~ Chapter 7 ~
Aiden woke the next morning after a series of disturbing dreams that left him shaken. He could understand why he was having the recurring nightmare of falling into an endless black nothingness with his parents calling him, and the enduring feeling of being helpless and alone. He’d been having this dream for months. The other dreams, however, of strange alien worlds and the torturing and killing of creatures he had never seen before, were terrifying. He was afraid to sleep.
He barely ate any breakfast before entering the training room. He found two Buwah guards kneeling as they talked with Kydra. He found it difficult to imagine the Buwah and Swee had fought the Mulgoa together. Although they treated each other with respect, the Swee resembled a small rodent the Buwah might snack on.
The girls deliberately ignored the boys and talked to the doctors. They stopped talking when Gibber and Ogmore arrived followed by five gargoyles and Bajool. Up close, the gargoyles were shorter than Aiden had thought, but just as grotesque with virtually no neck. Their horned heads had a flared scaly frill on both sides that flapped as they strutted in, making their oversized heads appear even larger. It was an intimidating entrance. They marched in military style, one after another, with big, piercing black eyes and wide protruding jaws displaying large curved teeth. Aiden was not sure if they had claws or hands. Whatever they were, they were dangerous. He was grateful for the presence of the Buwah.
Bajool gathered everyone around. “Now you have been imprinted, we will be having joint training sessions. Oken, I would like to introduce you to the Humans. Sarah-Jane, Amber, Cosmo and Aiden, and their keepers, Peter and Anna. Humans, the Oken: Prince Orka, Ofga, Osma, Otha and their keeper Neba.”
The Oken wore simple pleated brown garments that hung from their waists, except the prince whose clothes were a deep, blood red colour. Ofga was missing one hand and constantly rubbed the stump. Prince Orka focussed uncomfortably upon Aiden.
“We’re in the presence of royalty and I think he fancies you,” Cosmo whispered to Aiden.
Bajool and Gibber left.
“Just keep out of their way,” Aiden cautioned, still watching the Oken. “They must be desperate for meat after weeks of those food bars.”
“They look like avocados on steroids,” said Cosmo with a chuckle. Sarah-Jane slapped him on the shoulder.
A tense exercise session followed. Amber tried to create opportunities to talk with the Oken. Only Osma was willing to talk, and she stopped when the prince barked viciously at her. Prince Orka and Aiden eyed each other warily. At one point, Aiden and the prince came within arm’s reach of each other.
“Move!” commanded the prince, his nostrils and frill flaring.
Aiden stood firm and looked contemptuously down at the Oken, then stepped slowly to one side.
The doctors got along no better with Neba, the Oken’s keeper. For the first time, both stayed in the training room, with Doctor Hudson repositioning his large bulk protectively between Neba and Doctor Peasley. Neba’s face, like all the Oken, did not seem able to form a smile.
The boys had their most successful exercise session yet. Neither wanting to show any weakness, they found reservoirs of energy to carry them through. For the first time Cosmo did not appear distracted by the girls’ presence.
The training progressed with breathing and mind exercises before they paired off to practise telepathy. To Aiden’s relief, this proved easier than he had anticipated. After a few minutes of concentrating on Cosmo, he found Cosmo’s essence. While holding Cosmo’s identity still, he visualised Prince Orka in a pink tutu and a party hat.
Cosmo chuckled. “Good one.” Aiden smiled.
As they broke for lunch, Prince Orka brushed past Aiden. “You do not scare me human!” he grunted.
“I’m not trying to,” Aiden returned, relieved to see the Oken depart for level three.
The recreation room was quiet. The girls worked on the computer while the boys relaxed on the couches eating their bars. They had not spoken to the girls all day.
“Boys,” said Doctor Peasley, sitting down on an adjacent couch. “You must stop glaring at the Oken. We need to befriend them, not antagonise them.”
“They started it,” Cosmo protested.
“And you will end it!” Doctor Peasley snapped. “By not returning their hostility. Remember you are ambassadors of Earth. This is not a schoolyard. Do I make myself clear?”
