The Winds of Power - The Sleeper Prophecy

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Goolma

~ Chapter 12 ~

‘Goolma’


They relaxed in the Garden of Eden, with thoughts of Goolma’s prophecy, Sarah-Jane’s prediction, the Horde, Ogmore and the sniffers no longer foremost in their minds.

“I’m going to enroll in journalism when we get back,” said Amber. “I’d always thought it was going to be the most exciting time of my life. But after this...”

“I don’t think anything could top this,” agreed Cosmo. “The first thing I’m doing is buying one of those Personal Digital Companions, and then I’ll see if I can get that vacant block of land next to my parents.”

Sarah-Jane sighed. “I’m off to study economics and marketing. I’ll write a book on something, I guess, maybe about some teenagers with magical powers, and I’ll do the illustrations.”

Cosmo did his best puppy-dog face. “Can one of them be called Cosmo?”

“Why not?” she shrugged. “I’ll go and live on campus somewhere. That should make Mom and Dean happy. But I’d actually prefer to stay here and work on my powers.”

Doctor Peasley patted her hand gently. “I’m sure they’re missing you terribly. And what about you Aiden?”

Aiden’s uneasiness returned. Before he could think about his future, he had to survive this trip. And given the accuracy of Sarah-Jane’s predictions, this was not assured. He guessed if he did survive, he would have to spend the next six years in school. “I guess I’ll be studying to be doctor,” he said simply.

As he said this aloud, it sounded absurd. Six years of study so he could do what he already could. There must be a way around it.

To the amusement of all, Aiden and Cosmo had a hovering competition. Aiming for the mango at the top of the tree, they rose, shaking as they tried to balance their energy flows. Halfway up, Cosmo dropped to the ground. Aiden plucked the prize.

Enjoying the last of his mango, he had a rare moment of peace with the world. He could not get over how much they had all changed. Amber stood out; she was the one who kept them together, and the effects of physical training and diet were most noticeable with her. She knew what was truly important – people! If he were more like Amber, he was sure his parents would still be here. He glanced away as Amber noticed him staring.

However uncomfortable that moment was, it got worse. The boys’ stomachs twisted as the girls pulled out birthday presents. They exchanged nervous glances. Sarah-Jane had drawn caricatures of them and the doctors, a drawing for each of them. The characters appeared in different poses. Cosmo’s had an oversized head, golden locks of hair, and an Adonis body under his training outfit; he was balancing on a unicycle whilst juggling illusions. Amber’s caricature had her with a soft rainbow aura of purple, pink and yellow behind a mass of wild hair. Her hand was straight up in the air, and she held a notepad and pencil in the other. Her training outfit was even more colourful and accessorised than in real life, something Aiden had not thought possible. Aiden’s caricature had him holding the flowery sunglasses Amber had lent him on Dreng, and instead of the British lion on his training outfit there was a small Superman motif. He had a stethoscope around his neck. Sarah-Jane had done an exceptionally good job on herself. She had her hair tied back in a tight bun with an overly serious look on her face. She had a pack of Tarot cards poking out of her pocket, and a rulebook and a makeup case at her feet. She had shown herself sketching in her drawing book.

She had the doctors down to a tee. Doctor Hudson had the biggest smile imaginable on his face, holding up his baggy trousers with one hand, a near empty wine glass in the other, whilst treading on a number of terrified viruses. Doctor Peasley was waving a teacher’s pointing stick and scowling at another group of terrified viruses that were cowering in a corner. Her other hand, behind her back, held a partially filled wine glass.

Amber had embroidered handkerchiefs for each of them that matched their training outfits. Sarah-Jane had a pink handkerchief with an embroidered unicorn in one corner. Cosmo had a dragon streaming across his, and Aiden the British lion.

The boys exchanged mental panic-stricken images of empty pockets and slaps to the face. Aiden knew he had brought nothing on-board that was suitable to give the girls as a present. He was sure they would not be interested in his Football Fever magazines and he had no creative ability with which to make anything. He kicked himself for not seeing this coming.

