Fresh World

Chapter VII: Enemy In The Ranks

Written and Illustrated By Adrienne Potter


     Although it took great effort Irvana stayed in dreamsleep, but she let Darak take over and simply stayed in his shadow. They focused on the weapon that the Grisling had so carefully nurtured.  It's very concept was so horrible it made Irvana want to run away, but Darak gave her strength and almost mentally held her there.  He needed her  strength too. The weapon was built to suck out all the oxygen from an entire world, including that found in the lungs of people and animals.  Every living thing on the planet would die, even the plants and trees, but the buildings and their surroundings would be left intact for the Pitorgans to take over.

     They learned that the Grisling had changed the attack date.  It was two weeks away! The second they had the information they needed Darak told Irvana it was over and she immediately awoke and started to cry.  Kaylar held her and stroked her hair.  Im taking her home.  This has all been to much for her, she said.  

    "No Mom!  It's not too much!  It's just that I'm so angry and disgusted with the Grisling and frightened of his weapon.  And I can't believe I ever pitied him," she said through her tears.  "Even for one second.  See Mom, he has Asthma too!  I sensed it in the beginning--that there was something wrong with him-- but I didn't see it clearly until today.  He's obsessed with oxygen!  He wants to take all the oxygen from Janavrah, and then he'll go to Earth and steal their oxygen too!  His weapon can do it."

     There was an audible gasp from many present. Beldan's eyes met Meltro's.  They were both thinking the same thing--would the energy-destroying crystal work on the Grisling's new weapon?

     "Irvana, how is the weapon powered?" Meltro asked.    Irvana shut her eyes and concentrated.  She heard Darak's thoughts inside her head-- 'It works on negative energy'-- and instantly she understood.

    "Dad! Beldan!  If we use the energy crystal on it the power of the weapon will increase!" she exclaimed.  "It uses negative energy.  The energy crystal returns negative energy to it's source."

     Beldan looked intensely serious.  He said to his people, "It is time for a Supreme Dominant Summit of all the tribes." 

     Irvana whispered to Darak, "You mean there are more of you here?!"  Very surprised, Meltro waited for the answer too.

     "Yes, there are many tribes on Janavrah.  It takes a lot of us to replenish the planet after each storm."

     Meltro was dumbfounded.  "Why haven't we ever encountered the others?" 

     "Because they had no need of you," answered Darak.  "They wished to leave you in peace.  Now we all have need of each other in order to vanquish this supreme evil."

    Meltro was more impressed each time he talked with Darak that one so young could have such wisdom--well maybe he wasn't so young, but he looked like a teenager.  As Beldan gave instructions for the calling of a Supreme Dominant Summit Meltro asked Darak something he'd wanted to know since their first week on the planet. "Have there always been these awful storms here?"

     "No," replied Darak.  "They began after the last world war when the Grisling and his followers were banished.  It is thought that they exploded all their bombs before they left and caused a massive disruption in the eco-climate.  It was a farewell gift from them." Irvana thought about the word gift.  She'd like to give a gift right back to the Grisling--a bit of her own negative energy.  

     In two days a gathering took place in the valley near the place where the Evarjans had given a welcome picnic to the earthlings.  Meltro and the other members of the colony were there except Jeremy and Charma, who were still recovering in Medlab.  The group had never seen so many Evarjans.  There was a feeling of great calmness and peace, almost of reverence, as the meeting was called to order.  Irvana was asked to sit by Beldan, and Darak and Nola were nearby.  The only sound was the simultaneous breathing of the entire multitude as they enjoyed the precious, clean air of Janavrah-- and then they began to sing.

     Irvana had never heard such music.  The Evarjans, with their supreme ability to distinguish sounds, could do hundreds of pitches with their voices that humans could only do on instruments.  And they all had perfect pitch!  Rather than an eight-note scale their scales seemed to have dozens of notes. They sang in harmony, but 16 parts at a time, as if there were four sopranos, four altos, four tenors, and four basses, but each singing a different note.  All the humans listened in rapt attention, completely enthralled.

     When the singing ended the meeting began with a solicitation to a higher being.  Irvana was enchanted.  She hadn't realized the Evarjans believed in a Supreme being.  Her own beliefs, like those of her parents, were so poignant she seldom talked about them with anyone, but deep down, in a place that could never be disturbed or doubted or questioned, she knew for certain that there was an ultimate, omnipotent being of power , and these people talked to him as though he were present!

     But this meeting wasn't like some of the church meetings she had attended where a preacher droned on and on about things Irvana couldn't relate to.  There was a crystal pulpit at the front, and anyone who had something worthwhile to share was invited to use it.  The crystal amplified the speaker's voice so that every word could be heard.

