Beast of Xeriel

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Chapter Twelve

Dara stood cliffside taking in the view of a large gorge. Most of the wildlife who enjoyed the open habitat was foreign to her. She had never ventured from the city more than a few miles prior to Fei and Lale’s arrival.

The citizens of Tetcht enjoyed an all plant-based diet before the Iku removed their need to eat. Dara was not afforded the luxury of leaving the semi-secure city walls. Only the 20 selected individuals now known as the Sentry, led by her mother would venture beyond the wall’s limits. The beauty of seeing new life forms overwhelmed her.

A gigantic reptile flew out of the gorge just a few feet before her. The gale that followed gently toppling her. Grinning, she looked on in amazement. Its huge wingspan covering around 12 feet in length.

The creature soared high in the sky, before being followed by a group of the same species. “On Earth they were called Pterodactyls.” Tumakako called out. Dara continued to observe the creatures as they traveled toward an unknown part of the planet. Tumakako exited the ship, joining Dara at the edge of the cliff.

“My mom always told me we weren’t alone here, but I never actually seen anything like this before.” Dara muttered, still enjoying the moment. “Where are we?” She asked her mentor. Tumakako reached down to help up Dara.

The two marveled at the sight of dinosaurs below. “Earth suffered its well-deserved fate, after its sole star died. Instead of learning from the mistakes and continuing to evolve, Pratham suffered from the same ideologies that plagued Earth.” Tumakako said. She stretched out her arm and hand, waving it over the landscape.

“Observe the peace. The community. Each species living in harmony. Sharing. Exploring without exploiting. Earth never learned the beauty of connectedness through peace.” Tumakako explained.

“Now, Tetcht may fall prey to the same misfortune.” She continued. Tumakako sighed. “Your mother and I tried to protect Tetcht from going down the same dark path. But we failed. You are all that stands before the turmoil and repeated failure.”

Dara was doing her best to follow the information that was being passed onto her. “Why me? Tuma, I don’t want this responsibility.” Said Dara. Tumakako thought for a moment. She took Dara’s hand and walked down the coast of the cliff.

She ferried her to the edge that appeared to be missing a chunk. Dara saw a bulky vessel in the middle of a crater miles away. Its long cylinder shape was accompanied by two wings, in the shape of an arrow. The silver color was all but eroded on its surface.

“When we departed from Earth, not all of the vessels successfully arrived on Pratham. Years after Pratham was thriving, I was tasked with finding the diverted transports. To the public the council claimed it to be rescue missions. That I would be making the judgement to either rescue survivors or give those unable to make the return journey, the gift of mercy.” Tumakako said.

“I assembled a task force, including the great scientist Vanakan. We found many vessels across the vast galaxy. Destroying most of the populations. During my missions, I learned…….” Tumakako paused.

Dara wasn’t sure, but felt her mentor was omitting parts of her retelling of events. She tried to focus in on their link to hear Tumakako’s thoughts, but those types of skills her mentor didn’t spend much time training her to hone. Maybe it was on purpose to keep some things for Tumakako’s mind only.

Dara returned her focus to the story. “The ships that didn’t make it were by design. A deliberate plan to eliminate specific populations from Earth.” She said. Dara sat down, dangling her feet off the edge of the cliff. Tumakako stared at the ancient traveling vessel.

Reliving the moments, she spoke of in her mind. There was so much more she wanted to share with Dara. All her adventures, the many planets, the various species that occupied deep corners of space.

Beings of great power and the alliances she made on behalf of Pratham. She even wanted to share the mistakes. Destroying entire worlds, mass murder, killing countless humans all in the name of evolving humanity.

The gruesome genetic experiments that Vanakan and herself conducted on discarded humans from Earth including the people of Tetcht. Together they designed experiments on the people of Tectht they couldn’t otherwise practice on Pratham.

All the subjects dying or were executed as not retain their memory of the inhumane process. Thus, the secrets were hidden from the rest of the citizens. The current people too young to understand what happened, while the elders none the wiser and were too afraid to inquire.

