Added on May 15-December 20, 1999
Category: Original/Science Fiction
Author: Garatt Jax

Blade Of The Immortal

Omega: Universe
Book One: Blade Of The Immortal

Prologue : In The Beginning
Chapter 1 : Desperation
Chapter 2 : Requests
Chapter 3 : The Mob
Chapter 4 : Pleasant Punishments
Chapter 5 : The Inspection

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This story is something that I have been made up many years ago. I made up one of the characters to this long, detailed saga in the first grade. I know that nothing will make sense at first... Nor will it for a little while longer. This story has so many things connected to it. In fact, what I have deemed “the beginning,” is, in fact, not even close to the beginning... In fact, there is no beginning to this story that I can start this on. This will have many books in it, each telling a different story, yet at the same time, they are all connected. None of what connects these stories together, despite the fact that is encompasses one group of people; the Erons, later known as the Aphrodians.

Like I said, it will not make any sense for a while yet.... Just bear with me. Anyway, I hope you enjoy.

But, just to let you know, anything that has to do with the Omega: Universe, the characters, and everything else therin, are copyrighted by me.


“Be careful what you wish for; it just might happen.”
- Popular saying

Prologue: In The Beginning

Thus, in the beginning, the tears that flowed forth from the Immortal covered the world and his hands reached out and pulled forth from the depths of the body of water that he so called the Sea, and brought forth the land. He watched over the land and saw it grow, and prosper. He then ripped apart from his own body the flesh that he would make the people of his world. Yet this was not without danger, for when he ripped out the flesh, he ripped out his Immortality, thus he fell unto the land and his people gave him love. Yet he was no longer what he was. The tears flowed from him. He cried and said, “Thus the end is near!” (taken from a part of the Jer’dilla Vermoss, the Eron book of creation)

Tattered and battered, the old ships were slowly moving through the vastness of the cosmos, air streaming through cracks in the ships hulls. They were massive ships; well over three miles long. Yet they were old as well. They were first made over nine hundred years ago in the event that one of their stellar neighbors decided to attack them so that they would be able to evacuate. There were several thousand made, enough to evacuate the entire population of the planet Eron with ships to spare.

Only five survived.

It was two years since the survivors of the planet Eron left their planet, two years sense their star went Nova and destroyed everything in that system, two years that they have been wandering the known galaxy without coming across one other planet that they could land on.

Originally, seven ships left the system. In the past two years, they lost two ships. One to too many holes in the aged hulls, and the ship just burst apart, while in the other, everyone just died from the lack of food. The five that survived are not much better off...

***

Commander Ishack Dilmon shook his head while he stared at the inventory reports. Just eight more months of food left, he thought in disgust. He slammed the pad down on his desk and shook his head again the pad only lightly touched the desk, then began to float away, only to fall back down with a loud whack as if it weighed more than it did. Damn artificial gravity! Just like all the other systems on this ship, they were malfunctioning.

Dilmon sighed heavily. Air. At least there will not be a shortage of that! At least, until they begin to short out. He sighed and shook his head again. They will, eventually. Everything will... eventually.

***

At the Third Level, Subjunction Nine, Dammon Sunfield was walking through the Oxygen Generators. It wasn’t his job to look them over, to make sure that they worked properly, but the man who was in charge died two weeks ago. Sucked through a hole in the hull where the protective shielding failed. Everything was failing. If this failed, however...

Dammon shook his head. He really shouldn’t be thinking of things like this. It was diverting his attention from his new job.

He walked up to one of the massive Generators and looked at the readings. On the dial, the readings were 00831.6681. Dammon looked down on the clip board and saw that the readings were right, then moved through the lines of the Generators, checking each one with the numbers on the clip board he held.

Dammon looked down at the ionic boots he was wearing, then cursed the trouble it was to have them on. He still remembered the time when you didn’t have to wear them. That was almost a year ago. Now, you had to wear magnetic boots whenever you worked in places like these ever since the artificial gravity became erratic.

So many things have happened since the found out that their star was going Nova. So many things. He could still remember those last few hours...

It was total chaos; everyone was running and screaming. There were still Honored Guards patrolling the streets looking for people to put on the evacuation ships. This was a big planet, and there were several billion people that needed to be evacuated.

Dammon Sunfield was running towards one of the monstrously huge ships with his wife and child in tow. How could this be happening? he thought to himself. They were on the brink of the greatest technological achievements ever thought. Everywhere he looked, he could see great leaps in technology. They were on the brink of finding a new way to travel in space; by way of a different dimension. And here they were, about to load up every living person onto these old ships that are falling apart and are almost a century old!

As he ran, he looked over at his wife, Kristayl, and his son, Jor’Ale and could barely withhold a sob. To think that they are about to put their lives on the line on these... these ancient beasts?? Dammon shook his head. It wasn’t anyone’s fault; no one ever thought that this would happen. Indeed, the High Council was planning on disassembling every last one. They were lucky to have even these...

But, by god, how many would die when the sun explodes??

“Dammon Sunfield!” a voice said behind them.

Dammon and his wife turned around and almost fell on the ground they were so shocked. In a million years, in a million lifetimes, Dammon had never thought once in his short life (well, short for them; they live up to 200 years... at least) would he meet their god in the flesh; the Immortal!

The Immortal stood at least seven feet tall, draped in a dark cloak and hood drawn over his face so you couldn’t see it. It was said that his skin was still falling apart and molding from the time that he gave life to his people... but he had never seen it. He had his Sword drawn over his back. It was a massive thing, the Immortal’s Sword. It was said that that was the source of his power, but no one has ever known him to use it. Ever. The Immortal was their god; even though he denied it, they knew it was so; the Immortal was their god, and he almost died so they could be born. All those years ago...

“Dammon Sunfield?” the Immortal asked again, this time sounding uncertain - but that couldn’t be; the Immortal knew everything and everyone.

Dammon shook his head and then bowed slightly. “Yes, Mighty God and Immortal!”

The Immortal seemed to sigh and say something under his breath that sounded like, “I wish they wouldn’t do that,” but he was sure that that wasn’t it. “Is that Jor’Ale you have with you, wife of Dammon?”

Kristayl looked shocked, then nodded. “Yes, Immortal! This is Jor’Ale.”

The Immortal came close to her, then moved the blanket away from Jor’Ale’s face with a gloved hand and looked down at it. He ran his fingers across the boys face and then moved his eye lids back so he could see into his eyes. He seemed to nod, then backed away. “He is one of me. I have found many... not as many as I would like, but enough. You are the last.” He reached behind him and took his Sword and handed it to him. “Here, take this.”

Dammon shook his head, “But my god, Immortal, I cannot take your Sword!”

The Immortal made a vexed sound, then pushed the Sword at him. “If you will not take it, then give it to the highest leader that is on your ship and he’ll know what to do with it. Tell them that it was from me, a final gift to your people. Tell them that one day you might need its power, and that one of you,” he looked down at Jor’Ale, then continued, “that one of you will be able to use this Sword. But only use it if their heart is pure, and if you have never taken a life! Ever! And only use it in your greatest time of need!”

Then the Immortal turned and walked off. Dammon was shocked as he watched the Immortal walk away. He felt wrong holding the Immortal’s Sword. “But Immortal!” he called back. “Where will you be??”

The Immortal stopped and then said without turning back, “There are still people here. Not everyone will survive. I fear that too many will die. And I shall be here with them. Now, go. Quickly, while there is still time!”

And with that, he walked off, never turning around, not saying anything else. He just walked off.

Dammon shook his head. The shock wave hit the planet just an hour and an half later. Only three hundred of the thousands of ships were in space by that time, each holding five million people, including the crew. Two other ships that were in space were also hit by the shock wave.

He sighed again. They were almost hit as well. Their ship, as well as at least 163 ships made it out of the system in once piece. They had stayed within visual range for weeks, and they were always in radio contact, no matter what. And despite this, one day, they were just no longer there. Only seven remained, and none of them had seen anything.

“And now there are only five...” he said to himself. God, it made him want to cry. Everything was lost; their homeworld, their technology, their own God! Everything. Billions of people had died. Billions. Only about twenty-five million people have survived... Twenty-five million. Out of a population of over fifty billion!

So much was lost. He was one of the last people alive who saw the Immortal alive. Hell, the Immortal gave him his Sword! Of course, he couldn’t stand to touch it, so he gave it to Lord Bathmol, not a very high Lord, but the highest one on this ship.

Dammon Sunfield shook his head quickly. He needed to do his job. If just one Generator is off, then they might all die. He needs to pay attention. He needs to keep his mind clear!

Yet the tears didn’t stop.

***

Lord Bathmol Verdin smiled. He had it at last! He had in his hands the Immortal Sword! It was massive; the hilt of the sword was almost as thick as his own arm! It was well over four feet long, and at least ten inches wide at the widest part!

He could almost feel the power in it!

He knew that the Immortal was not their God, but there was nothing he could do about that. All he wanted was this Sword so he could study it. He knew that with the destruction of his homeworld, came the destruction of almost all of their technology. He needed to study this sword so he could find out how it works!

Hell, even the Gods use science in some way or another! He knew he could figure this out.

While he sat there raving to himself in his mind, the Sword of the Immortal began to glow slightly. Something was moving inside the blade, something that moved like a living thing. It knew that something was wrong, that its user was no longer alive, that the Immortal was dead. Yet it could feel the pull of another creature that could use the Sword... several, in fact. There were at least five on this ship alone that can use it.

Something was wrong. Something else was moving inside the Sword, and it knew this; something that wasn’t supposed to be there. Its user must have done something to it right before it was given to this Mortal. Something was very, very wrong.

As Lord Bathmol Verdin began going over in his mind how he would find out how the Sword worked as soon as they found a planet to land on, the Sword of the Immortal began to glow wickedly, seeming to know that the longer this Mortal held it, its power was going to corrupt him, and that the beginning of the end was near...

***

Commander Ishack Dilmon was passing up and down the Captain’s cabin. He had no clue what he was going to do. Food was almost out, the ship was falling apart, and every system they passed by that had any inhabitable planets, they were either already inhabited, or the original inhabitants of the system refused to allow them to land.

Dilmon stopped and looked over at the chair in the center of the room. Captain Chyris Scypher once sat in that chair; that is, until just three weeks ago, when they found him right above that chair, hanging by his neck. And there he was, only three weeks into the job of Captain, and he feels like doing the same.

By God, what was happening? Why was it happening? If they do not find a planet to land on, and he means NOW, they will all be dead in another week! All five ships were so low on food and were falling apart so much that they couldn’t even try to go into Slip Space.

Dilmon slowly walked over and looked at the latest space scan and saw that there was only one system that might have an inhabitable planet or two within one week of this ship. His brows furrowed. They had to land there, no matter what. If they go at Delta Five (that’s going fifty thousand kilometers an hour) right at this moment, they might reach the system in a few hours...

Shaking his head, Dilmon walked over to the intercom and pressed a button. “Subcommander Ligins!”

There was a static hiss, then, “Yes, sir!”

“Order all ships to go at Delta One at heading 635.3 mark 287.1. Understood?”

There was a pause, then, “Yes, sir!”

He clicked the radio off and shook his head. They had to land at one of those planets. They had to! Dilmon snorted. With his luck, they would be at the system and there were no planets that could support life. Dilmon shivered.

That would be his luck!

***

A few hours later, five three mile long ships came into a lush system. The first planet they passed was a gas giant, giving off some radiation, but not enough to effect the passengers of these ships, even with the ships falling apart. The next planet was a sturdy rock planet, but it had no atmosphere. The planet had impact craters covering the entire body.

The third planet brought everyone’s hope up; it was a hospitable planet. Then they Scanned the surface and found that it had a sophisticated technological society. There was momentary speculation on whether or not they should land on that planet, but every one of the Captains on the ships decided not to; there was something... wrong with that planet. So, they were forced to continue through the system.

The people on those ships were beginning to dispare. Apparently they had less food than they thought; only days worth. Each. They had to find a planet. Now. They have been in that system for over three days now. They have passed three planets, one of them had advanced life.

