Ana’ka heard the musical voice call her name again. I must be dreaming again, she thought as she reached for her robe to cover her thin nightshirt. She was very short compared to Ukit. Where he was a tall, lean and muscular warrior, she was a tiny and curvaceous young woman. Her auburn-colored hair, full lips, and large, slightly slanted green eyes contrasted nicely against her lightly tanned skin. Like most of the Grand Council members, she had the telltale sign of the somewhat-elongated head of the Balsarius descendants.
Ukit Took, the Mayan King, was a tall and lean warrior and a strong leader. Together they led the Mayan Grand Council that was left in charge of the colony by the human settlers from the planet Balsarius. The Grand Council stayed in contact with the Balsarius outpost, even though the majority of the colonists there had long forgotten the past. Together Ukit Took and Ana’ka exited the cavern that served as their home.
The musical voices called out again as a light floated in front of Ana’ka and Ukit. They followed the light and soon joined the rest of the council in the main tunnel that led out of the cavern. Wordlessly, they walked into the night air.
The musical voices called out to them from the lights. Ana’ka thought dreamily, That’s strange. Why is the Grand Council out in public in their night clothes? The guards slept as the lights led them to follow the lakeshore around to the smaller hill that stood out close to the river that fed the lake. They followed the lights around the hill until they arrived at the backside where they noted anopening filled with a warm and inviting light. The musical voices now called them into the inner chambers. They found themselves in a tall room of polished limestone. At the far end of the room stood a magnificent being who towered over them. His golden hair fell in soft curls on his shoulders. He had large dimples on his cheeks, a cleft chin and large blue eyes that glittered and stood out against his fair skin. He was heavily muscled and dressed in gold and silver armor. Four strong wings protruded from his back and extended out 12 feet to either side as he flexed them. The wings resembled his armor with rows of alternating gold and silver feathers, each edge razor sharp. Twin scimitars that glowed and shimmered with heavily worked gold and silver inlays hung on a belt around his waist. Ana’ka smelled a sweet-spicy scent in the air.
Follow me and speak not, he commanded with his musical voice that was not spoken, but rang out in his subject’s mind. Ana’ka walked in a dream-like haze. She was not frightened, but she thought the whole dream strange.
They followed the being through a passageway at the back of the room. Ana’ka was vaguely aware of where she walked. She smelled the damp earthy smell of the passageways mixed with the spicy scent of the being. She followed Ukit and the being as they climbed the passageway that wound up through the center of the stone structure inside the hill. She looked back and saw that the Grand Council followed behind her. Just as she began to wonder if they were lost, the being led them into an altar room with highly polished granite walls.
At the back of the room was a dark-green granite altar with a giant crystal sphere that rested on top. The bottom of the altar was a large, roughly cut granite block. The lid on top of the block was a thick piece of polished dark-green granite with golden-winged horses at each of the four corners of the lid. On top of the wings rested a thin, pink granite circular shelf. A large crystal sphere rested above the shelf on a golden band two feet wide at the base. It cradled the huge crystal sphere that rested gently on pads that protruded from the golden band. The golden band was decorated with visions of men with falcon heads, jackals, snakes and other animals as well. Golden dragons were set at equal distances across the gold band and between each dragon there appeared to be a small golden door with a silver skull inlayed in the center of the door.
Choose your place. The being silently directed the Grand Council members to a series of thick, woven mats of dark wood evenly placed in a semicircle in front of the sphere. Ana’ka approached the altar as she tightly held Ukit’s hand.
After each couple stood together on the mats, the crystal sphere began to glow and spin. Ana’ka watched as lights flashed from the sphere. Musical notes filled the room changing with the flashing lights. Then the golden doors opened to reveal highly polished crystal skulls inside of each compartment. The lights that flashed out from the Crystal sphere now were drawn back into the sphere and with it the music diminished to almost nothing.
In a rush, lights shot out of the crystal skulls into each couple. Each couple was locked in a different musical note and color, in a sudden explosion of music and light. Ana’ka felt the warmth of the blue light that locked on her as the music of the universe filled her heart and mind. Strange visions flashed in her mind as the music and light filled her until there was nothing else.
