Issue 21: Pandora’s Box
As much as it pains me to admit: The Star-Spangled Banner is here to help. As one of her biggest critics, this observation no doubt shocks people. My husband has archived all my “Into The Fire” programs. Free to view anywhere within the Alliance. I often thought the worst of people. Perhaps it's time to think the best of them. With the one cravat: Always hold them accountable.” -Anna Preston-McQuire
Within the Typherian sector, many Houses are clamoring for their “Defenders” to come home. This reporter believes that there is more to this situation than meets the eye but I rather have it come from the horses’ mouth.”—Jonas “Eddie” Olsten
Star’s redacted Legion files are on display for all. If you doubt them. Look to the sky. See how our demis regard her. She is no enemy.—President Fredrick Marshall
“You may call me Dawnbreaker. Like my sister, I wish to help the people of Earth.”—ANN Breaking News
Most of Earth stood beside me. Thanks to Anna. Since she was my most outspoken firebrand from the start, many realized there was much more going on that Typha or Earth wanted to admit. The President was giving me time to reveal the other shoe drop. That my father was human and American to boot. I would be able to keep my civilian Identity a while longer. Just long enough to make it count. Because later on, Typha’s councils wouldn’t be able to take back my Scion nomination to House Ayeer. So for that year or so, I bore the brunt of “She’s an Alien stealing our flag!” hit pieces vs the ones who knew where my heart lied: I am here to help Earth. And all those who walk the stars.—Sleeping In Starlight, a memoir of the 22nd century.
New Ashbury, Texas
Historic Down Town District
March 3rd, 2104
Citizens stopped and stared.
The Star-Spangled Banner was crisscrossing the sky. Bursts of crackling white energy spilling forth. Damaged vegetation and buildings reformed. Due to the heroics of Earth’s demis many lives were saved. At one point she dipped down. Taking a moment to stretch. One little boy ran up, “Want some water?” She smiled at him. He returned it. While some people thought Star was here to invade, he remembered the Golden Redeemers keeping those scary stone monsters away. Her eyes were as warm as ever. Even if they looked a bit funny. Dawnbreaker landed beside her. His brown beard clean-cut.
The youth asked, “Why are your adults unhappy? Dad says you can stay! He works for the US Imma-gration office. The Legion got you visas.”
Dawnbreaker winked, “No worries. Sometimes adults need to work things out.”
He picked up the boy and carried him to his mother. “Ma’am. Have a nice day.” She took her son with a dazed look on her face. To think that demis like this would even say hello. Dawnbreaker’s uniform was gold and white. With twin suns at the center. Not like that bulky energy armor she recalled from the holo-vids. Just thinking of all those monsters made her hold her son closer.
Star waved as people called out, “Texas loves you!”
“Hey! Marry one of us! We’ll make you legal!”
Various men and women laughed good-naturedly at that.
But it did bring up an interesting question: when humanity got out further, would such pairs be recognized?
One priest insisted, “Well if that does occur, it's gotta be with proper vows and recognized by the church!” Dexter saw his sister nod. Knowing that their parents had the same thoughts. This was why J’ino went through the proper channels as Jennifer to be legally recognized as Thomas’s wife. She had the foresight to see this as a possibility. The crowd parted as the rest of the Golden Redeemers joined them. Arthon aka Lightbearer stepped forward, “Looks like we have to report to Alliance HQ. They have a mission for us.”
One TA General threw status update tablets at my chest.
They clattered to the floor around me.
Did he expect something different?
President Marshall eyed him hard.
King Elias Payne slapped the table and laughed, “If the US doesn’t want you, I'll grant you British citizenship, we even have more corgis per capita.”
Auggie barked. His bardaxian space Exo suit lifting him into the air. He even insisted on having a yellow dynamo mask to go with his newest ensemble. I thought he looked like the cutest bumble bee dog in the whole multiverse. His Yellow Bullet codename was perfect.
Anna said, “Now that you’ve gotten that out of the way….”
