Beast of Xeriel

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Chapter Sixteen

Dara could feel a rhythm, energy communicating with her. She couldn’t understand the vibrations, but they felt comforting. Different. Wild, yet mild and tamed. Not at all like her own power, which was quiet, afraid to explode.

This energy spoke of violence, trying desperately to connect with her own. This light trying greatly to commune with hers. Without words, it told her their story, spoke to their unity. This was beyond her human nature. Much deeper. Dara regained consciousness.

The amazement was quickly followed and overcome by the pain. Her face planted into the ground. Her body throbbing, muscles burning and brain not able to focus on anything other than her injuries. She finally noticed the voices. She wasn’t alone. Dara didn’t have the will or strength to fight. “I think she’s up now.” An unfamiliar voice said.

Dara gently rolled onto her back. The sun blinding her briefly. A small person placed their hand in the path of the light allowing her vision to focus. His face she recognized. It took a moment, for her vision to adjust and reveal one of the individuals surrounding her.

“You look just like him.” Dara managed to pathetically mutter. “I am aware. I hear my father has very handsome qualities.” Jesh kidded. Dara transferred her gaze to the other face looming over her. “Lale? You survived.” She said with even less strength.

“She is very weak. Only a little bit Jesh. Don’t want her to fly off.” Kyah instructed. Jesh retrieved a vial of the red iku from a small container he held in his hand. He dripped a third of the vial into Dara’s mouth.

Her skin slowly began to revive. The wounds healing into restored scars. Dara’s eyes moved rapidly, as the sensation of her strength recovered. “Speak child. Are you Dara the Merciless?” Kyah questioned.

Dara took in a second look at the woman. She could now see the mistaken look of her former enemy. “I am.” Dara answered. Before she moved to her feet, a swift and telling foot pounded her back to the ground. “Know this. Should you run or attempt to harm us. I will split your skull in two. Is that understood?” Kyah scorned.

Dara nodded. Kyah removed her foot, relieving the pressure. Dara cautiously rose to her feet. She looked around, trying to piece together what happened. The dead carcass of the tyrannosaurs had become a welcomed meal for the scavenger wildlife.

“I will, contact Gala and send for her.” Kyah said. Activating her armor and walking off. Jesh gawked over Dara. Visibly amazed by her. “You’re like me. I can feel your energy. Your fire burns with mine.” He said to her. Dara’s curled lip and raised eyebrow expressed her confusion. “You feel it don’t you?” He asked.

Jesh took her hand, placing it against his chest. Keeping his hand tight over hers. The pulse returned. The vibration was peaceful, welcoming, in tune. “It’s what led me to you……. I mean us to you.” Jesh stuttered.

“You are like me?” Dara asked. Jesh smiled. Suddenly, a dark red flame energy covered his body, before coursing over to her. The ground shook, causing the scavengers to scatter and Kyah to stumble. Jointly they burned, absorbing the sun’s rays, reflecting a shadowy crimson energy.

Dara’s eyes flourished, as the power encouraged her. Her hand still clasped to his chest. She saw he was equally intrigued. “What form is this?” She asked. “I’m not sure, this is a first for me too.” He responded gleefully.

Kyah examined them from a distance. Every urge called for her to break up the connection between the two children. But their faces paused her advance. She had never seen her nephew so happy.

There had always been a longing in his eyes, and this girl would see his desires fulfilled. Jesh released the dark red form between them. “You’re pretty powerful.” Dara remarked. Jesh nodded.

“My jade energy is pretty strong. It’s as far as I can go without destroying a planet. I don’t really have full control over it.” He bragged. Dara gleamed wanting to know more, wanting her new potential friend to teach her.

Kyah purposefully joined the two and removed Dara’s hand from her nephew. “Gala will arrive shortly.” She said stoically, staring down at Dara. “Your people made it clear we were most unwelcomed. Do you possess any authority here?” Kyah asked.

Dara thought for a moment. “No………but those are my people. My mother arrived on this planet with those individuals. She died for them. If they would accept me. I would like to return.” Dara answered.