Cosmo stepped forward. “Thanks, these are fantastic!” he said. “You know of course we don’t have your talents, but we do have a special present for you both.”

Aiden gulped. What was Cosmo thinking?

“We are to be your slaves for a day,” he announced, creating illusions of rose petals fluttering down from the ceiling. “We will fetch, we will play, we will massage your feet and brush your hair. We will do your bidding for one full day of your choice.” He gave a low bow, and Aiden joined in. The girls clapped.

“That was brilliant,” Aiden whispered to Cosmo. “I owe you one.”

They left the Garden of Eden, yawning, relaxed and very happy.

Aiden visited Drew and found him sleeping – no tubes and no wires. On the floor next to him was a big sign:

Thanks Aiden.

Aiden returned ready for a good sleep.

A good sleep, however, he did not have. He woke breathing heavily and wiping beads of sweat from his brow. He had dreamt of a huge flying insect the size of a horse. It had huge bug eyes, gnashing teeth and bone-crushing pincers on the tips of its arms. He stayed awake for the rest of the night, and was grateful when it was time to get up. He was getting sick of his dreams, and made a mental note to ask Eulo if there was a way of blocking them.

Cosmo was still asleep, so Aiden conjured up an image of the hideous insect from his dream and woke him. Cosmo shrieked and scrambled wildly to untangle his hands from his sheet and defend himself. Aiden knew he had overdone it and let the illusion fade. A realisation hit him: this creature was familiar – and not just from his dream.

“What are you playing at?” Cosmo snapped.

“Sorry... I had a bad night,” he apologised.

Cosmo, still shaken, slipped out of bed, “What was that thing, anyway?”

“I don’t know. It was in my dreams last night.”

“Sounds more like a nightmare.”

The Buwah stood menacingly along the corridor on level two. Their eyes followed Aiden wherever he went. Gibber explained that Matong had ordered extra Buwah as a security measure.

They were in the recreation room talking about the Garden of Eden when Matong and the solemn figures of Goolma and Eulo entered the room. Eulo leaned even more heavily than usual on his staff.

A feeling of guilt hit Aiden. He had forgotten about the predicted destruction of the planet Toora. Instead, he had been enjoying the birthday party, and worrying about his own dreams.

Eulo explained that they would be travelling to Toora to help with the evacuation. In the meantime, Goolma would meet with each of the chosen ones to see if she could gain further insights to the sleeper prophecy.

Aiden studied the other chosen ones, trying to guess who the sleeper was. He had once had notions that he was the one, but with unknown intentions in his head and Sarah-Jane’s prediction, he hoped he was not – for then all hope for the Alliance was lost.

Matong led them through a cruel exercise session whilst Goolma and Eulo took them out one by one. The Oken went first. Each session lasted around forty-five minutes, and no one came back shocked, devastated or jubilant. Aiden suspected that whatever Goolma was finding out, she was not divulging. Sarah-Jane and Cosmo reported similar sessions. They seemed to be informal chats about the prophecy and life in general. There was no structure, no joining of minds, no predictions of their future, no use of energy. Aiden waited with great trepidation for his session. Whoever was the sleeper had a difficult decision to make about helping the Alliance.

He was the next one called. Amber wished him well and he left with Eulo and Goolma. Goolma waddled up the corridor chattering away, more to herself than anyone else, about how hungry she was and how she was fading away. Aiden watched her very plump figure sway from side to side and said nothing.

“The Genoa have big appetites,” Eulo whispered as they walked behind. “Their predictions are only accurate if they have not eaten for a considerable amount of time. Unfortunately, when they do not eat they tend to ramble.”

Goolma continued her single-minded conversation on food all the way to level five. Aiden had never been here before. There were no Buwah guards and it was strangely empty.

Eulo led them into an unusual room. Aiden back-pedalled when the door slid open revealing a room with no ceiling and the wall opposite missing. It was as if they had forgotten to build them, and there was just open dark space with the twinkling of far-off stars. Aiden glanced around to see if anyone had noticed – they had – and gave a weak smile as he entered the room. It was small and plain, with bench seats running along two walls.

