Talon paced about in his study. The DEA would arrive shortly, and he hadn't enough supplies or soldiers to fight them should they be hostile. Suddenly he remembered he had an ally more powerful than the whole DEA.

"Maze, I know you're there." He said.

A few ripples disturbed the air, and solidified as Maze, dressed almost completely in black except for the blood red gloves, appeared to the side of Talon. He was smiling slightly. "It would be a strange day indeed if you didn't."

"I didn't come here to exchange jokes. I wished to review a few...plans of action."

"The DEA? Of course, Talon, I should have known. You have been caught off guard, haven't you? And when they do come and find out you've been leading the movements for independent colonies, you'll-"

"In which you will help me make sure the DEA is defeated."

"What makes you so sure I will help you? There is no incentive."

"I think the DEA would gladly execute anyone who has had contact with me while I was rising into my position. I suppose they'll gladly hear me confess to my crimes and name names, don't you think, Maze?"

"You seem to think that I am able to be threatened by someone like you. You know, Talon, that I am no ordinary creature. I don't take threats from such as you."

"Fine, maybe you are a demon, but you will still help me, won't you?"


Maze paced around the room as well. He looked deep in thought, with black eyes staring outwards into space. At times, golden sparks would flash across his pupils as a trademark of the entity he was. His dark cloak blew and flapped as though there was a wind, but none could be felt. At last he spoke again, "Say I do help you, Talon. What would make you a better ruler than that Maximus who controls all of Earth with her massive military?"

Talon stopped pacing for a moment. He turned to look at Maze, who had also stopped pacing and was awaiting an answer. "I will not be the ruler. Let the colonists choose for themselves."

"They will need a strong leader both to gain self-sovereignty and afterwards to build itself into a worthy nation."

"So you suggest that I be that leader." Said Talon. He turned away from Maze, and smiled.

Maze frowned. "I did not suggest anything. However, since you have been the one the colonists have looked to whenever conflicts arose against the other species, it would be quite possible for you to take command after this is all over. That is all I am saying. Besides, make note that I am not helping you because I believe you to be on the side of good, but because you know something I also must know. Soon, I will know, Talon, so stay alive until then.¡±

The lights dimmed, and Maze became translucent as he slowly fused into the shadows cast by the furniture. Talon was left standing alone in his room. He laughed, a cold and harsh laugh. "I know what you want, Maze. You're also human, and I know your weaknesses, so never underestimate me."


After his conversation with Maximus, the general entered a small chamber filled with newspaper articles about his victories. One of them caught his eye. If he remembered correctly, that was the day Perry became admiral of the DEA...

General Vincent picked up the article and read: "On this day of April twenty-eighth, two thousand sixty-three in the common era, Commodore Peregrin Sage Fellar has been given the ranking title of Admiral of the Defenders of Earth Alliance by the Madame Premiere herself. Commodore Fellar has shown great courage and an unmatched ability to react quickly to situations to emerge victorious. Under the recommendation of the skilled General Olivier Vincent, Madame Premiere issued an appointment unheard of since Commodore Sebastian Dorjath was stripped of the title over a decade ago.

Unfortunately, the former Admiral of the DEA failed to perform his duties, and was discharged. Since then, the position fell out of use, and seemed to have become obsolete until today. When we asked Admiral Fellar about what he would do, he said, 'My duty's to serve for the defense of Earth's people. I will start with that.' He answered no further questions afterwards.

"We are all excited about the new admiral, and hope that his presence will bring back order to Earth's society."

"I see you have read the article written about Admiral Fellar's appointment." Maximus said as she walked into the chamber. "But what about your own?"

General Vincent replied, "No one remembers that. Nor does it matter now."

"But it does, General, it does. You see, you are the one responsible for everything that happens to the DEA from when they left, to when they return. People will want to know who was responsible for the victories other than the talented Admiral Fellar, or they may wish to know the reasons for defeat."

"You have already made your point quite clear, Maximus. I need no more reminders. "

"But I think you do. Maybe there are others who know, but as far as we are concerned, you and I alone know what is there at SC-131, and many other colonies that lie along the Meridan System. You can't overlook it, General, because sooner or later, the admiral will encounter them, and he would want an explanation soon afterwards. By then, I hope you have one prepared. Good day, General." Madame Premiere said. She turned around and exited without making much sound.

