“Migichina interfered against my admonitions and against our rules. But how does one forbid the love of a Mother for her Son?”
From “The Book of McKenna” - Destiny
McKenna wanted to piss his pants. With over a hundred of his men in the compound, there was no possible way to get them all out. On his comm badge, he screamed for the Draesoneth and any other ship that could here him to beam them all out. Rhaine stood at his side, even though she could teleport them both out. Her magic was simply not strong enough to move the hundred.
One by one, then in groups of two and three they began to fade in cascading light. Draesoneth had heard his cry for help and began the evacuation. It relieved him some, but the clock was still running, and with only thirty seconds to go, less than half of them were gone.
“Goddess almighty!” McKenna shouted. Though it was meant more as a curse, a scent of vanilla crossed his nose, as a whirlwind of dust and debris swirled around him and Rhaine Quatralis. Then, everything turned white...McKenna opened his eyes. He was lying onto his back looking into a white sky, or was it?
“Mac, are you alive?” Rhaine Quatralis appeared over him, her nose almost touching his.
“Yes.” He replied. He cocked his head up. “Rhaine?” He asked.
Would you please get off me?” Rhaine turned bright red, realizing that in concern for her best friend’s man, she had virtually crawled on top of him to try and wake him. She got up quickly, offering the chief marshal her hand. McKenna accepted the lift up, rubbing his temples as his vision adjusted to account for the bright light.
“Where are we?” He asked. Rhaine shook her head. She could offer no explanation. McKenna looked around. There was nothing but white, above them, around them, below them. The smooth surface they stood on was certainly solid, though there were no shadows to prove its actual existence.
“I don’t recognize this place. Even from my studies of ethereal realms back on Valeris.” Rhaine offered.
“Perhaps I can offer more... comfortable surroundings.” The scene shifted, the white melted and took shape. Shadow ripples became trees and rocks, and evergreen scents filled their senses. A woman in a flowing robe stepped from behind a rock. “Welcome to my home, Zendista McKenna. Welcome to you, too, Rhaine Quatralis.”
McKenna looked at her, but did not recognize her. “As an officer of the law, I’m going to have to ask you to show some identification, ma’am.” McKenna stated formally.
The woman smiled as a bird landed on her shoulder. The woman bent down and picked up a fallen leaf, then scooped up some water from a puddle to offer it to the bird. The bird happily drank the water offered to it. Satisfied, the bird flew away, whistling a song of thanks. The woman smiled.
“I brought you to my home to save your lives. You would not have made it out of there alive if it were not for my intervention. Come with me, please.”
Rhaine and McKenna looked at each other, and then followed the woman. She led them to a castle on the shores of a misty lake. McKenna looked up at the gray clouds in the sky, figuring it might rain soon.
Once inside the castle, the woman made a sweeping gesture over a table filled with fruits and juice.
“All that I have is yours. Please, accept my hospitality, and your questions shall be answered when my last guest for the afternoon arrives." The woman retreated through a door, and then was gone.
McKenna picked up an apple and took a bite. The pureness of the food was refreshing, unlike pre-processed and re-processed Migichinan food. Good for nutritional value, but often very bland. This was fabulous.
“Okay, Rhaine. I’m stumped. Not more than ten minutes ago, Slann was going to happily blow us to bits. Now, we’re on some alien world, eating fruit in the hospitality of some tree-hugger who claims to have saved us. I hate to sound blonde, but I don’t get it.”
McKenna took another bite of the apple.
“I agree. I don’t get it either, but I recognize some of the paintings.” Rhaine pointed up to the majestic portrait of a dragon. “That looks like Draconus, the god of my people. And that one over there looks a lot like Migichina, your Goddess.”
McKenna gazed at the picture. The Migichinan Goddess looked exactly the same way when she presented herself to the chief marshal for the first time. That was certainly her. He then saw another painting, one of a male and much smaller then the other two.
“Wonder who this is?” Pointing at the longhaired man dressed in medieval green clothes.
“That would be my bastard brother, Merid,” Replied a familiar voice. McKenna turned around to see Migichina, standing with the woman who claimed to have saved them. “I am glad to see you are well. I have already thanked my sister for her intervention. I offer my apologies for not being there, though. I had other matters I was attending to.”
“Figures.” McKenna grumbled. "Who’s the Enviro-club poster girl, then?” McKenna asked.
“That would be my sister, Gaia.” Migichina replied. “I told you he’s in a bad mood.” She whispered to Gaia. Gaia nodded. She did not take any offense to McKenna’s remark, but implied by expression that he should be a little kinder in the future.
“So why are we here?” McKenna asked.
“Slann has committed a serious breech of protocol. He has captured the Lord Admiral, making her a hostage. He has attempted to kill you outside of council.”
McKenna interrupted. “Actually, he’s legally able to do that, by tradition.”
“Whatever. The fact is, he should be going after Awrann, rather than trying to kill you. He has brought in outsiders to do his dirty work and to cover his tracks. He has to be stopped.” Migichina was becoming visibly frustrated.