Ana’ka awoke with a start. Her heart raced as she labored to breathe. A second later Ukit was up and had to catch his breath too.
“What a dream!” Ukit exclaimed.
“Me too,” Ana’ka said as she leaned over and kissed him. “I dreamt we walked to the Pyraportal, but it was open ...”
Ukit snapped his head around to look at her. “Did you see the angel, too?”
Ana’ka nodded with her eyes wide in surprise. “And the Crystal Skull?”
“Something tells me this wasn’t a dream,” Ukit said as he pointed to the dresser.
Ana’ka looked to her left and saw the perfectly formed and polished Crystal Skull on the dresser beside them.
The Artisan Guild Elder, Shanle Galen, flipped his long red hair out of his face as he stood patiently painting a portrait of a beautiful nude brunette who had just taken a bite out of an apple. He smiled at the gentle curves of her body until he was interrupted when his holographic personal assistant suddenly materialized in front of him.
Galen had highly customized Androdika, so she wore a skin-tight black leather body suit over her petite body. Her bright-red hair was shaved on the right side and cropped close on top while the left side was braided and hung down over her left breast. She glanced over her right shoulder at the object of Galen’s attention and rolled her eyes.
“Elder Galen, your meeting with the Council of Elders begins in two minutes. Elder Sandowski sent you this reminder, and hopes you can make it on time.”
“Oh shit,” Galen exclaimed. “That insufferable man won’t let me live down being late again. Get dressed, dear, and I’ll see you same time tomorrow.”
Galen blew the model a kiss as he hurried out of his private art studio and stopped to wash some of the paint off his fingers. He pulled the painter’s smock off to reveal a very colorful set of tights that covered his entire body. Galen looked at his figure in the mirror and smiled as he put on the white elder robes and the sash of his office. The Artisan Guild sash was purple with an inkwell and quill crossed over an artist’s paintbrush and palette in full color. Instead of simply wearing it over his shoulders as was customary, today he put it on like a scarf and started out of the office.
“Elder, did you forget something?” Androdika asked at the receptionist desk as she pointed at the stack of colored pencils and notebooks that sat at the edge of her desk.
“Well, of course the Fruitcake is late again,” complained Elder Gregory Sandowski of the Workers Guild as he rubbed his bald head with strong hands that showed the scars of the years in the smithy. He had a weathered look to his face, as though he spent the majority of his life outside. He hated his position and would rather have been back with a hammer in his hand in his shop than at this meeting, but he was a man of duty. His green sash had a hammer and wood saw crossed over an anvil all in gun-metal gray, which he chose to wear around his waist like a belt. Sandowski was neat and orderly, with a pen and small pad of pa- per precisely placed in front of him to the side of his cup of coffee and personal recorder. All of which were perfectly spaced apart and in line with the table, exactly six inches from the edge.
“I’m here. We can get started now,” Galen said as he stormed into the room and unceremoniously dropped the pencils and notepads onto the table in front of him. Sandowski rolled his eyes and huffed.
“Glad you could fit us into your busy schedule, Fruitcake,” Sandowski said sarcastically, to which Galen simply stuck his tongue out.
“Gentlemen, if you please. Thank you all for joining us. Now let’s get to the point: We’re losing this war,” Shihan Marcus Kahn said to the Council of Guild Elders. The silence was deafening in the Great Hall, where they had met for this important meeting. He ran his hands along the four-inch-wide red sash with the golden crossed swords embroidered down the center which signified that he was the Elder of the Warrior Guild. It was his responsibility to protect the colony, and he was tired of all the resistance from the other elders. Shihan’s well-trimmed beard and long dark-brown hair were now peppered with gray in the thick braid that hung to the middle of his back. The tall, slim warrior had a steely glint in his piercing blue eyes as he let those last words sink in to the other elders in the room. “The G`Alad have more weapons than we do, so this becomes a simple game of numbers, and Admiral Ares knows that.”
Elder Danshe of the Religious Guild ran his fingers through his thick, silver hair. His small, dark brown eyes looked from elder to elder as the portly, aged gentleman stood up to address the council. His guild sash was dark blue with silver triangles embroidered down its length. He stood up beside Shihan and asked,
“Why can’t we try negotiation? Maybe we can reason with them?”