“And what of your father? Is he of some importance to this clan?” Kyah asked. Dara could not answer. Her mother never brought up her father. Dara never considered asking. Her mother had always been enough. Supplied everything she needed, the thought of someone else being involved wasn’t necessary to her.

Kyah could derive enough information from her expressions, that her father would be of no aid at the current moment. “I’m afraid, we will need your people’s cooperation. There is no doubt, the Council will send an army to most likely kill my aunt, crew and myself. We have very little time to find the optimal location to make our stand against…….” Jesh began.

Dara interjected, flailing her arms. “Wait. Wait. Who are you two? And why do you look so much like Lale and Fei?” She asked. “Right. We’ve heard about you, but not the same on your end I’m afraid. This is my aunt Kyah and I am Jesh Zeall. We came here seeking an audience with my father.” Jesh humbly responded.

Dara’s expression revealed the whites of her eyes. She stroked her blond hair. The encounter she had just been through, and now she stands before the son of her primary foe. There was so much to tell she didn’t know where to begin. Or did he know what had just transpired before their arrival and they’re here to finish the job?

“Speak child. Time is not a luxury we can afford.” Kyah demanded. “I……uh…. don’t know where your father is. And your mother, was killed.” Dara wavered. Jesh waved his hand nonchalantly. “I’m aware of what happened between you and my parents. I know you didn’t intend to kill her. The raw Iku is highly volatile, and we don’t have control over our power.” Dara felt obligated to tell him the truth.

But she lingered on the thought of keeping the secret. She already had his forgiveness, the new development would surely complicate things. She was alone. Tuma was nowhere to be found, along with Fei.

She did not possess the strength to fight off these two warriors or their crew. Her divulging this information may seal her fate or at best isolate her from the only person she has felt this type of an instant connection.

“I didn’t kill Lale.” Dara blurted out. “You’ve seen her? She’s alive?” Jesh sparked. Holding his breath in excitement. Dara’s hesitation frustrating Kyah. “Your parents tried to kill me and my mentor Tumakako.” Dara continued.

Kyah seized Dara by the arm, pulling her close. “She trained you?” Kyah interrogated. “Yes……. if it wasn’t for her, I would have died after 19 tracked me down.” Dara explained. “I’m not sure how long I have been out. But before you arrived. Your father tried to…….” Dara gulped, reliving the anxiety she felt as Fei regain consciousness.

Her head went cold, the chill sliding down her body, seemingly firing every nerve ending ordering her to fly away. But she persisted. “He impaled your mother, trying to kill me.” Kyah’s frustration had reached its peak. Yanking Dara to become eye level. “Where is he?!” She snarled.

“I don’t know!” Dara whined. She looked over at the crater where the ship crashed. “Tuma’s ship is gone. He must have taken it.” Dara pleaded. “Kyah……. let her go. He’s not here. No sense lashing out.” Jesh reasoned.

Kyah released her grip and stormed off, trying to reach Gala again. Despair crept through Dara’s body as she looked upon Jesh. She wasn’t sure why she felt anguish instead of guilt. “I feel you. Your pain. But not hate?” Dara asked.

Jesh returned her gaze. “Why hate you? You were only trying to survive. In times when we become aware of our mortality, we fight for life. I can never hate you for trying to survive.” Jesh answered. “I would like to discuss matters further, but now is not the time. Yet again, we must survive.” Jesh proposed. Dara’s mind inched closer towards his. She wanted to know more about him and felt the deep inclination to share everything with him.

“First, we need a stronghold. Somewhere, we can fortify and defend ourselves from the coming onslaught.” Said Jesh. “The city doesn’t have much there to sustain a battle, we barely survive the Eira or Aella storms.” Dara responded.

An idea flickered in her mind. “The mountains………. the place where I received my powers, is a gigantic mountain, surely it can endure and provide cover for those who cannot fight.” Dara eagerly suggested.

“We will need you to lead us there. How many people are in your clan?” Jesh asked. “I don’t know. I haven’t been there in over a years’ time. Last I was there we had 150.” Dara confirmed.

Jesh dropped his head. “That is not nearly enough. From what I gather from 19, only the Sentry possess even a modicum of skill in battle. The army of Pratham are soldiers, bred to destroy planets and subjugate life.” Jesh stressed. Looking around, trying to formulate a plan from the information he just received. “Where is your transport?” He asked still visibly distraught.