“You’re a Goddess, why don’t you do it?” McKenna asked, trying to find the logic in the whole matter.
“Because I cannot. To do so would be a symbol of weakness. I have established the rules for you and your people to follow and you must do so. The only reason I intervene is because it is necessary...”
“Face it; things are getting out of hand, dear sister.” A new voice added. Your people are doomed to darkness, and I’ll be more than happy to pick up the pieces when everything falls apart and show them all a better way.” Said a man who walked out of a shadowy corner.”
“Your way, brother Merid?” Migichina replied.
“Of course, my way. My people were doing just fine until your children showed up and started to make their lives a living hell!” The newly arrived god walked towards the group. McKenna stopped him in his tracks.
“I don’t think we’ve been properly introduced, mister.” McKenna growled.
“Please, Zendista McKenna. I don’t have any quarrel with you. You treated my people with dignity and respect as you hunted them down, bringing them to Migichinan justice. I only forgive you because you gave supplies and medical attention to those who needed it.” Merid smiled.
“I don’t want your forgiveness. Especially if you’re behind all of this.” McKenna countered.
“I was behind it, at least to a point. Your man, Dakkoth Starkiller removed me from the game when he discovered and arrested my agent. I’m out for now, but not entirely, I’ll be back, and I will be more of a threat to your people next time.
I will offer you a deal though. Work with me, and the galaxy will know peace again. Work against me, and there will only be more war and hatred. It is your decision, son of Migichina, not that of your mother. Good-bye, for now.”
Merid’s body exploded into a whirling shower of green leaves, which vanished as they floated towards the ground.
“Nice exit.” commented Rhaine Quatralis.
McKenna looked back at Migichina, who only looked down, avoiding his gaze. “Migichina, when this is all over, you and I are going to have a very long talk. Come on, Rhaine. We’ve got an Alliance to protect. Gaia, if you would be so kind.”
Gaia nodded, and with a sweeping gesture of her hand, the two mortals vanished, sent back to where they came from.
Gaia turned to her sister. “You’re not going to be able to keep the truth from him for much longer. Merid posed a very interesting proposition to him, and if he cannot see past it and understand our brother’s motives, then Merid will succeed and become more powerful.”
Migichina said nothing, knowing her sister was right.
McKenna and Rhaine Quatralis materialized inside a smoldering crater. McKenna shifted into his battle frame and lifted Rhaine into his arms. He flew out of the crater with her, and landed at the command hut, where they found General Franclyn with eyes wide and jaw gone slack with astonishment.
“As you can see, reports of our deaths have been greatly exaggerated.” McKenna said to the general.
“Well damn it all! You are such a hard bastard to kill. Slann ain’t gonna be happy at all.” General Franclyn motioned to the displays. “Capt. Dunan is now certain Slann’s got a saurian sub. Adm. Okona’s called the Saurian Commonwealth, and they’re sending a fleet to assist us. They’ve been tracking pirate activity along our borders and believe that Slann’s thrown in with them.”
“Groovy.” McKenna grumbled. “The rules of this engagement have now gone completely out window! Okay then, if Slann’s going to play dirty, I’ve got no problem bringing in Saurian guns. Patch me through to the Draesoneth.”
Dunan appeared on the screen. “Hey Mac. The general said you got blown to bits. Looks like you heal quickly.”
“Unfortunately... I hear the Saurians are coming. I want to get up there and meet up with them.”
“Sure thing. Stand by.”
In an instant, McKenna and Quatralis were beamed up to the Draesoneth, met by Dunan and Kylarn in the transporter chamber.
“Welcome aboard, Chief.” Dunan shook McKenna’s hand, having never actually met him in person. “We’ve just left orbit, and we’ll be catching up with the Saurian fleet in about 5 hours. I’ve got our boys keeping tabs on the pirates, but we’ll need Saurians to actually go in to get ’em.” They entered the passageway and Dunan led them to the main conference room.
“In five hours, Slann could be long gone.” Rhaine said.
“I doubt that will happen. Slann’s is far too involved with this whole mess to go on the lam. Slann’s probably planning his next move. He’ll need to get back onto the planet undetected.”
“Won’t be possible. With current coverage, the fleet will detect any transporter activity. The sub would have to raise its mast out of subspace to even beam anything in or out. If the sub were to try and put down in the ocean, it would have to come out of subspace to maneuver in the Homeworld’s atmosphere.” They entered the conference room. The yeoman had laid out refreshments as per Dunan’s orders. She offered coffee to McKenna and Quatralis.
The Draesoneth exited hyper space, and maneuvered its way into the massive Saurian fleet. The Migichinan warship came along side the fleet’s flagship, the SUV Pegasi. The 2-kilometer long battleship dwarfed the Draesoneth, and unlike the Migichinan warship, bristled with weapons.
In a brief exchange of words, the Pegasi invited McKenna aboard for dinner. This would be McKenna’s first meeting with the Saurians on business, and figured it would have happened sooner or later. They went over to the Pegasi by way of shuttle. Once on board, they were greeted by a full honor guard, and at the end of the red carpet stood Fleet Admiral Z’oord Tereskiad.
