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 Post subject: Children Of The Universe
PostPosted: Wed Dec 07, 2005 6:42 pm 
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<center> <<<<<>>>>> Children Of The Universe <<<<<>>>>> </center>




Two Down… 222,138 to Go


Chapter 10



X



Michael stepped out of the portal back into the palace conference room on Xarius holding Jayyd and Alyyx by the hands. Right behind him were Liz, Maria, and Max. Maria rushed to Jayyd and threw her arms around her, as large tears ran down both of Maria’s cheeks. Unsure at first how to react, Jayyd slowly… inexplicably… moved her own arms around the sobbing lady who held her as though she might never let her go.

“Mm… mmm… Mom, Don’t cry!” Jayyd said. This brought more tears to Maria’s eyes and tears to Michael’s, too. Michael put his own arms around both Maria and Jayyd.

“Mom? …Dad?” Jayyd wasn’t sure if she was asking or stating a feeling that had just popped out of some deep recess of her mind.

“Yes!” Maria cried. “Yes! You’re home now! You’re home, Jayyd!”

“Home!” Jayyd mulled the word over in her mind. She didn’t remember ever hearing this word. Yet… somehow, she knew what it meant. “Home!” It meant family. It meant happiness. It meant security. It meant…

“Mama! Daddy!” Jayyd’s eyes filled with tears, and she hugged Maria and Michael both tightly as memories long ago forced into some deep recess of her mind by the Ghor’s machine began to flood back into her head again.

“Mama! Daddy!” She cried again, just to hear the magical words… the words she had forgotten existed.

Max turned to thank the young man who had helped Jayyd. As he looked into his eyes, recognition hit him like a sledgehammer…

“Alyyx? Alyyx! Oh my God! Liz! It’s Alyyx!”

Liz had, until this moment, not actually looked directly into the young man’s face. She had been so concerned with Maria’s getting Jayyd back. She had asked the Sphere of Searches to find Jayyd. That it had found Alyyx with her was a blessing she had not expected. Liz ran to Alyyx and threw her arms around him. When she had last seen him, he had been almost eight years old; now he was seventeen. Liz pulled back and looked at Alyyx’s face then smiled…

“You’ve become such a handsome young man! Oh my God, Alyyx! This is so wonderful!”

It was Alyyx’s turn now to feel the strange, yet somehow comfortable, feeling that these people were something… or someone… that he should remember. But where were these memories? Alyyx shook his head trying to remember. It seemed that a fog was lifting from his mind. He looked at Liz then at Max…

“Mama? Daddy?”

Liz and Max held Alyyx in their arms as tears ran inexorably down both of their faces.

“It’s okay, Alyyx… You’re home now!” Max said.

Alyyx nodded. He knew that it was true. The fog was still lifting from his brain, but already he knew… He was “home.” Alyyx did not remember this word, but he had no doubt of its meaning. He was home.

Varec stood with Shag and Maya. The three of them watched the reunions with a few tears in their own eyes. Turning to Shag, Varec smiled…

“Well, Shaqor… That’s two down… There are only 222,138 Antarian children left to find now…”

Shag nodded, still smiling. It seemed a daunting task, finding so many children, but Varec was right. It wasn’t only Max and Liz’s children or Michael and Maria’s children… or even his own precious little daughter, who still was out there somewhere… There were 222,138 more Antarian children to be found or to account for. And account for them or find them he would… all 222,138 of them… if it took him the rest of his life!




<center>End of Chapter 10

tbc…
</center>


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 Post subject: Children Of The Universe
PostPosted: Wed Dec 07, 2005 10:02 pm 
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<center> <<<<<>>>>> Children Of The Universe <<<<<>>>>> </center>




Rumors and Dragons


Chapter 11



XI



On Antar, Diane Casey and Dan Klein sat at a table in the CrashDown enjoying lunch together. From his table, Dan could see the beach across the street and the beautiful Golden Sea.

“It doesn’t seem right somehow, Diane. The beach is so beautiful… and it’s a weekend… but the beach is practically deserted…”

Diane nodded. “It wasn’t always that way, Dan. Before ‘the Darkness’ happened, that beach used to be crowded on weekends with children and their parents. I can still see them in my mind… still hear their cries of joy as they played…” Diane shook her head and looked down slightly. “It’s sad now.”

“I wish there was something I could do, Diane. I know Max and Michael and some of the others are on Xarius right now talking about the children. Did I hear right that they think some of them could have survived?”

“That’s supposed to be a secret for the time being… until they know if it’s true or not… but I’ve never seen anything spread so fast in my life as this rumor. I think all of Antar is on pins and needles. About half of the Antarians I know didn’t go to work today or leave their homes. They’re just glued to their vision screens looking for news… any kind of news. And the news reporters aren’t talking about anything else. All day it’s been the one and only topic. They don’t have a shred of news, but they’re expanding every word to fill every minute of the day with every latest rumor.”

“Just like they do on Earth,” Dan laughed. “I can understand, though. I just wish I could do something to help!”

Suddenly, Jeff Parker ran out of the back of the CrashDown accompanied by 24-year-old Korina, the only employee who had showed up today. Korina had been a 15-year-old when “The Darkness” happened. She was one of the youngest children not taken by the tragedy. Korina excitedly made an announcement in Antarian, and the three people in the café besides Diane and Dan left their food on their plates and ran from the restaurant. Dan saw that the few people on the beach also were running somewhere in a real hurry.

“They found two of the children!” Jeff said excitedly. “The news just came in!” Jeff turned to Korina, “Korina, you can go home if you want to,” Jeff said. “I can handle things here. I mean… there’s no one here anyway, right?”

Korina smiled and took off her apron. In an Antarian second, she was out the door.

“What’s this about, Jeff?” Diane asked.

“Come on,” Jeff said, motioning toward the back with his head. “We can watch on the vision screen in the back.”

Diane and Dan followed him into the back. On the screen, the reporter was talking fast in Antarian.

“They found two children. They’re alive and well,” said Diane. “They were on a moon of Ghorbidfael -That’s the Ghors’ planet!- Okay… they’re saying that the two children were being chased through the woods, and Max and Michael and Shag… and Liz and Maria… rescued them somehow from the Ghors.”

“The Ghors?” Dan queried.

“I told you about them once,” Diane said. They’re the ones that tried to take over our ship on the way here. It was the kids and the pawgor that saved us.”

“And they came back and took all the kids… Revenge maybe?” Dan surmised. …But how? Didn’t they all supposedly die?”

“They’re saying that they didn’t die… that they were transported to the Ghors’ ship and sold as slaves… or… oh!”

Dan didn’t press for more information.

“Can you get me in touch with Max, Diane?”

“I don’t know, Dan… I… maybe. I think I can. I could try. Why?”

“I want to offer my help if they need it to get any of the kids back. If they need to kick some Ghor butt, maybe I could help. I was a pretty decent tackle on the football team in college… and a damn good kicker!”

Diane smiled and touched Dan on the cheek with her hand.

“I’ll see what I can do. I’ve got a feeling that after this announcement, there isn’t going to be any shortage of Antarians wanting to join you. What about your job… on Earth, I mean?”

“I’ll have to split my time… you know, ‘It’s lunch time! Think I’ll have a hamburger and kick a few Ghor butts before going back to work!’”

Diane laughed.

“It can be managed with that portal you use,” Dan said.

“Dan, you’re a riot!” Diane laughed. “I guess that’s why I love you! I’ll tell Max you want to help however they can use you.”

Dan smiled.


<center> <<<<<<<<<<>>>>>>>>>> </center>

On Xarius, Liz and Maria were getting to know two of their children again.

“Varec?” Liz said, sniffing, with a smile, “It’s your turn… Sphere of Searches!”

“Ask.”

“Where is Liz-JoLee z’Varec?”

There was a brief pause. Varec understood more keenly now how Liz and Maria had felt while waiting for the answer from the sphere. The wait took perhaps five seconds… but it felt like eternity.

“Liz-JoLee z’Varec is on Drago… in the Dragon capitol,” said the sphere.

“Sphere of Visions,” Liz said.

“Ask.”

“Let us see Liz-JoLee z’Varec.”

In the mist appeared a young girl about 17. With her were a few dozen other young beings… most were not Antarians. But two other children in the group did appear to be Antarian. Liz looked closer. She and Max both gasped. One was JoLeesa, one of the triplets. The other was an Antarian child whom they did not recognize. The children appeared to be being corralled and “herded” from a building into an open field. Liz did not like the look of the creatures that were herding them… and she had a very bad feeling about the whole thing.

Suddenly, the Dragons released all the creatures they were herding. The children began to run. Then the Dragons ran after them.

“NO!” Shag yelled so loudly that everyone in the room froze. “NO! IT’S THE DRAGON FEAST! WE MUST GET THEM RIGHT NOW! IMMEDIATELY! The children will be ripped apart by their teeth and eaten alive as each one is caught! I’ve heard about this… I had never seen it before. LIZ, NOW!”

Liz stammered… “Sph… Sphere of… Portal! NOW!”

The portal appeared. Max, Michael, Varec, Shag, Liz and Maria leapt through the portal and directly into the center of the killing field of the Dragons of Drago.




<center>End of Chapter 11

tbc…
</center>


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 Post subject: Children Of The Universe
PostPosted: Wed Dec 07, 2005 10:05 pm 
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<center> <<<<<>>>>> Children Of The Universe <<<<<>>>>> </center>




The Battle Of The Killing Arena


Chapter 12



XII



Max, Michael, Shag, Varec, Liz, and Maria stepped through the portal directly into the center of the killing arena of the Dragons of Drago.

“I hope you’ve got a plan, Max!” Michael said as he saw the mob charging in their direction.

“I’ll think of one.”

“Well, you’d better think of it now, Max, because WE ARE out of time!”

The first few victims running from the Dragons were upon them.

“Liz! Open the portal!” Max yelled over the roar of the approaching Dragons.

“Portal!” Liz called out… “Take the children who enter to Xarius, but do not allow any Dragon to enter.”

Liz did her best, with Maria’s help, to “herd” the running children toward the portal. Six of them ran into the portal. Four more ran around it and continued on toward the forest. The remainder were just now arriving. Unfortunately, so were the Dragons.

Without mercy, two Dragons at once pounced on their first victim, a young creature from the planet Karis. The young Karisian screamed as the Dragons sank their teeth into a leg and an arm, preparing to rip him apart. Max and Michael, sharing the same thought, threw two fully charged power bolts at the two Dragons vying over the catch. The Dragons reared back and roared in pain, dropping their prey. Before the Dragons realized what had happened, Liz and Maria grabbed the young Karisian and ran him through the portal, each one holding an arm.

At the same moment, a second victim was grabbed in the teeth of a very large Dragon. Max and Michael threw two more power bolts, but this Dragon’s skin must have been thicker due to its size. The Dragon growled in pain but did not release the prey, a Vindulian child about twelve years old. Shag raised both of his hands and placed one over the top of the other. A beam shot forward, and the Dragon’s head exploded.

“Wow!” Michael said, “Remind me not to ever get Shag mad!”

Max nodded, his own eyes still pretty big. The Dragon lay on the ground with smoke pouring from where its head had once been. Varec had already grabbed the Vindulian child, and Liz and Maria had just reappeared through the portal. Varec handed Maria the rescued child, and Maria carried it through the portal.

Up to this point, the group from Xarius had only had to contend with a few of the faster victims and Dragons, who had arrived ahead of the main mob, but now many more were arriving. Max and Michael began throwing power bolts at random Dragons in an effort to stop them or slow them down. Shag, too, was firing off short beams of energy, but they seemed to become less and less powerful with each succeeding shot. Max and Michael, too, were tiring, and the Dragons were beginning to be less afraid of, even ignoring, the less powerful, semi-depleted power bolts.

The portal reappeared, and Liz and Maria stepped back through with reinforcements. Kyle Valenti and Dan Klein had shown up, asking to be allowed to help. Liz and Maria led them through the portal and directly onto the “battlefield.”

Dan and Kyle quickly sized up the situation.

“Kyle!” said Dan Klein… Kyle looked over at Dan. Dan made some circular motions with his fingers and traced an imaginary line through the circles. Kyle nodded.

“Go!” Dan yelled.

Kyle ran in one direction and Dan in the other, circling through the Dragons and their intended victims. Several Dragons were already upon various young victims. Kyle tackled the first Dragon hard, knocking it off its feet. As he did, he snatched up the Gredorian child and rushed her out past the Dragons. Three other Dragons were bearing down on Kyle and the child he held in his arms. Their long legs were impossible to outrun for long. As the three Dragons pounced, Kyle zigged suddenly and passed the child off to Dan, who had run through the mob from the other direction, so confusing the Dragons that they collided with each other. Dan rushed the Gredorian girl through the portal.

“Touchdown!” Kyle said to himself with a smile. Meanwhile, Kyle was not waiting for Dan to return to go after another Dragon. Rushing through the Dragon “line of offense,” Kyle bumped a Dragon that had just caught a Jyristi child about six years old. The Dragon dropped the child and Kyle grabbed her and ran zigging and zagging as the Dragons gave chase.

“Hey, you fumbled!” Kyle yelled back at his pursuers. “Get over it!”

Max took the Jyristi child from Kyle and rushed her through the portal as Dan reappeared from the other side. Dan and Kyle glanced at each other. Dan made some motions, and again, Kyle nodded. They both rushed straight down the middle through the mob of Dragons. Two Dragons had caught an older child by both arms, which they would have ripped off immediately.

Kyle hit the first Dragon hard with his shoulder. Dan hit the second equally hard with his shoulder. Both Dragons bellowed as they were spun around and forced to release their holds on their victim. Dan put the victim over his shoulder without stopping as Kyle threw himself sideways into the two Dragons, bringing them both crashing to the ground. Dan rushed the girl to Varec, who took her and gasped,

“Liz-JoLee!”

Varec rushed his daughter through the portal to the palace on Xarius. Max had already been forced to remain at the palace for the moment in order to heal the wounds of the many rescued victims. The Dragons’ teeth had made horrible injuries to legs, arms, shoulders… luckily, so far, none had been fatal, and Max had been able to save them and heal them all.

Varec laid Liz-JoLee down in front of Max. Max grimaced slightly as he looked at her wounds then placed both hands first on one of her torn arms then on the other as a greenish glow under his hands brought mending to torn tissues and new health to an injured body.

Meanwhile, on Drago, Dan and Kyle continued to go after the Dragons and deprive them of victims. Dan had rushed into the middle of a small group of Dragons and up to one that was hovering over a young boy from Nordos. Pausing just long enough to motion, Dan placed a finger over the Dragon’s head. Kyle grinned and rushed forward. As the Dragon turned to face Kyle, Kyle kicked. His boot went up, catching the Dragon in what was apparently a sensitive area. The Dragon let out a scream in a pitch much higher than it had been using before.

“And… It’s GOOD!” Dan yelled to Kyle, who smiled and gave Dan a thumbs up.

Although Kyle and Dan were having astonishing success rescuing the Dragons’ intended victims, the sheer volume of Dragons and victims on the field now made it a sure thing that some of the children would be killed before they could be rescued. Michael and Shag were still throwing power bolts and had had some success using Kyle’s tackle maneuver on a few Dragons, but it just was not enough.

Then Liz reappeared through the portal, bringing with her two new reinforcements.

“Liz! How? I mean… Where did you… How did you…?” a shocked Michael tried to ask.

“I used the spheres to find him and go get him. Then Varec brought the pawgor to us on Xarius. Then I used the portal to get us here.”

“Dang! I think that fellow gets bigger every time I see him!” Michael said, looking at the pawgor. “Does Danyy have his memory back?”

Liz nodded.

“Sorry to rescue you then throw you into a battle, Danny,” Michael said. “I guess these are desperate times… They certainly are for some of these children out here.”

Danyy looked at the pawgor, and the pawgor rushed into the melée, quickly sinking its own huge front “fangs” into the behind of a Dragon that had a ten-year-old Corshic girl in its mouth. The Dragon roared and dropped the girl as he spun around to see who or what had taken a bite out of him. He was totally unprepared for what he saw. His skin turned even brighter green than it already had been from the excitement of the hunt.

Apparently, the pawgor found Dragon meat less disgusting than Ghor meat. A good portion of rump was removed from the Dragon, which did its best to limp off. Other Dragons nearby dropped their victims and ran as they watched the pawgor make a meal out of the piece it had removed from the first Dragon. It seemed that the Dragons loved making meals out of other live creatures but had an aversion to being eaten themselves. Of course, this was probably the first time any Dragon had ever met anything that could make a meal out of a Dragon.

It appeared that now, with the arrival of the pawgor, the odds were at least even of rescuing most of the children on the field.

But there was to be one more unexpected surprise. Somehow, Danyy’s “owner,” Ee-l’wee, the little Aklatian, had followed Danyy and found him. She appeared now, flying with her four dragonflylike wings, in front of Michael and Shag, who sheltered Danyy. Ee-l’wee reached out for Danyy, and Michael reached his hand out to swat her away.

“NO!” Danny yelled. Surprised, Michael pulled his hand back.

“I’m not letting some little human dragonfly take you away, Danyy, now that we’ve got you back. Who is this little ‘fairy?’”

“She’s Ee-l’wee. She bought me from the Ghors. She… she treated me good. She has a zoo on her planet.”

“She put you in a zoo?” Michael said disgusted.

“No,” Danyy said. “I lived in her house. I controlled the animals for her. But you can’t hit her!”

“Why not?” Michael asked.

At that moment, a nearby Dragon decided to make a meal out of the little flying Aklatian. The Dragon reached out to snatch Ee-l’wee out of the air, but as it did so, its entire body lit up as though struck by lightning. The Dragon crumpled to the ground, smoke coming from every pore on its body.

“Oh!” Michael said… “That’s why, huh?”

Danyy turned to Ee-l’wee.

“Please Ee-l’wee. These are my people. And they need help. You told me that the Ghors disgust you and you don’t believe in selling intelligent children. But the Ghors sold all the children on this field to the Dragons to be killed and eaten for a holiday festival. Will you help?”

Ee-l’wee looked at Danyy mournfully then turned and flew through the mob of Dragons. It was too easy. No Dragon could seem to resist the little flying morsel. Many dropped the children they had already caught to go after Ee-l’wee. Each one that touched her suffered the same fate. It was cooked to well-done, smoke pouring out every pore and opening of its body. And yet… the Dragons simply could not understand that she was a threat. They could perceive the pawgor as a threat, and they ran from the pawgor, which already had saved a dozen children and gorged itself on Dragon flesh. But a little 15-inch high flying “fairy” was just impossible for the Dragons to perceive as a threat, even seeing it with their own eyes. One by one, the Dragons were struck by a lightning-like power they had never experienced before.

Kyle and Dan rescued the last two victims, whisking them away from under confused Dragons’ noses. Then the field was quiet.

The only bodies visible on the field were Dragons. Most were either missing chunks or smoking. The ones that could had run away. The children who were injured had all been whisked through the portal to Xarius. There were still four children to account for… the ones who had initially run around the portal and made it to the forest after Max and Michael and gang stopped their pursuers from catching them.

“We’d better see if we can find the missing kids quickly,” Michael said. “The Dragons will surely be back with weapons.”

Shag shook his head. “They’ll be back… and with reinforcements… but not weapons.”

“How do you know?” Michael asked.