Shihan sighed deeply at the portly man’s suggestion. “Because the last time we negotiated he broke the treaty and raided our military supply depots. Now, we can barely defend ourselves. Oh, Ares will meet with you so that he can rebuild his broken MARs units while we try in desperation to hold our ground. Time is on his side, not ours. We need something that will change the tide in our favor before Ares wipes us out.”
Galen shook his head as he drew and scribbled on several notepads at the same time, sometimes using both hands. Being ambidextrous had its advantages. “We’re not getting anywhere like this. Elder Kahn, what do you need from us to win this war?” Galen asked.
Shihan sighed deeply. “We want to use anti-matter weapons.”
“Absolutely not!” cried Elder Roberto Salvatore from the Science Guild. “We would’ve been better off if we had never created those damn things. Excuse my language, Elder Danshe, but it’s impossible for us to prevent a singularity from forming after the explosion. As we learned in the Crystalline War, the results can destroy entire solar systems if ample material feeds into it. Millions died as each planet in the Kaldori system was swallowed up by the black hole. The Science Guild will not make one, period. Find another way, Shihan.”
Roberto’s red face clearly showed his determination. The short, thin man had a face like a rat because of his buck teeth and big nose, but he was a brilliant scientist. The sash for the Science Guild was yellow with a glass beaker containing an atomic structure. The protons and neutrons at the center were red and blue while the multiple electrons orbiting the nucleus were dark gray.
Shihan shook his head. “We’re fast running out of options, gentlemen. Unless the Science Guild can activate the Space Portal so we can get reinforcements, our MARs units will be overrun within the year.”
Elder Salvatore shook his head. “We have some new projects that show some promise. Give us a month to kick some things into gear. We’ll see what we can do about the Space Portal, but right now the last Pyraportal must remain hidden. Our Balsarius ancestors built it in secrecy because they didn’t trust the G’Alad. God only knows how they have not found it before now. They’ll stop at nothing to destroy it like they did the others. We’re just lucky it can still channel this planet’s energies enough to fire its weapon. It’s the only thing that stands between us and their warships.”
“Well, that and this base station,” replied Shihan.
“But even Ark 1 has its limits,” replied Sandowski.
“We have many challenges ahead of us,” Elder Galen commented as he scribbled on two of several small notepads in front of him simultaneously.
“What kind of challenges would those be, Fruitcake?” Sandowski asked as he sneered across the table at the very messy Galen.
Galen looked up and smiled as he shredded up both pieces of paper and casually threw them out on the table without another word.
“Gentlemen, if you please!” Shihan interrupted. “You’re worse than an old married couple. You can annoy each other on your own time.”
“Is there no room for negotiation at all?” asked Elder Danshe again as he sat back down beside Shihan. “Are we not a civilized society?”
Shihan looked at Elder Danshe who was seated beside him, and then gently placed his hand on Danshe’s shoulder. “Yes, my dear friend, we’re civilized but our enemies are not. Words can seldom be used to put out a forest fire, but water or more fire will work. Sometimes you have to fight for your way of life if you wish to survive. We’ve certainly been at that point for a long time. This war has been going on for thousands of years, and I see no reason to believe that the G`Alad wish it any other way.”
Elder Danshe nodded his head sadly, “I suppose you’re right Shihan. For everything there is a time and place. The Religious Guild will support the decision of this council.”
“The Artisan Guild shares your concerns, Elder Danshe,” replied Elder Galen. “We would like to see an end to this conflict.”
“So do we all,” answered Shihan. “Adjourned until the Science Guild can come up with a solution?”
“So adjourned,” seconded Elder Danshe. As they rose up from the table Danshe grabbed Shihan by the arm and said aloud, “Elder Salvatore, I wonder if I might have a word with you and Elder Kahn in private?”
“Certainly. Meet me at my chambers in 10 microns?” asked Shihan. When they both nodded in agreement, Shihan bowed his head slightly and left the Great Hall. Within minutes he arrived back at the door to his private quarters.
“Hello, Elder Kahn,” said the female computer voice that had scanned him before the door opened. “Would you like some tea?”
