Chapter 10: Final Assault
written and illustrated by Adrienne Potter
In her dream Irvana felt that she was in battle again, this time without the support of Earth Force or Darak. Her subconscious logic told her this was ridiculous and so she dismissed it and fell into a deep sleep, exhausted from her earlier mental exertions. Her guard droid kept watch over her and Moppet slept on the pillow next to her head.
The next day she eagerly helped Kaylar and Charma with the wedding plans that they hoped to complete before the baby was born. Charma felt a little embarrassed to have a big wedding in her present condition but Kaylar told her, "It's not your fault you were abducted, and you didn't know if you'd ever be rescued. You did what you thought was best and anyone who'd think differently would have a heart ten sizes too small."
Irvana nodded and gave Charma a hug. "We're just glad you survived and sorry that we couldn't come and rescue you sooner," she told her. Charma's cheeks had filled out and become rosy, and she had a twinkle in her eye. The fresh fruits and vegetables of the Fastin family farms had done her and Jeremy a world of good, as well as the companionship of people who didn't expect anything of them except greetings and conversation. She patted her stomach. "Junior's playing soccer in here," she said.
A few days later the morning began with final wedding preparations. Commander Bergan would perform the ceremony in the Othis Meeting Hall and all the colonists, the Evarjans, and their friends were invited. Kevo was there with Shayla and their parents. The music played, the vows were spoken, and amid a bower of white and lavender flowers from Irvana's garden, the formerly impoverished slaves, now dressed in elegant white, were pronounced man and wife. The Evarjans had loaned them hundreds of flowering bushes in pots which adorned the hall along with hundreds more white and lavender balloons festooned with metallic ribbons which The Lus, Anders, and Garcias had spent hours preparing. Mardee had interfaced a computer with some of the runway lights and programmed it to cast pink, blue, and lavender clouds on the ceiling in front of a forever sunset.
The festivities and feasting were well underway when Irvana had a cloudy feeling wash over her like a stormy wave... and then she felt a sudden darkness in her head. She glanced across the room at Jeremy dancing with Charma, then at Darak, and knew that they felt it too. Darak was dressed in his best embroidered tunic and he pulled a crystal out of a hidden pocket. It had turned black!
"What does it mean?!" asked Irvana, suddenly frightened. Charma and Shayla were also very concerned. In the next moment Beldan was there next to them, where Meltro and Commander Bergan, dressed in their military dress uniforms, had also appeared. Beldan said urgently, "We've received word that a village on the far side of the planet is under attack from the Pitorgans! It is the village where the baby Grisling was taken to be cared for and apparently Fenshar thinks to rescue him. They've asked for help."
It had been determined that the Grisling should be given another chance to start life over and be raised properly. It had been discovered that in his first life as an Evarjan baby he had been abused by a mother who suffered a mental defect, something extremely rare on Janavrah. No one knew about the abuse until it was too late. They felt that if he was raised properly, with no memory of his former life, he would be different. The interesting thing was that there had been a twin who showed none of the hostility that the seemed to be innate in the Grisling, however the twin had passed away years before.
Commander Bergan turned to Jeremy and Charma. "I'm very sorry to interrupt this." He quickly responded, "No, no! No need for an apology. I just don't understand why we didn't sense this." Confused, he looking questioningly at Irvana and Darak.
Wide-eyed, Irvana replied, "I think Fenshar never left. She must have landed on the planet after the battle and cloaked her presence, though I don't know how." Darak joined in, "I agree. She must have several Pitorgan ships with her, but there's no time to talk. We have to go help!"
"I'm with you," said Irvana. "Me too," Jeremy added. He hugged and kissed Charma, who looked a little dazed, then ran after Irvana, Darak, Mardee, Kevo, Meltro, Beldan and Commander Bergan as they headed for airboats to carry them to the space pad. As he ran Bergan alerted the Star Base to send reinforcements. Kevo's cruiser was on the planet, as well as Commander Bergan's personal transport. Most of the Earth Force support troops had already gone back to Earth but there were a hundred still stationed there with their ships, ammo rechargers, and battle-gear and Commander Bergan immediately ordered them to duty.