“Because weapons are a ‘no-no’ in Dragon culture. It’s not that they’re pacifists, obviously. It’s just that it’s part of Dragon culture that any Dragon incapable of bringing down an enemy or victim with its teeth and claws is deemed unfit and eliminated from the gene pool.”

“As in…”

“As in ‘killed.’ Or if it is a very important Dragon… a technician or scientist or something, it may just be castrated.”

“Oh,” Michael said, “Is that all? ‘just’ castrated?”

Shag grinned. “Got to keep the gene pool strong and vicious.”

“Danyy,” Michael said, turning to the now 18-year-old boy. Can the pawgor find the missing children and bring them back?”

Danyy smiled and nodded. The pawgor rushed off into the forest. Within minutes, it returned with three of the children. One was an Antarian girl. She was sitting on the pawgor’s back. Behind her was a Dinuvian girl, who was holding tightly onto the Antarian girl. In the pawgor’s mouth, carefully restrained behind its two huge front teeth was a younger Kirishi boy, only about 6 years old. The boy was obviously less inclined to take the ride and still struggled to get free, but to no avail.

Liz ran to the Antarian girl and threw her arms around her crying as the girl slid off the pawgor’s back.

“JoLeesa! Oh, JoLeesa!”

JoLeesa smiled broadly and hugged Liz.

“You know who I am?” Liz asked. “You have your memory?”

“I do now,” JoLeesa answered. “When I saw the pawgor, it all started coming back. I thought about Danyy… then I remembered you and Daddy!”

“Oh, JoLeesa! …Let’s go home!” Liz cried.

JoLeesa turned to the Dinuvian girl. “Mom, this is Darja. She’s from Dinuvia. She’s been here since the same day I was brought here.

Liz smiled. “Come on, Darja! We’re all going home. We’ll be notifying your people where you are.” Liz looked at the boy in the pawgor’s mouth… “You, too!” She held out her hand to the boy, and the pawgor released him and rushed into the forest to find the other missing child. Liz took JoLeesa and the two that were with her, and the three passed through the portal.

Minutes later, the pawgor returned with a small Finisi girl carefully restrained in its mouth. Shag took the child as Danyy hugged and petted the pawgor. Then the three of them passed through the portal. The battle of the killing arena was over. Now each child had to be identified and his or her home planet notified.

The rescue had been remarkably successful -with a little unexpected help! Max had been able to heal all of the children’s injuries, and all the children held by the Dragons had been rescued. It would not go down in Dragon history as one of their better festivals. Antar and Xarius had undoubtedly made one enemy this day. But new alliances and strong bonds were about to be forged all over the galaxies with other planets… planets that would soon be getting back children they had all thought were dead.



<center>End of Chapter 12

tbc…
</center>


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 Post subject: Children Of The Universe
PostPosted: Wed Dec 07, 2005 10:09 pm 
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<center> <<<<<>>>>> Children Of The Universe <<<<<>>>>> </center>




Celebration


Chapter 13



XIII



On Antar, everywhere, vision screens were flashing:

“URGENT NOTICE! JUST IN! MORE CHILDREN FOUND ALIVE - RESCUED FROM PLANET DRAGO !

It was impossible to describe the mood of jubilation and sheer joy that ran like a wildfire from one end of Antar to the other. The news reporters were breathless with the reports; and to top it off, they had VisionStream, the Antarian version of video, of some of the battle, filmed by an independent correspondent from a ship in space. The news anchors noted that all of the children, Antarians and non-Antarians, had been rescued and taken to Xarius where King Zan himself had healed each one’s wounds.

Antarians watched the news and the VisionStream then ran into the streets rejoicing, dancing, crying, and hugging each other. Such happiness had not been seen on Antar in many years. Real hope ran through every Antarian that they might actually again see the children they had lost - alive and well!

For one family in the Grelligo region of Antar’s south, the news was especially sweet. Though none of the children had yet been officially identified by the authorities, the family of GrelJorlis saw their child on the news VisionStream. They watched as Kyle and Dan rescued him from a Dragon… They watched as Liz and Maria took him through the portal. The family of GrelJorlis knew that BrenJonyyt was alive. So did many of their neighbors, who rushed to tell them that they had seen their son on the VisionStream. The house of GrelJorlis was a party all day. Everyone celebrated, and Grelligan jubish flowed like the waters of the nearby river.


<center> <<<<<<<<<<>>>>>>>>>> </center>

On Xarius, in the palace of King Shaqor and Queen MayaSabriena, Max, Michael, Liz, Maria, Varec, Shag, and Maya all worked tirelessly to try to identify the children and the planets that they had come from. Shag, with his 10,000 plus years of experience traveling the galaxies, was a huge help. He was able to communicate with most of the children and was familiar with many of their planets. Liz and Maria catalogued the information. They had rescued a total of 57 children from the Dragons; the children ranged in age from five to nineteen.

Another small problem was Ee-l’wee. The little Aklatian had been allowed to return to the palace on Xarius with them. Ee-l’wee knew that Danyy was not going back to Aklat with her. Danyy was home… or almost home… except for one small detail. Ee-l’wee still had the older female… the one the Antarian children had called “Mother.” The one that had been so protective of Danyy that she had somehow been able to see the transporter beam that took Danyy away and had thrown herself into it and gone with him rather than let him go.

Ee-l’wee still had the female… and she knew what she had to do. Ee-l’wee held out her hand and intoned a word in Aklatian, “Bal’yeet.” A sphere appeared in her hand, and Ee-l’wee said, “Jemet… Aklat.” A portal opened, and the little Aklatian disappeared.

“She has a set of spheres!” Michael said in amazement. She has spheres, too!”

Shag smiled and nodded.

“I thought…” Michael started…

“…that ours were the only ones?” Shag said, finishing his sentence. “No. The spheres are very, very rare. There are only five sets in the entire universe… and they are priceless… but not unique.”

Suddenly, Ee-l’wee reappeared, and with her was the female.

Liz and Maria gasped… “Kathleen?”

“We thought you…” Michael started to say. “We thought you…”

“We thought you had jumped into the river after Danyy disappeared,” Max said for Michael. “Someone saw you running toward the river. They said you jumped. No one ever found your body.”

“I didn’t jump in the river,” Kathleen said. I saw the beam sweep over slowly and take Danyy, and something appeared in his place… something that looked like dust remains. Then I saw the beam move away, and I ran after it. I jumped into it as it reached the river. I guess it might have looked like I threw myself in the river at that… to anyone looking.”

“Oh my God!” Liz said. “Wait till Jim finds out! He’ll get both of you back! Jim’s going to be soooo happy!”

“You know what really broke my heart,” Maria said. Mom and I went over to the ranch one day, and Jim was sitting there on the porch petting the pawgor… and both of them looked like they had lost everything that they had ever lived for. Jim was rubbing the pawgor’s back and saying, You miss ‘em, too, don’t you, boy… The pawgor came around every day looking for Danyy.”

Liz hugged Kathleen then Maria and MayaSabriena hugged her.

Kathleen turned to Ee-l’wee, “I never thought I would ever see Jim again, and that broke my heart… but I am so thankful that you bought me, too, when you took Danyy from the Ghors. I don’t know how I could have made it if you had taken him away from me. And thank you for treating us kindly. I don’t condone selling or buying slaves either one, but… if you hadn’t taken us, someone or something else would have… and they would probably have split us up. And… we don’t know how they would have treated us.”

Ee-l’wee smiled, though somewhat sadly.

Dan Klein asked, “Ee-l’wee… do you have any animals from Earth in your zoo?”

Ee-l’wee shook her head.

“Liz?” Dan said. Liz knew what he wanted. She called the portal, and Dan stepped through it. Twenty minutes later, he was back, and he had by the hand a pair of young chimpanzees.

“They’re for you,” Dan said to Ee-l’wee.

Ee-l’wee flew around the chimpanzees, looking at them with amazement.

“Are they intelligent, Dan Klein?”

Dan smiled. “Compared to a Ghor… probably… but not as higher life forms.”

Ee-l’wee actually broke a smile. “I like you, Dan Klein! Thank you!”

Dan released the two chimpanzees, and Ee-l’wee took them by the hands. They seemed to like her.

“Bal’yeet,” Ee-l’wee said. A portal appeared. “Jemet… Aklat.”

“Ee-l’wee,” Max said.

Ee-l’wee looked back.

“Thanks for the help with the Dragons.”

Ee-l’wee smiled again… then she stepped through the portal with the two chimpanzees by the hand.


<center> <<<<<<<<<<>>>>>>>>>> </center>

On Antar, the news was still running without interruption, and the celebrations were still going on in the streets. Antarians were already talking about Kyle and Dan’s unconventional battle techniques and that marvelous pawgor. Somehow, seeing “their” pawgor rescuing Antarian and other children on a far away planet gave them a sense of great pride. The scenes of the pawgor taking a bite out of the first Dragon’s rear end and the scene where Kyle zigged and passed a child off to Dan, who came from the opposite direction then ran through the portal with the child as the confused Dragons collided with each other were played over and over. They were sure to become Antarian classic clips, as was the scene where a Dragon tried to grab Ee-l’wee and wound up on the ground smoking.

For Antarians, today was a good day… a day to rejoice… a day to be happy and celebrate. And Antar was not the only planet celebrating. The news was out… and spreading at the speed of light.

On Ghorbidfael, Hosk had gone into deep hiding. Already, his planet was surrounded by a ragtag fleet of ships from numerous different planets, all with one object for their visit… to kill Hosk.




<center>End of Chapter 13

tbc…
</center>


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 Post subject: Children Of The Universe
PostPosted: Wed Dec 07, 2005 10:17 pm 
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<center> <<<<<>>>>> Children Of The Universe <<<<<>>>>> </center>




Gifts and Powers


Chapter 14



XIV



Shag?” Michael said questioningly…

“Yes?”

“How is it, you think, that Kathleen was able to see the transporter beam that took Danyy? Nobody else saw it. Not one single Antarian saw it. I didn’t see it… Maria didn’t see it… Max and Liz didn’t see it… So how do you think Kathleen saw it?”

Shag raised his eyebrows slightly and shrugged. “I don’t know… but if I had to guess, I would say that she has developed a gift.”

“A gift? You mean, as in a power?”

“Call it what you want, Michael… it’s a gift. She saw something that others couldn’t see.”

Michael nodded… “Yeah… Jim deflected a falling branch from a kid once by putting his hand up… but Max healed Jim once, and we figured that’s how he got his power.”

“Didn’t he heal Kathleen, too, after that thing that happened on Earth… in the mountains?”

“Yeah, that’s right… he did… You know about that?”

“I heard. You know, Michael, their son, Danyy has a gift, too. He talks to animals. Yet both of his parents are from Earth.”

“Yeah… that’s true. My kids and Max’s have some special abilities; but then of course, we’re part Antarean to begin with.”

“Max! Michael!” Liz called… “I’m going to get Maya from that place where we saw her rocking a baby crib when we used the Sphere of Visions before.”

“Oh, yeah,” said Michael… “She looked okay, but that was one weird, furry baby! I’ll get her for you, Liz. Call the portal.”

“Thanks, Michael… Portal!

…Take Michael to my daughter, MayaSabriena.”

The portal appeared, and Michael stepped through it. In front of him, across the room, was Maya, rocking the baby crib and singing softly as before. Michael stepped forward toward Maya… but before he had taken his second step, something hit him hard, throwing him violently across the room. Michael had only got a glimpse of the huge hand coming at him from the side before it had connected with his head.

Lying crumpled against the wall in the corner of the room, Michael looked up in time to see it rushing at him. This time, he reacted, moving out of the way of the charging… whatever-it-was. It moved fast! Michael moved faster! “Whatever-it-was” stood about seven feet high; but it walked stooped over, so it was probably actually taller. It was covered with thick reddish-black fur. It’s face somewhat resembled a gorilla’s but was much longer and bigger. It had two very large lower teeth protruding upward about 12 inches out of the lower jaw. Its arms were huge, and its hands, if that’s what they could be called, were the size of car tires… in fact, as Michael thought about it, that’s pretty much how he felt… as though he had been hit by a car.

Michael put his right hand up and the palm began to glow green. The creature seemed to recognize the danger and backed off. Standing back up, Michael reached out to Maya with his left hand while keeping his right hand aimed at the creature…

“Maya! Come with me,” he coaxed.

Maya looked unsure and frightened. She had no idea who Michael was. For a moment, it seemed that she might not move. But after quick consideration, Maya decided that although she had no idea who Michael might be… she did know Grezhf… Grezhf worked her 20 hours a day with only 4 hours to sleep. Grezhf made her clean the house, take care of the baby, comb her fur for her and pick the bugs out of it… Grezhf made her cook the meals then threw her the left over fat and bones that she had chewed on for her meals… and Grezhf beat her mercilessly when she was tired or feeling ill. Maya held out her hand to Michael. Michael took it, and the two of them stepped quickly through the portal.

As they stepped into the palace of King Shaqor on Xarius, Liz rushed to Maya and hugged her, and tears began to brim up in her eyes all over again. Maya seemed confused and slightly flustered. She pulled back slightly and looked at Liz then at Max… then Michael… then Maria. She didn't understand why, but there was a comfortable feeling here… a comfortable feeling about these people. Maya put her arms around Liz, and Liz began to cry. As she did, the veil that had shrouded Maya's memory began to come down. Maya began to remember… and tears came to her eyes, too. She hugged Liz tighter…

"Mama! Mama! Mama! Where have I been? How could I have forgotten you? How could I have forgotten everything?"

She looked at Max, who was standing beside her now, wiping tears from his own eyes. She hugged Max as he wrapped her in his arms together with Liz.

"You know, Liz," Max said wiping another tear from his cheek, "This is so wonderful… I'm kind of glad we only have four children. I'm not sure how much happiness I could take!"

Liz smiled and hugged him closer. "You'd better get used to it, Honey! I've got a feeling that every child we return to a family is going to feel like our own child all over again. Your heart is just going to have to be strong."

Max nodded.

“Max, I want to find Andya. We got Alyyx from the Ghors, we got JoLeesa from Drago, and now we’ve got Maya back from whatever that was. Andya’s our last one missing.”

Max nodded. But he looked around the room. Varec had Liz-Jolee back, Michael and Maria had Jayyd back but were still missing Zorel and Kryys, Jim would be getting Danyy and Kathleen back now; but Kyle and Jeliya… Kyle stood there looking happy for all the others, but Max knew how he felt inside. Rayyn and Taz were still missing. So were lots of others.

“Liz, let’s find Rayyn next… okay?”

Liz looked at Kyle… She nodded.

“Sphere of Searches!”

“Ask.”

“Where is Rayyn Valenti?”

There was a pause of a few seconds then the sphere answered, “Rayyn Valenti is on Yargish in the house of Narwha the retired space captain.”

“Portal!”

“Uh… wait a minute,” Michael said… After that last one, I think we should take a look before we just go charging in.” Michael rubbed his jaw.

Liz nodded… “Sphere of Visions!”

“Ask!”

“Let us see Rayyn Valenti.”

A mist appeared in the room, and a vision appeared. It was Rayyn, and with him was a female, possibly Antarian. The two were inside some kind of clear enclosure. Outside the enclosure sat a very strange creature, but it did not appear to be anything like Grezhf. This creature was extremely tall, perhaps 20 feet, but thin as a reed. It looked fairly harmless, but Michael knew that looks could be deceiving. After all, Ee-l’wee had “looked” harmless, too. The Dragons sure found out otherwise.

“Portal!” Liz said.

Max, Michael, Liz, Kyle, Shag, and Maria all stepped through together. Narwha stood up as the intruders appeared. Suddenly, they were looking up at Narwha… way up… “treetop” up! It was disconcerting. Narwha bent down and looked at the intruders. Before he had bought the female from Hosk, Narwha had never seen any member of her species. Then he had bought the male. Now, here stood a whole handful of creatures of her species right in front of him.

It had never occurred to Narwha that the creatures he had bought from Hosk might actually be “higher life forms.” Oh, he knew they were intelligent… probably more so than the average animal… but not higher life forms. Now he was surprised by the appearance of these others through a portal. Narwha knew of the spheres. He was a well-traveled Yargishi. He had never seen one of the fabled spheres personally, but he knew that, without a shadow of a doubt, any creature that had the use of the spheres was a higher life form. Of this there could be no doubt.

Narwha easily reached over the enclosure with his long arms and picked up the boy. He placed him in front of the new arrivals. Then he reached in and took out the female. For the first time, Liz and Max saw her face. It was Andya. Max and Liz moved quickly to Andya’s side. Kyle was already at Rayyn’s side.

“I think you want these,” Narwha said in Yargishi.

“DarShela,” said Shag, which in Yargishi meant, “Thank You.”

Narwha repeated the phrase, “DarShela,” knowing that the intruders would be in their full right to take the “hostages” by force but had not resorted to violence unnecessarily. Narwha tried to explain that he had not realized they were higher intelligent life forms and had bought them from Hosk as pets… he had treated them well.

“We understand,” Shag said… “We blame Hosk for the most part… Hosk and all the Ghors, because they are slave traders by a matter of their culture.” Shag asked Narwha if he had any information on any of the other victims sold by Hosk. Narwha told him that he knew that some, including at least one Antarian girl who looked exactly like the one he had bought were sold to the Dragons of Drago.

Shag nodded…

“We know about that… They have already been rescued.”

Narwha seemed genuinely happy to know this. It had saddened him when he had learned that the other girl like the one he had bought was sold to the Dragons, because he knew what the Dragons did with them. Narwha had no love for the Dragons of Drago.

“Hosk keeps the pets in a subterranean area on the Ghor moon of Gadyslar,” Narwha said. “It is a huge area, and there are hundreds… many hundreds… of ‘pets’ there at any given time. The subterranean holding area is very sophisticated. It has separate areas for different types of pets and all the information on each of them is kept there… what they eat, how they live, where they come from, everything.”

“This is very useful information!” said Shag. “We need to get a hold of those records. And, of course, we want to liberate all of Hosk’s ‘pets!’ Hosk only deals in higher intelligent life forms… slaves.”

“He told me they were pets,” Narwha said sorrowfully… apologetically.

“Hosk will say that they are vegetables if vegetables are what someone wants to buy and someone is willing to pay his price for the vegetables,” Shag said.

Narwha already knew this was true. Though he had treated his “pets” well and had indeed been told by Hosk that they were pets, somewhere in his heart and soul Narwha now realized that he had always suspected -perhaps known- that they were more than that. He had allowed himself to believe what he wanted to believe, and this made him guilty.

“I will help you in any way that you would like me to help to obtain the freedom of your young people whom Hosk has taken,” Narwha said.

Shag looked at Narwha and smiled slightly as he nodded… “DarShela, Narwha. We will let you know if we can use your services. For now, we thank you for the information you have given us and for the return of our children.”

“DarosYoviv,” said Narwha… “You’re welcome.”

Max, Michael, Liz, Maria, Shag, and Kyle stepped back through the portal with Andya and Rayyn. Once in the palace of King Shaqor, Liz threw her arms around Andya and began to kiss her face. Max hugged her, too.

“Andya, you’re home now!” Max said… “You’re home! I’m your Daddy; and this is your Mama.”

Andya, who had learned to understand some Yargishi over her years with Narwha, though she had never spoken, already understood that in some way she belonged with Liz and Max, but the fog that shrouded her mind was still there. She knew… but she had no memory.

