Planet of Fire:
It had been two weeks since Destiny left Aphelion and Myst was up and going like nothing had ever happened. Though in that two weeks, her back had healed, TJ and Colonel Young had gotten a psychologist on board using the communications stones so that she could talk to someone about what had happened, the newcomers had settled into a daily routine and were helping out in any way possible and Myst’s family had learned what had happened on her latest visit to Aphelion and they understood better why the crew was so protective of her.
The past two weeks also took them past a few planets that, although they weren’t habited, didn’t offer anything in the way of food. They did however give the crew some much needed ‘off Destiny’ time in which it was used to exercise in some fresh air and get some target practice in. The planet they had just dropped out of FTL at was known as Satorius or the Fire Planet. The people of the Krochan galaxy used this planet to perform their harvest festival rituals. There weren’t actual witches anywhere in the galaxy, but a priest had declared the Satorius be used to pray to the gods that everyone in the galaxy have a bountiful and plentiful harvest and thus the festival was held at different times during the year on the planet. It just so happened that we came out of FTL on the eve of the festival beginning. Everyone was anxious to get off and go see the festival, which was said to last weeks. Destiny wouldn’t be in orbit that long, but at least it would give some of the kids who weren’t used to being on a ship some time away and to enjoy what they had once enjoyed before becoming slaves.
It was around this time that Quinain showed up with the rest of her siblings. They had been talking in the last couple weeks, getting to know each other for the first time. Myst was normally with James, Grear, Scott, Chloe and Eli. She was helping them train the saber cub which had been named Roan for her dark colored fur. Roan and Storm got along great, except when the cub decided she was going to attack Storm and then Storm would just bat her out of his way and continue to wherever he’d been going. But that didn’t stop Roan, who took a liking to the swaying of Storm’s tail until one day, she clamped her teeth onto his tail, he roared loudly, everyone within the vicinity poked their heads out of wherever they were and saw the small cub dangling from Storm’s tail as if it was just another play thing. Storm was pissed and a little injured. Turns out, Roan had never been allowed to play like the other cubs because she was the runt.
From that day on, Roan was kept away from Storm and Storm was out helping the off-world teams as much as he could now that he trusted the soldiers a little better than the first time he’d seen them. Roan, on the other hand, missed her giant play thing and refused to train worth a lick so they had to trick her into training. It was around this time that the rest of the crew saw how anxious and excited the newcomers and Myst’s family were acting. And it was also around that time that the Destiny dropped out of FTL above Satorius and then the crew was enlightened as to why everyone was excited.
The Festival of Fire:
“Hey, Myst, why are all the newcomers so excited that we dropped out above this planet? It’s just a giant rock of molten lava.” Chloe asked.
“It’s not actually. There is about 200 acres of fertile land right near the gate and that’s where the festival is held a couple times every year. It’s where most of the inhabitants of the Krochan come for their harvest festival, to pray to Jinga for a bountiful harvest. Most get their prayers answered but every now and then someone will throw in a prayer that isn’t for the harvest and then the harvest will be bad. We can go, but it will just be to watch and buy or trade for whatever they have at the market.”
“Sounds like fun, how come you never mentioned this before?” Eli asked.
“Quinain just told me that before they were picked up she’d been asked to dance in the festival for the ‘Satorius Dreat’ so she is excited and it never dawned on me that we would be passing Satorius during a festival. There really isn’t anything grown on Satorius that is worth salvaging and the water on the planet tastes like sulfur so nobody can drink it unless it’s boiled first. But there are advantages too. Quinain said that there are these ul’tra’ka (wonderful) hot springs that don’t burn or anything if you don’t stay in them too long. She said that they are supposed to be great for curing certain illnesses. I was thinking that TJ could bring some of the water back and keep it in a separate area than the regular water and she could test it for whatever cure it might have.”
“Well that sounds like a good idea.” Scott said.
“What else is there to do during this Festival?” Grear asked.
“Some people decide to have their wedding ceremonies here because they believe Jinga will bless them.”
“You’ve said Jinga a few times since we’ve met you. What exactly does that mean?” James asked.
“It’s just another word for God or Lord or Deity. It means all three things, but it depends on which planet you are on. So if you ask someone what Jinga means to them and they tell you, you will know. But just don’t ask and you’ll be okay.”
“Why aren’t we allowed to ask?” Varo asked.
“Most people believe it to be an insult and since you are new to the galaxy, they will assume that you have someone that can translate for you and so you should already know.”
“Then we won’t ask about Jinga or anything else that will be an insult. Teams are getting ready to head through the gate. I’d pack what you need and meet us in the gate room. Roan will have to stay here.”
“Thanks Colonel. I can lock her in my room for now.”