“This is my thinking room,” said Eulo. “When I need peace and time to contemplate important matters, this room helps.”

“How does it keep the space out?” asked Aiden, watching a cluster of small asteroids zipping past.

“It has an energy shield, similar to those used in viewers. It allows nothing to enter.” A blinding streak of white light flew from Eulo’s hand, blowing up a small asteroid. “It is a good room for target practice also. I shall ensure you get access to this room. I think it may help you.”

Aiden listened to Eulo and Goolma talk about the Alliance, the Source, and how well Aiden’s powers had progressed. They were very comfortable in each other’s presence, like old friends. It was as if they had forgotten he was there. Goolma seemed to be in a world of her own. Sometimes what she said was out of context, and these lapses always revolved around food.

When the conversation paused, Aiden blurted out what was worrying him. “Sarah-Jane has predicted my death... and I have had dreams of dying.”

“I see people’s deaths all the time,” Goolma said matter-of-factly. “They rarely come true. Once I saw myself knee deep in scrumptious greens,” she said, licking her lips.

Ignoring Goolma’s unhelpful offering, Aiden turned to Eulo. He also appeared unconcerned. “Aiden, you remember Goolma’s prophecy that a being will come from an outer planet, bequeathed with powers born from a dying star, to help defeat a great evil?”

“Yes,” he said shortly, feeling they did not seem to be taking his impending death seriously. He had thought they would probe him for details of the prediction and dream, and would then explain what they would do to ensure it never happened. He was astounded by their lack of concern.

“Prophecies are different from seer predictions,” said Eulo. “Seer predictions are of an individual’s future, which can be easily changed, while prophecies are cosmic predictions. They are a future that cannot be easily rewritten. Poor Goolma had to starve herself for a week in preparation for the prophecy.

“The sleeper is on-board. Whether you are the sleeper or not, we do not know. These talks help us understand each one of you,” said Eulo, “and, perhaps, they will give us additional insights that will help.”

“Do you know how the sleeper helps?”

“No,” said Goolma.

“What if the Sleeper refuses to help or they go home?”

“As I have said,” said Eulo, “the future has largely already been written.”

Another possibility hit Aiden. “Could it be,” he asked, “now you have travelled to Earth, that you are the Sleeper? You have come from an outer planet and everyone says you’re the most powerful magwan alive.”

“I suspect many of us will have a role in defeating the coming evil, but I am not the Sleeper. A dying star has not bequeathed my powers. We digress. Tell us about your companions.”

“Well, um... we all get along.”

“I was thinking more about what distinguishes them,” said Eulo.

“Oh. Well, Cosmo is the funny one. He can be very hard to get up in the morning. He likes being the centre of attention and I guess he is a bit of a risk taker. He loves doing illusions. He calls himself the master of illusions. He’s a good friend. Sarah-Jane is good, actually great at everything, she can see things in the future, and is a bit of a perfectionist...”

“Ah, Sarah-Jane,” said Goolma thoughtfully. “A gifted seer, perhaps even a future prophet... she does set very high standards.”

“I guess so,” continued Aiden. “She doesn’t laugh much – she’s fairly serious. And Amber is different. She is very creative. She asks a lot of questions. She does what is right rather than what is expected. She’s smart, a real people person who gets along with everyone. I guess she’s the leader.”

“And you?” enquired Eulo.

“I’m... just me,” he said with a shrug.

Eulo’s gaze opened Aiden up like a book.

“Let me offer my observations. You are independent, stubborn and guarded about exposing your inner feelings, preferring to work your problems out alone – you need to work on this Aiden,” he added, after pausing for an uncomfortable amount of time. “On Dreng, you showed you are quick to action and calm in a crisis... but there are issues within you that you have yet to resolve. You are a strong being, and I do not mean physically or in your powers. All the chosen ones are special – that is why you are here; but you have the potential to be even more. There is something unique about you that others sense. Matong and Prince Orka recognise these qualities in you. It makes them suspicious, even threatened. I can see in your aura untapped potential with incredible depth. As your powers develop, it is critical you do not stray to the destructive side, seeking power over others.”