“Yes, Miss,” Aiden sighed. “We’ll try... but I don’t trust them.”
“We must trust Kydra and the Buwah to keep order.”
“Okay...” Aiden muttered. Cosmo nodded.
Bajool sat down on a nearby bright red couch, admiring a cup of tea as Doctor Peasley left.
“Bajool, why do the Oken hate us?” asked Aiden.
Bajool leaned back and the milky clouds in his eyes stopped swirling. “Humans do not have a good reputation.”
“You lack a defining purpose. Many fear that if you join the Alliance you may become a dominant force in the universe – particularly if enough of you possess powers and move from your outer planet closer to the Source. The fear arises from your unpredictability as a species. Your history shows you are capable of extremes in behaviour - good and evil. If you were either one or the other, everyone would know what to expect and act accordingly... other species tend to behave more predictably.”
“Is that why Matong hates us?” asked Cosmo.
“Matong does not hate you, he mistrusts you,” corrected Bajool.
“But the Oken are not part of the Alliance so they wouldn’t know about us,” Aiden challenged.
Bajool swallowed his tea. “The galaxy is smaller than you think,” he said standing. “Excuse me boys, I think I will have another tea.”
The boys settled back into the couch as Bajool left.
“Are we that unpredictable?” asked Cosmo.
“I guess compared to other species we must be.”
“You know what people do with things they fear,” said Cosmo sitting up straight.
Aiden gulped. “Yep, they destroy them!”
Cosmo sank back into the couch. “I guess we’re lucky the Yendi are more evolved and peaceful.”
“Very lucky, I’d say.”
Another exhausting exercise session followed without incident. Everyone kept their distance.
It had not escaped Aiden’s attention that Neba did not have the same role as the doctors. He was more of a personal servant to the prince. Neba spent his time watching the prince. He frequently leapt up with a water bottle, which the prince would snatch, guzzle down and fling back; at other times he would dismissively wave him away. The other Oken did not get the same service. If they were thirsty, they had to get their own drinks. Aiden watched Neba scurry after the prince. It was a fine line between being royalty and being a pompous git, and Aiden felt Orka was well over that line.
Kydra stamped his feet to get their attention. Luckily there was very little noise in the room. “Your energy stores are limited and every use of your power drains them. You can recharge by pulling energy in from around you. On the outer planets recharging takes a long time but as you get closer to the Source you can recharge faster.”
They stood with their legs shoulder width apart and concentrated on their energy levels. Arms reaching up high, they pulled in energy. Aiden could have sworn he was getting lighter and lighter as energy flowed in. He saw the others start to glow. After several minutes, with Aiden feeling he could shoot through the air like a comet, Kydra instructed them to power down and slowly release the energy. Aiden felt he could squash the prince like a bug. Opening his eyes and seeing Prince Orka gnashing his huge pointy fangs, Aiden revised that thought.
Kydra waved his two hairy little arms in the air to get their attention. When this failed, he created two small balls of energy in his hands and whacked them together, releasing a thunderous crack that made everyone jump. Having everyone’s full attention, with a mischievous grin and a twitch of his ears, he spoke.
“When you drew energy in you had a sense of power, a feeling that you could do anything and nothing could hurt you. You are of course mortal. This euphoric feeling has killed many magwans as they pushed their limits without regard to common sense. Being a magwan is about understanding your limits. We need two volunteers to take the path,” Kydra announced.
Orka strode forward as did Cosmo and Aiden. Aiden and Cosmo exchanged glances. “He’s yours - this time,” Cosmo said, and sat back down.
Prince Orka was up the ramp before they knew it and was progressing along the path jumping, hopping and bending his way with various grunts and growls and surprising agility. Aiden, at the top of the ramp, was beginning to think the prince would make his way around. After traversing a third of the path, part of the wall shot out hitting the prince in the head. He fell to the mats. Neba was at his side almost before he hit the ground. Prince Orka growled and lashed out, and Neba backed away.
