vehicles have entered optimal time frame, beginning descent.”