Eulo smiled. “I believe you have the makings of a good leader if you can allow yourself to open up more and accept there are things you cannot change.”

“Thanks,” said Aiden, not sure Eulo meant it as a compliment.

“And who would you have by your side in a crisis?” asked Eulo.

“I guess it depends on the crisis. Sarah-Jane has the best powers, but I click more with Cosmo and Amber... I’m not sure who I’d have.”

“Well reasoned. It should indeed depend on the nature of the crisis.”

What Eulo and Goolma hoped to glean from this discussion escaped Aiden, but he knew he had a rare opportunity to get answers to his own questions.

“Eulo, if you can’t determine who the Sleeper is, when can any of us return home?”

“Once we have evacuated Toora we will return to Sanctuary, and those who wish to do so can return home.”

Aiden didn’t know if they expected him to stay, and if they did, they would be disappointed. He was going home. No one asked what his intentions were, and after a brief pause he asked another question that had been plaguing him.

“Why was my imprinting ring sabotaged?”

“I believe someone thinks they need to influence your behaviour.”

“You mean Ogmore?”

“No. Ogmore is not the architect of this.”

“What about Matong? He would kill me the first chance he got!”

Eulo paused and regarded Aiden. “Matong is bound to you and cannot harm you.”

“He was about to kill me when he thought I was going to destroy Toora!” said Aiden indignantly.

“Yes. If you betrayed the Alliance, Matong would no longer be bound to you.”

“What do you mean, bound to me?”

“The Mulgoa live by a strict code. Part of that code includes being bound as a protector to any being that saves their lives, or in your case, to the offspring of the one who saves them.”

“My father saved Matong?” said Aiden standing up.

“Yes, I thought you knew,” said Eulo. “I will explain.” He took a deep breath. “You know of course your father was working with Peter and Bajool in the same warehouse where you met Bajool and Gibbergunah.”

Aiden nodded, he did indeed remember this. How could he forget?

“It has been a base for us to conduct our research for a while now. Each of the Alliance member planets has sent representatives to Earth at one time or another to exchange information and learn about your species.

“The alliance between the seven planets has been crucial in maintaining order within our galaxy, but from time to time, disputes arise. The last such dispute was between the Mulgoa, and the Buwah and Swee. This dispute escalated into a war before it was resolved. A number of Buwah and Swee have not forgiven the Mulgoa, and in particular Matong, for their actions in the war. Three of the Buwah on the mission to Earth a year ago were amongst these. You may have guessed the Mulgoa are not a merciful species; and Matong was the most successful of the Mulgoa commanders. The three Buwah attacked Matong in the warehouse when Bajool was absent. They thought no one else was present. Under normal circumstances, Matong would have overcome the Buwah with ease, but so far from the Source and taken by surprise, he had little hope. They beat him to the verge of death.

Unknown to the Buwah, your father watched the attack from the office. Showing great courage, he healed Matong even as the Buwah celebrated his defeat. The Buwah realised too late what your father was doing. They attacked again, but Matong was prepared this time, and after a lengthy fight managed to defeat them... but not before they killed your father.” Eulo paused. “In the battle there were many explosions as the Buwah threw fuel drums that were stored in the warehouse. One of these drums crashed through a window and hit your mother’s car as she arrived with your brother.”

“You mean there was no car crash... it was the Buwah that killed my parents!” Aiden stammered.

“I am afraid so.”

Aiden stood up, trying to digest this. It had been a lie. There was no crash. That explained why it didn’t get in the papers. The Buwah killed his parents, and Matong was bound to him!

“As your father saved Matong’s life, Matong is bound to protect you from harm. This, as you have seen, does not rest easily with him. He thinks all species are inferior to the Mulgoa, but by his own laws he is now bound to protect you.”

