and Illustrated By Adrienne Potter
from space photo)
As they flew soundlessly through space Irvana
surveyed her surroundings. They
were in one of the stealth cruisers, along with the commando leader and a dozen
of his men. Another dozen were on
the other stealth cruiser, and another two dozen on the cloaked transport.
Irvana looked at the Commando leader.
He had introduced himself as Kevo. His
skin-tight uniform was black with a thin, metallic stripe running down the legs,
and it stretched when he moved, as though it were part of his skin.
He wore shiny, black, knee-high boots and a laser weapon in a black
holster around his waist. On his
head he wore a tight black cap with a visor and a shiny, silver, Earth Force
medallion above it, over his forehead. This
wasn’t his combat uniform, but it was very impressive. He was tall and very
muscular, but when Irvana’s eyes reached his face and saw his blue eyes
looking at her with interest she sensed his intelligence and commitment.
He was someone they could trust to do his best.
“So you’re a mind reader,” he said to her with a slight grin,
suddenly breaking the silence of space. It
seemed that he didn’t quite believe what he had heard about this pretty and
quiet little girl.
Irvana flushed slightly.
“I only know what I need to know to help people, like what you ate for
“Okay, so tell me what I had for
breakfast,” he said with a quirky grin.
She squirmed in her chair, looked at him sideways, and said, “You had
two orange juices, five pancakes, and strawberries with cream which you probably
shouldn’t have eaten because you’re allergic to strawberries, but you really
like them so you ate it anyway,” she answered in a matter-of-fact tone.
He stared at her, a little unnerved.
“And why do you need to know that?” he
asked, scratching his forearm.
“Because you’re starting to get hives
and you ought to let Mardee treat you.”
He looked where he had been scratching, saw
the red and white welt that had formed, and laughed along with the rest of the
group. He turned to the Medical Droid, “Okay Mardee, treat my
The first day in space they passed playing
games and talking, but the second day was serious business.
The next day they would arrive at Pitorgian space, and they wanted to
make sure everyone knew their jobs. The
leaders from the other two vessels had been transported to Irvana’s for a
strategic planning session. They
all met in a small conference room around a hologram that showed the enemy
planet suspended in space. Irvana
felt a chill as she looked at it. She
looked at Darak. He was feeling the
“The first thing we need to do is scan their security measures,” said Kevo. “If
we know what equipment they have it will be easier to go in undetected.”
A full Pitorgan weapons report that had been
sent by Earth Force was brought out
and carefully studied again. Kevo’s
men had already scoured it for useful information.
Irvana squeezed in around the hologram.
“Dad, what if the Grisling senses our presence by reading our minds,
even though we’re cloaked?”
All eyes were on her, then on her father.
Darak, who had been standing away from the group, stepped forward at that
moment and held out a golf-ball sized crystal in his hand.
“That was Beldan’s concern also, and mine,” he said.
“That’s why I knew I needed to come with you on your journey.
This crystal is a mind blocker. It
takes great energy to sense thoughts across space, so it is doubtful that the
Grisling will make the effort to sense our minds when we’re at home, but as we
move closer we will need this crystal. When
it is activated crystal energy waves are emitted into space that disperse thought waves and
scramble them so that they cannot be sorted out from other types of space
“How is it activated?” asked Meltro.
Darak handed it over to Irvana, saying,
“Only a Crystal Seer can activate it.”
He showed her how to place her fingers on it and his mind told her mind
to think certain words. They were
in the difficult Janavran language, but as she repeated them in her head they
became easier. He could have
started it himself, but that would reveal his abilities.
Suddenly the crystal started to glow and Irvana jumped, almost dropping
it. Quickly Darak took it from her
and placed it on the table.
“It is activated,” he announced .
A soft blue light emanated from the center of it and seemed to pass right
through them and the walls, out into space.
“Can the light be seen outside the space
ship?” asked Kevo.
“No,” Darak told him.
“It dissipates immediately upon passing through solid matter.”
Kevo breathed easier.
He had worked with telepaths before, but never one so young as Irvana.
He had been concerned about the unknowns of this mission—the Evarjans
and their abilities, Irvana, and the Grisling thing.
This crystal technology the Evarjans shared would be a big help.
He hated the Pitorgans, an attitude shared by all his men.