Rayyn, too, had learned to understand Yargishi and knew that he belonged with Kyle. In some way, he was beginning to feel something. Kyle held him close to his chest and ran his hand up and down Rayyn’s back. He wiped tears from his eyes as he laid his head down on top of Rayyn’s and kissed him. Rayyn put his arms around Kyle. It just felt right somehow.

Shag came back into the room with Maya, JoLeesa, and Alyyx with him.

“Andya!”

Andya looked at Shag.

Shag pushed Maya, JoLeesa, and Alyyx in front of him.

“Andya,” said Alyyx, holding out his hand to his sister. Andya took Alyyx’s hand then Maya’s and JoLeesa’s, and tears began to roll down Andya's cheeks. She turned and grabbed Liz, pulling Liz to herself and hugging her tightly. Maya, JoLeesa, and Alyyx all joined in and put their arms around Liz, Max, and Andya together. In the center of the "hug," Liz was in Heaven.




<center>End of Chapter 14

tbc…
</center>


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 Post subject: Children Of The Universe
PostPosted: Wed Dec 07, 2005 10:21 pm 
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<center> <<<<<>>>>> Children Of The Universe <<<<<>>>>> </center>




Return To Gadyslar


Chapter 15



XV



I think it’s time we paid Hosk another visit,” Shag said. “If Narwha the Yargishi is right, we may find more children there, and we should also try to find Hosk’s records of his slave sales.”

Michael and Max agreed.

“Sphere of Visions,” Shag called.

Being the original owner of the spheres, Shag was able to call on them at will.

“Ask!”

“Show us the subterranean slave chambers on Gadyslar.”

In the mist, they saw an underground chamber. It appeared to be large… and possibly abandoned.

“Sphere of Visions.”

“Ask!”

“Show us the children in the slave chambers.”

In the mist, children appeared. Shag, Max, and Michael saw children of numerous species locked in rooms off to the sides.

“Sphere of Visions.”

“Ask!”

“Show us any Antarian children in the slave chambers on Gadyslar,” said Shag.

In the mist, children appeared… Antarian without a doubt… They counted at least forty, but there were clearly many more. Unfortunately, they did not recognize any of the children they saw. This was not surprising, since over 200,000 children were missing from Antar alone.

“How are we going to do this?” Michael asked. “There may be hundreds of children down there who need to be rescued. We can’t just ‘portal’ them all back here.”

Shag and Max nodded their agreement.

“We need a plan,” Shag said.

A moment later, he chuckled, “…and I think I just thought of it!”

“Portal!” Shag called. “Take us to the bridge of my ship, the ‘Xarius Voyager.’”

Shag, Max, and Michael stepped through the portal onto the bridge of the huge ship.

“How far are we from Ghorbidfael?” Shag asked the Captain in charge.’’

“Eight minutes, sir,” the Captain answered.

“Set a course for the Ghor moon of Gadyslar.”

“Yes, sir!”

Eight minutes later, the Xarius Voyager dropped in over the moon of Gadyslar. Shag opened the lower bay of the ship, and the ship settled over the moon like a mother hen sitting on an egg. Gadyslar was not a small moon like “Michael’s Moon,” which had spent a few days in the bay of this same ship over 10,000 years before. With a circumference of over twenty miles, Gadyslar was easily four to five times the size of Michael’s Moon, and it was probably about as large an item as Shag could fit into his lower bay, but fit it did, with room to spare. Shag closed the bay doors, and the Moon of Gadyslar floated freely within the lower bay of the Xarius Voyager.

Hundreds of small vessels traveled back and forth inside the bay of the Xarius Voyager, following established “traffic lanes,” moving from one part of the huge ship to the other. So large was this ship that several thousand individuals actually considered it their full-time home. They worked here, raised their families here, enjoyed their free time here. It was everything needed and everything that any average-sized planet might have.

“Now let’s go see if Hosk is there,” said Shag.

“Portal! Take us to the subterranean slave chambers of Gadyslar.”

The three friends stepped through the portal. At first they saw nothing but empty space. Off to the sides, Max found several smaller chambers. The doors were locked, but this was no obstacle.

“You want to do the honors?” Max asked Michael.

“Sure,” Michael replied. Michael pressed his hand to the door, and the lock fell open easily.

The three opened the door and walked in. This chamber led to more chambers. It was like a honeycomb of passageways and chambers. The three walked through the first chamber and down one of the passageways. At the end of the first passageway, they came to another chamber.

"Do you get the idea that these chambers are more like some kind of waiting areas?" Shag asked.

Michael nodded. Suddenly, Max held up his hand. "Shhh. Listen."

There was a quiet whirring sound… and it seemed to be drawing nearer. Max waved his hand over himself then over Shag and Michael, changing them to look -and smell- like Ghors, as he had done when they were on Ghorbidfael once before. The three stood against the wall and waited, as the whirring sound grew closer. Then the source of the sound appeared. It was a hover train, a series of linked hover cars designed to shuttle large groups of people and individuals back and forth. Where it was going, they did not know, but they were about to find out.

The driver, a rough-looking Ghor with one good eye, pulled over and stopped.

"Get on! Hurry it up! I don't have all day!"

"Shut up!" Shag said gruffly in Ghorish, assuming the typical Ghor attitude. "Just drive! You're not paid to talk!"

"Stuff it, flower-ass! Hosk doesn't pay me enough to shut up. I'll say what I want! Hosk still hasn't paid me for this month… or last month."

"He probably never will," Shag said, attempting to stir up the driver and loosen his tongue, though it didn't appear to need much loosening.

"He will!" The driver said. "He will if he wants to live!"

"Ha! You think you can make Hosk do anything?" Shag agitated. "Hosk has weapons… and guards…"

"Hosk thinks he does," said the driver.

"What do you mean?" asked Shag.

"I mean that Hosk doesn't have the allegiance of his own guards… or his guards' weapons."

"And you do?"

"Naw… No one has their allegiance. They work for themselves, but Hosk doesn't realize it. If he keeps on not paying them, he's going to find out."

"I heard that profits had dropped because of some of the slaves getting away and those ships out there in space," Shag said. "Maybe he can't pay us."

"Not my problem if they want Hosk's mangy head," said the driver. "He'd still better pay me. He's sold plenty of slaves… and there are plenty of slaves here still waiting to be sold."

"Well," Shag said, "That's where we're headed… to get 150 Antarian slaves for the Dragons."

The driver looked back and raised the eyebrow of his good eye. "I didn't know the Dragons could afford 150 slaves… considering what Hosk asks for them… and what he got out of the Dragons already for the slaves they lost. Besides, I think there's only 121 Antarian slaves down there… not that that's a problem… We can convince the Dragons that some of the others are Antarians."

"Yeah, well, after that King from Antar ruined their festival," Shag said, "the Dragons must have scraped together enough to buy some more… They wanted Antarians specifically."

The driver laughed. "I can see why! Revenge! …for that Antarian King interfering in their festival. Maybe Hosk will pay us now!" The driver sped up. "I'll get you down there. I was supposed to go to the Karisian area, but this sounds more important."

"You don't care what the Dragons do to the Antarian slaves?" Shag asked.

"Of course I care!" said the driver… "We all care! I put my bets on the Dragon festival like all the other drivers and guards… which kids will run the fastest, which ones will scream the most when the Dragons catch 'em, which ones will be ripped into the most pieces, which ones…"

"Alright! I get it!" said Shag.

Michael's fists were tightening. The tendons were standing out. Shag touched his hand. "Cool it," he whispered. "We need this guy for now."

"That's the only reason he's still alive," Michael whispered back.

A couple of minutes later, the driver pulled the hover train into a cul de sac next to a large door. He got out and opened the door. Inside were children… Antarian children. Michael felt a strong urge to get the children out of there without further delay, but he kept his composure, attempting to act like a Ghor. Shag noticed the effort…

"Keep it cool," he urged Michael… "You won't regret it later."

Michael nodded.

The one-eyed driver pulled out a large stick and walked into the room with the children…

"Get out! Come on! Let's go! Get on the train! You're going for a ride!"

He struck several of the children across the back with the stick.

"He's mine!" Michael said, tears brimming into his eyes. "When they're out of here, he's mine!"

Shag patted Michael on the back lightly. "Don't… not yet." Noticing Max tensed up, too, Shag attempted to calm him also.

With all the Antarian children on the train, the driver started to climb back on. Then he noticed one child who had been missed. Climbing back off, he took the stick and walloped the child across the back, knocking her to the ground. Two green bolts of energy vaporized the driver where he stood.

"Sorry," Michael said. "I'm no good at taking orders."

Shag looked at Michael then at Max; he smiled and shrugged, "I was going to say go ahead. I guess you both read my mind."

Shag jumped into the driver's seat, and Max and Michael jumped in behind him, then they headed up the passageway.

“Michael… you can make us presentable again,” said Shag.

Michael moved his hand over them, and they all three returned to their former look… and smell.

"Portal!" Shag said… "Take this vehicle and everyone on it to Millennium Greenwood Park in the village of Duvtin on my ship, the Xarius Voyager."

The train disappeared into the portal and emerged on a paved lane that ran alongside a row of trees and a small lake. Shag drove on until he reached the local village center. There, he was met by a handful of ready and efficient Xarians who helped them take the children from the vehicle into the reception hall of the large building.

Max checked each one of the children over for injuries. Though numerous, most of the wounds were relatively minor… scratches, scrapes, and bruises. A few were more severe, including a few broken bones and one torn liver. Fortunately, Max was able to heal all of them relatively easily. Shag had a room set up with proper food and drinks for the children and ordered that rooms and beds be prepared for them until they could be returned to their parents.

"How many are there?" asked Shag.

"A hundred and twenty-one," said Michael, counting. "Old one-eye knew exactly how many there were."

With the Antarian children from the Ghor moon now safe, already Max, Michael, and Shag were planning the rescue of the non-Antarian children from the chambers inside the moon.

“Michael?” Shag asked, “Do you think you could get Kyle or Dan Klein to teach me those fantastic battle techniques they used on the Dragons. I never saw those techniques before. They’re… unusual, but I must say, very effective!”

Michael smiled. “I’m sure they’d be glad to teach you, Shag.”

“What do you call that maneuver where Dan put his finger over the Dragon’s head and Kyle rushed up and kicked it?”

“Oh! I think that was a ‘Field Goal,’ Michael said.

“How does that work?”

“Well, they’ve got these posts on each end of the field, and you’ve got these kickers who kick the balls. If the balls fly over the goal between the poles at the end of the field it’s good. That’s why Dan yelled, ‘AND… IT’S GOOD!’”

Shag’s eyes grew somewhat large. “Now I understand why that Dragon’s voice became higher. I never dreamed that was even possible."




<center>End of Chapter 15

tbc…
</center>


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 Post subject: Children Of The Universe
PostPosted: Wed Dec 07, 2005 10:25 pm 
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<center> <<<<<>>>>> Children Of The Universe <<<<<>>>>> </center>




Children of the Universe


Chapter 16



XVI



To some cultures or individuals, it might have been tempting to simply abandon the rest of the children they had found on the Moon of Gadyslar. After all, they weren’t Antarian or Xarian. In fact, it was likely that neither Max nor Michael had ever even been to any of the planets these other children came from. Some of their planets were very far away, more than a year of travel in the new granilith.

Indeed, many of the other “children” weren’t even humanoid in appearance. Max had seen one that looked more like a little piglet standing on its hind legs. Another he had got a glimpse of looked like a bear cub more than a human. Another had been six feet tall and about as big around as a broomstick. Michael had surmised that it might be a Yargishi child.

Some of the “children” simply defied any description. Max and Michael had noticed one that was engulfed in vapors… its body could not be seen because of the vapors. In fact, as far as Max or Michael knew, maybe it didn’t even have a body… maybe it was just a mass of vapors.

One thing was certain… the decision to rescue these children would mean some very real difficulties for Max and for Shag. Who even knew if one could touch something that was simply a mass of vapors… would it be dangerous? Max and all Antarians had had enough trials and tribulations for a lifetime. But one other thing was equally certain… These were children, not necessarily humanoid, but children nevertheless… children of the universe… and they were in need of help.

“Let’s go rescue some more kids!” said Max.

Michael smiled, clearly indicating his total agreement.

“Let’s do it,” said Shag.

“You got a plan, Shag?” Max asked.

“Yeah… I don’t know if it’s a good one or not… but it’s a plan. I figure we take the hover train back through the portal to the holding cells, pretend to be Ghors again, and drive out with some more kids…”

“Hmmm…” Max thought about it. “It seems pretty simple… maybe too simple… but maybe that might just be why it’ll work. I’m willing to try it.”

Michael nodded then waved a hand over them turning them once again into Ghor look-alikes… and Ghor smell-alikes.

“I hope this is the last time I have to become a member of the Fraternal Order of Ghors,” Max said.

“Don’t you mean, ‘Infernal Order of Ghors?’” quipped Michael… “From what I’ve seen, there’s nothing fraternal about those s.o.b.’s. Hosk would sell his own mother if the price was right… Heck, he’d probably even sell her at a discount for age and wear!”

Shag snickered. “Naw… Hosk wouldn’t do that!”

“You don’t think so?”

“No! Hosk never discounts! He’d paint her up and pass her off as younger!”

Michael grinned and nodded. “You’re right! What was I thinking? He’d probably shave her bald and pass her off as some new exotic species! I mean… after all, who’d buy a Ghor? They’d make lousy pets, they stink, and even a pawgor won’t eat them!”

“Oh, God!” Max wrinkled up his nose when Michael mentioned Hosk shaving her bald. “I really didn’t need that image in my head! That’s worse than bald rats!”

Michael and Shag both laughed.

“I guess you’re right, though,” said Max. “Hosk doesn’t seem very interested in anything but the almighty monetary unit… and his own survival.”

“Portal!” Shag said… “Take us and this hover train back to the cells of the children.”

The portal appeared, and the hover train floated silently through it into the subterranean chambers, coming to a stop in front of the cells where they had seen some of the other children.

“Well, let’s work fast!” said Shag. “Michael, you want to open a couple of these doors?”

Michael pressed his hand to the first door and the lock snapped open. Then the door opened. Inside they found 47 children… and right away, a major problem.

“Holy! …What do we do now?” asked Michael.

The “children” in this cell had no legs and no arms. They actually looked like giant ferns… and they were “planted” in large “pots.” At first glance, Max wondered if they might perhaps actually be plants… but he knew that Hosk had not gone into the horticulture business. It was real work… and it would be honest. Besides, as Max looked at the “ferns,” it became clear to him, even in the semi-darkness of the cell, that they had eyes at the top of their bodies… or stalks… or whatever it was that they had. They also had mouths, several of them each… though the mouths were quite small. Max, Michael, and Shag realized that the “fern children” were, in fact, talking to them. It sounded like a soft, haunting melody or the wind blowing over the top of an open soft drink bottle.

“You want to translate, Shag?” asked Max.

“I’m afraid in all my 12,000 years of existence, this is the first time I’ve ever come across this race,” Shag said regretfully. “I don’t even have a clue where they come from.”

“Well,” Max said… “Let’s start putting pots in the cars.”

Max thought a moment… “On second thought… Shag, can the portal take them back straight from where they are?”

“Yeah… I’m sure it can,” Shag said.

“Portal!” Shag called out. The portal appeared. “Take these… What are they, Max?”

Max shrugged… “Fern children?”

“Take these ‘fern children’ to the grand reception room of the building where we took the Antarian children earlier.”

The portal moved forward through the cell, expanding as it went. Then it disappeared, and all the fern children were gone.

“Wow!” Max said… “That was amazing… the fern children, I mean… I wonder what else we’re going to find down here.”

Shag smiled… “If Hosk has even a small percentage of the ‘unusual’ beings of the universe here, we’re in for some real trials!”

Michael put his hand against the door of the next cell, and the lock popped open. He opened the door and went in. A moment later he came back out and looked at Max and Shag.

“Well?” Max queried.

Michael reached in and took something by the hand leading it out into the open. Behind it came several more.

“You up for Ewoks?” Michael grinned.

Max’s mouth fell open. He smiled and shook his head. “I see the resemblance, I guess… but these little fellows are so much cuter.” Max picked one up as it held out its arms to him. It was dark burnt sienna, except for its face hair, which was golden. Its legs were slightly longer than a bear cubs… or an “Ewoks” for that matter. Its eyes were large and mournful. Somehow, it reminded Max more of a cross between an Earth child and a bear cub than either an “Ewok” or a bear cub. Max surmised that this child was the equivalent of a three or four year old Earth child. Max wiped tears from his eyes with the back of his hand as the little ball of fur wrapped its arms around his neck and laid its head on his shoulder then stuck one thumb into its mouth.

“Can you imagine being this little guy’s mother and losing this?” Max asked, his voice breaking. Michael and Shag didn’t answer. Both wiped tears from their own eyes.

There were 12 of the little fur balls in the cell. Michael led them out and picked each one up and put it into the first hover car of the train.

“What are they, Shag? Do you know?” asked Max.

Shag nodded. “They’re Yerriks. They’re from the planet Yerrik, in sector T14. It’s about as far on the other side of Earth’s sun as Antar is from Earth on this side. These little fellows are just babies. A grown Yerrik is about the same height as you or me, maybe a bit taller, and definitely a bit stouter… and a lot harrier! What’s an Ewok?”

Max grinned… “Something from Earth movies. They’re not real. But these little fellows are… and they’re much cuter!”

Michael popped the lock on the third cell door and opened it. At first, he saw only eyes looking back at him… many sets of large eyes. As Michael’s own eyes became more accustomed to the darkness in the cell, he realized that… that was pretty much what they were… eyes! The creatures in this cell did not appear to have any bodies or legs at all. They floated in the air, moving around in the cell somehow at will. They did have arms. The arms were about twelve inches long and wing-like but were not being used to fly. The arms were attached to what could only be described as floating eyeballs.

As Michael led them out into the light, he noticed that they did indeed have heads… even a mouth and a nose of sorts, and a body, but they were all but invisible in the dark and only barely visible in the light. The eyes were about the size of pre-1960’s Earth silver dollars, before the dollars were reduced in size to the size of quarters. Michael counted 18 of the creatures in all.

“Shag? What are they?”

Shag thought a moment… “I’ve never seen these… but I’ve heard of them. They’re Droufas. Their planet is Droufenclar. It’s in sector… G somewhere… I don’t recall exactly where.”

“Are these children?” Max asked.

“Oh yes! From what I’ve heard about Droufas, I’d say these are children. Adult Droufas become totally invisible except for the eyes, which are the size of your hand I’ve heard.”

“Okay…” said Max. Shag helped Michael put them into the second hover car. They realized that the “eyeballs” did have bodies… and feet to stand on when they weren’t floating, but the bodies were almost invisible, and they had no legs. The feet were on the bottom of the body.

“You know what?” Michael said… “These ‘Droufas’ would probably look a lot like owls if you could see their bodies… although they don’t seem to fly… they just float or stand on their feet.”

In the next cell, Michael found 15 of the little creatures Max had thought resembled piglets. Now, as he looked at them closer, he realized that they were more humanoid than he had first thought. Their short legs, pinkish skin, and snout-like nostrils had made him think of piglets from a distance; but they did not have tails, and their hands and feet were quite human-like, not like hooves. They had dark hair on top of their heads, and they were capable of clear speech, though neither Michael nor Max understood their language.

