The unfriendly emptiness of space was a foreign type of cold to the citizens of Tetcht. A different freezing temperature and crisp sting on their faces than the Eira.
Dara’s naivety opening the latch of the rear door compromising the ships design to keep space out. The natural beauty and elegance their city beheld was contradictory to the harsh desolation beyond the sky.
Their traveler 100,000 miles away from their home planet. The ships age making it difficult for all features to operate correctly. The first system to sacrifice was the heat; using the remaining fuel to reach another planet where everyone could regroup.
Echoes of the engine blared reverberating throughout the ship, as the many citizens quietly sat. Their numbers small, the Sentry all but gone, and their great heroes exhausted. The twins doing their best to pilot the antique ship until Gala’s return.
Jesh shook off the grogginess. He was uncertain how long he was out. Kyah laid beside him, breathing but not awake. Jesh’s body chilly from the steel bed he rested on. He was almost pinned to the wall by his aunt in the corner of the room where the bed laid.
Scooting to the edge he attempted to gather his thoughts. Jesh reflected on the events he could remember before blacking out. Grunting in pain, he headed for the door.
He noticed the emptiness, the ample space provided now that the dead had been removed from the inside, left behind on Tetcht. The citizens he and his crew rescued, stared blankly as he migrated through the ship. Their stares just as everyone else’s who meets him for the first time.
He was quite used to the response. He would be surprised if someone hadn’t recognized him as the son of Fei. Jesh made eye contact with 19, before reaching out through their armor connection. “Where is Dara?” He asked.
19 pointed toward the rear of the ship, which remained without power for the conservation of energy and fuel. Jesh traveled through the maze of deflated citizens. Dara sat curled up next to the body of Tumakako.
Jesh strolled over to join her. Saying nothing, he sat down in front of the pair. He waited patiently, for Dara to meet his gaze. Sniffling, she looked up. “Do you think, she will be in the city like my mother was?” Dara asked. Jesh shrugged.
“That would be nice for them to see each other again. However, if it’s the same place that my mother ends up, it may not be as fun.” He chuckled. His horrible timing of humor still managing to bring a smirk to Dara’s face.
“When she was teaching me, I don’t think I ever considered me surviving and her not making it. Even through all the planning and strategizing. I guess, I just figured, it would be us together or her alone.” Dara said.
Jesh nodded as he took in her words. “It’s the things that seem less likely, that always end up probable. I mean look at me. I was stabbed as an infant. Yet, now I’m potentially the most powerful being in the universe.” Jesh offered.
“Second most.” Dara joked, actively trying to engage. She felt better with him being around. Like she wasn’t alone, beyond the physical. He meant something different to her, but she didn’t understand it. Jesh shook his head in denial.
“Magnus or the Council aren’t even close to my power individually. And some of them don’t even have abilities.” He said smugly. “I was talking about me.” Dara said, causing strings of electricity to surge through her fingertips.
The two shared a laughed momentarily, until Dara placed her head on Tumakako’s shoulder again. Her weeping was getting to Jesh. Seeing her in pain was tormenting him. He slid over next to Dara, hooking his arm underneath hers.
“I don’t know what it’s like to lose someone. But what I do know, is the sight of you in pain, infuriates me. I know you two tried to kill my parents and completed half your mission. However, I feel a connection with you that transcends my anger and resentment.” He said serenely.
Dara turned to witness Jesh’s intense stare. “I’ve felt so calm ever since I’ve met you.” Jesh continued. After a moment, his courage abandoned him, seeing the look on Dara’s face. She appeared interested. Jesh’s mouth began to dry, his stomach turned, sweat starting to bead on his forehead.
Dara slowly let go of Tumakako and rested her head on his shoulder. Their shadowy crimson energy engulfed them. “Dara……I.” He tried to speak, though words refused to obey his thoughts. “What is Pratham like?” Dara interrupted.
Jesh took a deep breath. Feeling the pressure of the moment subsiding. “Pratham is great. The planet provides sufficient space for everyone to live and grow. Occupation is a choice, with everyone taking the role they truly want that helps advance the planet and intergalactic relations. There are many benefits to where I’m from.” He stated confidently.
