Yenne sat on the damp grass outside of the Central Command, sat tithing irritably, staring at Shaylor McConnor, willing him, silently daring him, to say it once again to her, telling her to try again. She hated failing, especially when others thought it was her own fault. "I have told you Shaylor, if there is no Prophecy to be had, then none will come! Trying harder will not change that." Yenne sighed as she said this, sighed because it did not change Shaylor's face.
"Once more cannot hurt. We need guidance, remember? Now, close your eyes." Shaylor had grown incredibly assertive in the short time they had been away from the Exploriens- only three years! -and sometimes Yenne found it intensely irritating, despite initiating the change herself.
What Yenne kept trying to do was have a Prophecy, a vision, that would help them in the upcoming hunt, but it was useless. She knew little, having such a small talent in the Prophecy, and squinting her eyes shut harder did not change the fact that if someone was going to have a vision, it was probably not Yenne of clan Valavan.
Yenne did try once more, only because she was determined not to have a guilty conscious when she told the others she had tried to Prophecize but failed. Stilling all emotions, Yenne floated in the empty blackness inside her head, and tried to smother the irritation that kept on flaring up, irritation at anything and anyone she could think of. If you wished to have a vision, you had to be completely serene when it came to you. For several minutes, Yenne sat like that, ignoring the fact that her clothes were throughly soaked where they touched the grass, ignoring the fact that when she was like this, something could happen to her and she would be completely unawares. Then, right as she was about to tell Shaylor that it was hopeless, she saw it- a Prophecy! Approaching her!
Yenne tried to contain her excitement as the small twinkle approached her, pure white against the blackness of her mind. If she was overly eager, it would not come, and then she would spent what little was left of the night hitting herself in the head. Luckily, she remained serene as the light grew, grew until it enveloped her, and then, with a FLASH, Yenne was in the vision, where she was free to let out a whoop of joy.
After that outburst of triumph, Yenne looked around at her surroundings. You were only aloud to be in a vision for a predetermined amount of time, and it was important that she observed and remembered whatever could be interpreted quickly, and did not waste time jumping about.
She was in a idyllic green meadow, the sun was shining, the sky was blue, it was warm, and all it all it seemed a perfectly nice, but meaningless, happy paradise. Mindless, this was, no information about future events could be gleaned from this, and Yenne looked about for some recognized symbol of something.
There was a simple wooden fence, running along one edge of the meadow, that bordered a simple dirt road, but what made Yenne notice it was the gate that stood about thirty feet from her position. It was tall and made of a silvery metal, and shone with a faint light that seemed to both beckon and repulse Yenne. Sighing, she knew she had to pass through that gate, even though she could not remember what a gate symbolized, and since she was eager to view as much of this vision as possible, she ran for the arch. But her reluctance to pass through that luminous light showed too, making her jog forward at an odd, jerky, type of movement. Finally, she was through the silver gate, and everything had changed, but Yenne did not know how.
Instead of an idyllic country road, it was a wasteland, the sky a grey darker then she had ever seen, striated with black clouds whipped to a fury by unseen winds, the ground scorched to ashes, everything burnt, including the soil itself. The only living thing Yenne could see were a few scattered weeds, mainly itchleaf and stinking bush, and fires specked the landscape, small, and sedated, but still unexplained fires. Yenne felt like she was the only person alive. What could all of this foretell?
Wait! About two hundred from where Yenne stood, she saw a figure in white, and hope bloomed inside of her, a hope she tried to suppress because it was unlikely. Running up to the figure, Yenne's breath caught, and she knew her hope had been justified. A Guide!
A Guide was a person who appeared in a vision, sent by the Goddesses, and were very rare. In all Yenne's life only four visions involving a Guide had been announced, and it was always the strong Prophets that had them. Yenne could hardly wait to tell Shaylor, and Mirvenne, and maybe even rub it into Chavve's nose! A Guide would answer questions put to it, any questions, and answer truthfully. A thousand thoughts welled up in Yenne's mind, of questions she could ask this placid woman, who still stood there with her eyes closed. What Exploriens were sho'gan vin, and what would Yenne and her friends have to do to defeat them? Why had Chavve summoned her to the capital? What should they do to regain a normal life, and what could she do to ensure that Shaylor and Audua became a couple? Those and a million more all came to mind, but she could not decide which to ask first, and it took her a second to get her thoughts in order. Yenne opened her mouth and prepared to address the Guide, but just as she did, the Guide's eyes snapped open.
