Schuyevankerideh, errant Princess of Kahzer, Commander in the Verikan Guard, must lead the last vestiges of the Kahzerion people. Safety is not all they must find though. In a galaxy where they are hunted for no apparent reason that they can discern, Schuyler must find out why her home was destroyed by a group that doesn’t even originate from within the Verikvector Galaxy.
KRGSN Magnilda, Archive Room
Inter-Galactic Date 4375.11-03
"I still think this is the finest room aboard The Magnilda, Schuyler," Jeth commented as she and her partner sat themselves in old, winged chairs. An open fire crackled beside them, dancing over the wood that had been neatly arranged in the ornate hearth. Its red glow danced over the walls of the room, casting shadows over the books that occupied every shelf in the room—which was startlingly out of place aboard The Magnilda, with the old books and antique furniture that decorated the floor, especially given the sparse utilitarian appearance of the rest of the ship. A viewport to the side, with two chairs and a low table between them, showed the endless stars that raced by the ship as she moved effortlessly through the galaxy. The only thing that was missing was the heat a real fire would have provided, but the holo-emitters in the hearth could only do so much.
Sitting to Jeth's right was a woman with pale blue hair, holding a mug of some steaming, aromatic beverage in her hands. Schuyler nodded her consent, "I imagine that we are the only ones that truly appreciate the beauty of this room, though," she said as she glanced around the room from her place by the fire.
Jeth let out a soft chuckle. "I see Kisa in here often."
"Yes, with her head in a book!" Schuyler replied.
"This is the ship’s archive, Schuyler. It's full of books and reading them is in fact the purpose of the room.” She waved her hand around indicating the walls of bookshelves that surrounded them. "It's good to know she's interested in the history that's present here."
Schuyler sipped her coffee slowly before nodding. "It is as if he put every book on Kahzerion history, legend, and custom aboard the ship."
“Yes… The real ones and the digi-versions,” Jeth said. “There was always something magical about sitting in a comfy chair in that back nook of the academy library, with a real book in your lap, reading…”
Schuyler nodded, her eyes not seeing the room, but fixed on the old library. “There was a similar nook at the military college too… It just wasn’t as comfy with all those old weapons on the walls.” Silence filled the air, the sound from the holo-fire the only noise.
Jeth looked at her friend, waiting for her to say something else. The firelight danced, making her face change with every flicker. "It was his decision, Schuyler,” she said, guessing where her thoughts had taken her.
"I know… He had a reason for everything, I'm sure."
Jeth leaned back in the chair and raised her drink to her lips. But suddenly, the ship shook, spilling her drink over her. Jeth cursed under her breath as she swiped furiously at her clothes.
“What was that?” she asked.
Schuyler leaned forward, resting her elbows on her knees. “Ellie’s trying to teach the twins combat manoeuvres.”
Jeth grimaced. “Both of them? Together?”
Schuyler shrugged. “When have you ever known them to be separate for more than a few minutes?”
Silence fell over the pair once more as the ship shook again, rattling several books from their shelves. Many nights had been spent in the library, watching the flames flicker as they remembered all that was lost and looked towards what was left of the future.
"What do you see?" Jeth suddenly asked.
Schuyler glanced sideways at her companion. "A dark library with two ageing women watching a fire."
Jeth sighed and sat up straight so that she could look at Schuyler directly. "No, in the future Schuy…What do you see? Will we succeed? Is it possible to do what Elijahmeralorewn wanted from us?"
Schuyler put her mug down on the coffee table before them and sighed. "We did what he asked. We got them safe. They’re out there, living their lives.”
“That’s not what I meant. I’m talking about the future and what else he wanted.”
“What I see changes, depending on the decisions we make; on our failures, our successes… The future is not certain."
Pressure suddenly pushed them back against the chairs for a second, and then they were released, falling forward.
“Everyone, this is the bridge. So sorry. Turns out, flying this girl of ours is tougher than I thought!”
“Sapphire is going to get us killed,” Jeth murmured.
“She’ll be fine,” Schuyler assured her. “I just don’t think that anything more than standard flying is in her future.”
