The Last Zealot (Don't Read Yet)

Unrelated stories that take place in a setting besides Star Wars...

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The Last Zealot (Don't Read Yet)

Post by Notorious »

Disclaimer: This thread is in a constant flux! Huge details may change at any moment. If this rough draft sparks your interest, then I recommend that you stop and wait until I've changed the title and removed the (Don't Read Yet). The outline is finished, but the details are taking time to hammer out. If you enjoy seeing the creative process unfold, or you just want to know what happens next in increments, keep reading - but you have been disclaimed!

The vastness of space is right before your eyes. There is no light to pollute the view, nor a telescope to enhance it. Pinpricks of white and blue are scattered everywhere you look. Stars; clusters of giant balls of burning gas so dense that they appear to be sparkling clouds drifting in the blackness. From far away, the stars drift along the current of a swirling galaxy, and the multitudes of galaxies compose a web of celestial light. A voice - strong and spirited, but some how ancient and saturated with wisdom - booms through the cosmos from a great distance. Despite its power and resonance, the voice seems to originate only inches from your ears.

“The points of light you see before you are clusters of galaxies. Your planet... lost in the golden mist. This is the universe, as you know it.”

The slow twirl of sparkles resemble a cloud rotating like a planet in space.

“But to us... it was tiny.”

In an instant, the cloud of light shrinks to a tiny dot and soars off into the distance. A glimmering gold and blue can still been seen, but suddenly it is flooded with other tiny dots until there is only a sea of light and color.

“I remember when she was born... the violence and chaos.”

The glow of the shimmering ocean fades to a solemn black. The colors dissipate like a mist that fizzles out into absolute nothingness. A pinprick of light appears, which promptly expands into a blinding flash. A picture of white slowly cools into a blue aura teeming with pure energy. Tiny, subatomic particles of matter and anti-matter collide in googols of explosions that would annihilate a planet. Soon, the fire subsides into a wispy network of ashy clouds.

“The cosmic dust turned into giant rocks or balls of gas. From gravity, stars were formed like elemental factories and heat generators.”

The clouds curl and rotate into solid bodies of matter. One of the clusters of dust is mostly composed of hydrogen gas, and as it collects into itself it grows hotter and hotter as it compresses. Fusion occurs with a brilliant flash of light. A star is born. Stars begin speckling the dark wasteland with glimmering dots of blue, red, gold, and silver.

"That was your space. And your time. For you, the two are woven together like silk thread. Imagine a thin, soft, and curvy fabric drifting along a breeze... beautiful and unpredictable. How astounding, how wonderful, that life exists inside space and time. Seeing life randomly, abruptly appear... it was like watching a master paint, or an atom split."

Deep within an ocean of crystal blue water, just shallow enough to catch a glimpse of the sun, two tiny blobs of single-cell organisms bounce off one another until they fuse into a single, larger blob.

“You live in four dimensions - height, width, depth, and time. Us? We do not. I have seen countless universes flash in and out of existence. I been inside time and I have more stories than a lifetime would allow me to tell. But none of these stories do I remember with the most love and regret, as that of the human race. The story of the last zealot."
Last edited by Notorious on Thu May 17, 2012 3:06 am, edited 16 times in total.
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Re: The Last Zealot (Original)

Post by Notorious »

Kalkin - a lush moon orbiting a bright blue gas giant with huge, colorful rings. Vast oceans covered the majority of the surface with medium-sized land masses spread out like freckles. There were no towering cities or bustling crowds. At first glance the planet seemed devoid of sentient life, but a closer inspection reveals miles of flat, silver land. There were fields of this metal, like stagnant lakes of silver.

On a random patch of silver, creases appeared in the shape of a square as if a giant cookie cutter had taken out a piece of gray dough. The square shifted slightly below the surface then slid out of view. A woman and a short, reptilian humanoid appeared from the beneath the open square, the elevator under their feet concealed by the land around them. They dressed similarly - comfortable, functional, and mostly green and gray.

"I can already see the fog," the woman declared, wisps of her dark hair dancing on a grim breeze coming from the beach. Echo was her name, Tak was the name of the lizard wearing clothes. They examined the horizon as their nearest star slowly drifted toward the beach several miles away. Next to it was a violet gas giant with several rings, so large that it was visible during the day. The star set from east to west every day, but the gas giant, Yora, moved much more slowly from north to south. The fist-sized object in the sky always reminded Echo that it was summer, and that the sharks were out. She turned her gaze to the forests instead, the endless acres of thick green foliage and rolling hills. Tak motioned at Echo's waist, bringing her back to attention.

Echo pulled out a thin, flat, rectangular object from a pouch on her belt and held it out in front of her. Using her thumbs and forefingers she tugged on opposite corners and stretched the rectangle from palm size to chest size, but it's thin depth remained the same. At first the chest-sized object was jet black, but after a light tap from Echo's finger tip the rectangle turned into a vibrant screen. The screen contained everything a human could ever need - weather, maps, movie times, games, social networks, etc. - but all she wanted was an accurate time measurement. As if taking a picture, the screen showed a duplicate image of the Kalkin sun, Yora, and the horizon, using this image to calculate what time the sharks would be arriving. The screen displayed 00:01:10:08, one cycle and ten mycles.

An arch of Tak's scaly brow revealed his concern. The green humanoid half whispered, half hissed, and the words "what should we do" appeared on Echo's data sync screen. Echo simply frowned in response. Tak was genuinely worried despite his dry features. After a few years of friendship, it became easy to understand the expressions of the Talon. It was hard to believe that only a few hundred years in the past they were fighting for dominance over the solar system. Long ago, they were scared of aliens. Now, it felt as if that's how it always had been.

Talon was a planet near Kalkin's orbit, but it was slightly closer to the center star. Talon was hot, arid, and it rotated very slowly. Life evolved following the slow moving shadow from night to day. Literally, the aliens ran from the sun because it moved so slow. The Talons' ancestors followed good weather, followed the water, and evolved into highly intelligent organisms that tamed their wild world. Unfortunately, the humans and the Talons did not get along when they first discovered one another right next door. There was a "cold war," of sorts. The two spied on each other and built up enormous stock piles of weapons for entire generations before communications started. An understanding was eventually reached, but shortly afterward there was a massive disaster. An asteroid collided with Talon, causing their world to be unlivable. The humans of Kalkin accepted the Talons' distress call and after that the societies had to become one. About a hundred years of civil unrest and prejudice pained three or four generations of Kalkin's people, but soon after there was a renaissance of culture when the two people finally dropped their walls. All that was decades ago... Echo thought back to when she had read the most about it. Ten... eleven years old depending on the time of year. She could not remember exactly, but then again she also could not remember what year she first learned about the "Big Bang theory." It wasn't uncommon for a human and a Talon to be friends, and that's how it had always been to her.

Miles away from the flat city, deep in a vast forest of Kalkin trees more than 100 meters high, two young men traveled through the trees. They each held a rusted, silver cylinder in one hand. The sticks made a soft humming sound as their rounded tips scanned the ground. The men were dressed carefully as though they had prepared for this day. Boots, gloves, and protective green pants and long sleeves. They appeared to be the same age, early to mid twenties, both with dark hair. One of them was slightly taller and wore a brown jacket made of animal hide - his name was Gray, the color of his eyes.

"How much do they pay you for this?" The shorter man asked, waving his stick in an arch across some brush. It hummed softly. This man was a little shorter and skinnier than his friend. His hair was slightly longer and curlier and he had brown eyes.

"Nothing. I told the miners at Tunnel Tavern I could find tox rocks on the surface. If I do, the bartender says I get free drinks. They gave me a wand, I get to have a hike outside."

"You've been to the surface a lot, Gray, have you ever seen a UFO," the young man scanned a rock, his wand humming a steady frequency, then hopped off a ledge into a dried up wash.

"I have. Four years ago, during the winter." Gray followed his companion into an open space. It was a dirt clearing that had been carved out by a river hundreds of years ago. Rounded river rocks lay in the soil and a few old trees crawled up the edges of the wash. Gray pulled a slim holo-sync from his belt and held it in the palm of his hand. He gently pressed the blank, black square with his index finger and a chron appeared, the Kalkin system of time measurement. The digits appeared to be a countdown.

"I've never seen one. I've never been outside at night," Vega replied in a wispy voice, his eyes following the trail of his imagination up to the sky. Vega pictured a metal object resembling a bird slowly drift by the tall tree tops. "What did it look like?"

Gray stepped closer to Vega and pointed at the thick bark of a nearby tree perhaps ten meters away.

"See that tree? The one where the moss is all messed up?"


"It was that far away, floating about... that high." Gray pointed upwards at a branch sprouting out the side of the tree. "As high as the first branch. It wasn't a machine, or a person, it looked like... a ball of lava. Orange, round, and bright. I stared at it for like a minute before I took a step forward, then it just shot straight up into the sky. I have no idea what it was... the government, aliens, magic, I really don't know."

"Crazy..." Vega whispered. He believed Gray's story. Vega's typical use of the word "crazy" was to replace the word "amazing." Gray stopped to look at his Chron again while Vega wandered a few more steps into the wash. At first he was staring upward in childish fantasy, but then there was an unusual vibration in the mineral wand.

"Hey Vega, lets not wander off too much farther. We've got to be back at the transport glider rendezvous in one more cycle. We don't want to be out here when the fog rolls in." As Gray called out his warning to Vega, the younger man had suddenly stopped paying attention.

Beep... beep...

Vega's mineral wand began making a new sound. He froze in his tracks and knelt down into the soil. Gray's words were distant, garbled by Vega's sudden focus on the ancient river bed floor. There was something underneath it... the wand sensed it...

"Vega!" Gray shouted, only a few steps away from his partner now. "Did you hear me?"

"Gray..." It took strength for Vega to pry his eyes away from the dirt. "I think I've found something."

"Naw, tox doesn't sound like that. It's more like a click, like a TSK," Gray made a loud click with his tongue and the back of his mouth.

"What is it then?"

"I don't know, I'm not a miner. I don't know how to use a mineral wand..."

"I see.." Vega said, moving his wand away to cease the beeping. Gray froze, and then a sparkle seemed to flash in his eyes.

"Let's dig it up," Gray said with resolve.

"What?" Vega said, whirling around. "But you just said..."

"Come on Vega, don't be a ratworm."

"What about the fog? And the glider?"

"We can spare a half cycle." Vega didn't look convinced, which immediately inspired an impromptu speech from Gray. "We were born diggers, Vega. Our ancestors built our entire civilization on this miserable rock by burrowing into the ground. It's in our blood to take these chances, to seize these opportunities. We cannot ignore the call of destiny, we cannot deny the..."

"I understand!" Vega interrupted. "I agree, let's do this."

The two men both pressed a single button on their mineral wands and the long rusty sticks retracted into cylinders no larger than a pencil. They pulled spade-shaped objects from their belts. The shovels were gray with short handles and a switch with three settings - off, normal, and safety off. With the flip of a switch a pale blue glow emitted from the edges of the spades. They began to dig. The blue edge burned through dirt quickly and cleanly, allowing them to slice out large chunks of Kalkin earth. It wasn't long before their spades hit something metal and stopped burning - the blue energy field could only cut through soil while the safety was on, not rock or metal.