Aiden smiled, and then turned to face the path. Blocking out all thoughts he moved forward, bending, ducking, weaving, feeling his way. Showing surprising balance, he negotiated his way farther than ever before, past the point where Prince Orka fell. His confidence was rising - he felt he was part of the path – when suddenly Prince Orka appeared in front of him. With an ungainly wobble, Aiden toppled. Furious, he jumped to his feet ready to tackle the prince. He blinked: the prince was not on the path. He stood on the other side of the room.
“You got halfway,” cheered Cosmo. Even the girls, who were not talking to him, seemed happy with his effort. Aiden was confused.
The day’s training finished. The Oken returned to level three, but not before Prince Orka pushed past Aiden in the corridor, knocking him to the ground. Without even turning the prince strode off. Furious and cursing, Aiden was helped up by Cosmo and Amber. They returned to their quarters to do their schoolwork. Halfway through biology Aiden received an image of Amber holding an olive branch. He sent back an image of himself accepting the olive branch, followed by an image of the four of them sitting on the red couch talking at six o’clock with Prince Orka wearing a frilly apron and serving drinks.
“We’re having dinner with the girls at six,” Aiden told Cosmo as they worked.
“Who sent the message?” asked Cosmo suspiciously.
“It was Amber,” said Aiden, cursing he’d answered too quickly. He should have baited Cosmo and said Sarah-Jane.
Cosmo let out a deep breath. “I’m about done.”
“Me too... hey, when I was on the path, did you see anything else on the path?”
“It’s just... I thought I saw Orka on the path, right in front of me. That’s why I fell.”
“He wasn’t on the path...” replied Cosmo, peering at him curiously.
“Yeah, I must have imagined it.”
The girls came to the recreation room laden with chocolates, which the boys gratefully consumed.
“I loooove chocolate,” said Cosmo, closing his eyes and savouring every mouthful.
“I wish I’d brought some,” Aiden reflected. “Hey, Amber what’s with your legs?”
“Oh, the red spots are from waxing,” she replied, giving them a rub. “Sare brought waxing strips.”
“Waxing?” said Cosmo, screwing up his face.
“Hair removal!” said Sarah-Jane impatiently.
“Oh,” said Cosmo wincing. “The things you girls do. Does it hurt?”
“Yes!” said Amber. “A lot!”
With the chocolates disappearing the girls announced they had news.
“Not Old Parsley and Huddo?” Cosmo blurted out.
“No!” said Sarah-Jane, shaking her head. “It’s about the Goolma prophecy!”
“What prophecy?” asked Aiden.
“Don’t you two listen!” said Sarah-Jane. “Gibber and Kayeed both mentioned we were going to see Goolma, the greatest prophet alive.”
“Oh, yeah, I remember,” said Aiden, as it sounded familiar.
“Well,” Amber started, “we searched on the computer for Goolma and found one of her prophecies that contains us.”
“We’re mentioned in a prophecy?” said Cosmo in disbelief.
“Not directly, but yes.”
“Well, what is it?” said Aiden, his interest rising.
“The prophecy is,” said Amber in a whisper, “that a Sleeper, who has had powers awakened by the death of a star, will come from an outer planet to help overthrow a great evil that threatens the galaxy.”
“What great evil?” asked Aiden.
“It doesn’t mention that part,” Amber shrugged, adjusting her glasses. “But we could search again.”
“Or we could ask Bajool,” said Cosmo, watching him stride into the room.
“Good idea,” said Sarah-Jane. Cosmo beamed and winked at Aiden.
Amber told Bajool what they had found out about the prophecy. Aiden was sure his brow creased as Amber mentioned the prophecy.
“The Alliance is under a dark shadow,” Bajool conceded. “There were once five blue-violet stars at the centre of the galaxy. These are the source of our powers. Only one remains now. Before the death of the second last blue-violet star in our galaxy, Goolma, the greatest living prophet, predicted a great evil would sweep across the galaxy subduing all in its path. Unfortunately, the threat was not immediate or specific enough and all efforts concentrated on protecting the inhabited planets. When the blue-violet star imploded, the star’s debris scattered, bursting through space and killing a large number of magwans and militia who had gathered around the closest inhabited planets to protect them. Magwans are rare in the galaxy, so the loss of so many has weakened the Alliance.