Then, as if answering prayers, a cloud of carbon compounds and matter streams parted to reveal a lush and fertile planet. A quick Scan showed no advanced life, so the word was spread through the five ships that they were about to land. All of the five million people on board each were told to gather around so that they would not fly around everywhere as they landed.

With a loud moan, all the ship’s reentry boosters were fired and they began their way down, the heat shield providing some protection as they began to land on their new home...

***

Commander Ishack Dilmon was one of the first to walk out onto the planet’s surface. He still remembered the way it felt to breathe real air for a change; it had made him cry with joy. But that was over three hours ago. Now he had important things to do. All the other Captains, or, in almost every case, all the other acting Captains, met to discuss what was to happen next. The first order of business was to get everyone out of the ships. The planet wasn’t nearly as big as their homeworld, but it will suffice. They began to move everyone out that instant, nothing more was important. That was as far as they got.

Dilmon shook his head. His ship had come down too steep and a small portion of the ship was heavily damaged. He held the casualty report in his hands; it was bad, but it could have been worse.

“Would you look at that,” Subcommander Mark Ligins said, shaking his head. Dilmon looked to where he was pointing. “That ship alone goes as far as the eye can see. Billions of miles worth of super titanium alloy, billions of trillions of miles worth of cables and wires... All that; and at the same time, it is all nothing but junk!” He spat on the ground, which caused Dilmon to smile. “To think that we had spent two years on that piece of shit!”

Dilmon smiled again. “Hey, now. She was a fine ship. She saw us through many a bad moments unharmed. Give her at least that much.”

Ligins seemed to sober up a moment, but in no time his face became disgusted once more. “Tell that to at least forty-nine billion of our fellow Eronians.”

Then a sound like a million rockets going off at the same time caused them both to look up. Two big ships were coming down from out of the sky. They were huge and black, their retro rockets firing, causing the air around them to ignite. They were big, but not as big as one of their own ships.

“Who they hell do they belong to?” Ligins asked after a moment of watching. They were getting closer.

“I haven’t a clue,” Dilmon replied.

Then, with a bang, the ships landed.

***

Lord Bathmol Verdin was scared. He has never been this scared in his life; something was going to happen and he doesn’t know what. Ever sense they came into this system, the Sword of the Immortal began to glow. It wasn’t a very bright glow; he didn’t even notice it until someone pointed it out to him. Then it began to glow more brighter the further they progressed in the system. When they passed the last planet, the one with life in it, it began to glow not only brighter, but with more intensity.

Lord Verdin shook his head as he walked the halls of the ship along with hundreds of other people as they were being helped off the ship. Then they came to this planet, and the Sword seemed to go crazy. It was brightly winking so fast that it almost looked like it was giving off a steady stream of light.

He walked with the Sword clasped tightly to his chest and was looking around quickly. He knew that the Sword was doing this for a reason, that something was wrong, or that something was going to happen. There was no other reason for it to be doing this other than that. People who saw the Sword glowing moved away quickly, even though they did not really know what it truly was, they knew that it was trouble.

All the better! Lord Verdin thought. After all, chances were that the Sword was reacting to someone getting closer to it! Deep down in his mind he knew that even if that were true, it wasn’t reacting to anyone on this ship. He either didn’t care, or just wasn’t listening. He was already half mad with greed for the power locked within the Sword.

He looked down at the Sword and saw that it was still flaring wildly. He glanced around quickly once more, thinking that he would strike down anyone who wanted the Sword for themselves; they were not going to take it away from him!

Then he walked out into the ramp and outside. For a moment, he took a deep breath and smiled. For a moment he forgot about the Sword in his hands, but only for a moment.

“Lord Verdin?” someone asked in front of him.

Lord Verdin quickly wrapped his arms around the Sword once more. “Yes?” he asked harshly at the person who spoke, an under officer.

“This way, please. Others would like to get out as well.”

Without giving the insult another thought, Lord Verdin began to walk down. He was suddenly pulled back from his thoughts of unlocking the power of the Sword by a deafening roar. He quickly glanced upward, as did everyone else around him. Two massive, black ships were coming down from the sky. People around them began to wonder if perhaps other ships had made it as well, but then they saw that the ships were too black and too small for it to be one of theirs. Some people there began to suggest that it was aid coming from the other planet, but Lord Verdin knew better. The ships were trouble.

Something was wrong with all of this.

Then the ships landed with a loud bang not that far away and doors opened around the hull of the ship that was closest to them. Then people dressed in gray and black poured out and began to run towards them. At first no one did anything, not knowing what to do. Then someone noticed that they were wearing armor - the shoulder, chest, helmet, and leg pads were gray while the rest of them had black on - and then another noticed that they had weapons!

The people stopped no more than a couple of meters away and then opened fire. Red laser beams shot out at everywhere at once, killing all the men in uniforms first, then around everyone else, causing them to run away, herding them towards the middle of the field. Men and women alike were screaming in pain and fright.

Lord Bathmol Verdin was running with them, afraid that they would want to take the Sword away from him, whoever they were. Then he stopped. Wait a moment! he thought. Then he looked down at the Sword and screamed out in surprise.

The Sword had stopped flickering, and had gone still.


Chapter One: Desperation

The sun beat down on the streets of Aphrodia City, the named capital of Aphrodia. The city was grand looking, and was the grandest of all the cities on Aphrodia. There were not that many cities on Aphrodia; indeed, the people of Zaron Prime, who were the occupiers of that planet, only made three others, and they were all built by the Aphrodian people for the Zarons. They still let some of the Aphrodians stay in the city, but only as slaves or workers. No Aphrodian can ever own anything, not since the Zaron people enslaved them over one hundred years ago.

One of those workers was kneeling in the shadows of a big building, his dirty cloak wrapped tightly around his body, his hair all messed up, his face muddy. He watched as several Zaron civilians walk by, looking completely at their ease, their grayish brown skin glistening with a fine layer of sweat, talking to each other in that strange, fast language of theirs. One of the Zarons barely looked down at him and spat something out of his mouth, landing in the face of the Aphrodian.

The man wiped whatever it was that was spat on him and shook his head. He really hated Zaronians! He shook his head again and continued to look down the street, watching the Zaronians walking with their heads held high, their clothes neatly trimmed and nicely pressed. Usually, an Aphrodian would walk behind them, their heads held low, their eyes cast down. They, too, would usually wear something nice, but they were always bland and never as neat as their “masters.”

The man shook his head again and couldn’t help but smile. Aphrodians. That was what they called them-selves now. They were once a proud people from Eron, on the cutting edge of everything, technology foremost among them. Now they were Aphrodians, the lowly race of slaves to the people of Zaron. He spat down next to him, disgusted with what they had become. Named by the Zarons after the planet that they said the Aphrodians tried to carve out of their empire by force.

He was too young to have been born on Eron, only about eighty years or so, but from what the elders have told him, of they once were, of what they once had, he wanted to curl up to a rock and die. So much was lost, so much that might have been... Everything.

The Aphrodian had to steady his breath. He wasn’t to cause attention to himself, not yet. He continued to sit there and wait for the coming of night, only about an hour or so from now. He sat back and watched the rest of the people walk by. The traffic was winding down this close to sunset, yet there were still many Zaronians walking the streets with nothing more to do.

One Zaronian walked by, an Aphrodian walking quietly behind him. The Aphrodian looked up at him and their eyes met. His eyes were a deep blue, which matched his blue hair. He didn’t look much more than twenty years of age; barely a man.

Their eyes only met for a fraction of a second, but that was more than enough for his Zaronian “master.” He quickly turned on his heels and hit the Aphrodian over the head time after time after time. The Aphrodian could do nothing but bend down and hold his head while the Zaronian bashed at his head and back with some sort of metal rod that doubled as a hand held laser gun.

The man could do nothing but watch from the shadows, unable to even move. No matter what happened, he could not do anything to stop this; if he did, then it would be a quick way to die. His eyes and those of the other Aphrodian locked once more as the beating continued, and the other man gave a start.

His eyes! As the Zaron “master” beat down on the young Aphrodian, his eyes had no more tears in them than normal. He just sat there and watched the other man as he was beaten. His shirt slowly inched its way up to his neck as the beating got worse, and the Zaronian began beating his lower back. The man’s own eyes slowly began to fill with tears of its own. By the Gods! he thought. The young Aphrodian’s back was covered in old cuts and scrapes. Apparently he has been beaten all his life, and this was mild treatment compared to what he had in the past.

Then it was over and the young Aphrodian was up on his feet again and was walking behind the Zaronian, his head down, and his eyes cast low.

Maybe he wasn’t as young as he looks...

The rest of the hour went by without much else happening. Right after the beating a group of Zaron Special Police, with their dark, long coats and laser weapons strapped behind them, walked past him. They did nothing - they barely even looked at him - but he was still breathing hard after they left. That was about it.

The sun was beginning to lower behind the horizon and the man slumped down further into the shadows as a Zaron Military flying unit, called a DSAV (Deep Surveillance and Attack Vehicles), flew by on their rounds some hundred feet above him.

Once the DSAV flew past him for the last time, over two hours after he first saw it, it was already night. The man got up and looked around slowly. No one was there that he could see, but that didn’t mean that there were no Zaron snipers. He checked everything that he could see, and, once he found that the way was clear, he quickly stepped across the empty streets and then all but jumped into the next alley. He got up and took a peek around to make sure that no one was looking.

Nothing.

The man smiled. He made it! He began to walk down the alley until he came to a set of stairs that led down to a small door. He took one more look, then started down the stairs. Once he reached the door, he produced a fine looking knife and tapped the door twice with the hilt, waited, tapped again, then twice more. He quickly put the knife away and waited.

He only had to wait a second or two before he heard something move on the other side of the door, then he heard someone say in a low voice, “Dukatt?”

The man smiled and said, “Dukatt Amriss.” He knew some of the words of the Sacred Script, enough to know that the words used to get in, Dukatt Amriss, means “New Beginnings.” Of course, it is only known by the Great Priests of ancient Eron, and it was only found by mistake after they came to Aphrodia. Now, it was used as codes for the Underground, mainly because only someone from Eron could ever figure it out. The Zarons have tried, but always failed. Why the Underground chose to use a saying that meant “New Beginnings,” he had no idea.

The door opened and the man quickly came in, closing the door behind him. The room was deathly quite and almost as dark as pitch. He stood still a moment, waiting for some form of light to come up. He didn’t have to wait long.

Something sparked a couple of times, then everything was illuminated by the light of an oil lamp. The man rubbed his eyes, and blinked, trying to get used to the light. Once he did, he took a quick look around; the room was not very big, only about ten feet by teen feet, with the door leading back to the stairs behind him and another door right in front of him. It wasn’t very big, but it was almost completely packed with people.

He knew why he was here, and he knew that the others - at least twenty three in all - had come for the same reason; they were summoned. The man leaned back against the wall and took off his cloak and threw it down. He wrapped his arms around his frame and just waited.

***

Pir Linn walked down the hallways of the Great Hall, his black robes trailing behind him as he walked. He wasn’t a very big man; only five feet tall, but he was heavily muscled and very strong. His computerized Attack Armor made him seem even more muscled than he truly was, yet it did make him even more dangerous than he would be without them.

Slaves would get down on their hands and knees when he walked by, then they quickly got up and ran full on after he left. Even fellow officers in His Majesty’s Imperial Military gave heart felt bows. They all knew he was one of the greatest fighters who ever lived. It was said, not where his hears could hear, but he heard nonetheless, that he had once taken on a fully armed Delverom warrior bare handed and had managed to kill him.

Pir Linn still smiled whenever he thought back on it. They were afraid of him not only for his reputation and his Military record, but also for that rumor. He smiled again, his scared face seeming to crack. They would probably run away in terror.

He crossed a window and looked out at the high buildings of Aphrodia City and smiled again. This city was one of the most beautiful in the Zaron Territory, with the exception of Zaron Prime. Then his smiled wiped away. And to think, that this was built by that most pathetic race now known as the Aphrodians!

Pir Linn turned quickly and began to walk down the Great Hall again, thinking of what he had to do today. As he reached the end of the Hall, a great gilded double doorway stood before him. It was covered from head to foot with gilding and a computer console in the middle.