Many of them were veterans of the Pitorgan war and some had lost family
He hadn’t told Commander Bergan, but he had a sister who had been
kidnapped years before and he had longed for a chance to retrieve her.
But was she still alive? He
felt eyes on him and turned to see Irvana staring at him intently.
Was she sensing his thoughts? She
quickly looked away, towards Darak, who had been watching him too.
There was something unnerving about the Evarjan but Kevo couldn’t
pinpoint what it was. He seemed like a reliable sort, and very attentive to Irvana.
But Kevo had a sixth sense that had helped him in many risky situations.
He seemed to get an instant feeling when danger was around the corner and
it gave him a split-second to prepare. He
didn’t sense danger with Darak, it was something else, but he had no idea
what. He walked towards Irvana and
whispered with a smile, “So what are you thinking, little telepath?”
She looked up at him with big, brown eyes
that had suddenly gone very sad and whispered urgently,
“Your sister is alive, but we have to get her out!”
So she had read his thoughts!
This kid was amazing! Suddenly
he felt more of her words in his head, without hearing them—“I won’t tell.
Your secret is safe.” He
shot her a grateful look. If anyone
knew about this they might question his ability to keep his emotions from
clouding command decisions. But how
did she do that?—Put thoughts inside his head.
Anyway, he knew his emotions wouldn’t influence his logic—they would
sharpen it. From past experience,
when he had a personal stake in a mission it was a guaranteed success.
On the Milfari mission he hadn’t revealed that his fiancée's wealthy
uncle was one of the passengers, and that certainly hadn’t interfered with his
logic or the adrenalin rush that he felt while carrying out the rescue.
On another mission he learned that one of
his team members had a brother involved. They
were making a risky night drop behind enemy lines inside a dictator-controlled
Earth province to free a half-dozen of their captured comrades.
Kevo had kept that a secret too, knowing it would help his team member
work harder towards their goal. This mission, the Pitorgan slave rescue, was to
be his last mission before leaving military service to marry his fiancée.
He wasn’t going to make any mistakes.
On the morning of the third day Irvana awoke
early and stayed near the viewer. She
knew they were getting close. She
had been informing the pilot if they drifted off- course from the planet.
He had tested her a few times, not believing that he could trust an
entire commando mission to a young telepath, but each time she had caught him
and he soon learned to listen to her every word.
She was helping him make a beeline to this Pitorgia and their scanners
had already found it on their screens.
Another meeting was called, this time without the other team leaders
Transporting was no longer an option.
They would beam the meeting to the other ships on a scrambled,
undetectable, low wave. The scan
showed that the enemy had extensive
security on the planet that would detect the ships the instant they de-cloaked.
They would have to transport and exit with lightening speed, and if
anything went wrong they could lose soldiers and prisoners, unless they could
deactivate the security system.
Darak had been waiting for their thought processes to reach this level.
Again he stepped forward and brought out a crystal.
This one was shaped like a cone. “This
will deactivate their energy sources and take their security offline.
If you obtain the coordinates of the detectors I can activate this.
It doesn’t require a Crystal Seer.”
Meltro observed, “Won’t the Grisling
suspect something the minute all his security measures are down?”
“Good point,” said Kevo.
"But hopefully we'll be gone before he can do anything."
Darak was thankful for Kevo.
The Evarjans had the most sophisticated technology in the galaxy, but the
earthlings had combat experience, Pitorgan experience, and they had a
defensiveness that he admired—a willingness to risk everything in order to
protect their planet and their liberty. This
was something he could easily relate to.
On Pitorgia the Grisling was eating
something that would be disgusting to humans.
He was contented that all his battle plans were progressing.
The slaves were being forced to work harder to produce more weapons, and
his troops were nearly trained. But
there were still some lingering doubts about his plan.
He thought about the little being who had tried to penetrate his mind a
few weeks back. Someone tiny and
helpless compared to him, yet with unbelievable mind power.
He had had to work twice as hard to block her thought probes and was
forced to begin daily mental exercises. It
wouldn’t happen again.
He thought of his mate, the first female
Pitorgan to evolve into his state of being.
True, he had accelerated the process after picking her out of all the
Pitorgan females and nearly damaged her in the process, but she was necessary
for his plans to get back what was rightfully his.
