Emerald Legion, Chapter 2

"Home is where you make it" - where three travelers find a place, and a calling




Sarya, 53rd Queen of Venegar, Regent of the Emerald Throne, Keeper of the Eye of Ekron, was not a happy woman.  The functionary next to her babbled on about the history of the building that the UP had ‘generously donated’ to be the new Embassy to Venegar on Earth, and it was an abomination.


“The Museum of Space, as you can see, was designed by famous Martian architect Rev Soon Ak in the quirky ‘retro’ style of ‘art-deco,’ which was undergoing a resurgence of popularity in the mid-28th century.  A sign of nostalgia for a simpler time of boundless optimism, it’s kitschy, yet functional understated…”


‘Enough of this,’ Sarya knocked the data-pad spinning from the functionary’s hands with a casual backhand.  “Fine.  Whatever.  I’ll take it, just paint the damn thing green already.”


“It looks like someone fired a giant missile at New Metropolis, it got stuck in the ground, and they slapped a door on it and called it a building.” Garth muttered as they approached the bright-red door in question.


“I think that’s what they were going for, actually.” Added Rokk, turning his own datapad sideways, as if the building would look any less ludicrous from some other angle.


~Well, it’s what’s on the inside that counts, right?~ supplied Imra, with a cautiously optimistic tone.


Opening the door and striding forward impatiently, the Queen of Venegars next proclamation was in a language understood by all sentients, Aaaahhh!!!”


“What in death’s name is that *thing*!!!” she pointed at the towering creature roaring in her face as her Champions prepared to defend their new patron.


“Oh, that.” Muttered the functionary, still shaking his nerveless fingers.  “It’s an artificial construct meant to represent an extinct earth creature, called a Tyrgorasumething Rekus.”


~Tyrannosaurus Rex.~ corrected Imra, pointing at the name on her datapad.  Lacking a datapad of his own, the functionary just glared at her.


“Yes, that.  It’s one of the museum exhibits that was left behind when the place was closed down.”


“Well, it’s appalling, and completely inappropriate.” The Queen declared huffily,  “It stays.”  She pointed to a display on the second tier, And those brutish looking ancient weapons of war.  They stay as well.  Everything else goes.  See to it.”


Dismissing the functionary with an airy wave, the Queen placed her hand on the animatronic T-Rex’s snout and petted it absently as she turned to her Champions, “Welcome to our new home.”




What a difference three days and an apparently unlimited amount of money can make.  The Embassy was now painted in a shade of forest green, with the ‘rocket-ship fins’ painted a darker jade green in contrast.  Entering the embassy, the original foyer had been reconstructed into various meeting rooms and guest quarters, while the uppermost two floors had been cleared away and made into a grand open-aired throne room, with overlooking galleries that let to private chambers on the second tier.  Every surface of every wall had been painted a dark metallic green, appearing almost black at a distance, and every door had been folded away into the walls when not in use, to be replaced with a gauzy pale-green translucent sheet of cloth that billowed in the warm breezes that circulated through the chambers.  The soft scent of earth and flowering plants, jasmine, morning-glory and lilac, wafted along these breezes, accompanied by the occasionally raucous cries of the birds imported to flutter about these interior gardens.  The roof had been replaced with transparent crystal of such a pale shade of green that it was all but invisible at full transparency, that could be darkened on command to an opaque shade of near-black jade.  Wishing to surround herself with the things of earth, her new home for a time, the foliage and fauna alike were all species native to this world, and green and red-feathered hummingbirds flitted about seeking sugary treasures, while a mated pair of quetzal birds engaged in some sort of domestic dispute about their new living arrangements.  Sarya hoped they resolved this squabble soon.  If they continued to disrupt the harmony of her court, she might feel the need to execute one or both of the disrespectful creatures…


Just over the burbling streams she had constructed in this interior garden, a throne of green crystal sat, and behind it, relocated from it’s former home on the first level, towered the crouching form of the extinct earth dinosaur, one tiny forelimb resting on the back of the throne, while it’s enormous head moved slowly, examining each other resident of the room, it’s massive tail gently sweeping back and forth.  Every now and then, in accordance to it’s programming, it would sniff the air in the direction of a worker and utter a low growl.  Delightful.  Extinct or not, Sarya *would* find a way to have a living sample of this species.