Michael and Max each picked up one of the little creatures. In some way, they reminded them of the Yerriks… without hair. One thing they did have in common, though… they were all children… and like all children, they just wanted to be picked up… and loved. The little creatures smiled happily as they laid their chins on Max and Michael’s shoulders and put their arms around them. Max and Michael put them into the third hover car of the train.

“What are they, Shag?”

“They’re called Growahnits,” Shag said, “…from the planet Growahn. I’ve been there. As they grow, they become more and more humanoid in appearance. The adults look like humans with sunburns.”

In the next cell, Michael found five six or seven-foot tall creatures that were thin as a broomstick. As he looked closer at them, he was sure of what they were; they were Yargishi children. Michael led them out to the hover train.

“You know…” Michael said, “It wouldn’t surprise me if Hosk didn’t stop on some of these planets to drop off “pets” of a species unknown to them and just happen to leave with ten or fifteen of the children from the planet to sell to some other culture.”

Max nodded. “It would be poetic justice if it weren’t these children who have to suffer for what someone on their planet did, maybe not even knowing… I mean… Narwha didn’t even know that the Antarians he bought were intelligent higher life forms.”

“I think he kind of knew,” said Shag. “He said it himself, he wanted to believe what Hosk said about them. But if he hadn’t bought them, no telling what might have bought them. And for his little mistake, his planet lost at least five children that we know of… and he probably doesn’t even know that.”

Michael nodded then opened the last cell. Almost as quickly as he walked in he was back out.

“What?” Max asked looking at Michael, who stood with eyes wide.

“You were just talking about poetic justice? Look what’s in here!”

Max and Shag looked inside the cell. There were 22 Dragon children. They were small… but there was no mistaking them for anything but Dragons.

“What do you think we should do, Max?”

Max exhaled slowly and shook his head. “What can we do? Put ‘em in the train… in their own separate car.”

Michael started to go in… “Uh, Max? Shag? You guys going to help?”

“We wanted to see how you handled it, Michael! You’re so good at it!” Max said.

“Get in here, you two! I’m not doing this alone!”

Max and Shag walked into the cell with Michael and the Dragon children. The “children” were only three feet tall, but they were, in all appearances, perfect miniature Dragons. Michael took the “hand” of one Dragon “child” to lead it out, and the child took it as a sign that it was going to be picked up. Michael was totally unprepared for what happened next. Before he knew what had happened, the Dragon child was in his arms with its arms around him. Michael was flustered and caught by surprise. Finally, he did what seemed to come natural. He put his arms around the Dragon child and carried it out to the train. Max and Shag carried two more to the train as the others followed. These “children” were very, very young. In Earth terms, they were two or three year olds. What surprised all three of their rescuers was that these “children,” at this age, showed none of the viciousness of their culture. They just wanted to be held.

Max and Michael jumped into the train, Shag climbed into the lead car, and the train was on its way back up the corridor. Half way up the corridor, Shag called for the portal. The portal appeared. At the same moment, multiple explosives packed in the walls around the corridor exploded, reducing the corridor to rubble and bringing the walls and roof down on top of them. When the dust cleared, nothing could be seen but fifteen feet of rock and rubble piled on the floor where the corridor -and the hover train filled with the children- had just been.




<center>End of Chapter 16

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 Post subject: Children Of The Universe
PostPosted: Wed Dec 07, 2005 10:30 pm 
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<center> <<<<<>>>>> Children Of The Universe <<<<<>>>>> </center>




I Hate To Spoil The Party, But…


Chapter 17



XVII



Shag was half way up the corridor, piloting the hover train.

“PORTAL!”

The portal appeared. Suddenly, there was an explosion… then immediately another, this time much bigger. The roof and walls of the corridor began to collapse.

“HOLD ON!” Shag yelled.

The first car of the hover train, carrying Shag and the 12 furry Yerrik children, entered the portal. Just behind Shag, small to medium sized rocks pelted the top of the second car, carrying the 18 Droufa children, which the friends had called, “eyeballs.” The second car managed to float through the portal largely unscathed, if slightly battered. By the time the third car reached the portal, the hover cars were literally bouncing over boulders that had already fallen as others fell around them. The third and fourth cars, carrying 15 Growahnit children and 6 Yargishi children, were battered severely. Already, they were covered with boulders, able to move just enough to reach the portal before being crushed.

A huge boulder hit the fifth car carrying Max and Michael, riding with the 22 Dragon children, knocking it to the ground. The link popped, as the first four cars continued through the portal. The fifth car was stopped, trapped underneath a boulder larger than itself, its link to the other cars broken. It would not be going through the portal.

The Dragon children, like any children, were frightened. Tears rolled down their faces. Max and Michael both noticed this and were strangely moved by it. It seemed oddly incongruous… tears and Dragons… but there it was. Max picked up a couple of the children and patted them on the back, and Michael picked up a couple of others that climbed into his lap. As he picked those up, others took their places in his lap.

“It’s alright…” Michael soothed. “It’s alright…”

But he knew that it wasn’t. He didn’t know what else to say to the children. Both Max and Michael had seen enough miracles in their lives to know that hope is never gone as long as there is life… but things did seem desperate. Above them, they could hear more and more boulders tumbling to the ground. The huge boulder sitting directly on top of them was the only thing keeping them from being crushed by the others, which bounced off the large one over them and came to rest all around the car until the car and everyone in it were buried under 15 feet of boulders and debris. Then everything was quiet.

Max looked behind them. The three empty cars behind the fifth car were crushed flat beneath the boulders. That was all he could really see.

“Well, Michael?” Max said, “We could use power blasts to try to blast the boulders out of the way, but how do we get out of here then? This car’s going nowhere.”

Michael nodded. “I say we sit tight for a while, Max. I think Shag will be trying to find us and rescue us. Best we let him find us here where it seems to be safe for the moment.”

Max nodded, “Sounds like a plan to me.”

Suddenly, a portal opened inside the car. It was small. They would have to crawl through, but that was not a problem. Max pushed several Dragon children through the portal and into Shag’s waiting hands on the other side. Shag passed them off, as he got them, to other assistants. Michael then encouraged his protégés through the portal, and Shag picked them up and passed them to the assistants. Finally, Max and Michael appeared through the portal.

“Nice of you to come back for us, Shag,” Michael said grinning.

“I thought you might appreciate it, Michael.”


<center> <<<<<<<<<<>>>>>>>>>> </center>

In Hosk’s new office, hidden away deep within the caverns under the Moon of Gadyslar, several Ghor thugs, which Hosk called “guards,” were just returning from a mission… with very good news.

“It’s done! You won’t have to worry about that meddlesome Xarian King again! He’s buried under several jorns of boulders and rubble that even he couldn’t get out of!”

“You’re sure? That guy has more lives than a Dragon!”

“We’re sure! We set forty nargs of explosives in the walls of the corridor and exploded it ourselves at the moment he was going by.”

Hosk smiled slightly. “So the corridor will have to be repaired… Was there any other collateral damage?”

“Uh… just the loss of a hover train that Shaqor was driving… and…”

Hosk winced. Hover trains aren’t cheap, idiot! What else?”

“And… just a few slaves.”

Hosk stood up, and his eyes widened… “Slaves? How many of my slaves?”

The “guards” looked at each other, each hoping the other would speak first. Finally, Hosk pointed at one… “You! How many slaves?”

“A… all of them… from that cell block…”

“ALL OF THEM! EVERY SLAVE FROM BLOCK E! HOW?”

“Shaqor was transporting them in the hover train that was crushed by the collapsing corridor.”

Hosk turned several shades of bluish red and purple, and at first, it seemed that he might kill both of the guards outright.

“Do you idiots know how much those slaves were worth to me?”

Hosk sat back down, and for a moment he was quiet…

“Still… to get rid of Shaqor… it might be worth it. If I withhold your pay for the next two farrels, the slaves will be paid for… perhaps.”

“But… Hosk! Two farrels?”

“Aw, what the crayt-Farg does it matter,” said the second “guard” disgustedly. “Hosk hasn’t paid us in 42 orbits of Gadyslar anyway. I don’t see that this makes much difference.”

The first guard mumbled.

“Now get out of here!” Hosk said pointedly.

The guards left, mumbling curses under their breaths.

Hosk sat down again and leaned back in his chair, as a smile came over his hairy yet reptilian lips. Then he reached under his desk and brought out a bottle of Corvian brandy, much better than the scum water that the Ghors made and called “Hargoch,” the Ghors’ premium wine. Hosk popped the top off the Corvian brandy and took a swig then leaned back further as he relaxed and let the taste of the brandy excite his taste buds.

Without realizing it, Hosk had leaned his chair back almost into a reclining position. Now, as he looked up, he saw something standing behind him, towering over his head.

“I hate to spoil the party, Hosk,” said the previously silent intruder, “but you forgot to invite me.”

Hosk choked on his brandy, dropping the expensive bottle onto the ground and overturning his chair in an effort to get up.

“YOU! YOU CAN’T BE…! HOW?”

“Oh, come on, Hosk! You and I go way back! You didn’t think a few little rocks falling on my head were going to hurt me, did you?”

“But… But…”

Hosk never had been able to understand how it was that Shaqor could find him anywhere, any time, and just pop in out of thin air. He had often wondered if there wasn’t something, well… non-corporeal, something mystical or supernatural about Shaqor. Despite all his experience with creatures and beings of the universe, Hosk had never heard of the spheres, and Shaqor’s popping in on him wherever he was like this had given Hosk several Ghor ulcers. Now Hosk could already feel the expensive Corvian brandy he had expected to relax him eating into his guts, burning at the walls, churning in his three stomachs.

“Sorry to disappoint you, Hosk,” Shag said… “But I’m still here. And as long as I’m here, I would really like to get those records of your transactions over the last… oh, forty farrels or so.”

Hosk reached his toe under the desk, feeling for the panic button on the floor. He pressed it… Nothing happened. He pressed it again… Nothing.

“If that’s your alarm button you’re dancing on under there, Hosk, I don’t think it will do you any good. I just saw two guards come out of your office, and on their way out, they removed something from the alarm panel outside your door. Whatsamatter, Hosk? You forget to pay ‘em again?”

Hosk was fluctuating colors like a neon sign in Vegas. He had trouble speaking.

“Don’t bother, Hosk,” Shag said, “I’ll help myself to the records. I already know where they are.”

This was true. Before coming here, Shag had asked the Sphere of Searches where the records were, and he had used the Sphere of Visions to show him the records in Hosk’s office. Now he had only to walk over to the wall and strike it in three places, as he had seen Hosk do, and the door to the secret area behind the wall popped open. Shag reached in and took several large folders of records from a drawer…

“Zan… I could use your help,” Shag said.

Immediately, King Zan of Antar -Max- appeared in the room and took the records from Shag. Then without a word, Zan disappeared again as he had come.

“That’s it, Hosk,” Shag said, picking up the bottle on the floor. “Corvian brandy? A bit expensive for your tastes, isn’t it? I thought you liked that stuff that you Ghors make that tastes the same the second time you drink it as it did the first time!”

Hosk would have scowled, but it was all he could do at the moment to stand there and pretend that his legs weren’t shaking in front of what he was now pretty sure must be something more than a mere mortal. This was the confirmation of all Hosk’s nightmares… the realization of his greatest fears. He was now fairly sure that Shaqor was non-mortal.




<center>End of Chapter 17

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 Post subject: Children Of The Universe
PostPosted: Wed Dec 07, 2005 10:36 pm 
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<center> <<<<<>>>>> Children Of The Universe <<<<<>>>>> </center>



Glad Tidings

Chapter 18


XVIII



On Antar, word that 121 more Antarian children and numerous non-Antarian children had been found alive and rescued spread like a wildfire. VideoStream News ran non-stop, and Antarian newspapers put out special editions with headlines that screamed:


<center> CHILDREN RESCUED </center>

<center>121 MORE ANTARIAN CHILDREN RESCUED - SCORES OF NON-ANTARIAN CHILDREN RESCUED! BY KING ZAN AND KING SHAQOR OF XARIUS ON THE GHOR MOON OF GADYSLAR!</center>

121 more Antarian children and at least as many non-Antarian children have been found and rescued from the Ghors who kept them sequestered in subterranean caverns on the Moon of Gadyslar!

Planets with children who have been rescued now include Antar, Karis, Vindule, Gredore, Jyris, Nordos, Corshic, Dinuvia, Kirish, Finisi, Yargish, Yerrik, Droufenclar, Growahn, and Drago. Additionally, there are 47 children whose planet is as yet unknown!
Sources close to the rescue efforts report, "This is just the beginning. We are more hopeful than ever before… Antar may once again know the sound of our children’s laughter and the joy of families reunited… Antar may live again!"

It was impossible for the newspapers to put out enough papers. As soon as a hovervan would make a delivery, the papers would be grabbed up, and the van would be sent back for more. There was jubilation in every nook and cranny of the planet. Antarians were already calling for a national holiday to be declared to commemorate the rescue of these first groups of children.

There were also more ominous rumblings. The number of Antarians who wanted the universe to be free of all Ghors was not only growing but becoming more and more vocal.


<center> <<<<<<<<<<>>>>>>>>>> </center>

Meanwhile, on Xarius, a new arrival had just stepped through the portal, courtesy of Liz, who had personally gone to find him and bring him here. As Jim Valenti stepped into the royal castle on Xarius, he was greeted by Max, Michael, Maria, Shag, and Maya. Without further delay, Max motioned toward the door off to his right. Jim turned and looked… the recognition was immediate. Jim’s mouth fell open, and he rushed to his son, Danyy, and hugged him tightly, unexpected tears of pure joy rolling down his cheeks.

Danyy, who had already got his memory back, put both arms around his father and smiled from ear to ear.

Jim sniffed and rubbed the back of his hand across one eye, wiping away a tear…

“This is so wonderful! Danyy! Oh, God, Danyy! This is so wonderful!”

Jim struggled to keep from crying, wiping the silent tears away…

“Only one thing would have made this perfect…” Jim said, slowly losing his battle to maintain his composure, as his eyes turned red and his voice broke.

Jim looked at Max… “Has anyone told Danyy… you know… about his mama…”

Max smiled. “No, but he may have something to tell you, Jim.”

Danyy took Jim’s hand and placed another hand in it, and Jim spun around. He would have known the feel of Kathleen’s hand even if both his eyes had been put out. There were no words he could think of at this moment; Jim lost his battle, as he took Kathleen into his arms and held her against his heart. Danyy smiled, and Jim and Kathleen wrapped Danyy in their arms together with them and cried.

“I think I’ll go out on the veranda for a while,” Max said, sniffing. “I could use some fresh air.” Michael nodded and excused himself, too. Liz and Maria followed them out onto the veranda. Shag and Maya excused themselves, too, leaving Jim, Kathleen, and Danyy to the privacy of this very special reunion.


<center> <<<<<<<<<<>>>>>>>>>> </center>

In the Grelligo region of Antar, another tearful reunion was taking place at this moment. The house of GrelJorlis was celebrating the return of their son, BrenJonyyt, the first Antarian child to be returned to Antar. The celebration was going in full force, and the number who came to see the returned boy was in the hundreds if not thousands. On top of that, every news reporting agency on Antar was there to report on the reunion, though for the most part, they kept somewhat discreetly out of the way and allowed the family to enjoy their reunion.

There was singing and dancing and joy to go around. At the home of GrelJorlis, no money was spared. They served up enough jubish and japo-mevanish for every neighbor… and on this day, everyone was a “neighbor,” even the reporters.



<center>End of Chapter 18

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 Post subject: Children Of The Universe
PostPosted: Wed Dec 07, 2005 10:39 pm 
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<center> <<<<<>>>>> Children Of The Universe <<<<<>>>>> </center>



Taking Care of Business

Chapter 19


XIX



After reuniting Jim Valenti and his family, Max, Michael, and Shag left the royal palace on Xarius and returned through the portal to the bridge of the “Xarius Voyager,” Shag’s ship, in order to finish business involving the Moon of Gadyslar. Though the Moon still floated inside the mammoth bay of Shag’s ship, Hosk as yet did not know this. The fact is, Hosk was lying low these days and staying out of sight. There were quite a few bounty hunters around Ghorbidfael these days looking for Hosk, and Hosk preferred the relative safety of his lair deep inside the subterranean chambers of Gadyslar. Except for Shag, who it seemed always knew exactly where he was, no being, bounty hunter or otherwise, had been able to find Hosk since it had gotten out that he had been selling as slaves… or worse… the children of the planets with which he had dealt.

Max and Michael sat down with Shag and his Captain in the Captain’s quarters of the “Xarius Voyager” and laid Hosk’s books out on a table.

“Well… where do we start?” Michael asked.

Max looked at the books. The writing was Ghorish, which neither Max nor Michael could read. Shag was able to read it, though not with total fluency. Max opened the first book, the one on top.

“What is this one, Shag?”

Shag looked the book over carefully; then he glanced at the others…

“They appear to be in order starting with the most recent transactions on top and the oldest at the bottom. The book you have contains the most recent transactions.”

Shag looked carefully at the Ghorish writing. “The last transaction he made was five days ago. He sold two slaves, Herlians, to a Captain from Velcos in sector F10. Here’s what he was paid for them… 17,000 Daras each.”

“How much is that?” Michael asked.

Shag shrugged. “The Dara is Velcos currency. Its base is platinum and gold, so it would be valuable to Ghors and most other civilizations. I think the Dara is equal to about three Antarian Coruns.”

Michael looked at Max. “That would make it about six Earth dollars per Dara. That’s… about 102,000 dollars… or 51,000 coruns per slave.”

Max nodded. “What about these ‘Herlians?’ Is there any information on them?”

Shag ran his finger over the page. “A boy and a girl, ages… 10 and 12… that’s Herlian years. They age about like Antarians, so they would be pre-adolescents. Hosk has notes here on their diets and so forth, what kind of foods they eat, you know. It says he got possession of the two during a trip to Herlos eight months ago to deliver two slaves to a wealthy Herlian woman.”

“Slaves from where?” asked Michael.

Shag ran his finger down the page.

“Antar!”

Max and Michael were both out of their seats and staring at the book instantly. They couldn’t read a word of what was written there, but something made them want to see it for themselves.

“What… who… Does it say anything about them… who they were?” Max asked.

Shag nodded. A boy age 19 and a girl age 17. Their names are Zorel and Ceelya.

At the mention of his son’s name, Michael went pale. Max put his hand on top of Michael’s.

“We’ll get them back, Michael. Count on it!

Shag?”

“Yeah?”

“Can you use that sphere… the visions one… to let us see Zorel? Then Alex’s little girl, Ceelya?”

Shag laid the book down carefully. “Sphere of Visions.”

“Ask.”

“Let us see Zorel, the son of Michael Guerin, on Herlos.”

In the mist, Michael, Max, and Shag saw a boy about 19 years of age working on a boat or raft of some kind in what appeared to be a river. The river was wild and full of boulders and tree trunks. It became clear that the goal of the boat’s crew was to clear the river for navigation or some other purpose. They watched as Zorel and several other young men wrestled with boulders and tree trunks, pulling them from the water where they could. And they watched as Zorel showed clearly why he had been worth so much money to the wealthy Herlian. Encountering a large boulder blocking the boat’s path, the four young men, all muscled from years of work, tried unsuccessfully to move it. As the other three stood back, Zorel raised his hand, and a green wave of energy blasted the boulder.

