Emerald Legion, Chapter 20
Long Day’s Journey into Night – wherein all of the author’s anal-retentive background development on Kathoon suddenly becomes relevant
The Queen had just gotten back from a long-winded ‘secret meeting’ on ‘the Coluan matter.’ It had been deemed ‘inappropriate’ for Sarya to be part of the delegation sent to Colu to personally investigate the matter, due to her personal involvement with the rogue Five Dox, but Sivar Banel of Titan and Ravin of Talok VIII were among the six Ambassadors leading the mission, and Sarya was confident that whatever their findings, her right to grant asylum to Querl Dox would not be reversed.
She made it to her audience room and had just gotten settled on her emerald throne when Dox signaled that he sought an audience through his Champion’s Ring.
“Highness,” he began with a perfunctory nod, floating into the room without actually looking where he was going, as if born to flight. “I have been perusing the datafiles seized from Tharok on Luna, and uncovered additional information.”
Sarya nodded for him to continue, noting with a sigh that he still hadn’t even looked up from his datapad.
“The files include several references to shipments of equipment, and I have correlated these shipments with those involved in the ‘Giant Killer Robot’ incident of some weeks past. According to the files, the primary purpose of this was to serve as a distraction while Tharok seized Champion Ardeen, so that he could use her telepathic tissues to enhance his Validus creation. The arrival of Jath changed the dynamic and Tharok chose to remain in hiding and simply make several high-intensity scans of her during the action.” Dox finally looked up. “As Validus was psi-active at the last encounter, it would seem that Tharok chose to complete the creature without Champion Ardeens direct contribution.”
“One more mystery resolved. Thank you Dox.” Sarya said.
“There is also fragmentary data on some form of psi-tech which…” Dox hesitated before admitting through gritted teeth, “I do not understand.” He then qualified, “Yet.”
Sarya’s datapad chirped, and she glanced down to see an incoming priority communication from Ambassador Marin. Holding up her finger to Dox, she answered the comm, “Kathoon, to what do I owe the pleasure of this comm?”
The Kathooni Ambassador’s voice was clipped, “Sarya, I must return to Kathoon immediately. Jath’s presence is required at this time.”
Sarya sent out a command through the Eye, Champion Krinn. Ambassador Marin needs to speak to Jath immediately. Before replying to the Ambassador, “I have sent for Jath. May I ask what is the occasion of this recall?”
The Ambassador looked down for a moment, and the sound of other figures moving around her could be heard before she looked up, eyes dark. “There is civil war on Kathoon. I have contacted the UP High Chancellor, and he has informed me that as Kathoon is not a member world, and this is purely ‘an internal affair,’ the United Planets cannot be involved.”
“I would be tempted to agree with that assessment…” Sarya confessed.
“As would I, under normal circumstances,” Marin agreed. “I would not ask for outworlder assistance in a purely internal matter, but in this case, alien mercenaries are involved, and reports indicate that they have unusual technology, or perhaps powers, that our people are having problems resisting.”
Dox looked up from his pad
and interrupted, “Ambassador Marin, are there reports of a giant monster, or of
Warriors weapons turning against them?”
Marin looked shocked, “Who speaks, Sarya? And how could he know of such things?”
“Valid questions.” Sarya said pointedly to Dox.
“Tharok’s data indicates that he intended to swarm a non-United Planets-affiliated world with his attack force of these Validus creatures. Without UP protection, he would likely quickly take control of such a world. Your Champions have foiled his intentions to raise an army of these creatures, and yet he has gathered together instead a force of super-human criminals from Takron-Galtos. While Kathoon was not specifically mentioned in these files, it fits his specifications perfectly. I believe that Tharok has chosen Kathoon as his target.”
The Queen closed her eyes before proceeding. “Marin, I request permission to accompany you to Kathoon.”
“United Planets interference would be technically unlawful, Sarya. I would not ask you to risk your status.” Marin cautioned.
Sarya smiled grimly, “A UP observer should go, to substantiate or refute these rumors of alien interference, which the UP *could* deem sufficient provocation to act. If that ‘observer’ were to find herself under attack, it would be an unfortunate necessity for her own super-powered aliens to defend their Queen with appropriate force…”
Ambassador Marin shook her head, but smiled as she did, “Ravin warned me that you had taken an interest in dangerous games, Sarya. I would not refuse your status as ‘observer.’” Marin looked down at another pad. “We are negotiating for passage even now, I will contact you when we have a departure time.”
Sarya smiled, “Venegar has a single star-cruiser. It should be capable of holding your people and my own, although not in any sort of comfort. If you would prefer, I could contact you with a departure time…”
Marin looked concerned for a moment, “It is possible that I would be in no position to repay this courtesy, Sarya. I do not wish to place my world in Venegar’s debt…”
“I have my own reasons to wish to see these aliens removed from your world, and returned to Takron-Galtos, Marin. Do not mistake my offer for charity.” Sarya said sharply, recognizing that Kathooni pride was as prickly as Venegarian.
Marin nodded, the matter apparently settled in her mind. “Please contact me when your ship will be ready to depart. My people are ready at your word.”
Sarya, her Champions, Ayla, Jath and the Kathooni delegation gathered at the starport, where the Venegarian cruiser had been readied for departure with impressive speed.
“Diplomatic privilege has its perks.” Garth said admiringly, as the crews worked at break-neck pace to ready the ship for take-off, while non-diplomatic traffic was re-routed to make room for the unscheduled departure.
Jath’s eyes narrowed at the sight of her former companions. “Where is Kand?”