Some movement to his right and left made him raise up his hands, his Attack Armor buzzing with life, kinetic energy flowing from a small bubble at the ends of each gilded hand, trailing down his arms and making his whole body seem to radiate with energy.

Two massive figures came out of the shadows, armed to the teeth with huge bladed swords and massive cannon-like guns. They were Zaron, there was no mistaking that, especially by they way they looked and the color of their skin, but anyone would have told you that they were no ordinary Zarons.

Pir Linn took a step back despite himself; he was more than a match for any living species, especially with his Armor on, but he didn’t think that even he could stand a pitched battle against two Firmon Warriors!

The two huge Warriors looked at him with those dark, distant eyes. They were not afraid of anything. These species of Zaron were born in the massive Firmon Mountains on Zaron Prime. With the dangers of the land around the Mountain, their species would have to evolve to live in them. And they thrived. For years the Firmon species has caused great grievances on the King of Zaron Prime until, thousands of years ago, they seemed to just come to their senses and began to serve the King and the Empire.

Pir Linn seemed to gather some strength and said, “By the Order of the King, move aside!”

The two Warriors looked at each other then moved, never moving their eyes off him. He strode up to the huge double doors and began to punch in the codes into the console. The two Warriors never took their eyes off him, their hands to their weapons. Pir Linn shook his head. They never trust. Not even one of the Royal Family!

The screen went blank and then a small square about an inch by an inch appeared. He took a deep breath and then stuck his finger in the middle. He kept it there a moment, then took it away. He watched the screen, waiting for something to happen. It bleeped, then the door hissed and come slowly open.

Pir Linn gave the two Warriors a deep smirk then walk in through the doors. They closed it behind him and he looked around. He was standing in a massive chamber, a catwalk reaching from the doors behind him to another set of doors in front of him, these were completely made of metal. He looked up and saw that there were several automatic laser guns, all pointed at him. The walls surrounding the chamber was at least five meters thick.

He shook his head and walked down the catwalk. He stopped at the two doors. Then he reached out to them and pushed something unseen next to the doors on the other side. It gave a mechanical hiss, then the door slightly opened.

He took a deep breath and opened the door and walked in.

***

The door on the other end opened and someone came into the room. He took a look around and smiled. “You are the chosen!” was all he said, then opened the door all the way.

The man, along with the others in the room, was herded through the door. As he came in, he saw that they were in another room no bigger than the one they were just in. The only difference was that there was a table in the end of the room and a box on it.

The other man closed the door when everyone was in the room and walked up to the table. As soon as he got up there, everyone fell quite. He looked around and said, “You all know why you are chosen. We must choose the one who will free us! It was told by the Immortal, our God, that one day we will need to use the Sword to save us!” He looked around once more. “And today, one of you will be that one!”

***

Pir Linn walked into the room and took a look around; he was standing in at the edge of a dome-shaped room, adorned with red lights. There were cables all around him and a strange mechanical hiss, almost like something was running at such an inconceivable speed that it defied understanding. At the center of the room was a massive machine, a machine that took up most of the space in the middle of the room. It was hooked up in several places, and a big circle in the middle called the Eye seemed to glare at him.

He swallowed hard. It felt uncomfortable to have that thing staring at him. He walked around it and gave a start when the machine moved around so that its Eye could follow him. Every time he stood in the presence of the ultimate super computer he felt small. This machine could do anything. Literally. There was nothing that this computer could not do.

This super computer, called a Watcher, was placed on every planet that they occupied. There were well over five hundred and sixty-eight of these built, and each takes well over thirty years to build. They were called Watchers for many reasons, but the main one was that that was what it did; it watched those it was placed to oversee. The Watcher was like Zaron-made god, put into serves to look over occupied planets. It could control the weather, the tectonic plates, the very air. Everything. That was one of the reasons why the King of the Zaron Empire, may he live forever, still kept hold of his vast Empire. The Watcher would send out magnetic field of some sorts that would not allow anyone who was not approved to use any form of electricity. That meant no light, no technology, and, most important of all, no weapons.

Now, there have been instances where the people have tried to make projectile weapons, but they were easy to trace, and they always left a residual gas that was on both the gun, the gunner, and the area in which the gun was used. But they were too easily stopped it wasn’t even thought of.

The super computer, the Watcher, was so smart, so powerful, that it is said that they have an intelligence far beyond anything of flesh. Pir Linn had no doubt about that; the Watchers were an artifical intelligent computer, but from what he has seen, it was indeed beyond anything that a mortal mind could come up with.

Of course, it was just a big number crunching machine. Some would say that it had no soul, that it could not make a guess, could not make a mistake - which he doesn’t believe; he has never seen any Watcher make any mistake, ever! - and that they were flawed.

People who had said that have obviously never met one.

The Watcher seemed to do something, and the upper part of the machine came apart and began to move up, its body still attached to the bottom. It looked nothing like anything Pir Linn had ever seen before. It wasn’t man shaped, it was only a machine, but he still felt as if he was in front of something more than himself.

“WHY HAVE YOU COME?” the machine boomed out in a voice all too alive.

Pir Linn had to fight down the urge to run. By the Gods! I am a Warrior of the Royal Family! One of the most powerful in all the known Universe! Why am I afraid of this... machine?? “I have come to seek answers,” he said calmly.

“ASK AND BE GONE! I HAVE OTHER MATTERS TO ATTEND TO!”

Pir Linn ground his teeth, biting down on his upper lip to stop from saying anything. By the Gods! he swore again. He felt as if he should say something to this Watcher, to set it straight, but instead said, “It has been over fifty cycles since the last time an attempt on your systems has been made. I need to know about the sword that they keep using!”

***

The box was opened and the man who let them all in reached in and took out a small cube. In the middle of the cube is a small shard of some kind. The man held the cube up high, saying, “I, Verdin Metail, the last of the Ancient Priests, call upon the wisdom of the Great Immortal, our God to guide this shard to seek out the True One who will save us!”

The man in the corner shook his head. He, like many others in the room, he was sure, no longer believed that the Immortal was their God any more. He was sure of it. Like many of the other things that was taken from them once they were enslaved by the Zarons was that they got their religion taken away, and everyone got instantly converted into the Zaron religion. Many Aphrodians instantly took it in, not because of fear of what the Zarons might do to them if they do not, but because it mirrored their Old Religion before the coming of the Immortal, except for a few small differences - such as the one where the Council of Gods gave the King of Zaron Prime the right to rule all living things - it was a complete match!

The man smiled as the Priest began to chant in the Sacred Script, remembering the Old Religion. According to the Religion, there are more than one God, and that they live in some sort of spiritual world and ruled over the Universe in what is called the Council of Gods. They are ranked according to power, the most powerful, named M’Tall, was High God. Yet he was not the original God. They were made by the One God, the only true God.

The One God had made the Council in order to see to the protection of the people of the Universe from a group of... anti-Gods; Gods with the same amount of power as everyone in the Council, only used it for evil.

The man caught the word meaning “Immortal” in the Sacred Script from the Priest, and the man shook his head. That fool! he thought. According to the Zaron version of the Old Religion, which he wasn’t quite sure about because there was no mention of this in their Religion, the Council of Gods made the Immortals in order for them to keep an eye on the anti-Gods. He didn’t know if he believed that, but he sure didn’t believe that this Immortal was their God!

“It is done!” the Priest shouted, interrupting the mans thoughts. He held up the cube and the shard in the middle began to wobble, then began to unsteadily spin around faster and faster and faster, until it was could no longer be seen. The Priest gave a long sigh and then order everyone to gather in a circle around him. The shard inside the cube still spun like nothing anyone had every seen. “It is almost time!” the Priest whispered, the excitement in his voice was palpable. “The shard is spinning around, looking for the one who will try to save us all!”

The man, along with everyone else in the room, tried to follow the shard with their eyes, but no matter how hard they tried, they couldn’t. It was moving too fast for their eyes.

Then it just stopped!

The man held his breath. He had no idea what was going on, but he knew he wasn’t going to like it.

Then the shard began to move again, slowly this time, pointing around the room, sighs of relief coming from everyone who the shard passed. It seemed to move steadily inside the cube as it passed across the room, pointed at everyone in turn, then, it stopped again.

Right in from of the man in the shadows.

He stood straight, disbelief showing on his face. Impossible! he thought. It can’t be me! No, it must be a mistake!! Then the Priest moved up to him, his eyes still on the cube, wide with wonder. He waved his hand to him, indicating that he wanted the man to move to his right. Slowly, the man moved, his eyes also on the cube.

The shard moved with him.

Slowly - ever so slowly - the Priest’s eyes came up and met the man’s own fearful gaze. He smiled and licked his lips, then said softly, “You are the one.”

The whole room burst out with cheers and yells and screams, with everyone coming up and patting him on the back, and of everyone else unmistakably relieved that it wasn’t them that was picked. The man closed his eyes and shook his head.

Inside, he was screaming.

***

Pir Linn walked out of the room, closing the doors behind him and quickly wiping away his sweat that glistened his forehead. It just didn’t make much sense for me to be sweating after a meeting with a... a machine! He walked down the small flight of stairs, ignoring the two Firmon Warriors in the shadows and continued walking down the Great Hall, back to his shuttle and then to his room so he can get something to drink.

What the Watcher had to tell him wasn’t very good.

All that he, and indeed, everyone else as well, knew was that every now and then a crazed Aphrodian would attack the Great Hall with a sword that they seemed to relish. No matter what they did, the Aphrodians would literally throw away as many lives as it took in order to get it back. Nothing that they came against seemed to work. They would have all died, save the children and old people, until the King, may he live forever, had ordered that the sword be given back to the people as a... “gift”... from him. They thought that when one of them would attack the Great Hall with that sword, they were having a psychotic episode or something religious.

But not after what the Watcher had just told him!

Apparently, these Aphrodians were given a Sword of an Immortal! An Immortal!! Only an Immortal can use one of their Swords and still live! Now, ordinarily, they wouldn’t have feared much, for that would explain a great many things. One thing that it would explain was the reason why the Aphrodians would use it was because if any Mortal touched the Sword of an Immortal, they would become insane with the need for power. Another thing that it would explain would be the reason why they would all die before they even reached the hallways; because the power within the Sword would kill anyone but the Immortal it was made for.

They had some run-ins with these Immortals thousands upon thousands of years ago, before they could travel outside their system, and that was the reason why they knew these things. But strangely, they never saw them again after that, and as far as they could tell, no one else has either.

Ordinarily, they wouldn’t have feared much at all. But another thing that the Watcher had told him bothered him greatly. From what they knew of the Immortals, is that they can never, ever lie. It was one of those rules that the Council of Gods put on them in order to keep them from going on a rampage. The other rule was that they could never, ever kill. No matter what, they could never fail to meet any of those rules, or they would no longer be able to safely use the power of the Sword, so they would do this until they were doing it without thinking.

And, from what the Watcher told Pir Linn, this Immortal said that one of them might be able to use this Sword if they ever needed to use it!

As he raced down the Hall, he was trying to come up with what he would tell the King, may he live forever, once he got back to his shuttle. He needed to tell him, he needed to tell him that one among the Aphrodian slaves will be able to use the power of the Sword, for an Immortal can never lie...

Pir Linn shook his head. He needed to stop think of it that much, after all, what were the odds that the particular Aphrodian that can use the Sword is still alive?

He quickly got in his shuttle and ordered the pilot to fly off back to his estate, then pushed the button that activated the comm. systems. He sat back and waited for it to come on-line. When it finally did, he sat up and said, “Get me the King, may he live forever! I have urgent news!”

***

The man’s hands were shaking as he was taken out of the room by the Priest, who kept jabbering on at what a great pleasure it was to be chosen by the shard, and that he was sure the he was the true one that the Immortal said would be able to use his sword on the day of his death.

It was all the man could do to not to hit the Priest over the head. He blinked at that. Maybe he could. No one would have to know. But even before he thought it, he knew it was wrong. He couldn’t kill one of his own kind. No matter how wrong he thought the other was in believing in that old, fake religion. It was the worst thing he could ever do.