Zorel grinned and shrugged… “More pebbles for the river bottom.”

“Sphere of Visions!” Shag called again.

“Ask.”

“Show us the girl Ceelya, daughter of Alex and Isabel Whitman, on Herlos.”

In the mist appeared a girl about 17 years old. With her was a Herlian woman. The two stood on a sort of veranda or porch on the front of what might have been a lodge, or perhaps a cabin, on the riverbank… probably the base of operations for the work being done to clear the river.

“What do you think?” asked Max. “Developers?”

Michael shrugged. “Could be. I wonder what they wanted with Ceelya?”

As they watched, the Herlian woman motioned suddenly to Ceelya and pointed toward the woods. Half way between the woods and the cabin, a pack of animals that somewhat resembled hyenas was quietly approaching -stalking the two women on the porch. Ceelya whirled as the pack launched its attack, and bolts of energy flew from the tips of the fingers on both her hands. The hyena-like beasts, whatever they were, yelped and rushed back into the woods with their stubby tails flattened against their backsides.

“Oh,” said Michael. “I see!”

“Shag?” Max asked puzzled, “Why wouldn’t they use a gun to chase the predators away or heavy machinery to clear the river if that’s what they want to do? I mean… this operation seems primitive… I don’t see any machinery at all… even their boat is wood or something and… I don’t know, but it just isn’t logical.”

Shag rubbed his chin. “Yeah… well, I’ve been to Herlos a couple of times. It’s… well, an interesting planet. They have no machines. Using any kind of metal or ore is taboo to them. Everything is done by manual labor on Herlos. It’s part of their religion, but it’s more than that, too. Herlians are… I don’t know how to explain it… but they’re ‘allergic’ to metal ores of all kinds.”

“Allergic?” Michael queried.

“Yeah. If a Herlian comes into extended contact with any kind of metal ore, it has the same effect on them that, say, jalnda might have on an Antarian or uranium on an Earthling… radiation poisoning.”

“Oh!” both Max and Michael said together.

“Their spaceport is far away from any of their civilizations. It’s treated as a toxic site, and Herlians don’t go there. All ships landing there must have special clearance and a certified purpose for their visit, and they must leave in less than one tenth part of a day.”

“Wow…” Max said. “How is it, then, that this Herlian woman is so wealthy if they are so backward?”

“I didn’t say they were backward,” Shag corrected. “I said they use no machinery or metals. The fact is, though, Herlos is the universe’s biggest producer of point 1 - 0 bluefire diamonds.”

“Herlian diamonds!” Max said. “Of course! That’s where I’ve heard of them! They’re not allergic to diamonds?”

“I guess not,” Shag said.

“Well… I’m afraid she’s going to have to find another way to protect herself and get the river cleared,” Max said. “Zorel and Ceelya are coming home!”

Max looked at Michael, and Michael’s eyes lit up.

“Shag?”

Shag nodded. “Portal! Take us to the veranda with Ceelya and the Herlian woman.” Max, Michael, and Shag stepped through the portal. Both the Herlian woman and Ceelya, surprised by the unexpected intruders, spun around. Ceelya’s hands went up automatically, and green bolts immediately surged in Max and Michael’s direction. However, the bolts did not make contact. Max, Michael, and Shag held their palms up, and the small bolts of energy sent out by Ceelya were stopped in their path halfway to their intended objective.

“Who… who are you?” Ceelya asked, alarmed. The Herlian woman repeated the question.

Michael looked at Ceelya… “Ceelya… don’t I look familiar to you?”

Ceelya shook her head.

“Your father is Alex… Alex Whitman. Your mother is Isabel.”

Ceelya seemed to have something like a stab of pain in her temples for a moment.

“No,” she said, shaking her head. “I don’t have a father or a mother. I was made by the Ghors, the creators of all things.”

“Did the Ghors make her?” Michael said, indicating the Herlian woman.

Ceelya seemed unwilling to say it, believing it might be insulting to the woman, but clearly she believed that she had indeed been created by the Ghors, too.

“Was I created by the Ghors?” asked Michael.

“All beings and all things were created by the Ghors. That is what Hosk taught us,” said Ceelya. “It is so. I came out of their machine. Then Hosk gave me my name and a place to live here.”

“Hosk is a damned, perverted, sacrilegious lizard that’s going to burn in whatever Hell Ghors go to!” Michael said, agitated.

Max put his hand on Michael’s shoulder. “Michael… be careful… not around Ceelya.”

“I can’t help it, Max! I’m sorry… I… I shouldn’t… I’m sorry, Ceelya.”

“You don’t need to apologize to me,” said Ceelya. “You’ve done me no harm. You need to apologize to the Ghors… and the Supreme Ghor, Hosk, the creator.”

Michael turned red and pursed his lips tightly, biting his tongue. But it was hopeless.

“I’ll kick his supreme ass all the way to Kansas is what I’m gonna do!” Michael exclaimed. “When I get my hands on that lizard, he’s gonna wish he’d kept his stinky flesh on Ghorbidfael and never heard of Michael Guerin!”

Ceelya’s eyes opened wide. “Don’t say that! He’ll hear you!”

“Oh, I hope so!” Michael said. “I sure hope so!”

Turning to the Herlian woman, Michael said, “What do you have to say? Do you believe you were created by Hosk?”

The Herlian woman was silent.

“She doesn’t speak Antarian,” Max said.

“Yes, I do…” the Herlian woman said after a moment. “I do understand your language. And no, Hosk did not create me… or anything else.”

Ceelya looked at the Herlian woman as if she had just spoken a great heresy.

“Child…” the Herlian woman said, “That is a lie that the Ghors taught you. The Ghors took you from Antar… I don’t know how, but they did. That’s where you came from. They sold you to me.”

Ceelya looked at Michael then at Max and the pain seemed to stab at her memory again.

“NO!” Ceelya said, shaking her head. “NO! I don’t want to hear such things! I… I…”

Ceelya looked at Max and Michael again and tears began to well up into her eyes.

“You’re… you’re Uncle Zan… and Uncle Michael…” she half asked, half stated with certainty. Then she started to cry. “I want Mama… and Daddy! Are they here?”

Michael hugged Ceelya and rubbed his hand over her back soothingly.

“It’s okay, Ceelya. You’ll be with them soon! I promise you will!”

Turning to the Herlian woman, Michael said simply, “Why? Why would you buy slaves?”

The woman looked at Michael without flinching or dropping her gaze.

“That is our way,” she said. “We must use manual labor… a lot of it. And besides, if we didn’t buy the slaves, somebody else would, and they might treat them worse.”

“Or better,” Michael added.

“I don’t mistreat my slaves,” the Herlian woman said. “I treat them well. They are important to me. They are like my own children in a way. I… I used to have children, you know…”

Michael seemed to soften somewhat, as the Herlian woman’s eyes began to tear.

“What do you mean, ‘used to?’” Michael asked.

“I mean ‘used to.’ I don’t any more. A few months before I bought these two, my children both died. We never knew why. They just became sick and died.” The woman’s voice was breaking up as she tried to tell Michael about her children. “I had a girl, Ishtee, who was twelve years old and a boy, Drobos, who was ten. After they died, Hosk came to me and offered to sell me these two. I needed the workers, but I also… well, it’s not important now.”

Michael looked at Max and Shag. “Are you thinking what I’m thinking?”

Both of them nodded. “I wouldn’t be surprised.”

“Shag,” Max asked, “Do you remember the names of those Herlian children that Hosk sold to the Velcos Captain?”

“Wait a minute,” Shag said. “Portal!” Shag stepped through the portal. In a moment, he was back with the book… “It’s Ishtee and Drobos.”




<center>End of Chapter 19

tbc…
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 Post subject: Children Of The Universe
PostPosted: Wed Dec 07, 2005 10:45 pm 
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<center> <<<<<>>>>> Children Of The Universe <<<<<>>>>> </center>



An Affair With the River

Chapter 20


XX



Returning through the portal with Hosk’s book of transactions, Shag showed Max and Michael the entry. The names were written in Ghorish, so the writing meant little to Max and Michael, but Shag’s word was all they needed… “It’s Ishtee and Drobos.”

“What?” The Herlian woman asked, hearing her children’s names.

Shag held up his hand to Max and Michael… “Wait…” Then to the Herlian woman he said, “I’m sure that you know that we are here to take back Ceelya and Zorel, who is working on the river now.”

The Herlian woman nodded. “I am a realistic and practical woman… When the sun goes down in the evening, though it costs me money and lost time, I must stop all the work, but I do not run after the sun and try to raise it back up… You may have your children. I cannot keep you from taking them. I paid a large sum for them… but… they are yours.”

Shag called to the portal, “Take us to Zorel in the river.”

Max, Michael, and Shag stepped through the portal… and directly into the river.

“Whoa! You could have told me I needed a bath, Shag!” Michael said sputtering as his head resurfaced.

“Must have been some of that Ghor smell still left on us, Michael,” Max said laughing, as he treaded water. “Michael could have added a little flower scent to us, Shag… we didn’t need a whole bath!”

Shag sputtered as he treaded water on the swift current. “Sorry, guys! Sometimes you have to be very specific with the sphere. Actually, it took us right where we said.”

Max and Michael looked over to their right, where Shag was pointing. Zorel and a couple of other boys were wading in the river about ten yards away. They had stopped to gaze at the new arrivals, who had seemed to just pop up out of the water. Zorel waded closer to the three men and held out his hand to them. Michael reached out to him, and Zorel pulled Michael up onto the sandbar with him. Max and Shag climbed out alongside them.

Michael looked at Zorel; and although he knew that Zorel would not know him, Michael reacted with his gut, throwing his arms around Zorel and hugging him. What surprised Michael -and the others- was that, instead of offering the expected resistance, Zorel put his arms around Michael, too.

“I knew you’d find us some day,” Zorel said in Michael’s ear.

“You know me? You actually know who I am?” Michael asked in shock.

“I’ve always known,” Zorel said. “When the others came through that transporter or whatever it was, they forgot everything… but I always remembered… and I always knew that you’d find us someday… somehow!”

Michael hugged his son tighter. “I’m sorry, Zorel! I’m sorry it took so long! We didn’t know that you were alive for years. The Ghor transporter made it look like you had all died.”

“I know,” Zorel said. “I saw some of the others ‘die’ before me, so I knew what happened.” He smiled and looked at Michael… “But I know my Dad! I knew that someday you’d find out the truth, and then nothing would keep you from finding us!”

Michael grinned, as he wiped the river water, and perhaps a tear, from his eyes… “Come on, son! Let’s go back and get Ceelya Whitman then go home!”

“Dad?”

“Yeah?”

“What about Kryys and Jayyd… Have you found them?”

“Jayyd’s home again,” said Michael. “Well find Kryys, too!”

Zorel smiled. “I know we will, Dad.”

Stepping through the portal onto the veranda again, Max, Michael, Shag, and Zorel found Ceelya with the Herlian woman where they had left them. Michael held out his hand to Ceelya, and the Herlian woman handed Ceelya a small bag.

“Here, child. Here are some things that are yours… and some things that I want you to have.”

She handed Zorel a small bag, too, and gave each one a kiss on the cheek then turned and went quickly back into the cabin, leaving them alone with Max, Michael, and Shag.

“Portal,” said Shag, “Take us to the palace on Xarius.”

The five stepped together through the portal and into the palace of Shaqor and MayaSabriena on Xarius.

“Shag…” Max said, as they walked into the room. “Don’t you think we should see if we can get Ishtee and Drobos back to their mother?”

Shag nodded. “Yeah! I do! But let’s see if we can find them first, and…”

“And what?”

“And… if they’re alive.”

Max and Michael felt a cold foreboding chill go up their spines. “You think they might not be alive, don’t you?”

Shag nodded sadly. “Herlians are allergic to metals of all kinds. Hosk locked Ishtee and Drobos in a cell behind metal doors, he transported them onboard a Ghor spacecraft made of metal, and who knows what else they’ve been exposed to. I would be surprised if they’re still alive. The radiation poisoning would almost certainly have killed them by now.”

“But we have to find out,” said Max.

“Yes,” Shag agreed, “We have to find out.”

“Sphere of Visions!” Shag called.

“Ask.”

Shag hesitated. He didn’t want to hear what he felt certain he would hear. But what had to be done had to be done. “Show us Ishtee and Drobos, the Herlian children who are on Velcos.”

There was a pause then the mist appeared in the room. In the mist, they saw two children, a boy and a girl, asleep -or perhaps dead- lying on separate beds in a large, stark-looking room.

“Portal!” Shag called, “Take us to Ishtee and Drobos!”

Max, Michael, and Shag stepped through the portal. Zorel stepped through behind them. Max walked quickly over to Ishtee and looked at her face. It was ashen. He touched the side of her neck. There was no pulse.

“Here…” said Shag, moving Max’s two fingers from the side of Ishtee’s neck to the front. “Herlians… they’re a little different.”

Max felt with two fingers against the carotid artery. There was a pulse… a very faint and irregular pulse. Max felt the artery in Drobos’ neck. At first, he felt nothing. Then there was a slow beat.

“They’re lying on metal gurneys!” Michael said. This is some kind of hospital… or maybe a death ward. We’ve got to get them out of here… NOW!”

“Portal!” Shag called. Max picked up Drobos, and Zorel picked up Ishtee, then the four of them stepped forward carrying the two children. “Take us to their mother on Herlos,” said Shag.

Max, Michael, Shag, and Zorel stepped through the portal and into the living room of the cabin. The Herlian woman ran to her children… “What’s wrong with them? Are they alive?”

“Barely,” Max said. Max laid Drobos down on a sofa and placed his hands over the boy. A green glow emanated from both his hands for about sixty seconds. Without saying a word, Max quickly moved to Ishtee and repeated the process. Then he fell back exhausted. Michael held him up until he had regained some of his strength.

“What did you do?” asked the Herlian woman.

“I removed the poisoning and repaired the damage to the children’s bodies and organs,” Max answered plainly. “They should… they should be okay now… I think.”

Ishtee began to stir, then Drobos. Moments later, Ishtee opened her eyes and looked around…

“Jahbyee?” “Jahbyee?” she called in Herlian… “Mama? Mama?”

Her mother scooped her up in her arms and rocked her, as tears began to roll down her face… tears that she had not allowed herself to cry until now… now that she knew that her children were going to live.

“How can you bring children back from the dead?” the Herlian woman asked Max. “What are you?”

“Me? I’m just, uh… what's your name?”

“Jyita,” said the Herlian woman.

“Jyita… Your children were not dead. Hosk used a transporter machine that he stole from a far away planet to steal your children and many others. The transporter is programmed to leave in their place a replica of their remains, whatever that might be, in order to make others believe that they died. Ishtee and Drobos were sick, because Hosk locked them in a metal cell on a metal spaceship, and then the Velcosian who bought them from Hosk probably exposed them to more metals. Neither one knew of the Herlians’ reaction to metal ores.”

“Hosk!” Jyita said, spitting the word out like a bad-taste. “Hosk stole my children?”

Shag nodded and showed her Hosk’s book with Ishtee and Drobos’ names in it.

“We’re going through Hosk’s records now to find all the stolen children that we can find,” said Shag. “After that, I… have a solution to Hosk’s adventures… a permanent solution.”

Drobos opened his eyes, and Jyita scooped him up, hugging him and Ishtee together.

“Find that Hosk, my friend! And be sure that he does not do this again!”

Shag nodded.

“You,” Jyita said to Max. “What is your name?”

“Max… but I am called Zan… of Antar.”

“King Zan?” asked Jyita.

Max smiled slightly. “Yes.”

“Thank you, Zan… for giving me back Ishtee and Drobos! I will not forget!”

Max nodded. Zorel walked over and kissed Jyita on the cheek as the four of them stepped through the portal, leaving one world -one family- with a brighter dawn and a happier future.



<center>End of Chapter 20

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 Post subject: Children Of The Universe
PostPosted: Wed Dec 07, 2005 10:47 pm 
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<center> <<<<<>>>>> Children Of The Universe <<<<<>>>>> </center>



Getting To Know You

Chapter 21


XXI



Max, Michael, Shag, and Zorel stepped through the portal and back into the palace on Xarius, where several “special” people were eagerly awaiting their return.

“Mom!” Zorel yelled, rushing to hug Maria. Maria hugged him for several minutes and kissed his face repeatedly. Then she looked at him and smiled.

“Oh, my goodness, you’ve grown up! You are so handsome! Zorel, you look just like your father when he was your age!”

“What do you mean ‘when I was his age?’” Michael asked, feigning hurt. “I haven’t changed, have I?”

Maria gave Michael her “pouty” look and smiled, “Only for the better, Dear! Only for the better!”

Zorel noticed Jayyd standing behind Maria.

“Jayyd! All right! Did Hosk ever sell you?”

“Yeah, but Alyyx and I escaped, so the Derstukki never got to take me.”

“You escaped? From Hosk?” Zorel seemed impressed. “Gee, Jayyd, I want to hear all about how you guys pulled that off! I’ll bet Hosk was hopping! I can almost see him: ‘GET THOSE ANTARIANS BACK! I MEAN NOW! NOT TOMORROW!”

Jayyd laughed. “Yeah! That’s probably just what he said… and just how he said it!”

“So Alyyx is back?”

Jayyd nodded. Alyyx walked in behind Zorel. “Hi, guy! Good to see ya!”

Zorel turned and looked at Alyyx… with him were Maya, Andya, and JoLeesa.

“All right!” Zorel said with a huge grin, “You guys are all here! Leese! Oh my God, Leese! I haven’t seen you since Hosk sold you to the Dragons years ago! I thought you were a goner! That was so long ago!”

JoLeesa nodded. “Yeah, fortunately their big new years festival -the feast of Vyatu-Xi- only comes around every 16 Antarian years. Dad and Uncle Michael and Uncle Kyle… and some friends rescued me just in time! The chase had already started. Oh! And the pawgor took a bite out of several Dragons… and there was this little lady with them that had wings, and the Dragons kept trying to grab her, but she was electrified, and they just got zapped when they touched her. You should have been there!”

Zorel feigned shock.

“Oh, no! I didn’t mean that, Zorel! I just meant…”

Zorel laughed, “I know, Leese! I know what you meant! It’s cool! …so the pawgor was there? Does that mean that Danyy was there?”

“Yeah! Danyy’s home! So is Aunt Kathleen!”

“Kathleen!” Zorel said with a smile. “Yeah! She disappeared when Hosk sold Danyy to somebody.”

“He sold Danyy to the little lady with wings. She’s an Aklatian. She bought Aunt Kathleen, too, because she seemed so attached to him.”

“Yeah… Kathleen and I were the only two, as far as I know, who remembered everything. How did you get your memory back, Leese?”

“I think it was when I saw the pawgor… and Dad and Uncle Kyle and everybody. That’s when it started to come back. It hurt!”

“What do you mean?”

“Well… not exactly like pain, you know… more like sadness… really intense sadness. Then suddenly I knew who I was and who they were, and… everything changed to joy!”

“Yeah, Hosk kept telling us that he made us with that machine. Kathleen wanted to stick HIM in the machine,” said Zorel.

JoLeesa and Jayyd both laughed. “We thought Hosk was going to do something bad to you. You kept saying that he wasn’t the creator of all things, and… Hosk would get so mad at you!”