The room was prepared, and within the hour, her Champions would report to her presence, to receive their formal recognition.  Settling herself into the throne and patting the head of her enormous mechanical pet, Sarya awaited the day’s business.




“Oh, lords of steel and stone, there’s just no way.” Rokk exclaimed as he lifted his ‘Champion’s Garb’ from the box.  Jangling and clanking in his hands rested two stone worth of metallo-mesh fiber one-piece bodysuit, which, in and of itself wasn’t too awful.  Woven of a fine series of interlinked metallic chain rings, that Rokk immediately could sense as being composed of Braalian mag-steel, and further, seemed ideally suited to his own preferred magnetic resonance frequency, the suit looked to be form-fitting.  The links were primarily dark jade green in hue along the chest, shoulders, sides, gloves and boots, with panels of lighter forest green along the under arms, inner sides of the legs and lower torso.  Effective use of countershading, and not objectionable by itself, although he would have preferred that the colors be reversed, rather than call attention to the crotch.  ‘And ass,’ he thought, as he turned the suit around.


Still, in his magno-ball career he’d worn far less tasteful attire, as he was well aware that the fans didn’t show up just to see dazzling athleticism.  Sex sells, after all, and at least the Queen wasn't requiring him to prominently display corporate branding tattooed onto his flesh.


No, the questionable bit were these metal ovoids all over the suit.  Each had weight to it, and had been shellaced a glistening metallic green, so that it was hard to tell if they were supposed to look like metal or gemstone.  Also of Braalian mag-steel, Rokk knew that they would resonate with his own biomagnetic field, and be effectively weightless when worn close to the skin, but still, he couldn’t imagine not looking like a clattering ornament-drapped festival pole…


Oh well, nothing for it, he certainly couldn’t tell the Queen of Venegar that he wouldn’t be caught dead in the clothes she’d picked out for him.  Shrugging, Rokk pulled the cold metallic suit on and stepped in front of the mirror with his eyes closed, waiting to see how bad it could possibly be.


“Wow.”  It was astounding.  The metal ovoids ended up positioned over shoulders, biceps, chest, hips, forearms and thighs, and didn’t only not look awful, they actually somehow accentuated his own musculature.  If anything, they made him look *more* muscular, adding just the right amount of curve to look powerful, but not bulge out cartoonishly.  Turning around, his secondary fear was confirmed.  “Oh well.  At least I have a nice ass.”


Practicing walking towards the mirror with a jaunty step, he looked a little cartoonish at first, but slowing his pace down and walking with a weighter, more deliberate step made the skin-tight outfit actually look like a suit of armor, and with the right confident expression, he looked pretty Champion-like and not at all like a teenager wearing a skintight bodysuit covered with shiny metal balls...


Oh yeah.  He could work with this.  Time to be a Champion.




~Thoughts of mercy!  Where’s the rest of it?~  Imra thought out loud as she dug through the package, hoping to find more components to this ‘Champion’s Garb.’  Instead, all she had was a long gauzy transparent scrap of cloth that looked like the curtains Sarya had insisted on replacing the doors with, ~Have they no concept of privacy?~, a few dark green leather bits that could have come from a Serellian squirrel, ~Actually, the squirrel would have hide left over…~, and a bunch of flexible golden tubes of Titanian psi-metal, ~It’s illegal to export this off of Titan!  It’s good to be the Queen, I guess…~.