General Vincent remained standing in the room, observing a photograph taken of him when he became a general. "Those were better days, when people looked to me as a hero", he thought.


Admiral Fellar stepped into an open space in the ship. With a wave of his hand, he gave the order to open a channel to the colony they were fast approaching.

"Space colony one hundred thirty-one, this is Admiral Peregrin Fellar of the Defenders of Earth Alliance. Respond immediately." He said in a clear commanding voice.

When he received no response, he tried again, "Space colony one-hundred thirty-one, respond!"

Still, no response.

"Edison, land us on Triton's surface. We'll set up a more stable communications center there."

The huge silver command ship Destiny pulled away from the fleet and flew towards a moon orbiting the blue planet Neptune. Three smaller vessels colored silver and black trailed it towards Triton.

Admiral Fellar braced himself for entry into the moon's atmosphere. Within two minutes, he felt his whole body being pulled upwards, being left behind as they continued to descend. Although Triton's atmosphere was much thinner than Earth's, there were still sickening effects from the retro-boosters that kept the ship from descending too fast, yet still allowed gravity to pull it downwards. The result was a sensation of being pulled both up and down; it felt as though one was being crushed and flying at the same time.

When the odd gravitational effects ceased, Admiral Fellar resumed his former posture in the pit. He looked on the ship's display screen and thought he saw something move at the right edge of the display.

One of the pilots of the three smaller ships that followed the Destiny to the surface said, "Admiral, the surface will be bombarded with a meteor shower within twenty minutes. The only suitable spot we have found is in a cave formation three miles south of here."

"Then bring us there."

"Yes sir!"

The pilot who had spoken turned to the right, and the other ships did the same. They silently slid across the skies and disappeared along the horizon, where the sun was a small white dot in the black sky filled with many other stars.


Raith felt the air around him slow down and become calm. He opened his eyes and followed Adis out the door. Unlike in the Assembly and Tribunal, this time he did not see a blinding hall of white, but instead he saw a spacious room with blue-colored walls decorated with photographs, paintings, and elegant lanterns. To Raith, it almost seemed like the interior of a home on Earth. He looked around and saw a flight of stairs in the corner. Adis climbed up the stairs, but Raith stayed where he was. He took an interest in the photographs hanging along the walls, so he walked closer to get a better view.

The first photograph Raith looked at showed five people standing together. A younger-looking Adis was smiling at the camera, and he didn't have a scar on his left cheek. Also, he was no longer wearing his grey uniform Raith had always seen him in, but in a dark blue suit. Two people stood to either side of him. One was Saldara on the left side, out of her white lab coat, and wearing instead an elaborate green dress. On the right side, there stood a man who Raith didn't recognize at first. He was in a long brown robe that looked strangely like the attire of the people in the Assembly...

Raith moved on to another one. This one showed a younger Kadaln standing in the front of a group of...soldiers, Raith guessed. Kadaln was smiling toward the camera. On the bottom, Raith read its description:

1684 A.R., New Solar calendar: Kadaln appointed Jurison.

Raith found it hard to believe that so much was happening that many people on Earth, including himself, did not know about. Another civilization was thriving in space, possibly for many centuries at least, and yet Earth never discovered it.

Saldara descended the steps. Immediately, she asked, "So are they allowing you to stay?"

"Better," Adis said, "Since not only will he be allowed to live and stay here on Tersa-Koundr, but he will also be the new Adilan."

Saldara smiled and said, "Congratulations, Raith. We've never had a human as Adilan before."

Raith shook her hand and added, "I just hope I don't mess up."


Talon tossed a ball up and down, always catching it before it began to descend. He was also pacing quite a bit, and the frustration was showing.

"I'll be the leader of these colonies. I will, and I will have my revenge on those asses on Earth." Talon muttered to himself.

Spade walked in, and seated himself in Talon's chair. He waited until Talon noticed and stopped pacing to face him.

"What is it?" Talon asked.

"It seems as though the DEA's command ship has landed on Triton."

"Good. Are there any other ships defending it?"

"Three others. I am guessing they are fighters. Sir, we could send over a small fleet to destroy the fighters and the command ship before they even reach us."

"Triton's inhabited by Kashizas. They will do that for us."

"But what if they plan on making an alliance with the DEA?"

"That is highly unlikely, Spade. But, even if they do, I have another plan."

"What?" Spade asked eagerly.

