Emerald Legion, Chapter 1
"A tale of a fateful trip" - wherein three young people discover the hero within
(Note: Telepathic communication is delineated by tildes. For example; Imra thought ~Brackets bad.~ Communication through the Champion’s Rings is in italics.
Rokk continued setting the tables while blanking out Imra’s endless questions about that new guy, Gorf, or whatever his name was. They’d been working together as crew on the Star-Cruiser Quantus for two months, and he’d thought they were getting closer, but now this new farm-boy from Winath had all her attention. She’d never seemed terribly interested in his tales of sports-action, but he’d made an effort, and now found himself pushing her towards Garth just so that he didn’t have to hear anymore about his ‘hidden depths’ or ‘simple strength’ or whatever she was on about this time. Figures, his first month off-planet and he’d fall for a telepath. Ugh.
“Yeah, he’s great, Im, I like his arms, too.” Rokk said off-handedly while running the sterilizer-wand over the table, assuming that since Imra had stopped talking, he was now expected to pretend he had been listening appreciatively.
~Quiet, Rokk! Don’t look, but those men near the viewing port have guns!~;
Rokk immediately looked to check them out, and while he couldn’t see any visible arms, he closed his eyes and stretched out with his other senses, to feel suspicious chunks of cold metal beneath the exotic diplomatic robes of the three ‘ambassadors.’
~I said don’t look! You’ll make them suspicious!~
“I’m not looking, and you’re right, they have some sort of guns under their robes. I can sense them. But they're diplomats, Cadri I think, so perhaps it’s some sort of custom? Maybe it’s normal and they’re just decorative…,” Rokk whispered in response.
~No, they are all very pointedly *not* looking at that woman in the green dress who just came in, and they are all thinking about their guns!~
Rokk opened his eyes and turned to see the woman in the green dress, only to be momentarily struck with her statuesque beauty and her clear sense of presence. She seemed to move into the room and through the chatting dignitaries as if she had her own gravity field, and he could see various diplomats and celebrities turning their heads and breaking off their own conversations to greet her.
“An honor, indeed!”
“You grace us with your presence, milady.”
“What was she thinking, oh my gods, that dress is so last millennium…”
Well, okay, clearly not everyone was taken with her, but still, the newly crowned Queen of Venegar was definitely drawing attention, and all eyes were upon her. Peeking, Rokk noticed that indeed, the three robed ‘diplomats’ near the viewing port were studiously looking out the window, suspicious behavior indeed as all other eyes were focused on the Queen’s entrance.
~I’ve warned the captain, and she says security is on the way. If we can just stall them…~
Cutting off Imra’s thought-cast, Rokk moved directly in front of the Queen of Venegar, “Majesty, the captain has asked if there is any specific refreshment we can offer you this fine day. I wouldn’t recommend Gandili Sparkle-water for just anyone, but there’s no chance that it would outshine your own radiance.”
Rokk could hear the gasps, and sniffs. The Athramite diplomat who had been attempting to get Sarya’s attention was muttering darkly, ‘The nerve! Impertinent!’ but as he was only three feet tall, Rokk had neatly blocked him while subtly attempting to steer the Queen away from the viewing port.
“Most gracious young man, that would be acceptable,” came the reply, which Rokk only barely heard as Imra’s thoughts boomed in his skull.
~Now! They are drawing their guns!~
In her agitated state, Imra thought-cast this message to the entire room, and panic ensued as Rokk spun to see three bulky blaster pistols leveled at him, or, more specifically, at the startled monarch directly behind him…
“We’re all going to die!”
“Run for the lifeboats!”
“This was supposed to be secure, I’m going to sue!”