"There's something here," Gray announced. Vega looked skeptical.

"It's probably just stone." The two of them began brushing dirt off the surface of their discovery until the ridges of something metal appeared. After having seen the metal, the two of them picked up the pace and began frantically brushing the loose soil off of the metallic object. Soon they had uncovered several square feet of a flat, unusual metal with aesthetic qualities similar to stone. To the eyes it was stone, but to the touch it was steel. There were unique patterns carved into the material. The patterns were intricate, almost impressionistic representations of stars, planets, comets, asteroids, black holes, and galaxies. Vega and Gray were mystified by the designs. Vega imagined a culture completely different from his own. He had an image in his mind of an ancient race of people that worshiped the cosmos. Gray was picturing a long lost civilization that had once attempted to live on the surface but failed. Every current human city on Kalkin was subterranean. Every city on Kalkin was a sovereign nation with its own law, culture, and history. And every city on Kalkin started from the ground down. If there had been a city that was built above ground then there would be no one searching for it.

"It's a...temple?" Vega said with amazement.

"This is big. This could be the greatest find...ever," Gray said. "We have to get inside."

Vega checked his own chron. A quarter cycle had passed. "Quick, lets slice through it, we haven't got much time."

Moments later, Gray and Vega had protective masks on and Gray had his spade back in his hand. Gray switched off the safety on his shovel and slowly cut through the strange buried stone. Eventually, Gray cut a square large enough for a human to pass through, then the two of them kicked the piece repeatedly until it flew down and hit a floor below. Keeping his face mask on, Gray stuck his head through the hole, a beam of light shining out from where his forehead was. He lifted the mask, sniffed the air, and cringed back into the daylight.

"Smells stale," Gray declared. "You can go first, it's not a big drop."

"Me?" Vega asked hesitantly.

"Yeah, go ahead, you found it afterall."

"No way, it was your idea to dig."

Gray sighed and slipped from the safety of the forest floor into the mystery of the underground.
Last edited by Notorious on Thu May 17, 2012 3:46 am, edited 17 times in total.
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Re: The Last Zealot (Original)

Post by Notorious »

Vega's heavily padded, dark green boots dangled through a hole in the ceiling nearly four meters above the floor. Gray disappeared into the pitch blackness, his datasync lamp in one hand bouncing light in odd, sporatic angles. Vega inhaled deeply, then hopped inside. The landing was rough - his knees buckled and he collapsed face-first onto the floor. His hands were encased in protective gloves, but his naked cheek touched the cool ground. Vega pushed himself into the push-up position as Gray chuckled and illuminated the area for his fallen friend.

"Very graceful," Gray jested. Vega pretended not to hear him. Frankly, it was an insanely long drop. Vega rolled to one side as he pulled out his datasync and activated a surprisingly bright lamp. Gray turned away, his duty done, and examined the rest of the room. Vega removed one of his gloves and caressed the smooth floor tiles. They felt like steel, but they looked like stone. Sleek, slick, stone.

"It's clean in here," Vega said, pulling his glove back on and standing up. He inhaled deeply through his nose. "But there's something..."

"Smells old. Dead. Like this room hasn't had a fresh breath of air in years."

"How can it be so old without any dust or dirt?" Vega replied shining his light around the room. There were no religious patterns coating the walls, but the architecture was still beautiful. The style reminded Vega of nothing he had ever seen in Silver City, or Gorge, or Sapphire, and that included every bit of archaeology he learned in school. The only familiar thing about this mysterious room were the columns holding the ceiling up. Vega was reminded of the giant cylindrical columns in Silver City, but they vaguely resembled these delicately constructed marble trees that took root in the floor and stretched their limbs into the ceiling. There were a few chairs, each of them placed near a wall with a rounded outcropping like a counter in a kitchen or a bedroom. The chairs were incredibly large as if designed for a man three meters tall.

Gray feverishly searched the ancient tomb for a sign of its purpose, scanning the smooth, rounded walls with his light. As far as he could tell it was just a small house with a couple of seats attached to the ground. Vega's discovery, however, ignited a notion in Gray's brain.

"No dust..." He whispered. Gray whirled around to face Vega, his lamp momentarily blinding his friend. "Of course!"

"Of course what?" Vega replied, squinting.

"This chamber was sealed. No one and no thing has been in here since." Gray sat down in a large seat, the back rising up past his head and dwarfing him. He looked like a child. The man flashed his light over a console directly in front of the chair. "This is a space ship."

"Space ship?" Vega shook his head skeptically and shined his light upwards. "Looks more like a temple." The ceiling was high enough to make you dizzy, not to mention the rounded arches.

"Space temple then, look, these must be the controls. I wonder if it still has power..."

"Gray, we have to leave now," Vega insisted. The light coming from the hole in the ceiling was diminishing, and the shadows from their lamps were becoming more and more disturbing. "We'll mark this location on our Syncs and come back tomorrow."

"Right," Gray agreed. He stood up from the seat and walked into the weak sunlight still cascading down from their exit - which was several feet out of reach. "Hmm, well, uhm, Vega, see if you can find something to stand on." Without skipping a beat, Gray wandered into the darkness again. He had found the entrance to another room.

"Gray, wait," Vega started to speak, but Gray and his datasync lamp had already vanished into one of the temple's hallways.
Last edited by Notorious on Wed Mar 21, 2012 2:11 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: The Last Zealot (Don't Read Yet)

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Gray was out of sight, and so was his light, so Vega had no choice but to search. He tugged on each of the giant chairs in the main chamber but none of them budged. He called out to his friend but received no reply. By then, the blinding glare of sunlight shining from the exit had been replaced by a dull glow. Vega saw it, and he instantly knew that they were in grave danger. Vega turned off the lamp on his sync and navigated a complex menu to activate the chron again. The sync made a frantic beeping noise before a red lightning bolt appeared.

"What?! No, oh, really? C'mon, I recharged you last week!" The datasync's screen went black and Vega stuffed it into his pocket.

"Gray!" He called out again, this time with a frightened edge to his voice. Vega heard no answer in return, but he did see an orange light flicker in the corner of his eye. The young man twitched his head in the direction of the distraction, and sure enough, there was a soft golden light glowing in the darkness.

"Gray?" Vega's voice, much calmer now, echoed in the main chamber. The light was not being caused by Gray... it was something else, something underneath the control console that Gray had been messing around with earlier. Vega approached the light, and as he came closer it seemed to gain strength. The young man knelt down beside the console and realized that the ball of glowing light was spherical, like a glass orb with wispy orange lights inside of it. The orb was about the size of his fist and it was resting inside of a satchel at the base of the console. The bag was half open.... Vega was surprised that he had not seen it earlier. Had it just started glowing, or had the satchel been accidentally opened? Either way, Vega gingerly reached into the bag and wrapped his fingers around the sphere, which caused an immediate visual reaction. The shimmering orange lights solidified into a raging, molten lava that remained cool to the touch. Fascinated, Vega lifted the bag and the orb off the floor. The orange light cascaded over the control panels of the "space temple." Vega saw only smooth surfaces like deactivated touch screens - no buttons. If these counter tops were actually control panels, then this space temple was extremely advanced.

The soft glow of the orb revealed something to Vega - an indent in the curved, desk-like outcropping. Vega assumed it was a control panel just as Gray had. The indent was shaped like the bottom half of a sphere, and matters being what they were... Vega placed the glowing orb on the indentation - perfect fit.

Suddenly, Vega felt a jolt of energy, like a warm chill running from his fingertips to his brain. Words appeared before his eyes, like the holographic interface synchronization devices nearly all humans on Kalkin owned. Datasyncs, or just syncs for short. Except, Vega simply saw words before his eyes and had no control over where they went - they just appeared. Datasyncs were small, flat, rectangular devices about the size of a human palm, but the holograms they generated could be manipulated by touch. This was different technology entirely. It was in his head.

Follow the angel

Vega lifted the orb from the indentation and the words disappeared immediately.

"I've got an idea!" Shouted Gray as he stormed into the room. Running at full speed, Gray skidded to a stop and bumped into one of the chairs. "Cut the legs!" Gray pointed at the chair, then abruptly dropped to the floor and pulled out his energy shovel.

"Where have you been?" Vega said, dropping the mystifying sphere back into the satchel and slinging its strap across his shoulders.

"No time, safety off, cut the legs," Gray replied, the harsh, blinding blue light of his spade slicing through the support structures of the giant seat.

"This is too big to move!"

"We'll push it over!"

Gray was cutting into the legs of the chair from the right as Vega cut from the left. As Vega finished his last leg, Gray was already at his side pushing the top of the chair toward the dim square of light cascading down from the hole above. Moments later, the temple throne collapsed. It fell slowly at first, the last few inches of its left side legs bending under the weight of the seat. But when Vega sliced through its last support, it crashed to the ground. The stone-like metal made a deafening sound that reverberated off the buried ruin's walls. Gray appeared slightly surprised that he had not been smashed. The chair fell just short of the weak wisp of sunlight still seeping in from the exit, but even on it's side the chair offered considerable elevation. Gray stood on the side of the chair and pulled Vega up with him.

"I'll boost you up, then you pull me up, got it?" Gray declared. Vega nodded and lifted one knee up to waist level. Gray cupped his hands together and waited impatiently as Vega placed his raised boot on Gray's hands. Then, Vega firmly grasped Gray's shoulders for balance. Working harmoniously together, they launched Vega up through the musty temple air and into the faded daylight above. Vega's eyes barely made it above ground, but his arms were all he needed. The young man frantically crawled out of the excavation site then spun around on his belly and reached back inside. Gray wasted no time - the young man jumped up and grabbed Vega around the biceps. Vega struggled just to stay above ground as Gray literally climbed up him.

Panting and sweating, the two brown haired men finally rolled away from the hole in the ground. They sat up and allowed themselves a brief moment of reflection. Gray patted Vega on the shoulder and they both grinned a little. Then the color drained from Vega's face. Both still panting, both still tired, Gray turned his head to match Vega's gaze into the direction of the nearest ocean. Only a matter of meters away, heavy fog was rolling through the trees like a thick smoke leading a massive fire.
Last edited by Notorious on Wed Mar 21, 2012 2:29 am, edited 3 times in total.
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Re: The Last Zealot (Don't Read Yet)

Post by Notorious »

The air smelt of moisture, like an approaching lightning storm. Even though the fog hadn't reached them, the intense humidity saturated their flesh and clogged their lungs. The thick mist spread over the forest like a blanket being pulled over a bed. Vega and Gray were about five meters away, and even from that distance they could tell that visibility dropped to zero once an object was a mere meter within it's hazy cover.

"We'd better run, Vega." Gray said, his eyes struggling not to appear desperate.

"Yes, let's do that."

The two young men hopped to their feet and took off into a full sprint in the direction they had originally come from. They jumped over fallen logs, dodged trees, splashed small ponds, and plowed through all kinds of foliage at a grueling pace. The two ran without stopping for most of the way back to the transport glider, but eventually they were both too winded to carry on. They jogged to a stop and doubled over. The fog was dangerous, but it was also slow.