Talon explained to Spade, "The Kashiza are not a warring kind. They will not readily fight us, since we are more familiar. But I can't be sure. From what I've heard, the DEA's admiral is very cunning. So, if the Kashiza do indeed ally with the DEA to form a coalition against us, we must make our allies with the Atlanteans."

"They are not our kind..."

"Spade, will you ever learn? It no longer matters!" Talon yelled as he grabbed Spade by the collar, "What matters is that we manage to defeat this fleet from Earth!"

Freeing himself, Spade calmly said, "What deep-seated hatred you feel towards Earth is for you to deal with, alone. There is no reason for me to fight your battles."

"I am your leader, Spade. So if you plan on staying alive, I'd suggest you do as I say. And remember, that if I ever want your views, I'll ask for it myself."

Spade glared at Talon before he said, "Very well sir. I shall remember that in the future."

"Good. Then you may go."


Kiora opened her eyes quickly and gasped in a breath of air. Her golden hair was wet and clung to her head. She blinked a few times and rose up to look around her.

I am alive, she thought, But where am I? Who am I? Why is there so much noise? Kiora shook her head violently to rid the many chaotic thoughts firing through her brain, with no success, until at last a feeling of warmth passed through her whole body, relaxing her mind completely. In fact, she didn't even think it strange that something that looked like an insect standing on two legs was in front of her.

The humanoid encased in a brown exoskeleton approached Kiora. He told her, "Welcome, young prodigy. You have awakened to become what you were meant to be. Embrace this power."


"I am Gorizak. I was the one who detected the presence of the crystal of life within you, and it was I who helped foster this power to mature inside you."

"Who am I?"

"You are Kiora. You are the prodigy of which was said long ago in legend would come to lead our race to greatness."

Kiora looked at her hands. She turned her head towards Gorizak, and said, "I look different than you. Am I..."

"A different form matters not. Come, we must get you acquainted with our society." Gorizak said.

Kiora was dressed into a silver form-fitting suit. Gorizak then led her to a large door. It opened into a square bustling with activity. Some people were buying items, some were singing and dancing and some were running in the streets, playing. But wherever she looked Kiora saw that they were all encased in brown, hard plates, whereas her own body was soft and a lighter color.

"Gorizak, why am I the only one who looks like this?"

"We come from different lands. It is natural for us to look different. Now come, for there is much more for us to do."

"But I can remember. I think I was once someone else..."

"You were always one of our kind. You are a Kashiza, Kiora. The crystals of life flow freely in your blood, for they allow you to do many great feats."

"Such as?" Kiora asked with growing curiosity.

"Well, you can find that out, soon enough."

"Of course." Kiora said, disappointed.

Yet while they walked, Kiora could not help to wonder about the strange memories she could not quite understand...


The Destiny landed silently on the rough surface of the moon. The three ships escorting it also landed on either side, and one in the rear. Admiral Fellar had several crew members immediately set up a communications port.

"Sir, it's no good. The cave is interfering with our signal. There seems to be another signal coming from deeper inside." A technician, who was busily tuning the frequency of the port, said.

"Get ten of our men to go investigate. Arm them properly." Admiral Fellar replied.

A crewmember saluted and left to get the on-board marines.

The exiting ramp opened, allowing ten men clad in thick silver titanium armor and wielding black assault rifles to step out. The squad leader moved the nine others towards the cave's interior.

The marines walked until the lights from the Destiny dimmed. They then turned on their flashlights and continued on their way until they found themselves in a large chamber, and although the floor was at the same elevation, the ceiling arched hundreds of meters overhead.

"Sir, you should see this." The leader said. He switched his helm-cam on.

Admiral Fellar looked at the screen. There were no stalagmites hanging off the ceiling as with many caves he had explored back on Earth, but intricate designs of an unseen pattern. Some were circular, and others in a figure eight, but none of them had any angles. They reminded Admiral Fellar of Celtic knots.

"What was that?" A marine shouted after hearing a rustling noise above them. Admiral Fellar heard it on the screen but saw very little since the display kept turning.

"Holy-" Someone screamed in the background. Immediately several rifles flashed out small explosions, making loud sounds echo within the large chamber.

Admiral Fellar tried to see what was happening but could only see gun-flares and smoke. More marines screamed out and a large creature jumped in front of the screen. The squad leader fired his rifle at it, making it leap away. It was then that Admiral Fellar realized what the creature was.

