Date Published: July 15, 2016
In the wake of the Kryllidar war, creatures of myth and legend, the elder races, and the psychically gifted fled the telepath phobic Alliance worlds in search of sanctuary. They found their safe haven on the planet Mystra. It was a paradise world, then something went horribly. A great cataclysm unleashed a storm of deadly energy that threatened to tear the planet apart. Cut off from the rest of space by a barrier of destructive force, all appeared lost. Then from despair came hope. The energies unleashed by the cataclysm had an unexpected effect. Dormant genes carried by women of an ancient Druidic line were suddenly activated, giving the women the ability to control the elemental forces of nature. The elementals saved Mystra from destruction, but their newfound power came with a price. The incredible forces they wielded, in time, destroyed them. Only by bonding with a male, who also carried the dormant gene, could an elemental be saved and her powers safely harnessed.
An elemental’s power reaches maturity on midnight of her twenty first year. If she is not bonded before the midnight hour, the elemental will go mad, lose control of her powers and destroy herself and everything around her. Tivonna, daughter of King Arcus of Aquilla is nearing her twenty first year. A level four elemental, her father has searched the planet for a bondmate, a kiosan, that can match his daughter in power. Searched and failed. He is left with no choice. For the good of Mystra, at midnight on her twenty first birthday Tivonna must die.
Meanwhile, high above Mystra’s skies a golden starship takes up orbit around the shrouded world. Jasen, telepath and last of his kind, has come to Mystra seeking answers. Beings of fire and light appeared from nowhere and swarmed across the galaxy before disappearing as mysteriously as they had appeared. In the creatures’ wake three star systems lay in ruins. Nothing survived except for one lone world. The planet Mystra was untouched. Now Jasen and his friend Hawk will do what no one has done in centuries. Penetrate the planet’s deadly energy barrier and reach the surface below. What they find there will change their lives forever and may hold the key to saving more star systems from destruction. For the fiery invaders are not gone … only sleeping.
The planet Mystra …a world as beautiful as she was mysterious. Pulses of multicolored lightning flashed through the dense white clouds that shrouded the planet’s surface, hiding her secrets from prying eyes. Once sister world to a multitude of planets, she is now alone. Surrounded by the debris of what at one time were viable worlds, she is the last vestige of life in an otherwise barren system. In solitude, she waits for those who would come to unlock her mysteries…those with the skills and courage to breach the flashing clouds surrounding her and reach the surface below.
With a rippling of space, the sleek golden starship dropped out of hyperspace and settled into orbit around the jeweled planet. At long last her wait was over.
2605 Day 232
The exploration vessel Ourora smoothly exited hyperspace and settled into orbit around the nearby planet. The dark haired young man sitting trance-like in the pilot’s seat, hands resting on the two glowing plates set in the console before him, stirred and opened his eyes. It was a perfect run.
Breaking his mind‑link with the starship, he stood and stretched. The Ourora was shaping up to be a sweet ship. Once the strangeness of joining his mind to the ship’s instruments and controls had worn off, he had found piloting by thought as natural as breathing. This was not really surprising, considering that his people had built the vessel. In fact, it was on this very ship that he had been found adrift in space as a child, the last survivor of his race, of his entire planetary system.
2590 Day 143
Jake Blackthorn watched as the image of a golden starship grew on his ship’s monitors. The Wanderer had been returning to Earth after a profitable trading run when they had stumbled upon the derelict. The ship’s golden skin and graceful lines were like nothing he had ever seen.
“She’s beautiful, but where did she come from? That’s no Alliance ship.”
Jake had been so engrossed in studying the alien vessel that he had not heard anyone approach. Turning, he found Dr. Nicole Wright standing at his side. “I have no idea Nikki but I intend to find out.”
“Uh oh, you have that explorer look.” She teased feeling the excitement radiating from him.
“Once an explorer always an explorer. Take us in Pete,” he instructed the pilot. “I want a good look at this lady. Any energy or life sign readings?”
“It’s hard to get a fix, some kind of energy dampener,” came the reply from the science station. “It’s scrambling our sensors.”
“Captain,” Pete called, “you’d better see this.”
Returning his attention to the view screen, Jake stared as the Wanderer approached the far side of the derelict ship. A sick feeling began in the pit of his stomach as he saw the gaping hole ripped into the golden metal of the ship.
