Warnings blared inside the main military compound. Pratham troops thundered through the corridors, urgency quickening their pace. The fortress sat in the uppermost left corner of the capital city. Its peak stretched into the clouds, with many surrounding buildings and community infrastructure all around.
A normal day consisted of constant commotion, as the people of the capital city went about their daily lives. The noise working jointly with the constant harassment by soldiers transporting supplies and ammunition.
The busiest city on the planet; the most important city. The Council and the majority of Pratham’s forces resided here. The most elite recruits trained under veterans of the lingering civil war between the four tribes.
Tension grew every year the war continued. Each tribe relying on their strengths to continue to survive. Today would be yet another disruption outside the capital wall.
Jesh swiped his hand against the blank wall to reveal the panic below. Civilians scrambled to retreat back within the city and into their homes. “Da-Xia, Its time.” Jesh alerted. The young woman Da-Xia was abnormally large, beyond 7 feet tall with a brawny physique. Her hair touched her lower back in length, dark in color and fine.
She possessed features of one of Earth’s Eastern Dynasties. Her armor presented the most alluring yellow and her helmet in the shape of an open mouth dragon, cupping her exposed face. Da-Xia’s face sprinkled with many battle scars, with one significant gash down her visible right cheek.
“We need to move. Inform the ladies of our new time constraints. The plan remains the same.” Jesh ordered. Da-Xia kept her massive green guan dao tight in her grasp, while she relayed the updates to her counterparts via their joint armor link.
Jesh hurriedly retrieved his shards and before long activated his regal purple armor. The duo exited Jesh’s personal quarters. Often, Da-Xia remained by Jesh’s side. She had her own lodgings down the hall, but protected Jesh’s door well into the night before returning to her own accommodations.
Da-Xia calmly escorted Jesh through the compound. The Pratham soldiers running here and there to battle the incoming threat. “To the north entrance! The shifters have infiltrated to the north!” A soldier called out.
Jesh winced. He hated the term shifter. Derogatory for the Muetus tribe whose most lethal assassins could shapeshift. Two of his dearest friends hailed from Muetus, defecting due to their bond.
Jesh was privileged a perspective of the other tribes that most in the capital city weren’t accustomed or cared to experience. Jesh followed closely behind his armored guard, Da-Xia alone was more than enough to deter any challenge.
Only the truly naive and foolish stood before her. Very few were granted her grace to walk away. They maneuvered through short cuts and uncommon passageways through the compound as to avoid the soldier’s suspicions.
Once out of sight from the congregating forces they broke out into a complete sprint. Da-Xia’s strides were difficult for the much shorter Jesh to keep up. After a short distance he began to fly behind her.
The hallways shimmered with a combination of crystal and a metallic make up. Various new metals were discovered on Pratham and quickly incorporated into constructing materials. The alloys of old would not manage a small ding against the new metals.
Diamonds would falter at the glorious sight of the fortress and be easily shattered in a competition of hardness. The army of Pratham under the A-Kialle tribe owned the strongest of the weapons and armor forged by the new metallic materials. Still the war was far from simple, far from over.
Jesh and Da-Xia made their way to the prison vault, which sat levels below the surface. Two guards stood outside a door at the end of a short hallway. Da-Xia led Jesh to the edge of the door. “You’re relieved of your duty men.” Jesh ordered. The two guards in traditional purple Prathaman armor.
“We didn’t receive communication of any departures or consultations with this prisoner.” One responded. Jesh placed his hand on Da-Xia’s shoulder. “I assume you are familiar with Da-Xia.” Jesh said.
The two guards stepped aside after only a single moment of thought, quickly heading for the level entrance. “Your reputation might even exceed my infinite power.” Jesh chuckled. Da-Xia placed her hand on the door, it opened at her nonverbal behest. Sentry 19 stood with his pole axe in hand.
“Stay close.” Da-Xia said. The trio exited with haste, taking a different route back to the surface. The lower levels were home to many classified research and informational libraries. The true histories of Pratham, war tomes, science and wonders locked far below.
The viewing public unaware, and at this point in their existence most didn’t care. If they only knew the things that lay beneath. The group finally made their way up back to the ground level. Da-Xia halted the three, two guards stood vigilant around a tight corner.
“We could have a little fun.” She offered to them. A child’s smile covered Jesh’s face in agreement. 19’s bewilderment was short lived as Da-Xia gripped his forearm and thrusted him around the wall to the unsuspecting guards.
“Hey!” One yelled, certain 19 didn’t have clearance. 19 moved quickly swinging his axe to cleave. The guard dodged quick enough to prevent decapitation. Their two-handed blasters materializing in their hands.