The squad leader started retreating while still discharging his weapon. Only two other marines still stood with him.

"Pull back!" He yelled, "Pull back!"

More sounds of gunfire and unearthly shrieks sounded. The three marines fled but one at the end was still being attacked. But unable to turn back, the two remaining marines continued to run. After running for a few minutes, they came to a dead end.

"That wasn't there when we came here!" The leader said.

They turned around to face a line of creatures advancing swiftly towards them. They reloaded, and fired non-stop.

All that could be seen on the screen inside the Destiny was a great number of horrific creatures that resembled arachnids rushing towards the camera, and then, static.

"Take us back to the fleet, now!" Fellar yelled. Whatever had massacred those marines would have followed them so they were close enough to the ship. He felt a sense of urgency, and his pride had left him.

The Destiny was first to lift off and fly away from Triton, but the three fighters were still left behind to guard the entrance. When the Destiny finally broke away from the atmosphere, the fighters lifted off to join it.

"Five unknown masses moving at seventy kilometers per second. They seem to be in formation, Admiral." The left wingman, Blue-A said through the intercom.

"Scan for them." Fellar ordered.

A helmsman put up a display on the main screen. Like the pilot said, there were five unknown objects approaching them fast.

The helmsman announced, "Leader is nine hundred kilometers away... eight-thirty... seven-sixty... six-ninety... six-twenty..." Until, "...Hold on to something, we got impact!"

Five brown-plated vessels circled around the Destiny. As they maneuvered around the large vessel, they fired sharp, glowing green spikes at the hull, but did little damage.

Fellar asked, "How are the solar cell electro shields?"

"Absorbed one hundred percent damage. That volley dealt minimal damage." The same helmsman answered.

Fellar was a bit uneasy knowing that the shields they were using were just experimental, and had never been tested against live ammunition. The shields could malfunction anytime, and they would be left with the ship's plated armor, which was quite durable, but any damage to the ship or ship's equipment would be costly. Fellar remembered that. He had already lost ten men, and he wanted no more casualties until they arrived at SC-131, the colonial capital.

The right wingman, Blue-C said, "They're too fast! We can't lock-on!"

"Fire the dorsal cannons." Ordered the admiral.

Red streaks of plasma burst from the Destiny's many cannons. However, the alien crafts were much too quick and maneuverable, as they evaded all four blasts.

The left wingman said, "Let's break out, then close in on them. Maybe that'll keep them from moving that fast."

As he spoke, the other two fighters broke out of formation and flew in opposite directions away from the Destiny. The pilot who just finished speaking was about to fly off, but three spikes embedded themselves in the fighter's wings. There was no initial effect upon impact, but soon the green light began escaping the glass-like spike and turned into mist that crept along the metal surface. To his horror, the pilot watched as the green cloud corroded his fighter's wings, weakening the metal until they finally broke off. With no other way to move, two alien ships shot red needles at the disabled craft, and the needles exploded upon impact. The pilot managed to open his mouth to scream, but soon he was engulfed in red flames.

"We lost Blue-A. Stay cool, Blue-B. Just fly around the little suckers and make sure they don't get too much room. We want to give Destiny enough time to shoot them down with its cannons."

The two remaining fighters looped around the Destiny and charged towards the five strange ships. The plan seemed to work at first, but three of the alien crafts shot upward, but unlike the fighters would, had they done the same thing, the alien crafts did not stall and continued their ascent.

"Damn it all! I'm shooting down those two myself!"

"Blue-B, stay behind me! Damn it, listen!" Blue-C yelled in frustration.

Admiral Fellar's voice sounded in the intercom, "Blue-C, let him go. We're nearing the rest of the fleet anyway."

Blue-B continued in his enraged pursuit of the brown ships. He launched two Nova missiles at the one closest to him. The missiles spiraled around each other, trailing the evasive alien craft. The missiles hit their mark, as the alien ship finally exploded in a cloud of flames.

"That's for my buddy!" He screamed.

As the pilot was screaming at the remains of the destroyed vessel, both out of anger and pride, the circular alien ship that was not hit started firing red needles at Blue-B, and the other three that flew away joined it.

"Stupid, stupid dinner plates!"

The empty space seemed to have filled with red light as thousands of needles were shot at Blue-B. The pilot had no time to react, as he was consumed within a scarlet inferno.

"We've reached the fleet!" Blue-C said in relief.