“Transport? We don’t have a transport. Tetcht doesn’t hold any technology or resources.” Jesh’s head sank even lower. “You have to have something. You said your clan arrived here right?” Jesh quizzed.

“Yes. Long ago.” Dara quickly answered. “Well how did they get here from Earth?” The light and intrigue from Dara’s eyes swiftly blew out. “They had a ship, but it has no power to fly.” She responded. Jesh smiled widely. The twinkling appeal of the Verge piloted by Gala finally descended near the trio. The rear of the ship lowered for entry.

Kyah jumped aboard waving for Jesh and Dara. “I have a plan.” Jesh said. Flying to meet his aunt. “Dara is going to lead me to her clan’s traveler. She can power it and we can escape from this planet to regroup.” Jesh suggested. Kyah refuted his request. “I am not letting you out of my sight. Especially with her.” She barked. “I am in no danger. Besides I can handle myself.” Jesh assured his aunt.

“No. She may not be as powerful as you, but she held her own against your parents. She is not to be trusted.” Kyah remained stubborn in her position. “My Kyah. You’ve done everything for me. You’ve protected me. Guided me. Trained me. I will be fine. Please. This is our best option.” Jesh pleaded.

Kyah took a long stare at her nephew, before transitioning her sight back and forth between the two young children. She nodded begrudgingly. “Please be careful. You’re all I have left.” She said, cupping his face in her hand.

Jesh kissed the inside of her palm, before backing away. “I’ll be fine. I’m a better warrior than you.” He giggled. “You’re not even the best fighter in the crew and my skills are beyond all of theirs.” She joked back. “Go, we’re right behind you.” Jesh said.

Kyah backed into the ship as the rear door shut. Gala and Kyah sped off toward the city. “Take me to your Traveler.” Jesh requested, returning his position to meet Dara. “How will you get the ship running?” She asked him blankly. Jesh held Dara’s hands. He showed her palms to her own face. “You’re going to power it. I still need to recover my strength from my escape from Pratham. I suspect I’ll need all the energy I can muster if we’re gonna escape.” Jesh said.

Dara scrunched up her nose, moving her hands aside to expose her disbelief. “I can’t power a ship without the bracelets of the owner.” She said. “I’m impressed by your knowledge of our old tech. Fortunately for us, this is even older technology than the kind you’re familiar with.” He responded. “First let’s reach the traveler. Then I will walk you through it.”

Dara took Jesh’s hand and the two flew off toward their destination. “Do you draw your power from the Sun too?” Dara called out. “I do. The bigger the star, the better. The stronger I get, the less energy I need. Eventually, I won’t need any source of fuel. I’ll become my own power source.” Jesh answered confidently.

Dara didn’t completely understand or could even extrapolate what she heard. What she did know, was how much she wanted to learn from this new network of information. The sound of their speed was not unlike the sound of a small tempest. Dara pushing herself to fly at his speed. It was clear to her, Jesh was soaring with much more ease.

“This place. It’s so much like Earth from what I hear. There aren’t many planets like this in the galaxies I’ve been to.” Jesh said. “Galaxies?” Dara repeated. Jesh examined her confusion. “Are you unacquainted with the term?” Jesh asked. Dara shook her head.

“Don’t worry. I’ll teach you everything I know. And the rest we’ll learn together.” He offered, gently squeezing her hand. Dara tried hard to contain her grin, to no avail. She didn’t want to reveal how interesting he was to her. The calm and poise.

His control, all while feeling the simmering fire that had the potential to blow at any time. She wanted to learn Jesh. Understand as much as he could share with her. However, Dara could feel a slight darkness in him, not near the depth of his father, but still, it was there. She would tread lightly for now, refusing to be caught off guard by the son of the Beast.

After a few more moments, they reached the traveler. Dara guided Jesh to the top of the ship. “I sealed the door, when I left.” Dara encompassed her hand in her red energy ready to remove the makeshift weld she created. “What are you doing?” Jesh asked.