     A number of Evarjans spoke their minds about the recent developments, and they all thanked the Crystal Seer--Irvana.  She was embarrassed and proud at the same time.  She wanted to hide her face, but at the same time she wanted to shout her joy to the heavens that she had been of service to these people whom she had grown to admire so much.

     Finally Beldan stood at the pulpit and spoke.  "It is time to do what was prophesied by Crystal Seers of times past.  It is time for the great union of all our minds around the One Great Crystal.  Suddenly Irvana knew that this was the moment for which she had been waiting all her life.  She knew that something immense was about to happen, something wonderful, something she couldn't quite see, as if it were so close it was blurry, like a large marble held too close to her eye.  

     Every Evarjan joined hands until they formed an unbroken chain, with the one at the end of each row holding hands with the person in the next row so that the whole congregation was interlinked.  Beldan motioned for Irvana to come forward and approach the pulpit.  As she did, another crystal rose in front of it, a glowing obelisk that pointed skyward.  Irvana gasped.  It was like a prism with a rainbow inside, six feet tall and a foot in diameter, and seemed to change colors constantly, yet it was full of light.

     Beldan showed her where to put her hands, and as she touched it a feeling of indescribable joy came over her, and of great warmth and hope.  She didn't know it but she began to glow the same colors as the crystal, and Darak was right beside her in her mind, touching it too.  She saw all the Crystal Seers that had ever been and felt the joy of all of them.  She felt the goodness of everyone there and all the good things they had ever done.  She felt everything that was good and right in the universe --everything that was virtuous and true.  It seemed so sublime, so perfect, so full of light that she wanted to cry, but her happiness wouldn't let her.

    She saw everyone who she loved and felt their warmth; she saw everything good that had ever happened to her and basked in the rightness of it; she saw everything she liked, every sunrise, sunset, twilight, and moonlit night; every butterfly, prism, rainbow, and waterfall, and enjoyed it again.  Suddenly she knew absolutely and undeniably that she could overcome the Grisling's weapon.  With Derek and Jeremy's help it could happen, and she was no longer afraid.

      In that moment she wanted to embrace the crystal and melt into it, become one with it, unite wholly and completely with it, and as she started to do it she felt hands pulling her back.  Beldan and Darak were pulling her away.   "No!" she cried to Darak in mind-speak.  "I want to join with the crystal!"

     She heard him answer, "No Irvana, we need you here.  If you go into the crystal you'll never come back."  She stared as all the feelings and visions seemed to soar back into the crystal as if being sucked into a funnel.  Suddenly she was awake and feeling empty, wanting to get those feelings back.  And in that moment she could no longer breath. 

     Irvana gasped and fumbled in her pockets as Leena, dependable Leena, who had been standing off to the side with the other humans, ran to her and pulled the inhaler out of the pocket where she knew it would be.

     "You should glue this to your face," she told Irvana, who couldn't help but smile as Leena gently placed it in her mouth .  Irvana was afraid she had created a scene, but soon she realized that no one was even looking at her.  They were all looking at the crystal obelisk.  It had formed a new crystal, and another, and still another, and more were forming as they watched.  Crystals were gently and elegantly sprouting upward all around the obelisk, until it looked like a glowing garden of rainbow crystals, full of all of the colors of a prism.

     After taking several deep breaths of pure Janavrahn air Irvana looked at Darak.  

     "See what you did?" He spoke into her mind.  "I did that?" she answered back in mindspeak, with a little uncertainty.  "You're the most powerful crystal seer my people have ever seen.  You're the one that the prophesies said would cause the crystal to evolve.  This new crystal menagerie will help us defeat the Grisling."

     "Cool," thought Irvana as she reverted back to her almost-thirteen-year old human mind.  "But Darak," she mind-spoke.  "I couldn't have done it without your help."

     "Not true," he told her.  "I was merely observing and feeling.  You were activating the crystals."

    Everyone had come forward to see the crystals and as soon as they touched it they moved away so someone else could take their place, until everyone had touched the crystals.  The meeting was adjourned.  Irvana noticed that Beldan and Meltro were speaking in hushed tones around the crystals and she focused on their words. 

     "It is a new type of crystal, more powerful than any that we've ever had," said Beldan.  "My people  need to test it and learn it's capabilities, and then we will report back to you."

     "But how does this happen?--this birth of crystals?" asked Meltro.  "What's the scientific basis behind it?"