Then they reached the edge of a walkway that they took from a hidden door in the room with the cube. The Priest slapped him hard on the back and smiled and said, “Now, now. Take warmth in the fact that the Immortal our God has chosen you to save us from these Zaron tyrants!” Then he pushed the man up the stairs and walked back the way they came.

The man watched him until he can no longer be seen, then he took a deep breath. Well, he thought. Perhaps I am... After all, the Immortal said that one would save them if they ever needed it... although the great man Dammon Sunfield never said who before he died... Then he walked up into the night sky.

He was now in a large room in the middle of four buildings put close together. There was no roof above him, there was only the night sky. He had heard of this place, but have never wanted to see it.

In the middle of the room was a stone with a huge sword in it hilt up.

The Sword.

He slowly walked up to the Sword and looked at it. It was a perfect piece of metal. There was no lines or abrasions anywhere. It was perfection. Despite his fear, despite his ill feelings of this Sword and its power, the man was strangely drawn to it. The man reached out and touched it, wanting to feel it, yet when he finally touched it, he took a quick step back, taking in a deep breath.

As soon as he touched the blade of the Sword, he was filled with... strange feelings. Things that he never felt before, things that he didn’t even know how to explain. Images flashed in his mind, images that he could barely even see, it was moving so fast. His mind was overwhelmed by emotions that were not his own, emotions like the one that he normally has, only increased tenfold.

The man quickly took his hand away, not knowing what happened. What the hell happened?? he thought. He looked around, but he knew that there wouldn’t be anyone else there. He looked back at the Sword, still sitting there on the stone, looking as perfect as it did the moment that he first saw it. Well, he thought.

He reached out and began to pull the Sword of the Immortal out of the stone.

***

“Excuse me, my Lord?!” Pir Linn asked incredulously.

Through the Comm. Video, the High Lord, speaker to the King of the Zaron, may he live forever, began shaking his head. “The King, may he live forever, has told me to tell you not to do anything. He feels that there is nothing to do about it.”

Pir Linn just stared at the screen. “But-” he began.

“He said to forget it, Pir Linn.” The High Lord moved closer to the screen. “So, forget it!” Then the screen went blank.

Pir Linn sat back. This is not good, he thought to himself. Not good at all.

***

The man walked through the streets right in front of the Great Hall, watching the building as if it were a fly he was about to pounce. Nothing can stand up against him, though. Nothing. He tightened his grip on the Sword, the wave of emotions that he couldn’t understand and the images that he couldn’t see clearly going through him.

Soon will be the time... Soon.

He could see movement along the walkway leading up to the Great Hall. He knew what they were, but he didn’t care; the Sword of the Immortal was no match for even a God! He could feel the eyes of the Watcher following him, but again, he didn’t care.

The man looked up and noticed that the sun was coming up and he nodded. It was time. He walked out of the shadows and strode forward towards the Great Hall, he brought up the Sword, ready to use it. How he wanted to use it... How he needed to use it.

Now he could see the three or four Firmon Warriors walking out into the approaching sunlight, their huge, mechanical left arms hanging slightly to their sides. The man gave them no more thought than he would a fly.

The four Warriors just stood there, watching him approach the Great Hall with a look of amusement.

The man walked up to them and stood still, looking at each in the eye before he said, “Hello. I am Kilmon Delvim, the next Immortal.” He brought up his Sword slowly. “Time for you to die.”

The four Warriors looked at each other, then laughed. As one, they raised their huge arms and aimed it at him. “No,” they told him in their grunt-like language. “Time for you.”

This made Kilmon Delvim laugh. He reached out to the power of the Sword that he knew was there, and then felt the power rush through him... then he felt the power crush him like a bug.

The man never felt his death coming.


Chapter Two: Requests

It soon began to rain in the town of Yorksure, the gutters along the winding concrete streets filling up in no time, the fields quickly gulping up every once of the badly needed rain. Normally people would gripe and groan when rains came, but it hadn’t rained in this sector of the planet Aphrodia for months, and now everyone was happy.

Yorksure wasn’t a very big town; only fifty or some neatly made houses lined with gray concrete streets and fields of produce lining the town. It was only a mile or two from Aphrodia City, though, and the large buildings and long skyscrapers lined the sky to the west, making it a sight to see. Not now, though. Now, with the rain pouring down in sheets, the people of the town could barely see past three houses.

Yorksure wasn’t on any map, nor was it travailed very often. Everyone who was anyone stayed as far away as they could manage (translation; if you were a Zaronian, then you were someone, and thus avoided the town; if you were anything else, you are just a slave, and then you wouldn’t avoid it). It wasn’t because this town was badly built - quite the contrary, the town was very well built... as well built as the situation allowed - or because it was so close to the City; but because it was a town made for the Aphrodians.

Even though the rains were a blessing, the people still ran for cover. Men and women came out of the now muddy fields and ran to the roofed porches that surrounded every house. They laughed and threw water on each other and watched the rains fall, more times than not in each other’s arms.

Then the people in the porches all stood there and stared, pointing out into the fields.

In the fields, someone was still out there.

***

The man still worked at the plants he was growing until they satisfied him. He paid no mind to the pouring rain, nor to the fact that everyone else had already left, nor to the fact that they were now staring and pointing at him. He didn’t care, and even if he did, he couldn’t leave this plant without making sure that it was planted right. If one root was misplaced, or if there was one weed even remotely close, it will all be for nothing.

Detrom, as he called himself now, didn’t much like taking things fast, especially when it involves his plants.

He stood up and looked down, smiling to himself. Detrom, my boy, he thought, you really outdid yourself this time! He looked back at the houses through the rain and could barely make out the shape of a man leaning over the railing, waving his arms. He was waving it at him, trying to get him to get out of the rain.

He shook his head. They just did not understand. Things take time and effort if you want them to take its proper course. They always wanted to take the quick and easy path. No one he has ever known could take the time to cherish the moments of life, to understand that the path is more important than the destination. Detrom smiled. Except for his wife... and his dead father, of course.

He wiped away the rain from his eyes and looked around the farm. No one else was in it with him, and he didn’t much like being in the rain and all, and his wife needed him to look after her while she was pregnant, seeing as how she cannot take care of herself in that state.

Then it hit him. What if that guy was waving me in because... Ah, shit! He turned around and began running towards the house, not even thinking, just running. The rain hit at his face like small whips, stinging him, but he paid it no mind. His beloved wife could be in pain! Oh, Gods burn my soul if she is in any pain because of me and my goddamned plants!

When he reached the house he jumped up to the porch, panting. He tried to speak, but he couldn’t find the breath to do it. The man who waved at him was laughing. He wanted to hit him. Hard.

“Damn, Detrom! You were hauling ass!” the who waved him in laughed.

“Don’t laugh! Damn it, Dertan! What’s wrong?? Is it my wife? Is Duryah okay??”

Dertan laughed again. “By the Gods, no! Ha, calm down. She’s no due for another week or so.”

Detrom took another deep breath and sat down on the porch. He was dripping wet and cold to the bone. He shook his head, spraying water everywhere. “Then why on earth did you call me here?”

Dertan snorted. He wasn’t laughing. “Someone’s here to met with you.” He held out his hand so he could help Detrom up. “He asked for Jor’Ale.”

***

With a bang, Jor’Ale walked into his house, Dertan just a step behind him. Dertan tapped Jor’Ale on the shoulder and whispered, “You want me to keep calling you Detrom? I mean, he called you by name and all...”

Jor’Ale snorted. He had come to this town a year ago, and of all the two hundred and fifty-three people in the town, only Dertan knew who he was. It was something that he wanted to keep a secrete, and he would have done anything to keep it that way. Apparently, Dertan had recognized him from somewhere and told him so. He almost died because of it. Yet something had stopped Jor’Ale from killing him. Instead, he spared him, and they became friends.

“Well?” Dertan asked.

Jor’Ale shook his head. “It doesn’t really matter. Just stay quite. We may have to get rid of him.”

A look of concern crossed his face. “Look, I don’t know what was happening when you first came here, but I will not be a member to murdering a fellow Aphrodian.”

Jor’Ale looked over at him. “This man is Aphrodian?”

Dertan said yes and they both walked into the other room where he said the man was waiting. Jor’Ale took a deep breath and opened the door leading into the kitchen. Inside he didn’t see anyone. This shocked him somewhat, and when he looked over at Dertan, he just shook his head, then pointed. Jor’Ale looked over to where he was pointing and saw that someone was standing with his back turned, looking out the window. Jor’Ale cleared his throat and the man slowly turned.

When he could be seen, Jor’Ale took a step back, a shocked look on his face. “It can’t be...” he said slowly.

The other man smiled. “Yes it can. And it is.” He held out his hand. “Hello, Jor’Ale. Nice to see after such a long time.”

Jor’Ale just stood there and didn’t know what to do. A million things flashed in his mind before he walked in, a million people he expected to see in his house, but never in a million years did he expect to see this man right in front of him. Never. Slowly, ever so slowly, Jor’Ale took his hand and shook it, then quickly took his hands away as if it was burned. “Hello, G’Mall,” he said softly.

Dertan gasped and took a step back as well, shock on his face. Jor’Ale chanced a quick glance back and saw that his skin had paled slightly and his eyes were as wide as they could go, which he was sure was a mirror image of his own when he discovered who was in his own house. But there was also something else in Dertan’s eyes that he knew for a fact was not in his own; a sense of hope. Jor’Ale almost took pity on him. He was sure of what was going through his young friend’s mind right now, for he, too, had felt that way when he first met the man named G’Mall.

It was such a long time ago, but he was sure that he could remember each one. Everyone knew of the name G’Mall, and most say that name as if it was the name of the One God Himself. He was the one true hope for the people of Aphrodia, the stories would say. He was their one leader who would save the people from the Zaron King. He was the named leader of the Underground.

Many people do not talk of the Underground for fear that a Zaron might hear, but just about everyone talked about G’Mall. He was called one of the greatest leader of all time. Women look to him and see someone whom they all would feel honored to wed, the men looked to him as someone they would like to become, but knew that it would never be, and the young looked to him as someone to be worshipped and followed.

Not that Jor’Ale could blame them. He wasn’t that bad of a guy, and he never asked for that title; it was just given to him. When the Zaronian military first came, while everyone else was running around in confusion and surprise at this attack so soon after they landed after two years in space, G’Dall was one of the few who acted in the best interests of the people. Him and Jor’Ale’s father, Dammon Sunfield. He tried to rally men and women of all ages to him, anyone who had a weapon and the will to fight so that they could try and drive out the Zarons. It failed. There just wasn’t enough people, and too many of the Zarons.

There wasn’t even a large enough party to cause the Zarons any bother until thirteen years later when G’Mall and Dammon joined together. That was the beginning of the Underground.

“You okay?”

Jor’Ale came back with a start, red coming to his cheeks. He shook his head, and crossed his arms over his chest, meeting his gaze with an icy one of his own.

G’Mall nodded, then sat down, indicating to two empty seats. Jor’Ale and Dertan looked at each other then sat down. Once they were seated, G’Mall leaned forward and looked Dertan in the eyes for a long time, then looked over at Jor’Ale and said, “You trust him enough to tell him who you really are?”

Jor’Ale shrugged and said, “As much as I can. He found out by mistake and I decided to spare his life.” He knew that Dertan would be hurt by those words, but he couldn’t afford to do or say anything that might show any signs of weakness on his part while this... this man was here.

G’Mall just stared at him. “Do you trust him enough?”

Jor’Ale couldn’t help but stiffen. He didn’t like where this was going, and he had a strong feeling where it will end up; with Dertan’s head on a plate. “Leave us,” he said without looking. Dertan tried to protest, but he cut him off. “I said LEAVE!”

Dertan looked hurt, then he slowly got up and walked out of the room. They both waited until the door softly clicked shut before showing any open contempt at each other. “You have a lot of nerve coming here, old man. A lot!”

G’Mall snorted. “It needed to be done. You never did understand that did you? To tell you the truth I had no choice but to come here. You are too selfish; always thinking about yourself before any others!”

Jor’Ale shook his head. “Watch yourself, old man. You may have been friends with my father, but you do not know me as well as you would think! I told you one year ago that it was over, and that is what I mean.”