Imra spent a decent interval attempting to figure out how these various components would assemble to form anything remotely resembling ‘clothing,’ ~Great archetype!  Couldn’t she have included instructions?  I had an easier time assembling a mitochondrial DNA structure in molecular micrology…~


Finally, it was completed, although Imra turned the mirror around to block the view from the door, so that no one would see her changing, and probably moving stuff around trying to figure out where it was supposed to go.  The leathery bits ended up just covering her, in the fashion of a bathing suit designed to optimize exposure to solar radiation.  And there were shoulder pads, which seemed somewhat unnecessary, since half of her butt was hanging out.  Perhaps she could attach them back there?  Nope, they seem to be necessary as attachment points for the cape.  Perhaps some sort of butt-cape?  No, that doesn’t work either.  The warm golden Titanian metal flowed smoothy around wrists and waist and neck.  Slender snaking tubes worked their way under her arms and connected to the various leathery segments, even serving as very, um, ‘supportive’ structures that she found to be rather liberating, as without them any sort of movement led to more, um, ‘movement’ than she was entirely comfortable with.  It felt kind of like warm hands cupping her…, and rigid psychic discipline ended that train of thought.


The golden metal also snaked around the upper portions of her legs, and she found it somewhat ironic that the metallic ‘jewelry’ ended up covering more surface area than the actual cloth costume elements.  The boots were, what a shock, dark green leather, and brushing her hands across the leather, she was surprised to feel fine scales.  Apparently it was designed to feel like reptilian hide.  Unless, hideous thought, it was *actual* animal hide…  Holding the offending item at arms length and scanning the inner tags and labels, she was comforted to see those happy words, ‘genuine synthetic.’


Finally, the last of the metallic ornamentation attached to her brow, with a lovely smooth green emerald center-set and she was done, the box was empty, and she’d never felt so naked, without actually *being* naked.


She whirled the translucent fabric of her cloak around herself, and, as expected, it concealed exactly nothing.  ~Wonderful.  Let’s get this over with.~


Imra trudged resolutely towards her fate.




The alarm went off again and Garth looked up at it bleary-eyed.  He remembered that the Queen wanted them together for some sort of official ceremony in ten minutes, so he might as well get up and get ready.


Oh, that ‘Champion’s Garb’ showed up.  Cool.  Ripping open the box, Garth pulled out a skintight bodysuit in a shade of green so dark that it looked black at first.  The gloves and boots were yellow, and golden lightning bolts traveled down the sides of the arms and legs, while a larger white lightning bolt ran directly down the center of the suit.   Metallic golden bracers, belt and some sort of leg cuff things accompanied the outfit.  ‘Neat.’


Pulling it on, Garth quickly ran his fingers through his hair, grinned at his reflection and and dashed out the door.




Imra stood self-consciously in front of the Emerald Throne, arms-crossed and attempting to hide herself under her useless transparent cloak, while Rokk kept smirking and stealing admiring glances.  Curse him, he’s practically wearing a suit of armor and I look like a Jazerri dancing girl, only not as pretty…


~Where’s Garth?  I hope he hasn’t changed his mind!  Great Thinker, what if he’s left and gone back to Winath…~


“You worry too much.” Rokk says, turning away, “I’ll go get him.”


He walks away quickly, before Imra can formulate a response, leaving her standing in front of the Queen, who is absently reading a datapad.


~Um, your majesty?~


Sarya looks up with a patient smile.  “Yes, child?”


~Is there any chance that there might a Champion’s Garb that has a little more, um…~ floundering, she pirouettes around, showing her dilemma, ~well, just *more.*  Maybe something mysterious and regal, with flowing all-concealing robes?~


“Certainly not, dear.  A Champion does not represent concealment or deception, she represents truth and honorable intent.  If you are to be a Champion, you will have nothing to hide, no secret shame, nor display anything but pride in self.  You are a beautiful young woman, and while I understand that it is Titanian tradition to conceal the material body in many layers of cloth, to admire and revere only the mind and not sully one’s thoughts with concerns over the disposition of the flesh, you are not on Titan.  In this building, you stand among the traditions of Venegar, and as Venegarian tradition is prepared to honor you, I require you to similarly respect those traditions.”


“Did you have any other questions, dear?”  Sarya finishes, looking back at her datapad, and Imra received the implicit message that this conversation was over.