The triceratopsian admiral didn’t smile as the Migichinan departed from the shuttle. Some would say that the Fleet Admiral was incapable of any facial expression other than the grim frown etched into his ancient, tan face. McKenna noted from the file that Admiral Tereskiad was well over 1000 years old, and had been an admiral for most of his life. The admiral bowed deeply in respect to his guests.
“Welcome to my ship, the Pegasi. It is my home, and I present it for your approval.” The Admiral said in a deep, rumbling voice.
Dunan whispered to McKenna. “This is the part where you inspect the honor guard and the space fighter over there. Then you salute the Admiral and compliment him on his fine ship.”
“And if I don’t?”
“He eats you. But I promise to convince him you taste very bad.”
McKenna chuckled softly, though he wasn’t sure if Dunan was joking or not.
Admiral Tereskiad waited patiently as McKenna proceeded with his inspection. The Saurian Commonwealth was comprised of over seven hundred individual species of sentient races. McKenna noted that as he saw an archaeopteryx standing next to a human. The twenty that lined the red carpet were all wearing dress uniforms, and judging by the medals they wore, were probably a representation of the best among the crew of the Pegasi. McKenna nodded his approval to the Saurian junior officer who attended him. The officer then led him over to the bulky but lethal saurian space fighter, equipped for anti-ship combat. The flight crew stood at rigid attention, maintaining blank stares as McKenna looked each of them in the eye. He walked back to Adm. Tereskiad.
“You did not inspect the fighter, Chief Marshal.” The Admiral said with slight disapproval.
“I didn’t need to. The pilots alone impressed me, and any ship is only as good as its crew. I find your ship and its crew highly impressive. I compliment you on such a fine vessel, and am proud to stand on its decks.”
The admiral actually smiled as he returned McKenna’s salute. “Thank you, Mr. McKenna. Please, follow me. My chefs have prepared a fine example of the cuisine of my people.”
Z’oord Tereskiad led the group to his wardroom where the feast was ready. Attendants served the Migichinan and their admiral as they sat down. His staff and the commanding officer of the Pegasi joined the admiral. McKenna knew the Migichinan could be overly formal at times, but the stateliness of the wardroom and the practiced etiquette of the Saurian officers made his people look barbaric by comparison. Dunan was an exception, having worked extensively with the Saurians, and was quite familiar with their ways.
“Chief Marshal.” Adm. Tereskiad was first to speak. “I have been briefed by Admiral Okona and am familiar with your situation. I know your people normally do not like outside involvement with the Alliance’s internal politics, but as I have been made aware, this situation requires our expertise.”
Over the center of the table appeared the holographic shape of a saurian Helevek class attack sub.
“This is the vessel Invictus, a ship stolen from our inventory three years ago. We know which vessel it is thanks to the excellent work of Capt. Dunan.” Dunan smiled at the words of praise. The hologram shifted into the shape of a tyrannosaurid.
“That is Commander Greel, a decorated SGCN Captain and rebel. He stole the Invictus, the ship he commanded while still in our service. He believes in the old ways, when the Saurians were simple and not so expansive. Greel thinks that the Saurians would have been better off staying on Reptelus, and not interfering with other races. He has been diagnosed xenophobic.”
“Yet he works for Slann.” McKenna countered.
“Only to pay the bills. Greel likes you people least of all, accusing the Migichinan of being power hungry and malicious. He has been known to render aid to the Meridians from time to time, just to get back at the establishment.”
“Then why side with Slann?” McKenna asked.
“I believe Slann has convinced Greel that if he comes to power, the Migichinan will pull out of the Cestas cluster, and will revert to more xenophobic practices.”
“That a load of bullshit!” McKenna spat.
“I know,” replied Tereskiad. “Slann plans to take the galaxy, and he needs the Alliance to be united under him in order to do so. We, of course, shall crush him if succeeds and pushes into the Commonwealth.” The admiral took a sip of his wine. Dunan leaned over towards McKenna.
“If you don’t put your sword up Slann’s ass soon, I may beat you to it.” McKenna smiled. Capt. Dunan had a way with words. Tereskiad rose.
“Ladies and gentlemen. It is not the wish of the Saurian Galactic Commonwealth to fight the Migichinan Alliance. I freely offer the aid of my fleet to you so that Warlord Slann may be stopped before that war occurs.”
McKenna rose as well. “On behalf of the Migichinan Alliance, I accept your help, Fleet Admiral Tereskiad. I also look forward to working with you in the future.”
The admiral smiled. “Come; let me give you a personal tour of my ship.” McKenna and Tereskiad walked out of the wardroom together.
Rhaine Quatralis looked at Dunan. “Captain, do you mind if I go back to the ship, I need to make a call.” She asked.
“Sure, no problem. I’ll have Kylarn assign you quarters for privacy.” Rhaine smiled.
Back on the Draesoneth, Commander Kylarn escorted Quatralis to the guest quarters. Once inside, she activated the computer console and verbally entered the routing codes. Within a few seconds, the connections were made to a secure channel.