Tumakako was ashamed of it all. Dara’s mother being her saving grace. The catalyst that showed her she was more than the pawn of the Council. The love she felt for Dara’s mother. Grateful, passionate, real love.

But the words couldn’t come out. It would distract Dara from her training. Peel away her innocence with each truth she uncovered. Tumakako was the most brilliant warrior of her generation. Equally comparable was her mind in genetics and splicing.

Long had she burdened herself and Dara’s mother with the truth of Vanakan’s evil. The truth that was so close to reaching Magnus and dismantling all they had worked to protect. Killing Vanakan was simple, he wasn’t much of a fighter.

But killing her other comrades. Those whom trusted her, traversed the universe, committed good, bad and questionable deeds. The hardest task she ever felt compelled to complete. Dara’s mother didn’t trust anyone with their secret.

Their love for one another would be accepted sure. But the genetic splicing to create a child from both her mother and Tumakako’s DNA? That truth, they weren’t so sure. Preventing Tetcht’s discovery was just as much about keeping their peace, as it was keeping their secret.

Still Tumakako, decided to exile herself from everything. She didn’t deserve to enjoy the love she created from the ashes of others. She wandered Tetcht vowing not to return to the city. Forming the narrative, that she indeed was the traitor, Vanakan the hero, thus saying goodbye to her true love and the daughter she would never have the pleasure of meeting.

As fate would have it, a great reward it is to lay eyes on her child. Although a constant reminder of her decision that still haunted her. Tumakako appreciated the unlikely reality of seeing her daughter. Training her.

Tumakako hated Lale. She didn’t care that Lale preferred not to kill her lover. She didn’t care about anything except removing her head. Had it not been for the more pressing threat of the beast and the omnipresence of Magnus.

She would have plunged her blade into Lale’s body after she shared who she is with her. Lale spoke of her daughter, staying her blade. Tumakako, for the second time in her life, decided against her own will. Decided to do what was in the best interest of her child. The future was now about Dara.

This was too much for Dara to know. Relieving her conscious could spell disaster for the overall mission to save Tetcht from the beast and host of other threats. So, Tumakako kept the secrets again. She would omit the truth yet again.

“I arrived here. Your mom was the first person I encountered. She was a lot younger then…….” A tear slid down Tumakako’s cheek. Dara reached up and held Tumakako’s hand.

“I made a different decision.” Tumakako said wiping her eyes. “Why you?” Tumakako asked, prompting Dara to meet her eyes. “Because you could have been on any ship. You could have been on a ship where I helped exterminate all the occupants.

There are countless scenarios where you shouldn’t be alive, most of them more likely than reality. Yet here you are, with the power needed to redefine humanity and propel it into a positive future. The responsibility has always been yours. We’ve just been waiting on you to arrive.”

Dara returned her gaze to the ship her mother arrived in. “Now you know, where you’re from. Where will you lead us?” Tumakako asked. Dara gently released Tumakako’s hand. Pushing herself off the cliff she fell for a few moments. The wind whipping past her ears. She felt weightless. Finally, she flew off toward the ship, her red fiery form emblazing around her body.

Her mastery of her powers was growing exponentially. She flew for a couple miles before landing in the valley. Surrounded by dinosaurs, she felt the serenity of their existence.

The ancient animals took notice of her but were not bothered by her presence. Many were grazing on the plush grass beneath their feet. Dara approached the ship which laid a few feet away.

The ground slightly vibrated as a large dinosaur walked from behind the ship. Its massive stature was highlighted by its powerful snout and small claw like front legs. It possessed a long tail that whipped behind it. Dara stood still in her tracks.

The creature halted, observing her. It gave a light grumble. Dara cautiously flew in the air, meeting its eyes. She proceeded forward, stopping right before its snout. She reached out, giving it, a rub and rough pat. Dara was fascinated with her new-found neighbors.