“No survivors then.” Jake said sadly, “all right let’s get a tractor beam on her¼”
“Captain, I think I’m getting a life sign reading.”
Jake turned to the science station. “What do you mean you think you’re getting a reading?”
“Well, it’s faint and it keeps drifting in and out. The dampener field is playing hell with the sensors, but there is something over there.”
After a heated debate, which Jake naturally won, he and Dr. Wright boarded the damaged ship. As they explored the craft Jake felt his excitement grow, much of the vessel’s interior appeared to be intact. The bridge, engine room, and cargo holds seemed untouched. It was only as they explored the damaged area of the ship that his excitement waned. As they entered what appeared to be crew quarters Jake froze, nausea rising in his throat. “Oh, my God, they’re children.” Jake barely heard Nikki’s anguished whisper. He was staring at the rows of bunks crammed into the room. The ship’s passenger and crew cabins were filled with children, children of diverse races, some of which he had never seen before. They were all dead. Their lifeless bodies still strapped to their bunks.
“They never had a chance.” He whispered. “Let’s get the hell out of here.”
“Wait,” Nikki grabbed his arm and pointed to the scanner she held clutched in her hand. “I’m getting that phantom signal again.”
“Can you get a fix?”
“Yes! One deck down and to the rear.”
Following the faint signal, they made their way to the rear of the ship. Rounding a corner, they froze. Standing in what appeared to be a galley, surrounded by a golden glow, was a raven haired, golden eyed boy about ten years old.
“Hello,” Jake spoke softly and held out his hands in what he hoped was a friendly gesture. “We’re here to help.”
The boy studied the two space-suited figures intently, but made no move. Encouraged, Jake slowly approached the still youth. Suddenly, the glow surrounding the boy intensified and a strong forced hurled him back.
“Please,” Nikki begged. “We only want to help you. You’re all alone now. Let us help. We mean you no harm.”
“Nikki, we have to go,” Jake whispered. “I think I cracked something, my suit’s losing air. I can’t stay much longer.”
“We can’t just leave him.”
Keen golden eyes seemed to bore into Nikki’s soul as the boy studied her intently. She almost gasped in relief when he turned to scrutinize Jake in turn. Whatever he saw must have reassured him. Indicating that they should follow, he led them into the next compartment. Nestled in the chamber was a large golden sphere. Jake and Nikki watched as the boy placed his hand against the side of the globe. A portal suddenly appeared. Motioning for them to follow, he entered the sphere. Once inside, the portal closed, leaving no sign it had ever existed. Gazing around in amazement, Jake turned to find the boy, minus the golden glow, sitting on a plush looking couch against the far wall watching them curiously.
“A life pod. Jake, I read a breathable atmosphere, constant temperature… the works. This is how he survived.”
“Yeah, but that doesn’t explain how he can walk around out there with no suit, and what about that glow?”
“That doesn’t matter now, the main thing is getting him, and us, back to the ship.”
A sound of rustling caused them both to turn. The boy was standing a few feet away holding a silvery suit in one hand and a metallic capsule in the other. Seeing he had the adults’ attention, he offered the suit to Jake.
Taking the offered garment, Jake examined the delicate material. “I think it’s a spacesuit.”
“You’re right, “Nikki examined the now open storage cabinet, “there’s a whole rack of them in here, but they’re all for adults. What do we do about him?”
“The capsule must be some kind of carrier. We put him in there and carry him across.”
With the boy’s help, Jake removed his damaged suit and donned the alien garment. The suit molded itself to his body and Jake marveled at the freedom that it gave him. Excitement stirred in him, what other marvels did this ship and its lone occupant hold?
After checking to make sure Jake’s suit was working properly, the boy opened the life support capsule and stepped inside. Once more he studied the two adults, then calmly closed the carrier, entrusting himself to the strangers’ care.
Returning to the Wanderer without incident, Jake ordered the derelict ship taken in tow and set course for his most secure research center. This was too important a find; he was taking no chances. Leaving the boy in the doctor’s capable hands, he wasted no time in staking his claim to the alien derelict.