“If it is so great, why was your father trying to destroy it?” Dara questioned. “The journey to this moment in time is riddled with blood, greed and appalling decisions for the perceived good of everyone. Unfortunately, peace still eludes Pratham. The Council is heinous, the outcast tribes still suffer, and many races deemed undeserving or undesirable for the population, were either left on Earth or hunted down by your mother Tumakako and eliminated. Not a lot of people know the last part.” He said.
Dara’s gasp confirmed her lack of knowledge on the subject to Jesh. Dara often thought about the events prior to her mother’s exiled life on Tetcht during their training. But neither her nor Tuma attempted to broach the topic. It seemingly became an unspoken agreement to never discuss her past.
“After achieving stability on Pratham, the civilization was split into four denominations. The Muetus, which roughly translates into the need for change. They aren’t very good in battle, but due to a handful of shapeshifters and the twins, their tribe has held off the assault of the other tribes for a long time.
Their guerrilla tactics are unparalleled. We really could use their expertise in the galactic wars.” Jesh informed. “The Salum. Which is the tribe Da-Xia hails from, means peace or in some translations, healer. They possess an even smaller militia. However, Da-Xia against any army is problematic for the army. In many of my first battles we were encouraged to avoid a duel or engaging her forces.” He joked. Dara listened carefully, trying to remember as much as she could.
“A-Kialle. Wise or great council. Which is the ruling tribe of Pratham and Gala’s tribe. They are the most influential and largest army on the planet, spreading across a couple of galaxies.” Jesh informed her.
“Magnus and the Council’s grasp reached very far.” He said. “And the last tribe?” Dara asked eagerly. “The Xeriel. Means the Lion of God. Even after everything they’d seen, many citizens of Pratham still believe in an all-powerful being.” Jesh laughed. Dara considering his eyes between their flickering joint energy.
“You don’t?” She asked. “If there was an all-powerful being, do you think he would do nothing as we exceed our humanistic limits?” He asked. Dara pondered. She never really thought about a God existing, the citizens mainly kept their heritage between the adults.
She was too young for them to explain much of the historical events or religious beliefs. Maybe her mother did believe in a God. The adult citizens never spoke about those things with the children. Nor did the elderly.
“Well, a woman who later belonged to the Xeriel, found my father when he was a baby on one of the travelers and raised him. History says he took the name Zeall from her. But nothing is really known about her or his birth mother. I never even learned their names.” Jesh said, thinking for a moment before he continued.
“The Xeriel were the best warriors. They’re called savages and war beasts. The savages could reach their feral form, whereas the much stronger war beasts can transform like my father into their primal form.” Jesh said
“Strong, powerful and disciplined. Although none grew as large as my father. He was hailed as the Beast of Xeriel.” The pride radiating from Jesh’s face as he spoke.
“Sometimes the Muetus tribe will shift into big cats as to attack under the guise of the Xeriel, but we have long caught on to their tricks. The Xeriel hasn’t been as active in the war as of late.” Dara remembered the massive beast that hunted her down and slew the gigantic reptile.
“What denomination did Lale belong to?” Dara asked. “My mother and my Kyah were A-Kialle and the main reason their army was so dominant. Trust me, there are many great warriors in the army of Pratham and the other tribes.
But my mother and Kyah are two of the greatest warriors Pratham had ever seen. The legend is, a blade never touched my mother’s skin. And the blades that did reach my Kyah, never saw the battlefield again.” Jesh said laughing to himself.
“Together, the denominations were intended to represent what would be a lasting criterion for humanity, with the Iku being the catalyst for sustainability.” Jesh said. “So, what happened?” Dara inquired.
“The truth about the people left on Earth was revealed. But only high tribesman learned of the missions to eliminate the others. The Xeriel aggressively separated, as it was many of their warrior’s tasks with the missions to kill. The Salum and Muetus followed shortly after. Eventually, the discord spread between the three and denigrated into an all-out war.”
“So which side do you fight for?” Dara asked. “My side. I believe there is too much pain to be reconciled between the 4 denominations. Even the A-Kialle at times shows signs of unrest. Not everything is as it seems, when it comes to loyalty.” He began.
“I plan to use my power to rid the universe of true evil. The Council must be destroyed, the leaders of the other clans as well. They will never see reason. From that fire, we can mold a new structure. And I will lead us to peace.” Dara listened closely to Jesh’s words.