The four alien vessels were soon spotted by the rest of the fleet, and were immediately annihilated by the combined strength of the fleet's cruisers.


Beacon sat in silence. He had carefully evaluated his apprentice's actions, including the alliance with Talon. Talon was a shrewd man, no doubt, and cunning beyond all others he had met before in the past. A shame, though, that Talon had made one single mistake that would ruin the rest of his life.

"Zemun, my apologies for disturbing you, but I would like to have permission to visit someone." Said someone behind him, who had just opened the door.

Beacon didn't have to turn around and look to know who it was.

"Admiral Fellar." This was a statement Beacon made, and not a question.

"Yes, Zemun. I think it only fair for him to know about the Kashiza and Sanblu."

"Oh? You forge an alliance with Talon, the boldest antithesis of all that Fellar stands for, and yet you wish to help him? Is it that you only wish to fight fairly?" Again, Beacon already knew the answer. He only seemed to ask his apprentice so that it didn't seem that he knew everything. Although the truth was, he did. Well, not quite. What was it that his own master once told him about him being omniscient?

"Knowing is not the same as understanding, the same as knowledge is different from wisdom."

But he had to admit, he did know everything that took place, even if some were out of his power to comprehend.

Beacon suddenly remembered his apprentice was still there. He often wondered if his apprentice knew what he was thinking. That was one of the only places where his omniscient veil did not cover. He could not "know" anything about another Marked One.

"Zemun, I do wish to fight fairly. I still know of such a thing as honor...Something that I was denied all my life."

His apprentice clenched his fists. Beacon knew of the circumstances in which his apprentice was born, and knew of the pain he endured before being brought in as a Marked One. It was beneficial for both of them, actually. He needed a worthy apprentice since his previous one had failed to responsibly use his acquired abilities, leading to the death of yet another apprentice. He was running out of time quickly, and he knew it. That was when he met the young man before him. At once he knew that the potential within this one would make his successor as great, if not, greater than himself. Beacon had to let himself smile inside. Indeed, he was proud of the progress his apprentice had made in such short time.

"Zemun, I await your approval."

"You would go even if I had forbidden it, wouldn't you?"

Great potential, but more independent than the previous apprentices had been. That was good.

"Yes, Zemun." His apprentice shamefully admitted.

Beacon sighed. His apprentice would be mighty, but as for him being wise, well...

"I do wonder about it sometimes." Beacon told himself.

"Do as you please, but do nothing I wouldn't do." Beacon instructed.

His apprentice saluted him in the manner of the Marked Ones, bowing with his right arm crossed over his chest. Beacon returned the sign, and resumed his meditations.


Fellar paced in his study. This was not what he had planned for. There were alien vessels, probably scouts, as his technicians had concluded, that could outmaneuver even the fleet's fighters. Perhaps that was what Maximus, that Madame Premiere, had tried to warn him about. She would have a lot of explaining to do once he got back...

While he was in thought, the shadows of his room began to twist and manipulate themselves into the form of a man. Beacon's apprentice approached Fellar, who looked as though he were seeing a ghost.

Maze nodded. "Admiral."


"There. The complete supply routes taken by the Doasin military." Adis said as he showed Raith a map laid across the table.

Raith leaned closer to look at the map. There were a series of multicolored lines showing the routes supply ships took that linked the many colonies of Doasin. He was confused by the complexity of the map before him as he saw no such paper with so much information on it in his life.

Raith said, "I don't understand."

Adis responded, "It's quite clear. For centuries, we have avoided civil war in the hopes that we could either unite our entire race. However, it soon became evident that it would not happen. Civil war broke out between the core government of Doasin and the New Atlantis followers. After a few years, we decided not to continue fighting. The new course of action would be to separate New Atlantis from Doasin, forever."

"And now the leaders on Doasin are coming back?"


"How long has this conflict been going on?"

"One hundred twenty-one merisan years. If converted into Earth's time, which you are most familiar with, that would be approximately three hundred solar years." Adis told Raith.

"Three hundred!" Raith responded in shock. He had not expected that answer. Three hundred years...No conflict could last that long, unless...

"Praetor, if I may ask, what is the life expectancy of your people?"

"I don't know. The oldest I know of lived around three thousand solar years. Why?"

"Just wondering. I heard stories long ago of a continent called Atlantis. It was said that its inhabitants lived long lives and had superior technology. They had complex machinery, flying machines, electricity, all before the Egyptians began farming along the Nile."

