Truth

There is an old, old saying: “Honesty is the best policy.” Yet apparently there are also times when “Tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth,” another old, old proverb, is just not right for the situation at hand.

This is such a time.

Having told her village of the imminent danger of an attack by a technologically vastly superior enemy bent on enslaving all who survive, condemning everyone to torture, Storm cannot simply leave them without any hope. Saying she has no idea how to protect anyone except her mom, Temoth, and maybe ten or twelve of her favorite cousins, aunts and uncles, would not go well at all. She has to say something else.

Why didn’t she think of only warning those she probably could protect? Too late now.

There was a reason for not doing so, wasn’t there? Come to think of it, there’s no way her mom would’ve agreed to saving herself and leaving everyone else to fend for themselves. If Storm is to get her mom to safety, she must be made to think everyone else has a chance as well. A better chance without her there with them.

Storm must have known this all along. Just not on a conscious level until now.

“As the Storm Trident I can transport everyone to another world, where the enemy will not find us,” Storm hears herself say.

This is not entirely true. Perhaps if she’d been this Storm Trident thing longer, had more practice with it, maybe then she could’ve transferred everyone all at once. As it is, she could probably transfer quite a lot of them somewhere, but only a few at a time, and the attack would definitely commence long before all of them were out.

Add to that the fact that she still had trouble reaching the exact time and place she was aiming for. What if she transferred people off this planet only to have to watch them die someplace where the Trident alone could survive? Say, in the vacuum of space, or between the molecules of a mountain.

That would not do.

The only safe place that Storm felt sure she could reach with any accuracy while taking others with her, was a cave deep inside a nearby asteroid. She’d found herself jumping there again and again during the time she was enjoying her newfound powers as the Storm Trident. The cave had breathable air, and plentiful plantlife. What it did not have, was a lot of space for too many people.

She also wouldn’t really know just when in time the jump would lead them. It could be next week, next year, a hundred years in the past, but the Trident knew that both the asteroid and the cave were stable for a few millennia in either direction. Storm would not miss the duration of viable conditions inside the cave. Not when the window of opportunity was that big.

She just had to make sure her mom and what others she could take would be willing to go there. If they resisted, it could break her concentration, and anything might happen then. Though probably nothing good.

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Warning

With the whole village together, Storm imagines she only has to explain things the once. No such luck, though. Once Storm has told her story, what has happened since she touched the Trident, and given everyone a warning of the threat she has seen approaching from space, she finds her audience is quite full of questions.

“Wait, hang on… What was the Trident?” asks one.

“Who are these Ancients you mentioned?” asks another. “I’ve never heard of them before.”

“Me neither,” says someone, and asks their neighbor “Have you?”

Suddenly it seems like everyone is talking at the same time, and the most important question is all but forgotten, until finally asked by Robrath of the Green in a voice that carries over all the din: “If there are aliens about to attack our world, as you say there are, what are we to do to keep ourselves safe? How do we protect our people?”

Silence falls.

How Storm wishes she had an answer at the ready… As anything else would be a lie, is she supposed to say “I don’t know”?

Chains of Attachment

They were married by chains of attachment. Never officially wed in a church, or a magistrates either. Just once they’d met, they were completely unable to walk away from each other, all attached.

They hated each other’s guts. And they loved. Oh, they loved as well all right, but they hated each other too, with everything they’ve got. Every ounce of being.

They’d fight, and they’d make love. The sweetest and the gentlest, and the wildest of the wild, they did it all.

Standing in a stall in the restroom of a bar. Love.

Rolling around in the sand of a beautiful beach just pulling the other’s hair out, trying to punch. Fight.

Their feelings were so strong. Their bodies full of life.

And they never could walk away from each other.

And then she died.

And she was left behind.

Gods

“Heaven have mercy and praise God! Storm! My child, my sweet, sweet, darling child, you are alive!”

Storm’s mother embraces her daughter, and weeps the sweet tears of relief. She honestly thought she’d never see her child again. Not once the Royal Constable took her away. Yet here she is, and safe and sound. It is a miracle.

