Dreams and Portents
Three days later, Hannibal and Selina lay sound asleep in their quarters in the middle of the night. Selina wore what had become her usual pajamas: a tank-top t-shirt and sweat pants. Hannibal, on the other hand, lay asleep in a regular t-shirt and sweat pants. Deep in their subconscious minds, they shared the same dream at the same time this particular evening. In the dream, they sat in a meadow on the brow of a cliff, having a pleasant picnic together. A majestic mountain rose in the distance and a river ran through a small valley at the base of the cliff between them and the mountain. They laughed and joked, enjoying the pleasure of each other’s company. Without warning, the warmth of the sun vanished as it appeared to dim significantly without any clouds present. An icy gust puffed through the meadow, chilling Hannibal and Selina to the bone.
“What was that,” Selina asked, “and why does the sky seem to be getting dark? Are we having an eclipse or something?”
“I don’t know,” Hannibal replied in a concerned tone, looking around. “But something is amiss here.”
A soft eerie moan echoed from the forest that sent icy chills down their spines. Selina saw movement in the edge of the forest to her right and looked. Her mouth fell open with great surprise and fear. “What in heaven’s name is that?” she whispered, pointing to a vaporous apparition floating through the bushes.
“I wish I knew,” Hannibal answered, rising to his feet with Selina. “But I think we’re about to find out.”
Once the ghostly manifestation stepped out of the undergrowth that hid it, Hannibal gasped, rubbing his eyes in disbelief. “Oh my god,” he breathed, seeing the Lynxian Leila standing there in her armor, sword sheathed at her side. “It’s her…it’s the Lynxian that keeps haunting my dreams.”
Selina stared in fearful fascination at the Lynxian ghost before her. “Who are you?” Selina called out in a shaky voice.
“I’m Leila Carie Karac,” the ghost replied, “a soul trapped between dimensions; neither living nor dead, Selina Milineus of Kaitia. Time and the Darkness have trapped me in this never-ending limbo as I wait for the Beowulf to return and set me free as he promised.”
Selina gasped in astonishment.
“What do you mean?” Hannibal replied shivering as the apparition floated to within arm’s length. “Why do you haunt me? I don’t understand. I don’t remember promising anything to anyone who even remotely resembles you.”
Leila’s ghost smiled wryly. “Oh Beowulf, you don’t remember me, yet you do. Your blood burns even now at seeing me,” she answered cryptically. “But you should not let it trouble your heart. You’ll eventually see the truth and find me. Time and the Darkness rob you of your memory just as it locked me in this limbo of never-ending oblivion. Seek your destiny, my beloved Beowulf, and set things right.”
“What do you want, Leila?” Hannibal queried, his resolve wavering as his fear rose at her proclamation.
“You need have no fear of me, Beowulf, but I come bearing a dire warning. What you should fear lies within the mountain there,” the ghost warned, pointing towards the mountain with her clawed finger. “Even now it comes for you. Beware, Beowulf and seek shelter for the storm of storms bears down on you. Take cover, my savior…the Dark Lord approaches as the Hammer strikes the anvil. Remember me.” The apparition disappeared in another icy gust from the mountain across the valley, a mist vanishing in the wind.
Hannibal paled as the vaporous apparition of Leila Karac dissipated. “What’s going on here?” he asked, visibly shaken. “Why am I haunted by her face? What does she mean Time and the Darkness have robbed me of my memories? I know I have gaps and missing time in my mind where I cannot remember what happened. How could she know that?”
“I don’t know,” Selina murmured, deeply puzzled and concerned by the appearance of Leila’s apparition. “What’s puzzled me even more is how she knew who I was. Not once have I ever seen a Lynxian of her stature. I’ve heard of a race of Lynxians called Kaitian Tigers that were that big. But they haven’t been seen for several generations, thought to have died out long ago.”
Harry suddenly appeared out of the forest and ran to them. He grabbed Hannibal, pleading, “They’re coming. We have to get under cover!”
“Who’s coming?” Hannibal asked as they saw Nathanael emerge from the forest, running toward them.
“The Dark One…he’s coming! Beware! We have to get under cover before we’re seen!” Harry insisted.
As he spoke, Nathanael ran up and cried, “They’re here! We have to hide!” He collapsed on the ground after speaking.
Selina went to him and knelt down, pulling him up in her lap. “What is it, dad? What’s coming?” she asked. As she spoke, a chilled wind arose, blowing stiffly through the trees while the sky darkened even further, turning a strange reddish hue.
