Twin Suns

 
Another Warning
I grab Makish, to stop her from entering the tank.
“What?” she asks.

A wave of sadness comes over me as I think of death.
I imagine how close we came to the Jiku ship exploding and killing Makish.
Then I think of death taking the queen who I only knew for a day.

I need a good excuse to stay on this ship, and find out who is trying to kill us.
If I lie, the Fiklow will smell it, and the crew and killer will hear of it.
Perhaps he’ll flee, or try to attack … Read more

Journey of the Dead

 
Guardians of the Living and the Dead
It makes no sense to bury or burn those that die in the sea.
Instead, the Fiklow dead are sent on a year-long journey.

The body is wrapped in two layers of woven material, soaked in herbs and chemicals.
The outer layer is coarse, and the inner layer soft.

A paste is spread on the outside cloth, to combine with the chemicals, and harden into a shell.
A day later, the relatives and friends sing praises of the dead, as the shell is released into a swift current.

The shell protects … Read more

Shadow of Life and Death

 
Blessings
The corridor outside the transition chamber is small, and dark.
In regular light, the queen’s glow is barely visible, but here, in the dim light, strong rays of colored light shine from the queen’s head and tentacles.

Keesha, Makish, the captain, and two senior officers meet us in the corridor.
They are here to bring the queen to an area large enough for all the crew.”

The moment that Keesha sees the queen, she bows her head to the ground, and the others follow her lead.
They will not move until the queen asks them to … Read more

Desert Fountains

 
Shared Vision
“What did you find, Yagrin?” asks Keesha.

“The Fiklow spirits and the queen are here, trapped by artifact energy.”
“When the artifact is anywhere on Gunal, it causes them intense mental anguish.”

“Are you saying, Yagrin,” asks Keesha, “that the spirits don’t want the artifact here?”
“Where else should we put it?!”

“Commander, I know the artifact belongs here, and the queen will allow it, if that brings comfort to her children.”

If the queen were here, Yagrin,” says Keesha, “it’s true that she would sacrifice herself for her children, but this must be an illusion.”… Read more

Circles of Sorrow

 
Approach
The ship travels outside of normal space.
Rings of energy spin around us, with tiny blue sparks striking the ship, again, and again.

It takes hours to reach the rendezvous point with Fwitay’s commander.
Makish and I stay in the cargo hold of the old Jiku ship, as we travel.

I flow some chairs, cushions, even a couch to rest on, and I add color to these cold, gray walls.
Then I surround us with food and drink, so we can renew our strength and find comfort.

Partners of War

 
Chasing Botzar
My mind is still linked with Makish.
Her thoughts are a mess.

Her emotions rise and fall and spin.
She’s nearly in shock.

“I can’t find him, Yagrin,” she sobs.
“The stasis fields are gone, but there’s no trace of Botzar or B’tzel.”
“Maybe they died long ago,” she says quietly, her hope gone.

“No, Makish,” I answer.
“They were alive in the fields, when the ship was still in orbit.”

Have you scanned the ship yet, to find them?” I ask.

“Help me, Yagrin,” she says.
“I can’t touch the web right now.”
“I can’t … Read more

Friends and Enemies

 
Among the Enemy
The night is quiet, except for the sound of gentle waves.
I wake once to find that the Feldin treat me as one of their own, sleeping tightly against me, even on this warm night.
Makish lies next to me, where she fell asleep, and Shazira and the children sleep nearby.

I wake again at dawn when the Feldin get up to return to the sea.
The Heelu fly in a circle above me, as the Feldin enter the water.

When the last of the Feldin are gone, the Heelu quickly follow.
The city is quiet, … Read more

Artifacts of Destruction

 
The Threat
The roof of the city, a thousand feet above us, is invisible at night, hidden behind an endless sea of bright stars.

By day, the crystal roof lets daylight pour through, to provide the city with a strong, even, light.
At night, the crystal strengthens the natural starlight, until the roof is covered with stars, and our eyes and the streets are filled with a gentle light.

The starlight takes hold of every path, and follows us as we walk through the city.
Even on this night of a dark moon.

The enhanced starlight has a … Read more

Birth of the Balancer

 
Fountain of Light
A round crystal table, red and gold, is spread with food – fish, fruits, and vegetables.
We sit for a meal, and Mayla tells us more about the city.
When we finish, she hands us communication disks.

“The disks display maps of the city,” she says, “and an index of different sites.”
“Use your disk to get directions to any location, and to configure the transport platforms.”

“Take twenty minutes to see a little more of the city,” says Mayla.
“Then I’ll call you and give you a destination where we’ll all assemble.”

Shazira and I … Read more

Wrapped in Storms

 
Shields
We walk together on the mountain, enjoying the cool breeze.
Berek stops and looks confused when I remove his energy shield.

“Why did you dissolve the shield, ina?” he asks.
“I can’t fly without it.”

“Your next practice will be without a shield, but you won’t be doing much flying.”

I take him up five hundred feet.

“When I release you, let yourself fall for five seconds.”

“Then what?”

“Connect to the web to stop your fall.”
“Hover in place for a few seconds, but don’t move.”

“Then rise to where you started.”
“Disconnect, count to five as … Read more