“God had rather little to do with it, mother,” Storm gently says once the embrace has lasted long enough for her. “This is more the work of older gods of this world, than our own Heavenly Father.”

“Whatever do you mean, child? There is but one God. Our Heavenly Father who created all. Of course you are here thanks to Him.”

“Yes… well… be that as it may… I’m here now, and I have news to tell everyone and all the village.”

Storm turns from her mother to the other people around. Her friends, her family, everyone she must find a way to somehow keep safe from harm in the coming conflict.

She speaks to her uncle Robrath of the Greens, asks him to gather the whole village together, and fast. There is no time to waste.

Her seriousness and urgent tone are enough to convince Robrath of the Green to do so, though he too wonders what this is all about.

Confession

“Captain?” one of his men joins the officer in running towards the antechamber where special uniforms will be donned.

“Yes, Eloth?”

“I’ve a confession to make.”

“What is it?”

“After all these ages of inaction, I was kind of hoping we’d be attacked, and now I kind of regret it.”

“We’re not under attack.”

“We’re not?” the soldier’s steps slow momentarily. “But… I thought this was not a drill?”

“It’s not. We’ve been ordered to different action. I’ll brief you all in the antechamber.”

The soldiers reach the room.

Church

A Special Section officer sits in contemplation in the front pew of the church inside the secret base deep underneath the King’s Citadel. A strand of his long, dirt blond hair has escaped the ponytail at his nape, and hangs in front of his eyes. He doesn’t care. There’s nothing he needs to see here, after all. Nothing he hasn’t seen every day for almost ten years now.

The routine is always the same. Wake up early. Shower. Train hard. Eat. Train some more. Shower. Eat. Thirty minutes personal time he always spends alone in the church. After that, Special training, eat, and sleep.

Today, routine is disrupted.

Before the thirty minutes are up, his superior walks in the church. Shoves a piece of paper in his hand.

The Special Section officer wipes the hair off his face and reads the note. “You’re kidding me… We’re going into action?”

“That’s right. And not the action we were created for, but to destroy the Trident.”

“The Trident is not our business.”

“Apparently today it is. We have our orders.”

“Are we being sacrificed for this? There’s less specially trained soldiers aplenty to take on the Trident.”

“There would be, but the King has ordered us.”

“I see… Where do we find the Trident, and who does it look like right now?”

“It’s in the Greenseen District. Looks like a young woman with the silver eyes and the black curls of a carrier.”

The officer is struck mute by the mention of Greenseen District. He hopes that it is not…

An alarm goes off in the secret base to notify all personnel they have been ordered into action, and this is not a drill.

“Time to go to your men,” the superior tells the officer, who salutes him, and jogs right out of the curch.

Citadel

Deep underneath the King’s Citadel is a secret military base where the men and women of the Special Section live and breath and train for one purpose only: preparing to defend their world against a specific, serious threat. A threat that has never yet been realized.

Only the best and the most commended of the King’s soldiers are ever offered a chance to join the Special Section. Only the strongest and the bravest, and the smartest as well, are selected to try out for the possibility of learning a way of defending their King and their world that is entirely different from anything practiced anywhere else.

The catch is, if you try, and fail, you die. If you try, and succeed, you will spend the rest of your life in secret, separate from everyone you’ve known up to this point in your life. Unless you happen to already know one, or some, of the other best of the best soldiers who succeed, or have succeeded, in the selection process, but that is quite unlikely.

Also, there’s a good chance you will never see daylight again, and will most probably spend the rest of your existence in training only, but these things barely warrant any mention. A soldier truly dedicated to the defence of their King and of their world will, naturally, be willing to sacrifice anything at all for the sake of doing so.

The best candidates are picked to receive the offer of this rare opportunity. They are rigorously tested. Those who fail the testing either die so doing, or are swiftly executed. All this is done in secret.

Those who succeed will enter the King’s Citadel, meet the King himself, and then use the well hidden entrance to the secret base deep underneath the King’s Citadel, most likely never to exit again.