“I guess Kathleen saved my life… probably. She kept telling me to bide my time… the right time would come. She said Hosk had a problem with ‘rebels.’ Not to push him. But she wanted to do it several times… She was ready to punch his lights out herself.”

“It must have taken all her willpower not to… knowing Aunt Kathleen!” said Jayyd.

“She would have, I think,” said Zorel… “if it had just been her… but she was afraid for Danyy and the rest of us… especially for Danyy. She told me she wanted to punch Hosk’s lights out several times but if Hosk killed her she wouldn’t be there for Danyy, so she used meditation to try to calm herself whenever she was angry. She has a lot of willpower!”

Shag notified everyone that dinner would be served shortly. Zorel and all the others moved toward the dining room. As they walked through the atrium, several “somethings” brushed by them, floating in the air. Zorel looked close…

“What the… What is that… those… whatevers?”

Jayyd and JoLeesa laughed. So did Liz, Maria, and the others.

“That…” said Jayyd, “is a Leafvian… and hiding behind the Leafvian is a Droufa.”

“A what-fa?” Zorel asked, puzzled.

The girls giggled. Max explained,

“We rescued them from the Moon of Gadyslar after we found Jayyd and Alyyx there. We called the Droufas ‘eyeballs,’ because they’re almost invisible except for the eyes, and they float around in the air. We called the Leafvians ‘fern children,’ for obvious reasons… and because Hosk had them planted in pots!”

The girls giggled again.

“But then we found out what they were and that they aren’t supposed to be planted. On their planet, they float in the wind and sing with a thousand voices that sound like beautiful, sort of haunting music. So we took them out of the pots, and they’ve been floating around all over the palace, well… like a bunch of kids!”

“Cool! I love it!” Zorel snickered.

“Oh, and they’ve really made friends with the Droufa children! The Droufas hide behind the Leafvians and float around with them looking like two big eyeballs peeking through a tree! I think they’ve all become best buddies!”

Everybody laughed.

“What do they eat?” Zorel asked.

“The Droufas, the “eyeballs,” like salad items and small vegetables mostly,” Max said. “The Leafvian ‘fern children’ don’t usually eat as we know it. They absorb nutrients directly from sunlight.”

“But they will also gobble down flying insects!” Michael added, and they need water.

“Wouldn’t they like, be incompatible?” asked Zorel. “I mean… if the Droufas eat salads, and the Leafvians look like plants… and the Leafvians eat flying bugs, and the Droufas look like flying eyeballs…”

Michael snickered. “They seem to love each other’s company! That’s all we know! Obviously, they don’t look like food to each other!”

Everyone reached the dining room and took a seat. The table was huge. Zorel was quite impressed. There were a lot of creatures -or children- to feed lately, at least until they could be reunited with their families.

Zorel sat with his parents, Michael and Maria, his sister, Jayyd, and Ceelya Whitman. Maya, Andya, JoLeesa, and Alyyx sat with their parents, Max and Liz. King Shaqor and Queen MayaSabriena sat together, and then there were the other “guests.” As Zorel looked around the table, he saw other Antarian children, the Growahnit children, the Dragon children, and the Ewok-like Yerriks. He couldn’t help but notice the tall, thin Yargishi children. There were five of them, and none was bigger around than a soft drink can, yet all were at least six feet tall. He also noticed the many different children rescued from the Dragons on Drago. One of these, Darja, a Dinuvian girl, had been bought by the Dragons on the same day as JoLeesa, and she and JoLeesa had become good friends. Now, Darja sat at the table beside JoLeesa and her family. The Droufas sat at the far end of the table and ate salad fixings, small badas, and grelliats while the Leafvians floated around in circles under the sunlight in the atrium absorbing nutrients from the sunlight, as they pretty much did all day long. All in all, it was quite a dinner! …A dinner made for the children of the universe.




<center>End of Chapter 21

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 Post subject: Children Of The Universe
PostPosted: Wed Dec 07, 2005 10:50 pm 
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<center> <<<<<>>>>> Children Of The Universe <<<<<>>>>> </center>



Kathleen’s Revenge

Chapter 22


XXII



In the easy room of the palace on Xarius, Max, Michael, Shag, Liz, and Maria discussed the ongoing rescue efforts…

“We’re still missing over 220,000 Antarian children,” said Michael, “including five of our own… Obviously, we simply can’t do this one child at a time… or even one small group at a time…”

“But what’s the choice, Michael?” asked Liz. “Hosk has spread them all over the universe. We simply don’t have any choice.”

“I know, I know…” Michael said sadly… “I just don’t see how we’re ever going to finish this way.”

Max nodded.

“We’re still missing Kyle and Jeliya’s youngest boy, Taz,” said Maria, “ and… and my Kryys…”

Michael winced at the mention of his own youngest son’s not being found yet.

“And we’re missing Mareeya Whitman…” Liz continued… “Has anyone found out where Alex and Isabel went yet?”

“No,” Michael said. “They left Antar before we started finding the children. They didn’t leave any ‘forwards’ as far as I know. They didn’t tell anyone when they would be back either.”

Liz nodded. “And we still haven’t found Jiba and Drel, Tess and Rayylar’s children… Has anyone heard from Rayylar or Tess at all?”

Michael shook his head. “Rayylar took Tess on an extended trip to the outlying planets over two years ago to try to ease the pain of their losing Jiba and Drel. They took it so hard.”

“We all did,” Max interjected.

Michael nodded, “Yeah… We all did.”

As Max talked, the phrase “cell block E” kept repeating in his head over and over. At first, he dismissed it, but the more he thought about it, the more it bothered him.

“Michael… ‘cell block E…’”

“What about it?”

“I don’t know… We did rescue ALL the children from the Moon of Gadyslar, didn’t we?”

“Yeah… Sure we did, Max. All the cells were at the end of that chamber, remember?”

“Yeah… but ‘Cell Block E’ keeps repeating over and over in my head, Michael. Do you think there were other ‘groups’ of cells down there somewhere?”

Michael thought a few moments… “I don’t see how… We went through all the chambers and tunnels, I’m pretty sure… No, no… I’m sure we did! I don’t see how there could be any more.”

Max drummed his fingers on the table beside him absent-mindedly. Michael noticed, and deep inside, he knew what it meant. Max wasn’t convinced. And if Max wasn’t convinced, that gave Michael an uneasy feeling. Max’s premonitions or feelings usually turned out to have some basis in reason.

“I’ll tell you what, Max… I’ll get Kathleen in here… Zorel, too. If anyone knows what’s down there, I’m sure they would.”

Max nodded. Michael went to the door and passed a message to a staff member. Within minutes, the staff member was back, and with him were Kathleen and Zorel.

“Kathleen… Do you remember ever hearing of any children being held anywhere on Gadyslar other than in the cells we found?” asked Michael… “or do you, Zorel?”

Zorel shook his head, but not convincingly. “I’m… I’m not sure,” he said finally. “Hosk and the guards never told us about any others, and they would have denied that there were any others even if there were… just because the Ghors are secretive that way… but… well, from time to time I would hear about someone being sold when I knew no one had disappeared from any of the cells in our chamber.”

“I think there are others,” Kathleen said.

Max and Michael looked surprised.

“Well, I didn’t spend as long as I did down there without listening to what those mangy lizards were saying every chance I could.”

“But we went through every chamber down there,” said Max, “and Shag had special guards go through there twice after we did. No one found any other cells or children. We even used a sonic reporter to try to find any other chambers. We didn’t find any.”

Kathleen ran her hands through her hair, pushing it back off of her face. “I heard some things, though, that might mean something, Max. I think I can show you where the other area is… I’m not sure, but I think I can.”

Max looked at Michael, and Michael looked at Shag. Shag shrugged his shoulders. “Let’s check it out. What can it hurt? She could be right. Hosk is a jerk and a thug… and he stinks, but he’s not stupid when it comes to protecting his resources.”

“Okay,” Max and Michael both said, as Liz and Maria emphatically nodded their agreement.

“Do we need the portal?” Liz asked. Max was about to say, “yes,” when there was a tap on the door. Michael opened the door. The staffperson was standing there, and beside him was none other that Obyal-Var, the number one VideoStream newsperson on Xarius.

“Sir, Obyal-Var wishes to know if you would allow her to VideoStream the tunnels under Gadyslar.”

“I’m sorry to impose on your meeting,” said Obyal-Var. “I do know how important it is. But since the Moon of Gadyslar now lies inside your ship, the ‘Xarius Voyager,’ if I am to go there, I will need your permission and assistance I am afraid.”

Shag nodded. “Well… your timing is amazing, Obyal-Var. We were just on our way there. I wouldn’t take most reporters with me, but… perhaps I may make an exception for you as a courtesy to your VideoStream output center, XSO. I owe them for several small favors along the way… Okay, you can come. Stay out of our way, though, and do not go off on your own, or we will not guarantee your safety or rescue. Do you understand?”

Obyal-Var nodded. She would have agreed to almost anything to have an opportunity to accompany King Shaqor and King Zan on a mission… whatever it might be.

Max and Shaqor looked at Liz. Liz nodded.

“Portal… Take us to the subterranean chambers of Gadyslar.”

Max stepped through the portal. Michael, Shag, Kathleen, and Obyal-Var followed.

Kathleen looked around to orient herself then led them down the shaft toward the cells that had already been found. But at the second “resting place,” a widened area of the tunnel where Ghors would congregate to wait for the hover train, she stopped and looked carefully at the walls.

“I don’t know exactly what I’m looking for, Max… but some of what I heard led me to believe that at this resting place there was another chamber opening.”

Max and Michael both ran their hands over all the walls. They found nothing. Shag searched, too, but had no more luck than the others. Shag looked up at the ceiling. It appeared solid. Certainly there were no openings.

“I’m sorry, Kathleen…” Max said. “It looks like you were fed misinformation.”

“No… No, I don’t think so,” said Kathleen. “I’m sure they did not know that I was listening or understood.”

“Kathleen…” Max started apologetically.

Ignoring him, Kathleen bent over and looked under the solid rock bench at the side of the waiting area, feeling under the bench for anything that might be there. There was nothing. In frustration, she kicked the bench. It moved! …Ever so slightly, the bench moved backward. As it did, there was a sudden and definite sensation of dropping. Everyone grabbed at each other to steady themselves. When the motion stopped, almost a full minute later, they realized what had happened. The entire floor of the “hover train stop” was an elevator. They had dropped many levels beneath the main tunnel, possibly all the way to the core of the moon itself.

Dusting themselves off as they regained their footing, Max and Michael helped Obyal-Var back to her feet. She had fallen backward but had kept the VideoStream recorder cradled protectively in her arms, never releasing her hold on it even to stop her own fall. Fortunately, she was unhurt. Shag, too, was unhurt, though he had lost his footing due to his having been leaning over to see what Kathleen was looking for under the bench at the moment the floor dropped.

The “rest stop” now exactly matched up with a new corridor, and the group walked down the tunnel in the direction they had been going. A short distance later -perhaps a quarter of a mile- they came to a large double door. It was locked.

“I think locked doors are your specialty, aren’t they Michael?” said Max.

Michael grinned and pressed his hand to the lock, which fell instantly open. Max opened the doors and stepped through. Before he knew what had hit him, a large hand from the corner of his vision sent him reeling across the room.

Seeing Max down, Michael instantly rushed to his aid. Running through the doors, Michael dropped to the floor and did a backward roll to avoid the blow that he knew would be coming. Rolling deftly back into a standing position, this time facing his attacker, Michael raised his hand and prepared to dislodge a powerful blast, as a greenish glow appeared in the palm of his hand. Before he could release the blast, however, a mechanical bar swept across the floor from the other side of the room, knocking him off his feet and sending the power bolt flying errantly into the ceiling. Gouged by the blast, the ceiling rained rock and rubble down on both Michael and his attacker.

Before the attacker could strike another blow, Shag had him tightly by the scruff of the neck and the back, just behind the armpit. This elicited a howl from the attacker, as Shag pressed on sensitive paralyzing nerves. Michael pushed the rubble off his body and, brushing himself off quickly, held both of his palms up, aimed at the attacker. This time, there was no mechanical bar to knock him off his feet… the attacker quickly surrendered. Shag pushed him brusquely over against the wall.

“Hosk!” Max said.

“None other,” Michael nodded with a disgusted look.

Hosk spit a long stream of blackish spittle in Max’s direction in a defiant gesture. Max moved quickly and managed to avoid it. At this moment, Kathleen walked into the room. Walking up to Hosk, she looked directly into his eyes. Hosk smiled slightly, defiantly, recognizing his former prisoner. Without a word, Kathleen pulled back her arm and pressed her hand into a tight fist. She let fly at Hosk’s bulging stomach with all the force in her body, the force of a rage pent up from nine years of waiting for this chance to come… the force of memories of her son Danyy… and other innocent children… enslaved and sold across the galaxies… the force of a mother’s revenge.

Hosk realized what was coming and made the supremely worst decision he had ever made in his life. Hosk’s first thought was to bloat himself up into a formidable, defiant-looking foe. He straightened up, stretching to his full nine-foot height. Kathleen’s fist, aimed at Hosk’s blubbery stomach, fell low… Hosk howled once, collapsed slowly to his knees, then crashed to the floor face first. He did not get back up. Kathleen turned to Max and Michael. Both of them -and Shag- had tears in their eyes and running down their cheeks from laughing. Obyal-Var, consummate professional though she was, was having trouble holding her VideoStream recorder steady as she fought to avoid shaking from the laughter that blurred her eyes with tears.

“Shall I tie him up?” Michael asked, wiping his cheeks.

“I’m not sure it’s necessary any more, Michael,” Max said. “But tie him up anyway.”

Shag called for the portal, and the group returned to the palace with Hosk in tow. Shag turned Hosk over to his special palace guards for “safekeeping,” then Max, Michael, and Shag returned to the corridors under Gadyslar with Kathleen and Obyal-Var to search for the lost children.

The next day, on Antar, the VideoStream news showed one clip over and over throughout the day… a clip they had obtained from VideoStream Output XSO on Xarius. Every time it was shown, cheers went up all over Antar.

Sitting in the Crashdown, talking with Jeff Parker, Kyle grinned sheepishly and shook his head as it showed yet again…

“Dad’ll never live it down, Jeff. They’re the family that drives around with a pawgor hanging out their hovercar window, Danyy talks to animals, and this… They’re like Antar’s Addams family. People point up there at the ranch and say that’s where ‘they’ live… you know, the aliens!” Kyle spoke as though he regretted the supposed notoriety, but he couldn’t hide the pride he actually felt in his Dad and his Dad’s new family.

Jeff laughed. “They love ‘em, Kyle! They’re a very special family around here! I hear the talk! Take my word for it. After this, they’re gonna be the most beloved family on Antar!”

Kyle grinned. “I didn’t get this much attention when Dan and I booted that Dragon on Drago.”

“Maybe not…” Jeff agreed, “I mean, that was pretty popular stuff. They showed those clips for days; but what Kathleen did yesterday you could never match, Kyle. What she did was no less than to strike a blow for all Antarian motherhood.

Kyle knew Jeff was right… about Kathleen especially… She was going to be the most popular person on Antar for some time to come.



<center>End of Chapter 22

tbc…
</center>


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 Post subject: Children Of The Universe
PostPosted: Wed Dec 07, 2005 10:53 pm 
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<center> <<<<<>>>>> Children Of The Universe <<<<<>>>>> </center>



Shaqor Solves The Ghor Problem

Chapter 23


XXIII



How many Antarian children have we rescued from the Moon of Gadyslar since we found the seven deeper tunnels,” Max asked Michael as the two walked through the castle on Xarius toward the cell where Hosk had been taken two days before.

“156,395 Antarian and 789 alien children,” Michael responded knowledgeably.

Max smiled. “Finally, some real progress! We might have never found them and never known those chambers were down there if Kathleen hadn’t kept her eyes and ears open and learned to understand those growls the Ghors call a language while they had her down there… and if she hadn’t been so stubbornly determined that she was right when we all thought she was wrong!”

Michael nodded. “Her FBI training came in handy, I guess.”

“Yeah,” Max agreed, “but that’s just her, too. I guess that’s why she joined the FBI. Anyway, I’m just glad I wasn’t Hosk down there.”

Michael snickered.

The two rounded the corner of the hall and came to the detention area.

“We’re looking for Hosk,” Max told the guard.

“He’s still in the medical section of detention,” the guard answered. “Right down the hall through these doors.”

“Thanks,” Max and Michael both said as they walked through the doors.

At the end of the hall, they entered the medical section. Hosk was lying on a special bed made to accommodate his size. Seeing Max and Michael walk in, Hosk tried to stand, but he had trouble bringing his legs together and collapsed on the floor. He quickly pulled himself back up and sat back on the bed. An attendant greeted Max and Michael.

“Hosk still having trouble walking?” Max asked the attendant.

The attendant nodded. “He’s still got a lot of swelling. Nothing that won’t heal in time.”

“Probably wished he was dead for awhile, though,” Michael snickered.

Hosk growled then groaned as he tried to move again.

“You, uh… You treating him yourself?” Michael asked the attendant.

The attendant wrinkled his nose and shook his head. “We brought in a couple of Ghor doctors -or what passes for doctors on Ghorbidfael- to treat him. They’re a lot more experienced at slaving than doctoring, but fortunately for Hosk, it doesn’t take much expertise to rub a little anti-inflammation salve on a swollen… uh… whatever that is.”

Michael fought to keep from laughing. “Yeah, I can see why you would call the Ghor docs in… I don’t imagine anyone here much wanted that duty.”

At that moment, Shag walked in.

“Ah, just the guy we were waiting for!” Michael said. “I guess we’re all here now.”

Shag nodded. Hosk looked at Shag with something between a grimace and a scowl.

“Well, Hosk… I’ve had the best mathematicians and physics experts on Xarius working on the Ghor problem for a couple of weeks now, and what they found out is very interesting.”

“The only math I need is to count the money I get for my slaves,” Hosk said defiantly. “What do mathematics and physics have to do with Ghors, Xarian?”

“Actually, quite a lot, Hosk! Quite a lot! You see, every planet, every star, every celestial body exerts influences -gravitational and otherwise- on other planet and stars, and those in turn exert influences on still others. All the planets are delicately balanced. To eliminate one would normally cause gravitational fluxes and deviations in the physical fields that affect all the planets in that galaxy.”

“Yeah, so!”

“So…” Shag continued, “I asked my best physics experts and mathematicians, What would be the effect if Ghorbidfael were no longer there?”

Hosk sat up straight, momentarily almost forgetting the pain, but he was quickly reminded by a sharp stabbing pang and grimaced. “Shaqor! You would not destroy Ghorbidfael! It is as you said… all the planets push and pull on each other and… and whatever you said about math and physics.”

“True, true,” Shag agreed. “But we found out something about Ghorbidfael that amazed us. It seems that every field or effect generated by Ghorbidfael would be exactly offset by the weaker influences of more distant stars and planets if Ghorbidfael were no longer there. In other words, Ghorbidfael, from a cosmic point of view, seems to be a worthless planet. It just sits there. It adds nothing to the galaxy that wouldn’t be exactly balanced by the different influences that would be there if Ghorbidfael were gone.”

Hosk’s skin went from grayish to splotchy reddish gray and back, alternating colors, as it did whenever he was excited, irritated, or upset.

“You wouldn’t destroy Ghorbidfael!” Hosk said with conviction. “Think of all the Ghors who live there! Do you realize how many there are?”

