Issue 29: For Your Consideration
Oh? Do people still wonder why I got to slap that annoying House lady a few times without a Bodyguard squad coming in? It has to do with how Typherians see women in social situations. I used that to every bit of advantage I could get. Plus that’s not the first time I’ve slapped other women. Or had them get in my face. You should see the old holovids of Into the Fire. That was why E’ratha had no recourse. She’d have to acknowledge a human woman bested her. In the social sphere. With billions watching through INet and TNN source broadcasting. Why do you think J’ino wanted Eliza so ignorant? Women have the “I win” social button. Murphy torpedoed House Etiquette Norms within a Week. –Anna McQuire
Tonight we have quite the development. Earth and her explosive women. While those of us within the Commons see various displays of social and military power on the front lines within other communities and cultures, we are often reminded that the Houses of our great Ascendancy don’t always mesh well with others. Oddessen, M’tah, and Ayeer are an exception but even they are beholden to old rites and laws.—L’adur of the Commons, Host of “For Your Consideration”
To this day, with what I know now: I’d wish I had been triple the amount of ignorant. I didn’t just launch a nuclear social strike on Typha. I let loose with a Big Bang. E’ratha couldn’t openly do anything to Anna. That would force her to recognize a common human female as a social peer. No, she waited. In the end, it didn’t work. Anna is still quite vocal and abrasive but she’s mellowed in other areas. Gwen didn’t repeat the same mistakes that Anna did with her Weave Speaker clairvoyance. My little sister has McQuire to thank for that avoided time bomb.—Sleeping in Starlight, a memoir of the 22nd century
New Wave Studios
Downtown New Ashbury
July 4th, 2104
Anna leaned forward in the plush hoverchair. Her dark gray eyes sparkling at being the premiere guest on the Alliance News Network nightly news slot dubbed “Outer Cosmic Tapestry.” It was a dream come true. She had always wanted to be taken seriously. This was about as ground level in the overall news arena one could get. They had connections beyond Earth territories. She relished that House idiot's rage behind the scenes. Anna had Teddy placed near the backstage. Ready to record the fun. The hum of the audience invigorated her. The public discourse was firing all over. She kept her expression professional but on the inside, she was crowing with delight. Typha’s leading Newscaster was standing a few feet away from E’ratha.
His short-styled black hair, lined with white at the temples, was noticeable even here. He had even dressed Terran style. With a nice black one-piece suit. A white stripe ran down the side. Teddy sent a message.
///He’s wearing a stage suit from Captain Cosmos. This should be fun!///
Anna crossed her legs. Waiting for the other 4 to cross the threshold.
L’adur maintained proper protocol. Just to ruffle E’ratha’s sour demeanor further. The human Holo studio was bustling with activity. She was annoyed that none of them greeted her with proper reverence. He saw a rather fit and tall human woman walking towards them. Her gray eyes striking even with the whites surrounding those irises. That color was rarer with Typherians. Her soft Texan accent was more pronounced as she greeted him first.
He smiled. His eyes warming to the challenge.
Let’s see what else human women were made of.
I reached out. L’adur’s grip was solid. His eyes widened as he felt the pressure of my returned handshake. I eased a bit. Caution but respect flowed from him. Brushing up against my Empathy shield. I had myself clamped down a bit due to the absolute bundle of joy standing a few feet away. Her guards were impassive. My mother arrived. J’dax next to her along with some Ayeer guards in black, silver, and blue. The shashes were blue as well. My eyes nearly bugged out of my head. What mom was wearing would put a peacock to shame. E’ratha’s people had gold, brown, and crimson.
The colors had some significance but I pushed that away. I was here as Eliza Murphy, nothing more. I shook mom’s hand as well. This caused a definite reaction in all the guards. L’adur pressed his lips together. Not in disapproval. To stem the humor threatening to explode. I wasn’t even in anything other than my captain uniform for the Jupiter Rising. Lorain had suggested I change the setup. Black flight pants. Black boots.White undershirt. With a overlap. It went across my chest to serve as an extra holster. My jacket? With this latest update, it was a deep cerulean. It was suspiciously close to the blue tone wrapped around mom’s waist.
No cap upon my head. Doc had styled it so it looked regulation perfect.
I offered my arm to Mom.
She took it.
Saying nothing. She didn’t need to.
>>Trust me. Keep your uniform with that combination. When all is revealed it will make an even bigger statement than you know.<<
Doc knew what these colors meant. So did that Commons TNN (Typherian News Network) host. He waved us forward.
As we entered the studio Anna genuinely smiled at me. That was a first!
Mom’s outfit shimmered like liquid silver under the studio lights. The black underlayer covering gleaming blue boots. Her indigo sash catching the attention of all in the audience. On her right forearm was a white bracelet that ran to her elbow. Within its center was a crystal. I had no proper way to describe it. E’ratha bit back a scream when I touched the material. It warmed to my touch. I kept my face controlled but I knew where dad was. Instantly. He was with J’dax. Posing as one of mom’s bodyguards.
Mom further goaded her House rival by raising that braceleted hand to my cheek.