“I shall release him. I don’t want him owing me anything!” spat Aiden.

“You cannot release him.”

“How do you know Matong is telling the truth?” Aiden challenged.

“Matong was subjected to Truth Telling.”

Aiden paced. “How can we trust any of the Buwah?” he demanded.

“There have been a number of unfortunate events, but each of the ship’s personnel has undergone Truth Telling since the incident on Dreng. They are loyal to the Alliance.”

“How did my father heal Matong? He wouldn’t have had enough energy.”

“The pendant supplied him with the energy he needed.”

Aiden knew he had many more questions; he just didn’t know what they were. He developed an instant hatred for the Buwah. Why did his father have to heal Matong? Surely he would have known what a cruel, self-serving lizard he was. He could have stayed out of sight. But Aiden knew his father could not have stood by and done nothing. He was one of those people who did the right thing.

Eulo stood. “My apologies – my presence has been requested on the bridge. Please excuse me.”

“Tell me of this prediction of your death,” Goolma chirped, seeming to have missed the gravity of Eulo’s revelations to Aiden.

“Uh?... Oh, yeah.” Aiden tried to refocus his thoughts. He told Goolma in detail of Sarah-Jane’s prediction, and of his death dreams. Goolma was silent, which Aiden did not take as a good sign. First they dismissed his death dreams, now there was concern.

“Pleasant girl, Sarah-Jane,...” said Goolma expressionlessly, as her head rocked from side to side. “Needs more food, of course. You are all too skinny... But yes, your death... it is one of the paths you may choose to take – not normally a preferred path, but who can tell? The decision will be yours in the end.”

“It’s not much of a decision. I would never choose to die!”

“Perhaps,” said Goolma, pausing to lick her lips and gaze unintelligently. Aiden was sure she was thinking of her next meal. He wished she would get on with it. Her eyes snapped back into focus. “Sometimes death is better than the alternative. You must explore your dream more, to determine why you might choose such a path.”

“I’ll try,” he said, feeling frustrated.

“Aiden, there is something else you should know,” said Goolma, leaning forward. Her eyes fixed upon him. “Can I trust you with a secret?”

“Umm... yes,” he said, thinking this must be serious. She was trying hard to concentrate.

“You must make an oath never to reveal what I am about to tell you, until I bid you otherwise,” said Goolma.

Aiden’s heart raced. Goolma was like a new being. No longer the wishy-washy, flaky, rambling prophet, but focused, with an important secret.

“I will keep the secret,” Aiden promised.

Goolma rested her hand on Aiden’s leg. “A time will come when you will need to determine whom you can trust. This is never an easy decision to make. No matter what you hear, the Sleeper prophecy is true – you must never believe otherwise. This may be our only hope. Soon the prophecy will be revealed as false, but I give you my word...” Goolma paused, and opened up her mind ready for truth telling. “Ask me if I am loyal to the Alliance!” she commanded.

Goolma’s request caught Aiden by surprise, and with trepidation, he entered the mental agreement. He asked the question, and as he expected, confirmed Goolma was loyal to the Alliance.

Without meaning to, a question popped into his head: Am I the Sleeper?

Goolma broke off the mental agreement, but not before Aiden had his answer.

“I didn’t mean...” he said, embarrassed by his breach of trust.

“I understand,” said Goolma.

“Does Eulo know?” asked Aiden.

“Ah, Eulo... he is a great magwan, and an even greater friend. Not even he knows. You may not tell anyone what you have learnt. It is important no one knows.”

“All right,” said Aiden, and started to leave, his mind buzzing.

Goolma’s face relaxed and she started humming. With a start she looked up, as if surprised Aiden was there. “Oh, could you have Gibbergunah escort Amber up please... and could she bring a few bars with her – I need my strength,” she said patting her ample tummy.

“Sure...” said Aiden. He wandered down to level two, stopping halfway to gather himself. He knew it was important that no one see any change in him. He would speak with Surge tonight.