She was gone at the moment. He
had sent her on a delicate mission with one of his star battalions to obtain a
rare ore needed to power his new weapon, and he eagerly awaited her return.
Irvana suddenly cried,
“That’s it!” Everyone
looked at the viewer. A green and
yellow planet had come into view. The
other ships were notified and soon they were orbiting secretly above it.
The viewer began scanning the installations below and Irvana stood with
her hands touching the screen, sensing the locations and the emotions of the
slaves. Darak was behind her, his
hand on her shoulder. His touch
was reassuring to her and it seemed as though her powers were sharper when he
was near. Without his quiet
strength the intensity and volume of incoming emotional information would be
too much. She was sensing the thoughts of
all the slaves at the same time. She felt Darak gently tell her,
"Try to focus on only one or two," and she found that she could.
Her heart sank as she realized the gravity of their situation.
There were slaves on every base they passed, some human, some Evarjan,
and others from various alien races unfriendly to the Pitorgans.
She voiced her discovery to the others.
“Dad, how can we transport prisoners
from so many bases all at the same time?”
Irvana asked in a despairing tone.
Meltro looked at Kevo, new concern in his
Kevo took a deep breath and replied, “We
have some options that we haven’t yet considered.
First, we can land, still cloaked, and access the bases without using
the transporters. Second, the
stealth cruisers can transport and carry a certain amount of prisoners.
They don’t all have to go directly to the troop transport.
It will be crowded, but when we get back into deep space we can
transport them to the larger ship. Third,
we can implement our back-up scenario; meaning, we thought about this
possibility and came up with a plan on Earth.
This plan requires each stealth cruiser to go after a different base
simultaneously, instead of sending everyone to one base.”
Irvana looked relieved.
She was thankful for Kevo’s planning ahead and the hours of time
Earth Force had spent analyzing the situation.
Five bases had been identified, all with slaves.
Each of the four teams would take a base.
A few members were bled from each team and a fifth team was formed to
take on the fifth base. Meltro,
Ridge, Darak, Irvana, and Leena were each assigned to a team, because now they
were short-handed. Mardee would
stay on board to monitor their physical status.
Ridge was very concerned about Leena but Darak reached into his pocket
again and produced a tiny crystal on a silver chain. He put it around Leena’s neck.
She’ll be safe with this,” he said to Ridge.
To Leena he said, “It will protect you.”
“I wish we all had one of those,”
“They only work on innocent little
ones,” replied Darak. “We used these to protect the children when the Pitorgans
came to our planet. This is not
to say that you are large and guilty, (chuckles came from Kevo’s men) but
some crystals only work on light, gentle energy.”
Meltro didn’t like being separated from
Irvana, but there was no turning back now.
Ridge and Leena were assigned to two underground bases where their
geologic and explosives skills would be utilized.
When the commando soldiers tested Leena on her
knowledge of physics, detonation, and mineral components, they found
she knew nearly as much as third-year cadets at the academy knew, and so it
was decided they couldn’t do without her.
Attack uniforms and equipment were passed out to the new recruits and
very quickly everyone was dressed in full combat gear, including Irvana, Darak,
and Leena, although their uniforms had to be adapted for size. They were wearing black helmets with visors and com units
inside, which fit their heads snugly. Also,
they were blast-proof. They wore
black, stretch, turtle neck shirts with pockets full of tools, and flak vests
with more pockets for tools, explosives, and ammunition. Their pants and the vest were camouflage gray and black,
stretch-synthetic fabric that adapted to the surrounding temperature, with
numerous zip pockets for more ammo. They
all wore shoulder holsters for rifles and waist holsters for hand-held laser
weapons. Leena grinned at Irvana.
“Can you believe us?” she asked.
“I mean, are we for real?”
The girls’ weapons were required by
Earth Force regulations, as they were for all ‘new recruits,’ and they
were not difficult to shoot. They had no kick, as primitive earth weapons once had, and
once the laser locked in on the target the weapon would hit it, even if the
target or the shooter moved. Irvana
had herself assigned to the base where she sensed her brother’s presence and
since it was the same base where she sensed Kevo’s sister, she made sure it
was also his team.
The hour, minute, and second arrived, and
the three ships landed and deposited soldiers near their assigned bases, still
cloaked. Two of them rose again and landed again, dropping off
soldiers until all five bases were being approached.
