Lost Courage

An Honorable Death
I leave Siksa and my family, again.
Only Balshown is with me on the ship, and he is too quiet, lost in his thoughts.
We pass unnoticed through the atmosphere, and accelerate past Siksa’s moon.
Soon, we’ll be at a safe distance from the planet, where we can engage the star drive.

Balshown watches the view-screen until Siksa is out of sight.
“Why are we here, Yagrin?” he asks, breaking the silence.
“This ship is fast, but it will still take us weeks to reach my world.”
“You’re a PathFinder!”
“Open a gate, give me back … Read more

King’s Son

One Song
I carry the twins to the school.
Hukal and my family follow.
The crowd of children moves aside as we pass, and refuses to look me in the eye.

Niyta catches up to me, and leads us to a large empty room, where the whole school eats together.
She sits us in the center of the room.

The sisters and children take seats throughout the room, but leave a large space around us.

“Why are the children afraid of me, Niyta?”

“Don’t you know?”

“The eyes?”

“They wonder what you are, Yagrin.”
“They have heard that there … Read more

Songs of Change

I hear the voices of my family around me, but the world spins wildly, even with my eyes closed.
“He’s waking up,” says Tzina.

Finally, the dizziness clears, and I open my eyes.
Dilasa jumps on my lap and hugs me.
“Did the cubes help you escape from the dream, ina?” she asks.

I laugh when I see her happy face, and then look past her to see the worried faces of my family relax.
“Things are still fuzzy, little one, but I think the cubes helped.”

Sounds of Healing

“It’s dark outside,” says Dilasa, “but Tshuan looks as bright as day on the ship’s view-screen.”

“The ship can see in the dark,” says Berek, “and it creates a daytime image for us.”

“Why are we approaching slowly?” asks Shazira.
“We could be there already!”

“I can keep Ina’s body alive for now, and I’m trying to hide our approach.”
“I don’t want the Tshuans to know how powerful this little ship is.”
“Let them think that it’s a simple airship, of an unusual design.”

“The ship hides itself, Berek,” says Shazira.

“Yes, but when we move quickly … Read more

Silver Falls

Tzina’s bitter cry fills the cave, and her intense feelings wash over Berek who has his shield down.
He holds his head in pain for a few seconds, but quickly recovers after managing to raise his shield.

Shazira hears the cry, and comes rushing toward them.
Yagrin lies motionless in Tzina’s circle, his energy body dim.

“What happened here?” asks Shazira.

“It’s my fault,” says Tzina, crying.
“I found out how to bypass a mind shield, and I was worried the aliens might be able to attack ina the same way.”
“I taught him how to defend himself.”… Read more

Slavery and Death

Little Clouds
“Continue the training, Tzina,” I tell her.
“It’s time for us to enter the network.”

“Not yet,” she answers, “but my fire twin will join you briefly for the next step.”
Tzina and Shazira go back to their nests, and I send Berek away.
I don’t want him to watch while I dissolve my body.

I flow it into water and air.
The pattern body disappears a few minutes later.
The change happens so quickly that there’s no pain, but I’m disoriented for a moment.
Then, I’m filled with sadness, a sense of loss, and the smell … Read more

Fast and Slow

Night is the same as day, here in the cave.
Only our inner clocks tell us that the day is gone.
Every Jiku knows whether it’s morning, evening, or night, even in a dark place, with no clues from the sun.
We always know the exact hour and minute.

Time is twisted when we enter or leave a simulation, when we transport from one part of the world to another, or when we move between worlds.
Still, a few seconds later, the inner clock finds its way.

I welcome the peace that night brings, but Dilasa doesn’t want … Read more

Secrets of the Game

Games of Fire and Ice
While we eat, and during the blessing that follows, Tzina’s face is troubled.
She takes me aside and whispers, “Ina, I need to speak with you alone.”

“Open your mind shield,” I tell her, “and I’ll touch your thoughts.”

“Let’s go to your circle, away from the others.”
“I need to get out of my head.”

I tell everyone that we’ll be back soon, and we glide to my circle.
“What’s wrong?” I ask, as we land.

“There’s a lot about MindTwisting that you don’t know.”

“Show me.”

“MindTwisters call the dreams that … Read more

Black Fountain

Dreams of Power
The inner cave is warm and soft when my awareness returns.
I think that I’m lying in a bed until I open my eyes.
I’m resting on a spongy material that looks like crystal, but sinks down under my weight.
A thick colored mist floats over my body like a blanket.
I feel surprisingly safe, protected, like I’m in a nest, with someone watching over me.

I sit up when I think of my family, and the crystal begins to stiffen.
Where are they?
Were we attacked?

I feel their presence, but I can’t touch their … Read more

Worlds Within Worlds

The bed is hard, and my head aches as sleep leaves me.
A groan escapes my lips.
I can’t remember who I am, or how I got here.
My heart beats quickly as fear takes hold of me.
Then I take a deep breath and clear my thoughts to push aside the fear.
I sit up slowly, and find a large room with five beds, all empty except for mine.

There’s a young girl at the far end of the room.
She offers me a drink of water, but avoids looking me in the eyes.
“Are you all … Read more