She had the dreams every night for three weeks before she saw him for the first time. As the familiar voice rang in her ears with the same urgent plea, she found herself looking into the handsome face of a man who possessed the most tangible presence she had ever encountered before. This ghostly shade stood before her in the hinterland between sleeping and waking and she felt no fear. She felt as though she had known him all of her life and she knew that this was one of those defining moments in her life. A moment that meant the choice you made would decide the path of your life forever. A moment where you know things will never be the same again. She didn’t hesitate.
“What must I do?” she asked the shade.
“Help him Farra, find the truth. Moxal 3.”
“I will be with you always, fear nothing,” he smiled and she trusted him immediately.
“I don’t even know who you are,” she said with a half smile.
“My name is Leon. I am the memory of a nation almost lost. There is one who can save us from extinction but he needs your help. Wake up child.”
She awoke and clutched at her chest until the pain subsided. As she showered she noticed the little bruise was now twice its previous size.
She signed up for deep space military service after she finished college. Her parents both served and so it seemed the most natural thing for her to do the same. She worked hard and excelled at sports and all the physical fitness pursuits and disciplines. She was an expert in unarmed combat, stealth combat techniques, survival skills and several martial arts. The discipline that gave her most pleasure and satisfaction though, was Advanced Weapons Handling – Combat & Survival with Blades. She gained top honours in that class and got a medal for it. She loved blades of all types and designs and had quite a private collection of her own. She beat all the men in her class, many of whom carried the scars to prove it. After she did her statutory three years she signed up for the Deep Space Tactical Unit, or DSTU’s as they are known. This organisation is a sort of deep space SAS who specialise in covert operations across the galaxy. She saw action in a covert operation in the Nebugord system and earned herself the bronze arrow. This is an award for bravery under fire in a hostile environment where the chances of survival are slim. Even though her effort only got her the bronze, she was proud of her little pin and wore it always. She thought her life was all mapped out and she was happy about it. Until the dreams started and everything changed. Now here she was, unemployed and packing for a journey to a shit pile of a place out in the butt hole of nowhere because a ghost told her to do it. She wondered if she was nuts! She correctly anticipated the reaction of her superior officer when she gave him the news.
“You’re what”? yelled Major Whelan as his bushy grey eyebrows shot to the top of his head.
“I’m resigning the corps and going to Moxal 3,” she stated calmly.
“What the heck do you want to go to that hell hole for?” The Major couldn’t believe what he was hearing.
“I might become a Cleaner Sir and maybe a Ranger in time, cleaning the mines. Be an interesting job I reckon. A bit different, y’know?” she offered.
“You’re mad.” Major Whelan was incredulous. “Mad as a fuckin hatter, get out!”
Major Whelan was old school. One of those men who always looked like an off duty wing commander even when he was on the golf course, at the supermarket or taking a piss on a train on his way to a Billy Kool concert with his grand kids. He rose at six am sharp even on Sundays, ran five miles every morning in all weathers with a fifty pound pack on his back and pressed the creases into his pants so sharp you could slice an apple with them. He called every man under forty five boy and he always doffed his cap to every woman he passed. Oh, and he always signed his title as well as his name, even on birthday cards. Major Whelan was the butt of many a private joke around the corps but he was generally well liked by the students. He took Farra under his wing when she first signed up and gave her a pep talk about being proud to serve, being a hero and doing one’s duty.
A month later she allowed herself to be strapped into a cryo cell for the journey to Moxal 3. She experienced cryo sleep a couple of times during her time in the Corps but she was never under for longer than a few hours. She felt a momentary rush of claustrophobia as the cell lid was locked down and for a fraction of a second, she almost cried out but her self discipline kicked in automatically and she willed her body to relax. She noticed a subtle change in the air that she was breathing. It tasted different, sort of sharp and bitter at the same time. There was just time to think, oh yuck, before darkness descended. Leon was waiting for her in the hinterland and she felt no fear.
“Register for cleaning duties when you get to Corporation HQ and allow yourself to be cheated by the Rangers into duty in the deeper level tunnels. There you will meet a man who will become a lifelong friend. He will help save your life more than once, but first you must save his. You will recognise him immediately; you won’t have met anyone like him before. His kind are like shadows of legends told and retold around the firesides of drunken men. He is kept prisoner in the deep tunnels and the fate of countless planets depends upon you freeing him and returning him to his people.”
“Who is he, why is he so important?” So many questions she needed answers to but so few of those answers came.
“He is the first step towards fulfilling your destiny and in helping others fulfil theirs. They call him The Animal and treat him as such. He is a pawn in a totally misguided political plot to control a large sector of the galaxy. It is a plot doomed to failure but they do not have the intelligence to realise the error of their greedy ways. If you cannot free him, many planetary systems will enter into a war that will last for centuries. Countless numbers will die in retribution for his death and nothing good will be achieved.”
“So he is an important person then?” she asked, still not sure that she’d know him when she met him. “How will I know him?”
“He is Prince Toma of the Drycenian Nation,” he said without preamble.
Pzolgon rose from his throne to address the multitude gathered in the vast Atrium. This day dawned with a very grave matter to be addressed; one that was foretold an immeasurably long time ago and was now to come to pass. He looked down at the countless silent throng gathered here and knew what must happen. His expression was dark as he addressed his people.