Pitorgan insects and rodents saw dark soldiers emerge from mid-air and
descend upon them, and they scattered. A
Pitorgan guard a half mile away from Irvana’s target base saw Pitorgan
vultures ascend and circle and heard the insects hum. He reported it to his superior and was told that pragwolves
had been seen nearby and they were no doubt responsible for the disturbance.
Irvana, directly behind Kevo, saw the dark
green glow coming from the guard tower of the base ahead before anyone else.
They quietly moved through the gray, muddy dirt.
If they had not been wearing space helmets they would have breathed in
the foul, dank air of a planet that had nothing but contempt for nature and no
concern for ecology.
They were at the base in minutes and using
silent explosives, had penetrated the outer wall.
A guard saw the commotion from a hundred yards away and was instantly
dispatched by a sharpshooter with a silent laser rifle.
They had killed an enemy! The
realization shocked Irvana, but she forced it downward to be dealt with later. Adrenalin pushed her on.
She was leading now, guided by the thought waves of the slaves.
Suddenly she sensed her brother close, around the next corner.
He knew she was coming! He was ready for her!
All the slaves were ready!
As they rounded the dark corner, seeing with their nightlights, she
heard, “Over here! Over here!” Quickly
she ran to the cell and used a small, quiet explosive to blow the door open.
It was near midnight and the slaves were supposed to be asleep, but
unbeknownst to the Pitorgans they were all awake.
“Are you Jeremy?”
Are you Irvana?”
“Yes, but how did you know my name?”
“I had a dream vision months ago that
you would come,” he whispered.
“You mean you’re a telepath?”
“Yeah,” she giggled, in spite of the
adrenalin. “Mardee will love
Quickly, all the doors were
quietly blasted and the slaves were ushered out into the corridors and told to
follow Kevo. A girl was with
Jeremy who stayed close to him. Irvana
knew it was Kevo’s sister and she wondered what the girl meant to Jeremy. As quietly as possible the group of seventy-four slaves
followed the soldiers through the blasted wall and out to the waiting cruiser.
They were the first group out due to
Irvana’s ability to quickly locate the prison and hurriedly they rose to
orbit. Meltro’s group had
used scanners to locate the prisoners and soon freed fifty more and herded
them to another cruiser. They had
encountered a team of Pitorgan soldiers and the commandos had quietly
dispatched them before any more of the enemy became aware of their presence.
The transport picked up the third group of
soldiers and refugees and hurried to pick up the next group at the fourth
base. They weren’t yet free of
the prison. The transport
waited for five minutes that seemed like an eternity, but soon the group of
sixty or more straggled through a swamp and were ushered up the ramp.
Quietly it rose up and moved to the fourth base.
The commandos had been detected here! Shots were fired!
Instantly Darak, back on the command cruiser, sensed the need and activated
the anti-energy crystal ,and in that instant the base went dark and silent.
Shouts were heard and they could hear the tramp of footsteps as people
approached the ship.
The soldiers in the transport hurried down the ramp to help the
wounded, but soon everyone was loaded. The
third cruiser ship moved fast and quiet to the fifth camp, which was also dark thanks to
Darak. Again, the commandos were
detected when one of the prisoners ran back to her cell to retrieve food for
her baby, and laser shots were heard. The
third and fourth team commandos quickly disembarked and hurried to the base
just in time to even the odds on another laser battle.
This time the wounded, children and the elderly were carried on the
backs of running soldiers to the waiting transport and they were off! Mardee
was in the transport setting up triage and attending to the sick and wounded
with the aid of the commando medics.
Meanwhile, Jeremy, Irvana, and Meltro, who
had had no time for a reunion but were quickly ushered back to the hologram,
were again in combat conference with Kevo.
He pointed to the ten Pitorgan ships that had appeared near the image
of Pitorgia, precisely blocking their escape route.
“What in kamchunkpo is that?!” he demanded.
Kevo never swore, out of respect for Earth Force language protocols, but he
sometimes used colorful words from an alien language he had studied at the
academy. Darak and Irvana had been so involved with thought patterns on the
planet that they hadn’t had time to discern any mental activities outside the
Jeremy broke in, “I know what it is.