G’Mall just sat there and looked at him. There was no emotion on his face whatsoever. He sighed and said, “Something’s come up. Something big... I do not even know how to say it...”

“Just shut up and tell me so you can leave.”

G’Mall’s face was filled with rage for a moment, then it smoothed itself out. “Very well,” he said calmly. “I’m sure that you know by now that we attempted another attack with he Sword three days ago?”

Jor’Ale tensed up, but tried not to show it. He shook his head.

“Well, the man who was chosen was able to unlock the power within the Sword, and use it.”

Jor’Ale took a deep breath. Thank the Gods that he doesn’t know yet! he thought to himself, but said, “I see. And it failed?”

G’Mall smiled and shook his head. “Yes, Jor’Ale, he failed. But that isn’t what is getting us excited.” He came closer and began to speak very fast. “You see, we all know that in order to use the Sword, it has to be used by the Immortal the Sword was given to. Or at least have some of his blood in him!” He licked his lips and smiled when a look of confusion crossed his face. He opened his mouth, but G’Mall waved the unasked question. “I know what you are about to ask, that the only way that someone could have any of the Immortal’s blood in him is if the Immortal had any children with one of our women.” He smiled again. “Even though there is no record - and why would there be? - we think that that is exactly what happened! The Immortal bore several children!”

Jor’Ale shook his head. It made no sense. Why would the Immortal want to have children? How could that happen? It was said that the Immortal couldn’t even have children, even if he wanted to, which Jor’Ale doubted very much so. “That just can’t be... You mean to say that the Immortal bore children before we left Eron?”

G’Mall laughed. “Goodness no! I’m saying that this must have happened many, many years ago... I’m guessing about a few years after he first got to our planet.”

Jor’Ale was confused once more. “And how did you come by this one, old man?”

G’Mall smiled. “Maybe I’ll tell you later of my assumptions and theories, but for now I need to tell you why I am here!” He smiled again. “Okay, first of all, we know that the power of the Sword was used, if for only a second of two, and the user, a man named Kilmon Delvim, was killed because he didn’t do something right when he used the power. It killed him.” There was no question of who “it” was, and Jor’Ale didn’t ask. “You know how we know that the Sword killed him?” Jor’Ale shook his head. “Because witnesses say that the Sword lit up and then consumed the man who held it.”

Jor’Ale was a loss for words. He knew what happened to mortals who used the Sword; they just died. This one man was killed by being engulfed by the Sword’s power! Something was up... And he was afraid that it involved himself. No! he thought to himself; screamed was more like it. This is why I left the bloody Underground in the first place!

“I can see that you understand the significance. I also hope that you know that from ancient texts, they said that Immortals who used their Swords against the Laws that they lived by, they were killed in the same manner.”

Jor’Ale closed his eyes. Yes, he knew that as well. “And what happened to the Sword?” he asked.

“One of the ‘witnesses,’ whom will stay anonymous, took it away from the city.”

Jor’Ale sighed in relief.

G’Mall moved closer, getting serious. “Now, we at the Underground knew that this was serious, so we all did background checks on this man, getting everything that survived the travel from Eron to Aphrodia, which wasn’t much, but it was enough. Even the ones who wouldn’t want to believe it understood that the power in the Sword was used in this latest attack, and that the only way a mortal could use the Sword was if it had even some Immortal blood in him. We searched all the records and went back as far as we could on both sides of the family. We had traced the ancestry on both sides of his family for eight generations before we couldn’t go back any further.

“We used this chart to find out where the family line branched off into their own lines where they met with other families and so on and so forth. We traced every branch that we could find until we came to every generation that could still be alive.

“The Underground took it upon themselves to search them all out. One by one.” He took a deep breath. “We have found eighteen people who have a common ancestry to Kilmon Delvim, either from his fathers side or his mothers; you understand that only one of the two could have had some of the Immortal’s blood in them.”

Jor’Ale let out a long breath, surprised with himself that he was holding it in. “And then what?”

“Then we took them all to a securer location where we could test them to see if they could use the power.” G’Mall could see the question forming on Jor’Ale’s lips and raised a hand. “It was really quite simple how we found out how many could use the Sword. We didn’t give them the Sword and told them all to reach out to the power. We told them all to grab the Sword hilt. That’s all.”

Jor’Ale blinked. “That’s all? And how does that work? How can you tell from that?”

“Well, when a mortal touches it, like me, I will feel contempt, greed, the hunger for the power locked inside the Sword, will begin to feel the need to figure out how to get to the power within the Sword. And when someone who has even a little bit of the Immortal blood in them touches it, they get strange sensations, almost like old memories that move so fast that you can’t even see them, or like emotions that are so strong you can’t even tell them apart.”

Jor’Ale’s mouth was dry. “You mean you found some...?”

G’Mall shook his head. “Out of eighteen people, most men, we found only five who could use the Sword.”

Jor’Ale sat back in his chair. Five! So many!

G’Mall shifted uncomfortable, casting his eyes down. “Look, Jor’Ale. There were only five people who were trusted enough by the Underground to conduct this investigation, and I was one of them. Five people reported eighteen men and women who had an ancestry with Kilmon Delvim.” He shifted in his seat again, shaking his head as if trying to find the next words, his eyes still cast down. “I, myself, found four people.” His eyes slowly rose until they met Jor’Ale’s, his eyes filled with a knowing look. “But I only reported three.”

Jor’Ale flinched. Hell no! Oh, shit! No! No! NO! “No!” he shouted, then sprang out of his chair, grabbing G’Mall by the shirt and hauling him up to his feet. “No! I left the Underground! I left over a year ago! Leave me alone! You hear me?? I-said-leave-me-alone!!” He then threw the other man across the room where he landed with a crash. The door tried to open, but Jor’Ale quickly kicked it back closed.

G’Mall got up and brushed himself off. “Its not that simple--” he began.

“No!” Jor’Ale screamed. “It is that simple! The answer is NO!”

G’Mall shook his head. “Look, we first need to find out why Kilmon Delvim wasn’t able to use the Sword against his enemies, and we only have five with us right now! Please! We need all the help we can get! Finding out how to use it will not be easy or non-lethal, but we need all the help we can get! And besides, even if we do not get you to--”

“No!” Jor’Ale roared again, coming at G’Mall. He grabbed the other man by the shirt again and began to drag him out of the room. He practically pulled the door apart opening it, and stomped past a frightened Dertan to the front door, where he opened it and threw the older man out into the rain and then threw his cloak out next, then slammed the door shut.

G’Mall got up and wrapped the cloak around his body. He could still here Jor’Ale stomping around in the house. He shook his head, then shouted, “You know, even if I don’t get you to come with me, the Zaron government will!” The stomping stopped short. “That’s right. Chances are they knew just as much as we do because they took copies of all of our files that survived. They might even know more.”

There was stomping up to the front of the house then the door came open and Jor’Ale poked his head through. “They will not find me! Now, go away! My answer is no! I’m through with you, the Underground, and that damned Sword!”

“They will come for you, you know. They will. And, they will not be as kind as me, nor will they walk away when you say no.”

“They have no idea where I am!” Jor’Ale shouted.

G’Mall raised an eyebrow. “Neither did I, or so you thought. If I, an old slave man, could find you, just imagine how easy it is for a race of blood thirsty beasts with high-tech toys to find you.”

Jor’Ale was silent for a long time, just standing there, looking at the man, saying nothing.

G’Mall shook his head. “Think about it, will you? You need to come, and sooner or later, if you escape the Zarons, which I doubt even you could, you will. If you do, don’t come to Aphrodia City. Go to the city of Firdim. That is where the Sword and the Underground is now.”

Jor’Ale just stood there and watched him. He said nothing. G’Mall shook his head, then walked away. He watched him walk away until he could no longer see him through the pouring rain. Jor’Ale shook his head as well, then said to himself, “They will not come for me. Its impossible...”

He walked back through the door and softly closed it behind him.


Chapter Three: The Mob

Panting hard, his heart beating wildly in his chest, Jor’Ale put his head against the door and just stood there. He hadn’t expected this... It was too much for him to handle. A million thoughts were going through his mind, a million things he wanted to work out, but he couldn’t seem to focus. They found five that can use the Sword! his dazed mind thought. Five! And I am one of them!

Dertan put a hand on his shoulder and squeezed. “Are you okay?” he asked in a soft voice. When Jor’Ale shook his head, he said, “Is there anything I can do?”

Jor’Ale snorted and shook his head again. “There is nothing that anyone can do for me, my friend.”

Dertan took his hand off and nodded. “You want to tell me what that was about?”

“You don’t want to know,” was all Jor’Ale said.

They stood there a moment in silence, each lost in their own thoughts. Jor’Ale couldn’t help but wonder what Dertan thought about him. What must be going through his head about him, the stories he must have heart about the “great Jor’Ale Sunfield!” It made him want to cringe. Truth to tell, not only is almost all the stories that he must have heard is true, but he was sure that he doesn’t even know the half of it!

Then their silence was shattered by a voice from upstairs yell, “Detrom! Come here please!”

They looked at each other and a slow smile crossed their lips. Dertan smiled the widest then slapped Jor’Ale hard on the back. “I will see you later, Jor’Ale.”

Jor’Ale reached up and touched his shoulder a moment, then said, “You didn’t see anything, okay?”

Dertan just smiled and nodded, then walked out the door, closing it softly behind them.

The voice from upstairs yelled again and this time Jor’Ale began to walk up the stairs. He had wanted to see his wife for a while now, ever since he woke up this morning and began working on his plants he had wanted to embrace her. Nothing would please him more. He hated not telling her who he was, but if she ever found out... He shook his head at the thought.

He could already smell their room, the husky smell of candles and a fire place that has been used every night so that they could see. He could even smell her skin by now, the way it smells like sweet soap...

He walked up to their room and opened the door and quickly found Duryah there, laying on her bed, still in her night clothes, her bluish hazel eyes locking with his. He stood there a moment and took everything in; he didn’t want to miss a thing. Her face was fine, her nose wasn’t too big, nor was it too small; it was just right. Her mouth wasn’t just a thin line, nor was it full, it was sort of in between. Her eyes were perfectly set on her face, which just added to its beauty. And her hair! Oh, Jor’Ale could die happy if he could look and feel at her hair. It was the perfect shade of sky blue you have ever seen, and it was as soft as silk. She was just as beautiful as the first day they met.

Jor’Ale smiled greatly as he walked up to her and held out his hands, but she said, “What happened down there?” which caused him to stop dead. “Well?” she said sternly when he didn’t say anything.

Jor’Ale sighed deeply, then said, “Oh, nothing. Just an... unexpected reunion with someone from way back in the day. Nothing you need to worry you pretty mind about..”

“Oh, no you don’t! You can’t slip by that easy, Detrom Kilmon! I heard some names said down there! Names that I would never thought to hear in this house!”

Jor’Ale felt a ball of ice forming in his gut. Oh, crap! he thought. How much did she hear! How much did she know! I forgot that our room is right above the kitchen!!

She just sat there a moment, then said again, more sternly, “Well??”

Jor’Ale cleared his throat. This will be fun... “Like I said; an unexpected reunion. That’s all.”

Duryah just stared at him for a moment, then said softly, “I heard the name Jor’Ale down there.”

He swallowed hard, thinking, Oh, by the Gods, please let it be that she didn’t hear anyone call me Jor’Ale down there! then said, “Like I said... Way back in the day...”

Then she couldn’t seem to hold the smile any longer, and it brightened the room like it was the dawn. “So he was down there?” she asked eagerly.

Jor’Ale looked stunned for a moment, not knowing what to think. “I... I don’t really... understand...”

She giggled and kept on smiling. “To think!” she said to herself. “My own husband knows Jor’Ale! The Jor’Ale! Oh, the Gods have shined on us! You really know Jor’Ale??”

He looked down at her, not knowing what to do, or what to say. She wants him know of Jor’Ale?? Of all the horror stories he was sure even she has heard of concerning his past, he would have thought that she would scream at the name of Jor’Ale! That was one of the reasons why he never told anyone who he really was. “He was down there, yes,” was all he said.

Duryah’s eyes shone. “And I also heard the name G’Mall! Was he down there as well??”