     "The crystals are based on life energy, which is the true science of life," Beldan told him.  "Energy is everywhere in the universe, in and around all things.  The crystals are a gateway for the energy that surrounds us.  Picture a crystal here," and Beldan withdrew a small crystal from his pocket and held it in the air.  "Now picture a funnel between this and the mind.  The crystal focuses the life energies around us, as if they were the apex of a funnel."

    "Concentrated energy," replied Meltro.  "In a manner of speaking," said Beldan. 

     "And how does my daughter activate it?" Meltro continued questioning.

     "Because she has a segment of the brain that many beings lack," explained Beldan.  "You call it the 'third eye.'   It acts as a transmitter for thought and energy.  Not only can she sense thought and energy, she can manipulate it."

     It was difficult for Meltro to understand since he had no telepathic ability, but he would think about it many times for the rest of his life with a mixture of pride in his daughter and wonderment at the turn of events fate had brought them.

    That night he and his family had a quiet dinner in their dome, including Jeremy and Charma.  They had both put on a few pounds and gotten a little sparkle in their eyes, and they were feeling better with Mardee's excellent care.  They discussed plans for a formal wedding for the young couple and a new dome just for them right there on Janavrah.  

     Charma's parents were coming to see her soon, but the impending battle with the Pitorgans lurked like a shadow in the background and they knew that preparations for war were paramount.  The robots would build the dome, and the wedding would have to be short and sweet.  Charma didn't mind.  She was  mild-mannered, uncomplaining, and unassuming, with a sweetness about her that quickly endeared her to the hearts of her in-laws and the other settlers.  Rather than becoming bitter from the abuse she had suffered in the slave camps she seemed to accept it as a part of her life that was now over, a part that had taught her to enjoy even more all the beauty that she now found around her.  And it was evident that she and Jeremy cared deeply about each other.

     Meanwhile, on Pitorgia, the Grisling was conferring with his mate and a third individual, someone who was not Pitorgan.  

     "I will pay you 5,000 kilos of gretonium now and 5,000 when you've finished the task," the Grisling told the alien.  "After you leave here you will erase the ship's log so there will be no record of your visit to me, and when you arrive on Janavrah you will mingle with the other visitors as if you are coming to claim a former prisoner--and you will need this."  The Grisling gave him a crystal.  "This will block the little alien from sensing your presence.  It is ten times more powerful than any we needed in the past."  The alien nodded in agreement and they did a Pitorgan handshake by bending their arms at the elbow and linking them, and then he was gone.

     This meeting had been blocked from Irvana's mind by both the Grisling and his mate, or so they thought.  In reality, nothing could stop Irvana now from sensing the designs of the Pitorgans, and so, in the middle of the night, she woke up screaming from a nightmare so real that she felt she could touch it.  In the dream she was being chased down a long, dark corridor that abruptly disappeared and she found herself dangling in space, fighting for air.  Then there was nothing, as if she had died.

     Othis had become the circus that the colonists predicted.  They had enlarged the landing strip to a small airport with a tower, due to the number of ships that were landing.  Temporary housing had been constructed by the droids for the hundreds of visitors and some had inquired about relocating here, but quickly changed their minds when they learned about the impending battle with the Pithorgans.

     Two days later, no one paid any attention when a Kendlian ship landed at Othis and a tall, thin figure wearing a cloak made from animal skin disembarked and hurried toward the information hut that had been quickly assembled for all the visitors.  Here he learned who the leader of Othis was, and where he lived.  He requested an appointment.

     Ariane Lu was manning the visitor's desk and she commed Meltro.  "There is a Mr. Gemanshak here to see you from the Kendli world.  He says he has urgent business."  

     "Send him over," replied Meltro.  In five minutes the Kendlian was at their front door and Meltro let him in.  Mr. Gemanshak presented his 'business plan,' which would be of great benefit to the Kendlians and wouldn't harm Janavrah.  Meltro promised to present it to the council and politely offered some refreshments.  He went in to the kitchen to ask the housekeeper droid for some drinks but when he returned Mr. Gemanshak was gone, having left a note explaining that he had an urgent com message he needed to retrieve.

     Meltro shrugged his shoulders and returned to his office and the project he had been working on.  But the Kendlian hadn't left the house.  He was, at that moment, hiding in Irvana's closet.  It was easy to find her bedroom with it's half-child, half teen mix of toys, music, and posters.  He waited in sinister patience until the events of the day were over, the dinner plates had been cleared, the evening activities were ended, and goodnights were said.  Then Irvana, who had spent the day with Leena and Darak and come home just before dinner, went up the stairs of the dome and found her room.   