“Adherents of the Transmortal truth. I stand before you this day to bring you grave news. It has been brought to our consciousness from the Great Immortal that the time foretold to us so long ago is soon to come to pass. The one who has been prophesied will soon draw his first breath. The one who wishes to keep us from The Veil.” The crowd of adherents all drew in a breath, shocked at the news they were hearing. Pzolgon continued. “Ever since the first Pzolgon journeyed to The Veil and returned blessed with the gift of Transmortal Truth has this time been foretold. Over thousands of lifetimes we have known and prepared for the coming of this evil one. Ever since that first Pzolgon began to pass on the gift of Transformation to the unfortunate mortals, we have waited for this dread moment. This morning our Visionary saw the moment the evil seed was sown into the fertile soil of the uninitiated. Now that seed lives and grows in the filth of its mother’s mortal womb and plots against the great Transmortal Truth.” Shocked murmurs began to wend their way around the Atrium as the Adherents heard what Pzolgon was telling them. “Adherents, we have devoted our lives to bringing the gift of Transformation to those unfortunate uninitiated; to offering them the greatest gift the Great Immortal has to offer, to bringing them The Veil. Are we to stand by and let this evil doer keep countless millions from receiving this greatest of gifts?”
The crowd of Adherents roared into life. “No, no, no.” Pzolgon looked around the Atrium at the multitude and smiled.
“How do we proceed?” he challenged them.
“Kill the evil one,” they all replied as one.
“It will be done,” Pzolgon assured them. “We cannot allow one evil doer to prevent the coming of The Veil. It will be done.” He turned and strode out of the Atrium, the Adherents’ roars ringing in his ears.
“So where is he, this evil one?” he asked his Visionary who was deep in a trance like state communing with The Great Truth.
The Visionary was at the Windows of Time looking for the evil one’s whereabouts. This device is what the Transmortal Visionaries use to see through time, both past and future. The device consists of two ice blue coloured crystal spheres each four inches in diameter onto which the Visionary holds. As he opens his vast mind the power of these magical crystals enhances his mind’s energy field to such a degree that he can see vast distances through space and time. It takes many years of training for the Acolytes before they are able to use the Windows of Time without damaging their minds permanently.
“Well, where is he?” Pzolgon was getting impatient with the Visionary.
“He’s in sector eleven, a system called Lilea. He is due to take his first breath in one month.” The Visionary saw the look of satisfaction on Pzolgon’s face at this knowledge.
“Good, that gives us plenty of time to get there.” He strode out of the Visionary’s temple and went to speak to his commanders. “Sector eleven, the Lilean system. We must travel invisibly and get there quickly; the evil one will draw his first breath in one month.”
“At once,” the Commanders responded together, thumping their right fists against their chests in the customary salute to their Pzolgon. They returned to their positions and steered the enormous silent Transmortal ship on its way to the Lilean system to keep this most important date with destiny and kill the evil one.
“Vincent.” A voice from behind made him turn and spring into defensive mode, blade in hand. Syra was standing across the room from him and it was the first time she’d appeared in solid form to him while he was fully awake. “Vincent. The cycle of time is almost complete. All moments have led to this one in which we now stand. The waiting is almost over and the time of your destiny approaches fast. The ones who you see on these walls are the ones who sent our people to the land of the dead, who sent you to the land of the dead moments after your birth that had been prophesied to the ancients so long ago. Many worlds mourn those lost at the hands of these evil ones you see on these walls. You have suffered so much Vincent but you have become a fine man and a brave warrior and we are so proud of you. All of the lost ones love you so much and are with you always.” She approached and reached for his hands.
“There is only me. How can I fix this? I’m just one man,” he asked her.
“You are the only one to bring this evil to an end Vincent. There is no other in the land of the living to whom destiny has given this burden. Only you have been deemed worthy of this mighty task that has brought you so much pain.” Her eyes never left his as she spoke.
“But what do I do? How can I?” He was desperate for answers.
“The evil ones are coming Vincent, they are coming for you. I have kept your presence from their sight until now, until the moment prophesied arrived. They see you now and they come for you. You are not fighting alone dear one, others have your back. Know this and believe it. The answer lies in the trees Vincent, the answer lies in the trees.” As she faded away Vincent knew immediately what she meant. The answer lies in the trees and in the poison he worked so hard to acquire from them.
Over the next few hours he explored the other domes and found that with the exception of one, the others were all identical to the first. The odd one was very interesting and gave him the answer to the question he’d been so desperate for Syra to answer. The last dome was given over completely to the production, care and distribution of a water supply to the other domes. The whole of the depth of this dome was filled with one vast tank and the walls were lined with machinery, digital monitoring devices and quality control consoles. He was able to work out what it all was due to seeing similar stuff during his military career. When he was sent to worlds that were pretty inhospitable, the army had to provide basic facilities such as water and they had a mobile water collection and treatment facility that they would set up for the soldiers to use. From what he could see here this one worked in pretty much a similar way and this was the obvious choice for him to use to attack the enemy when they arrived. If he could find one of the uptake valves that led into the tank, he would be able to put the poison into the whole supply so that all who drank or washed themselves in it would be affected. Then it would just be a case of surviving for a couple of days until it did its job.