“A few years later Goolma again prophesied the Alliance would not withstand the coming evil and foretold of a being, a Sleeper from an outer planet born with powers bequeathed by the dying star, who would help defeat the great darkness.
“At this time the Alliance learnt the Horde had been gathering strength. There are millions of these fierce fighters. They have no regard for life of any sort - not even their own. They are not highly evolved and do not possess powers or the means to leave their own planet, so the Alliance did not take their build-up as seriously as it should have. Around five years ago, someone enlisted the Horde into a formidable army, supplying them with space travel; and they started raiding trading ships.
“With the Alliance’s defences still recovering, it is only a matter of time before the Horde launch a full attack. The Horde, in itself, does not pose a serious threat. However, we believe there are powerful magwans commanding them.”
“And what are we supposed to do?” said Amber.
“After Goolma’s prophecy, this deep space expedition was commissioned to seek those with powers enhanced by the dying star from the outer planets. Eulo, the most powerful magwan in the galaxy, leads our expedition to ensure its success. We are to join Goolma on Sanctuary.”
“I’m not a soldier, Bajool,” Sarah-Jane spluttered.
“It is rare that a magwan is ever called upon to harm anyone,” Bajool assured. “It is through the use of other powers such as premonition that the balance of power can often be swayed.”
“Even so,” continued Sarah-Jane, now shaking, “I feel we have been tricked. I don’t want to be involved in any war!”
Aiden’s imagination ran wild. It was just like the movies: the galaxy was about to be gripped in a war and they might be one of the last hopes the Alliance had. It hit him suddenly. Was this the darkness closing in on him? Was he the sleeper? He wasn’t about to start fighting some darkness, no matter what the prophecy said. He was going to learn to heal and then go home.
“Do the doctors know about this?” Amber pressed.
“They were to be informed on Sanctuary, but I will now speak to them tonight.”
“What if the prophecy is wrong?” asked Cosmo.
“I do not believe that is a possibility,” said Bajool.
“Once the doctors know,” said Sarah-Jane, “they will have the ship turned around.”
“We shall see what the doctors decide,” said Bajool. “You must understand, this expedition is not about training you for a galactic war. It is a discovery mission. You develop your powers, have them assessed, and meet with Goolma to see what role you may have in the prophecy.”
“Why weren’t we told about the prophecy?” asked Amber pointedly.
“That was the decision of the Alliance Council. You must remember, the fate of the galaxy is at stake. Every day the darkness grows stronger. I can feel it.”
Bajool rose, hesitated, and then reached down and turned Aiden’s orange hands over. “We must go to the games room. You have not released the energy from your body.”
Still digesting Bajool’s revelations on the prophecy, they followed him to level four and into the games room.
Aiden stood in one ring, which instantly hummed and filled with a gold haze. The others crowded into the other ring, which became an odd mixture of yellow and white streaks. Bajool instructed Aiden to focus, and push his energy through to his palms. To Aiden’s amazement, yellow balls of energy started forming and growing in his palms, reaching the size of tennis balls. On Bajool’s command, he threw the balls at illusions Bajool conjured up, of large grotesque birds with jaws more savage than a crocodile’s. They exploded without marking the wall. Aiden repeated the exercise nine times before his palms returned to their normal colour.
With nine-thirty looming, and the light in the corridors fading fast, they ran back to their quarters.
The morning’s exercises with the Oken held the same tension as the day before. They stretched and worked muscles harder than ever before, while Bajool, Neba and the doctors sat deep in conversation. Judging by their faces Aiden knew they were talking about the prophecy.