     Suddenly she felt something cover her face and felt the tingling sensation of a transport beam.  The Gelandian began it's squeaking cry and Dacron began to bark, which alerted Irvana's parents.  Meltro was soon there, followed by Kaylar, and they saw Irvana wasn't there.  They asked the house sensors if she was in the kitchen and they were shocked to learn that she wasn't in the house.

     Meltro remembered the Kendlian and his mysterious disappearance.  Was he connected with this?  He asked the house sensors how many people had been in Irvana's room.   The answer was three.

"Three!?" he exclaimed.  "How did they leave?" 

  "By transport beam," the sensor answered.

     Meltro sprang into action.  He sent an emergency com simultaneously to Commander Bergan, the Lus, Garcias, and Anders, something they had prepared months ago in case of a disaster.  Before fifteen seconds had passed they were all on-screen and informed of Irvana's kidnapping.  Commander Bergan immediately called a full alert and moments later was given information about the Kendlian ship.  It had moved into light speed seconds before and left no trace of its direction.

     Kaylar was quietly sobbing and Ariane arrived soon in the space boat to comfort her.  Commander Bergan had immediately awakened Kevo and given him a new "special assignment. '  Within minutes he and a dozen men were dressed in combat rescue gear and preparing to board a stealth cruiser.

     Mardee was sent to fetch Beldan, who came quickly as soon as he knew the reason for the late-night disturbance.  He told Meltro that Darak had not returned home that day and quickly they commed  Leena to ask what she knew.  She told them sleepily, "The last time I saw him he was walking towards home."

     Beldan gave a start and everyone looked at him.  He pulled a tiny crystal out of his pocket and they saw that it was emanating a yellow glow and vibrating.  "This is my child sensor crystal," he told them.  "All Evarjan parents have them, one for each child. The child carries one with him too, usually around the neck.  It is activated now because Darak needs to talk to me, but to communicate with him I need to return home."

      "Mind if I come?" asked Meltro, curious about this new little piece of Evarjan technology and desperate for any clue about his daughter.  Beldan had no objection and soon they were in the airboat moving over the trees.  Inside the blue cave Beldan led him through corridors to a room where a larger crystal was glowing.  Nola was already there.

     "He is with Irvana," she quickly told them.  Darak had already communicated with her.

     "Thank God," exclaimed Meltro.   

     Quickly Darak explained that he had cloaked himself because he sensed that Irvana was in danger, and had followed her home that night.  He had touched her the moment he saw the Kendlian, who couldn't see him, and they had both been beamed into the Kendlian cargo hold.  He knew that his abilities would be revealed, but he also knew it was more important to protect Irvana now than to hide his true identity.  He and Irvana were sitting on the floor of the Cargo area, Irvana with her head on Darak's shoulder.  He was still invisible.  Irvana was still unconscious from some drug the kidnapper put in the cloth he had placed over her head.

     "So the boy is also a seer," thought Meltro.  Did Irvana know?  She must.  That must be how he knew to go with the Anders the day they had the cave-in.  Beldan and Nola were deep in thought.  There had been many incidents that had made them curious, but Darak always had a ready explanation.  But now they all sympathized with his need for secrecy and at the same time were grateful that he had sacrificed his secret in order to help Irvana.

     Quickly Darak used his telepathic abilities  to glean the Kendlian ship's heading and coordinates from it's computers and transmitted them by linking his own crystal to Beldan's.  In that same instant Meltro transmitted them to Commander Bergan and the commando ship took off, using cloaking technology.

     Kevo used maximum light speed to overtake the Kendlian ship, which had no inkling it was being followed.  Mr. Gemanshak was at that moment congratulating himself on the successful execution of his mission and thinking how gullible and trusting the stupid humans had been.

     Meltro was thinking along those same lines, mentally berating himself for not considering something like this.  After he left the Evarjans he immediately implemented the construction of two bodyguard droids for Irvana and Darak, then he asked Commander Bergan for a progress report.  Nothing--yet.

     Darak had untied Irvana and taken the bag off her head that the Kendlian had used to drug her.  When she came to and looked around she  tensed, but when Darak spoke to her and touched her arm she relaxed again.  "Where are we?" she asked groggily, "and how did we get here?"

   Darak made himself visible and explained how he had started out for home but had sensed that Irvana was in trouble and had followed her home.  She asked Darak what they were going to do.  I've already communicated with our parents and they're sending a stealth cruiser after us--I think it's Kevo."  Irvana gave a sigh of relief.  She had complete confidence in Darak's sensing abilities and Kevo's rescue abilities. 

     "So they know you're a seer now, huh?" she said.  He looked at the floor.  "I had no choice," he told her, looking away.  She nudged him, and when he looked back at her she said simply, "Thank-you." 