McQuire blew me a kiss as she threw another report at my head like a Frisbee.
It struck me right between the eyes.
I stood there. Most of the other heads of state of Earth shared bemused looks but otherwise remained silent.
Mom maneuvered next to Judgement. He didn’t react at first. Just frowned at the Terran Alliance representative. I moved to the screen, “So what new coordinates did the Dweller gate key in on?”
Rear Admiral Lanis said, “A new sector of space in our galactic back yard. We need void capable demis to go investigate. That means you, Judgement, and Dawnbreaker. We will keep Moonlighter and Adam Lazer in reserve. Alongside a few more you don’t know about.”
Herbert-Lanis cut the Thrower off with a hard glance.
Mom added, >> There are quite a few space-worthy demis on Earth Govt payroll but the military wants to keep it hush-hush. It's funny what high-level military wives can get up to.<<
I nodded, “Understood Ma’am!” I shot the elder Lanis a crisp salute. She reciprocated and we filed out of the Legion Meeting Halls. Most of the various heads were grilling mom about things. Various anomalies, what to expect out in the wider areas of the cosmos. The overall mood was positive. But that angry streak remained. Some were better at hiding it. I used our Golden Redeemer channel, <<Stick close to Earth. I have a feeling the Sleepers aren’t just within At’lan. Not that anger reveals it. It's just a gut feeling I have.>>
New Sector Grid
I pushed Dad.
A rather playful nudge. <<It will be ok pop. I understand why they feel that way. Empath remember?>> He nodded but I could tell he was in Overwatch mode. He hated the fact that some were picking on his little girl. My brother grinned, <<Besides it will throw them for a loop when it does get out that we are part human anyways. But Sul and the others want to play this up. It will cause needed chaos back on Typha.>>
There was a proto-Earth in the distance. With a little attention, it could become a well-terraformed colony for the Alliance. I circled its yellow sun. A faint buzz within the back of my mind. White translated it. Each word flowing from a point upon the planet circling this star.
“The Mind of All, the Knowledge that Flows, Mend the Worlds, Mind the Flows, Yellow Defender's Might!" As we traveled to the surface of the planet the overall remnants of a titanic battle were apparent. My brother's eyes rolled back in his head. He pointed. “Our answers lie ahead.” I wondered what he saw on the Weave side of things. His face was harsh.
I said, “Is the Weave corrupted here?”
Dawnbreaker responded, “No. Just dormant with old wounds.” He knelt and pressed his palms into the earth. Dad stared at the ruins. This temple was a thing of beauty once.
The body was crosslegged. Hands open in supplication. A triangle cupped there. As I got closer it hummed. A faint yellow light reaching out to me. It pulled me in.
Temple of Stars
Time Recorded: 4th cycle After the Fall
Nu’lar strode towards the apex. The memory crystal in hand. As Set laid waste to the planet. Theirs had been a hub of science and enlightenment across the Markav Hermegony. He must preserve this for the ones who would come after. Defenders of immense power. To command the very cosmos itself. The former Marvak sentinel crossed the threshold. Clutching the artifact to his chest. His yellow belt broiling with rage at the raw destruction. It wanted to protect. So many innocents lost. This must remain. The memory of the Markav. Of their true home.
He sat. Forming himself into a vessel to protect this object. Until the very planet caved in around him. He remained. Floating in the dust and void. His breath and life extinguished. Yet the calming yellow light of knowledge remained.
Nu’lar’s golden defender sash circled me. Lamenting for its master. I placed it within my utility belt. White spoke words of condolence. Her song merging with it. Bolstering it so it would find another soul worthy of the Yellow. That bright spark of wonder. Dawnbreaker waved us over. Digging through the remains of the temple. A time capsule was stored there. Ra and Isis peered through it.
Ra said, “These aren’t even tech schematics. Mostly stories, journals, even recipes of foods that probably don’t exist.” Isis phased through the ground. Nothing else of note remained under the former temple. She rose once more. “This place does have a distant connection to the Void Line of Earth.”