"We should be fine as long as we don't stay here long," Gray announced between gasps. Vega glanced back at the incoming screen of mist for a sign of the danger following them, but he couldn't see a single thing inside of it.

"What do they look like, these forest sharks?" Vega asked.

"I've only seen pics. Pointed heads, rows of teeth, super long tentacles. Giant floating monsters, really."

"Good to know," Vega replied, again turning his gaze to the fog as it curled through the giant tree trunks. His breath was slowly coming back, but his head swam, his skin burned, and he couldn't help but feel slightly nauseous. He could feel his adrenalin pumping through his body, his muscles numb and sore at the same time. The looming presence of the fog continued to remind him that his rest would not last. Vega could smell that same moist air that he did earlier, but the fog was still a good hundred meters away now. Had the stench grown in strength? Vega instinctively began examining the ground around them for an alternative source. Water? A sea rodent or something? That's when he noticed that the forest floor was squirming.

"Gray, do you hear that?" Vega asked, staring at a patch of fallen leaves that looked as if some one was dragging a rope underneath. Gray quieted his breathing and quickly realized that he heard the same sound. The ground... it was moving. All around them it appeared as though armies of insects were crawling beneath the cover of dead plants.

"That's..," Gray declared, swallowing hard with a dry throat. "It's..." Gray swiveled his head around for a second, then suddenly he snapped back to Vega.

"No," he half-shouted. Vega appeared startled by this. Gray glanced down at his feet just in time to watch a thick, slimy, grayish tentacle wrap around his ankle. Gray didn't even have time to curse before he was swept away and violently dragged along the ground.
Last edited by Notorious on Wed Mar 21, 2012 2:34 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: The Last Zealot (Don't Read Yet)

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Vega reacted immediately. The young man dove onto his friend's torso like a body board and rode him over the dirt like a wave. Gray grunted and complained but Vega ignored his protests as he crawled up past his hips to his knees.

"Get off!" Gray shouted right before they bounced off a log and he lost his breath. Clenching tightly to Gray's shin with one hand, Vega used another hand to grab his energy spade. The young man desperately fumbled with the device as short plants and stray tree limbs slapped him in the face. Vega searched for the on switch but his thumb bumped the safety instead. The young man silently cursed himself as he was flung to and fro, his vision a dizzy blur of dirt and leaves.

"Just get off, run!" Gray kept shouting, but Vega said nothing. Vega finally managed to switch off the safety and power up the spade, the blue rim a bright beacon at dusk in the forest. Vega stabbed the spade into the shark's slimy appendage and severed it. The two young men skidded to a stop inches away from the fog. From that distance, they both saw the most frightening beast that the planet Kalkin had to offer. Hazy and obscure, a head began to take shape as it approached the edge of the engulfing mist. It was a floating shark - gray, moist skin, tiny eyes with no expression, a pointed nose like a fish, and giant, triangular teeth. The beast opened his jaws wide, his senses picking up the presence of pathetic humans, and it revealed to them a colosseum of jagged teeth. Vega was utterly stunned, frozen with fear, but soon he found himself running again with one of Gray's hands grasping his shoulder. Gray had pulled his friend to his feet, and now he was practically dragging the shocked man along.

"Snap out of it, Vega!" Gray shouted as they ran. "Don't look at it!"

Vega turned his head to watch where he was going, but the horror never stopped. Tentacles from hundreds of the sharks were crawling all over the trees, lashing out at them from odd angles. Vega finally snapped out of his shock and began waving his e-spade at anything that moved. An inch away from death, tentacles whipping by their bodies, the two men came crashing into the clearing where their transport had been... but it was gone.

"No!" Gray shouted angrily. "You cowards!"

It was all over. The fog was only about twenty meters back, and the tentacles were stretching out from the trees behind their clearing like fast growing vines. Suddenly, a white light flashed in their eyes, and a voice came from above.

"Need a lift?"

Echo - an extremely familiar voice. Two cables dropped down to the forest floor, which Vega and Gray gladly accepted. The cables became electrified with a painless current that prevented the two men from letting go. They were abruptly hoisted off the ground just as the sharks' tentacles flooded the area. The cables had been dropped from the side of a hovering vehicle that resembled a doughnut. Kalkins called these vehicles "gliders" because they utilized Kalkin's magnetic fields. Gliders' propulsion drives were more similar to magnets than engines. With the pull of a joystick, the glider gained altitude, and the cables retracted. Waiting in the glider were Echo and her short reptilian friend, Tak. They hoisted Vega and Gray inside before Echo returned to the controls. Silver City gliders were convertible from a closed canopy to an open one - currently, Echo's was an open one. This glider was just large enough for the four of them to fit, and the only seat was at the controls where the pilot sat. The rest of the glider was padded, like riding in a life boat.

Vega and Gray sat in silence, their near death experience reflecting on their faces. Tak looked scornful, Echo was some where between annoyed and excited. She was proud of herself for saving them, but mad at them for getting into trouble.

"Where'd you get a glider?"

"I stole it from Mr. Ocean. You owe me," Echo said. Gray pretended not to hear, looking indignant. Vega nodded gratefully.

"Thanks, Echo."

The glider flew back to the city at a feverish pace, leaving the night fog far behind. Gray slid down a few inches to shield his hair from the oppressive wind. Vega turned back to the clouds drifting through and over the forests. The trees were tall and proud, but the clouds were miles high, like titans ravaging the surface. Even with all their technological advances the humans would never tame the night. The shark infested fog was too powerful.
Last edited by Notorious on Wed Mar 21, 2012 2:58 am, edited 2 times in total.
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Re: The Last Zealot (Don't Read Yet)

Post by Notorious »

Vega’s parents greeted him with heightened concern. Echo, his sister, remained smugly silent. Many questions were exchanged, such as “why are you late,” and “what did Gray do this time,” Vega wanted to juggle a lie or two, but his ability to tell tales was limited. Dinner was already set, so Vega sat down and prepared for the worst.

"Gray and I borrowed some mineral wands and went scouting for tox on the surface. Urban and Shore took up a few miles into the forest... they were supposed to meet up with us in their glider after two cycles. They weren't there when we got back... the fog was rolling in. Echo saved us." Vega's confession opened a flood gate that spilled out two heated conversations at once.

"Tox scouting?" Vega's father asked rhetorically. "Everybody knows there's no tox on the surface!"

"Where did you get a glider?!" Their mother looked to be filled with so many emotions that she didn't know who to unleash on first.

"I borrowed Mr. Ocean's," Echo said, her voice dancing on the edge of self control. Vega could have come up with a tale, Echo would have gone along, but instead he came clean straight away. Typical Vega. Now Echo was going to have to deal with the punishment of Vega's discretion.

"You borrowed a very expensive piece of equipment!" Her mother replied.

"Would you rather I let him die?!"

Vega eyes distractedly switched to Echo before father demanded his attention.

"Gray's parents died on the surface! Don't you realize how dangerous it is?"

"You're supposed to call the police!" Vega's mother stared down Echo like she wanted her daughter to remember that face.

"I know." Vega said.

"I'm old enough to move out!" Echo declared heatedly.

"Okay, everybody calm down," father said, breaking down the two conversations into one.

On Kalkin, especially in the capitol, it was common culture for a child to live with his or her parents until marriage. Since their civilization was underground it was difficult to expand and space was limited, expensive. It wasn’t uncommon for several generations to share one large compartment. Vega's and Echo's grandparents had passed away just a few months ago, so their parents were quite protective of them despite their age.

"Mom, Dad," Vega finally spoke up. "I said I'm sorry. I didn't plan for this to happen. I'm glad I'm safe at home."

Vega's father waited for his son to finish before he chimed in. "You know what happened to Gray's father..."

"I do," Vega replied, breaking eye contact. Echo lifted her eyes from her dinner with a sudden, hidden interest in the conversation. "I promise, it won't happen again."

Satisfied with his answer, Vega's parents showed him bittersweet approval and continued their meal without further mention of the day's dangerous adventures.

Eventually, Vega found his way to his room in their average compartment. All compartments looked relatively the same but came in different sizes. The walls and ceilings were always flat to save space. The entrances opened into a main room with a kitchen separated by a short ledge that could be used for placing kitchen appliances or eating off of. The size of the compartment determined the number of rooms connected to the main room. Doors leading to the bedrooms would typically be on one side of the main room, and each bedroom had its own bathroom within, which would share a wall with a neighbor.

There were never any windows. For the most part, Kalkins were afraid of the outside. The planet was over ninety percent water, and it was the beasts of the sea that ruled the world. At night, the fog would roll in from the ocean and all sorts of nocturnal creatures would emerge to feed and breed. The humans’ entire population had thrived underground or inside mountains for as long as they had inhabited the planet. It was in their nature to hide. However, although their architecture was bland, Kalkins were avid decorators. Silly lights, lamps, tapestries, holographic pictures, and even statures and figurines were abundant in every household.

Vega grabbed a toy off a green shelf as he entered his room. It was an open canopy glider like the one Echo had rescued him with. For a moment he was back on it, whizzing over the silver city with the cool night air whipping through his shaggy hair. Then he was back on his brown and gray bed with a toy in his hands. Vega set the toy on a red nightstand by his bed, right next to the ancient brown satchel that he had discovered in the temple buried out in the middle of the forest. The death defying experience with the sharks had cleared his mind of thoughts about the sphere since he had helped topple the giant chair. Vega had decided not to mention his discovery to his family and still wondered if that was the right thing to do.

The orb...follow the angel.

Vega grabbed the satchel and carefully opened it. The perfect sphere was still glowing. The young man slowly squeezed his fingers aroudn the orb and removed it from the bag for a better look. He tried to figure out what it was made of – glass, perhaps? But how did someone put such a beautiful graphic display inside? Was it holographic? No, impossible without a power source. There was something inside it, something... different.

Suddenly, the molten colors inside of the orb began to swirl and dance. Vega stared deep into the hypnotic spirals and bursts of fiery colors until a vision began to take shape. The vibrant yellows, oranges, and reds spun so quickly that they were forced from the center of the sphere and clung to the edges of their prison. Now, in the center, was an inky black ball with tiny, white speckles. Then, a new shape appeared that was far too vivid to be fake, but far too fantastic to be real. Within the fist sized sphere that Vega cradled with both hands was the image of a gargantuan stone city with intricate astronomical patterns coating the outer walls . It was huge, it was stone, it was beautiful, and it was floating in space.
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Re: The Last Zealot (Don't Read Yet)

Post by Notorious »

Knock, knock

Vega’s eyes lazily opened. There was a knock at the metal sliding door leading to his bedroom. He rubbed the drowsiness off his face and tried to recall when he had fallen asleep. The previous day seemed like a dream… an ancient temple beneath the river bed, a glowing orb with fantastic powers, and floating sharks that had threatened him and his friend’s lives. It must have been a dream. Vega rolled out of bed, still in his clothes from the previous day, and pressed the button that deactivated the lock on the door.

Gray burst in, nearly knocking Vega over. Excitement and concern were written all over his face.