The normally relaxing, if not tiresome, breathing exercises had a new twist. Kydra brought out an assortment of large insects. Sarah-Jane and Amber shrieked when Kydra released them onto the floor. The girls took some convincing from Kydra and Doctor Hudson to lie down.
Cosmo put on a brave face and was the first to lie down. “We can do this,” he said reassuringly. Well played thought Aiden as he also lay down. Cosmo now looked like the brave one.
The girls ultimately lay down, wide-eyed and rigid as boards. Kydra put drops of odourless liquid onto everyone’s faces. The bugs, excited by the smell of the liquid, started climbing onto them.
It took ages before Aiden could focus properly on his breathing, and the girls hardly breathed at all. Once they started the mind exercises, it got even harder. The insects crawled over their faces, some with legs that tickled, while others had barbs that scratched. After initial nose twitching and blowing out of the side of his mouth, attempting to dislodge an insect or two, Aiden let the insects do what they would and concentrated on the mind exercises.
With the exercises done, the girls and Cosmo jumped up and brushed themselves frantically. Aiden warily picked the insects off one-by-one and placed them back in their box. The insects did not bother the Oken.
As they broke for lunch, Aiden caught Kydra alone, picking up the last of the bugs.
“Kydra, when I was on the path, Orka appeared in front of me. But no one else saw him.”
“I saw him,” said Kydra absently. “It was an illusion created to test you.”
“Who by? And why?”
“I created the illusion,” said Kydra, as he bent down to pick up the last bug. “A good magwan must be able to block out the unimportant things and focus. You will learn about illusions after you have rested.” Aiden, lost for words, joined the others in the recreation room fuming from the revelation.
“I couldn’t do the mind exercises,” Sarah-Jane said miserably. “Those bugs were crawling all over me.”
“I know, one kept going up my nose,” Cosmo declared rubbing his nose. “How can anyone concentrate with that going on?”
“I think one of the Oken ate a bug,” declared Sarah-Jane, wrinkling her face in disgust. “I’m sure I heard a crunching sound.”
“Yuck!” said Amber, running her fingers through her hair. “I keep thinking they’re still in my hair.”
“We’re moving onto illusions after lunch,” announced Aiden.
“At last, something worthwhile,” said Cosmo.
“Illusions are just party tricks,” said Sarah-Jane. “I don’t know why they’re bothering!”
“At least we can have some fun!” Cosmo rounded. “You’re not against fun are you?”
“Of course not,” said Sarah-Jane. “It’s just…”
“Are you all forgetting?” Amber scolded, cutting Sarah-Jane off. “Goolma’s prophecy!”
“What’s the issue?” said Cosmo. “We train, develop our powers, meet Goolma on Sanctuary, and go home.”
“What if one of us is the Sleeper?” said Amber. “Then shouldn’t we help the Alliance?”
“I’m not participating in a war!” Sarah-Jane snapped.
“We’re not part of the Galactic Alliance,” said Cosmo. “And even if we were, we’re not old enough.”
“We’re ambassadors of Earth, not soldiers!” declared Sarah-Jane.
“You sound a lot like Old Parsley,” said Cosmo. “Lighten up Sare.”
Sarah-Jane was speechless. She glared furiously at Cosmo.
The doctors walked solemnly into the recreation room. “Bajool has told us about the prophecy,” said Doctor Hudson as he sat down. “Most unexpected. I can see why they didn’t tell us earlier... puts us in a very difficult position, though. Eulo is very wise... he believes we can help the Alliance. Anna and I have discussed this and we believe it is our duty as ambassadors of Earth to at least meet with Goolma, so we shall continue to Sanctuary and decide our next step then.”
“On to Sanctuary it is then!” Cosmo declared.
Training resumed. The Oken lined up opposite the humans. Everyone stood uneasily in their lines. In the blink of an eye, a wall of flames shot up from the floor between them. They jumped backwards. A moment later, the wall of flames disappeared, replaced by a thick mist from which emerged two huge fanged and ferocious beasts swinging clubs the size of cows. The beasts made the Buwah look like cuddly pets. The chosen ones scrambled back against the wall and flattened themselves against the floor. Doctor Peasley fell off her chair and Doctor Hudson almost choked on a mouthful of water. The beasts disappeared.
