A/N: Okay. I gave up on NaNoWriMo, but here's what some serious rewriting has produced.


PROLOGUE

Year: SG 8320

Location: Jadd, The Royal City of Saa, Southern Sea Floor

Arawn merSaa stood upon the balcony of the royal palace in the Krell Capital of Saa, his city, observing the parade. The perfect example of a Krell male just past his prime, with his long, sleek whiskers and the strong bony ridge above his eyes, Arawn took pride in appearing his best before the people of Saa and he marked with satisfaction the physical differences he had so carefully chosen for his soldiers, his creations. The Triss, named after an ancient city of Krell lore, marched along the wide lane, the machines pulled on carts carefully behind them, all pleasantly pink and pointy, much like the humans Arawn had done business with in the past. The AstroMech Space and Air Corps fighter mechs and their Triss pilots were the Krell's only defense against the invading Kiros. His face and hands flashed from the neutral pearlescent shade of white to a mottled black and blue, darts of red popping like flames about his eyes. The Kiros; just thinking of them made Arawn violently angry.

"Are you alright, Father?"

His youngest daughter, Sachiel, stood at his side, frowning. Arawn breathed deeply and felt the warmth leave his cheeks as he smiled at his heir.

"We are well, daughter. Our thoughts simply strayed too far."

"Today is a day for happiness, our king. Today you should watch all that you have done with pleasure." Sachiel placed her hand on Arawn's arm and he marveled at the cool, smooth feel of her long slender fingers, so like her mother. "The strength of Jadd, the army you built to defeat the Kiros, is marching today to show our people your glory! All of Jadd knows that you, Father, are the one who will truly defeat the Kiros, because you are the one who created the Triss."

Sachiel's large black eyes shone with her excitement and Arawn felt comforted by her words. Her skin was pure white for the occasion, in contrast to the deep blue gown she wore, but as she spoke brilliant flashes of red and green dashed across her neck and chest. Her long whiskers shone as brightly as the slender ropes of jewels wrapped around their length, and her ear fins held a faint tinge of orange at the tips, also betraying her excitement. Arawn smiled and Sachiel calmed, her skin returning to it's luminescent white.

Arawn's heart swelled at his daughter's beauty, her resemblance to his long dead Sacha. He knew Sachiel would succeed him to the throne one day, she was the only one he would permit, and he hoped she would learn to be as calm and focused as her mother. To date she had never been able to sit through a meeting of the Royal Court, but Arawn honestly had trouble sitting through them himself. Only Sacha had ever been able to stand the interminably long sessions. Sacha and, disturbingly, Naia.

He turned his head slightly as a faint breeze from the Mer Valley thermal vent caught the curtains to his oldest daughter's rooms, two balconies away. His brow furrowed at the sight of Naia standing there, just inside the shadows, unveiled. Even after twenty cycles, he still could not fully accept that she was his own flesh and blood, could not understand how his own lineage had produced such a monstrosity. Deformed from birth, Naia had none of the traditional characteristics of the Krell, while still appearing undeniably Krell. She resembled more closely some of the off-world species lacking the long whiskers or webbing on her feet that were basic Krell traits.

Her nostrils protruded from her face, her ear fins were horribly undersized, and her lips, while full, outlined a mouth that was far too small by Krell standards. Her skin remained a constant hue also, surface blue on her back progressing into a pale blue that held a slight pink hue across her stomach and face. Worst of all, though, was her hair. Although there were water species on Jadd known to have hair, never, in the entire history of the Saa, Rit or Mer royal lineage, had there been one Krell born with hair. Naia had an abundance. It grew from her head, white as the neighboring snow moon, formed in thin strips above her eyes and surrounded the lids of her eyes. Fortunately that seemed to be the extent of its growth. Due to her odd appearance and the hair, a system of wraps and veils had to be devised to cover her face without blocking her vision so that she could move about the palace and city.

Krell had been born in the past with one deformity or another, but never had one been born so grotesquely different. Arawn had not believed the child to be his at her birth, and had been heartbroken at what he believed to be Sacha's betrayal. Rigorous genetic tests, however, had confirmed that the child, although abnormal, was indeed his. Only her eyes had ever allowed him believe this to be true, eyes that matched his own. Slanted in shape and their center a swirling mixture of the shades of the ocean, reds and blues with gray and black darting in the depths, even Sachiel's black eyes seemed dull in comparison to Naia's. Arawn's eyes had another feature that Naia had inherited, the second lense, a special eyelid that those born with the Saa eyes possessed to aid their vision in the pitch black of the deep waters. The true sign of a shoal leader.

A shout from the crowd drew Arawn's attention from his daughter back to the parade and he smiled at the cause. A young corporal in the AstroMech corps was riding on the shoulder of his fighter mech. The dashing Callum Faal was quickly becoming a hero to the Krell, for all that he lacked whiskers or chameleonic skin. A Triss of remarkable intelligence, Corporal Faal had already turned several battles into decided victories for the Krell against the Kiros.

Callum Fall rode his mech, Edan, and waved to the cheering crowd. The light from the air dome created blue highlights in his thick black curls, and his body, taller than most Krell males by several inches and conditioned from creation to the height of military perfection, wore the imperial blue uniform like a second skin. His eyes, dark brown, had been his own choice in the formulation stage to match the wood of the night blooming djaia tree in the laboratory. In his heart and soul, Callum believed in his role as a warrior for the Krell. His knew his sole purpose was to fight and die for his creators and his king. All around him, flower petals and large red blossoms from the djaia trees fell and ribbons and brightly colored scraps of paper were thrown from the women on rooftops and balconies throughout the city. A flash of brilliant white caught his eye, and Callum turned to see the King and Princess Heir on the royal balcony. Pride filled him at the sight of the royal family, his creators, his king.

Naia watched the parade from the darkness of her room. She wished she could be with her father and sister, but she knew her very existence caused her father pain, and their recent disagreements over the Triss had become bitter, tinged with anger. She had asked Esil to gather the blossoms from a night blooming djaia, her favorite flower, so that she might add to the festivities. Staying as far inside the shadows as possible so that few people would be forced to see her, Naia began to throw the large blossoms down on the passing pilots and soldiers. She could not support her father's treatment of the Triss, but she had worked hard to alter their genetic codes and make them more self-sufficient. She would support the innocent men and women being sent to die.

At the edge of the corporal's vision came another flash of white as a large blossom from a night blooming djaia landed in his lap. Following its trajectory to the source, Callum felt time stop. There, just two balconies over from the royal dais stood the most beautiful creature Faal had ever seen. Obviously Krell, with her high cheekbones and translucent skin, the girl was unlike anything or anyone he had ever seen. Her skin was a pale blue and she had no whiskers. In one moment, Callum realized that just as she was different from the Krell, his creators, his king… he himself was different.

Callum was different from the Krell.