The afternoon dragged on, and the more Aiden wanted it to end the longer it seemed to go. There were no training sessions, so they relaxed in the recreation room, talking and playing games.

No one was impressed by Goolma, the greatest prophet alive. Cosmo was sure she had no skill in predicting anything but dinner. “She can barely focus on the present, let alone the future,” he snickered. “I’m sure we could get a better view of the future if we polished her dome head and gazed into it!”

Even Sarah-Jane did not rise to Goolma’s defence. Aiden thought it best if he said nothing. Cosmo offered to be Sarah-Jane’s manager, and to market her as the new prophet. Sarah-Jane rolled her eyes and ignored the offer. Everyone listened as Aiden recounted what Eulo had told him about his parents’ death. They sat shocked, then they tried to console and comfort him. Nothing helped. Aiden really just wanted to be alone. To relieve the situation Aiden challenged Gibber and Cosmo to basketball as the girls left for their room. When they would play no more, he started browsing on the computer. Unsure what to look up, Aiden tried ‘Goolma’. Finding little of interest, he checked no one was nearby and tried ‘ancient beings’. There was a single reference under mythology. Aiden delved further and read a section from an entry titled ‘Beginnings of a Galaxy’. It told of stories found in a number of early writings on different planets, all of which referred to the existence of ancient powerful beings. Considered more myth than lore, the writings told of Ancients that moved amongst the planets, maintaining order within the galaxy. A war between the Ancients saw them destroyed.

Was Surge the last of the Ancients? Why did they fight? Aiden found no answers.

Doctor Peasley made a brief appearance to announce curfew. Bajool entered a little later for Aiden’s healing session. It covered nothing new, revisiting previous lessons on how to disable various species without hurting them, which, Bajool pointed out, had the bonus of using virtually no energy. Bajool also had Aiden go over the detection and removal of viruses and cancers, the treatment of tissue and muscle damage, and the healing of vital organs. Aiden felt sure he was now ready to start using his healing powers.

Afterwards, he raced to his room, eager to talk to Surge. Cosmo was more talkative than usual. He was still smitten with Sarah-Jane. She no longer held the same appeal to Aiden, mainly because of her death-filled predictions of his future. He kept his responses short and faked a couple of yawns. He toyed with the idea of using his disabling techniques to send Cosmo to sleep, but with Bajool’s warnings ringing in his ears, he waited.

With Cosmo finally asleep, he slipped out of bed and into the viewer room. He wasn’t sure if telling Surge what he knew about the prophecy would be a breach of his promise to Goolma. He wanted to: despite the occasional lecture Surge delivered, Surge understood him and listened to him – even if he could not or would not help. Surge had boundaries he would not cross and would not let Aiden cross, and this comforted him.

Aiden went through his day with Surge, starting with the revelation of the Buwah killing his parents, through to why Matong was bound to him. When he reached the prophecy, he told Surge that he had learnt more about it, but had sworn an oath not to reveal it to anyone.

“If you have promised not to reveal this, then you should not,” said Surge to a relieved Aiden.

With the day’s events now covered, Aiden asked Surge about the war among the Ancients.

“There were fierce disagreements among our number as to the level of involvement we should have in the affairs of the inhabited planets. In the end, several Ancients had their powers stripped. But there was no war.”

Later that night, he visited Drew. He was at home asleep, clothes strewn over the floor and another big note:

Aiden, can you please heal Samantha in ward 3B.

It did not take long to find Samantha in the burns ward. Aiden guessed she was six. Her arms and chest were heavily bandaged. Samantha’s bed glowed yellow as he performed the healing. It was surprisingly quick, as the damage was only to her skin. He went from patient to patient, healing each in the ward. Scars disappeared before his eyes. He wished he could see their faces when they woke; and he had no idea what they would think had happened.

Having healed the whole ward, Aiden returned to his body, renewed his energy levels and projected to the hospital again to heal the patients in the next ward. He healed ward after ward. When the sun dawned, he finished the fourteenth ward and returned to his body. Despite the long night, he felt invigorated and on top of the world. He bet there would be a few puzzled doctors this morning.