On Kevo's cruiser the three seers sat around the dark crystal and looked worried and downcast. What would they find at the village? Would they get there in time? Why had the crystals gone dark? Beldan had communicated with the other villages and many of their crystals had gone dark too. The seers had a sudden shared thought, "The large crystal isn't dark!"
They asked Kevo to pick it up from Darak's village and he quickly complied. When it was loaded they noticed that Darak's crystal was starting to glow again. The seers held hands and began their chant. As they felt the warmth and glow of the crystals they focused on Fenshar. They felt themselves blocked, but with their concerted efforts they broke through Fenshar's mind shielding. Her pain and fury seemed indomitable.
They realized at once that she had somehow obtained a crystal but they had no idea how, or why it would work for someone with mainly negative brain energy. Somehow she had converted it to her own dark purposes, though the seers couldn't fathom how. They had thought the crystals impervious to dark thoughts. Commander Bergan ordered the fleet to fly at top speed and Kevo had to push his quantum engines to the limit to catch up with the fleet. Irvana wished they could warp but knew that it wasn't possible except in space. She feared the worst. She sensed pain, fear, death, and destruction, and she knew the other seers did too.
After several hours the formation of ships slowed as they approached the village. Fires burned and blackened ground was everywhere. A number of dead bodies lay on the ground. The Pitorgan ships were still firing and Commander Bergan ordered return fire. Apparently the remaining Evarjans had retreated into their cave and the Pitorgans were attempting to blast through the rock to reach it. They had succeeded in penetrating the first chamber and it had been vacated as the Evarjans retreated back into safer depths. Irvana could see several dead inside the chamber and it made her heart sink. The Evarjans were like family now.
Mardee was transported into the caves, along with Beldan. He immediately began to treat the wounded and Beldan learned that the attack had been a total surprise. The Evarjans were caught completely off-guard when the huge Pitorgan ships began firing on them and men, women, children, and elderly were mowed down like weeds. Then one of the ships had landed and stunned an Evarjan and his wife and children, who were fleeing from the attack. They stole the village's crystals and took them and the captured family on board the ship. It was presumed that they were forcing the father to activate the crystals, perhaps threatening harm to his family if he didn't comply. When the seers learned this Irvana said, "that explains why the crystals all went dark." The crystals seemed to sense when they were not being manipulated in the way they were created.
Kevo and Bergan continued firing, using the information they had gained in the recent battle. It forced the Pitorgans to abandon their assault on the caves and defend themselves, firing heavily on the Earth Force vessels. Irvana wondered where Fenshar was--on the ground or in the air. She saw that there were shield amplifiers around the Pitorgan vessels that were blocking the earth lasers. "That's how she blocked us!" exclaimed Irvana, and Darak and Jeremy looked where she was pointing. The shield amplifiers were being powered by a crystal, the one Irvana had seen in her mind's eye, so that the shields could not only block weapons fire but also block thought waves.
"But how did she interface the crystal with hard technology?" Darak wondered out loud.
"It's the tellerin," answered Jeremy. "Tellerin?" asked Darak and Irvana simultaneously. "Yes. It's a rare ore that they used to power their oxygen death ray. Fenshar had to go to another solar system to get it, but she must have it stored somewhere. See that little black box next to the shield amplifiers?" They nodded. Jeremy hadn't been sitting on his hands for twelve years. He had become an expert on Pitorgan culture, philosophy, and technology. "I think it's inside it."
"I think we need to target that," Darak concluded. Kevo had been listening. He had quickly learned to perk up his ears anytime he saw the three seers conversing seriously together. Immediately he gave the order and the little black box was obliterated, leaving a small black cloud behind. Instantly the lead ship retreated and the secondary ship took it's place. It was also shielded.