Rokk stepped into the hallway that led to the quarters, and Garth came jogging into view immediately, somewhat out of breath.


“Hey, I’m not late am I?  I thought it didn’t start for another couple minutes…”


“No, you’re not late.” Rokk said curtly, before putting his arm on Garth’s shoulder.  “Look, Garth, I’m only saying this as a friend.  If you’re going to jog in that thing, for the love of iron, put some underwear on…”


“Uh.  Okay.” Garth grew uncharacteristically silent as they walked down the corridor to the Queen’s throne room.  “Look, Rokk.  I just wanted to say, y’know, just before anything gets weird…”




“I like girls.  I mean you’re cool and all, and I don’t have any problem with that sort of thing, and I like you, but I don’t *like you,* like you…”




“I mean I hope we can be friends…”






“Shut the sprock up.”




Ah, her Champions all assembled.


“Never before has a Champion of Venegar been from any world other than Venegar.  By choosing you three for this honor, I break with centuries of tradition, and so cast the lot of Venegar with the United Planets, in hopes of creating *new* traditions, for a new day!”


“For it is not the blood that flows in one’s body that makes a Champion.  Since the earliest days, Champions have come from those of noble blood, and from those of common stock, for it is the *spirit* of a Champion that is recognized by Regent.  Heroes are not born, they are made, forged in fire and adversity, and you three have shown the fire that reveals to all doubters that heroes are not just from Venegar.  They can come too from Braal, and from Titan, and from Winath.  Whether you choose this day to stand at my side as Champions or not, you *are* heroes, and no honor I could bestow could change this simple truth.  I only acknowledge what already will be made known to all, that we stand in the presence of noble spirits, deserving recognition.”


“Stand forth Imra Ardeen, if you would be Champion, but be honored no matter your choice.”


Allowing her flimsy cape to fall back past her shoulders, no longer attempting to conceal her body from sight, Imra walks forward and bows her head, placing her hand forward, palm-side up.


~I would be honored to serve as your Champion, my Queen.~


Sarya smiles, and passes her hand in front of her crown.  A green glow comes from behind her hand, and when she turns it around, the round emerald that sat in the center of the crown has somehow separated itself from it’s golden setting, and now floats before her hand.  Lowering her hand, the emerald orb now floats before Imra’s widened eyes, and swells before her until it is the size of a man’s head.  Inside of the spherical stone, a great star can be seen twinkling and Imra can hear voices of encouragement, as if from far away.


“You see now the Eye of Ekron, the stone of succession and chooser of the Rulers of Venegar.  As the stone chose me to bear it through this lifetime, so shall it now ascertain your worth to serve as Champion.  Every King and Queen of Venegar will see your face, and know your heart, but have no fear, for I already know their verdict.”


“Place your hand upon the stone.”


Without question, Imra does this, and feels a warmth course through her.  From the surface of the stone, the crystal seems to bulge beneath her hand, and before her eyes, two tendrils of emerald extend from beneath her hand, and unite over her ring finger, merging into a seamless whole.  With a painless surge of pressure, her hand is pushed from the surface of the stone, and she now bears a band of solid emerald.


“You carry now the Champion’s Ring.  May it serve you body and soul, as you serve the cause of truth, body and soul.


“You may now stand down, Champion Imra Ardeen.”


The process repeats with the remaining Champions, and Sarya completes the ceremony, dismissing the monitors and delegates who had stood in the galleries watching the proceedings.


“I understand that you have not grown up learning the lore of the Champions, and that some explanations are in order.  Please be seated.”


The three Champions look around, but no seats are in evidence.  Garth plops down on the ground, and after looking to see that the Queen seems to accept this without comment, Imra and Rokk also seat themselves.


“The Champion’s Rings are composed of the same stone as the Eye of Ekron,” the Queen says, said stone reducing in size and returning to it’s setting in her crown.  “It has been a part of the ruling family since as long as there has been a ruling family, and it touches the souls of all who have born it.  I can feel the encouraging presence of my parents, and their parents, and many others I have never met in this lifetime, Kings and Queens all.  Through the Rings, you also will form a connection, and the Rings assist the Champions in three different ways.”