His tried to devise a plan to visit every hospital and heal all the patients. The trouble was he could only project himself to places he had seen – not to mention Sarah-Jane’s prediction of his death. He satisfied himself with the thought that he could finish off the rest of Saint Hastings and leave destiny to sort the rest out.

Doctor Hudson left early in the morning on a pod to Toora, with Goolma, Gibber and Neba. Training was cancelled as everyone prepared for the Genoa evacuees from Toora. The girls volunteered to help an anxious Doctor Peasley clean up the medical bay.

Looking to avoid any jobs, the boys decided blowing up asteroids was in order, and hurried to the space room. Two Buwah followed. Matong’s extra security, Aiden supposed.

“Morning boys,” said Eulo, startling them both as they entered. He sat alone on the bench. “Toora,” he said, gesturing towards a huge blue and green planet.

It was a breathtaking sight. Aiden imagined it teeming with life. It reminded him of Earth, only much bigger. He could not believe anyone could destroy anything so big. Small dots, which Aiden guessed were ships, streamed from the planet into space.

“The Horde are close,” said Eulo. “We don’t have much time.”

“Won’t they attack us?” asked Cosmo.

“This ship is cloaked, so we can only be detected by those that come close enough to see us. I hope to leave before they arrive.”

“Isn’t anyone going to defend Toora?” asked Aiden.

“Yes, the Alliance fleet will be arriving soon.” Eulo stood, staring out into space. He held his hand up and they stopped talking. “The Horde are here,” he said, grabbing his staff and dashing out of the room faster than Aiden or Cosmo would have believed possible. With hearts pounding, they searched between the stars for what Eulo had seen. In the blink of an eye, thousands of brown specks appeared deep out in space.

“There they are!” Cosmo shouted, pointing. The specks rapidly became ships firing orange pulses at Toora. “This is slaughter – where’s the Alliance fleet?”

“Doctor Hudson and Gibber are down there,” Aiden shouted. “The bridge!”

They dashed out so fast the Buwah had trouble keeping up with them. They streaked down the ramp to level four, passing through a throng of distressed Genoa. Two Buwah guarding the bridge doors growled and raised their fists. Cosmo and Aiden screeched to a stop just out of reach.

“Back to the space room,” Aiden bellowed, and sprinted off.

With no time to object, Cosmo followed. They passed the two pursuing Buwah, who collided with the wall as they attempted to stop and turn.

Surge appeared by Aiden’s side, running effortlessly. “Aiden...”

“No time, Surge,” said Aiden, as he sped along. Surge was gone in an instant.

Aiden’s anger boiled within him. Doctor Hudson and Gibber were under attack. Countless Genoa were dying while they waited for the Alliance fleet. He could not let them kill Doctor Hudson and Gibber – they were like family. He barely noticed the Genoa and Buwah that choked the corridors as he swept by. He burst into the space room and hurled white energy bolts into space towards the Horde.

Cosmo pulled up behind Aiden, spluttering. “Aiden, you’re... you’re all white!”

Aiden vaguely heard and glanced down. He was indeed radiating a blur of whitish energy. “That’s a smoke colour, not white... are you going to help?” snapped Aiden, as Horde ships exploded spectacularly under his onslaught. He opened up a power stream to Cosmo so he could join in. The number of Horde ships did not appear to be diminishing despite their best efforts.

“What are those dots coming from the ships?” cried Cosmo, pointing into deep space.

The dots came into focus. To Aiden’s horror, they were motley brown winged bugs, the size of horses. Huge eyes, as dark as space itself, bulged from their elongated bony heads. They had six legs or arms, it was hard to tell, with large snapping pincers on the end of the first four and claws on the back two – they were like the creatures in his dream. He ignored the bugs and kept firing at the ships.

The first bug reached them, thrashing at the shield. It stared at Aiden, its eyes locking with his, before it met its end.

* * *

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