Dara looked up at her counterpart. It was unclear if he misunderstood her. “I melted the lock, then welded the door back together.” Jesh nodded in agreement.

“Right, which means you pretty much compromised this very old metallic alloy. If you cause any further damage to the seal, interstellar travel will be very………. turbulent. And quite cold.” He informed her. Dara extinguished her power, waiting for a response. “So how do we get inside? I searched the ship, there weren’t any doors.” Dara assured her companion.

“Wow………you really, are from this planet.” Jesh giggled. He waved for Dara to accompany him. They stopped at the uppermost right side of the traveler. Dara sat, with her feet dangling off the edge. Jesh levitated a few feet beside her.

He looked closely, rubbing up and down the side of the ancient transport. “I told you. There isn’t…” Dara began. Jesh pulled on a small incision like handle. The large door creaked deafeningly as it opened.

“Once we restore power, the ladder should deploy itself.” Jesh said, as if he were unphased by her lack of knowledge. Dara looked on in amazement. Jesh catching her eyes. “Don’t worry. I accept your apology.” He said laughing. Dara joined him as they entered the ship.

Jesh would take the lead. Lighting his entire body in red energy, the traveler was lit in his power’s hue. Navigating his way through the ship. “How do you know where you’re going?” Dara asked trying to keep pace.

“Pratham has huge libraries of information on the past. Some more classified than others. But everyone in the military must learn from an early age about the old technology. The travelers were our first model of transportation through the stars. I’ve spent too many hours dissecting these ships.” Jesh said, spewing out his experience.

Finally, they stopped. Jesh opened a door to a large room. Holding his hand out he formed a small red orb. He released it into the air, controlling it to reach the highest point of the rooms ceiling. Holding his hand as if the orb was in his possession, Jesh quickly exposed his palm. The orb responded, becoming brighter, illuminating the entire room.

Dara laid her eyes on a massive engine nearly the size of the protector. “Ok, this is where it gets delicate.” Jesh said looking over at Dara. “I need you to get in there and provide the fire.” Dara was taken aback by his words.

“We can’t spark the engine without there being a stream of energy inside.” Jesh informed her. “Sounds easy enough.” Dara agreed. “Good, next you have to give it a jolt of electricity to prevent the current from dying out. Then the difficult part is flying this jumble of parts to your city and off this planet.” Jesh explained.

“Wait. How do I give it a jolt?” Dara asked. Jesh frowned at the question. His disappointment in her growing with her complete ignorance.

“I told Kyah we could start this ship.” Jesh stated slightly annoyed. “Well, since I’ve had these powers, I’ve been mostly winging it.” Dara responded. “You sure you fought off my dad?” Jesh questioned, a smirk on his face.

Dara squinting her eyes at his detour. “Why?” She asked rhetorically, not finding his joke funny. “Never mind. So, you haven’t learned how to create lightning? All that power and you have no idea how to use it.” Jesh smirked again. “Ugh! We really don’t have time for this. Just teach me!” Dara exclaimed.

“Concentrate. Sense. Generate.” Jesh said. “What?” Dara questioned, puzzled at the very simple instructions. She had grown accustomed to Tumakako’s more parable type teaching methods. She expected a more thought-provoking method of training than simple instructions. “Close your eyes.” He coached.

“Concentrate. Focus on what you want.” Dara obliged. Picturing the frightening flashes of light that were on display from the Aella storm. The lightning that cascaded through the sky and down to the ground. “Now……Sense your surroundings. The emotions you felt, where you were, the smell, the power it possesses.” Jesh continued.

Dara tried her best to become in tune with his words. She was beginning to lose focus. Her frustration manifesting in her face and tensing of her hands.

“Ugggh!!! I can’t. You might have to do this part.” She demanded, opening her eyes and abandoning his training. Jesh smiled, apathetic to her tantrum. “I know……. it’s tough.” He said.

“I can tell you’ve been through a lot. I’m asking a great deal of you right now. You’ve fought off my father twice. Been away from home. Trained under extreme circumstances. I get it. The anxiety of the burden that was thrusted on you. Trust me I know.” Jesh said.