“That won’t be necessary, Rush has agreed that she can stay in the Control Interface Room with him while he works. Brody and Volker will be in there as well so at least she can snack on one of them and maybe we get a few laughs out of Rush.”
“That would be great to see.”
“We’ll have a Kino in the room so he doesn’t hurt her.”
Everyone went their separate ways to grab the gear that they wanted to take with them to the festival and anything they wanted to trade, which was mostly just going to sell some of the baskets from Florineta and tell people where they got them from, as per Commander Nukk’ra’s orders. We were keeping most of the baskets as we could use them as storage and could use them when we picked fruits and vegetables from any uninhabited planet we might stop at. Then everyone met at the gate, after I dropped Roan off with Volker, Brody and Rush who just nodded my way.
The Fire Dance:
Myst, Eli and Chloe were up on Storm. TJ, Grear, Varo, James and Scott were standing next to Storm. Eli had the Kino remote in his hand as the Kino was floating next to the gate ready to go through once the gate was activated. Many of the newcomers were excited about getting off the ship. Myst’s family was with some of the Xanchor Xilch that had been brought onto the ship. Quinain couldn’t wait to be able to dance at the Festival, she was so giddy.
As the gate activated, many of the Xilch squealed because it was going to be there first time being able to go to a Dreat without being beaten; they were going as Xanchor and not as Storku. As soon as the military members and Storm and his passengers went through, the rest of the crowd followed through, Myst’s family trying to catch up with their daughter so to be near her before they separated and went in different directions.
As the group moved away from the gate to make room for those coming through, Chloe touched Myst’s arm and the girl turned towards her friend.
“Why do you look so frustrated?”
“I’m not frustrated Chloe. This is the first Dreat other than the one on Aphelion that I’ve been to where I wasn’t a Storku. Many of Mak’ro’s former slaves feel as I do at the moment. This is the first time I’ve ever been able to come as one of the free. I’m taking it all in.”
“But we haven’t even gotten to the Dreat yet. What’s there to take in?”
“Everything! From this moment on, we are truly one of the free. We will never have to be slaves again. We are the coming of a new generation. Any children we have will be part of something better. We will Sukhino om I dharar lokah (Herald in a New Beginning). And when we find a safe place to call home, the Xanchor Xilch will gather and start anew.”
“That was a long explanation, but I think I get it. Will you leave to live with the other Xanchor Xilch when you find this new home of yours?”
“What are you two discussing?” Varo asked.
“Myst, you’re not thinking of leaving us are you?” James asked.
“Not any time soon. But one day, if you are no longer aboard Destiny then there would be to reason to stay.”
“Why wouldn’t we be on board?” Eli asked, finally tuning into what was being said.
“There is a planet out there that will allow you to all go home. It’s called Drago and we will come upon it in the next few galaxies. It will be you way home. Why wouldn’t you go?”
“With all the advancements we’ve made since entering this galaxy, it’s hard to want to leave.” Eli stated.
“Good point, but…”
“Not buts’ I’m pretty sure half the people on board would stay if given the chance to do so. We have the communication stones to communicate with loved ones on Earth. And if we can keep in contact with Drago then we have a supply line with Earth. Colonel Young will want to know and then we’ll have to tell Earth but enough of the right now. We’re here for a festival. We’ll deal with everything as it comes. Come on, show us this Dreat!” TJ said stepping into the conversation as well as ending it.
“Fine, follow my family.”
The group followed not only Myst’s family but also the rest of Mak’ro’s former slaves. The group pushed through the crowds and noticed that people were looking at them as if they shouldn’t be there. Myst’s father dropped back to talk to the soldiers who were next to Storm. As they came into the Dreat, the former slaves moved off with what little money they had to see if they could buy some much needed things that they couldn’t get on Destiny.
Eli and Chloe dismounted from Storm but Myst stayed in the keel (saddle) because she got the feeling that the conversation wasn’t her to hear. She didn’t mind, it gave her the advantage of looking about the Dreat to see if she knew anyone and if there might be a threat to anyone’s life. Finding no threat, she moved Storm away from the group to go look at the Slave Masters and their slaves. She had a Saber, she could challenge if she really wanted to.
If Myst challenged anyone, Storm would most likely win. Having fought dinosaurs while on Dinoplenta, it was a good guess that he would win a Sabretight. But she put that out of your mind as she moved farther away from the group and her friends. She knew there was no point in being afraid of being enslaved again since Mak’ro was in prison so she pushed forward with her plans. She wanted to Challenge as many people as she could so she could win and free any slave put up as collateral, she just wasn’t expecting it to go the way it did.