“I offer the long road of stars. May you find the path you seek.”
Lorain watched from the crowd.
Cloaked to look like a common civilian. J’ino had just acknowledged Eliza as a Peer. Letting all know how she viewed humanity’s hard-working men and women. E’ratha took her seat. Ignoring everyone. She wouldn’t like what came next. The doctor was certain. L’adur knew. It was why he had the whole Ascendancy network on standby. They were all present to making history.
Anna shot a pointed inquiry at mom. “So Ambassador. What’s with the outfit? State meeting?”
Mom’s regal bearing came out. The fire burned deep within those gray-green orbs.
“In a manner of speaking. As of today, our borders are open to Humanity. Along with their allies. Not as guests. My father wishes for a Military compact against our foes. We humbly request the aid of the Terran Alliance. Alongside her notable demis.”
E’ratha hissed, “We do not need…” Her head lulled back as mom glared at her.
Mom continued, as if not interrupted, “We recognize Earth and all of its territories as a Council Member. As of 1600 your standard time, you have been granted full rights and obligations to the Greater Cosmic Tapestry. As you put it.”
Not one word was uttered. The silence was so profound you could hear a pin drop.
A rumbling tsunami of sound cried overhead.
Javelins. 1000s of them. Crossing the atmosphere of Earth. Forming into a giant ring around the Sol System. It was on every feed. Not just Terran either. Every place that Uplift Protocol touched. Litari, Bardaxian, Markav, Typherian, along with planets they had no names for. Or didn’t know about just yet. Like Nola’s people.
The Curator of the Amarche leaned in next to me. His dark matter form shifting constantly. Humanoid one moment, flowing from one race to another. Typherian, Litari, Bardaxian. All melding into his dark matter frame. “The waters rise Protector. Ready yourself!” No one else could hear him of course.
The people of the Highest Temples watched. Warleader Uthar gripped his mug tightly.
His “research station” was a decoy. Their space defenses were cloaked within the World Shaker. What humans called the Weave.
Earth was now one of the Council. He hoped it would be enough. He was just glad that Nola, his daughter was safe with the crew of the Jupiter. His purple eyes glued to the station’s readouts. No one besides a few knew what was within those ships. He didn’t ask. Didn’t want to know. His people would work hard. The long dark was ahead. They would provide the lights to carry all souls home.
Unity would not win.
Tarvel Prime would join Humanity within the Bright Tapestry of the Cosmos.
The Jupiter Rising parked itself in high orbit over New Ashbury.
Waiting for the signal.
J’ino placed her hand over her daughter’s.
Committing offense to Typha’s long-held House traditions by speaking the Blood Pact out loud.
“I offer you the place at our table. Ashes linked across the Sands of Blood, Bone and Time.”
L’adur joined in with, “Well met Traveller. We see you upon our Shores. Be welcome here.”
E’ratha stormed out of the newsroom. Anna reciting something that made all the Typherians there stare at her wondrously. Even the handful of E’ratha’s mooks that still lingered pulled up short.
Anna’s tone respectful under the circumstances, “Humanity recognizes the offerings of Trust. Seek no Hidden Knives. We stand back to back.”
The Curator murmured, “Repeat this now.”
My mouth moved. Uttering the words.
“Twin Stars cross the Infinite. The Shadow quakes. The Mother Listens. The Tree Entertwined burrows deep. The Wall Reforms Along the Ouroborous. The Long Night is not Forgotten.”
Professor Nara, the Litari Weave Speaker chittered excitedly. He floated above us. Chanting the Words of Rebirth. I had spoken a deep truth to the Litari people.
Do not forget them.
Typha has but it isn’t the fault of V’alkor.
You will see. When your true name is revealed.
Call out to C’alain. He will answer.
The Murphy Household
Abraham Murphy lit more fireworks. Watching his grandson race from point to point. Their household was situated on the very end of the officer housing complex. So they had a bit more privacy than most. So a few demi antics wouldn’t be noticed. Provided they stayed careful. His wife, Eleanor, moved up beside him. Linking her arm with his. They strolled along the pathway. Mindful of Zachary’s horseplay with his two younger brothers in tow. It still amazed him how full of life children could be. Nothing would be the same anymore.
The thought brought joy but sorrow as well.
Humanity would enter the crucible.
He prayed they were ready.
Bright flashes of red, white and blue brought tears to his eyes.
Home would remain. Provided its defenders stayed the course.
“Justice shoots ever forward.” The motto that meant everything to him.
Eleanor held out a small device.
The indicator brought a delighted cry to his lips.
They would be parents all over again.
He picked up his wife and dashed around.
“Today everything changes!”
I knew before they said anything. I had an early warning system. White’s voice drawled out, <<Oh? But yes, very correct. I know how far along too! But let's save that for another day shall we?>>
The night sky was filled with gleaming flashes of Old Glory. I found myself floating a bit.
We would help. No matter what. Nothing could stop us.