She did not get the sinister feeling from Jesh as she always had in the presence of his father. He was more of his mother in this regard. Still she couldn’t help but recognize the similarities in their approach. “So, how do we fight the largest army in the universe with just a hand full of people and two super beings?” She asked jokingly. “Universe?” Jesh laughed.
“Certainly not the largest army in the universe but within our galaxy? Yes. Maybe the most influential. But not the largest.” He corrected her. “That is the difficult part. The Council is very rarely caught off guard. It’s always as if they are many steps ahead. If we run, we will never take the offensive. If we ambush them, we may lose. If I use all my power, I destroy Pratham. But without it, the hordes of soldiers will overwhelm us.” Jesh said exhaling in exhaustion.
The two sat deep in thought. Allowing the sounds of travel to fill the would-be silence. “You approached our fight as if we were equal. As if you stood a chance at protecting yourself from my attacks. You must never allow your opponent or opponents to dictate to you, how you will defeat them. That’s up to you.”
Dara heard Tumakako’s voice speak in her head. She jumped to see her mentor still lifeless. “What is it?” Jesh asked. “Tuma.” She whispered to herself. “I thought about something she taught me.” Dara answered.
“What is the strength of the Council?” She asked. Jesh thought for a moment before responding. “They have a large army and control over most of the planet.” He said. “So, what if they didn’t?............What if they lost control of the planet. And we grow our forces?” She asked.
“The army appears to be their main reason for control over the other denominations. What if we encouraged them to fight back together?” Jesh shook his head in denial. “They would never fight with us.” He retorted.
“Good. I never said with us. I’m talking about a war for Pratham. The Council has the advantage against us. But not against a planet at war and the joint power of you and I.” Dara suggested.
“Neither clan would risk an all-out war against the Council right now.” Jesh said. Discounting her perceived moment of clarity. “Maybe they would if the Pratham army was exposed. Create a panic. Give them a chance to attack. Make Magnus vulnerable.” Dara suggested. Jesh appeared confused.
“What are you saying?” He asked plainly. Dara untangled from their clutch and stood in front of him. “You’re fighting as if you’re equal to the council. Taking away your biggest advantage. I’m saying unleash your power on the planet. Destroy as much of the army as you can. Produce a wound. From what I understand each of your crew is connected to the other clans. Have them raise the alarm to strike. Create chaos.” She continued.
“During the chaos, we destroy the Council. We decide how we fight. Not them. Together. There is no one who can equal us.” She proclaimed passionately.
Jesh saw the conviction in her eyes. He liked it. It gave him confidence. Dara’s face made him want to comply with anything she said. “What about your people?” Jesh asked. “We take them home till the fighting is over.” She answered.
Jesh considered the proposed plan. He pushed himself up to his feet. Pacing back and forth. “I don’t like it. We need all the help we can get. Besides, where would we get the extra soldiers to grow our forces?” He asked, halting for a moment.
“You tell me. Does Pratham have any allies?” Dara asked. “None that would choose a side during our civil war. They would risk the benefits of their alliance should the tribe they choose is defeated.” Jesh reasoned.
“Any enemies?” Dara questioned without missing a beat. Jesh’s eyes shocked at the question. “Now you’re thinking like a general? Space has changed you.” He chuckled. Jesh began to pace again.
His mind running through all the potentially less harmful enemies of humanity. He stopped dead in his tracks. Dara could see the dilemma on his face. “Whoever they are, they will do.” Dara advised.
Jesh turned to her. “This enemy could wipe us out if we’re not careful.” Jesh cautioned. “Our own kind can do that too.” Dara returned. Jesh stood, surprised he was even considering the idea. “First things first, we need to find Gala.” Jesh concluded.
“Dara reached up to grab Jesh by the hand. “About the blending. I didn’t know she was my mother; I didn’t know I already had the Iku. Your mother didn’t know when she gave the raw Iku…” Dara started.
Jesh closed his hands around hers. “It’s ok. I could tell you didn’t know. And as far as the blending goes, it’s our secret. We have enough enemies as it is.” He said with a wink. Dara smiled, letting go as he walked off to assemble the crew. For some reason she couldn’t explain, she trusted him.