Meanwhile…back at the Dreat, where all the dancers were getting ready to compete on stage, Quinain was getting ready to perform the main Fire Dance, to kick off the Festival so those that had come to pray could. Before any praying was allowed, a Fire Dance must be performed to show Jinga that the prayers were from the heart as well as for the health of the Harvest.
Quinain had practiced onboard Destiny and knew that is she screwed up; lost harvests could be blamed on her dance as has happened in the past. She practiced every single day and made sure she had an audience as well so she would know if she screwed up or not. Besides, having an audience on the ship also helped her get over her tiny stage fright and helped her get used to having an audience.
Every dancer’s dance was different because it symbolized what the dancers were feeling during their dances. Most were literally dancing for the Harvest, but some, like Quinain, were dancing for joy, love and self retribution. Myst had already seen Quinain dance and the sisters had talked about each other’s decision for the Dreat long into the previous night so Quinain would understand why Myst wouldn’t be watching her sister dance. Though Quinain felt a little let down, she also understood her sister’s need to free slaves as she had been one herself.
As the Fire Dance got under way, Myst was on the outskirts of the Dreat, looking at the slaves and trying to figure out how to approach the Masters. But as luck would have it, one of the Masters didn’t seem to like the fact that his slaves were being inspected without his permission. He was approaching Myst and Storm when Myst spied a slave she knew and watched as the young girl also realized who the young woman starring at her was.
“Wolch niphold ya bilatu, wilhop (What do you want, girl)?” the Master asked.
“A norziroh ya ti om Sabretight (I challenge you to a Saberfight)!”
“Ool ache ya ti noziroh mit (Who are you to challenge me)?”
“A bam Myst (I am…)!”
“Ya tollab vate meteva! (You can have them). Kritoo ache Xanchor (They are free)!”
“A spike drastunda (I don’t understand).”
“Kroupa ateja eita oonce kroupa rouha gropp storku & mepta ya ala elip treatha ool onid zibar (We will explain once we collect our slaves and meet you at the gate in one hour)!”
The Master left and collected Eon and his slaves and then hurried them towards the rest of the Masters and their slaves. Myst turned Storm around and headed back towards her friends, severely confused. As she neared her friends, her mother saw her face and being near Eli, Chloe, TJ and Scott asked,
“Wolch falt ool (What’s going on)?”
“A sagevsal ti noziroh atch proptuha porlaqtal (I asked to challenge and became confused).”
“Wolch dakk ya pilantchu (What do you mean)?”
“A regorlik Eon, Varek’s verra (I saw Eon, Varik’s sister), atch bilatu ti Xanchor lukchen (and wanted to free her).”
“Atch wolch riid elip Arken’sha’lu somatsotano (And what did the Master say)?”
“Ti mepta nikchen ala elip treatha ool onid zibar (To meet him at the gate in one hour).”
“Rellimer netdirt wolch kroupa ateja dakk (Then that’s what we will do).”
“But, it might be best if we talk English from now on. My friends are looking at us wondering what is going on.”
“Yes, that is probably best my daughter. Quinain’s dance has almost ended. We will collect your siblings and you talk to your friends and let them know what is going on and we will meet you at the gate.”
“Thank you for listening dort.”
“Ya ache manulta, mit zeleintcho (You are welcome, my daughter).”
With that Myst’s mother, father and younger siblings went to find Quinain and then headed for a booth before heading to the gate while Myst talked to her friends.
“What was that all about?” Scott asked.
“We need to head back to the gate for the time being. And we need to get Colonel Young planet-side as he will be needed.”
“What do you mean?” TJ asked.
“I saw a friend and wanted to free her but when I told her Master my name, he told me that I could not challenge him, but that he would bring the rest of the Masters and all the slaves and meet us at the gate in an hour and that he will explain what I obviously don’t understand.”
“You tried to help a friend, we get that, but you should have had some of us with you.” Eli said.
“If I had taken you with me, the Masters would have disappeared with their slaves instead of talking to me and telling me the slaves were free.”
“Wait, this guy actually told you that all the slaves were free? What did you say?” Chloe asked.
“All I told him was my name after I challenged him and he asked who I was to challenge him.”
“They must have heard about what had happened on Aphelion.” Varo said as he and James walked up to the group.
“I got the feeling that he knew something that had nothing to do with Aphelion. No, I think this has something to do with Varek.”
“Hey, I think you mentioned him one time but refused to talk about it. Who is he?” James asked.