Jor’Ale got up and walked towards the window and looked out, not knowing what else to do. He had no idea what this is leading up to, nor what it is going to do to him. He did know one thing, though, if that bastard G’Mall ever comes back here - ever! - he was going to kill him. There was no telling what kind of damage his visit has caused already!

“I’ll take that as a yes...” Duryah said behind him. “So this means that you were in the Underground once?” When Jor’Ale didn’t answer, she said, “I guess that I’ll take that as a yes as well.” She seemed to think for a moment, then asked in a soft voice, “Have you ever killed anyone before?”

Jor’Ale turned to her, a hurt look in his eyes. “Duryah! Please! Just forget that this day ever happened! Okay? You, me, and the baby will be all better off if you just forgot about it!”

Duryah just stared at him for a moment, then shook her head. “Okay. It never happened.”

Jor’Ale nodded, smiled and began to walk over to here. Just then, there was several loud bangs on the door. Jor’Ale froze and looked down in the direction of the door, then back at Duryah. There was another series of loud bangs - sounds like whoever is doing it is angry! he thought - then Jor’Ale threw up his hands. “What else can happen today?” He gave a forced smile to Duryah and then walked down the stairs.

There were several more bangs as he came down the stairs, all the while Jor’Ale was yelling, “All right! All right! I’m coming! Stop it, damn you!” then he reached for the door and opened it.

Standing outside in the still pouring rain was nearly half the town. Jor’Ale blinked, confused. And why would they all be here? At my house? The man who was standing foremost of the crowd was Kevien Xenof. At the sight of him, Jor’Ale tensed. Uh-oh! he thought. Not Kevien Xenof! Damn! What does he want with me? Ever since he first got here, they were enemies. Jor’Ale doesn’t really find anything wrong with him, but Kevien does with him. He thought that from the first moment he came here, he was there to try and ruin him. He had always thought that Jor’Ale was also trying to steal his women from him, Duryah. Of course, Kevien couldn’t understand that she was not interested in him in the least. And when Jor’Ale and Duryah got married, he had never even smiled at him; not once. There was just open rage. But now, when he looked down at Kevien Xenof, all he could see was a truly pleasing smile.

Jor’Ale got a sick feeling in his gut. This didn’t look like a group gathering anymore. With Kevien Xenof at the head, this was nothing less than a mob. “What is it?” he asked calmly.

The smile on Kevien Xenof’s face never lessened as he slowly began to walk up the steps and stopped five steps away from Jor’Ale. “What is it that you have been planting so far out into the fields, Jor’Ale? So far away from where other people work?”

Jor’Ale straightened. “Plants. Very delicate plants. Why do you ask?”

Kevien shrugged and brushed the question aside as if he had no desire to know, but then he reached behind him and began to fish something out, his eyes never leaving Jor’Ale’s. He pulled out a dark plant with long, dirty roots and held them up so that he could see. “And what are these?” When Jor’Ale didn’t answer, Kevien’s face became contorted with rage, then he yelled, “I’ll tell you what it is! You and everyone else here!” He then threw the plant to Jor’Ale with all his might, saying, “They’re cocoa plants!!”

The crowd behind Kevien all gasped at the same time, a look of shock and even disgust on their faces. Jor’Ale met each gaze squarely. He knew what was coming. He knew it was only a matter of time before they found out... before Kevien found out. He was just looking for a reason to get at Jor’Ale.

Kevien turned to them as soon as he heard the gasps. “That’s right! Cocoa plants! Here! In this town! In your farming areas! Planted by Detrom!” He turned around to face Jor’Ale, his face still filled with rage. “Are you trying to get us all killed?! Are you?! Cocoa plants! What in the hell were you thinking?! You know damn well that cocoa plants are illegal!”

Jor’Ale just shrugged. “Just because cocoa is poison to the Zarons doesn’t mean that they should be for us.”

“You are trying to get us all killed aren’t you! Aren’t you!” Kevien came up one more step, his finger pointing right at him.

Oh, how Jor’Ale longed to rip that finger off his hand, to just twist it until it came off, do something, anything to shut this fool up! He would rather be a slave than to think for himself. He has never killed anyone before, but if he was going to kill, even one of his own kind, Kevien Xenof would be the one. He almost felt like killing him right now, and the only thing stopping him was that no other Aphrodian has ever killed or betrayed another. Still, he thought, it wouldn’t hurt if I just ripped off his finger or something...

“All right! That’s enough!” a deep, booming voice called out from the crowd. Kevien seemed to jump at the sound of the voice - he always was a coward, he thought to himself - and the crowd parted for the man who made it. “What the hell’s going on here?” he asked. Walker F’Tin was a big man, and most of it was muscles. He stood a good foot above anyone else, and is rightfully named the leader of this town; that is, if the Zarons allowed leaders. “Well? I’m waiting...”

Kevien took the plant back and walked over to Walker and flashed it at him, then began whispering something to him, almost frantically. Walker waved him away and took the plant and walked over to Jor’Ale and then stopped, looking down at the plant, then at Jor’Ale, then at the plant again. He kept this up for a while, then he said, “You know that cocoa plants are illegal, right son?” When he shook his head, the big man continued, “And yet you still planted them in our farm land, and thus placing this whole town in danger of being killed for it. Why?”

Jor’Ale shrugged, then said, “I like the taste.”

Walker laughed, then shook his head. “You know that the farm inspection team will be here two days from now, right? Then why the hell did you plant these??”

Jor’Ale shook his head. “I just felt as if I should plant some cocoa plants. I don’t really know what I was doing, or why. I just did.”

Walker sighed and nodded, and began to think to himself.

Kevien walked up to them and said, “I think we should turn him in to the Zaron inspection team when they come here! That way we can be on good terms with them!”

Walker looked back and him and all but shoved him down. “Shut up, Kevien. Good God, if we do that, then we will leave a wife without a husband, and a child without a father.”

That made Kevien’s face turn red and he glared at Jor’Ale.

Walker shook his head and then said loudly so as everyone could hear him, “Very well. Detrom Kilmon, you are here by ordered to remove every scrap of the cocoa plants, even the soul it was on, and you had better do it real fast, for in two days the inspection is coming.”

Jor’Ale shook his head, and so did Walker. Kevien, however, strode up and said, “You can’t mean that he will go free for this?? That is the length of the punishment he is to receive?? That’s it??”

Then they both said, “Shut up!” He did.

Walker said, also loud enough for everyone to hear, “I was not finished. Once the inspection team in gone, then we will convene a special town meeting the next day to find out what punishment he should get. Is that fare enough?” he asked Kevien, who nodded, grim faced, then Walker looked at Jor’Ale, who quickly shook his head. “Its settled then.” Then he walked away.

As soon as he was gone, Kevien whirled on Jor’Ale and said with a nasty sneer, “You got off easy, Detrom Kilmon! But be warned; this is not the end of this for me! I will find out what secrets you hide soon enough, and I will uncover your plots and schemes against me and the whole Aphrodian race! You will see! You may fool the town, you may fool even my beloved Duryah! But you do not fool me!” He pointed once, then walked off.

The mob went with him.


Chapter Four: Pleasant Punishments

Sweat ran down Jor’Ale’s face as the sun beat down on his shirtless body. He didn’t mind doing farm work, nor did he mind getting his hands dirty. What he didn’t like was getting rid of those cocoa plants. Why should they have to outlaw these plants? Just because they are poison to the Zarons... Hell, there are several plants that the Zaron people eat that are poison to the Aphrodians! In fact, he really should just rip them all out! Every last one! Hell, you could die just touching some of the plants that they are forced to care for! He would like to see the face of a Zaronian as he shoves a cocoa plant down their throat...

Slamming his fist down on the ground, Jor’Ale gritted his teeth. He had to watch it. If he started thinking like this, he would go back to the way things were before he came here, before he found happiness. Before Duryah.

Jor’Ale straightened his back and put his hands there, hearing a satisfying series of pops. He looked around and marveled at the sight of the farm lands around him. This was considered, at least by the Zaronians, to be one of the ugliest towns on the map - true enough, they thought that all towns that were made for the slaves were ugly. He shook his head sadly. If they could only truly see the land as it truly is.

The farm land was as long as the eyes could see, especially where Jor’Ale was, which was at the farthest end. It was an endless plane of rolling grass and corn and wheat and nameless other foods, capped by a cloudless blue sky with the bright, perfect sun near its midday peak. The sun light reflected off the leaves of the plants and was absorbed by the dark, rich soil. It was picture perfect.

Then the smile that had formed on Jor’Ale’s lips faded away when the dark shape of Kevien Xenof came back up from where he was doing something below his line of sight. He was put there on orders from Walker F’Tin. He was really needed, and Walker knew this, but he insisted that it was a matter of formality, and it was done so that Kevien would shut up, as well as spare the rest of the town of hearing it. That brought the smile back to his face.

He really had no idea why Kevien hated him so... Jor’Ale couldn’t believe that someone would hate another for gaining the favor of a woman whom the man liked, but had no chance with. Duryah was never Kevien's... Ever. Yet he supposed it could happen. After all, Kevien thought that he wanted to wipe out the whole Aphrodian race.

Jor’Ale shrugged. Some people are just crazy.

He began running his fingers through the soil once more, trying his hardest to dig out every scrap of the cocoa roots from the ground. He hadn’t planted that many - only four - yet they were spread out in a ten by ten feet box, and he was ordered to dig out every square inch and replace it with fresh soil. It could have been worse, he thought as he dug through the soil.

His finger hit something hard and he twisted it until he heard a snap and then placed the dead root in a basket that he had near him. He then began to dig fast, trying to uproot the rest so he could throw that away as well. Once he had it all out, he moved to the next spot and began digging.

It could have been worse...

***

Duryah Kilmon washed her face with the washcloth given to her by one of the midwifes in the town - the only one, really. She enjoyed the old woman with her kind smile and knowing eyes. She always said nice things to her and gave her assurances that she knew for a fact could never be, but it was the thought that counts.

“Are you sure that you are okay?” the old midwife asked.

Duryah smiled and shook her head. She was a kind old woman, but that question was beginning to piss her off. She had, though, been feeling something all day. It was a strange feeling, something that she had never felt before. It was slow, and only came once in awhile. It started out small and far in between, but it is getting closer. She had neglected to tell the midwife, but she was sure that she would say something like, “Oh, its nothing, my dear, nothing. It comes with the territory of pregnancy and all that, and you really should try to ignore it until the real pain begins!” and something else like that, like she has done with a million other things that she had told her of. Then she would probably go on and on about how she had seen thousands of other pregnancies, and that this was the mildest one she has seen yet.

It made her want to barf, yet she still smiled at the midwife.

The midwife said something to her, but she didn’t hear her; she was too busy thinking on everything that has happened yesterday, of the things that she had found out about her husband, Detrom Kilmon. Now, she had known that his past was something that he kept so tight that not even she was allowed to know anything, but she had never thought that it would be something like this! My husband, my Detrom, knows both Jor’Ale Sunfield, and G’Mall! He was once in the Underground!

She was getting so excited at the thought that he could be able to do something this that she began to get lightheaded. She had thought that Detrom would never do anything like this. She had always wanted adventure, even if it had to do with the Underground. After all, it wasn’t like the Underground was a terrorist organization; they were a freedom fighting force, set out to free her people from bondage! What was wrong with that?

But why would he want to hide it?

Duryah shook her head, trying to clear it. That was something she needed to ask him. Later. Not now. Later. After all, she was more than a little tired, and in a bit of pain. As if answering her mental thoughts, the pains came back, twisting her insides like it was a grape under someone’s foot.

The pains were getting closer.

***

For the thousandth time today Jor’Ale’s mind wandered as he worked away under the hot Aphrodian sun. It always wanders, almost all the time; it couldn’t be helped. He wiped off the sweat from his forehead and sat back on his legs. His thoughts, no matter what he was doing, always wandered to the first moment that he met his future wife, Duryah.

Jor’Ale smiled as he closed his eyes and thought back to that first day that their eyes had met. He could remember everything so clearly; the way the dust looked around his feet as he walked into the town, the way the paint pealed on the houses, the way the people looked at him, the way the door to the first house, a service station, squeaked as he opened it and walked in, and the way the food smelled as it sat there on the shelves.