Jake Blackthorn was a powerful man and he now used that power. By pulling a few strings and cashing in a few favors, he obtained exclusive salvage rights to the alien vessel. The bodies of the deceased children would be turned over to the authorities, but no mention was made of the boy. Satisfied that he had taken every precaution to protect his find, Jake headed for sickbay. He couldn’t say what had made him keep the boy’s existence a secret from the authorities, but his gut told him the kid was special. There was no way he was going to let some government social worker get their hands on him. Besides the kid had trusted him, Jake shivered as he remembered the boy’s golden eyes staring into his, searching his soul. The child was as unique as his craft. Jake usually had little use for children, but there was something about this one that stirred all his protective instincts. The kid was his, by God, and nobody was taking him away.
Six months later, Jake was ready to consign both the ship and its golden- eyed master into the fiery depths of the nearest sun. After six months of intensive study, the starship was still an enigma. Even his best experts could not fathom how the strange vessel operated. There were no noticeable controls, just panels of colored crystals set into the consoles. The engines consisted of smooth sided boxes and crystal globes. No dials, switches, or knobs were to be seen. There was no sign of power, though they knew that it existed. Jake fumed; all that power, all that technology just out of reach, it was enough to drive an entrepreneur mad.
The boy was proving to be as impenetrable as his vessel. The shock of the accident had severely damaged the kid’s memory, erasing any knowledge of what had happened to him or his ship. Quiet and reserved, he cooperated fully with the scientific team examining him but volunteered nothing. Except for a few unknown factors in his DNA and body chemistry, he was remarkably similar to humans. Yet, it did not take the team studying him long to realize that he was not your typical ten- year old boy. His golden eyes held wisdom beyond his years; and he always seemed to know what was wanted of him, even before he was shown or asked. He proved to be extremely bright and learned at an amazing rate. In a very short time, he mastered enough Galactic-Standard to communicate. Yet, nothing they tried could unlock the memories buried deep in the boy’s mind. It was as if every thought concerning his home world or his flight to this system had been locked away behind an impenetrable barrier. He was a blank slate, which could soak up knowledge, but offered none in return.
Jake was not prepared to give up his discovery without a fight. Every day, their guest was becoming more relaxed and comfortable with his new home. With time, Jake hoped that his memory would start to return. It was another month before the first breakthrough occurred. Since he could not remember his name, the young castaway had been christened “Kid” by the researchers studying him. For seven months, the boy answered to the name “Kid”, so Jake was surprised when the youth fixed him with a golden eyed stare and said, “My name is Jasen, not Kid.” After that, snatches of memory began to return.
On a hunch, Jake decided to see what would happen if Jasen was reunited with his starship. Maybe the sight of the vessel and the familiar surroundings would jog the boy’s memory. At least, he might be able to show them how the ship operated.
It was soon obvious that returning to the ship was a shock for the youth. He wandered through the vessel as if in a daze. With each section of the ship revealed and explored, his face grew paler. By the time they reached the bridge, Jake was afraid the boy was going to collapse. On one side of the bridge was a large console inset with a panel composed of some type of blue crystal. Jasen went to the console, placed his hands palm down on the crystal, and closed his eyes. The panel immediately began to glow and flash. After a few minutes, the glowing stopped and Jasen opened his eyes. Removing his hands from the console, he began to tremble uncontrollably and then to cry. Rushing to him, Jake held the sobbing child as delayed trauma finally hit.
Viewing the information contained in the ship’s library computer, as the console turned out to be, and reliving past events through the psychic traces left in the ship, had broken through the mind block the boy had erected. Later, when he had calmed down and been reassured that he was safe among friends, he freely answered Jake’s questions. The ship was totally thought controlled. It had been built by a race of telepaths, from a planet in the Gamma3 planetary system. It was a type of ark, a last ditch effort to save a remnant of the people of that system. Creatures of fire and light had appeared out of nowhere and attacked their worlds. The attacks had been quick, unexpected, and vicious. Caught off guard, most planets stood no chance against the invaders. Jasen’s world was the oldest and most advanced of the system. They were able to hold out long enough to launch three ships before being destroyed by the attackers. Only Jasen’s ship had made it out of the system, but not without taking damage. An energy blast had hit the ship severely, damaging its shields and compromising a large section of the hull. The ship’s crew had been working to repair the damaged section when they had been caught in an unexpected meteor storm, most likely debris from the destroyed worlds. The ship’s compromised shielding had been unable to stop one of the huge projectiles from striking the damaged hull and ripping it open. The two adults on board had been caught in the impact zone and killed. Jasen had been attending to some minor repairs on the side of the ship farthest from the rupture. His telekinetic abilities had allowed him to protect himself long enough to reach the safety of an escape pod. The others on board had not been so gifted.