Hannibal and Selina noticed the sudden decrease in the light as Nathanael whispered, pointing toward the mountain, “It’s too late. They’re here.” They looked toward the mountain and it seemed to come alive and take the form of a great werecat’s head that glared and snarled at them. It appeared to move slowly toward them with a dark cloud of locusts swarming around it.
Harry tugged insistently on Hannibal’s arm, saying, “We have to get out of here!”
Brother Paul abruptly ran out of the forest, pointing insistently into the sky. “Look up! Look up! Incoming! The Hammer strikes! Take cover!” he cried.
Everyone turned their eyes skyward and saw what appeared to be a huge ringed planet looming more than ten times the apparent diameter of the sun in the sky. It was blood red and cast a scarlet hue over everything as it passed in front of the sun, eclipsing it. A great cloud of debris suddenly came into view around the planet as it snuffed out the sun. Eight moons shined in the eerie darkness. Then massive rocks began falling from the sky all around them. Colossal fireballs fell in a deadly rain of fire on the mountain that had turned into a werecat’s head. Within twenty seconds, the entire mountain became a firestorm sweeping toward them. Seconds later, the fireball rain hit the forest, turning it into an inferno. “Stay together!” Brother Paul cried out as he reached the group, gathering them into a huddle in the middle of the meadow. The grass in the meadow withered in the intense heat that oddly didn’t penetrate to the center of the meadow. “Stay down and pray!” Brother Paul ordered adamantly as a chunk of iron almost nine hundred feet across streaked toward the mountain. It hit with the force of hundreds of atomic bombs. The ground shook and rolled like an earthquake as the shockwave and firestorm passed over them without touching them. An inhuman howl echoed in their ears from the mountain.
Amazed the asteroid strike hadn’t killed them, Hannibal looked up at the rogue planet, seeing an immense lightning bolt shoot directly from the giant planet and strike the mountain with the force far greater than the meteor hit, blinding the onlookers. The strike seemed to vaporize the entire mountain slowly from top to bottom. A wall of blue plasma energy spread like a giant tsunami coming at them. He grabbed Selina, Harry, Nathanael, and Brother Paul and closed his eyes as the wave raced across the valley, consuming everything in its path.
As the wave was about to engulf them, the dream abruptly ended. Both Hannibal and Selina literally jumped to their knees while in the bed, wide awake and scared out of their wits. They gasped for breath while looking around wildly, their hearts pounding as they sweated profusely. Their heart rates slowed upon the realization it was just a dream. They looked at each other, and then hugged, truly thankful that it was just a dream. Selina remained latched onto Hannibal and began to weep softly. “I thought I had lost you again!” she wept.
“Shhh…It’s all right,” Hannibal whispered in her ear. “It was only a dream. Shhh…It’s all right.”
They remained in each other’s arms for nearly two minutes as Hannibal pondered the strange dream. He abruptly realized that he had actually shared the dream with Selina and marveled. “Wait a minute. You saw it?” he asked her as they sat down.
Selina nodded, still shaken by the dream. “I think so. We were having a nice picnic in a meadow overlooking a valley with a huge mountain in the distance,” she whispered. “The light dimmed and this ghost that said her name was Leila Karac appeared, saying all kinds of strange things while warning us something bad was about to happen. Then Harry appeared, babbling about how we had to hide because they had found us, followed by dad, who said the same thing. Then all hell broke loose. The last thing I remember is seeing a strange planet in the sky raining fire down all around us and then shooting the largest lightning bolt I’ve ever seen at the mountain.” Tears drained down her cheeks as she remembered the dream.
“My God…we shared the same dream. That’s exactly what I saw. How can this be possible?” Hannibal exclaimed.
“I don’t know. It must have to do with our telepathic link. But I’ve never heard of this happening before,” Selina answered as she wrapped her arms around Hannibal like a frightened child. Hannibal put his arm around her and they sat there in silence for nearly an hour trying to calm down. Slowly, they relaxed and drowsiness came over them. They were soon fast asleep again in each other’s arms.
Several hours later, Hannibal woke up with a start, panting as if he had been running a race. His pulse raced as a strange voice resembling Leila’s echoed through his mind, “Remember.”