“No thank you, Sarah,” Shihan replied as he walked through his living quarters. The quarters were simply decorated. A comfortable set of red leather lounge chairs sat in front of a stone fireplace. The walls were cream-colored and led to the kitchen and bedroom to the right of the entry. Shihan headed into his private study to the left.
Against the front wall next to the door was a small table with two unlit candles close to each end. They flamed to life as Shihan approached. He knelt at the small but simple altar of the Holy Warrior that few people had ever seen. A symbol made of wood rose from the surface of the table and floated in between the lit candles. The “Great Circle” symbol was a carved wooden circle with a twisted purple crystal triangle in the center. The circle was carved with dark flames that spun off the outside in a counter-clockwise motion, while the inside of the circle had light-colored flames that spun clockwise toward the twisted crystal triangle in the center as if drawn to it. This represented the “Circle of Life” that surrounded the “Creator” and served as a reminder that people lived in the circle of life and served the Creator at the center. Those who rejected the Creator were cast out, but all were welcome. On either side of the small table were the two pieces of his “Qatassendor” staff with its curved, purple crystal blades that gleamed in the low light. This was the main weapon of the Holy Warrior. It was his direct link to the Creator that gave him strength, protection, and prolonged his life.
This was one of the ways that he had lived for so many thousands of years. Stasis chambers had helped him sleep through the centuries that the G`Alad were not overly active. But whenever a major offensive began, the Guild Elders woke Shihan up out of his stasis. This time his generals had foolishly waited too long before they requested Shihan’s help, and it had cost them the central lands that tied the southern and northern continents together. The last skirmish had cost them the majority of the northern continent. The G`Alad had used the huge settlement on the northern pole they had named Hyperborea as a point to launch and infiltrate the commoners settlements all over the planet. Shihan had tried to warn them, but the council ignored him. The commoners viewed the G`Alad as magicians or gods as they were so far removed from the truth – they had become so involved with the daily struggle just to survive.
Shihan pulled a golden “Great Circle Medallion” out of his shirt, which also had a twisted purple crystal triangle in the center. He placed his hands on the Qatassendor, which immediately caused the blades to brighten. The crystal triangle in the center of both Great Circles glowed in response as Shihan closed his eyes and cleared his mind. Visions of a crystal skull in the right hand of an elderly man with long white hair braided back and a long white mustache filled his mind. His name was Master Yen Tsu, and this man was his mentor and fellow Holy Warrior.
Yen Tsu pointed to Shihan and said, “Answer the door.”
Shihan looked up as he heard the chimes at his door. Has it been 10 microns already? The door slid closed behind him as he exited his private study and an- swered the front door.
“Come in,” said Shihan. Elder Salvatore and Elder Danshe entered with two colonists dressed in long red linen robes. Their darkened skin and dark hair stood out in stark contrast to the elders dressed in white silk. Shihan immediately recognized the male as a capable warrior who was nearly as tall as Shihan. The much shorter and shapely woman was beautiful by any standard and was obviously his mate. In her right hand she held a black cloth bag that had a strange bulge in it.
“May the Light shine through you,” greeted Shihan as he welcomed them into his living quarters and offered them a seat.
Elder Danshe slightly bowed his head. “Shihan, let me introduce to you King Ukit Took and his life-mate Queen Ana’ka. They’re of Balsarius descent and are the leaders of the Mayan Grand Council on the colony. They’re fully aware of our history.”
“Well met,” Shihan said as he slightly bowed his head to them both. “What do you have on your mind?”
Elder Danshe smiled, “Shihan, I had a vision during my prayers on how we can activate the Pyraportal. Queen Ana’ka?”
Ana’ka reached into her bag and pulled out a perfectly formed crystal skull that immediately began to glow. She lifted the skull in her right hand for Shihan to see and was surprised when the skull gently lifted out of her hand and floated over in front of Shihan of its own free will. Shihan placed his hands together palm-up in front of the skull as it set down in his hands.
Shihan closed his eyes and visions filled his mind.
Admiral Ares watched as the pilot guided the shuttle from his flagship the Argus down to the settlement on the northern pole that the G`Alad called Hyperborea. The fortress was grown from quartz crystals, which provided a tremendous advantage. First, it was more easily hidden from the commoners who lived on the many continents across the globe. Second, the very walls of the fortress were used to focus and generate the majority of the energy and data storage needs for the settlement.