Not House feuds, Unity’s rot, Set’s Dark Mirrors, all of it was washed away for this one bright moment. I saw my brother standing next to Mary Valcourt. Their heads close together as they watched the show as well. I caught mom’s eye. She nodded. Knowing what lay ahead. My brother and I had been connected for so long that in some ways, we knew each other better than we knew ourselves. He had known how I’d feel about Doc even before I did. So it was with Mary. They would heal one another. Gwen tentatively approached me.
Handing me a piece of paper.
I opened it. It was a drawing.
She had me sitting on top of the Jupiter Rising.
Markav Collective ships following in our wake.
I knelt, “Thank you!”
She smiled shyly and dashed back to mom.
J’ino hoisted Gwen up onto her shoulders.
Knowing that she’d miss this. That one day Gwen wouldn’t ask for the shielding embrace of her father’s arms. The reassurances of her mother. They would leave the nest. Finding a wide universe of adventure.
They grew up too quickly. These kids of hers.
Lorain Lanis’ thoughts dwelled on different avenues. The warmth of the July evening heating her bones. She hugged herself. Biting her lip as she focused on what would become of the future. How would they really save Eliza? She would have to pull beyond all her limits. For that one chance. She had held her captain’s heart in her hands. Willing it to pump even as those long-ago Keeper disks had nearly killed Eliza. Cooper and Auggie raced over. Their eyes reflecting in the glow of the fireworks. Cooper’s simple faith reaching through the fog. <<Bardax flies with you.>>
She knew he meant more.
Morrigan wouldn’t elaborate on the trip to Bardax.
The scripts from Goldenlight’s archives a distant flicker.
Doubt tore at her.
Then two sturdy arms pulled her into the air.
Eliza’s cheerful grin playing across her face.
I told Lorain, “Whatever it is can wait for the dawn. Tonight? That is made for dancing!”
I rose higher into the air.
Relying on White to obfuscate us. Highmaker and Horus helped. Politely steering Terran Alliance monitoring away for a few minutes. I grinned as I felt Doc’s internal temperature rise to compensate for the altitude. But we weren’t so high up that she’d freeze. She punched my arm. “Captain, I’ll have you know I am quite capable.” She was serious. Her green eyes blazing.
My mind flashed back to the previous nights.
I replied, “I noticed!”
She blushed delicately. I didn’t need to elaborate further.
I spun her around in slow circles. Her arms around my neck.
Her tone light, “The Dawn will come. Nothing’s the same anymore.”
I leaned in to kiss her.
She gripped my jacket. Pulling me in deeper.
Then Cooper was there.
<<Ah! Forgive me! We have an Alert. You were requested! All the Redeemers are requested!>> His black triangular ears plastered to his head apologetically.
Doc took another five seconds then pulled away. “Alright. Let’s go.” She wanted say more but held back. She cupped my chin. Wiping away her lipstick from my face. “Later.”
The Puzzler fired at the gargantuan metal shark. His face was covered with bright red lipstick. Grinning as he dodged the massive thing’s maw with his grav boots. An earth-shattering sonic boom filled the night air as The Star-Spangled Banner decended. Knocking Jaws on Steroids out cold. Hitting its main power core helped. His alert beacon echoed in his ears. “Ahh, so that wasn’t the mission?”
Star gave him a two-fingered salute with her left hand. “Nope. But we should take out this trash as well!”
Golden Bulleteer popped in to form the shark into manageable pieces. Blue Blaze assisted him. Zach waved to his sister, “I'll light more firecrackers for you!”
Their mission: The Green Defender Corp.
Trainees had gone missing. They were tasked to bring them home.
Cooper encased everyone else in a green glow.
<<First, I must also ask Sparta to come as well. His mate is the sector leader of the Greens for Bardax!>>
Eddie gawked as the complete Roster of the Golden Redeemers appeared within a Bardaxian transport. Sparta circled. His hackles raised for danger. The long dark called to all of them. Arthon glanced around. Holding a book in one hand, while he had a spatula in the other. His voice clipped. Star examined his housecoat.
Doc nudged her with a well-placed elbow.
Ritark’s shadowed form unfurled from Arthon’s muthra symbols.
“It would be nice to have more warning.”
The Atlantian sounded exasperated rather than upset.
His demi suit appeared on a rack next to him.
“Ah. Well then. Where to?”
He might as well take it in stride. At least Cooper had let him travel in his housecoat.
He was eternally grateful that he hadn’t been in the refresher at the time. Gathering all the materials for the Alarm program had completely sidetracked his involvement with the team for a bit. He snatched his suit from the rack and found a place to change.
If they needed all the Golden Redeemers then this was serious.
Green Defender Training Facility
She had been searching. Hearing the cries of the young ones.
The burned one would not have them. She bared her teeth. Her white fur rippling. Emerald energy flowed around her. Help was coming. The ground sparked. The air putrid. Void Walkers had never dared to take a Bardaxian. A plea along the Green sounded once more.
//Hurry! She hunts us. Find us! Along the Path of the Ancients! Mother! I’m scared.//
She howled. Her fury soaking the earth beneath her paws.
The storm overhead unleashed its payload.
Issue 28: Here