“I am thinking,” said Shag. “Don’t tempt me.”

The fact is, Hosk had no real idea how many Ghors actually resided on Ghorbidfael. It could just as well have been thousands, hundreds of thousands, or hundreds of millions. He didn’t have a clue.

“As tempting as you make it, Hosk, destroying Ghorbidfael was not what I had in mind.”

Hosk relaxed somewhat, but he doubted he was going to like Shaqor’s solution much better, whatever it might be.

“No, after a great deal of study and research, Hosk, we have decided that Ghorbidfael could fit perfectly in sector Q97. We thought a new locale might be healthy for everyone concerned. I guess you’ve seen the bounty hunters out there. And they aren’t the only ones that want to see your mangy hide tacked up and sun-drying on a wall somewhere. I could let them have you, but that wouldn’t solve the Ghor problem, just the Hosk problem.”

Hosk snarled slightly.

“Q97… That is… That is far from any other planets or civilization, Shaqor! It would take me three lifetimes -even with the ionic drive- to reach any other inhabited system… in any direction!”

“I’m glad you mentioned that, Hosk! There is someone else here who wants to see you, too!”

Shag motioned outside the door, and two men and a woman walked into the ward.

“Krolians!” Hosk said sitting up. “What do they want?”

“I think they want their ionic drive back… and the device that you call the “Midnight Cloud.”

“They can’t have it!” Hosk spat… “It’s part of my ship! Both of them are!”

The Krolian woman took out a paper and read it, “In accordance with Krolian law, any technology, device, or other instrument illegally removed from Krolus and any device or equipment to which it might be attached are the property of Krolus. By the law of Krolus, the ship in which the ionic drive is located is property of the planet Krolus. We will be taking it with us.”

“You can’t!” Hosk said. “How will I get to other planets? How will I do my business?”

“Now you’re getting the idea, Hosk! I knew it would sink into that thick head of yours eventually!” said Shag. “You see, Ghors never go off of Ghorbidfael anyway except for the slavers.”

“But every industry on Ghorbidfael depends on the slaves,” Hosk pleaded. “They’re what you would call ‘support industries.’ All work done on Ghorbidfael supports the slave trade in one way or another. It is our only livelihood!”

“You’ll learn something new, Hosk… maybe even something honest!”

Hosk shuddered slightly.

“You could learn to farm or be a carpenter or a welder… or even a bus driver.”

Hosk would have said something, but he couldn’t get his mouth to work, as Max, Michael, Shaqor, and the Krolians walked out of the room.

“Once the Xarian search teams are absolutely positive that there are no more children to be found on Gadyslar, we will send Ghorbidfael and its moon through the portal to sector Q97,” Shaqor said to the Krolian woman. She nodded.

“That will be a satisfactory resolution, I think, in this case,” the woman said. “We are most appreciative of your help in returning our technologies to us, Shaqor… and Zan… and Michael, or is it Rath?”

“Michael is good. I don’t go by Rath anymore.”

The Krolian woman nodded and then smiled. “Krolus is indebted to you all for your assistance. Thank you!”

“You’re welcome,” Max said. Turning to Michael, he added, “Did the searches of Gadyslar turn up any evidence of Kryys, Taz, Mareeya, Jiba, or Drel?”

“No,” Michael said.

“Then before anything else, Michael, we’re getting them back.” Michael’s eyes lit up with a new life. He knew how important it was to get every child back, but Kryys was his. It was impossible not to feel a renewed joy at the thought of finding his own youngest son.

“Shag, would you call the Sphere of Searches for us?”

Shag smiled. “With pleasure, Max!”




<center>End of Chapter 23

tbc…
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 Post subject: Children Of The Universe
PostPosted: Wed Dec 07, 2005 10:56 pm 
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<center> <<<<<>>>>> Children Of The Universe <<<<<>>>>> </center>



The Mystery of Kryys, Mareeya, Taz, Jiba, and Drel

Chapter 24


XXIV



Max asked Shaqor to call the Sphere of Searches so that they could locate the few children still missing from their own group… their own children… the children whose names they knew without having to go to Hosk’s books to find out who they were. The Sphere of Searches would provide a quicker answer than Hosk’s books would. The books were invaluable for finding the names of all the other Antarian children and finding out what happened to them, but that is because no one could be expected to know almost a quarter of a million Antarian children and their names. Without the books, those children would remain lost until their families provided information to ask for their return. This was not a problem in the case of Kryys Guerin, Mareeya Whitman, Taz Valenti, and Jiba and Drel. Shag immediately summoned the sphere.

“Sphere of Searches!”

“Ask!”

“Where is Mareeya Whitman?”

There was a brief silence, as there always was when the Sphere of Searches began its search. The silence was normally no more than five to ten seconds, but to anxious parents, it seemed like a lifetime. Max and Michael quickly realized that this time the pause was going well beyond ten seconds. They waited. The pause extended past thirty seconds, and still there was no answer.

“Sphere of Searches?” Shaqor said, puzzled by its failure to answer.

“Ask!”

“Where is Mareeya Whitman, daughter of Alex and Isabel Whitman of Antar?”

“There is no Mareeya Whitman,” the sphere answered.

Michael and Max both went pale and gasped audibly. Until now, every child sought had turned up alive, if not always in the best condition. The worst fears that Max or Michael had harbored before -that some child, maybe one of their own, would turn out to have died or to have been killed- had almost been forgotten in the joy and celebration of all the children who had been returned. Now, it seemed that their earlier fears would turn out to be true.

Michael’s voice shook… “ Shaqor, ask the sphere to look for Kyle and Jeliya’s little boy, Taz.”

Michael really wanted to find Kryys, his own little son, but for probably the first time in his whole life, Michael felt real fear… fear that swelled up in his chest and caused him to breathe in small gasps.

“Sphere of Searches!” Shaqor called.

“Ask!”

“Where is Taz Valenti, son of Kyle and Jeliya?”

“There is no Taz Valenti,” the sphere answered after a long pause.

Max wiped a tear from his eye, shaking noticeably.

Michael felt something that was approaching panic. Shaking almost uncontrollably, he asked Shag to ask about Kryys. Then he changed his mind as quickly as he had asked.

“No, no… ask for Jiba and Drel first,” Michael said.

“Sphere of Searches,” Shag called.

“Ask!”

“Where are Jiba and Drel, children of Tess and Rayylar of Antar?”

There was a long silence… then the answer nobody wanted to hear…

“There is no Jiba… There is no Drel, children of Tess and Rayylar of Antar.”

Everyone gasped. Shaqor looked at Michael. Michael put his hand on the back of a chair to steady himself. His eyes reflected a fear that he had never known before. His legs felt weak.

“Sphere of Searches,” Shaqor said.

“Ask!”

“Where is Kryys Guerin, son of Michael and Maria of Antar?”

There was a long silence, too long for Michael, then the answer…

“There is no Kryys Guerin, son of Michael and Maria of Antar.”

Michael collapsed to his knees. Looking up at the ceiling, he began to cry. It was only the second time in his entire life that he had cried. The first had been many years before, on Earth, on the day that he had come to call “Independence Day,” when he had climbed into Maria’s bedroom window after being beat up by his drunken foster father, Hank. Already emotionally distraught, Michael had been overcome with emotion at Maria’s understanding him without a word spoken between them. Maria had laid him down on the bed. She had curled up beside him and caressed him, letting him know that everything was going to be alright…

Maria! Oh God! Maria! How would he tell Maria? It would kill her. Michael began to sob.

Max got down on his knees beside Michael and put his arms around him. Then they both cried together.


<center> <<<<<<<<<<>>>>>>>>>> </center>

In the conference room of the royal palace on Xarius, Shaqor, Max, and Michael poured over Hosk’s books in an effort to find the names of Kryys, Taz, Mareeya, Jiba, and Drel and any information on what had become of them… who they had been sold to. If these children were dead, they wanted to know why. They wanted to know who was responsible… besides the obvious, Hosk. There would be no power under Heaven that could keep Michael from avenging his son’s death.

“There!” Max said, as he spotted Mareeya’s name half way down page 258.

The three looked at the Ghor writing. “What does it say, Shag?” Max asked. “I recognize her name, but I can’t make sense out of the rest.”

Shag read it in silence. Then he read it to Max and Michael. “Mareeya Whitman was sold three years ago to a someone named Jasp-Ard. I’m guessing Jasp-Ard is a man, but I really don’t know. The name is not familiar to me. Anyway, Jasp-Ard paid… well, that doesn’t matter… Let’s see… Jasp-Ard took her to a place called Alyendis (Hosk made a notation, *Grorjish) …to be a something in the fields. That could mean picking crops or something.”

“Grorjish?” Michael asked. “Is that a planet?”

Shag thought a moment. “It sounds familiar… but I can’t place it. I don’t remember any planet called Alyendis… or Grorjish.”

“Let’s look for the others,” Michael said. Shag nodded and turned the page. On page 341, near the bottom, they found Taz Valenti. It appeared that Hosk had been unsure how to transpose 'Taz' into Ghorish and had written it in his best imitation of Antarian. Michael spotted it immediately.

“What does it say, Shag,” Michael wanted to know without giving Shag a chance to say first.

“It says Taz Valenti was sold about a week after Mareeya to… Jasp-Ard on Alyendis!”

Michael sat up. The hairs on the back of his neck told him there was something more to this than any of them yet knew.

“What did they want him for,” Michael asked.

“Looks like… plotting of the fields… I really don’t quite know what that means.”

“Plotting of the fields? Maybe planting or plowing?” Max asked.

Shag shrugged. “I don’t know.”

Shag notated the page with Taz's name on it, as he had done the one with Mareeya’s name, then turned the page. On page 378, they found ‘Jiba and Drel.’

Shag read, “Jiba and Drel were sold together about five days after Taz…” He paused…

“To Jasp-Ard on Alyendis,” Max and Michael said together. By now, they knew quite well what those Ghorish symbols meant.

Shag turned the page. There, on page 379, was the name, "Kryys Guerin."

"Jasp-Ard of Alyendis again," Shag repeated. He didn't need to say it. The others could read it for themselves by now.

Shag notated the page and read the rest of the entry, “Something about opening the fields and something about keeping them open.” He shook his head. “It gets weirder each time. I have no idea what that means.”

Michael closed the book and stood up. “Let’s go see Hosk! I want some answers, Shag, and I’m going to get them!”




<center>End of Chapter 24

tbc…
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 Post subject: Children Of The Universe
PostPosted: Wed Dec 07, 2005 10:59 pm 
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<center> <<<<<>>>>> Children Of The Universe <<<<<>>>>> </center>



Michael Gets An Answer

Chapter 25


XXV



Hosk yowled and climbed over the bed trying to hide on the other side. He didn’t know what hurt worse, the swelling Kathleen had given him or the smoking patch of singed hide on his side, where Michael’s power bolt had hit.

“I swear, Mike-eel, I don’t know this Jasp-Ard or anything about Alyendis.”

A bolt of energy brushed across Hosk’s chest, setting the patch of odd hairs on his otherwise lizardskin-like chest afire. Hosk howled and slapped at the small fire to extinguish it, turning his back to Michael to protect himself from further injury. As he turned, a bolt of green flame struck him squarely across the butt, leaving it smoking from one side to the other. Hosk leapt to the ceiling where he held on with the unusual suction palms and foot pads that Ghors have. Younger Ghors were apt to jump like this, but those Hosk’s age rarely did it. Today proved to be an exception.

“I want answers, Hosk! I want answers now!” Michael said. Hosk could see that Michael was in no mood for any argument and wasn’t going to just go away.

Another bolt struck, knocking Hosk off the ceiling. Fortunately for him, he fell into the bed.

“Okay! Okay!” Hosk yowled. “I’ll tell you anything you want to know. Please, just don’t do that again!” Hosk took a glass of water from the counter beside the bed and poured it over some of his wounds. They sizzled, and an acrid smoke rose into the air. Hosk whimpered. Fortunately for Hosk, Ghors have several full layers of skin, so the burns would not be serious from a real health standpoint. Unfortunately for Hosk, the outer layer of skin, particularly, is endowed with an abundance of sensory nerves. They give the Ghors an exceptional sense of feel. They also provide excruciating pain under the right circumstances.

“What is Grorjish?” Michael asked. What is Alyendis? And who is Jasp-Ard?”

Hosk whimpered. “Grorjish is an old Ghor name for Alyendis.”

“I should have known,” Michael said. “Sounds like your growling. What is Alyendis?”

Hosk was silent for a moment. Michael raised his hand…

“Okay! Okay! Alyendis… is… There is no such place…”

“What?” Michael exclaimed. “What do you mean no such place?”

“Well, not yet…” Hosk clarified. “Alyendis… is the name of a planet, but it's not called that yet.”

Michael was losing his patience. “Hosk, make sense or I swear I’ll fry you up and feed you to the Dragons!”

Hosk sensed that Michael was not bluffing…

“Jasp-Ard is a time traveler… from the future. The planet Alyendis is where he lives… in the future.”

Michael found himself unexpectedly at a loss for words. Finally regaining his train of thought he asked,

“Where is Alyendis, Hosk?”

“You should know!” Hosk said. “You call it ‘Earth.’”




<center>End of Chapter 25

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 Post subject: Children Of The Universe
PostPosted: Wed Dec 07, 2005 11:02 pm 
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<center> <<<<<>>>>> Children Of The Universe <<<<<>>>>> </center>



Grorjish? Eluymer? Alyendis?

Chapter 26


XXVI



Liz carefully placed the Sphere of Visions back into its case…

“I’m sorry, Max. It doesn’t look like it can see into the future.”

“But the spheres took us back 12,000 years into the past when we wanted to see Maya, JoLeesa, and AnDasniya…”

“Yeah, but when we tried to find the children in the past, that didn’t work out. It seems that the spheres can work sometimes going to the past and returning to the present but not at all for the future.”

“Alright… I’ll ask Varec how long it would take to get the new granilith ready for a trip to the future. …Alyendis! I wonder when they started calling Earth that!”

“Yeah, or why they changed its name, Max! Hosk’s records indicate that Jasp-Ard, the time traveler who bought the kids, came from the year 7,278 on Alyendis. So we know where in time we need to look for Taz, Kryys, Mareeya, Jiba, and Drel.”

Max nodded then smiled slightly. “Let’s just hope and pray that the fact that the kids were taken to the future and are not in our time anymore is the real reason the sphere said that they didn’t exist… and not that they… well… you know.”

Liz nodded.


<center>----------

-------------------- One week later --------------------</center>



Max stood looking admiringly at the new granilith as it floated serenely on its anti-grav repulsor lock system inside the Jantoo-Bandy linked science lab. The fortunate finding of the spheres on Michael's Moon had all but put the new granilith out of business. It was so much quicker, easier, and -presumably- safer to just step through the portal to wherever one wanted to go in the universe. And time was always at a premium, even for Antarians! But still, the new granilith was a magnificent machine, everything a small city might have or desire. Max looked at it now with something akin to love, or perhaps the way a teenager might look at his newly built, souped-up, polished-to-a-mirror-sheen muscle car.

“Hey, Max! How’s it doin’ bro? Ready for the trip?”

“You seem pretty ready, Michael! In pretty good spirits are we?”

“Yeah, well, it keeps me from goin’ bonkers, you know? It’s just that I’m all… you know… kind of wound up tight inside. I’ve got to let it out somehow.”

Max smiled. “Yeah, I understand.

…Maria!”

“Hi, Max. I think we’d better get onboard or Michael will take off without us! He can’t wait to go!”

Max laughed. “I hear you!

Kyle! …You ready?”

Kyle nodded. Jeliya and I feel the same way Michael does. If there’s a chance Taz is there, nothing could keep me away, Max! You better drive fast, that’s all I can say!”

Jeliya smiled.

“Six hours, Kyle,” said Max.

“Huh?”

“Six hours. That’s how long Varec says it will take us to get there.”

“Six hours? It took like seventeen days to get to Earth before!”

“I know. Something about going to the future instead of the past… allowed him to use a much more efficient technology in the engine theoretics… Whatever! Talk to Varec if you want to understand it! I just drive the thing!”

Kyle laughed. “What about Alex and Isabel? Anyone find them yet? Or Tess and Rayylar?”

Max shook his head. “No, not yet…”

The sound of a familiar voice came from the hangar door as Max spoke.

“You weren’t planning on leaving without us were you, Max?”

“Alex! Isabel! Oh man, I am so glad you two are here! Talk about almost missing the plane!”

“Yeah, we were on Yxtiar. They have some really nice hot thermal springs there, and it’s a great place to go to… recuperate.”

Max understood.

“Is it true, Max?” Isabel asked, tears coming to her eyes. “You’ve actually found some of the children… alive!”

Max nodded, “Not just some, Izzie! Almost half of all the missing children from Antar have been found. And we’ve found hundreds of children from other planets.”

Alex pulled Isabel close and hugged her. “We’ll find Mareeya and Ceelya, too,” he said with conviction.

“Nobody told you?”

“Told me what, Max?”

“Just a minute.” Max walked to the door of the lab’s personnel lounge. He returned with a pretty girl who appeared to be about seventeen. Isabel took one look at the girl and went pale then quickly dropped the bag she was carrying and took her into her arms. “Ceelya! Oh God, Ceelya! Is that really you?”

Ceelya smiled and sniffed happily. “Yeah, it’s me, Mom!” She looked at Alex then hugged him, too. “Dad! I’m so, so glad to be back home! And I’m so glad you’re finally back! Nobody knew where you and Mom were. Now we can be a family again!”

Alex had to find his voice. His breathing seemed to have stopped without his realizing it.
He hugged Ceelya tightly in his arms and kissed her, burying his face in her hair. When he could speak again, he looked at his little girl; she was no longer a little girl…

“My God Ceelya! I’m so glad… I've missed you so much… I… I want to know everything… everything that’s happened to you! We're still family, Ceelya! We never stopped being! Mareeya, too… We need to find her!”

“I know, Dad. I want to come!”

Alex looked at Ceelya, but he realized that getting her away from Isabel now that Isabel had just found her would be harder than getting a pawgor to sit for a root canal, and he would probably rather attempt the root canal. He smiled and nodded. “Come on. Let’s go onboard!”

With Max, Liz, Michael, Maria, Alex, Isabel, Kyle, Jeliya, and Ceelya all onboard, they closed the doors. Max and Michael took their places and passed their hands over the console then Michael placed a crystal in a special recess in the panel and the ship began to rise. Varec opened the roof. The new granilith floated out of the lab and into the air, rotating 180 degrees to orient itself. As Max placed his hand over the handprint on the panel, he looked out the fore window. Two people were running toward them screaming and waving their hands wildly. Max pointed, and Michael looked, too.

“Somebody must have found them! Pick ‘em up, Max!”

Max moved the ship forward over the top of the couple and activated the transporter momentarily.

“Okay… Let’s go, Michael!”

The new granilith rose into the Antarian sky and, like a shooting star, passed quickly into the cosmos, as Tess and Rayylar walked into the control room to greet their fellow voyagers.




<center>End of Chapter 26

tbc…
<center>


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 Post subject: Children Of The Universe
PostPosted: Wed Dec 07, 2005 11:05 pm 
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<center> <<<<<>>>>> Children Of The Universe <<<<<>>>>> </center>



Future Shock

Chapter 27


XXVII



Roughly five hours and fifty minutes after leaving Antar, the small group of Antarian friends was in sight of Earth… or Alyendis, as Hosk had told them it was called in this future time.