It’s a battalion the Grisling sent to collect energy for his new
weapon. His mate is commanding
“His mate!” exclaimed Irvana.
She looked at Darak. “Why
didn’t we sense her?”
“You couldn’t have,” interrupted
Jeremy. “The Grisling always
has her shielded. Has she sensed
“She knows something’s up because
every ship has put up battle shields,” answered Kevo.
Suddenly Darak shot a message to her in the same instant that she
grasped it herself. “She’s a telepath!” cried Irvana. He needed to
keep his abilities hidden. “Are we still cloaked?!” asked Irvana urgently.
The pilot answered in the affirmative.
“We have to act quickly!” cried Darak.
“She knows we are here but she doesn’t know where!
She can’t fire unless she knows where we are! Irvana! Activate
the thought-blocking crystal towards her!”
She instantly did as she was told.
In the same moment Kevo ordered all ships
to light speed and they quickly responded, flying directly in-between the
Pitorgan ships, a little too close for comfort. In
instant the Pitorgan ships about-faced and gave chase!
“She sensed Kevo’s new heading before
the thought crystal blocked her! Change
course!” Cried Darak. Kevo
instantly did so, and their new heading was blocked from the Grisling’s mate
by the crystal.
“Jeremy, Irvana, come with me!” said
Darak, now somewhat calmer. “We
have to mind-blend quickly or she will sense us!” These last words were
placed in their minds rather than voiced.
They met in his quarters and he ordered them to link hands.
The feeling was sharp and instantaneous!
Irvana had never felt anything like
It was like a group hug with your best
friends, except that it was in your mind, and amplified a hundred times.
She sensed Darak’s thoughts, and Jeremy’s.
Darak was so knowledgeable about the forests of Janavrah, and the
animals, and human nature, and the crystals, and Jeremy was so fearful, yet
suddenly so full of hope—and he was in love with Kevo’s sister!
And Darak was totally committed to her.
Darak intruded into her discernment and told them, “We must
concentrate on the thought-blocking crystal. Visualize it, feel it, know it.
This is how we can block her now, because when it is far from the
target person it loses it’s power.”
They continued in their meditation for
almost an hour, until Darak felt it was safe.
At this distance he knew he could block himself alone.
Jeremy had had years of practice blocking himself from the Pitorgans,
so he was not a worry, and Irvana was already known to them.
She continued to block her thoughts though, just in case.
When they emerged from the room Kevo and
Meltro were waiting. “What was that all about?”
“Jeremy is a telepath,” blurted out Irvana, “and we were jointly
blocking the Grisling's mate so she won't find us.”
“Two telepaths in the same family,”
declared Meltro. Suddenly he went to Jeremy and enveloped him in a big bear hug.
“Sorry I didn’t have time for this earlier.
It’s incredibly good to see you again--and to have you back with
us! We tried for years to find you.”
“Same to you Dad,” said Jeremy, and
then he collapsed in his father’s arms.
Mardee was transported to the command cruiser to treat him, and the
cause was found to be malnutrition, sleep deprivation and exhaustion.
He had asthma too. He was forty pounds underweight and suffering from oxygen deprivation,
and he hadn’t slept for a week in anticipation of the rescue. Mardee
treated him as well as he could without the supplies of Med Lab, but they all
knew it would be awhile before Jeremy would fully recover mentally and
When Irvana appeared at the Main
Deck she found Kevo and his sister, who was named Charma, softly conversing,
Kevo’s arm around her shoulders. Irvana
told her about Jeremy’s collapse and as she looked into her face she saw that
Charma had only slightly more flesh on her than Jeremy.
Charma started to cry. “He
gave me his extra food, because he said he didn’t need it.”
It was then that Irvana noticed the slight protrusion in Charma’s
belly and realized she was going to have a baby. Irvana
was going to be an aunt. Charma
told Irvana and Kevo that she and Jeremy had married themselves in the only
way allowed the slaves, by making promises to each other.
In the slave camps it was agreed that these marriages would be honored
just as any legal marriage on Earth or other planets.
Mardee was called to treat Charma and her fetus and pronounced them
both malnourished, jaundiced, and suffering from rickets.
He immediately administered injections of food and vitamins for the
infant and the mother, something he had also done for Jeremy.
Irvana was in heaven.
She had a brother! And she
had a sister-in-law! And she was
going to be an aunt! And they
were all free and heading home.