"Darn! They all have those stupid little boxes!" muttered Jeremy at the same time that Kevo uttered an Eelarkin curse. Eelark was a planet known for its very expressive verbal language and Kevo had taken an Eelarkin language course at the Academy and excelled in it. "And now they've got it protected," added Darak. The Pitorgan ships had continued firing on the earth vessels and had managed to reduce their shields radically. The jolts and noise were becoming unnerving and everyone was either sitting down or hugging material objects to keep from falling down. Suddenly Irvana had one of those little visions that seemed like a ray of light sent from Heaven, touching her mind as gently as a butterfly wing. 'Use the giant crystal on the little black box protectors,' it seemed to whisper.
She repeated it out loud. Of course! She quickly explained and Kevo gave the order, allowing Jeremy to aim the weapon. He could see the tellerin powder in his mind's eye and sensed it's exact location. The weapon fired, the black box protector shield exploded, the black box exploded, and quickly the shield generator was targeted and destroyed. That ship also retreated to the rear of the Pitorgan formation, but another ship took it's place.
Quickly Jeremy targeted the new black box, Kevo targeted the shield generator, and his crew targeted the ship. It all happened in three seconds. This time the Pitorgan ship was badly damaged and made a fast retreat into space. Another took it's place. There was one more ship behind this one. Both of them immediately ejected huge fireballs.
"No! They can't! They'll destroy lifetimes of ecosystem preservation!" cried Darak. He raced to arm the crystal-bearing torpedoes and Commander Bergan ordered Beldan to transport back to the ship and assist him. At the same time he ordered every ship to full fire-power and they let a hail of laser shots and two torpedoes fly on the four remaining Pitorgan ships, targeting the fireballs and their sources. The two ships that now lacked shields were quickly disabled and retreated into space. The little Earth Force kept up the onslaught as Jeremy once again targeted the shield of the black amplifier with the giant crystal. It worked, and quickly Kevo's crew disabled the ship. One was left, and the three seers knew this one held Fenshar.
"She's sending mind lasers!" warned Irvana urgently. She seemed to sense it a split-second before the other two, though she didn't know why. They shielded themselves and felt the force of the blow but not the pain. They had deflected it. Quickly Jeremy moved to destroy the black box and once again succeeded. Fenshar's ship made a retreat into space. Commander Bergan gave the order to pursue and the entire Earth Force fleet launched into space with inertia that made everyone grab for support.
"They're going into warp!" cried Kevo's navigation officer. Hurriedly the three seers joined hands to help them sense the new heading. "New heading is approximately .0381140," they told Kevo, who relayed it to the other ships. As the Pitorgan ships disappeared the Earth fleet did also, and both reappeared close to where the seers predicted. Although they had no visual on the Pitorgan fleet the seers had gotten them close enough to be able to find them with their scanners and they quickly caught up to them. Fenshar began ejecting fireballs as though she were flushing her weapons systems and the other Pitorgan ships followed suit. The Earth vessels began evaporating the fireballs with the crystal-bearing torpedoes.
Suddenly Irvana's blood chilled and her face went pale. She could sense the other seers' thoughts as they all realized that this was a trap! Fenshar had planned to lure them here, whatever here was! The realization hit them all simultaneously. She had a back-up weapon. There was a small asteroid nearby which had to be its location. The all scanned the surface with their minds and sensed it's substance. It was different from the oxygen killer. How could they fire the large crystal toward it if they didn't know what the result would be. What if the crystal amplified it's power?
Kevo and the Commander waited expectantly, knowing the three were in a mind-conference. They were transferring thoughts faster than they could speak, which was the reason for the silence. Their lips were still but their eyes were moving from one to the other as if they were in conversation. Finally they explained the problem. The earth vessels had ceased fire except for evaporating the fireballs with crystal-bearing torpedoes. Their shields held, but then the Pitorgans also stopped their onslaught, probably anticipating the use of their secret weapon.
The only solution was a dream vision right then and there. Beldan held the crystal with Meltro and the three seers went into mind-sleep. This time they were all in it together, focusing on the asteroid and the dark depths of Fenshar's mind. She felt the mind probe and tried to deflect it but found that the three seers together could easily overpower her. She felt Jeremy's mind and they heard her think, 'I should have killed him while he was in my power--him and his pitiful mate and that tragic excuse for a baby.'