What in the world is going on? Hannibal thought as he turned on his side to look at his wife. Selina lay beside him motionless, still deep asleep. A purr rumbled from deep within her chest as she breathed. He laid there and just watched her as his pulse slowed and his breathing became less labored. Just watching her sleep had a calming effect on him. He wondered as he gazed at her. She looked so innocent and childlike. Hannibal reached out and gently stroked her hair, marveling at how soft and beautiful it was. He abruptly decided to get up and slowly got out of the bed so as to not disturb her. Walking out to the kitchen in his T-shirt and sweat pants, Hannibal pondered the strange night. The lights came up automatically as he entered the kitchen area and he proceeded to get a glass of water. “Radio on. Station one,” he said aloud. The radio turned on automatically with Brother Paul preaching. It echoed through his quarters as he sat down in the recliner next to the sofa. After taking a draught from the glass, he rubbed his face with his hand and yawned. The strange nightmare from earlier in the night remained fresh in his mind, troubling him. He took another draught from his glass, listening intently to the radio.
After sitting and listening to the radio for a few minutes, Hannibal went to the bathroom, taking a quick shower that invigorated him. A few minutes later, he returned to the living room, wearing a clean shirt and sweats. He sat in the recliner and relaxed, listening to the radio. A few minutes later, Selina came out wearing her sweat pants and a tank top. She yawned and rubbed her eyes as she walked over to the recliner where Hannibal sat. “Good morning, Princess. How’re you feeling this morning?” he asked.
Selina smiled and flopped down in his lap, putting her arm around his neck. He caught her, wrapping his arms around the beautiful cat. Giving him a little kiss, Selina replied, “Better than last night. That was some nightmare. And you?”
“All right, I guess,” Hannibal replied as he responded with a gentle squeeze. “That was one intense nightmare. It still troubles me some. I think someone was trying to tell us something. Exactly what, I don’t know. That was the first time I’ve ever seen Leila where she wasn’t wounded and being put into stasis. Her words are haunting me. I wish I knew what she meant.”
“Only time will tell,” Selina replied, cuddling with him. “But I believe you’re right about it. There’s more to it than we know. I guess we’ll find out when the time is right.”
Hannibal nodded and gave her a little kiss on the cheek. “So, are you ready to face the great unknown with me?” he inquired.
Selina looked deep in his eyes and responded telepathically, Yes, my prince. I’m ready to go into the depths of hell if need be.
Hannibal smiled pleasantly. “Well, hopefully you won’t have to do that,” Hannibal responded. “But regardless, today is the day we head out into that unknown. Come, we have much to do.”
Three hours later after they ate breakfast in the cafeteria, Hannibal and Selina stood in the portal chamber sharing the strange dream with Nathanael and Harry. Nathanael listened intently as they detailed the dream. Once they finished, he pondered the dream for a couple of minutes. “That’s a strange dream indeed,” Nathanael commented. “The planet you describe is especially interesting. Do you have any thoughts on what it could mean?”
“Not a clue. But it does remind me of something I’ve seen in the ancient Sumerian and Akkadian writings,” Hannibal said. “It has to do with Nibiru or Planet X as they call it now. In the ancient writings, they speak of something they called the planet of passing, which has wreaked havoc with the Earth on several occasions. Supposedly, this thing is where the old gods came from. It returns roughly every thirty-six hundred years, causing all manner of natural catastrophes that usually ends up destroying the main civilization of the time. The reason I tend to pay attention to it is that the masters of the universe have researched it extensively and know what it’s supposedly capable of doing. But even among their circles, there’s a lot of speculation as to what it’s actually capable of doing. As I remember, they’ve known about it for decades and have been planning around it, hoping to maybe use it as a way to solidify their stranglehold on the rest of humanity.”
Nathanael listened intently as Hannibal explained the theory of Planet X. “You know something…what you’re telling me rings true because just the other day, some information about this supposed planet came out of the translation computer,” he informed.
“You’re kidding!” Hannibal blurted out. “What did it say?”
Nathanael scratched his head and declared, “Not much…we have information on what it is, its mass, density, and orbital path. Apparently, this thing had a whole lot to do with the fall of Amacia.”
“Tell me everything!” Hannibal almost begged him.
Nathanael shared with him the details of what they had found about the rogue planet. He described it as a brown dwarf with twenty-five times the mass and density of Jupiter with a tremendous gravitational and magnetic field about it fifty to seventy times as powerful as Jupiter. Furthermore, the strange planet had rings and a tremendous debris field with several moons in the field in orbit around the planet. Nathanael also provided a brief synopsis of its orbit and its duration.