Ares was pleased that Commander Apollon had done so well. Because of him the commoners worshipped them as gods. Anything to keep them from the truth. Ares smiled as he heard the voices of Klaxon sing out in his mind. The sentient sword had spoken to him for many thousands of years now, and this sword was the source of power that allowed him to live for so long.
Thou must feed me. I hunger, Klaxon begged. Ares looked over at his political officer Commander General Menelaos who also heard the voices of Klaxon. Menelaos had greasy, dark hair combed to the side in typical military fashion. His short, dark mustache and goatee were neatly trimmed and were equally as greasy as his hair. His slender build and pasty-white skin reminded Ares of a funeral parlor director.
Menelaos looked instinctively down at the bracelet and rings on his left hand and the silver pendant that resembled a lightning bolt, which was pinned to his dark-blue military uniform’s lapel. The stones on the bracelet and rings, were colored in a deep, dark blue, and matched the stone in the hilt of the small golden-bladed scimitar that Ares held. Runes circled a band of gold just above the scimitar’s hilt where the large, blue stone brilliantly displayed. Ares held Klaxon in his right hand as his left hand absently reached up to the large pendant that hung around his neck under his crisp, white uniform. Menelaos’s many pieces of jewelry and Ares’s knife and pendant were a matching set that shared one thing in common: the brilliant blue stones that pulsed like a heartbeat.
The shuttle landed as Commander Apollon greeted the admiral with a sharp salute. He was dressed in a sharply pressed charcoal-gray uniform and at his waist was a golden-bladed kukri. Its blade glowed and the blue stone in the hilt pulsed. Runes circled the base of the hilt and continually changed. The sentient blade called itself J’Anx and talked more and more to Apollon. Music from J’Anx now filled his mind as the Admiral approached. Time to feed? Please feed us, too!
“Admiral on the deck!” Apollon shouted. Be patient, my friend. I’ll feed you soon. J’Anx laughed insanely. The shuttle docked in a large bay beside multiple other shuttles. Several Mobile Attack Robots, more commonly called “MARs” units, were being loaded aboard a ship in the next dock.
The blue and white MARs units stood 30 feet tall. Its torso was the size of a van, and the round head sat upon its shoulders like a small command module capable of holding a full-grown man inside. The left shoulder had a block of rocket launchers while the right shoulder had a small cannon that protruded at a downward angle to be able to stay in the cargo hold. Both arms had pulse cannons attached to the sides of the forearms. Each arm ended in a forked claw that could be manipulated to pick up and hold items – and it was used in hand-to-hand combat.
The nuclear-powered MARs had a neurological interface that the operator accessed through recessed tanks in the command pod that the operator placed his hands and feet inside. The tanks were filled with a biological gel that bonded with the user’s nervous system, and it allowed them full control of the MARs unit. Holographic screens and displays appeared in front of the operator to provide them operational information at a glance. The command pod became a stasis pod that, in case of emergency, provided ejection whether on land, sea, or even space.
The weapons platform was considerable, with machine guns, rocket launchers, and lasers that could cut through the defenses of most armored vehicles. Maneuverability was hampered only by the operator’s limitations. The unit was designed to respond to the operator to run, walk, and jump as if it was an extension of the operator. With the rocket boosters in its legs and arms, it could fly for short distances in the heavy atmosphere. The jetpack on its back allowed it to maneuver in space and even under water. Its built-in force field could extend outward for 75 feet to protect support ground troops. The torso held a squad of 10 soldiers for very short distances for troop deployment.
“As you were, Commander,” Ares responded. “Walk with us. I trust that you have things ready for us to feed?”
“Yes, Admiral. If you would like to follow this way we can make that happen right away, then after you clean up we can continue with the briefing. Or would you prefer to get business out of the way first?” Apollon asked.
“Just tell me, are we still progressing like we were in your last report?”
“Yes, Admiral,” Apollon answered with a smile. “Our forces push the colonial forces back at every battle. We expect they’ll run out of MARs units in six to eight months. The last two raids cut their supplies in half. We’ve also infiltrated each guild, but not at very high levels. That’ll still take some time.”