“Were you asleep, you haven’t gotten my messages?” Gray quickly blurted out.

“Crap," Vega glanced at the lifeless black sync resting on his desk. "I forgot to re-charge it. You wouldn’t believe the dream I had…” Vega was about to describe his dream, but then he saw the brown satchel sitting by the side of his bed. His pause was long enough for Gray to interrupt.

“Dream?” Gray practically spat the word. “Oh no, you have got to see this.” Gray pulled out his datasync and began stretching it into a large screen. Vega sat down on his bed and lifted the satchel onto his lap. He threw it open quickly this time, discovering that the black orb with the fiery display within was completely real. Gray pressed his sync against an empty space on Vega’s wall and it immediately adhered to it.

“Gray, there’s something I didn’t mention about yesterday,” Vega said, his eyes still fixated on the orb.

“Just a minute,” Gray replied, tapping his screen with one finger which activated a brilliant display. The first image that appeared was a profile with a picture of Gray, pictures of random people, and various bodies of text all over it. Gray pressed a virtual button that said "NEWS."

"No, seriously, Gray, I found..."

Gray was quite keen on not letting Vega finish.

"Shh, in a minute, watch this." Gray navigated the virtual network on his sync until a video began playing on the screen. Some woman started talking about a special gel that cured acne. "No! Damn ads."

"Right," Vega sighed. "Look, I found this..."

"I can bypass it," Gray continued, tapping a couple of buttons on the screen until the ad disappeared. What appeared next was a finely dressed, middle-aged man in green with a stylish haircut fit for his age.

"The reports from OSO are very clear. The object is about the size of Yorantic City and it is currently just a few miles outside of our atmosphere. It has also been confirmed that it's some where over the northwestern hemisphere..."

"What is this?" Vega stood up, suddenly very curious. Gray was happy to reply over top the news broadcaster.

"This morning, every sync without a data barrier started receiving this... crazy message that no one could trace! And now, they're saying on the news that it's coming from this giant object from outer space!"

"That can't be possible," Vega's heart began to race. "What does it look like? Do they have pics?"

"Sure do. And you're not going to believe this. Here, I think they're showing it again."

Sure enough, the news broadcaster returned to the images that the OSO, the Outer-Space Observation Program, had recorded earlier. The massive object in space was identical to the one Vega had seen inside the orb.

"Impossible," Vega whispered, stepping closer to the screen on the wall.

"Want to see the signal?" Gray asked, the tone of his voice emitting massive amounts of excitement and impatience. Vega nodded vigorously. Gray allowed the news broadcast to continue as he went into the menu of his sync. He found the data barrier, designed to keep virtual pirates from breaking in, and deactivated it. The result was shocking.

An image suddenly appeared right in front of Vega. It appeared to be a sync about the size of a human torso, but it was floating in front of him. Vega hesitantly reached out to it and touched it... exactly like a sync. He was even able to snatch it right out of the air and manipulate its size. The image was simply a large circle with the word "PEACE" written in the center.

"Incredible..." Vega said.

"So you see it too?" Gray asked eagerly.

"Of course, don't you?" Vega asked, the mysterious object still in his hands.

"I see mine," Gray said, holding up an empty hand. "The's... it's psychic."

Before the two friends had any time to discuss the implications of this psychic signal, the news broadcaster caught their attention.

"Yes, the OSO has confirmed it, the reports are absolutely true. The massive floating object is heading straight for Silver City. We have a correspondant on site saying that..."

Gray and Vega exchanged a very serious glance right before stuffing their psychic syncs into their pockets and sprinting out of the room. Silver City was their home. The exit to Vega's compartment lead to the city's inner chamber, a system of walkways, railing, elevators, and random screens displaying the breaking news. Nearly every citizen of Silver City had left their compartments at that moment, millions of people immediately flooding the halls with bodies and voices. Gray and Vega fought through the swarm, pushed their way onto the nearest elevator after an excruciatingly long wait, and dashed through an open cieling door to get a look at the sky.

Once outside, they joined the millions of others wandering out of the ground and craning their necks for a look. In the sky was a tiny streak of smoke growing in size exponentially. The object continued to grow until it looked like a bomb coming straight for them. Humans were screaming, gasping, cheering, and some were even running for cover. Vega and Gray held their ground. Once the object looked to be about the size of a head and likely miles above the surface, the smoke cleared and the hidden treasure within was revealed. The stone temple descended rapidly, but as it became larger and larger it it moved slower and slower. The city rattled and shook under some mysterious power that kept the extra-terrestrial object afloat. People everywhere dove onto the ground, ducked, and ran away, but the massive vessel came to a complete stop before it could crush anything below.

Seeing the massive construction floating mere meters above the city's cieling was awinspiring. This single structure covered nearly half of the city with it's width, and it was easily a few miles in height. Millions of passengers could likely fit. It remained completely still, and what was even more eerie was the fact that it was also utterly silent. It didn't have any visible or audible propulsion device.

"Is that... is that what was under the river bed?" Vega sputtered.

"I think so," Gray replied absent mindedly. The crowds of people stirred restlessly, countless words being exchanged all over the city in hushed voices that created a loud hum in everyone's heads. The crowd was suddenly hushed when a tiny sliver of bright light appeared from the vessel. The sliver was near the bottom edge of the building - not underneath, but near the bottom, like an entrance. The sliver stretched upwards into a rectangle, and by then everyone knew that it must've been a door. Little stone bricks were stacked up along the side of the door, and to the amazement of the crowds below, the bricks sprung to life and began constructing a staircase leading down to the surface of the planet. The crowd was so shocked that they remained silent. But as impossible as everything had seemed up to that moment, there was still much in store.

A creature appeared. The silouhette in the doorway looked humanoid, but as it stepped out into the sunlight it was obviously not. The creature in question must have been three meters tall with elegant white feathers growing from all the places a human would normally have hair. It wore a strange white robe that left one side of its chest bare and connected over one shoulder. The robe draped down to the middle of its thighs and hung loosely aside from a thick belt wrapped around its waist. Stranger yet, there was a pair of brilliant white wings sprouting from its back. The wings were perfectly proportionate to assume that this alien could fly. The lower half of the creature's face resembled a man - jaw, chin, lips, even an oddly shaped nose that was slightly flatter than normal. But the alien's ears were long and pointed, its eyes were larger and distinctly birdlike, and atop its head was a mane of feathers instead of hair. The alien opened it's right hand, and within his grasp was a perfect sphere with speckles of orange and yellow inside. Just as soon as Vega put two and two together, the alien lifted the orb high above his head and spoke.

His voice... it was the most powerful voice that anyone had ever heard. The tone suggested that it was an average speaking voice, but the volume was incredible. The entire planet glanced in the direction of its source. Any human who had not been silent before was definitely listening now.

"People of Kalkin. You are the last remaining colony of humankind, and I have come to warn you... your planet is about to be destroyed."
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Re: The Last Zealot (Don't Read Yet)

Post by Notorious »

The billions of inhabitants of Kalkin were dumbfounded. Destroyed? Who was this alien, this... angel? Why had he come, and how did he speak their language? The crowds all over the world continued to listen in silence.

"All of you standing before me must find your loved ones and come aboard my temple. Immediately. The rest of you, gather any space-faring vehicles you have created and follow me. For in three hours, this world will be assimilated," the angel continued, still holding an orange sphere above his head. The crowds did not react favorably to his declaration. Noise erupted from the cities like an explosion, a world-wide riot seconds from breaking out. The angel spoke again, but this time his voice boomed with such power that everyone in Silver City lost their balance and fell haphazardly to the ground.

"Silence!" he said. The humans obeyed. The angel swept his eyes across the city, studying the faces even at a great distance. "Your people have thrived in isolation. But for nearly a millennium, the universe has been at war. And we have lost that war." The angel paused, letting his words sink in. The humans remained attentive.

"The single most destructive force in the universe is on its way here, but I have come to help you escape. You will have everything you need where we are going, but you must leave now. Again, you have three hours." The angel's piercing eyes continued to scan the sea of human faces when suddenly it stopped.

Vega was at least a hundred yards away, but he could sense the tall alien looking straight at him. It unflinchingly locked eyes with him, and at that moment Vega knew exactly why. The orb. The temple. This angel must have known about Vega's discovery. Follow the angel. But instead of acknowledging him, the alien turned around and disappeared into its ship with the door open. A multitude of slivers of light began to appear on every side of the floating city. The angel had opened the flood gates for the humans, offering them many entrances so that they would not fight over just the one. An instant later, the human race began to flee.
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Re: The Last Zealot (Don't Read Yet)

Post by Notorious »

"I have to follow him," Vega announced to Gray. Of all the surprises Gray had just experienced, he still managed to be taken aback by Vega's uncharacteristic reaction to their current predicament.

"Yeah, I think we all do," Gray replied above the roar of the crowds.

"No, Gray, I really do," Vega retorted.

"Whatever, c'mon, let's follow the angel!" Gray grabbed Vega by the shoulder and started guiding him through the squirming mob of panicked humans.

"Wait, you've got to go get Echo and Tak!"

"They can take care of themselves!"

Hundreds of thousands of miles from Kalkin, by the nearest star, there was a bright flash of residual energy created by a massive object moving faster than the speed of light. A gargantuan ship, larger even than the vessel that carried the angel, had arrived in the solar system. It was oddly shaped - a long, skinny prism with a fat disk at its center and engines the size of mountains at its rear. The disk was the only portion of the vessel designed to hold passengers. The prism portion, which was by far the larger portion, was an energy projectile. The ship was sleek, with rounded edges, and glistening with perfection like a polished stone. Simple, effective, and deadly. Written along the side of this giant weapon was the word, "ASSIMILATOR." On top of the front edge of the disk, the closest portion to the bow, was a command center - the only part of the Assimilator that had windows.

The inside of the command center was very similar to the outside - sleek, plain gray floors and walls with weak hints of light barely illuminating the room. Young, bald, expressionless humans in stark white uniforms sat upright in their chairs and uttered nothing to each other in the dark. They wore perfectly fitted pants and long sleeve shirts with turtlenecks. Black jewels on their shoulders seemed to hint at rank. The command center was a round room with two levels - one for the commander to observe, the other for the crew to work. The chairs and workstations for the crew were on adjacent sides of the room, split in half by a walkway that connected the entrance to the windows on the opposite side. Large, slightly slanted windows lined the wall facing the bow of the ship so the passengers could see out the front. The windows stretched from the ceiling down to a hard floor that clicked with every step. There were no controls for the ship on the walkway, the open-air second level to the room. Access to the control panels required walking down a short staircase - they were lower than the windows as if they had been dug out of the floor. There were no buttons on their control panels. All of the blank-faced humans sat rigidly with their palms pressed against their desks. The tall door opposite of the windows slid open, letting in more light from the outside hallway and cascading the shadow of another crew member over the entire room. The crew members abandoned their idle sitting and stood to greet their superior officer, all of them holding out one fist, their arms and their necks creating a forty-five degree angle.