“All of that was in the books?” Hannibal asked.
“Yes,” Nathanael stated. “And if the calculations are correct, we should be seeing this thing in the not too distant future. Exactly how close it’ll get and how much damage it’ll do this time is anyone’s guess. But the potential is there for the entire surface of the planet to be redefined by it.”
Harry listened intently to the exchange. “If the masters of the universe are so concerned by it, then shouldn’t we be giving it consideration as well?” he asked bluntly.
“Yes, we definitely shouldn’t dismiss it,” Hannibal replied, looking at Harry.
“If it’s really out there as the writings suggest it is,” Selina stated, “then we should be able to find it with the portal. Maybe we ought to see if it’s really out there.”
“Good thinking, princess,” Nathanael replied, walking to the console. He retrieved the remote earpiece for the portal and fired it up, beginning to search the solar system for the elusive planet with the holographic interface. Within minutes, Nathanael pushed the search out into the outer fringes of the solar system into the edges of interstellar space. Suddenly, a tiny red disk appeared in the hologram out well beyond Pluto in the inner fringes of the Oort Cloud. Nathanael noticed it and zoomed in on it to the point they could clearly see the giant planet.
“Holy cow…it’s for real!” Harry exclaimed. They all looked in fascination at the rogue planet. It glowed in a dull red, almost scarlet color, and a great cloud of debris surrounded it with eight good-sized moons swirling around in the debris field.
“Oh man…that’s what we saw in the dream,” Hannibal breathed as Selina latched on to his arm with fear rising in her heart. He noticed the fear because of their telepathic link and reassured her, saying, “We needn’t worry about this thing quite yet. It’s still a good ways off. But we’ll have to keep tabs on it.”
“That’s a wise decision,” Nathanael announced, using the machine to do a quick orbital calculation for the planet. The results appeared next to the hologram of the planet. “This brown dwarf may be a captured body from outside the solar system. From what I’m reading here, its orbital velocity is accelerating significantly. It’ll be penetrating into the inner solar system in about eighteen months; give or take a month or two.”
“Do you have any idea why it’s accelerating, Nathanael?” Hannibal asked.
“The scans from the portal machine here are indicating the body is highly magnetic with a polarity opposite of what your sun is now,” Nathanael answered. “I believe the magnetic attraction combined with the planet’s mass, density, and gravitational field is what’s causing this acceleration. We must keep a very close eye on this thing. It has the potential to literally destroy this planet if it gets too close.”
As Nathanael finished speaking, Dan walked up. “What’s going on?” he asked.
“Planet X,” Harry answered.
“Planet X?” Dan asked.
“Yes, Planet X,” Hannibal declared. “It’s for real. You might want to keep track of it while we’re gone.”
“Ahh…so that’s what demon planet looks like,” Dan said with an intrigued tone. “We’ll definitely keep an eye on this thing. I read in the accounts from the Library what this thing did to Amacia. It could very well do it again if it gets close enough when it goes by this time.”
“Any idea when that might be happening?” Hannibal asked plainly.
“We’re still getting information out on this thing but from what we’ve gotten so far, it could very well come in this part of the solar system within two years or less. We still haven’t teased all the details out about it though. That figure could change with new information,” Dan answered.
“Whoa,” Harry murmured. “That’s what Nathanael said when he used the portal machine to calculate Planet X’s trajectory.”
“Indeed?” Dan replied, his tone reflecting his interest. “That’s some great outside confirmation of what the Library said about it. We’ll definitely keep a close eye on it.”
“Good,” Hannibal ordered. Then changing the subject, he said, “I want base camp up and running in two hours in the hangar, Dan. Be careful when you go on the airfield and in the hangar. Who knows what you may encounter.”
“Yes, sir,” Dan replied, nodding. “We’ll be extra careful. Your base camp will be ready in two hours.” He turned and left.
“Harry, you should go and say good-bye to Mary and Dennis. We go in three hours,” Hannibal said. Harry nodded and followed Dan. The hologram of the rogue planet disappeared as Nathanael put the remote back into the control panel. “You need to tell Dan approximately where to find Planet X before we go,” Hannibal ordered.
“I will,” Nathanael answered. “I’m going back to my quarters to get my things. Do you want to ride?”“Yes, I believe I do,” Hannibal said. “Are you coming too, princess?” Selina nodded and they left with Nathanael.