“You never asked to be a part of this. None of it ever involved you. This isn’t your war. Never has been.” Dara slowly unclenched her fists. Hearing his words were soothing and familiar.

She remembered the story of his perceived death, Lale shared with her. Of course, he would understand. They weren’t so different. He was being patient and she could assume from his parents; patience was most likely not his strongest personality trait. Dara felt like she owed him another chance.

“It’s the uncertainty. The rage. The worry, that you can’t go back. Do you even want to go back? Could you run? If you did, where would you go? I get it.” Dara wasn’t sure anymore if he was speaking about her or his own experience. “You miss your mom……. I bet you’ve never had time to process it. You just had to move on. You couldn’t feel. Never had time to feel. It’s like you closed yourself off. Now you don’t know if you know how to find her again.” Dara’s eyes welling up with tears unbeknownst to her.

She had been so focused on his words and his face she felt numb to her own body. Gradually, she relaxed, her face drenched. Dara wiped her eyes. Jesh held out his hands. He nodded, signaling to repeat the gesture. Dara slowly placed her palms on his. Jesh closed his eyes. “I can feel it. I can feel her. You look like her.” Jesh whispered.

Dara heard his voice, yet his lips weren’t moving. She closed her eyes as well. Focusing on the lightning again. “Concentrate.” Jesh encouraged. Sparks gently surged from the bottom of Jesh’s hands upward into Dara’s. Small pops and crackling escorted the flow between the two individuals.

“Sense it. Feel the energy. The smell, the feelings it gave you as it streamed across the night sky.” Dara listened so closely to his words, she felt as if she were falling into a trance.

Suddenly, her eyes opened, but she wasn’t in front of Jesh anymore. She felt constrained, being held by someone bigger. There was a smell of damp air and mud. Very humid.

Her line of sight distorted. She wiggled her hands through to separate what would be revealed as arms. “You’re so brave.” A voice spoke gently. Her voice.

Dara looked up to see a beautiful slender white skinned face with flowing blond hair. “Mom?” The gaping smile that accompanied her words was swiftly met by a long embrace. “Is this real?” Dara cried to her mother. “I don’t know.

I’ve missed you so much.” Her mother sobbed. “I’m sorry mom. I wish I could have saved you. I didn’t have the powers I have now, or I would have saved us both.” Dara said unable to control her emotions.

“Shhhhh…. It’s ok’s It’s ok. Everything is more complicated than you know.” The mother attempted to console her daughter. “I met Tumakako, she saved me and said she knew you.” Dara’s mother nodded to confirm.

“She trained me as well, told me a lot about our history. She saved me too.” Dara’s mother explained to her daughter. “They tried to exterminate us. Tumakako fought for us to be separate from the rest of the wars. She fought for us to become different.” She continued. Dara felt a sense of pride hearing her mentors’ valiant efforts.

“Now that you’ve met. There is something I need to tell you.” Dara sat up. “Tumakako is more to you than you realize. She’s….” Dara’s mother paused, smiling at the thought of her. “She’s a genius. Beautiful and the most courageous woman I’ve ever met.” Dara explained to her daughter.

“I love her, and she loved me. It’s because of her that you are here…. She’s your mother just as much as I am. Before, Vanakan and Tumakako were enemies they helped each other with research. Tumakako discovered a way to genetically splice two individuals to create life from their share DNA. When we fell in love, she chose me, and you were born. It’s our love and your birth that drew her away from her own dark past. Our people didn’t understand, so we lied and kept the truth of your birth a secret.” Dara shared with her daughter.

“She’s your mother too. The Iku has flowed in you sense you were born.” Dara’s eyes welling up, hearing about her mentor’s true relation to her. She felt excited and terrified at the same time.

The danger they had faced together. Tuma’s harsh training methods. It made sense why Tumakako was risking everything for her. She had so many questions now, but she wasn’t sure how much time she would have with her mother.

“They found us mom. I’m trying to save our people. Maybe there is a way I can save you too.” Dara pleaded. The mother wiping her child’s eyes. “I’m not in danger Dara………I’m safe. If you can save our people, great. If you can save Tumakako, that would be amazing. But promise me, you will save yourself.” She implored her daughter.