They are now part of the Special Section.

Threat

The list of wins and losses in the civil war is long. The King listens to it daily. Battles here and skirmishes there, riffraff arrested, cowards shot and heroes to be commended.

Today there is a difference to most days. One item in the long list of events reported draws the King’s attention like no other.

“There are reports of the Trident being active somewhere near the coast of the Greenseen district.”

“The Trident? She must be stopped at once.”

“Your Majesty…” the Royal Adviser hesitates.

“Yes?” Snaps the King, already irritated his command to stop the Trident hasn’t immediately sent everyone scurrying to fulfil it.

“The Trident is not so easily stopped. You heard what the High Bishop had to say, saw what almost happened when you refused the deal the Trident offered, and we have all studied the Secret Scroll since then… How do you expect us to stop the Trident now?”

“Send the Special Section to destroy her,” the King replies in a tone of voice that implies that answer ought to be obvious to all.

“The Special Section? Your Majesty… the Special Section is only meant to be used for a very specific, serious danger.”

“The Trident is a specific, serious danger.”

“Not the one written in the Special Section’s charter,” the Royal Adviser objects, further risking the King’s wrath.

Unused to being either questioned or defied, the King stares at his Royal Adviser, making the latter squirm.

“Send in the Special Section, or be thrown down from the Highest Tower while someone else sends in the Special Section in your stead. The choice is yours.”

“Send the Special Section,” the Royal Adviser confirms, with sweat running down his face.

“Thank you,” quoth the King.

The Special Section receives an order to active operations for the first time in all the history of the Special Section’s existence.

Continue

Suddenly Storm is back right next to Temoth. He is so startled he actually jumps, then hugs her. Even before the hug is over, he demands to know what happened and where she was.

Storm tells him all about the approaching ships and their passengers. The thousands upon thousands upon thousands of semi mindless slaves controlled by an AI intent upon one thing only: the subjugation of this world and everyone on it.

“What do you mean by semi mindless slaves?” Temoth asks.

“I mean there is just enough of their humanity remaining for each cyborg to know they’d rather be dead than continue existing as they are, and also be completely aware of their total inability to put a stop to either their own life or to anything the AI chooses to do with their body. Inside their minds they’re all praying to be sacrificed in battle. Especially the women who will otherwise be used for breeding.”

“My God…”

“The AI will turn everyone here to cyborg slaves as well. Everyone who survives the conquest, I mean.”

“What can we do? How do we stop them?”

“It. How do we stop IT? There’s really only one mind behind all those soldiers, yet how to stop it… Honestly? I don’t know. But somehow or other we have to find a way… I need to send my family, Storm’s family, someplace safe, so worry over them will not interfere with the Trident’s ability to protect this world.”

“How long do we have before they arrive?”

“Not long. Not long at all.”

“We best continue on then, and try to pick up our pace.”

Map

In the morning, Storm and Temoth bid farewell to the villagers. It’s time to resume their journey towards Storm’s home.

Storm and Temoth are walking hand in hand, when suddenly Storm vanishes. Bewildered Temoth shouts her name, receiving no reply.

The Trident stands in the center of the strangely flat top of a large crystal in a huge space inside a massive amethyst geode. There is no opening that could serve as an entrance to the geode. There is no exit.

Storm feels compelled to draw with her left hand a large horizontal circle in the air in front of her. This activates the crystals in the geode.

A bright light briefly fills the huge room. Then all is almost darkness as a map of space appears all around her, displaying stars, planets, and thousands of little dots moving towards her.

The little dots are space ships. Fast, sleek, and lethal.

The view changes to show the Trident the contents of the ships. Their weaponry. Their passengers.

Each of the thousands of ships approaching carries inside it a thousand cyborg slaves armed and dressed for battle. Their orange metal armor and biomechatronic parts a beautiful yet terrifying contrast to the darkness of their human skin.

The ships are far away still, but they are fast. If Storm is to save anyone at all, she must reach her home sooner rather than later. Their time is running out.