     "You'd do the same for me," he told her.

     They sat like this for what seemed like several hours, occasionally discussing their fate.  Then suddenly they felt a hard jolt and were both knocked backwards against the wall behind them.  "I think we're caught in a tractor beam," Irvana informed Darak, slightly worried.  Was it friend or foe?

     In the next moment they both felt the tingle of a transport beam and they quickly rematerialized aboard the stealth cruiser, much to their relief.   The Kendlian was also transported aboard, where six of Kevo's men surrounded him and grabbed his weapon the moment he materialized, guns pointed at his head.   He was placed in restraints and lead to a prison cell, muttering curses to the universe.  He would be interrogated later.

     Kevo commed the mission's results to the Commander of the Star Base, who promptly informed Irvana's and Darak's parents.  But Commander Bergan insisted that the rescued pair remain on the Starbase until the guard droids were completed, which would only be a few days.  They were each shown their separate quarters, and since it was early in the morning they both collapsed in immaculate Earth Force beds, utterly exhausted.

     Their parents were at Starbase the following morning when the pair awoke since Nola and Kaylar weren't waiting any two days to see their kidnapped children.   Commander Bergan was delighted to see them face to face and shook hands all around, then invited them all to breakfast along with Kevo and his men, who were still elated about the success of the rescue and ready to face whatever came their way.

      Of course they gave most of the credit to Darak,  who knew the coordinates of the Kendlian ship.   Without those numbers they could have spent weeks combing space in search of them.  But Darak deftly bounced the credit back and commented on the speed with which the stealth cruiser had caught up with them and the smooth precision and teamwork with which Kevo and his men had executed their assignment.

     After breakfast the colonists returned to their homes and Commander Bergan took Kevo into his office.  He cleared his throat and said to Kevo, "Earth Force has requested that you stay until we have this business with the Pitorgans cleared up."

     "Business, Commander?  Don't we mean war?" answered Kevo.  Commander Bergan looked downcast.  He knew of Kevo's plans to leave the service and marry his fiancee.  "I'm sorry," he said softly, "but there's no one who is more qualified than you to lead it."

     "Lead it?!  You mean a promotion?"

     "Yes, you're now a full colonel."  Kevo was taken aback.  They had jumped him two ranks.  They must really want him.  "I'll have to think about it," he told the commander.

     "Okay, but I need to know by the end of today."       

     "Yes Sir," Kevo saluted and went straight to his quarters.  He requested a comlink to earth and waited as Shayla, his fiancee, came on the screen.  He told her the of events of the last few days, the commander's request, and his promotion.  Shayla already knew about the rescue of the prisoners and Charma.  She had seen on the news on Earth.  No one could miss it.  The commandos were instant heroes, all their names were printed everywhere and she had been interviewed by a number of reporters, but this was the first she had heard about Irvana's rescue.  She was proud of Kevo, but began to cry as she realized what his new assignment meant.

     "Oh baby, don't do that!  I promise I'll come back safe and sound to you.  Just not when we planned.  Just wait a little longer," he pleaded.  Shayla wiped her eyes, blew her nose, and tried to be brave.  Why did the whole universe have to need her man more than she did?

    "Okay honeyman," she told him.  They both kissed their hands and put them on the screen so it looked like they were palm to palm.  They couldn't actually feel each other but the symbolism was important.  "I love you!  I'll com you every day!" he told her, and then it was over.  He commed Commander Bergan and told him his answer.

     Bergan was relieved.  Having Kevo as the troop commander would give them a much greater chance of victory.  He had more experience than any active Earth Force Commander, and he was the only one who had experience with the Evarjans and with Irvana's abilities.  Suddenly his com buzzed.

     The Anders were on the screen.  There was a disturbance on the planet caused by a group of Kendlians.  They were protesting the imprisonment of Mr. Gemanshak and claiming that Irvana had stowed away on his ship as a spy in order to obtain information about their weapons technology.  Commander Bergan snorted.  "That's ridiculous!"  But instantly he realized what was happening.  Twenty years in space had taught him enough about intergalactic politics to know that the Kendlians, who had stayed neutral in the last battle with the Pitorgans, were using this as an excuse to provoke their countrymen into siding with the Grisling. 

     His thoughts were interrupted by a sudden flash.  Then the com screen went dead.  A second later it came back on and Ridge Anders was saying, "We need help!  They're throwing explosives and they've overpowered the guard droids!" 

Go to Chapter 8  (Excerpt: "...Sending Kevo into a fleet of enemy warcraft seemed like sending him on a suicide mission.  What if the Grisling had learned how to detect cloaked ships!?...")  

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