Jeth laughed. “Good luck telling her that; but still, I doubt you were perfect during your training.”
Schuyler pursed her lips as she saw the stars swirling by outside as Sapphire apparently tried another manoeuvre. “That…” She paused and looked at her friend, a smirk on her lips. “Well… that’s pretty close to the truth, actually.”
As the ship flipped awkwardly, Schuyler gripped the arms of her chair, as Jeth let her thoughts get the better of her, “Do we stand a chance or are we leading these kids, this crew of ours that we’ve put together on a fool’s errand? Leading them to their deaths? Making it easier for ‘them’ to find us because we're all in one place!" She ranted as she stared at the dancing flames. "It's been thirty years, Schuyler! These kids weren't even born then, you and I are getting old. Siranna is not in a state to do much these days. I'm not even sure how to change the way things have become in that time.”
The fire provided a distraction for Schuyler, allowing her to look elsewhere, then at her friend. She took a deep breath before speaking. "We knew when we left Kahzer that the road would be long and hard," she said and turned to look at the other woman, who stared at her expectantly. "But we made the decision to fight after the twins joined us, and I believe that we will succeed. The crew, these kids as you put it, made the decision to stay with us despite the dangers that we warned them about. Will we as outlaws and fugitives ever be free? The answer is yes. If we play our cards right. If we see our openings and if we listen to what is being said to and around us."
"So, there is hope?" Jeth asked.
"There is hope, but we are both too old to be playing the what-if game, my friend. This is the path we are on. This is the path they are on. We have to see it through. And when we come to the fork in the road we must decide correctly."
Jeth leaned back, her curiosity quelled for now. "Everything is so different from how I imagined my life would be when I was a child."
"As it is for me," Schuyler agreed. "And I'm pretty sure everyone has this reflective moment at least once in their lives."
The moment was ruined as the ship bounced and alert klaxons started to blare. Over the ship’s com, “Sorry, sorry guys!”
“Get off the helm!” Ellie ordered.
“I can fix it!” Sapphire cried.
“No!” Ellie exclaimed. “Give me the helm!”
Schuyler sighed. “Assuming we don’t kill ourselves along the way.”
The Council Academy, Classroom
Hauptstadt, Capital of Kahzer
Inter-Galactic Date 4345.06-28
Lord Elijahmeralorewn, the Prophet of Kahzer, stood in the door to his classroom, waiting. Behind him, in the darkened room, a man also stood, watching him as he waited. They had been doing this for almost a week now, and the second man was losing his patience.
"How can you be so sure she'll come, Elijahmeralorewn?"
Eli, as he was known to his friends, turned to the man. "I think it's about time you started to show some faith in the girl, Achmeristreviy."
The man scoffed as he stepped out of the shadows. "It's an awful lot of responsibility for a girl who couldn't even commit to the Council Academy or the Military College."
"I think you should realise something, my Lord,” Eli said, turning to him, feeling the same anger he usually felt when the King spoke of his daughter. “Your daughter already and has for a long time known everything there was to be taught at both the Academy and the College. Her problem wasn't commitment, it was boredom. If she were to ever take the final exam, she would pass far better than even our Madame President."
"You put far too much faith in her, Elijahmeralorewn," Achmeristreviy replied.
"My Lord, perhaps you should have more faith in your own daughter."
"You're putting Kahzer’s future in the hands of an outlaw!"
Eli turned to the man and fury blazed in his eyes. "You're actually standing in my classroom and you have the audacity to call your own child an outlaw!"
"Do not raise your voice at me, Elijahmeralorewn," Achmeristreviy ordered, stepping forward into the sliver of light that permeated the room from outside.
"I would ask you to accept my apologies, my Lord. But I have none to offer you," Elijahmeralorewn replied, before turning back to watch the hall outside his classroom. He heard the man behind him move around the room, trying not to let his anger take hold of him. Suddenly, Eli grasped at his head. He leaned against the wall, anticipating the images of death and destruction that he had been witnessing for the last so many years. Instead, amidst the sounds of the battle outside the College Citadel, he could hear voices from the hall. "Silence, my Lord," Elijahmeralorewn's voice betrayed his distaste for the other man. The sound behind him stopped and Eli was able to concentrate on the vision.