Dara nodded before placing her head on her mother’s chest sobbing more. Her mother gently stroking her hair. “I don’t want to leave you.” Dara whimpered against the safety her mother’s arms provided. “I know. But you’re needed. You can do nothing for anyone here. Not even me. Go back and save who you can. But save yourself. Understood?” She asked.

Dara raised her head to behold her mother’s beautiful face again. “Now. Who’s your friend?” Dara turned around to see Jesh standing quietly a few feet away.

“So, you legitimately survived the blending?” Jesh questioned. “That’s going to complicate things more with my family.” Jesh sighed thinking about how everyone may react to the confirmation. “Did you do this?” Dara asked, confused as to what was happening.

The last thing she remembered was them being in the engine room. “Is this even real?” Dar questioned again. Jesh shrugged his shoulders. “I don’t know. I’ve never experienced this before. I’m telepathic if I touch someone, but I’ve never done…” He paused. Looking around. “Whatever this is. Only with you.”

Dara approached Jesh cautiously before touching him. “It feels real.” Dara said as they poked and prodded each other. “Hello, I’m Dara’s mother, also named Dara.” She said with a smile. She stood to greet the child before recognizing a similar face. Jesh took notice of her alertness.

“I get that a lot. My parents have a reputation that precedes me.” He said. “Don’t worry mom, he’s not like them. He’s different, like me.” Dara assured her mother. “Apparently more different than I thought. But we have more demanding matters to figure out. I too would like to figure out how this happened, however we’re really pressed for time.” Jesh stressed.

Dara’s mother was visibly uncomfortable. “Maybe you can help?........Where are we exactly?” He asked sincerely.

“You’re in the protector. My people and I built it to protect us from the harsh Aella and Eira storms. From the looks and sounds of it, this moment is a capture of the Aella.” Dara’s mother explained. “I remember, always being so afraid. Always afraid, the protector wouldn’t hold. But…….it always did.” The younger Dara compiled.

“Well it behooves me to inform you both, once the Pratham army arrives, it won’t hold against them.” Jesh guaranteed. “So why are you here?” Her mother questioned. “We need to reignite the engine of your traveler. Then we can save your clan. In order to do that, Dara has to learn how to produce lightning.” Dara’s mother full of a puzzled look.

“I can’t do it mom. I just can’t.” Dara began. Her mother held her hand up. She dropped to her knees to become eye level again. She took her daughter by the shoulders. “Dara. You can. You will. The fact that you’re seeing me as clear as I see you confirms you can do anything. You’re stronger than either of us ever thought was possible.” She said.

“Now, first things first, you probably need a little space.” She said as she turned her daughter toward the door. Dara kissed her daughter on the top of her head and nudged her toward the protector’s entrance. The younger Dara remembered staring at that entrance during the stormy nights. Afraid of it being torn off and the winds whisking her away. She inched closer and closer. Not sure if she would actually open the door.

Finally, she reached the entrance. Looking back, she saw her mother nodding, as if she knew something she didn’t. Dara placed her hand on the stone door. She pushed as hard as she could, the wind trying to prevent her exit.

She made a small crease in the door before slipping through it. On the outside the wind howled and blew. Taking her off her feet immediately.

She swiped and swung for the walls of the protector as the vicious gusts flung her into the side of a large rock. Unable to brace herself Dara smashed into its unforgiving hide with a thud. Her nose bleeding, hands and arms scratched. The lightning surging across the sky.

So bright, it was as if daylight had come. The thunder accompanying the flashes shortly after, the ground strikes, like explosions right next to her. She tried to activate her armor, but nothing happened. She didn’t have her shards or bracelets with her. No fiery form would ignite either.

The fear set in as she held on to the large rock for dear life. She couldn’t tell if she was crying, screaming or expressing any emotion, due to the violent nature of the storm. The wind so loud she thought her ears might pop permanently. “Mom! Jesh!” She thought she screamed.

The Aella was as scary as she feared all along. “Please! Someone help me!” She tried to scream again. Dara felt her grip slipping. The certainty of darkness and death awaited. In a few seconds, she would be whisked away forever.