The officer that entered the room at that moment was known throughout the universe as the most dangerous life form to ever exist. He strolled across the bridge to the windows, completely ignoring the recognition of his crew. A long, black cape hung from his shoulders and trailed across the floor as his knee high boots clanked unforgivingly. He wore a uniform like the others, but it was black instead. Not a single piece of his flesh was revealed. All pieces of him that resembled humanity were covered in cloth or armor. He had black gloves, bracers, and pauldrons. He had ranking jewels like the others, but his were in the shape of small spikes growing from his shoulders, which were revealed only after removing the portions of his cloak that covered them. A vicious helmet masked his entire head. The face was smooth and blank - no eyes, mouth, nose, nothing. His chin was somewhat jagged and his jaw was square. Atop his head was a blade that grew from the tip of his forehead and ended in a point like slicked back hair. The voice that came from his devilish helmet was artificial and unfeeling, like a computer with an opinion. The sound was deep, digital, and full of spite in every word. A human ear might think that the beast behind the mask was constantly shouting.

"ACTIVATE THE POWER CONVERTERS!" He said. The human sitting at the nearest workstation a few inches from the masked man's feet replied with zero emotion.


On the outside, the "skin" of the Assimilator began to peel off in triangular sections. Like a dandelion shedding its seeds in the wind, thousands of pieces of the hull broke away and sped off toward the nearest star as the Assimilator continued on its path to Kalkin.

Below, inside of the angel's temple, the alien had just entered a control room nearly identical to the one buried under the planet's surface that Vega and Gray had discovered. The room was comforting to be in - smooth, rounded walls, and beautiful pillars like false plants growing through the structure. There were colors, lights, and decorations like a proper home. The alien sat in a giant control chair, its size perfectly proportionate to his height, and placed his orange sphere in the indentation. A serene female voice echoed throughout the "cockpit."

"Emergency, Galadric. Detecting Dominion energy signatures."

"Show me the sun," Galadric demanded. The wall in front of him, just beyond the control panel, immediately vanished. Galadric could see the sun as it would be viewed from outside. The yellow ball of burning gas had tiny black dots all over that were slowly growing in size. The angel stared grimly at the star as if saying goodbye to a dying friend.

"It begins."
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Re: The Last Zealot (Don't Read Yet)

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The former "skin" of the Assimilator was assembling near the sun. The triangular pieces fell in to a well rehearsed formation, each section only a few meters apart from the sections adjacent, above, and below. At first they looked like teeth forming a mouth, but as the number of triangles grew, the objects looked like thousands of tiny shields combining together to create one massive shield. The menacing swarm began to prevent the light of the sun from reaching Kalkin. The cracks between the sections didn't allow very much light through, so with every new piece that joined the puzzle came more darkness for the humans.

The black clad warrior remained still as he stared out the forward windows of his weapon of mass sorrow. He never hesitated, only waited for each step to be completed.


"Port stabilizers activated."

Back inside of Galadric's temple, Vega and Gray were crouched against the wall outside of the cockpit. They felt around the door for a way in but couldn't find one.

"There's no buttons," Vega announced.

"Just like the other one we found," Gray agreed with a hint of frustration. Suddenly, the door slid open of its own volition. The two young men curiously popped their heads inside the room. An overwhelming sense of deja vu washed over them as tangible as a breeze. The room was exactly the same as the last one.

"Come on in Gray, and Vega," chimed the giant in the captain's chair. Still somewhat dubious, the humans complied. The door must have been opened by remote. The angel sat calmly with the palms of his hands pressed against the flat, plain desk top in front of him. "I am from the planet Aviana, trillions of light years away from here. Some people call us Angels, others call us Avians."

"What do you call yourself?" Gray asked boldly.

"Galadric," the alien grinned, turning away from the brilliant display of the sun slowly blackening. Galadric made eye contact with both of them before turning back to face his window. Gray obviously wanted to know more.

"What is happening to our home?" The young man asked, his voice growing more confident.

"The Dominion," Galadric said simply, still staring forward. This time, Vega fearfully stepped forward.

"Uh," Vega stammered slightly, "we don't mean to pry, but, who are the Dominion?"

Galadric turned around slowly as if he was trying to finish a thought before he faced the humans. The tall Angel smiled and motioned toward a spot on the floor near his pilot's chair. "Have a seat." Gray raised an eyebrow.

"On the floor?"

"I'm sorry, is that not your custom?" Galadric replied politely.

"It's okay," Vega interrupted, eagerly taking a seat on the floor in front of Galadric like a child before a school teacher. Gray joined, but the look on his face said, this is silly.

"The Dominion is an old race. They were once called United Metro, from the planet Metron, but that was..." Galadric glanced upward as if the answer was on the ceiling. "Well, it was over a thousand years ago. Back when they were still considered human."

"Our planet is being destroyed by humans?" Gray asked apprehensively.

"Not destroyed, or not yet anyway. And no, they haven't been human since before the war," Galadric's replies were cool, calm, and comforting. The alien reacted to human emotion as if he had never experienced it himself.

"How could they be human before but not now?" Gray continued his somewhat impatient pace.

"They were as clever as they were greedy," Galadric said. The angel's bird like eyes darted to the entrance door that Gray and Vega had used. It was closed. There was no feasible way for Galadric to see through the door, but just after his glance came a persistent knock. Vega turned his head, reacting to the noise, but Gray ignored it.

"What does that mean?" Gray asked.

"Go open that door for your friend and I'll tell you," Galadric said, the hint of a grin curling at the side of his lip. The naivety of such young creatures gave him an indescribable sense of pleasure - a humanesque emotion, no doubt. Gray continued to look apprehensive, but Vega was on his feet right away, gesturing for Gray to come with. The two men returned to the door, this time on the opposite side. They both expected a switch to be on the inside, but there was nothing but a silvery square of metal about nose height on the wall next to the door. Vega and Gray looked over their shoulders to give Galadric a quizzical glare. Galadric held out one hand with a flattened palm, gesturing in the air as though he were pushing something. Vega mimicked his movement, pressing his palm against the patch of silver on the wall. Nothing happened.

"Am I suppose to push this?" Vega asked.

"It doesn't look like it moves," Gray replied. Gray deeply examined the silver panel even as Vega pressed his hand against it.

"Think, Vega. What do you want it to do?" Galadric said, giving little to no instruction. Vega sighed while Gray walked around searching for another clue or a real switch. Vega tried to decipher Galadric's cryptic instruction - what do I want it to do? The tell tale signs of confusion were rolling across Vega's face. Vega couldn't help but shrug his shoulders and give up.

"Open?" Vega said hopefully. The door instantly slid open on his command. Echo and Tak stood on the other side.

"About time," Echo said to an utterly shocked Vega. "I've been signaling your sync for two hours, where have you been?"

"I...I..." Vega stuttered hopelessly.

"How did you find us?" Gray stepped in, practically shoving a dumbfounded Vega behind.

"I tracked your profile, Gray. Your data barrier is turned off."

"Oh," Gray suddenly remembered. His expression went from surprised to annoyance in no time flat. "You could have just signaled me."

"No thanks," Echo replied. Tak made a sound similar to a reptilian purr, which humans recognized as a laugh. Echo pushed passed Gray and grabbed Vega by the shoulders. Their deep brown eyes locked. "I already saved your ass once this week, let's not make it twice, all right?"

"Everything is under control," Gray hissed, arms crossed and scowling.

"Interesting," Galadric stood up, towering at least a meter over everyone. He seemed to not even notice the quarrel. "You are not a human. Where are you from, Tak?" Tak, the two meter tall lizard man, appeared surprised to be addressed so suddenly. His slanted eyes blinked twice - outer eye lid and then a nictitating membrane. This alien didn't have a data sync, how was he supposed to understand his dying language? "Go on," Galadric encouraged him.

"Talon. Another moon of Yora," Tak said in plain and clear words. The three humans in the room immediately ceased their discussion and whipped their heads in his direction. "It was destroyed by an asteroid two-hundred years ago. The humans of Kalkin were kind enough to provide the survivors with a new home."

"Tak, you speak Yunish?" Echo asked heatedly. Vega didn't think he could look anymore surprised and confused, but he had been wrong before. Gray kept his arms crossed but he couldn't keep his mouth closed.

"No," Tak hissed. "I'm speaking Shesh."

"Shesh?" Echo nearly shouted the question. Was Tak lying or was she going crazy? And what the hell was Shesh anyway? The humans always called their language Talon, after their former home planet.

"The name of his language," Galadric answered. "There is no human translation for it, so your brain is hearing the sound that best represents it."

"Damn. We always just called it Talon," Gray admitted.

"We spoke more than one language on my planet, Gray," Tak replied sourly.

"How is this possible?" Vega finally spoke, more than ready for an explanation. Galadric returned to his seat, briefly checking on the state of the sun. Hardly any light was escaping the Dominion's formation around the side of the sun facing their world. Time was running out.

"Can you all still see the signal that appeared when I arrived?" Galadric began with increased urgency. The new passengers searched their pockets only to discover that the circle around the word "peace" had vanished. "That signal is the Nexus. It's what you would call psychic, or perhaps magic. I had to shut it down once the Dominion arrived in the solar system. Otherwise they would see it, and use it against us. That is the Dominion, humans who combined their technology with ours - machines with human consciousness."

"And this ship, that door, it's psychic too?" Vega asked.

"This very temple is fueled by the energy of its occupants, the energy of our minds and bodies. Specifically, our spirits. The reason we can understand one another is because of the translator. But instead of seeing the words on a screen, you hear them in your head."

"This is insane," Gray said skeptically.

"Excellent," Tak replied.

"I'm glad you like it," Galadric said, turning away from the others and placing his palms back on a pair of silver squares on top of his console. "But now it is time to flee."

The last of the citizens of Silver City dashed up the stone staircase and into the entrance of Galadric's temple. Closed-canopy gliders and hovercrafts swarmed in the sky coming from all directions. Fleets of vehicles appeared from every corner of the world and waited for another sign from the angel. The city beneath the temple began to rattle and shake as the enormous floating object gathered power from Galadric's energy. Without the roar of engines, the temple began to ascend back into the sky.

"You said our planet wouldn't be destroyed," Vega said, bringing back one of the previous subjects of interest.

"Not yet," Galadric continued, "first they will use their assimilation ray to steal every living consciousness. Next, they will exhaust all of the natural resources. Once that's finished... you get the idea."

In the Assimilator above the planet it was business as usual. One of the bald humanoids made an announcement.

"Converters are in place."

"ACTIVATE POWER DRAIN!" The man in black demanded. The web of triangle panels surrounding the star began to pulse with energy. An ethereal green static formed in the small spaces between each panel, creating an impenetrable force field. The net glowed with power, visible solar flares sucked up from the surface of the star and absorbed. The force field gradually changed colors from green to yellow.

"Converters at forty percent," declared one of the Dominion crew members. The man in black remained silent.

The yellow field slowly shifted to orange. The Assimilator was positioned in space with the bow aiming directly at Kalkin and the stern pointing at the web of triangular converters. When the field turned red, the commander issued another order.