Larn, the Warrior representing Clan Auri, responded dryly, “Kand vanished over a day ago. She had been silent for several days, and then simply left, around the time your people encountered the monster on this worlds’ moon. It should not surprise you to learn that Clan Sangti is the primary aggressor in the war…”
Jath looked to Vala, the Warrior from Clan Lateen, Sangti’s greatest ally, “And Lateen?”
Vala grunted, “My Clan has sided with the Sangti, as always. When we arrive on Kathoon, I will be required to fight against you, my friends.” She crossed her arms. “Until I receive such an order, I will obey Marin, as is my duty.” She looked at a nail idly, decorated in delicate platinum tracery, “If the Ambassador were to order me to remain on the ship, I would be unable to receive such orders…”
“We shall see, Vala,” Marin said. “If Sangti has indeed recruited alien mercenaries to seize power, I will indeed ask you to safeguard Queen Sarya’s ship from attack. But if the combat is honorable, I will ask Sarya to remain on this ship, and you will be required to fight for your Clan.”
Vala nodded, and the group boarded as the launch crew evacuated the pad.
Garth quickly moved up to the pilot’s seat and stood behind the pilot, an older Venegarian man named Rinti. “Ah, Champion Krinn, is it?”
“Yes, whichever. I suppose you would like to fly again?”
“Well, I wouldn’t want to take you from your duties,” Garth began, failing to hide his enthusiasm as the pilot vacated the pilots seat and went to sit at the nav-computer. “You realize that you are not authorized to fly a cruiser of this size, young Champion?” the pilot said rhetorically, as he tuned in his comm-piece and began to talk with flight control about the impending departure.
Garth quickly sat down as he heard the pilot announce impending launch, furiously pressing buttons to try and keep up with Rinti’s announcements. Smiling the old man spoke faster…
“It will be eight hours before we reach Kathoon,” Marin announced. “Before we arrive, I should explain the pretext behind this ‘civil war.’”
Garth, Ayla and Rinti listened via the intercom from the pilot’s cabin, while the others were crowded into the passenger cabin.
“Kathooni history goes back 2400 years. It is said that our people were under attack by the endless armies of a war-god known as Aers, who was offended that our warrior-women were more skilled than his own male soldiers. According to the tales, our people lived on an island kingdom, and the war-god was striding across the channel to finish the final conflict when our own goddesses appeared and saved our people. Atheen, the Great Builder, crafted a great ship of metal to carry our people beyond the war-gods reach. Temeese, the Great Huntress, shot a single arrow into his eye, to blind him. Aphrodisia, the Great Spirit, gathered up the souls of our fallen and caused them to leave the world behind, along with their surviving kin, carried away by the great ship. The goddesses arranged for the ship to carry us into a dark hiding place, right under the bloody eye of Aers, where he would never be able to see us. The blood-red sun of Kathoon, we call Aers Eye, and Kathoon itself is locked in perpetual shadow, hidden from that great eye by the sister-planet that shares our worlds orbit. The great ship remains, serving as the center of our capital city, and the high temple of our faith. Deep within its bowels lies our world’s most sacred place, which no outworlder has even heard of, before now.” Several of the Warriors looked displeased at the idea of this being shared even now, but kept their silence. “All Seers and Warriors visit the temple, to face the challenges. I faced challenges of perception and will, and chose to serve Atheen, of the All-Seeing Eyes. The Warriors face physical challenges, testing strength of limb and strength of purpose, before they can be accepted by Temeese, of the Strong Arm. The third goddess, Aphrodisia, of the Loving Heart, accepts no challengers. The statue of Temeese shows her in animal leathers with a breastplate of metal, holding a blade in one hand and a bow upraised over her head, raised in triumph, her foot placed upon the body of an unknown beast. This beast is nothing native to Kathoon, and it was accepted that the beast was a creature of our forgotten home-world.” Marin produced a pad and displayed an image of the statue in question. Neither Rokk, Imra nor Sarya recognized the beast, but Dox’s eyes blurred for a moment and he pronounced, “Sus scrofa. A wild boar, native to Earth.”
Marin nodded. “Correct. And there lies the roots of our current
conflict. Upon discovering the identity
of the beast in Earth files, and of the existence of
ancient deities named Athena, Artemis and Aphrodite, among the cultures of
“Some welcomed this knowledge, but many rejected it. Clan Sangti, in particular, deemed it heresy, and Clan Lateen sided with them.”
Vala, of Lateen, interrupted then. “Clan Sangti has always sought excuses to increase their power. This is yet another pretense.”
“Be that as it may, currently Sangti is the most powerful Clan, and with Lateen at their side, they would already be a threat to the combined might to the other four main Clans, even without outworlder assistance.”
Larn, of Auri, piped up, “And yet,” she said, pointing at Sarya, “Do not you also bring outworlder assistance? I have no love for the Sangti, but we are not yet even sure if they behave with dishonor, and already we flirt with dishonor ourselves…”
Sarya spoke up before Marin could refute this, “I have chosen to travel to Kathoon as an observer. *If* there are alien mercenaries, my people may assist against them without intruding on personal matters of Kathooni politics. If there are no alien mercenaries, we will not interfere, unless attacked, and even then, only act to defend ourselves.”
Marin nodded her assent, “This is correct, and as it should be.” Seeing that Larn seemed satisfied with this answer, she continued on to discuss more mundane matters, “As Kathoon, like Braal, has a high concentration of dissolved metals in it’s atmosphere, everyone but Champion Krinn will need to use some form of life support, to avoid inhaling toxic levels of metals…”