Dara was on the cusp of the void. Knowing it to be inevitable she closed her eyes and simply, let go. As her last finger released, everything stopped. No sound. No wind. No rain and no thunder.

Dara opened her eyes. She was suspended in midair. Nothing had stopped, only slowed down. She moved her leg to meet the ground, one before the other and walked over to the rock. Reaching out, she placed her hand on it gently.

Dara pushed into it, causing it to shatter forward in slow motion. She observed her hands, feeling a different type of power becoming available to her. Dara walked around the protector, witnessing the storm. The image of it was sheer ferocity. Yet, she only felt peace among the powerful Aella.

She returned to the door of the protector. Dara looked up at the night sky. A bolt of lightning was forming. She could feel the energy. Dara flew high just beneath the clouds. The soothing splashes of each droplet of water on her face was refreshing. A flash of light flicked and ticked before the electric light slowly stirred down.

Her mouth a gape as she witnessed it trickled down through the clouds. The small sizzle it produced as it zigs zagged downward. She followed the light back down to the surface as it moved slowly. Her feet touched the ground, watching it travel toward her. Dara held her hand out to catch it. The bolt of lightning kissed her palm before her body absorbed the energy. She felt the sensation. The rush of power.

Different entirely from the Sun’s fire. She craved it. Dara twirled her body aggressively. Her speed, creating a small tornado around her. The storm resumed. The wind, the rain, the lightning. This time she felt in command of it all.

When lightning reached the ground, her body called out to it and it obeyed. She pointed and waved, and lightning obeyed. She twirled her hands into the air and the tempest obeyed. The rain heavy or not, whatever she chose it to be. Dara was now in control.

She absorbed the light. The winds now protected her and had the power to destroy whatever she would choose. Dara ceased her rotation, while the tornado carried on around her. She was at peace. Free from the lack of control. She didn’t need control of what wouldn’t be.

Only what she could. Dara reached out again, and the entire storm instantly dissipated. Calling for the wind, she ushered it to open the protector door. Jesh and her mother emerged to see her glide back down to the surface. The dark sky behind her.

Jesh looked around, seeing what was just tumultuous, settle without reason. “Did you figure it out?” Jesh asked. Dara held her hand out. Her eyes sparking with electricity, her hand crackling with lightning. A large bolt of lightning shot down from the sky and immobilized right before touching her hand.

It remained stationary in the air. Humming and sizzling, hovering above her palm. Dara grabbed the string of lightning with her bare hand, before dispatching it at a large chunk of stone. The stone burst in a heap of rubble. “I think I got the hang of it.” She giggled.

Jesh’s amazement quickly evolved into a frown. “I’ve never seen that before. Teach me.” He pleaded. “Concentrate. Sense. Generate.” Dara answered smugly. The two shared a smile. Dara saw her mother’s eyes full of tears. “Mom, I did it. Why are you upset?” Dara asked.

Her mother wiping her eyes. “Because you’re ready.” She answered her daughter. Dara opened her eyes again, this time to the red light shining on Jesh’s face. The two bewildered and rattled. “Did we?” Dara asked.

Jesh took his finger and wiped the blood from Dara’s top lip. “I think so.” He responded. Dara removed her hands from Jesh’s to see the electricity coursing between her fingers. “I think the army has more than they can handle headed their way.” Dara joked.

Dara walked over to the massive engine. She yanked on the door handle and hoisted herself inside. She now felt comfortable in the complete darkness. Taking a deep breath, she thought about her mother once again. She thought about Tuma.

A smirk crept across her face. A red fire blazed from her body. She growled out loud, trying to fuel her energy. The flames burning wildly. The engine creaking and cracking as the flames circulated through the pipes. Dara heated the temperature to the limit of her red form. The engine began to shake and move.

“You’re doing it! Now we need the spark!” Jesh instructed. Dara climbed out of the engine, closing the small door behind her. She ran over to Jesh’s new location by a small control panel. “These things used to operate from huge electric probes, that would serve as keys. For now.” He said looking at Dara with a great smile. “Just shock the whole thing.”

Dara slapped her hand onto the control panel. The electricity shooting out of her and into the panel. After a moment, the engine began to move on its own. The control panel lit up. Jesh began to flip switches and raise handles to capacity. The sound of energy poured through the ship.