"Yenne." Was all the creature said, and it was not a question. The voice was oddly... resonant, it echoed as if a few hundred people had spoken exactly in unison, and it had all come out of this one persons mouth. The Guide's eyes had an odd light to them- they did not burn with it, they just had a light -that spoke of knowledge of things that Yenne could not comprehend. "Yenne of Clan Valavan. I have a message from the Goddesses for you, Yenne. First, you must promise not to ask a question, not complain, and you must follow these instructions as dutifully as possible. Or face consequences." The voice never changed during that speech, but Yenne heard words varying from conversational to threatening. Gulping slightly, Yenne wished that she could have at least asked one question before having to agree to this.
"I agree not to complain, and not to ask the questions, and me, I will try to do what you say." Yenne stood expectantly, but when the Guide only regarded her pacifically, brown eyes glowing with hidden knowledge. Yenne wished she had a cloak to pull around herself. "Well? Do you not believe me?" Yenne said angrily. Angry to hide the fear inside, fear of what the wrath of the Goddesses might curtail.
Shaylor was pacing a few feet off, and he ran over to Yenne as soon as he saw she had regained consciousness. Helping her to her feet, he asked, "How was it?" No matter how he had h had changed during the journey home, he was still kind, and soft hearted, and very compassionate. "Come on, let's get inside."
Yenne walked with the support of Shaylor's arm- support? He practically had to drag her! - and Yenne was sure her best friend would have carried her, but she was almost as tall as him, and he was half Krigoni, which meant he was slender of build, and so Yenne settled for the supporting arm. It was only about a two minute walk into the Lobby of the Central Command Building, but despite what Shaylor had asked just seconds before, he would not let Yenne talk of what she had viewed. "Tell us tomorrow. Your too fatigued to go through the interpretation now." Which was all too true; the nights she had not been awake repairing something, she was awake because of restlessness, and she did not doubt tonight would not be an exception. They had had a crew meeting at supper, and all they had accomplished was supper, but another was scheduled for breakfast.
Once inside the elevator, Shaylor let her sit on the floor for the ten minutes it took to reach the level where her quarters where. It must have been past midnight, because the lights in the corridors were dimmed, and once Shaylor had helped Yenne into her room and left, she fell asleep on top of the covers, not bothering to remove her uniform. Her dreams where ones of a time when she did not know the phrase sho'gan vin, of a time when her biggest worry was finding a date for the big party, a time before she had come to the Explorien organization, a time when she had known peace.
Shaylor McConnor's eyes opened, and he felt a burst of energy and enthusiasm that had been lacking from his life over the past few months. Finally, they were doing something useful, instead of traipsing home like refuges. Shaylor showered and dressed, then walked to the corner of is quarters, to where he had tossed his cell phone last night before drifting off to sleep.
The speed dial held everyone's number, from David's to Yenne's to Pandor, the High Commander's secretary. He looked at it. They had a breakfast meeting scheduled for this morning, but he felt the need to phone one of his friends and confirm that. He was about to phone Yenne when he remembered how fatigued she had been last night. An extra half hours sleep would do her good, if only a little. He pressed Audua's button.
It rang twice, and then Audua, sounding just up out of bed, answered. "Hello?" He asked a bit apprehensively.
"Audua, it's Shaylor... I hope I didn't wake you up." Shaylor said.
"No, no, I have been up for about five minutes." Audua explained.
"Um... you didn't forget about our crew meeting? Cafeteria 12?" It was half a question in itself, because Shaylor wasn't so sure; there were more then sixty cafeterias in the Central Command.
"No I did not forget." She sounded a little annoyed, but pleased, as well.
"Well.... see you there." Shaylor felt stupid for calling her on such a trivial matter, but he found himself missing Audua at the strangest moments.
"Goodbye, Shaylor." She paused for a split second. "Thank you." Then there was a click, and Shaylor folded up his phone, placed it in the pocket of his over t-shirt, and made his way to the elevator that was just down the hall from his room. * * * * * * * * * * * * *
Audua of Lecel sat somewhat patiently in Cafeteria 12, watching the Exploriens walking about in their uniforms, under the flourescent lights of the Central Command. Audua was so sure they lights would have hurt her eyes, but her distinctive Ingori eyebrow ridges shaded her eyes nicely. Arranging her voluminous white robes, she sat silently David Morrison was also at her table, and Yenne, but none seemed like they wanted to talk. She felt sort of like an outsider, sleeping in the Explorien Central Command. Her, in the centre of Explorien power! The mere thought of such six months ago would have made her laugh out loud. Audua was often openly scornful of the Exploriens, with their bureaucratic posturing, their military fluff that so amused Audua. That was before she had encountered six actual Exploriens, encounter the captivating grey eyes that would make her leave her home, even if it was not a matter of change time. Despite being a devote follower of the sikis religion, Audua had broken its laws, making a major life change - going from student doctor to business woman! -out of its time, disobeying her parents at an age that required obedience.