“Illusions can look and sound real,” explained Kydra, looking pleased with the effect he had caused. “But they are not real. It does not matter how good an illusion is; you can always detect it. The secret is to look for shimmering around the edges where the illusionist has melded the illusion into reality.”
The beasts appeared again, snarling ferociously, drool dripping from their jaws. Sure enough, Aiden could see a faint shimmer surrounding the beasts.
“To create an illusion you must hold a picture in your mind and project it out. The more detailed the illusion, the harder it is to project. You must not allow any other thoughts to interfere otherwise the illusion is lost,” explained Kydra as he walked right through the beasts still talking. “If you cannot hold an image still in your mind, you will not be able to project it for others to see. It is possible to restrict an illusion so only one other can see it by tapping into their thought waves. It takes time to build an illusion. Magwans often store images so they do not have to be created each time.”
After some quick instruction on illusion projection, they broke into pairs. Amber and Sarah-Jane managed to produce illusions of a giant chocolate bar and a small unicorn. They lasted a few seconds and the shimmering was very noticeable. Cosmo and Aiden had less luck. After two hours of frustration, Aiden managed to paint and hold an image of a chair in his mind. He just couldn’t project it anywhere. Cosmo managed to project a surfboard, although it shimmered so badly it was hard to detect what it was. He was offended when Aiden congratulated him on his cricket bat. The Oken produced the best illusions. Although Aiden couldn’t recognise what they were, they had little shimmering. Orka appeared to be delighted at Aiden’s failure, but was visibly miffed that a few of his fellow Oken had out-performed him. Dejected, Aiden left the training room at the end of the day.
Each night now, Aiden was having violent and disturbing dreams that were so horrific he did not feel he could divulge them to anyone. The next few days of training were no better. He was tired and finding it hard to concentrate. He could draw energy in, but couldn’t release it. At lunchtimes Bajool took him to the games room to release balls of energy. The girls now held illusions for up to thirty seconds, and the shimming had reduced considerably. Sarah-Jane produced an impressive unicorn without a tail. Cosmo had also mastered illusions, and had announced he was determined to be the best illusionist ever. Aiden, meanwhile, could not produce anything, even after intensive coaching from Kydra. He noticed Prince Orka was now out-performing the other Oken, though he was sure the others were holding back.
The exercise sessions were getting more difficult. Kydra tossed in illusions of deep holes, trees and flying insects with large stingers as they ran around the room. To make matters worse he released two real flying insects amongst the illusions. Aiden found he could detect illusions easily, although he did attempt to sit on one of Cosmo’s chair illusions once, landing with a thump on the floor – and bruising more than his bottom. He was starting to doubt if he was in the same league as the others. Perhaps he would never be able to heal Drew. Illusions were supposed to be a basic power all magwans had. He found it hard to look at the prince, who had a permanent gloat on his beastly face. Matong also seemed to be taking pleasure in his failures, watching as Aiden strained uselessly to produce an illusion and sneering as he left. The only consolation was that he and Cosmo now flew through their homework each night. Somehow they were both finding it easier to grasp and absorb the material.
As another day ended Aiden was relieved to hear Kydra announce they would be moving onto second sight and premonitions in the morning. Second sight was something he knew he had.