The disk shaped section of the Dominion warship came to life with a soft, low hum. The frequency of the hum picked up speed, slowly transforming it into a whir that continued to increase in pitch. If one could look down the barrel of the Assimilator, through the opening at the tip of the prism, one would see bright flashing inside. Molecules were soaring through the circular disk at incredible speeds with incredible power. The warship was generating destructive forces at a galactic level. The inhabitants of Kalkin had only minutes to spare.

"Collider at maximum. Assimilation ray prepared."

The black clad commander spoke with a subtle change in his tone. Even through the digital abrasiveness of the voice replicator in his helmet, his voice carried an air of coolness.

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Re: The Last Zealot (Don't Read Yet)

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Galadric's space temple was barely clear of Kalkin's atmosphere when something mystical occurred.

"Dimensional shift ready," announced the calm female voice of the computer.

"Is that them?" Vega pointed at the display screen showing them outer space. The Dominion warship, the Assimilator, was clearly visible pointing at the planet.

"How are we supposed to escape that thing?" Gray asked, masking his fear with anger.

"I'm opening the fourth dimension," Galadric replied.

A giant anomaly appeared in space next to the escaping fleet. It appeared to be a rapidly expanding bubble, a three dimensional hole in spacetime. The bubble was completely transparent - technically it was invisible, but within the confines of the sphere was the image of another location in the universe. There appeared to be tiny stars inside of it, but visually this was an impossibility.

Nearby, the Assimilator launched its payload. Following a blinding flash from the tip of the ship's barrel was a huge, white ball of energy. It sailed through empty space and passed through Kalkin's atmosphere unscathed. The mysterious object crashed into the sea, sinking straight down and disappearing under the ocean. The water created room for the ball to crash, billions of gallons instantly displaced. The crash resulted in a tsunami of epic proportions - mile high waves rushing in all directions. A powerful wind rushed in all directions as well, which was actually the invisible ray of death generated by the ball of energy. The winds washed over the planet quickly, uprooting trees and scraping away the soil. Any animal touched by the powerful wind immediately adopted a blank stare and went limp, after which their carcass was lifted into the sky by a secondary gust.

Following Galadric's lead, the fleeing refuges flew straight into the mysterious floating sphere. Each traveler experienced the same thing, but only in the exact moment that they came in contact with the bubble. The tip of Galadric's temple touched the edge of the bubble and disappeared from view. The sphere appeared to gobble up anything that penetrated it. The human travelers looked weary, especially as the "cockpit" of the space temple approached the edge. Stunningly enough, the edge became visible to their own eyes as it passed through the walls of the temple. But before the new space travelers could scream, their flesh made contact.

The refuges were not sucked inside of the bubble, but rather it seemed to instantly expand around them. One second there were thousands of vessels flying toward an invisible sphere floating in space, the next second they were all gone. The whole ordeal was over in the blink of an eye.

Aboard the Assimilator, the black clad commander gazed at the planet with unseen eyes. The slick, expressionless helmet betrayed no emotion. One of the bald crew members turned his head to address him directly.

"The planet's fleet has vanished."

"They followed the angel," declared the commander, his voice as harsh as ever. The human crew members showed a tiny hint of emotion, each of them averting their gaze as if their brains had just flinched. "Return to Metron. I will inform Central."

Back aboard the space temple, Galadric swiveled around in his chair to face his new companions. Vega, Gray, Echo, and Tak were all hiding in different, embarrassing ways, which revealed that they had all fled in the face of the wormhole.

"Okay, what the hell was that," Gray shouted.

"For once, I agree," Echo said calmly, straightening her hair and pretending not to blush.

Vega was prone on the floor like a soldier. He sat up but did not attempt to speak yet.

"We passed through a wormhole. A fourth dimensional hole in space," Answered Galadric. The tall alien nodded at the display screen. The sight was breath taking.

The fleet had arrived at a completely different location in the universe - a secret location. Galadric's space temple was dwarfed by a huge colony drifting aimlessly through emptiness. The colony was beautiful - bridges, towers, courtyards, arenas, roads, markets, everything. There were brick laden portions of flat land, and there were skylines of mile-high stone structures. As they came closer in proximity, a third person perspective of Galadric's temple revealed that it was only a tiny pebble compared to the whole. The stone-like space vehicle attached itself to an edge of the alien city like docking at a port. The fleet of human ships drifted aimlessly. The gliders were too far away from a planet for their propulsion devices to function. A reception of small construction spacecraft waited for them with tractor beams warmed up.

"Wow," Vega said, wide-eyed and stunned. The trauma of the last few minutes didn't show in his features. Gray, however, seemed distant and unimpressed.

"Pardon me," Tak began, "but that... hole... looked more like a bubble."

"The fourth dimension is difficult to comprehend," Galadric admitted.

"Humor me," Tak said. Galadric did - immediately.

"A wormhole is a bridge between two different points in spacetime. Just like you would fold a two dimensional object to bring opposite ends together. But in folding an object composed of only width and height, you are passing through the third dimension, which is depth. The wormhole is essentially folding a three dimensional object through the fourth dimension to instantly bring two points together. It doesn't look like a hole, that is just the word used to simplify the description."

"Oh," Tak replied.

"So what now, bird man?" Gray asked, arms still crossed.

"Gray!" Echo scolded.

"Bird? Hmm, a species indigenous to your planet?" Galadric asked. Gray did not know how to respond to having his insult ignored.

"Uh, yeah."

"Now... I welcome you to your new home."
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Re: The Last Zealot (Don't Read Yet)

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"This looks like a real nice vacation spot, Galadric, but why didn't you just open your 3D fold around the planet?" Gray scowled accusingly at Galadric.

"It cannot be done," the alien replied.

"Let me get this straight," Gray said, an unmistakable edge to his voice. "You're a magical space Angel with a flying city, floating stone planet, psychic network signals and dimensional worm balls or whatever, and you can't save one planet?" Galadric did not answer, he simply stared at Gray, who quickly lost patience.

"Fine, whatever, thanks a lot for trying. I'm out of here." Without addressing anyone else, Gray turned away, activated the psychic door, and left. The room was silent for a minute before Vega spoke.

"He doesn't mean it, he's not angry at you, he's just..."

"Human," Galadric finished Vega's sentence with his own deduction. Again, the room fell silent. Galadric stood up, his full height reminding everyone how intimidating he was the first moment they saw him. "Follow me."

The main door to Galadric's vessel opened with the same flare that it had hours ago. A stone slab about four meters high lifted up into a hidden cavity. At the lip of the exit was a mound of rectangular bricks - not all of them perfectly shaped - that immediately rolled out into a staircase. Thousands of human ships were gingerly towed and set down in fields of colored stone around Galadric's temple as the first rays of bright white light shone from the inside of the entrance. Galadric emerged first with Vega, Echo, and Tak directly behind him. Following them was a massive crowd of humans hesitantly peeking their heads out. Outside of Galadric's space vehicle was a stone pathway that lead to a courtyard with giant arches at the joint of every road. There was no sun, only distant stars and dim golden lights lining the brick walkways. Vega averted his gaze to a luminescent shape on the ground, marveling at the foreign technology. The light didn't appear to be a fixture fueled by electricity - it looked more like thick, glowing gel artfully painted to guide them through the dark. The shapes were all over, like the pale colored lights lining the corridors back inside Silver City, except these lights were calmer, warmer, inviting and comforting. The glowing "paint" was used conservatively, but it seemed to be everywhere - which included the sides of buildings and statues.

The walk to the courtyard was short, but the humans walked at a slow pace. The artificial habitat was obviously safe, but there was no atmosphere. How were they breathing? There were no plants. There were fountains with water running through them, statues higher than the tallest tree, and colorful rock gardens, but not a single plant decorated the landscape.

Galadric spearheaded the way to the courtyard and approached a short, fat creature with pale green skin and huge, orb-like eyes. Vega thought that he looked like an amphibian. Despite the difference in height, the stout little alien did not appear one bit impressed by Galadric.

"You think you can do anything you want, don't you?" The alien said, flexing his frog-like legs and standing to his full 5 feet. The tone of his voice was difficult to read. He - or at least it sounded like a he, like an old man - spoke with anger in his voice, but it was an anger that lacked hate. "You better tell me you've got a plan, you better have one damn good "fate of the universe" speech for this one, Galadric."

"They're just like us," Galadric replied with unflappable conviction.

"Stubborn old man," the toad alien grumbled loud enough for everyone to hear. Galadric's cryptic response seemed to be all the alien needed. The small guy waved at a group comprised of his species and they came forward obediently. Each of the toad aliens pushed a hovering crate that contained piles of thin slices of a material similar to paper. Then, the lead toad stepped past Galadric and addressed the front of the human mob. Vega was handed a leaf of paper by one of the helpers.

"This is psychic paper. Take one. First, you will see a map that will lead you to the nearest empty block," the toad began an extremely rehearsed speech, throughout which him and his helpers handed out the leaves of paper. "...once you have arrived, you are welcome to reestablish your tribe, or government, or whatever. Use your papers to look up city meeting times or to ask any questions. Don't worry, just look at the paper, you'll figure it out. This is psychic paper, take one. First..."

By the time Vega realized that the toad's speech was repeating, Galadric had walked away. The angel's hulking form wasn't difficult to spot, so Vega slipped away from his friends and again followed. Vega expected Galadric to be surprised when the human appeared at his side, but the tall alien anticipated his choice. The two walked in silence along a more narrow path that lead to a secluded section of land with wooden (perhaps?) benches and green rocks. Small fountains tinkled softly around them.

"You have questions," Galadric said confidently. "Ask."

"There's no sun here, no heat, oxygen, light... how are we alive right now?" Vega was curious and it showed - there was purity in his voice. But there was also a slightly demanding tone, something he had likely picked up from Gray.

"There is a bio-field surrounding this colony, a thin layer of negative energy repelling all matter. We're inside an enclosed environment with heat and oxygen generators. You'll get a little pale here, but the living energy you received from your sun will be replaced by the spirit core here."

Vega heard all of the words, and he felt like he understood the context in which they were used, but the definitions themselves escaped him. Bio field? Negative energy? Spirit core? The look on his face must have betrayed his thoughts because Galadric replied to them.

"Don't try to take it all in at once. I know this place seems overwhelming now, but you'll understand it soon. Piece by piece, Vega."

Vega looked down at the psychic paper in his hands. The map shifted and squirmed as it displayed the route to the empty block assigned to the human race. He saw it plain as day, but still he knew it was in his head.

"It's always night here, isn't it," Vega asked quietly. Galadric nodded, taking notice of the human's choice to speak softly.

"The nearest star is five-hundred thousand light years away," Galadric said matter-of-factly.

"Well," Vega said, taking a seat on a wooden bench that couldn't possibly be made of real wood, "I always wanted to come outside at night."

"There's something we need to talk about," Galadric declared, sitting on a bench across from Vega. Vega knew exactly what the angel meant. They locked eyes for a brief moment, Galadric's stare impossible to read. Was the alien suspicious, curious, angry, excited... he looked like a doctor waiting for a patient's story when he already knows the sickness.

"On Kalkin... Gray and I, we... we found one of your temple ships underground."

Galadric nodded. "Temple. Interesting. I just call it home."



"Well, we got inside and... I found this," Vega opened his satchel and showed Galadric the orange sphere. "What is this?"