He smiled and thought back...

As he walked in, the very first thing he notices is the way the people looked at him, like he was something that had gone through Hell and survived; and they had good reason, he guessed; after all, he looked like shit. Covered from head to foot in dust and sometimes mud. What wasn’t covered with either of those, was red from the sun or completely soaked through by his sweat.

A man walked up to him, wiry and thin, and looked him up and down. Jor’Ale just stood there and let him look him over as if he were a slave being inspected by his master. He knew that if his position and the one who was looking at him were reversed, he would be doing the exact same thing. Finally, as if he was satisfied, the man smiled a deep, warm smile and said, “Hello there, stranger! Come a long and hard way, have you?”

Jor’Ale smiled deeply, then nodded.

The other man smiled as well, then held out his hand. “My name is Kevien Xenof.”

Jor’Ale had to fight to keep the smile on his face. Crap! he thought. What am I going to tell him? I can’t very well tell him my real name! I’m sure everyone has heard my name by now! Then he said, “Hello, my name is... uh... Detrom... Kilmon.”

Kevien smiled and then leaned closer and said, “You running, Detrom?”

Jor’Ale’s face lost its smile and he swallowed. “It shows, eh?”

Kevien laughed out loud. “Sure does! Who you running from?”

Jor’Ale hesitated before answering, and when he did, it was soft. “Who else would an Aphrodian be running from, Kevien Xenof?”

Kevien looked thoughtfully into his eyes, thinking for a moment. “What are you doing here, Detrom Kilmon?”

“I would like to live here. I wouldn’t mind it at all, that is, unless the farmland is full.”

Kevien kept staring at him for some moments, the silence in the room was oppressive. The room became quite full by the time he answered, everyone cramming in to see what was going on. “Are you apart of the Underground?” he asked flatly.

“Would it matter if I was?”

“This is a peaceful town, Detrom Kilmon. We want nothing of this Underground that everyone hears about. We want a peaceful coexistence with the Zaron Monarchy. We stay out of their troubles, they stay out of ours. Does that answer your question?”

Jor’Ale seemed to think a moment, then nodded. “I see. Well, I am not in the Underground. And yes, Kevien, I would like the same thing; to be left alone, to live in peace.”*

Kevien seemed to think about it moment while looking into his eyes, then smiled again. “Then I see no reason why you can’t stay here! There’s more than enough room here; we have some thirty-eight houses, each built to hold up to twenty people at a time, but we have only twenty houses full, and they are all families of no more than six or so.”

Jor’Ale smiled as well, pleased. He really wouldn’t mind living here, if he can in peace. He did need to find some things out though, like how many times Zaron patrols comes by - especially this close to the City - and if there are any stationed here.

Before he could ask, Kevien wrapped an arm around him and began to lead him to the back of the store, smiling at everyone he saw while every last one slapped Jor’Ale on the back and said something like “Welcome to the town,” or something like that. When they reached the end of the store, Kevien opened a door that lead to a small room in the back where there are several crate-fills of food rations and clothing, as well as a few other stuff. A woman was going through some stuff on a shelf with her back turned from them. She wasn’t very tall - no more than five and a half feet, but she looked like she could take care of herself. Kevien smiled and pulled on the back of her dress, right on the shoulder pad, and said, “Honey?”

The woman seemed to sigh deeply and turned around. From the look on her face, she was about to say something to Kevien that would definitely wipe that silly grin off his face, but when she saw him, her expressions changed into shock, then curiosity.

“Honey, this is Detrom Kilmon. He’ll be staying here, and it doesn’t look like he brought anything with him, so could you please set him up with some clothes and a key to one of the houses?”

All through Kevien’s little speech, Jor’Ale couldn’t keep his eyes off this woman’s deep eyes, nor her hair. Her eyes were a deep, emerald blue, while her hair was a set sky blue. He had seen combinations like that before, but never on a face like this. He was so shocked at the beauty of her that he had no idea what Kevien had said. The only thing that came to his mind was that Kevien had called her “honey,” and that she hadn’t returned it! That means he obviously thought the world of her, but that also means that she didn’t return the sentiment; which means she is available!

“Honey?” Kevien asked, surprised that she didn’t answer, that she wasn’t even looking at him; she was looking at Jor’Ale’s eyes. “Honey! Did you hear me?”

The woman shook her head and then looked over at Kevien, a dangerous look in her eyes. “You know what I said about that ‘honey’ thing, Kevien! Stop it this instant!” Kevien just smiled. She shook her head and then looked over at Jor’Ale with a slight smile on her face. Then she seemed to remember something and turned her eyes to Kevien again. “Oh, by the way, Walker wants to see you about something. Why don’t you go to him so that you can tell him about our new friend?”

Kevien smiled greatly, then gave a slight bow of his head - Jor’Ale watched his eyes as he roamed them over her body, watched them stop a key places on it, and wanted to hit him - then patted Jor’Ale on the back and walked out the doors into the store.

Jor’Ale gave a lout sigh, then shook his head, looking back at the door. “He has a... uh... thing for you, miss.”

He heard her making a noise of disgust and shook her head. “Don’t remind me. I want nothing to do with him. He has this obsession with wanting to marry me.”

Jor’Ale looked back and was caught by her eyes again. “Well,” he said, trying not to get lost in her eyes. “He seems like a nice fellow.”

She shook her head sadly. “A little too friendly, I’m afraid.”

He just smiled as he let himself get lost in her eyes. They both just stared at each other for a while, then she seemed to come back to herself and held out her hand and smiled. “My name is Duryah Aaron.”

Jor’Ale smiled back and took her own hand in his. “Detrom Kilmon.” He noticed immediately that she had the smoothest hands he had ever felt. It was ten times - no! a hundred times - softer and smoother than silk. He felt like he could happily hold her hand and look into her eyes until Hell freezes over. Then he remembered that his hands were all dirty and muddied, and that her hands were soft and clean. He flinched, then quickly took his hand away, wiping his hand on the back of his pants, which made his hand even more dirty, but he didn’t stop.*

Duryah smiled and then put her hand back behind her as she stared up at his eyes. “Can you farm?” she asked suddenly.

A little shocked at the question, Jor’Ale didn’t answer right away. He had to wait a bit in order to form up the right words. Finally, he was able to do it. “Yes. Of course I can! Why would I be here if I couldn’t?”

She gave him a little smile, then shook her head. “I don’t know. Its just that you don’t look much like a farmer, that’s all.”

He smiled back and looked her up and down a moment. “Well,” he said, the smile never going away, “neither do you.” She gave him a wolfish grin that said volumes about who she was (and what she liked to do), her cheeks coloring ever so slightly. When he figured out what she thought he meant by the remark, he colored deeply, which caused Duryah to begin laughing hysterically. “Sorry about that,” he finally managed to say.

Still laughing, she wiped a tear away from her eyes and shook her head. “No, no, no. That’s okay. I like a man who isn’t afraid to show what he really thinks!” She then began laughing even harder when he reddened even more. Despite his obvious embarrassment, Jor’Ale began to laugh as well, and they both were laughing like fools, each seeming to try and laugh harder than the other.

When it was over - and it seemed like they were laughing for hours - she gave him a box full of clothes and lead him out the door into the streets. It was getting darker, but the sun was still on the horizon, which gave them both more than enough light to see.*

While they walked down the streets, they were both talking of nothing in particular. When they stopped at the edge of a hill leading down to row upon row of incredibly nice housing, she stopped and turned to him, a big smile on her face. “Well,” she said, “There’s your new home!” She pointed off towards a house that was right down the street.

Jor’Ale smiled at her and said, “Looks nice. Thanks.”

She tried to act stern, but the smile was still there. She pointed her finger at him and shook it. “Now you look here, mister Detrom Kilmon! Don’t you be getting any ideas about this! All the houses are exactly the same.”

He held up his hands as if the fend her off. “Never crossed my mind! Swear!”

She gave him the biggest smile, then handed him a key. “I like you, Detrom. I hope to see you again. Soon.”

Jor’Ale smiled at her and cupped her chin in his hands. “You will. Trust me. You will.” He walked off down the street and before he came to the front door, he looked back and saw he still there, watching him. He smiled deeply and shook his head. Jor’Ale, my boy, he though. This is the smartest thing you ever did!

And it was. He had seen every day after that. Jor’Ale stopped working long enough to realize something; he has not spent one day this past year without seeing Duryah at least once. He smiled at that. That was the way it should be.

Then he heard his name being called out, and he gritted his teeth, thinking it was Kevien. He looked back and saw that Kevien was pushing Dertan back with a pitch fork, threatening to run him through if he doesn’t go away. He heard Dertan telling him that it was important, but Kevien shook his head. Jor’Ale couldn’t be sure because they were pretty far away and he wasn’t paying attention, but he thought he heard Kevien say that nothing could be that important.

“Yes there is!” he heard Dertan yell, getting angry at Kevien. “His wife is giving birth!”

Shocked, Jor’Ale just sat there, not moving, his heart seeming to stop. Duryah is having her baby!

“Nope! He can’t go! You can tell the midwife that she might as well kill the baby now! He probably raped my beloved Duryah, and she was just too frightened to say anything about it!”

With that, Jor’Ale slammed the dirt he had clinched in his fists and began running towards his house. Dertan smiled and told him to hurry up. While he did, Kevien, with an evil look in his eyes, stepped right in front of him, holding the pitch fork at him, which caused him to stop.

“Nope. You get back! You hear! You get back or I’ll happily run you through!”

Consumed with anger, Jor’Ale grabbed the end of the pitch fork were the metal meets the wood, then slammed the other hand down fast and hard on the wood, splintering it in half. He threw down the blades and then, with all of his strength, hit Kevien in the face, who fell down on the ground in a heap.

Jor’Ale laughed, thinking, Damn, that felt good! then ran off towards his wife.

***

Slamming the door behind him, Jor’Ale ran up the stairs. As he rounded the corner, he could hear screams in their room. Smiling, he opened the door and walked in.

The room only had three other people in it, which surprised him greatly. Standing next to her was the midwife, her aged hair wrapped neatly in a bun. Standing on the other side of her was Walker, smiling down at her, holding her hand gently, and the third was Dertan, who was between her legs with a warm bowl of water, a knife, some string, and some clean rags.

Jor’Ale rushed over to Duryah, who held out her hand. When she grasped his, he almost let out a scream she was holding them that tight. She was panting and moaning, sweat covering her whole body, which mixed in with the soft words, words that he couldn’t understand.

“Detrom!” she panted over and over again. Jor’Ale tried to calm her, tell her that everything would be okay. She seemed to be in a state of total pain and suffering. “Oh, Detrom! It hurts so much! Ohhh!”

Jor’Ale looked over at the midwife, an angry look in his eyes, and said, “Damn you, woman! Can’t you give her something?!”

She looked up at him, a dangerous look in her eyes, never ceasing the constant murmuring.

Duryah squeezed his hands, which caused him to look down at her. “Its... its not her fault!” she panted. “I was having contractions all day long, but I didn’t know it! I never told her! I thought that she would say that it was nothing! She said that it was foolish! Now she can’t give me anything for fear it would harm the baby! Oh, Detrom! I’m so sorry! This was my first time having a child, and I thought that these pains were just another part of it!”

“Push, Duryah! Push! I can almost see it!” Dertan said, holding out the knife and rags.

Duryah screamed, but the midwife took her face in her hands and told her something that Jor’Ale couldn’t hear. He felt helpless. He felt as if the only good he was doing, was to stand there and let her squeeze the life out of his hands.

Walker leaned over and patted both Duryah’s head, then Jor’Ale’s shoulder, saying that it will be okay.

“Push! Come on, push!!” Dertan said, and then Duryah screamed again. “Come on! That was good! Your almost there! Come on! One or two more good pushes!”

She screamed out again, and again, Dertan told her to push. She looked up in his eyes and then let out the loudest scream he had ever heard from her. “Got it!” Dertan said in satisfaction.

Jor’Ale was a loss for words. He had no idea what to do. He just stood there with a stupid look on his face. Walker was laughing, and so was Dertan, and Duryah was crying in relief, while the midwife was whispering something in her hears.