“You’ve done well, my friend,” Ares said with a smile. “A promotion may soon be in order for you. Now, let us feed and then after we rest you can finish your report.”
Apollon led them out of the bay and into a corridor that opened into an auditorium. Inside the auditorium were a thousand men, women, and children dressed in plain farm clothes. The majority of the colony had reverted to a pre-industrialized society as they struggled to survive with the sudden loss of electricity after the destruction of the world power grid. In only two generations the vast majority of survivors had no knowledge that electricity had flowed freely in a wireless power grid that all the colonists had shared.
Ares looked at Menelaos and watched as his eyes became pitch black, and he felt Klaxon’s voices grow to a fevered pitch. Feed us, yes, Love. Feed us! Likewise, Ares’ eyes turned pitch-black as he approached the first farmer and plunged the knife deep into his heart. He felt the farmer’s memories fill his mind with needless dribble such as how to care for a horse, when to plant, when to sow. Who cares about this mindless stuff? he thought to himself as he reached down to feel the core of the man’s life force. Ares drank it into himself and felt himself get stronger by the second. He could smell the fear all around him.
He smelled the burned flesh and hair as he pulled Klaxon from the charred man’s smoky husk of a body. Ares stomped his foot down hard on the man and smiled wickedly as his body burst into dust before the other peasants.
Yes, brother. Let’s fill ourselves with their energy and make better use of it than they ever would, Menelaos called out through the mind link they shared through Klaxon.
Ares looked over and saw that Menelaos had already placed his hand out to another peasant and started to draw the person’s life force into himself. Ares was the weapon, but Menelaos was the well of power that Ares could draw on to do so many wonderful things with Klaxon. He hated to depend on anyone, but they were indeed stronger together than apart.
Yes, brother, Ares replied as he stabbed Klaxon deep into another pathetic peasant.
The demon Legion licked its giant maw. Legion was a collective of demons that had banded together and had become of one purpose. They were nearly as powerful as the Dark Lord himself – nearly. Legion had carefully planned their rise to power in a way that didn’t threaten the Dark Lord. Legion had seduced many lower-ranking demons to join the collective with the promise of strength in numbers.
They knew they were not strong enough to challenge the Dark Lord directly, and they would never survive a direct attack from him either. By banding together into a collective, and with a hive mentality, they had become strong enough that the Dark Lord would have to use so much energy to destroy them that it would leave him vulnerable to the others. So Legion had to carefully balance its actions and not overplay the hand it had been dealt.
Today they had chosen the form of a black dragon, as they had done for many centuries. The many shadows convulsed together to create the form, and they could still be seen as individual shadows by the more powerful demons. Legion stretched its leathery wings out as it gave a mighty yawn.
The Dark Lord would be happy with the progress they had made in the Realm of Man. More souls for him, and the tide of war rolls as the Dark Lord instructed. Taste sweet, it will! Legion had set things into motion that guaranteed a great many souls would join them, one way or another. If not mankind, then the others would join once the space portal was opened again. Now all they had to do was wait. This time it would be different because time was on their side.
Savor this, we will! Legion said to themselves as they licked their maw.
More to come!
D.B. was born January 10, 1965 in Reno, Nevada and moved to Georgetown, Texas where he stayed through high school. He entered the Air Force on October 4, 1983 and retired at Scott AFB Illinois 20 years later filled with many rich experiences, a wonderful wife and family. After a short tour overseas as a logistics manager for a contracting company during the Iraq war, D.B. returned home to the St. Louis area and became an IT project manager for a defense contractor.
In 2011, their youngest son decided to follow the family tradition and joined the military. With this big change they suddenly found themselves to be “Happy Nesters,” and they took a long, hard look at the direction of their lives. They decided that the corporate world was just not worth the heavy toll on the family. So, he resigned and moved back to Texas. D.B. became inspired by a special on the Great Pyramid of Giza and was fascinated by the advanced engineering built into the pyramid. There are many theories to explain the purpose of the Great Pyramid, but D.B. was certain this was never a tomb. After a full year of research on ancient mysterious sites, a rich storyline unfolded in front of him. D.B. signed on with 3L Publishing and began to write the Harmonic Wars series.