Shaylor entered, and he seemed thoughtful, as well. Anto Klarisen, the short, stocky Velexian entered almost upon his heels. After they had all sat, David seemed to undergo one of the rapid mood swings that Terran's were known for- now his bright blue eyes seemed almost on fire. Terrans had scared Audua when she was a small child, because compared to Ingori they were giants, with unpredicatble tempers and strangly colored eyes- almost every species had brown, black, or grey, but Terrans often had blue, or even green, and they had an odd glow to them. Terrans were a warlike people, yet they worked for peace... an odd race.
"So, who has accomplished what?" David asked in a commanding voice. Shaylor sat turned around in his seat, and Audua was struck with the thought that that pose made him seem simply adorable.
"Yenne has had a Prophecy." Shaylor said simply, yet it was obvious that the effect of this announcement had had the effect he had wanted. He smiled, somewhat thin lips upturned at their corners. "Tell them, Yenne." David muttered something, as was his way, and Audua caught something about hoping it wasn't so damn poetic this time.
"This, it was the normal vision, not the bizarre one, which the one on Nu certainly was." Yenne's clear voice, so accented, broken, yet almost commanding, was pitched a little too high, and Audua thought she saw the people's ears perk up, the ones sitting at the next table. "There was a Guide..." Yenne's bronze colored eyes looked inward. "A messenger from the Goddesses." Audua did not like the fact that Aravillians were so absolute in their faith; in their attitude that al other religions were wrong. "She told me... things." Shaylor coughed faintly, but Yenne appeared not to hear it. "David, Anto, she told me to protect you." A faint smile curved her generous lips. " Make sure you are not the dead ones, yes? Also, I am supposed to go to Myri. Do not ask me any more- I was not allowed an opportunity to ask the questions. There were several of the symbols in the vision, yet I am unsure what they were meant to be meaning." Yenne fell silent, and David took it up.
"Well, Shaylor and I found nothing in the archives." He announced simply, So now he was in a simple mood.
"We did not have a chance to interview any Exploriens, and we are at a loss to explain to the Exploriens why we are interviewing them." Anto said, and Audua sighed, because what he said was true. Anto and Audua had been paired up, yesterday, and they had been told be David- as if he was the leader -that they were to interview suspicious Exploriens.
David sighed heavily, and Audua realized that he had undergone yet another mood change, now to depressions. "Maybe we are going about this the wrong way." He said in just as weighty a tone as his sigh. "I mean, we are just floundering in this hunt. We don't know what to do, we don't know who do trust. What's the deal with Lako Oraine? We all blindly trust her secretary, but what is her agenda?" David sounded weary, and Audua felt a moment of sympathy for him.
"I do not trust her." A frosty voice announced from behind Audua's back, and she jumped despite herself. Bantu Basha stood behind her chair, and everyone stared at him. Was he purposely late for every occasion?
"So kind of you to join us." David said dryly.
"Thank you." Bantu said, nodding his head graciously as if accepting real thanks. "You are right to distrust Lako Oraine." Audua had been frightened of Terrans, but Krigoni had seemed nightmare made flesh when Audua was two. Tall enough to dwarf the giant Terrans, with horrible blue skin, and glistening, huge black eyes, they acted so cold that Audua had been convinced they were robots sent to kill her. Audua was embarrassed about her beliefs as a child, but there it was. She could not change the past, but she had been four the last time she had asked her parents to check for Krigoni in her closet before turning off her lights at night.
Bantu took a seat, but it seemed they had discussed all they would discuss. Everyone sat, twiddling with breakfast food but not eating, silent. Suddenly a Explorien woman swooped across the room to them, a plump Aravillian woman, and short for an Aravillian, meaning she was only about half a hand taller then Audua, who knew she was a small woman. As Audua had thought before, the woman was plump, and appeared kindly, but her face was set as if for a difficult task.
"I would speak with you five." Her voice was as high as Yenne's, and she had a similar accent, but her tone was one Audua had seldom heard from Yenne, a tone of complete and utter authority. "Leave us." She told Audua without looking at her, and Audua stood angrily, opening her mouth to deliver an acid comment. Who did this person think she was? Then, the woman turned to look at her, and for some reason Audua felt compelled to go. She bent down by Shaylor. "Meet me in the water gardens after supper." She whispered, and left.
At the door, she turned, but she only glimpsed Anto Klarisen, following the others out another door, on the other end of the cafeteria. What had her friends done now?