Adis quickly hid his startled look, and said, "Indeed, we are the same." No more than what is required, he thought before continuing, "The stories are true. But, we may speak of such stories another day. Now, we must make plans for the upcoming conflict against Doasin's military. Even now as we speak, the leaders are preparing their soldiers to march upon us and annihilate Tersa-Koundr."

Adis went back to his map, and showed Raith what his information was about the advancing armies.


At first, Kiora saw only darkness, but as her eyes adjusted to the dim light, she could make out intricate designs on the walls. Gorizak walked quickly and Kiora had to run every couple of steps to keep up with him.

"Where are we going?" Kiora asked.

Gorizak did not respond, making Kiora get an uneasy feeling deep inside her mind. She quickly calmed herself, somehow too quickly. Kiora was surprised at how easy it was to focus on something. The crystals of life that Gorizak spoke about had been accepted by her body, and their power was beginning to develop.

The maze of interconnected tunnels went on without end. There was nothing there that could have suggested anything to Kiora, until Gorizak stopped at a small opening.

"Remain silent to the elder prophet, for even though you are the prodigy, the elder prophet's power is still something not to be taken lightly." Gorizak saw the look Kiora gave him, so he hastily added, "Forgive my remarks, but they were to warn you. Many a foolish warrior has come into the presence of our elder prophet, and has not returned. Take care not to disrespect him." Gorizak said.

Kiora bent down to enter through the small opening, which was only about five feet high and three feet wide. As her eyes adjusted to see in the eerie glow of the green orbs of light around her, she began to see more and more designs on the wall. One design was a circle of interlacing lines connecting at last in the center and forming a circle quartered with a cross. Another one showed a small circle connected to a larger circle beneath it with a line, and four bent lines forming 90-degree angles coming out from each side. She had no more time to observe the artwork as she was summoned to step into the presence of the elder prophet.

The prophet began speaking in his own tongue, "Ki-zhiiak dir kkludan. Saiie kkliodii meski-diiaka."

Sensing Kiora's confusion, the prophet changed his speech to that of Kiora's tongue, "Awakened be the new prodigy. Come forth to prove your destiny."

Not knowing what to do, Kiora stepped forward towards the prophet.

"Kneel." He commanded.

Kiora obeyed and went to her knees even though she had not been expecting it. Somehow he can control me, She thought. When she took a quick glance at the prophet, she knew that he had heard, and was silently commanding her to keep her thoughts secret.

"The faithful servants to Tharizaga, the force of victory, have brought me news of a prodigy. One who may lead our proud race back to our former glory! Yet when this great warrior is brought to me, I behold a human! Nevertheless, you are marked to be that prodigy, and as such, you shall be given the same test as the ones before you were given."

Before Kiora had time to ask what the test was, the prophet levitated off his seat and glided back to where his servants, and Gorizak, were standing. A circular wall rose from the floor, and the green lights turned into white lights. Kiora could clearly see now that the room she was mush larger than she thought. If she were to pick the closest points on opposite sides of the room and started running, she wouldn't have reached the other side in at least two days. While Kiora was still wondering what was happening, a screech pierced the silence in the room. When she looked in the direction towards where the sound originated from, she saw a large arachnid-like creature. To her, it looked like a giant spider. It had obvious differences from a spider though. For one thing, the head was a larger part of the body, and the abdomen was only slightly larger. The thorax made up the smallest portion, but eight legs- four on each side grew from it. The legs ended in a sharp serrated claw. The fangs also looked quite frightening, as they were almost as big as Kiora's arm. It spotted Kiora, gave an ear-splitting shriek, and advanced swiftly towards Kiora.

Panicking, Kiora started running away from it, but the creature was much faster than Kiora. Suddenly, it leapt into the air, covering as much distance as Kiora ran. It landed above her, and grabbed her with two of its legs. Kiora was sure she would die. The fangs were extremely close, and they were probably poisonous. Kiora closed her eyes, waiting to be devoured. The seconds stretched into hours, and Kiora let herself wait helplessly for the end. She hoped it wouldn't be too painful. But before anything else happened, Kiora felt her body melt into one with her mind, and soon she felt no more panic, but sheer clarity. Kiora suddenly focused on the creature, and she felt as though she had entered its mind. However, the mystical energies in her body kept her mind devoid of the feeling of fear, as well as surprise. She continued feeling the clarity that was now in her mind, and she could sense the forces that sustained the creature that held her. Without thinking, her mind snapped, or so it felt, something in the monster¡¯s mind. At once, the creature released Kiora and folded its legs over its body. It twitched once, and then stiffened.