Blocking out the sounds of the panicking dignitaries, Rokk put one hand behind him and pushed the Queen behind him while he reached out with his magnetic powers, certain that he was about to die, as there was simply no chance that he could seize all three guns before a single trigger was depressed. Just as he reached out, a sizzling arc of electricity suddenly played across the right-most gun-man, and he quickly changed targets and seized the gun from the man on the left, wresting it from his grasp and sticking it to the ceiling of the compartment with a loud clang. The right-most ‘ambassador’ was writhing on the ground, and the farm-boy from Winath stepped forward, pumping a constant stream of electrical energy into the paralyzed figure. But he was clearly straining to maintain the arc, and the gun-man stubbornly refused to go unconscious, just twitching and struggling to regain control of his spasming muscles.
~Focus! I’ve got the one in the middle fooled. He thinks he’s shooting his gun right now, but I can’t hold it!~
Even as Imra’s thoughts cut through his distraction, Rokk saw the man shake his head and quickly switched his focus to seize this man’s weapon as well. This man had a firmer grip on his weapon, and Rokk ended up slowly walking forward, focusing all of he magnetic might on keeping the gun pointed up into the air, hoping to smash the thug with a serving tray when he got close enough, only to belatedly remember the first man he had disarmed was still quite awake and active. A vicious right-hook dropped him to the ground, and Rokk looked up to hear the clank as the gun he had pinned to the ceiling abruptly fall. The gunman he had failed to disarm was smiling now, and swiveling his gun towards the farm-boy.
“No more heroes, I think. Get the Queen, and let’s move!”
And then everything became a blur. The man who struck him suddenly went flying over his head and he heard an outraged voice, “Unhand me, peasant!” The farm-boy has crouched in front of the gun-man he has paralyzed and there is a loud *pop* as his hands make contact with the fallen man, who then lies very, very still.
Desperate, Rokk reached out with his powers and yanked the fallen gun into his hand, standing up before the remaining gun-man, who is now pointing his gun at the farm-boy’s head. The stand-off is broken as Imra announces the arrival of security, and when the remaining gun-man turns to see the approaching guards, Rokk struck him in the back of the head just as Garth reaches forward to grip his leg. Just catching the edge of the shock through the pistol, Rokk still has no feeling in his hand an hour later…
That hour is a confusing one, and the captain demands detailed reports from the three of them, separately and together. The head of security, who was apparently shirking his duty, decides to make up for it by yelling at all three of them loudly and obnoxiously, for, “Risking the Queen’s life with your foolish stunts! Of all the grand-standing…”
Fortunately, Imra helps him to block out this tirade, distracting him with reports of things happening in the other rooms, until suddenly she gasps in his mind,
~Oh, this should be good.~
At that, the door opens and Queen Sarya of Venegar swept in, and the first thing Rokk noticed was that she’s changed her outfit, already.
“Your Majesty…” began the captain.
“Thanks to the quick reactions of our security teams…” interrupted the security chief (even the Captain shoots him a look at this one).
“Be quiet.” The Queen says, in a stern tone that brooks no dissension.
Apparently oblivious to the social situation, the security chief blusters on, “It could have gotten out of hand, but the training our crew receive…”
His words are interrupted by a loud CRACK as the Queen’s dainty fist lashed out into the nearest wall-monitor, which technically should be shatterproof, but shatters nonetheless. Rokk hoped that wasn’t something important to ship’s functions…
“I said be quiet! And now, begone!” The Queen stamped her foot and pointed at the door, which obediently opened behind her. The security chief made a strangled noise and the captain sweetly added, “Please leave now. And, you’re fired.” The captain then turned to the nearest security person, “You are now security chief, Relfa. Please escort citizen Bro-kal to his quarters, where he is to remain for the remainder of the voyage.”
The Queen turned and the sour look on her face melted away. She nodded to the captain, “Thank you. Where was I? Oh yes, I would like to thank your valiant crew-members for preventing this abduction attempt, the Emerald Throne is in your debt.” Smiling, the Queen extended her hand first to Garth, who, like the farm-boy he is, took it and pumped it vigorously with a big grin.