Lowering herself back to the ground. As the tyrannosaurus continued its path, Dara did the same, walking between its gigantic hind legs. She made her way to the ship, scanning for an entrance. She reached the tail of the ship. There was the outline of the bay door.

She couldn’t make out anything that would open the ship. Gracefully she mounted the ancient traveling vessel. Patiently walking the edges, withdrawing her lacquered purple broad sword.

Dara noticed a space between the bay door and ship’s hull. She slid the tip of her blade into the space. Touring the ship’s surface pulling her sword through the gap. The creaking sound of rust and age were nearly unbearable. At the middle of the ship, she felt the resistance.

Dara enflamed her red form before channeling it into her sword. The sealed latch quickly melted releasing the bay door. A large crash, echoed miles away as the door slammed against the ground.

Dara wiped away her weapon and descended into the ship. The sunlight illuminating only a small portion of the rear, unable to reach the interior. With her red form blazing, it provided the necessary light for her exploration.

Red flames flicked as she walked, illuminating the pitch-black interior. Through a fair amount of bones and bodies that littered the floor, Dara worked hard to blot it out of her mind. The sound of her flame periodically breaking the silence of her thoughts.

The ship was very basic, only possessing a large open space and a place for the occupants to sleep. Clearly comfort wasn’t important. It was solely built for travel. Dara reached the area where the wings and haul met. A spacious undeveloped area.

Directly in front of her was a large screen in the bottom-center of the windshield. Above and around her a multi-layered bridge with around 100 seats in order to pilot the vessel. Various sections of screens used to display proper information to help navigate their course through deep space.

Dara felt a tear well in her eyes, but she wasn’t sure why she was feeling such a connection. She ascended onto the uppermost part of the bridge, around 60 feet high. A sole chair half encircled by a panel of buttons, levers and screens. Dara channeled her red form into her right hand for light and sat in the chair much too big for her.

It was then she realized the countless bodies that littered the floor around the seat. Her thoughts dwelling on her mom and the travelers who accompanied her here. “I don’t think I’m as strong as you.” She thought.

Her emotions felt assorted. Pain, joy, fear, encouragement. She wasn’t sure what was right or wrong to feel. Dara curled her knees and feet beneath her, closing her eyes. She allowed for her mixed emotions to run over her. Sniffling, before she took a couple deep breaths. “I don’t know if I can live up to what you would have me do.” She said into the silence.

“But I will try to carry on all of your spirits with me. I promise I will remember you and this feeling always. In honor of the people who may have been forgotten, this flame, my flame will never burn out.” She vowed.

Dara navigated her way to the exit. Seeing the sunlight as a beacon toward her departure. Dara walked down the ramp. Reaching into the dirt, she seized the ramps edge and began to lift. The massive door proved to be heavy as she assumed. Dara struggled.

The door wouldn’t budge. She exerted as much might as she could, even attempting to fly upward. Still the door would not move. Dara activated her armor as to not cut her hands on the rusted metal.

Following her armor, red flame shot out, covering her body. The door still did not move. “Ughhhhhh!!!!!” She yelled, mustering the limits of her strength. Her flames flickered high into the air. The ship and all the people who died crossed her mind.

The feelings returned to her. She made a vow, and now she carried the weight of her people, and her mother with her, always. The flames slowly began to change color. The red lightening to an orange flame. The creaking of old metal cried out from the ship’s connectors.

The door started to move. Dara could feel her flame feeding off the sun’s energy. She had reached a new level of power, the orange flame representing a more intense fire reflecting the heat spectrum. It was as if the people of the ship, her people were helping her.

The orange fire burned brighter. She slowly lifted off her feet and into the air guiding the door back to the lock position. Finally, she was able to close the bay door. Placing her hand on the area where the latch used to be.

She welded the bay door and ship together. Dara levitated a few inches away, looking upon the ship and the physical embodiment of the feelings she felt. She twirled in the air allowing the new form to envelop her. More power, and it felt good.

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