The walls were lowered, and the orbs of light were returned to their eerie green. The elder prophet glided across the room back into his seat. He said, "You have proven your destiny, Kiora, prodigy of prodigies, come at last to bring back our former glory! None but you have slain this sacred guardian, for it is an omen that Tharizaga favors you!"

Kiora took in a deep breath, but soon fell to short quick breaths again.

The prophet looked at the body of the dead creature. He spoke again, "This one has tasted blood today." As he finished, his eyes burst into scarlet orbs and a wind gathered around him. At his command, the dead creature's body began to disintegrate, and left behind the remains of a suit of armor of the sort the marines sent by Admiral Fellar were equipped with.

That is from a warrior of Earth. Those humans seek to harm you. You cannot let that happen. Ordered the prophet in Kiora's mind.

Kiora agreed, Yes, I will seek out to destroy them first.


"How goes the Adilan?" Kadaln asked Adis in Saldara's house.

"My apprentice is learning quickly. I believe it will take only a few more days for him to trust us completely." Adis replied.

Adis didn't like the way they were keeping secrets from Raith. After all, if they wanted his complete trust, they had to tell him at least a part of the truth.

"Jurison, I am bothered about our plans for Raith. I understand that he is like a living weapon, and that we should utilize him the best we can, and make sure our enemy can't use him against us. But we must not forget that all life can still feel, just as we do. I'm not sure if it is right for us to gain his trust, just to shatter it when he discovers that all we have been doing was using him as our tool."

Kadaln wrinkled his brow. He knew how Adis felt about being betrayed. He told Adis, "Praetor, you and I both know that it would be foolish not to harness such great potential, especially if we may use it to end this bloodshed against our own brothers and sisters. I know about your concerns. I have been alive long enough to know that feeling that I had been merely a tool of someone else's great plans. Perhaps someday into the future we shall explain to him. Perhaps he will understand, perhaps he will not. But for now, the wisest choice of action would be to train your apprentice, allow him to tap into his true potential, and once that is done, we shall think of matters yet to come." Kadaln glanced up at the clock, then back to Adis, he said, "Ah, I have stayed far too long. The Assembly will be expecting me to be there to report on our prospect, so if you don't mind, avic claris, Praetor!"

"With clarity to you as well."

Adis shook his head. He did not like deceiving Raith at all. He did not seem to be an evil man, nor did he deserve to be forcibly brought into this matter. It was between the Atlanteans, the Sanblu, blue bloods. No one else should suffer from the conflicts.

Unknown to Adis though, was that Saldara had overheard the conversation. For once in her life, she felt something for someone, something like pity, but not quite. It was more of a deep concern for Raith's well being. Something Saldara didn't quite understand.


General Vincent stormed into Madame Premiere's office. Apparently, he was infuriated by something.

"Maximus! You told him to blame me, didn't you?" Vincent yelled.

Maximus merely glanced at Vincent, and turned her head, saying, "I don't know what you're talking about, General. I warned you already, if anything went wrong, you would be the one to pay."

Vincent took a deep breath and turned away. That Madame Premiere was surely behind it all. He just didn't have proof. Truth was, Vincent had never liked Maximus. Ever since she rose to power, she had been manipulating the laws so that she would gain even more power. If it weren¡¯t for the fact that she would have killed him had he refused, he would have never served the DEA.

Things like that happen if you're the only living general with an undefeated record. Vincent half-smiled at that fact. He was feeling the same pride every officer was vulnerable to. Pride at his greatness. The fact that he had done something no one had done before, and no one ever will...There it was. His pride was welling up inside him. He had to control it, for that was how the great generals won. He would handle this later. There were other matters to attend to, such as handling Fellar's reaction.


So many doors, so many doors! Kiora yelled in her mind.

She was stumbling through an endless path lined with doors. Most of them were locked, but some were open. But the only ones that she could open showed only scenes from her life after waking up to see Gorizak. Often, she would try to open those locked doors to see what was hidden on the other side, but something restrained her. Perhaps it was the elder prophet? Or maybe it was herself?