All the freed slaves had been teleported to the large troop transport
except Jeremy and Charma, who stayed together with their families, and in a
few days they were back in Evarjan space.
Commander Bergen was on the comscreen congratulating them while they
were still light years away, which was actually only a few hours, and telling
them that Earth was celebrating as it never had.
They were all heroes! There
was a fleet of doctors, psychiatrists, nurses, groceries, and luxuries headed
to Janavrah to treat the rescued slaves, and ships from other planets were
notified to come and pick up their respective refugees.
Janavrah was going to be a madhouse!
When they landed at Othis the colonists, the Evarjans, and Starbase
personnel were there ahead of them, jumping up and down and cheering.
Signs had been erected, red, white, and blue, non-popping balloons were
floating above the signposts. Small,
non-flammable fireworks were shooting everywhere!
At the head of the crowd was Kaylar, waiting to see her long-lost son.
She had been informed about his wife and the expected grandchild and
she simply could not contain herself. She
hugged Irvana, who was first off after Kevo, then Meltro, then Jeremy as he
lay on his gurney, then Charma in
a wheelchair, then went back to Irvana. Dacron
was jumping and dancing around Irvana and Meltro, then he stopped to sniff the
gurney and the wheelchair.
Music was playing, and a large screen had been erected so the Earth
Force President could personally congratulate the rescuers and welcome the
refugees. There were a total of
325 from various planets, including 190 from earth and 20 from Janavrah.
The Evarjans were hugging and kissing their long-lost relatives, and
conversing in the fascinating Evarjan language.
Mardee was able to commandeer the soldiers for one last mission: to see
the wounded safely to Medlab without being mobbed.
In the quiet of the lab, which everyone at Othis had worked feverishly
to enlarge when they learned the condition of the rescued slaves, Irvana could
once again collect her thoughts. She
sat in an empty wheelchair, exhausted mentally and physically, trying to sort
out the events of the past week. She
fell asleep sitting up, and Kevo carried her home, Kaylar and Meltro leading
Her giltran was overjoyed to see her and slept on the pillow.
Darak walked home and away from the celebration with his parents, muttering to himself, “You’d
think we won the war.” He had sensed the fury of the Grisling as they
blasted away from Pitorgia and the knowledge that the battle had just begun
was heavy in his mind.
Fate was going to allow just one night for
celebration. By the time Fenshar,
the Grisling’s wife, returned to him he had learned of the invasion and was
wild with rage. He had destroyed
their living quarters and executed several of his servants.
She hurriedly informed him of the success of her mission in an effort
to appease him. It worked.
His eyes glowed green as he remembered his new weapon and what he
planned to do with it. The
hideous, pitiful, humans would pay for their insurrection.
The following morning Irvana was called to
the Evarjan village for another dream session.
This time she looked at Darak and he winked at her, something he had
learned from Kevo. He didn’t do
it quite like Kevo, but Irvana got the idea.
She remembered what he had taught her, and this time she didn’t pass
out, but remained in an upright, sitting position.
Beldan was surprised at how quickly this little earthling learned.
When the crystal was activated by Beldan and her father Irvana
immediately soared into the galaxy, riding her mind wherever it took her.
She was seeing the world before it was made, when it was still in
particles. She saw its formation
as the waters stirred and the wind blew over its face, then saw the first
night and day, the first plants growing, and the first molecules of life
She felt herself in the womb and
remembered vague images of light, soft, muffled sounds, and the comfort of the
water around her. Then she was abruptly pulled from this carefree state and was
looking down on Pitorgia. She
saw Fenshar and understood why the Grisling had kept her secret.
Why was she seeing this now when she couldn’t before?
She didn’t know, but she did know that now that she had seen and
breathed and touched Pitorgia nothing could stop her probing mind.
Her mind had the key to Pitorgia, and no one could take it away.
It was then that she saw and understood the weapon that the Grisling
had so carefully guarded. It was then that she could stand no
more and wanted to wake
up, but Darak was with her in her mind saying, "You mustn't leave yet! There
information that we need!"
7 Excerpt: "... But the Kendlian hadn't left the house.
was, at that moment, hiding in Irvana's closet."
to Chapter One
to Main Page
Number of visitors
since July 18, 2000