Firstly, you will hear my thoughts, if I wish it, even from across the universe, and in time, you will learn to communicate with each other…


This is awesome, can you hear me, Imra?  It’s like your telepathy!  Hey, Rokk, how about you, is this working for you?


“Or perhaps you will master it far in advance of my expectations,” the Queen adds dryly, with a glance at Garth.


She’s so hot when she gets all Queen-y.  Oh Great Harvest, how do you turn this off!


Rokk reaches over and snatches the Ring from Garth’s finger and places it in his hand.  “Down boy.”


“Ahem.  Thank you, Champion Krinn.” Sarya quickly proceeds, As the Ring entwines within your soul, to allow communication, so too does it enjoin with your physical self, and, traditionally,” with a glare at Garth, “this also takes some time.”  Garth is still studiously examining his left foot, which has apparently become endlessly fascinating, holding his Champion’s Ring in his hand and glaring at it.


“You will find that the Ring sustains your physical state, such that you will find yourself in less need of sustenance, and even able to withstand extremes of temperature, pressure or deprivation of oxygen.  The effect is limited.  You will not be able to enter a raging inferno, but you will find that no matter the amount of cloth covering your form,” she smiles at Imra, “your body will not feel a chill, and you may indeed be able to hold your breath for hours, depending on the strength of your lungs.”


“Will we be able to fly?”




“Yes indeed Champion Krinn.  I see that you have been reading up on the subject.”


“’On Emerald Wings,’ according to the poem.”


"Exactly so.  As you have seen, the Eye of Ekron is able to levitate itself, and defy the forces of gravity.  This Rings will enable you to do the same, and normally I would caution that this also takes time and training, but somehow I would not be surprised for you to again defy expectations in this matter.”


Garth had already slipped his Ring back on, while studiously avoiding looking at the Queen, and was sort of hopping in place.


Imra simply raised her hand as if pointing towards the ceiling, and slowly majestically rose towards the ceiling.


“Hey!  How are you doing that?”


“And now my Champions, it is time for you to take these new gifts and practice them outside of my Throne Room.”


~Yes, my Queen.~

“By your leave, Highness.”

“Yes, ma’am!”




Outside Imra floats imperiously a few meters above Garth, who bounds into the air laughing as she spun just out of his reach.


“How come you can do this!  I trained to be a pilot, I should be the one flying around already!  And how come I got the communication thing first, you should have gotten that…”


“She’s Titanian, Garth.  A born telepath.  The rings aren’t using telepathy, so she’s having to learn a new language.  Trust me, she’ll be better than both of us once she finds the frequency…”


“But what about the flying?  This is unfair!  Come down here, you tease!”


~Ha ha, I don’t think so.  You’ll figure it out if you want it bad enough.  I’ve been flying since I was a girl, in my mind.  It’s just another astral dream to me, only this time, I get to take my body with me and not leave it sleeping in bed.~  Imra is whirling through the air, gauzy cloak swirling about her, reveling in her new freedom.


Finally, Garth manages to catch her ankle, and looking down, he’s now hovering a meter off the ground as well.  She gently pushes him off while he’s distracted and he quickly stabilizes and swoops around her, arms wheeling madly as he swoops through the air in great arcs.


“I’m flying!  I got it!  You have to try this Rokk, it’s not hard at all!”


Rokk just crouches and uses his magnetic powers to hurl himself into the air like a rocket, his particular specialty from the magno-ball courts, and then uses his powers to stabilize himself.




~He’s cheating and using his own powers.  He hasn’t even started to use the Ring yet…~


“What’s cheating?  I’ll figure it out, and then I’ll be faster than both of you…”


Wanna bet.  Hey, there’s the metro-dome.  I bet I’ll get there first…”


~Not a chance, Garth.  ReadySetGo!~


“Hey!!  Cheaters!  I'll get you for this!”