19’s sweeping attack took them off their feet before they could fire. As one turned to get back to his feet, 19’s punishing blade pinned him back to the ground. 19 began to make his next move, but the other guard fired two rapid lasers forcing him to stumble backwards.
19 watched as Da-Xia used one hand to palm the culprits head into the wall beside them. She held him their unconscious, his feet dangling below. Da-Xia laughed to herself. “I never said kill them.” She teased while opening the doors for them to escape.
Jesh held out his hand to 19, playfully beckoning him to hurry. 19 followed behind them holding back his amazement at Da-Xia’s strength. He found himself pondering why she through him into the fight when she could have easily incapacitated them both.
They ran for a couple miles in an exposed field, before reaching the capital wall. 19 panned up the protective barrier. “How do we get over that?” 19 justly asked. Jesh smiled. “Well, I can fly.” He chuckled leaving them behind.
19 looked to Da-Xia. “I can’t fly.” She said, with a polite smile. “What do we do, dig?” 19 asked. “Hell no, these walls go miles beneath the surface.” She replied. Seconds later the ground began to rumble around them. Her faced angrily focused; her palm extended upward.
The ground sprouted up with great speed, a chunk of rock ushering them to the top of the barrier. 19 was forced to one knee looking for something to grab onto. Da-Xia leapt over the wall, from an amazing distance. Her jump shedding light to her less visible abilities.
19 held on tight until the rock shot past the top of the barrier and proceeded to descend back to the ground. Da-Xia landed with a thundering thump. She then called for a similar sized rock to slow 19’s rowdy descent. Jesh and Da-Xia watched 19 land with complete disappointment.
“I expected more from someone trained by my father.” Jesh pestered. “You assume training with your father is teaching more than brutal abuse?” 19 asked. Da-Xia laughed. She led the way for them to arrive at the rendezvous point in a nearby woods.
“Gala should have been here!” Jesh grunted. Da-Xia looked around, scanning the environment. “Too quiet, for an assault. I’m thinking ambush?” Da-Xia advised. Jesh agreed.
A quiet ruffling traveled through the trees. Their assessment proved true, Muetus soldiers wearing black armor emerged into view. “An ambush at the south wall? Kind of annoying.” Jesh mumbled.
His curiosity quickly transformed into irritation. “Retreat back to the city wall, don’t let them surround us.” Da-Xia suggested. 100 Muetus soldiers gave chase into the open fields before the city. “You and I must protect him!” Da-Xia instructed to 19.
“Protect him? I’m beyond certain you and him can wipe out this platoon with ease!” 19 returned. Jesh reached the wall first, followed by his companions. Da-Xia stood firm ready to take on the incoming attack.
“He has to conserve energy for the final escape. The volume of war ships that will pursue us will be inescapable.” She explained. 19 still did not understand. He was unsure how many he could successfully fight off. Gripping his pole axe tight, he prepared to defend. Their pursuers were now meters away.
Da-Xia charged forward. Swinging her enormous guan dao with such ease. With one swing she eliminated 10 soldiers. She maintained a line of combatants in front of her, not allowing them to reach Jesh.
Her martial skills accompanied by her control over the planetary rock proved too much for the small troop of soldiers. 19 stood in awe of her prowess and strength. She truly didn’t require his aide. Nonetheless, he would join the fray.
19 took up position behind her as a second line of defense. She fought valiantly. Finally, a soldier made it past her guard. 19 did not hesitate to engage. The soldier drew a small firearm. One laser bolt whizzed past his shoulder.
The second barely above his head as he ducked and the third ricocheted off the blade of his pole axe. 19 seized his opening, lunging forward and forcing his blade in the abdomen of the attacker, lifting him in the air. The body dropped with a hefty clunk on the field. Meanwhile, Da-Xia had defeated 30 more soldiers.
Suddenly, two individuals landed beside 19, adorn in yellow armor, with 2 green plumes sprouted from their helmet in two separate directions. “You really should be more aware of your surroundings.” Yaffa warned in a joking tone toward 19.
“Our sincerest apologies! Allow us to make up for lost time!” Zeeba said. Armed with their green poison daggers, they joined Da-Xia in the battle. The two additions moved at an unnatural speed. Their daggers making multiple entry points into their targets bodies before they fell. Together with Da-Xia they made quick work of the remaining soldiers before them.
“Ugh! Nothing like a good fight.” Zeeba celebrated pumping her fist. The three women warriors removed their helmets. Jesh ran to embrace the two twin young ladies. “It’s good to see you two.” Jesh said.
The twins a looked few years older than Jesh. “Magnus sent orders for us to aid the frontlines, under heavy guard. Good ole Colonel List Rainer and his crew watching our every move. Looks like he still doesn’t trust us.” Yaffa informed the group.