Dertan snipped at the umbilical cord which he had tied off with the string, then wrapped the baby in the clean rags. A few good slaps, and the baby began to cry and scream. Everyone was laughing now, except him. He still sat there with that dumb look in his face.

Duryah grabbed him by his shirt and pulled him down on her and gave him a big, long, deep kiss. When she let up, she saw that he was crying with pleasure. She smiled up at him and said, “That was very, very painful, my dear. I’m afraid that next time, you will have to carry it!”

Dertan passed the baby to Duryah, who took it with care. He looked at both of them and smiled. “Its a boy.”

Jor’Ale had never felt this happy, this proud, this helpless in his life. He never wanted it to end.


Chapter Five: The Inspection

The huge transports came in shortly after the morning breakfast, three huge, silent, sleek pods hovering over the ground. The dust that was directly under it was blown away, causing their arrival to be announced to anyone who was looking well over an hour before they could be seen.

As always, everyone in the town walked up to the side of the main road, the concrete a sharp contrast to the dirt of the road connecting the town to the City. Everyone came, including Jor’Ale and his wife Duryah; their new son was in the care of the midwife, who was still in the house.

The transports rumbled down the road towards the farm land, passing all the people who was standing in a straight line with their heads down. The last of the transports stopped at the front of the line and the doors opened and several Zaron solders got out, as well as a few Zarons dressed in civilian clothing.

Before the doors on the transport were closed, Jor’Ale, who was standing near the front of the line, saw someone still standing in the darkened transport watching them.

The group of Zaron solders spread out in defensive and offensive positions around the area while the civilian group began walking down the line. Jor’Ale shook his head. The solders were placed at bad positions; the way they were set up left them almost completely open to an attack from within the town as well as on the road - even a poorly designed attack would have succeeded.

As the group of civilian Zarons came closer, he noticed that they were asking questions and taking blood samples. At first, Jor’Ale didn’t think anything of it, but then he had a frightening thought; What if they were asking these questions and taking blood samples in order to find out if he was there? No, that was impossible; they had no idea who he was - Jor’Ale died over a year ago; killed by a Zaron Scout Ship.

Then he had another bad thought; What if they were taking blood samples in order for them to see if anyone here has a blood relation to Kilmon Delvim?

Jor’Ale shook his head. It wouldn’t do him any good to think like this. After all, they had no idea he was here, because they thought that Jor’Ale was dead. Jor’Ale wasn’t in this town, just a farmer named Detrom Kilmon. He had nothing to fear. Nothing at all.

“Name and number, slave!”

Jor’Ale gave a start. He was so caught up in his thoughts that he didn’t hear the group of civilians come up to him and ask him. He gave himself a shake, then said, “Detrom Kilmon. 588765.” Thank you, Underground, he thought to himself. It was the Underground, after all that gave that number. Then he held out his finger while the Zaronian placed some sort of device around it, then took it away. The device beeped, showing some numbers and some letters.

The civilian had a list out and was scanning in up and down until he seemed to stop, then looked up at him, then back down at the list. He nodded, turned to the transport and gave it a thumbs up, then walked over to Duryah and asked her the same thing.

All the while, Jor’Ale was trying to figure out what just happened. Why had that Zaronian do that? Why did he look at him that way once he looked up from the list? Why had he looked over at the transport? All the doors were closed and there was no windows...

He began to get a strange feeling about this, and began to think back to that one man who had stayed in the transport, the one who he couldn’t get a good look at because he was shrouded in darkness. Then he shook his head. It was nothing. He was just letting his imagination get away from him; something that was very, very dangerous.

Then he felt a sharp pain in his arm, then it was gone. Jor’Ale looked down and saw that there was small spot of red skin on his upper arm. He felt at it, running his fingers over it. Damn bees, he thought. That was what it must have been - some bug that bit him or something and its stinger got stuck in him.

The group of civilian Zaronians blew on a whistle that told everyone that they could go back to their houses while they continue with the inspections. Jor’Ale was still rubbing his arm where the stinger was at and Duryah gave him a concerned look. Jor’Ale shook his head and told her that it was nothing.

No one saw the muzzle of some sort of weapon being pulled back into the darkness of the transport while the door was slowly pulled closed.

***

Dim Dinlong, the highest ranking civilian in the group saw the one that said his name was Detrom Kilmon rubbing his arm. The Highness Himself must have hit him right on the arm with that tracking device of his. He smiled and shook his head.

He was never told why he did the things he did, but he couldn’t help but think on his own. He has heard the rumors as well as everyone else, at how these savages had found some sort of sword that had some sort of power, and that they had unlocked it.

As soon as this supposedly took place, he was ordered to several towns, never being told why, just told to go there and take blood samples. He was also given a list, and told that if the blood sample results matched any of the numbers that was on that list, he was to give the “special agent in charge” a thumbs up, then walk on as if nothing he had done was important.

This was the first time that he had done it.

He had no idea what was going on for sure, but he had ideas. He knew who the “special agent in charge” was, but he was not allowed to speak it, or even think it. Orders from the King, may he live forever, Himself. And he wasn’t going to disobey him!

Dim Dinlong shook his head and continued down the streets towards the farm land, doing what he was supposed to do.

***

In the deep shadows of the transport, the figure watched the man he had just shot walk away. Got ‘ya! he thought in triumph. This was the first one that they had found so far. They had checked several towns, but this was the first one that had one of the people on that list of names that the Watcher gave him.

He unscrewed the muzzle of the projectile run away and began to disassemble it. It was crude, using one of these weapons, but effective. After all, he wasn’t shooting to kill, just to place a small tracking device into the man’s skin. He wont notice it, and in a few days it will fall off anyway. Not that it’ll matter; he’s gonna be dead by the time the day was gone.

Smiling, Pir Linn finished taking the weapon apart.

***

“What’s wrong?” Duryah asked, her hand coming up to the red spot on Jor’Ale’s arm.

Jor’Ale shrugged and rubbed his arm a bit. “Nothing. Something bit me.” She looked unconvinced, and Jor’Ale shrugged again. “Its just that something bit me, that’s all.”

They walked along in silence a moment, then Duryah asked, “What do you suppose that was back there?”

“What do you mean?”

“I mean with the blood tests and that thumbs-up that that Zaron did, what do you think that was about?”

Jor’Ale shrugged. “I haven’t a clue. It was probably nothing.”

There was a look of concern on Duryah’s face. “You were the only one that they did that to.”

There was a moment of uncomfortable silence as they walked towards their house. Everyone was walking in the same direction as they were - towards the houses - but they still stayed a good way off. He wanted to say something, but nothing came to him.

“You think that this has anything to with --” she began to ask, but Jor’Ale cut her off.

“Dot even say it!” he whispered angrily. Duryah looked over at him, a surprised look in her eyes at the amount of anger in his eyes. She quickly turned away and said that she was sorry. Jor’Ale immediately kicked himself for saying that and grabbed her arm. She pushed him off and walked off ahead of him. “Duryah, honey, I’m sorry!”

But she kept on walking.

He tried to get her attention so that he could apologize, but she paid him no attention. He saw that mean, set look in her eyes and knew that he wasn’t going to get anything out of her for a while yet. Why in the HELL did you do that, you damn fool? he thought to himself. Oh well. What was done can’t be undone.

Shaking his head, Jor’Ale walked towards his house a few feet behind Duryah, wondering when the next time he will be able to talk to her again.

***

Later that night, while they were sitting around the table eating supper, he tried to talk to her again, to tell her that he was sorry, but Duryah said nothing to him, not even acting as if she noticed him there. She was leaning over and smiling and laughing at their son, whom she named Connar.

After about three tries, Jor’Ale gave up, not knowing what else to do, so he just continued to eat. Every now and then he caught himself watching her smile and laugh at Connar, the flickering light from the candles on the table and from the fireplace making her seem like a angle in vast glow of a God. He hated fights with her, but he didn’t let it bother him much. They have had worse fights, and besides, he loved making up even more.

Finishing his meal, he got up and said that it was very good, then walked off and put in the sink. He turned and watched as Duryah finished playing with Connar, then picked him up and began walking up the stairs. He yawned and smiled. He was tired, and sleep sounded nice right now. He was looking forward to the next day, when they could make up.

He walked over to the stairs and was quickly behind Duryah and his son. He yawned again and turned to blow out a candle next to their room’s door. When he turned back to go in, Duryah slammed the door right on his face.

Jor’Ale blinked, not knowing what just happened. He reached out and tried to open the door, but she had it locked. He gave a light laughed, then placed his head on the door. He doesn’t believe this. “Come on, Duryah! I’m tired! Open up the door!”

“No!” she said from behind the door. “And besides, the bed is not big enough. I want Connar to sleep with me today! You can go downstairs and wash the dishes and go to sleep on the couch!”

Jor’Ale was incredulous! He couldn’t believe this was happening! But he knew that arguing now wasn’t a good idea, so he just nodded and began walking down the stairs.

Before he got to the bottom he heard the door opening and then Duryah’s voice. “In the morning, if you are not in that bad of a mood, perhaps we can talk things out?” Then she closed the door and the light went out in her room.

Smiling, Jor’Ale continued down the stairs.

***

Sitting down in the green lighted room of the Space Transport, a sleek, long ship that is good at long distance space travel, Pir Linn looked through a device that allowed him to see heat signatures, which was pointed at that slave’s house - Jor’Ale, he thought the slave’s name was.

Pir Linn had to think for a moment. Jor’Ale... That name sounded familiar to him, but he couldn’t put a finger on it. Shaking his head, Pir Linn continued to look into the devise. “Okay,” he said, “There are two sets of heat signatures in the top room, and one in a lower room.”

A solder wearing thick, black armor and a hard look in his eyes nodded. “That must be Jor’Ale and his wife in the room, and the child in the lower one, your Highness.”

Pir Linn nodded. This was good. “Very well, Commander. Send in your best Death Squad man.” The big man nodded, and began to open the door, but Pir Linn gripped his arm. “Remember; don’t kill Jor’Ale right out! Tell whoever you send that we need to ask him a few questions!”

The Commander nodded, then walked out into the darkness. Pir Linn reached out and closed the door. He needed to ask questions about this Sword and about the Immortal... as well as how he was able to use it! Only Immortals can use their Swords, so how could they?

His face grim, Pir Linn began to go over in his mind how he would kill the slave bastard once he was finished, the part he loved the best about questioning people. The blood gushing down from cuts that he would make, the way he would scream, beg to die, the way he would laugh.

He began to get aroused.

***

Washing his hands in a fresh bowl of water, Jor’Ale reached out to place the dish in it’s right place. After he got done, he turned around and walked over to a closet. Opening it, he began to rummage through it, finding it difficult to see with only the fireplace to give him light.

Then he found a blanket and walked over to the couch and sat down, wrapping his body with the blanket. He leaned back, his thoughts wandering to what would happen tomorrow. He was really looking forward to making up with Duryah.

He knew what he would do down to the way he would beg - that is, if he had to. He knew the way he would set his face, the way he would look in her eyes, the way he would make his lips quiver; everything. He even knew how he would strip her naked when it was all over. He knew how he would take off her clothes with his teeth. The way he would strip herself bare for his eyes... to..... see......

Then it hit him. Bare! For his eyes to see! He slapped himself on the forehead and cursed himself. He had completely forgot about the hearing that he was going to get the day after the inspection! That was what Walker had told him! Damn it, he completely forgot about it!

In a slump, Jor’Ale suddenly didn’t want the next day to come. He wanted tonight to last forever. There was no telling what they were going to do to him, especially if that Kevien Xenof had his way!

He had sat there for a long while, trying to figure out what was going to happen when he began to fall asleep. He was just then beginning to go into deep sleep when there was a huge, loud explosion from upstairs. He just sat there for a moment, not knowing what to do, then he heard both Duryah and Connar scream, and he was up in an instant.

As he ran up the stairs, he let everything about his life here, his life this past year, and let his old self surface. For the first time in over a year, he let all his training, all his hardship come forward.

For the first time in over a year, he was death reincarnate.

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Garatt Jax


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