Lights flickered before some turned on, while others were burned out or busted. Jesh and Dara celebrated. Jesh pulled Dara in for a hug. The shadowy crimson energy covered them once again. Jesh felt stronger. His energy being replenished.

Dara too felt the flood of energy all the same. They were unclear if the other felt it, neither wanting to be the one to ask. Hanging on for a moment longer, the two broke off. Staring in an awkward but intrigued silence. “Uh…. we should probably……” Dara said, breaking up the moment.

“Yea. you’re right. We gotta…. the planet and stuff.” Jesh agreed. The two ran out into the hallway before reality hit. The countless bodies littered the ground. Jesh recognized old Pratham armor on a few of the fallen with sword entry points clearly being the reason for their demise. “Must be the soldiers Tumakako killed to save your people.” Jesh assumed.

The two could barely take a step without stepping on a corpse. Death was everywhere. Dried blood splattered against the wall. Handprints of people dragged from their rooms and stations. Dara took in the scene. It was haunting. Jesh appeared emotionless.

As the two elected to float through the ship, instead of walking on or amongst the dead. “So many more than I could even imagine when I was first here.” Dara said quietly. The joy all but gone in her voice. “I’ve seen plenty more.” Jesh said, stoically.

“In the war?” Dara inquired. “After just one of my attacks.” He clarified. Dara restrained the urge to pry further. It served as a reminder of the darkness she suspected within him. Jesh’s response weighed on her thoughts as they flew to the navigation zone of the ship.

“Didn’t mean to scare you. Just the reality of what is. The reality of what I can do. What you can do. And what I’m fighting to end. Believe it or not. My father is still the best option for us all. I must find a way to convince him you’re not our enemy. We can all work together.” Jesh proclaimed. “You clearly don’t know him very well. Everyone else is a better option than your father.” Dara retorted.

“And clearly, you have no idea who the true enemy is. There’s obviously a reason the most powerful warrior and the greatest fighter fled Pratham.” Jesh said. Dara laughed unconvincingly. “I’m not so sure she was the greatest fighter. Tuma, may have defeated her in combat if they fought longer.” Dara boasted.

Even more proud of her mentor now that she knew they were directly related. “Your precious Tuma feared the real enemy too. Tell me something, wouldn’t you fear the thing that scares the three of them?” Jesh said staring into her eyes. “This is just the beginning. You will see much. Try not to let it change you.” He said proceeding with their mission.

Jesh ascended to the highest point of the ship, sitting in the navigator’s seat. His finger pushing on the screen to input the city coordinates. Dara followed closely behind, angry at his assumptions of her mentor.

“Who said Tuma was afraid of anything? If your father wasn’t so set on killing me and finding more of the raw Iku, we could have all worked together. We could’ve stopped the bad people on your home world.” Dara offered, while Jesh worked.

“You don’t get it. We’re vastly outnumbered. It begins with the Council, but their influence and connections are far reaching. Magnus alone is powerful. I can’t even defeat him.” Jesh explained to her, not losing focus on his tasks. He walked around to another screen and begin putting in more information.

“Have you ever tried to fight back?” Dara asked. Jesh stopped for a moment. The truth is, he never thought of it. It was suicide, a crazy thought to attempt to fight back against Magnus and the Council.

“No one fights back against the council. Why would I try? Even my father failed. If he can’t win, who can?” He justified to himself as well as her. Dara looked disgusted. She felt like she looked in a mirror, but this time not in the way she enjoyed.

“You’re not just anyone. I get it. I don’t know you, but I’ve felt our connection. You’re not your father. You’re greater.” Dara said. Jesh sat for a moment looking into his counterparts’ eyes. He didn’t know what it was about her that made him want to believe her.

She was right, she didn’t know him, the atrocities he had committed on behalf of Magnus and the Council. He wasn’t sure how, but he almost believed her. “You have no idea what lays ahead of us.” Jesh retorted, feeling the glimmer of hope she provided start to slip away. “That’s the thing Jesh. It doesn’t really matter when you have your family there, fighting alongside you.” Dara encouraged.

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