Judgment replied, “It isn’t for us. It's for Sul and her people. But that is interesting. I’ll see what Di’axi has to say.”
He gazed out over the cracked and boiling lava plains.
As we rose through the atmosphere the images of this place remained with me.
Its people and laughter. The songs. They would not be forgotten.
The Jupiter Rising
Comet floated into the Captain’s room. The music of the sailing ship calling him. Di’axi was frozen. His hand on the bottle. The Markav unit calculated that .2 seconds passed and the Scholar looked over at him. “Little one.”
Comet said, <<They have returned! Are we going to…>>
Di’axi replied, “We must. Soon the Jupiter will go places that will require Emris and the Box to remain behind. I have a feeling Eliza knows where.”
The Howling jumped onto the bed.
“She knows where! YES!”
His nub of a tail wagged diligently.
While my father handed in the report my brother and I circled Mars. It was calling to me. My Defender armor manifested automatically. White’s power flowed through me. As I touched down on the red planet, Highmaker beckoned. A few minutes later Sul’sandra and Taleer joined me. Their suits fit for their real forms rather than their human camouflage. Nu’lar’s triangle sang as we walked across the rust-covered surface. The glint of the domed cities reminding me that when the time came, they too would have to be moved. To create a human embassy upon this planet. A time of union. Against the dark of Unity. But first I had to lay the foundation. Dexter would do the same within the Weave of Mars.
Dexter watched the silver ghostly shapes of the souls of the Markav. Still frozen while their physical bodies resided within the heart of Mars. Deep within Illarium. The Cradel was nearly ready. He spotted the area where J’dax had secured the piece of Mordred’s blade. Dexter encased it within the Black. Knowning that his belt’s dominion over the Weave and Death would keep its influence contained. This too would be needed. To finally shatter the sword that Madam Mayhem wielded.
“Here me great wards of the Weave. Awaken. Bring forth the cradle of life to this desolate world. I release my grip upon you.”
A snap of wind nearly knocked Taleer off his feet. A faint rumble echoed. Star grabbed him and his sister. Shielding them against the swirling atmosphere flooding the planet. When the dust settled a new weight tugged at them. Taleer had almost forgotten what it felt like. Above, within the Terran Alliance Hab rings, sensors went ballistic. Without knowing why the red planet had a fully functioning atmosphere.
Clouds swirled below. Icecaps and ancient waterways refilling.
The Terran Alliance swiftly enacted a special coms blackout. Bringing various department heads into closed meetings. The Light Shamans among them bringing clarity to the situation. So the general population upon Mars and its rings would remain calm. Soon they would not be able to hide themselves, Earth or the Markav any longer.
Energy crackled from my hands and the triangle as I buried it within the martian landscape. It rose from its cradle. Forming a great golden pyramid. Highmaker trilling excitedly. He accessed the main nodes of Nu’lar’s gift.
<<Origin Cycle Markav Index Online: Quirey?>>
Sul’sandra removed her helm. Breathing the free air of her home once more.
“Request. Add records of Illarium. Rite of Awakening.”
Di’axi took me aside as Taleer pressed his head to the pyramid.
Speaking old words of joy.
The scholar took my hand. Placing the sailing ship within it.
The bottle reflecting that extraordinary cosmic landscape.
He said, “We must hide this. And Emris. Howling said you’d know where.”
Images of the Jungle rose foremost within my mind.
My voice echoed with White’s power. Within the depths of that Jungle, a pocket formed.
Emris rose from the hold of the Jupiter. Eddie gawked at it as Horus stated, <<For safekeeping!>> Before the ship disappeared. With nary a sound.
Bel studied the movements of the demis within Union Island.
She had tracked the boy here.
Finding his scent upon the battlefield of Thoth’s aborted armies.
His hybrid blood tasted ripe upon her lips. Mordred’s delight singing within her.
<< Let's go get ourselves a bargaining chip.>>
Issue 20: Here
Issue 22: Here