A small smile graced his wrinkled features when he saw the shimmering blue hair of the girl he and Achmeristreviy had been discussing.
“I knew she was coming. She had to come.” The vision of the girl and her human friend stopped as soon as they noticed him. "Come," he said, motioning to her to follow.
He waited for the girls to follow him in, before turning to them. "It's about time you returned," he said out of nowhere, looking straight at the blue-haired girl. She had been gone too long from Kahzer, but now it was time for her to leave again. "How are you making your escape?" Elijahmeralorewn asked calmly, needing to get to the point.
The girl pushed back the sleeve of her long, military-style jacket, revealing a wristband. "Verikan Guard Transporter Band. We're getting out of here!" she informed him.
"You're going to need something better than that to protect you, Kahzer is too far from the next closest planet for that to work," Elijahmeralorewn informed them, knowing something of the technical specifications of the bands. Then, another thought occurred to him. She couldn’t just leave with the human girl at her side. She had so much more she needed to do.
"What?" the human girl asked. "How?"
"Come." He led the girls to the far side of the darkened room, to where his desk stood, upon it, a map of the shipyards was open on the terminal. He turned to her. He could see the confusion over her young face.
"There is more you can do than saving one girl,” he said. “And here is how you do it,” he said pointing to the map.
The girl scoffed at him, obviously not thrilled with the idea. "You’re insane. It’ll never work. The council will never allow such an action.”
Elijahmeralorewn couldn't help but nod in agreement. "Too arrogant for their own good. I saw this war coming and the council… In their arrogance, they believed that they could win against this new enemy. I know now, how wrong I was to want you here on Kahzer. You had to see the world for the answers you needed to make this plan work. They were out there and you now know where our people will be safe."
"What?” She shook her head adamantly. “Even if I wanted to lead them, they wouldn’t follow me. I’ve heard what they call me.”
He should have known that Achmeristreviy’s words would have reached her, but this was no time for her to doubt herself. "Silence, insolent child!" he snapped. "You have been everywhere that you were truly meant to be. Your time in the Verikan Guard was no accident. You'll need that transport band. But there is more." he walked up to her. "My gift to the people is this escape. Hide for the next few years. But my gift to you…" he touched her head.
There were many things about this girl that even her own family had refused to see. Her sheer intelligence, for once, not to mention what the humans called her ”gut instinct”. She was far more than any regular Princess. Had she completed her education on Kahzer, she would have been his pet project; he'd tried, but in many ways had failed with her. In others, he'd succeeded far better than he had expected.
The girl's legs collapsed under her as pain filled her head. "Uhh… You… Old… fool… What are… you doing?" she groaned out in pain as she fell to her knees before him.
Elijahmeralorewn regretted that it had to be done this way, but his time was drawing to an end, and he'd long known that it was her responsibility to replace him. He regretted the timing even more.
The human girl ran to her friend and helped her up. She looked towards Eli, “What have you done?”
The Princess looked up at him. The agony of what he'd just done reflected in her eyes. "Ugh…" she groaned. Trying to fight her way through the fog, pain, and confusion that blanketed her mind. "Why?" she asked, looking directly at him and he knew that she'd already seen the end.
He looked back at her, feeling tired and weak. "Because it is of no use to me anymore. You'll need it to guide you. Go," Elijahmeralorewn insisted.
The Princess’s features softened as she looked back at him and perhaps for the first time, Elijahmeralorewn realised just how much she did actually care for him. "Old man… Come with us…"
He shook his head. "My place is here, child. And yours is out there. Like it always has been. Go," he commanded.
He caught the hurt expression that crossed her face as he turned away. Her friend helped her out of the classroom and, as they left, he felt his knees go weak. Achmeristreviy was by his side, taking his arm and helping the old man keep his balance.
"And you're sure that she can do this?”
Elijahmeralorewn sighed in dismay as he sunk into one of the seats. "It has always been her responsibility. One she will not run from."