Jeremy gave a start as all three realized that Charma was in labor. They momentarily felt her pain and sent comfort thoughts, but then had to force themselves to return to their little corner of space and the very large threat of Fenshar's mysterious weapon. They all sensed pure, total, absence of light-- blackness--the kind so thick you can almost grasp it, then sensed a gigantic ball of fire the size of a large asteroid coming right at them. 'It's a fireball amplifier!' they all realized simultaneously. Darak was the first out of dreamsleep and he quickly told his father to load a crystal bearing torpedo.
In that same instant the huge fireball they had envisioned actually erupted from the asteroid like a volcano and shot towards them. There was no time to explain. Moving like lightening Darak launched the torpedo and the crews of all the ships held their respective breaths and watched as the tiny torpedo moved towards the colossal fire ball--closer, closer, like an ant attacking a bear.
Then suddenly, it was gone--like giant Goliath vanquished by little David, it had evaporated, the mighty flames completely squelched by the power of the little negative energy-deflecting crystal. Before the crew had finished cheering Darak and his father were frantically loading another torpedo just as a second huge fireball was sent their way. The torpedo was away and together they steered it towards the fire monster. 'How many fireballs could the asteroid manufacture?' Irvana asked herself. There was only one solution--use the giant crystal on the asteroid. The other seers gave affirmation with their eyes as she gave the order to Kevo. He said, "Yes Admiral," with a grin, but quickly complied.
Jeremy aimed it and once again space and time seemed to stand still in a dance of neutron, electron, and quark particles. The blinding white ray shot through the surrounding vacuum towards the asteroid and then engulfed it for a moment in a light that could have been a star exploding, yet there were no shock waves. Then it was gone. Immediately Fenshar resumed firing everything she had. Kevo and Bergan commenced return fire, but this time they disabled her shields and Kevo immediately transported a rescue team to bring back the captured Evarjans.
They waited for an eternity that was actually only minutes. This time the seers had told them the exact location of the Evarjans and the team had beamed in, grabbed the captives, blasted weapons 360 degrees and then beamed back again. But they left behind a little present. In the next second her ship was on fire, followed by a huge explosion. It was over.
This time the seers knew that she was dead. They all felt the assault on their minds suddenly stop and felt the darkness of her thoughts melt away like ice near a flame. The other Pitorgan ships made a fast and full retreat and the Earth Force didn't bother to follow them. They were reduced to stupid and lazy lizards without Fenshar. Quietly, the little fleet turned towards home.
By the time they arrived Jeremy had a new little son and Charma (in Jeremy's absence) had taken the liberty of naming him Kevan, after Kevo and Irvana. The new father was ushered into Medlab, where he found Kaylar beaming at her new grandson and Charma exhausted from her labor. He sat and held her hand. She asked how it went, but all he could say was, "Fenshar is dead." All the seers were in somewhat of a state of shock from their exhaustive mental efforts. Darak and Beldan returned to their crystal cave to learn that clean-up had already begun at the village where the attack occurred, with many other villages offering assistance.
Irvana was awed at her new nephew and amazed at the contrast of the awful battle she had just fought and the innocence and purity of this new little life. It was all a bit much for a teenager, and she fell asleep as usual in one of the Medlab wheelchairs and was carried to an airboat by Meltro and tucked in by Kaylar, who tore herself away from her grandson for a moment.
When she awoke and looked out the viewing window the sun was high over her garden and Darak was sitting in her swing. She dressed and ran down the stairs and out the door towards him. He smiled at her and said, "The Evarjans want to invite you all to the funeral for our fallen family that will be held tomorrow." She stopped short. Her deep sleep had driven the tragedy completely out of her mind. "Oh Darak, I'm so sorry," she said as she sat beside him and patted his blue knee. She saw a tear in his eye as he answered, "One of the dead was my good friend and ecology teammate. He has gone to a better place than this--a place of rest, where there are no destroyed trees to rejuvenate." Irvana put her arm around him as he wept quietly for a moment. He regained his composure and they both went to tell Irvana's parents.