"That is the sphere of a Zealot. It contains pure life energy that exists beyond space and time."

Vega blinked his eyes once, slowly. He felt like he had heard the phrase "space and time" before in a physics class but he had no idea how the sphere could "contain it," as Galadric suggested.


"You remember Metron, correct?" Galadric continued.

"You mentioned it. It's where the Dominion is from." Vega said with interest.

"800 years ago, they were engulfed in civil war. The Dominion was rising in power on Metron, and if they won the war they wished to seize control of the Nexus and the fate of the entire universe." Galadric paused long enough for Vega to comment.

"Did your people try to stop them?"

"In a way. See, my people cannot destroy, we can only create. A concept like war is impossible for us. However, we understood the need to sustain peace... trust me, there are many dark secrets in the universe."

"So what did you do?"

"When we first came to your dimension, we shared our power with a select few. A handful of lifeforms were chosen from billions of galaxies, all of them extremely intelligent, peaceful, and long living. They were called Zealots, the intergalactic guardians. But we had chosen pacifists and artists as our Zealots, not soldiers. Even with the power of the Avians, the guardians could not quell the mechanical terror of the Dominion. The Zealots were a symbol, not a weapon. I felt that we had no choice but to recruit humans as Zealots."

"Why didn't you have human Zealots before?"

"The power is a massive responsibility. Unfortunately, humans are a short lived, impatient species. Beautiful and reckless. And very powerful. Of all the other organisms in the universe, you have the strongest spirit. The star that burns the brightest fades the quickest. It was a dangerous risk to give humans the power, but I was adamant with my people. It was our only hope to save the universe from assimilation."

"What happened?"

"The Zealots gathered and organized a strike against Metron. There were twelve of them - two of them humans. There was a good chance they would have won..."

"But something went wrong." Vega waited for Galadric to continue, but the glossy shine over the giant's eyes suggested that he was elsewhere, reliving the images of his past. "Galadric?"

"They were betrayed by Void, one of the human Zealots. When it came time to destroy the Dominion, he changed his mind, and destroyed the Zealots instead." Galadric glanced up at the stars and spoke the words that he had been pondering the past 800 years. "Honestly, I do not blame him. He wanted to save his human race... unfortunately, by that time they had all been assimilated."

"But why is he destroying everything? Can't you talk to him, convince him to stop?"

"I have tried, young man. For generations I have tried. But the Void who still stands now is not the man I once knew. He's little more than a walking computer."

Vega lowered his head in disappointment. The human race. The Dominion was strike one, and Void was strike two. The Avians had tried to trust the humans and it failed. Vega didn't feel very proud to be alive.

"Are there any Zealots still alive?" Vega asked carefully, turning the glowing orb over in his hands.

"I do not know. Even if they are out there, none of them have the power to stop Void."

The orb did not belong to Vega. When he had first found it, the sphere felt as if it were calling him. He was drawn to it like love at first sight. But now, the little glowing ball seemed distant and uncaring. An image kept popping into Vega's brain - the image of some strange alien dying in the cold vacuum of space and dropping the orb.

"Whoever owned this... they're dead."

Galadric solemnly nodded.
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Re: The Last Zealot (Don't Read Yet)

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The orange globe that Vega had found was hundreds of years old. The young man wanted to know more, but so much had already happened. His planet had been destroyed...

"Piece by piece," Galadric repeated. Vega sighed and held the sphere at arm's length, offering it to the Angel.

"Here," Vega said.

"It's yours now," Galadric declared, standing up and ending the conversation. "I already have one." Without another word, the tall alien wandered back to his block. Vega held the glowing orb in one hand, turning it over and caressing the smooth surface. He slipped the ball back inside his satchel and returned his attention to the map. Even though he was in a completely foreign land, the map was easy to read. It was written in his language and displayed his current location. Vega wondered about Gray and hoped that his friend was all right - they had endured quite a lot for one day. Truth be told, Vega wasn't sure if he loved his claustrophobic home, but it was comfortable. Living in close quarters underground was deeply bred into him, and cramped spaces was his way of life since birth. Gray was Vega's only friend who enjoyed adventures on the surface. Vega wondered if he ever would have discovered the orb without Gray's influence. He wondered if Kalkin would still be there...

Gray. The last time Vega had seen his friend the man was in a sour mood and understandably so.

"Gray," Vega whispered. The young man touched the satchel at his side and realized that he never had the chance to tell his friend about the incredible discovery of the sphere. "Tavern."

With one word - or perhaps it was simply the thought - the map changed its destination to the nearest pub. If Vega knew his friend at all, an outburst like the one on Galadric's block could only be followed by a trip to the bar.
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Re: The Last Zealot (Don't Read Yet)

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Gray had spent cycles, days, possibly weeks of his previous life sitting on a stool drinking tox at a bar a few cycles away from his family's compartment. Gray came from a family of dreamers. All of Gray's bloodline was already dead - they had been killed on the surface by every manner of monster that existed on Kalkin. It had been Gray's destiny to be destroyed by the oppressive surface creatures of his home world, but that world was no longer in existence. The Dominion had seen to that.

What was in store for Gray now? What was his destiny? Recently, Gray had believed that he would eventually rise to political power and assist the humans of Kalkin in taking full control of their planet. Gray had dreams. He dreamed of leading his people to the surface and taming their hostile world. The citizens of Kalkin were meant to rise above their underground dwellings and reach for the stars with Gray as their leader... but this dream had become a distant memory in a matter of cycles.

Now, Gray sat on a stool very similar to one he had come to befriend back on Kalkin. Gray took one of the psychic papers from the alien toads upon his arrival and immediately found his way to a foreign pub. The drinks they served were disgusting - many of the aliens were consuming edibles that Gray did not consider drinks - but they had a similar effect to the tox back home. The aliens looked upon him with distaste, but he did not care what they thought of him - his only interest to be as intoxicated as possible before daybreak. The only problem with this plan was the fact that this alien colony had no day or night. Therefore, Gray's new plan was to drink until he passed out.

Gray was seated at the bar, a familiar location for him. Three aliens were seated at a nearby table, their conversation easily audible for all of the establishment's occupants to hear. One of these aliens was tall and lanky with blue skin and insect-like facial features and an almost prissy demeanor. The second alien was short, wide, hairy, and spoke at a third the speed of everyone else. The third alien was vaguely humanoid with a bald head, humongous blue eyes, and thin, pale limbs.

"That human is going to drink enough to raise the prices for the rest of us," growled the third alien. The insect-man agreed with a whistle. The hairy alien shook its head.

"You know the rules, its planet was destroyed. The least it deserves is a few free drinks." A small, cat-like alien no larger than a human child hopped up onto the stool adjacent to Gray. The creature set a small, transparent blue rectangle on the bar and nodded at the tender. "Once it runs out of consolation drinks, the rest are on me." The bar tender, an alien with green skin and four arms, carefully picked up the blue "chip" with a hand covered in scales.

"I'm a 'he,' in case you were wondering," Gray announced to his benefactor.

"Doesn't matter to me," the feline alien said. "There's three sexes where I come from, and I'm the third." Gray seemed unaffected by this statement as he downed another small glass of green liquid. The alien continued to speak, "My planet was destroyed by the Dominion 200 years ago, but I haven't forgotten the first day."
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Re: The Last Zealot (Don't Read Yet)

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Vega found the nearest tavern just a few blocks down the beige, stony street. The luminescent paint on the ground and buildings was bright enough to illuminate the surrounding area, but the light pollution did not extend its reach into the sky. Above Vega's head was a view of the stars completely foreign to him and it got him thinking. The humans of Kalkin once thought of themselves as advanced, but now they were all beginning to discover that the universe was larger than any of them had ever imagined. What more did life have in store for them?

The tavern was called "Wayward Traveler." The name was painted in the glowing gel above the entrance. Galadric's power to distort their minds into seeing their own languages was quite fascinating. Vega wondered what happened to people who were bilingual. The young man stepped through a stone door that automatically opened into a bustling cantina. A cornucopia of colored gels and tubes of light gave the room a fun, dark feel. Every kind of ferocious monster and cute critter one's mind could create had gathered and started partying in the same place. The mood was elevated; the bliss of a hundred drunkards at their peak with only a few patrons sulking in the background. Hesitantly, Vega approached the nearest alien standing by the bar sipping from a straw. This alien was blue with insect facial features, the same one Gray had encountered earlier.

"Excuse me," Vega said loudly over the noise of the room. Strange, rhythmic music pulsated over everything. The alien spun around flamboyantly.

"Ooooh, another human! Look, Varsh," The blue creature poked his neighbor with a tentacle, not an arm. The rough looking life form know as "Varsh" appeared almost human except that he had no hair and unusually large blue eyes.

"This one is uglier than the other one," Varsh laughed heartily until he knocked over a milky drink he had set on the counter. "Ah, bloody snapper toes!"

"You've seen some one else like me?" Vega asked, trying to ignore Varsh and his comment. Vega and Varsh were the two most similar looking species in the entire establishment, Vega couldn't figure out why Varsh thought he was ugly but after a brief moment of curiosity he realized it really didn't matter. Vega expected an answer from the blue man, but with the boisterous noise of the room it was difficult to tell if his words were being heard. The blue man began to speak over Vega, which answered the question he had been thinking.

"I'm surprised, they're more friendly than the gas slugs in level 3," the insect declared.

"Gas slugs?" Vega was too curious not to ask.

"Of course. Oh, right, you're new," the blue alien poked Vega with another of its tentacles. The appendage was a lot stronger than Vega had anticipated, the small gesture felt like a shove. "The sanctuary has lots of levels. We're on top because we breathe oxygen and stuff. I don't know the science." Vega was sure that this alien sounded a lot like his mother on a new year's eve after a few hours of toxing. Vega wasn't so sure that the creature was sober enough to direct him to Gray's whereabouts.

"Thank you," Vega said, nodding and moving deeper into the bar. He heard the blue man's prissy voice behind him say, "See? How polite." It didn't take long to find Gray. A machine near the front of the bar was blasting the music, therefore once Vega left the entrance and ventured further into the colorful tavern it became clear. Gray was standing on top of a table among a sizable group of aliens, all of them clanking together their cups, tanks, tiny cages, or whatever it was they were using for intoxication. Gray looked like he was in the middle of a speech and the room was loving it.

"...torn from our homes, our planets left in the hands of evil!" Gray pointed his glass at the stars as if calling out the Dominion. A sip of booze sloshed out of the cup in response to the abrupt motion. "Those monsters that call themselves men," the crowd growled at the mention of the Dominion, "they have disgraced my race, they have taken my home, and now..." Gray gulped the rest of his drink down. "...they have one more enemy!" The aliens cheered and sipped from their receptacles.

"We've all suffered enough, have we not?" Gray posed a question, his arms spread wide to offer anyone a chance to speak.

"They assimilated half my world before we escaped!" Some one shouted.

"The Dominion pushed our moon into our ocean!"

"They must be stopped!"