“He shouldn’t. This doesn’t look like the front lines to me.” Da-Xia teased the two younger girls, while hugging them both simultaneously. “They slowed us down a little, knocking out isn’t our forte. We’re more assassins.” Zeeba jested.
“Yeah, The Viper and his goons was on our backs. He suspected our desertion. We had to kill like two or three of his soldiers. Maybe 15. Everything happened so fast.” Yaffa said holding her hands up to count. “He won’t be too happy about that. Still we worked faster than Gala. We created the diversion for her to break away first.” Zeeba continued.
From the woods, a customized Pratham ship appeared. The Verge was a small disk with dozens of varied lines stemming from the center, from a far it was likened to a twinkling star. It circled the group before landing in a clearing away from the dead bodies.
The group sped toward the ship, as the rear opened to allow them entry. A young woman was piloting the ship, while another older woman stood at the entry way. The mature woman looked to be the same age as 19, but with the Iku flowing through everyone’s veins, age was almost impossible to discern.
19 jumped in the ship behind the warriors he had previously shared the battlefield with; Jesh stood at the entrance, as everyone else settled in. “What’s he doing?” 19 asked Da-Xia. She waved her hand to create a seat for him.
“You’re about to witness why he needed to conserve his energy.” She replied. 19 sat next to Da-Xia. “We’re not being chased anymore.” He informed her. She laughed at his naivety. “Once Magnus realizes we aren’t on the battlefield or in the fortress, they will send half the fleet after the son of Fei Zeall.” Zeeba added.
The ship lifted off, zooming out of the atmosphere and into space. A fleet of Pratham ships appeared in pursuit. “Further out Gala! I don’t want to affect the solar system.” Jesh suggested. “Solar system?” 19 thought to himself.
The Verge flew deep into space, where Pratham became barely visible. The fleet bombarded them with laser cannon fire. Gala maneuvered and evaded so perfectly; it was as if she taught every single pilot giving chase.
She flew as if she had access to their inner most thoughts, knowing exactly what they would attempt next. “I can’t keep this up. They’re simply to many of them. Now is the time.” Gala warned. Jesh activated his armor.
“I’ll catch up.” Jesh said, before his helmet animated along with an additional facial cover for space. “Is that standard for all armor?” 19 asked, worried if plans go array and he ended a drift in space. “No, all other armor is geared to self-destruct.” Yaffa answered. 19 slouched in his seat, feeling slightly sick from the information.
Da-Xia reached over to pat his shoulder. “All the modern armor is equipped to breathe in space for a couple hundred hours at a time. There is much life in the universe. Some of whom exist bare in space.” Da-Xia said, putting 19’s worries to rest.
“Let’s just say, Pratham’s war isn’t the only one we’re fighting.” Yaffa added. The rear door opened, a red force field between the crew and the cold of space. Jesh flew out into volleys of blaster fire, colorful fireworks dancing on the black canvas of space. “What is he doing?!” 19 screamed, trying to adjust his seat.
“You’re definitely not from this system.” Zeeba giggled, causing all but the mature woman and 19 to laugh. The Verge traveled further away, losing sight of Jesh. The girls sat quietly, as if waiting for something. A green flash lit up the darkness followed by a wave of energy.
The sound of godly thunder echoed behind the wave, accompanied by a rumble capable of shifting even the stars. The all-female crew roared with celebration, except for the mature woman. She sat skimming for Jesh’s return. 19 couldn’t help noticing something familiar about her face.
19 looked around, slightly dazed from the commanding force that put an end to their pursuers. “What just happened?” He asked. “Power.” Said the mature woman in the back. Looking through the red field door, 19 could finally see Jesh approaching.
Jesh flew through the field door and laid on the ship floor exhausted. “19, let me introduce you to the crew of the Verge.” Jesh offered barely catching his wind. “I believe you’re acquainted with Da-Xia. Hero of the abandoned war. Saved my life many times over.” Jesh said.
Da-Xia gave a friendly wave. “The twins, Yaffa and Zeeba, their beauty could destroy a planet. They’re as beautiful as they are lethal.” He warned. The short young women, just taller than Jesh, dark skinned with short curly hair.
“Our pilot Gala can navigate the stars as if she wrote the universe. Equally, as deadly with any firearm, blaster and rifle.” Jesh explained. Gala, a red head, slender pale skinned young woman with freckles, looking a couple years younger than Da-Xia.
“And this is my aunt Kyah. She is the reason I’m alive. From what I’ve been told, she is the only woman more vicious in battle than my mother. Kyah and Lale gave the Council many sleepless nights.” Jesh exclaimed proudly.