The funeral was another amazing Evarjan event. The entire planet was there, as well as any available Star Base personnel. They performed the hauntingly beautiful Evarjan music, although this time it was more subdued and less joyful. They carried all the bodies and placed them around a burial crystal from which a blue light emanated, spreading out in rays to each of the bodies and touching them, then retracting into itself. "It is taking their spirits into the crystal world of the after life," Darak explained. Irvana felt the quiet peace that she always felt when the crystals activated. There was sadness and muffled sobs, but there was also a reverence for the power that made life possible.
Beldan rose and spoke. "Now we must all live our lives so we can share them in the afterlife with those who left so soon, some before they were even grown. There are many things that they will miss, many moonlit walks, many sunsets; many storms, and many sunrises after the storm. But they will also see the sunrise of a better world where there is no pain, no labor, and no more goodbyes." Irvana agreed with this exactly and she felt a warm glow in the part of her mind that was activated by the crystals that seemed to spread throughout her body.
He continued, "They will miss many celebrations of life, many births, many unions, and many rebirths of nature. We all must now live these things to the fullest and carry them with us in our hearts and minds so we can take their hands in the next life and give them the gift of our experiences. We must live well so that we have nothing to hide." He thanked everyone for coming and a long line began to form. The Evarjans didn't believe in leaving flowers at a funeral. They held each plant as too sacred. Instead they each touched the bodies with their crystals, moving in a circle around the group of dead loved ones until everyone had touched each body with his or her crystal. It was their way of sending a little of themselves onward with the departing spirits and keeping a little bit of each dead loved one within themselves.
Then the music continued for another twenty minutes. Oddly, when it was over no one felt sad. It turned into the biggest celebration the planet had ever seen and a huge feast was carried out to tables behind the crowd. Everyone talked, ate, and even laughed. Irvana looked at Darak worriedly to see if he was offended. He sensed her thoughts and said, "The departed spirits would want us to have some happy thoughts after all the sad ones. They would do the same for us. This way we will remember them with joy instead of sorrow."
It was a week later when they joined again for the marriage of Kevo and Shayla. They had decided to stay on Janavrah and build their dream home, and Kevo had postponed his retirement for a few more years. This was good news to Commander Bergan. He had decided it was time for his own retirement and he had recommended Kevo to take his place as Star Base Commander. Darak was dressed in his best tunic again as he found his way to Irvana, next to Jeremy, Charma, and the baby. He whispered, "My father has decided I need to go to Earth Force Academy after all. He says that now that the enemy knows how to combine crystal and solid technology I will need to learn all I can about digital mechanics so I can return and teach it to my people." Irvana was relieved. Darak was the best friend she had ever had and she couldn't bear the thought of leaving him for four long years. She didn't know what else she felt for him. She was too young to understand feelings like that. But she was glad he would be around to help her discover what she felt some day.
Kaylar couldn't stand the thought of losing both her children to college so soon after she had reclaimed one of them, and the thought of seeing her new grandson only rarely was too much to bear, so she and Meltro applied to teach at the Academy and were accepted. A replacement couple had been found to maintain the farm. The Fastin Family would go back to Earth for four more years knowing that a fresh, new, and beautiful world full of trusted friends awaited their return.
Suddenly Irvana remembered Beldan's words from the funeral and she let herself feel the happiness of the moment to the fullest. She thought of the feelings that came from overcoming the evil of the Grisling, of all the beauty of Janavrah, the purity of the crystals, and the birth of her nephew. She saw the peace the planet could now enjoy, the friendship of the Evarjans for the Earthlings and vice versa, and remembered all the choices she had made to help bring it all about. In that moment she knew without any doubt that the future would be good. There would be struggles, but they would all overcome them together.
Read Bohideous, a Sci-Fi adventure of a young man caught in an incredibly dangerous and magical lost world. This fully illustrated novel was formerly featured on Cyberteen, an award-winning, on-line magazine for young adults.
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