"Then stop them we must! We, the free people, ah, things, of the universe! We! We will take the fight TO THEM!" The tavern erupted in cheers as Gray stood on the table looking proud of his statements. He wobbled a little, nearly falling over, but a knobby arm with a pincer on the end of it stabilized him. Vega had slithered through the ranks of aliens until Gray finally caught his eye.

"Vega!" Gray shouted, hopping off the table. A few of the aliens seated there made surprised noises. Even after Gray stepped down, the room shook with the hopeful voices of creatures relating their tales of home-world destruction.

"Gray, what are you doing?" Vega asked as politely as he could over the noise.

"Our planet may be destroyed, Vega, but we're still here. The sanctuary is our home now, the universe is our home now!"

"I'm glad you feel that way-"

"These are our comrads, Vega!" Gray grabbed his friend by the arm and hopped back onto the table. "C'mere!"

"Wait!" Vega protested but Gray wasn't even listening. The zealous human pulled his friend up with one arm and again addressed the crowd.

"Everyone!" The room gave a brief cheer as Gray returned to his post. "It was humans who caused us our pain and loss. But now, you have your own humans, my brothers, and together we will win this war!"

Vega blushed uncontrollably as he pulled on Gray's jacket to try and signal his discomfort. Gray grabbed a drink off a floating tray and handed it to Vega.

"Oh, I don't know," Vega started.

"To victory!" Gray said, raising his own glass. The other aliens began raising their glasses as well, but Vega finally spoke up to stop them.

"Wait!" Vega shouted. Everyone, including Gray, fell curiously silent. Vega's voice had a stronger quality to it than usual, as if everyone suddenly heard his voice inside of their head for a single second. "To Galadric," Vega raised his glass, "for saving all of us." The thumping music continued, but the aliens were silent as they raised their glasses in unison.

"To Galadric," the bar boomed with the voices of a hundred different life forms shouting as one.
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Re: The Last Zealot (Don't Read Yet)

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The weather was cool and bright. A misty breeze passed through giant, open air windows with tall stone arches. The air was salty and fresh, like a beach. Vega timidly glanced in every direction. He surmised that he was in a tower made of a pale gold stone and nothing else. The tower had a dome ceiling with intricate patterns decorating its underbelly. Vega recognized the symbols from the subterranean temple – the universe. Vega speculated that the carvings could be a crude map, but he had no idea how to make sense of them.

The young man hesitantly approached one of the open windows. He wanted to know how high up he was, and the answer scared him. Vega peeked over the ledge to learn that his tower was on the edge of a beach. Vega was so high up that if he needed to call down for help it would be impossible to hear him. He turned around briefly and searched for an exit but found none within view. The windows were apparently the only way in or out of the giant tower.

Vega turned back toward the ocean. The silky blue curves of the water were not like the murky swamp beaches of Kalkin. This place... the tower and the beach were completely foreign to him, but somehow he couldn’t shake the sensation of déjà ju. The warm feeling resting at the back of his mind painted a hidden view of the stone room that his eyes could not see.


A faint whisper rode through the room on the wings of a fresh breeze. Vega whirled his head in opposite directions, pointing his ears at each window.



This time the sound was louder and distinctly female.

“Who’s there?” Vega asked rushing to a window that he suspected to be the source of the voice.


The sound was growing in volume. Vega was not sure, but he believed that the voice belonged to Echo. She must have gotten trapped in the same situation as him.



The noise resonated from the walls. Vega was in the center of the tower as a single voice rang out from all directions. Suddenly, Vega felt a harsh sting on his left cheek.

Vega’s eyes snapped open and tiny droplets of moisture clung to his eyelashes. His sister stood above him as he lay on the couch. Her expression was scornful.

“I’m leaving. There’s a big meeting going on at Sanctuary Arena.” Echo turned and started to leave but Vega pulled his strength together to fight his drowsiness and sit up. The young man’s head felt as though it swelled an inch, and his vision swam away from comprehension.

“Wait,” Vega called out, half groaning. “What meeting?”

“If you two hadn’t been toxing your brains out you might know.”

Vega gingerly turned to his left and saw Gray passed out on a couch on the opposite side of the room.

“Apparently you stirred up quite a bit of support for a war last night. The other aliens want to see what humans can offer to resist the Dominion.”

“We should probably be there…” Vega protested. Gray’s face was planted firmly in a pillow, his hair a wretched brown nest. Vega realized his point was moot.

“I made you some breakfast,” Echo said flatly and left the room. The automatic door wooshed shut behind her. Vega propped himself upright very slowly. Finally he could see the small kitchen. All of the edges were as round and smooth as a marble sculpture. Sitting on a table about ten inches too high were two plates with blue and white globs of mush on them.

“Oh no…” Vega panned his head further and noticed a pile of utensils in the drain. Echo and their parents must have eaten while they were sleeping. The mess would be quite a chore to clean. “She does this on purpose…”


Sanctuary Arena was an enormous place. It took Echo nearly an hour to navigate her way through psychic elevators and stone staircases. Paper maps on the walls directed her, all of them sensing exactly what she was thinking. Finally, the young lady passed through a giant archway leading to the human sections of the coliseum. The main hall was unlike any room she had seen underground in Silver City – it was a massive stadium. There was no word for stadium on Kalkin.

Echo took in all the sights as she wandered down the aisle in a passive search of a place to sit. Seats were piled up in rows and columns as high as mountains. Every word lifted into the air and bounced off the walls. When a voice rang out, it grew in volume as it carried instead of petering out into whispers across a hall. The room was completely circular except for one platform that jutted out like a balcony. The balcony was near the bottom row of the arena so that all occupants could see the rows of seats and their owners. Judging by the décor of their uniforms, Echo assumed they were leaders. One of each alien species held a seat. From her distance, Echo could just barely make out the face of the single human on the balcony – she was the president of Silver City, the capitol of Yunation on Kalkin. President Sun was definitely the closest thing the Kalkins had to a leader. Echo never doubted that Sun would survive the attack - she was a strong, smart leader. Nevertheless, Echo was grateful to see her alive.

An alien resembling a giant frog that could walk on its hind legs stood up in his seat and raised his arms. Echo recognized him as the creature that welcomed the humans onto the Sanctuary.

“Settle down, everyone, settle down. It’s time to get this underway.”

Echo found a seat beside a stranger. Her parents were somewhere in the crowd but the three of them had not traveled together. The frog continued to hold the attention of the arena.

“As you all know, we have new arrivals here at the Sanctuary. The humans. Now, today, we want to hear the opinions of every species on how to handle our future, but remember, we the council do not condone bigotry or hatred toward any of our brothers. The representative from Ahros will start these discussions. Councilman Gados.”

A small creature no larger than a common cat with monkey-like arms crawled up to the top of his chair and nimbly stood on the headrest. His voice was small, like a child.

“It’s been a hundred years since the Dominion’s last genocidal attack. I’m sure you all remember the massacre of the Andramos galaxy. We’ve been surviving, thanks to Galadric, drifting through space hiding in this sanctuary. But how long will we hide? Until the universe ends? Until someone else comes to save us?"

An extremely tall alien on the council stood up to be recognized. His skin was a smooth, dark purple that reflected the light. His joints were large and knobby like an insect. His eyes were just a pair of antennae on top of a round head with features sharp enough to cut flesh. He wore a sparkly blue skirt that covered his thorax.

"I urge you not to consider the councilman's proposal. Everyone knows that war is the way of the humans. We would never have talked about war without them."

Echo shifted on her seat and listened intently. The tall purple alien spoke with an uneven tempo and a high-pitched voice. He spoke three words quickly, paused, and then spoke five words. Sometimes he would say just one word and then prattle off the rest of his thought. His sentences were complete and easy to understand, but his rhythm was strange. Echo imagined that the strange speech patterns must have been some effect produced by the psychic translator.

The frog alien assumed the role of mediator. He gave the insectoid councilman a meaningful glance. "Careful, councilman."

“Everyone here understands the power of the dominion first hand," the purple alien continued, briefly bowing his head in feigned humility. "Not even Galadric himself can stop them. War would be a useless gesture of honor on our part. If we face them, we face an immortal legion of soulless cyborgs. They will swarm us, squash us, and then download our minds into computers so that our conscious is forever enslaved by their collective. We are not an army.”

The purple insect alien did not appear to be finished, but a furry alien with no clothes stood up and began speaking.

“It’s true, we are no army. But there are others out there. The Empire of Cathage or the Gengi…”

“The Gengi are glorified pirates,” the insect retorted.

“And we’re glorified refugees!”

“My point exactly, councilman Athnamas. We are in no shape to be making plans for war.”

“Not yet, but if we align ourselves with the remaining interstellar governments we will increase our numbers dramatically,” replied the furry Athnamas. The alien was short and stocky with four burly arms and two thick legs. His voice was soft and old.

“You forget that Galadric has refused to take us to civilized planets. The Dominion has devised a way to follow him. We’re stuck here in the middle of nowhere, remember?”

The discussion was turning into an argument between two council members when suddenly a new voice rang out.

“Galadric cannot keep us stranded in the far corners of the universe forever,” interrupted the human councilwoman, President Sun. She very quickly gained the undivided attention of the massive arena. Heads turned, eyes bulged, and antennae pointed diligently in her direction. Sun looked stoic and strong as she relaxed in her chair. She decided that a little defiance would be good for this crowd. However, Sun quickly changed her tactics after she had captured their attention. Her expression softened to reveal a hint of vulnerability. “I am new here and I have much to learn about your world… or, your universe. But I know war. We've all studied the blood shed in our history. We've learned from our mistakes and we do not persecute each other as in days of old. I wish that today we lived in a time of peace. We all do. None of us yearns for death, no, we yearn for life! You may believe us faulted, but we protect what we love. When you fight for what you love, you never give up. I see no other choice except to resist our extinction."

Murmurs floated through the arena.

“What would you have us do?” The purple insect alien asked in his shrill voice and uneven tempo.

Echo was on the edge of her seat now. How would Sun reply to such a loaded question? She looked nervous, but perhaps only another human would be able to notice such an emotion in her body language. Sun paused to take a deep breath before she answered. Echo could have sworn that she saw Sun and councilman Gatos exchange a glance.

“What we decide here today will resonate far beyond the limits of our mortality. If we choose to hide, then we choose death for our descendents. If we fight, then we will be giving our species the opportunity to survive.” Sun narrowed her eyes, straightened her back, and delivered her closing statement with a hint of attitude. “I think we’re wasting our time talking about if we should resist and when we will die. I believe we should be discussing how to resist, and how we will survive.”

Lively conversations scattered across the arena like a breeze of voices and prompted the frog alien to let loose a resounding croak. Echo flinched at the unexpected volume of the frog’s bellow. The rest of the Sanctuary Arena reacted in much the same way, and the dull roar of the crowd faded to dust in the wind.

“Fine, let us talk how,” replied the purple man. “So far, the idea is to create an interstellar alliance with multiple governments separated by billions of light years. Who is going to lead?”

Echo sighed and unzipped her gray long-sleeved jacket. She was beginning to realize that the meeting would last for a long, long time. She pulled her old datasync out of a pocket on her sleeve and tried to activate it. It was a futile effort since it required Kalkin satellites to function, but simply pressing the activation button was comforting.
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