Kyah’s skin appeared as her younger sisters, golden oil, but with a few scars and imperfections, and shoulder length straight brown hair. The familiarity now made sense to 19. Kyah was Lale’s older sister.
Everything from her demeanor, to looks were comparable to his Empress. “Ladies, this is Sentry 19 of my father’s guard. A decent fighter, took out 5 soldiers upon his arrival.” Jesh informed the crew.
19 nodded toward the fierce warrior women. “It’s my genuine pleasure.” He said. “So, where is the planet my sister ventured off to with that Beast?” Kyah hastily requested. 19 shook his head. “I don’t know. I asked the ship to take me here and it did. I don’t know how to navigate the stars. I have no way of returning home.” He responded.
“I can work around that.” Gala said, hiking her leg up to rest her head on her knee. “What are the properties of your planet? I’ll scan for those minerals and planetary characteristics.” She added. 19 remained in a look of uncertainty.
“Describe your planet. Can you breathe without your armor? How many suns do you have? What color is your sun? Is there water? You look human, so I’m assuming that is the case.” Gala prodded.
“Tetcht is vast, green grass as far as you can see. One sun. Plenty of water.” 19 confirmed. Gala instantly nodded and began her search. “Even if you find Tetcht, the journey took me months to arrive on Pratham.” 19 informed the crew.
The twins laughed at his ignorance again. “I’m sure it did……...Lale and Fei left Pratham a long time ago. We’ve since accomplished light speed travel. Their ship most likely only reached the speed of sound.” Yaffa teased. “Glad, the Iku slows down the aging process.” Zeeba chimed in.
“As far as resistance, what can we expect?” Kyah inquired. “The sentry is the only warriors on Tetcht. There were 20 of us, but your sister killed one on their arrival. And with Tumakako still alive, I’m not sure how many would be left.” 19 answered.
Da-Xia scoffed at his response. “Not if Fei has anything to do with it. I’ve witnessed him fight one of my first battles. He routed my small army without breaking a sweat. Whoever this Tumakako is, won’t be able to stand against the combine forces of Lale and the Lion of Xeriel.” Da-Xia exclaimed.
19 gulped, the idea of anyone being fiercer than her on the battlefield was a terrifying thought. “The Sentry are the only individuals who have been exposed to the Iku. Fei sent me to capture Dara the Merciless. She possessed the raw Iku and survived the blending.
Fei tried to take the remaining vials of the raw Iku, but Dara’s power exploded and destroyed all of it. He wants her dead more than anything.” 19 informed the crew. “I think he intendeds to somehow replicate the formula and try to take it for himself. He believes it will make him a God.” 19 said, sharing his thoughts on the matter.
Jesh’s eyes widened. His intrigue only rivaled by the fear on Kyah’s face. “You didn’t tell me he was trying to survive the blending.” Jesh exclaimed. The crew collectively, looked both amazed and terrified.
“Just my thoughts, I don’t know for certain. My only orders were to bring her to him. But it would make sense. Dara managed to nearly kill your father with one attack. I’ve witnessed the power the blending possesses. He needs more power to defeat Dara and achieve his goals. Fei needs the power the raw Iku will provide.” He continued.
19 paused, surveying the looks on the ladies faces. “Am I missing something?” He asked, unsure why the emotional temperature of the room changed. “The blending has never worked before or after Jesh. Even the most powerful people have died. We haven’t discovered why. It’s safe to assume the same fate would befall Fei, should ever he take the raw Iku.” Kyah explained.
“It’s the only reason the Council won’t kill Jesh yet. They subjected him to experiments all his life, trying to unlock the secret they believe is in his blood.” Kyah said, as she stared lovingly at her nephew. “Jesh has made me aware of the history of the blending. But Fei is extremely powerful. He may yet survive it.” 19 objected. The group all sharing glooming looks of denial.
“I find it hard to imagine, that Fei hasn’t found the kid yet.” Da-Xia mentioned, changing the focus of the conversation. The group pondered for a moment. “One thing we know, Pratham would be much different if he succeeded. If this girl is still alive, we need to find her.” Kyah said.
“Here’s the orders. Jesh and I will find the girl. 19 will act as a temporary ambassador between the natives and Da-Xia, Yaffa and Zeeba. Gala will remain with the Verge should we need an immediate escape until given the all clear.” Kyah commanded.
The group acknowledged their orders. “I found the only planet with life forms in a system almost identical to your description, it’s in another cluster, so that would explain the long travel for our new addition. And its unnervingly close to Tramast.” Gala updated the crew. “Formulate a flight pattern.” Kyah instructed.