“He was a slave I used to know. He was bought be a General in the military and subsequently got his freedom. Only male slaves can get their freedom by either joining the military or are bought by someone in the military and trained to become a soldier. He was trained to be a soldier and now is a Commander of his own army. Female slaves can’t join the military to gain freedom but under Varek, females whether they are slaves or not, are allowed to join Varek’s army. But it they want to join the rest of the military, they are not allowed. Most of Varek’s soldiers used to be slaves, which is why it is okay for females to join him. In the rest of the military, it is considered bad luck to have women bear arms and stand as equals to all other soldiers.”
“That sounds a little like what our military used to be like back in the ‘70’s.” Grear said.
“As Varek’s army grows in numbers, more and more people are wanting the military to change the rule about females because they believe anybody should be able to defend not just their homes but the galaxy as well. But it is up to the Central Planets to change the law forbidding females to join the Intergalactic Military. Personally, I think anyone should be able to be a soldier and I like your military better now that I know women are treated as equals and not subordinates. Come, we must get to the gate. The Masters will be there soon with all of their slaves and it is best not to be late.”
Myst stopped talking and climbed onto Storm, pulling Chloe and Eli up behind her. It seemed that whenever Myst was on Storm so where Chloe and Eli. And everyone could see that Myst & Eli were growing closer together than he been with anyone, including Gin.
She moved Storm towards the gate and many of her soldier friends followed though some stayed back to keep an eye on the other civilians in their care and since they were former slaves, they needed to be watched just in case. As Storm neared the gate, she noticed that Colonel Young was already planet-side. TJ had radioed ahead and the guard on the gate had dialed Destiny and Colonel Young had agreed to come to Satorius to see what was going on and why so many people were so apparently afraid of Myst, even if it did have something to do with what happened on Aphelion. Myst’s family had also made it to the gate after collecting not only her siblings but also some of Mak’ro’s slaves. They were going to support the one person they had all come to care for.
A Shocking Truth:
The Masters and their slaves came exactly on the hour. Many of the slaves had bewildered looks on their faces, not knowing what was really going to happen. Eon was the first to see a friend among all the strangers. She tried to move away from the group but her Master kept his hand on her till the group came to a stop in front of the gate. Eon’s Master stepped forward to begin the explanations what Myst was obviously confused about.
“Wolch falt ool, Arken’sha’lu (What’s going on, Master)?’
“Kroupa vate chal’ka ti quichan yourt quadchorg atch quiptching ya noqtwon noziroh (We have come to answer questions and tell you why we would not accept your challenge).”
“Atch noqtwon rick’quash ya (And why couldn’t you)?”
“Prictophy noqtwon sajela ya ache elip Topia Onid (Prophecy says you are the Chosen One).”
“Topia Onid? Atch sith’ach timpelo ool Inglish (Chosen One? And this time in English).”
“Cocoba (Of course). As the Chosen One, you are meant to stop slavery in the Krochan once and for all. Prophecy has already foretold this. It is something that will happen. Many people believe that slavery should be done away with and it is that belief that drew us here during the Satorius Dreat. We knew that the possibility of your being here would be high. This is why we could not let you challenge us. You will have a hard time convincing the Council on the Central Planets that slavery should be gotten rid of, but at least you know that you have our signatures and as a gesture of good faith, we give you our slaves who are now free to do as they wish to do.”
“That is a very good and long explanation but what makes you think we have the room to take them all?”
“You may not have the room now, but you will. Rumor has it that Varek Colobassa is headed to this planet for an unknown reason. If your ship can stay around long enough, you will have a comrade to help take them in. if you cannot stay, they cannot stay here. Do you understand?”
“So let me get this straight; if we don’t take them, they will stay slaves?”
“That’s outrageous considering the fact that you just freed them.” Chloe said.
“There is not enough food here for them to survive off of.”
“We will take them until this Varek guy can meet us somewhere. And what is this petition you are all to sign?” Colonel Young finished.
“A few organizations have already gotten our signatures and the petition will be given to Varek Colobassa when his ships arrive. Maybe your group can meet up between here and the Central Planets. Maybe even return a few slaves to their home planets. The Council believes that they have the right to keep slaves and that slavery will never be abolished. If you need us to talk to the Council, let them know that we have freed our slaves. We will let you get comfortable with your new crewmates. We leave you in peace.”
With that, the Masters left the way they had come, leaving their slaves behind. Eon and Myst were the first to move towards each other. Their hug spurred the other slaves to move towards the recently freed slaves to embrace the new Xanchor Xilch. Everyone would have to get to know each other and the routines they went through, but for the time being, everything was good.
The Xanchor Xilch along with the Crew of Destiny activated the gate and headed back to the ship. The Dreat was over for most people and TJ was able to collect enough water to be able to test it for any healing properties. But for now, the ever-expanding Crew needed to get some sleep and fix the ship as best as they could. They needed to open up some more sleeping quarters and disperse the people out more evenly.