The Gamma3 system was an old system with a high level of technology. They were not novices at space travel or exploration and had even visited the Alliance worlds to observe. That they could be wiped out so quickly and completely boded ill for the Planetary Alliance. After hearing the news Jasen brought, Jake became obsessed with the attackers. Who were they? Why did they attack? Had other systems fallen? He devoted a good part of his empire to finding out the answers. Jake soon lost his heart to the courageous child. He was determined to protect the boy, and the unusual gifts he had begun to display once freed from the mind block his fear had created. In time, Jake adopted him, named him his heir, and helped train him to use his gifts and hide them from the outside world.
Adapting to his new home proved difficult for Jasen. His planetary system had been on the opposite side of the galaxy from Alliance controlled space. The people of his world had enjoyed strong, friendly ties with the other sentient races of the nearby systems. They had been respected and honored for their technology and for their roles as peacemakers and diplomats. Things were far different in this new land. The Alliance worlds had an inbred, almost manic, fear and hatred of telepaths. Jake had tried to explain it to him once.
Many generations ago the Alliance worlds had been invaded by a race called the Kryllidar. The Kryllidar were a militant, barbaric insect-like race that possessed a high level of technical skill and little regard for other sentient life forms. They were a race that lived to conquer and enslave the populations of other worlds. The Kryllidar loved order and insured that the worlds they conquered adhered to their concept of obedience. Using drugs and machines, they subverted the minds and wills of those they invaded, turning them into perfect drones fit to serve the elite Kryllidar race.
The Kryllidar invaders swept across the galaxy like a plague, leaving worlds of mind-controlled zombies in their wake. Almost half the galaxy had fallen before the Alliance armada had been able to rally. Joined by ships from the outer fringes, they had been able to turn and repel the attackers. Once freed from the invaders’ mind-controlling apparatus, the enraged Alliance inhabitants had hunted down and exterminated every Kryllidar they could find, then followed up with an all-out attack on the Kryllidar home world. The Kryllidar race was totally wiped out, along with a number of neighboring planets that possessed similar life forms. The drugs and machines used to enslave the conquered worlds were rounded up and destroyed. The Alliance vowed never again to allow their people to be controlled in such a manner. A deep phobia of mind-control in any form sprung up among the sentient races within the Alliance systems, which was carefully passed down and instilled in each succeeding generation. From this phobia, a dread of telepaths emerged, which grew in strength with each retelling of the past atrocities. Telepaths were viewed as the ultimate masters of mind-control. Machines could be broken, drugs could be neutralized, but the only way to stop a telepath was to kill him. Also, unlike the Kryllidar, a telepath could blend in with the populace of a given world. They could lurk unknown and undetected among the citizens of the Alliance. One could never be sure if his thoughts were his own or being manipulated by another.
Soon the slogan, “The only good telepath is a dead one,” became common. It was into this climate of hate that the young Jasen had been thrown. He was the last surviving telepath in the galaxy. He lived in constant fear of exposure and death. He was looked upon as a monster, a demon; he was fair game for all. No one would hesitate to destroy him if he were discovered.
There were few people in his life that he dared trust implicitly. Fortunately for the young telepath, it was Jake who discovered him. Jake was a shelter of love in an otherwise dark and hate filled universe. The explorer did not share the rest of the Alliance’s loathing and terror of telepaths. He had been born in a remote sector far from the alien invasion. When that cluster’s sun went nova, Jake had brought his thriving corporation to the Alliance worlds. Most of those on Jake’s personal staff were refugees from his home system. Like Jake, they viewed Jasen as different but not horrible. He was a bright and charming boy and they soon grew to love and admire him as Jake did. They vowed to protect the vulnerable youth and his secret. Jake raised the boy as a son and taught him how to survive in his new home.
2605 Day 232
With a shake of his head, Jasen shook off the thoughts of the past. He was no longer a frightened boy of ten, but a man of twenty-five and he had work to do. Jake was dead and it was up to him to finish what his adopted father had begun. He gave the instruments another quick metal scan to assure that everything was as it should be then left the bridge and headed for the ship’s lounge. Hawk. He wished his friend had not insisted on coming, but nothing he had said had dented Hawk’s resolve to accompany him.