Rummaging through his bag, Aiden pulled out his remote controlled monster truck with huge wheels that could climb over anything. It was one of Aiden’s favourite possessions: ’built tough, built to last’, was the manufacturer’s claim. It was indestructible. It had survived Drew sending it crashing down a flight of stairs on more than one occasion. Cosmo had the truck pelting up the corridor at speed, bouncing off walls and flipping end over end as he attempted sharp turns at pace. Aiden managed to wrestle the control off Cosmo and have his own turn at tearing up the corridor. As they reached the recreation room, Gibber joined them and begged Aiden for a turn. Aiden tentatively handed over the control. They did say it was indestructible. He cautioned Gibber that the control was delicate. Gibber held the remote carefully in his clawed hands and started squealing in delight as the truck bounced into walls, performing somersaults back onto its wheels. Aiden was starting to relax, enjoying Gibber trying to run them down. Aiden jumped into the air to avoid the truck crashing into his foot, and it sped past, hitting Cosmo’s foot. Cosmo gave a yelp and it sped off. Gibber twirled around, arms held high, enjoying his success – when ‘crunch’, his foot flattened the truck. Wheels popped off and rolled in all directions. Aiden’s heart sank. Cosmo stopped rubbing his foot. Gibber’s eyelids drooped, and his smile disappeared.
Aiden shrugged his shoulders. “It was fun while it lasted,” he said.
Cosmo picked up a wheel and then dropped it, watching it bounce a few times before rolling away. “I guess they don’t build them with Gibber in mind.”
Aiden lay in bed awake, long after Cosmo had fallen asleep watching a movie on the PDC. He couldn’t work out why he was so terrible at illusions. He wanted to sleep, but the idea of more nightmares made him afraid to close his eyes. He froze and forgot to breathe as he became aware of a pair of steel blue eyes, staring at him from out of the darkness. His eyes slowly adjusted to the outline taking shape before him.
“Hello Aiden,” said a friendly voice. “If you cannot sleep, you should get up. We need to talk.”
Cosmo uttered small groans in his sleep. Aiden rose and followed the figure, feeling surprisingly calm at encountering a stranger in his bedroom. The figure’s outline came into focus as Aiden entered the adjoining viewing room. His skin had an orange tinge to it. Aiden had to blink twice to believe what he saw. The creature had an oversized pumpkinish head, with what could have been a carrot masquerading as a nose. Matchstick-thin arms and legs made him appear child-like and weak. His clothes were odd. He wore a long-sleeved, yellow-and-red striped top, matching socks, blue shorts and blue slippers.
“Who are you?” asked Aiden.
“I am your guide,” replied the being. “You may call me Surge.”
“My guide? Where am I going?”
Surge walked as he spoke, his gaze never leaving Aiden. “I am here to provide you with guidance in exercising your powers.”
“Where did you come from?”
“I am an Ancient. I am here to guide you. Where are we?”
“On Deep Space Discovery,” said Aiden. “How did you get here?”
“I came to where I felt your presence.”
“So no one knows you’re here?”
“Only you. To where are you journeying?”
“Sanctuary, I think.”
“Tell me about your journey so far and how your powers have progressed.”
Aiden sensed Surge, however odd looking, could be trusted. “I have not progressed much,” Aiden said guiltily. “I’m in training. The others are more advanced. Do they have guides as well?”
“Only you have a guide and it is not your current power levels or teachings that are of concern. You need to learn when it is appropriate to use your powers and when you should hold back. You need to know what questions to ask and whom to ask them of, to guide you in determining the right course of action.”
“Do you know of the evil that threatens the Alliance?” asked Aiden.
“There is no good and evil, there are only perceptions. The same act can be both, depending on who is affected, what has happened before and what will happen subsequently. Tell me about your journey.”
Aiden started with his first meeting with Doctor Hudson, which seemed a lifetime ago, and spoke at great length of the day-to-day happenings and the other chosen ones. It was with great relief that he told Surge about his doubts, his nightmares, how he had let his parents and Drew down, and the tensions with Matong and the Oken.
“Aiden,” Cosmo said with a yawn, rubbing his eyes in the doorway. “Who are you talking to?”
“Can’t you see?”
“He cannot see me,” said Surge. “Only you can see and hear me.”
“Brilliant!” said Aiden, shrugging and turning to Cosmo. “Nobody... I can’t sleep. Go back to bed.”
Cosmo, still half asleep returned unquestioningly to bed.
“We can continue tomorrow night,” said Surge. “You should sleep now.”
“How do I contact you?”
“Call me,” said Surge, as he vanished.
* * *