Withdrawing her hand with some effort, the Queen’s smile is frozen on her face as she turned to Rokk and somewhat reluctantly extended the offended appendage. Rokk gently placed his fingers beneath her palm and raised her hand to his lips, to brush a soft kiss to the amazingly large emerald adorning her middle finger.
Her eyes grew large for a moment and she twitched visibly. Rokk can just hear the words, ‘unsanitary barbarians’ and her smile widened to grotesque proportions as she turned to Imra and just nodded curtly. Imra smiled impishly and extended her hand palm up in the traditional Venegarian greetings to a superior while bowing her head, and Sarya visibly sighed in relief as she extended her hand palm down over Imra’s, hovering above it and promising the shelter provided by the ruling caste to those beneath them.
“It has come to my attention that your tour duties end this with this voyage, and that you are to disembark on Earth?”
Imra nodded, and watching carefully, Rokk also nods. Garth seemed to think that this was an invitation to share his life’s story and responded, “Yes ma’am! I’ve always wanted to go to earth, and working passage was a great opportunity to…”
“Yes, yes, wonderful!” Sarya interrupted, with a little clap, getting ‘that look’ on her face again, and Rokk can’t help but feel embarrassed for Garth. He glanced at Imra and sees that she is looking at Garth with a look that even a non-telepath can read as, ‘ah, the big goof, he’s so adorable.’ ‘Charitable moment over,’ he thought sourly.
“I mention this,” Sarya continues, uninterested in the teen drama unfolding before her, “because I to will be dwelling on Earth for the next 12 cycles, as part of my training in diplomatic matters and galactic standards of governance. It is tradition on Venegar for the regent to be accompanied by a select group of champions, whom, in days of old, vied for her favor.” Looking pointedly at Garth, she added with a warning glance, “Not that any nonsense of that sort would apply now, of course!” Imra is hiding a smirk, and for a moment Rokk loves her all over again. But the moment passed as the Queen’s next words shock him, “And I would like to invite the three of you to work out of the soon-to-be-established Venegarian Embassy. Your duties would be light, as the champions duties were traditionally less involved with protecting the person of the Regent and more in the performance of ‘daring deeds’ to draw her attention and reflect well upon her beneficence.”
“So, we won’t just be your bodyguards?” Rokk asked.
“I expect that I will have scarce need for such in New Metropolis. No indeed, the traditional role of Queen’s Champions was to function as heroes, as inspirations to the people, a reminder that any of them could impress her with their bravery and honor, and be rewarded with the opportunity to make a difference.”
Rokk peeked sideways at Garth, and he’s was clearly eating this up. He peeked at Imra, and she was looking introspective. Rokk’s mind was already made up, but he decided to give it a moment.
“It’s such an honor, it’s almost overwhelming! Can we have a moment to talk it over amongst ourselves, your highness?” Rokk attempted smoothly.
“Certainly.” The Queen replied, and from the look she has cast, she clearly had also noticed that Garth’s mind was already made up.
~It’s like nothing I’d ever even considered. To make a difference and not just be one of a thousand Titanians? To share my gifts and use them to make the universe a better place? My mother will *freak* out…~
And with that, Rokk knows that Imra’s mind was made up. She left Titan to get away from her domineering mother, and at every port call she worried about her mother appearing to whisk her back home. Back home, her prodigious telepathy made her alone in a crowd, but on Earth, her uniqueness would be a blessing, not a curse.
“I’m in. Are you guys in?” Garth seemed almost nervous, as if afraid to take this step alone. “You guys are my best friends! I can’t imagine doing this without you. What if I screw it up? I know these people laugh at me. Look at the dumb farm-boy, ha ha. But you guys are always cool with me…”
Rokk felt like an Imskian with shrinking sickness. “Um, yeah. We’ve got your back, Garth. This is the chance of a lifetime.” He looks guiltily at Imra, and she’s smiling to him in that way that he’d always wanted to see, as she placed her arm on his shoulder, and the other on Garth’s.
~Let’s do this.~