“Michael?”

“Yeah, Max?”

“Do you feel 5,200 and some-odd years older?”

Michael grinned. “Sometimes I do lately.”

They had come forward in time to the year 7,278 AD, the year in which one Jasp-Ard, a time-traveler, was supposed to live. This is where they expected to find the missing children… if they were still alive.

“Looks the same to me, Max. It’s still blue!”

Max nodded. “I guess that means it hasn’t turned into ‘Dune’… all it’s water hasn’t been sucked away or something. The continents look the same. …You’re right, Michael. We could be approaching Earth in our own time as far as anyone could tell by the looks of… WHOA!”

Suddenly, seemingly out of nowhere, the new granilith was flanked by smaller space ships on each side. Looking behind those, Max and Michael saw that it wasn’t just a couple. It was a small fleet. They appeared to be sleek, fast, probably military-issue ships.

“I think we’re in trouble, Michael!”

Michael nodded. “They can see us… even with our invisibility shield. Yep. I’d say we’ve got trouble!”

Max and Michael strained to see who or what might be piloting the smaller crafts, but the forward windows were deeply tinted.

“What do we do now, Max?” asked Kyle, standing behind Michael. Liz and Maria decided to remain in their seats, expecting that at any time, the ride might get bumpy.

“We keep going,” said Max. “If they want something, I’ve got a feeling they won’t be shy about telling us!”

Four minutes later, as the group neared Earth orbit, the control room of the new granilith glowed brightly for a moment. Then the light disappeared, and in its place stood two men… or… something that might be men. They wore full military issue body suits and helmets that covered the entire head. The visor was deeply tinted. Of average height and build, the new arrivals might easily have been either men or women… or something else entirely.

Both Max and Michael were out of their seats immediately and facing the intruders with both palms out, prepared to defend themselves and the ship. Tess quickly took over the controls. Though the ship could easily fly itself on auto-pilot, she and Liz were the only other persons aboard to whom the controls would respond automatically, and Tess was, herself, an experienced pilot.

Max and Michael held their fire but remained standing in this defensive position facing their nemeses. The intruders stood totally still for almost a full minute. It was impossible to tell what was going on behind those smoked visors. Most likely, they were taking in their surroundings, preparing for… whatever. Then the first one moved.

The intruder reached up and unsnapped a lock on the side of the helmet then removed the helmet all in one smooth move. She shook her head slightly, and her hair fell down over her shoulders. The other intruder took off his helmet, too. He looked around the room. As he did, he happened to meet Maria’s glance. Maria gasped. She said nothing at all, but she began to shake noticeably.

The intruders looked at Max and then at Michael.

“You are from Antar?” the young man asked.

Max almost swallowed his tongue from the surprise as he tried to answer…

“Yes. We are.”

The young man nodded. “You will be our guests. You can put your hands down. We aren’t going to harm anyone.”

Slowly, Max and Michael put their hands down but remained prepared to put them back up on a moments notice if it became necessary.

Michael noticed Maria’s shaking, and her reaction confused him. He looked at the young man and his female companion. He had never seen them before. Of this he was one hundred percent certain. He could understand if the young man had been someone they knew or knew of… maybe Kivar… or maybe their own son, Kryys, perhaps, but this was not the case. Michael would recognize Kivar, and he would certainly recognize Kryys. For that matter, he would recognize Taz or Mareeya or even Jiba and Drel, whom he had seen less often. No, these people were complete strangers.

“You will please follow us,” the girl said. “We will lead you to a spaceport where you are already expected. We have been ordered to escort you to the White House.”

“The White House?” Michael queried… “as in… where the President of the United States lives?”

The girl seemed somewhat confused. The young man whispered to her, and she seemed to understand. “Oh! Yes… the President, yes… of Alyendis.”

Michael was silent for a moment… then he looked at Max. “The President of Alyendis! Oh! Is that all? President of the world… Okay.”

The young couple disappeared suddenly, as they had come. There was a bright light then they were gone.

Liz looked at Maria. Maria was shaking almost uncontrollably, and tears were silently running down her cheeks.

“Maria! What in the world is wrong with you?” Liz asked, reaching over to hold Maria to calm her.

“I noticed she started that when that young man looked at her,” Michael said. “What is it, Maria? What got you so upset?”

Maria shook her head “…not upset.”

“What then,” Michael asked, running his hand gently over Maria’s cheek, wiping away the tears. “I thought at first you had seen Kivar or maybe even Kryys, but that man… he was no one we know. I’ve never seen him before today, have you?”

“No,” Maria cried, shaking her head.

“Then what is it, Maria?” asked Liz, hugging her. “You can tell us, sweetie.”

Maria looked at Liz then at Michael; she appeared haunted.

“He had Michael’s eyes.”




<center>End of Chapter 27

tbc…
</center>


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 Post subject: Children Of The Universe
PostPosted: Wed Dec 07, 2005 11:09 pm 
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<center> <<<<<>>>>> Children Of The Universe <<<<<>>>>> </center>



Michael’s Eyes

Chapter 28


XXVIII



Maria stared at Michael for a few moments then covered her face with her hands and shook her head slowly…

“He had Michael’s eyes!” she repeated with total conviction.

“Maybe it’s just a coincidence,” Liz said, shrugging. “I mean, sometimes people look like other people. I’ve seen people who looked so much like someone I knew that, for a moment, I thought it was them. It can be spooky.”

“No,” Maria shook her head. “No, that’s not it! It’s more than that, Liz. I don’t know how I know, but I just know.”

“Well,” Max interjected, “If there is anything to it, I suspect we are going to find out soon enough.” Max took the controls back from Tess, who already had brought the new granilith into a following pattern behind the escort ships headed back to Earth.

Six minutes later, the new granilith glided smoothly as a pelican with its wings outstretched on the wind in over the Atlantic Ocean then over the Potomac River, tracing a gentle arch back around Washington, DC… or what was once Washington, DC. The truth is, the group from Antar had no idea whether Washington, DC even existed anymore or not. They were following the sleek little escort corsairs. The corsairs swooped around the city and seemed to be heading directly to what was once known as Reagan International Airport near the Pentagon.

“Look out there!” Michael said, pointing. “The pentagon is still there! Would you believe it! So is the Washington Monument… and the Capitol… and the White House! They look the same as in our time.”

“Yeah,” Max agreed, “But the rest of the city has sure changed! There are no streets!”

Michael looked. He actually hadn’t noticed this. “Oh, geez! You’re right! No streets at all! How… Oh, I see!”

Michael, Max, Liz, Maria, and all those onboard watched through the forward window of the new granilith, as cars below them zipped back and forth everywhere… but there were no streets. The cars were anti-gravity, probably much like the ones on Antar, though on Antar there were streets. Max wondered how they controlled the traffic here or avoided collisions without streets. It appeared that the monuments, the White House, the Capitol, and the Pentagon were off the beaten path, so to speak. The cars stayed a good distance from them. And it was clear that there was some kind of pattern to the traffic. It ran in neat lines, not willy nilly everywhere.

“They must have got rid of all the cabbies in DC,” Kyle joked.

“That’s New York,” Michael corrected.

“You haven’t ridden with a DC cabbie!” Kyle said, grinning.

The military corsairs slowed their speed to slow forward as they passed over the airport and headed to a remote area of the field on the side nearest the pentagon. Here, they settled down on something resembling retractable airliner wheels arranged in a tripod configuration. Max sat the new granilith down on its anti-grav lock system. It remained firmly stationed about ten feet off the ground. The occupants of the new granilith transported to the tarmac below. They were met by the young man and woman whom they had already seen and several other young pilots and military crewmen who escorted them politely to a waiting anti-grav vehicle that resembled an extravagant, futuristic, black “Hummer-style” limo more than anything else they could think of.

“So…” Kyle joked, “Is this still Reagan International Airport?”

“Reagan Interstellar Spaceport,” the driver corrected, without looking back.

Kyle started to say something but, for a moment, he was tongue-tied. “Five thousand years!” was all he said at end.

Max and Michael chuckled.

The “limo” headed out of the Spaceport and directly across a field, over a hillside planted with lilies and crocuses, and straight across the Potomac! Max, Michael, and Kyle momentarily prepared themselves to get wet, as the vehicle sped smoothly, without even slowing, right out over the water and on to the other side as though the river weren’t even there.

“Cool!” Michael managed to say. “I kind of like this!”

“It takes a little getting used to,” Tess said, holding on to her seat. Rayylar and Liz agreed.

Within minutes, they had arrived at their destination. The anti-grav limo pulled directly under a covered entrance at the back of the White House then passed through two double-wide doors that opened automatically. It came to a stop inside a large room that was fully appointed with sofas, chairs, table, and other furniture. The fly-up doors of the limo, which resembled the gull-wing doors of a DeLorean, rose automatically, and Max and the others stepped out.

“Nice carpet!” Michael said, testing the plush, stylish carpeting under their feet. It wasn’t really that the carpeting was outlandishly extravagant; it was just the almost incomprehensible incongruity of a limo -even a hover-limo- parked in the living room… or whatever room this was.

The young couple who had appeared in the control room of the new granilith seemed to be taking charge of their new visitors. The girl motioned for them to have a seat.

“The, uh, President will be right out to speak with you. Please make yourselves comfortable.”

Michael sat back in one of the plush, overstuffed chairs and helped himself to some M&M’s, redhots, cinnamon sticks, and Jalapeño peppers from a dish on an end table.

“Now this is a combination I approve of! I could get used to this.”

Max smiled, but his face reflected a deeper concern. Michael felt it, too, but Michael was far more adept at putting his feelings on a back burner somewhere and going on with living life’s more pleasant realities. Perhaps he had Hank to thank for this, in some perverted way. It wasn’t that he had forgotten -or would ever forget- about the more unpleasant realities. He had just learned to survive by not dwelling on them until necessary.

As Michael chewed on a Jalapeño pepper, Max and the others suddenly stood up. Michael looked up to see two guards with white gloves step through the door into their room from a hall on the other side. One guard stood at attention on each side of the door. Michael hastily swallowed his Jalapeño pepper and opened his mouth slightly to breathe better. When the guards turned to face each other, he took three more Jalapeños from the dish and put them in his pocket for later.

Michael had barely straightened back up when an important-looking person entered the room. Both white-gloved guards stood at attention and saluted as he passed.

“At ease… You may leave,” the new arrival told the guards. The guards left quickly, as they had come.

The young man who had appeared on the new granilith earlier walked up to the President, who had just entered, and saluted him. The President saluted back then hugged him.

“Okay, now there’s something that wasn’t done in our time,” Michael said, snickering.

The President of Alyendis looked at his guests and smiled… “Welcome.”


<center>----------


------------- Ten minutes later --------------</center>


“Mmmmmmmmmmmmm,” Maria moaned. She remembered the room spinning… then everything had gone dark.

“Maria! Wake up, Maria!” Liz wiped a moist cloth over Maria’s forehead and shook her slightly. “Maria, wake up!”

Michael, still flushed, himself, lifted Maria up into a sitting position…

“Are you sure she’s alright, Max?”

Max nodded. Maria moaned slightly again then opened her eyes and tried to stand up suddenly.

“Whoa! Whoa! Careful, Maria,” Kyle cautioned. “You fell. You shouldn’t get up too fast.”

Maria pushed Kyle aside with a short attempt at politeness, “Sorry.” She figured she would apologize properly later. In a blink, she was on her feet.

The President smiled and held his hands out to her, and Maria took them. He hugged her.

“You missed the introductions, Maria,” said Michael, grinning from ear to ear. “It’s Kryys.”

Michael swallowed hard and turned to the young couple they had first met on the new granilith… “And this is his son, Avantar, and his son’s wife, Angelina. You were right, Maria. It was all in the eyes.”




<center>End of Chapter 28

tbc…
</center>


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 Post subject: Children Of The Universe
PostPosted: Wed Dec 07, 2005 11:12 pm 
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<center> <<<<<>>>>> Children Of The Universe <<<<<>>>>> </center>



Mister President

Chapter 29


XXIX



Maria hugged the President of Alyendis as though he were her long-lost son. The interesting fact is… he was. Michael stood grinning from ear to ear as he watched, then he hugged Kryys again himself, patting him on the back. Kryys was taller than Michael now by over two inches. The whole thing seemed both odd and right at the same time… odd, because they were hugging the President of… well, the World! And right, because he was still their son… even if he had been the president of the whole universe… he was still Kryys, and he was still their son. He always would be.

“You’ve got a whole lot to tell us, I think,” Michael said. “I’d love to know how all this came about!”

Kryys smiled.

“And something else, too…” Kyle said. “We’re still looking for Taz, Mareeya, Jiba, and Drel.”

Tess nodded emphatically at the mention of her children.

Kryys sat down on the sofa. His face didn’t immediately betray any emotions or knowledge that he might have had regarding the other missing children, who would be approaching middle age by now.

“I should start at the beginning,” Kryys said quietly, motioning with his hands for emphasis. “It’s the only way you’ll understand…”

The room was quiet. A pin falling on the carpet probably would have been heard.

“Forty-seven years ago, when I was six, I was taken captive by the Ghors. I didn’t realize that then. Hosk told us that he created us. I believed that for a long time. Six years later, Hosk pulled me out of the cell I lived in and sold me to a Lieutenant Nick Jasper.”

“Jasp-Ard!” Liz half gasped.

Kryys nodded. “That’s how Hosk pronounced it.”

“Earth… was in a desperate situation. Earth had been dealing with visitors from other planets… other universes… for some time, and Lieutenant Jasper traded extensively with many alien cultures. One of the things he traded for or bought was a device for time traveling. He used it extensively, going back in time to change the past at will, making himself the inventor of technologies that had large money-making potential, by “inventing” them before the real inventors did. According to the history books on Earth forty years ago, Lieutenant Jasper invented the electric light, the phonograph, the Winchester rifle, the printing press… should I go on? Oh, and he bought up ninety percent of the shares of a fledgling company no one had heard of called ‘Microsoft’ for pennies. He owned all the stock in Bell South, General Electric, and any number of other large corporations.”

Michael whistled. “Busy guy!”

Kryys nodded. “Very! He was always off somewhere in time. He authored ‘Tom Sawyer’ and countless classics, wrote ‘White Christmas’ …signed the Beatles to a recording contract and wrote all their songs, which he collected royalties on. He wrote and copyrighted such immortal classics as ‘Star Wars,’ ‘E.T.,’ and ‘Roswell.’ “

“Wow!” Kyle said quietly, “Roswell!”

“And, of course, he always chose the right numbers in the lotto and the right horses at the races! The problem was that he was going back in time to a time when Earth didn’t have time travel and didn’t know how to defend itself against this kind of abuses. They didn’t even know what was happening. Then, once it was done, it became, well… history, as they say.”

“Lieutenant Jasper lived well and owned a very large estate near New York. He kept its former name, ‘Rhode Island,’ for sentimental reasons.”

“Everything seemed to be on Lieutenant Jasper’s cherry tree, as we used to say. He had the pick of anything he wanted and owned anything he wanted. Then one day in the late autumn of 7,237, it all started to come apart.”

Max leaned forward, totally absorbed in what Kryys was telling them. So did Michael.

“The date was October 12, 7,237. It’s history now. There was an explosion in space. Everyone watched the sky, as fire ran across the heavens in all directions at once, following the top of the ozone layer. Above the North Pole, there was a hole in the ozone layer, and the fire poured through like the flame out of a flame blaster. It didn’t take 24 hours for the ice in the northern ice fields to all melt. The seas rose drastically. Every coastal state was under water. So was Jasper’s estate. The sea rose as far inland as the Appalachians. That’s where it stopped. On the West Coast, it stopped at the Rockies.”

“I could go on and on about the consequences of the disaster, the heavy mist that remained in the air for over a year, the endless rain… but what is important here is the reason: Lieutenant Nick Jasper.”

“Jasper?” Max asked. “Jasper caused this?”

Kryys nodded. “Jasper had time traveled all over time. In itself, that was not a problem. But everywhere he went in time, he changed things. Think of time as a large tapestry. Now imagine that a small being of some kind takes one of the strings and unravels it, rushing off in another direction with it. Then it does the same thing again with another string… and then another and another. It moves the strings haphazardly all over the place in a random fashion with no respect for order or consequences. Eventually, the tapestry is destroyed. It is a messed up ball of fluff. Time is a tapestry… in a fashion. And Earth’s time was a mess. It finally reached a critical point, and there was an explosion on an atomic level… in a sense, the tapestry fell apart.”

“Wow!” several of the group said quietly at the same time.

“The scientists found out eventually what caused it, and overnight, Lieutenant Jasper went from being the most successful and richest man in the world to being the most wanted man in the world. Jasper never was the kind to just surrender and take his punishment or to give up, though. He began immediately to search for a way to save his own hide. What he found, quite by accident, he picked up in what might have otherwise been an unimportant conversation with an alien traveler on the planet Sarveth, where Jasper was hiding out and keeping a low profile. The alien spoke of a slave trader in the distant past named Hosk who had a boy who could convert himself into molecular form and alter molecular functions.”

“This interested Jasper immensely. He speculated that, if the boy could actually alter molecular functions, perhaps he could put back right what had happened on Earth. Jasper hoped that he would then be welcomed back as a hero and be able to recover his vast fortune and holdings. That this Hosk and the boy he was selling had lived 5,000 years in the past was not a concern. Jasper was a time traveler.”

“Amazing!” Kyle said quietly. The others nodded.

“So Jasper went back to the past and bought the boy… you,” Michael said.

“Yes… me. He brought me to the time in which he lived, the year 7,238, one year after the disaster. The world was still convulsing from the aftereffects. It rained three-fourths of every day… and not just little rains… booming thunderstorms that would wash things away. The air was heavy with humidity. In retrospect, it’s probably the only thing that saved the people here from being cooked alive by the supra-atmospheric fires that burned in the area just above the ozone layer for over a month after it first happened.”

“Geez!” Michael gasped. “Sounds like doomsday.”

“Some people thought it was,” Kryys said. “Lieutenant Jasper sneaked me back here to Earth -he couldn’t be seen without being arrested- and he ordered me to do whatever it was I did to try to fix the atmosphere.”

“And you knew what to do?” Max asked.

Kryys shrugged. “It’s not like I knew, it’s just… I don’t know, intuition. It sort of comes with the gift, like knowing how to rearrange all the molecules in Jayyd after she was shot. I’m not a doctor, I just… when I’m in molecular form, I just become one with the universe. The knowledge that is there is shared with me. I don’t know how else to say it.”

Max found himself opening his mouth, but no words came out.

Kryys continued, “I converted into molecules and floated up into the high atmosphere. There, I found that all the molecular threads were misaligned. Some were broken. Some were missing. So I took them one by one and replaced or repaired them. When I’m in molecular form, I seem to move very fast. It was a big job, because there was so much damage, but in under an hour, it was finished.”

“And did things return to normal?” Maria asked.

“After a few days, yes,” said Kryys. “The humidity lingering in the atmosphere had to rain itself out.”

“My God, Kryys,” Kyle said, “You were what… Twelve years old? Thirteen? I can't believe all that you went through! It's just… It's mind-boggling!”

“That was only the beginning,” Kryys said.




<center>End of Chapter 29

tbc…
</center>


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