In the short time since the rediscovery of Varna and all it held, the whole of Embrellon had changed. With the change came new hope and a new vision of all Embrellon could become. One of the greatest things that happened was that the humanoids decided that even with all their diversity from the refugees that had come and created the new race of humanoids, they chose to reclaim the name of the original inhabitants that had been wiped out by the Marn, the Brellon.
The Building of the Craft halls, Archives, the new Academies, the Institute, and University, would take time, but the peoples of Embrellon were moving forward. In just a few short months, most of the work was done. The buildings were built, and staffs were being chosen to man the halls, those that would be Master craftsman would lead each guild instructing the journeymen and beginners, and each Guild was given Archivists to record all that happened in each Guild.
One thing given great consideration and training in was the Skree. It was decided that every aspect of anatomy, diet, medicine, social structure, and any other aspect of the Skree should be chronicled. There was a lot of information in the Varna Archives, and with the Skree Institute being one of the first Guilds built, copies of the Varna Archives were made and brought there along with a full complement of linked and unlinked Skree, Healers, and teachers and students. The thing that surprised most of them was that in the process of locating a site to build the Academy, Tegar, Zanda, Josan, Lokar, Jamtar, Zembar, Regon, Rismam, Darno, Detan, Daktar, Tregon, Torga, Tubar, and Tambar came to the Great Council and requested that the Skree Academy be built where they lived and for the first time in history, Brellons would be allowed to go to the Skree homeland, and see the Skree in their natural state, and learn about their society. Life had changed for all.
One thing that hadn’t changed though, was the need for Rangers to be on duty, and with six bases to send Rangers out from, the burden of protecting the planet had just gotten easier. This was the ultimate duty of the Guardians, and with all the changes, they weren’t just protecting the Brellon from the invaders, but all life on Embrellon was now being protected. It had truly become a society that even Whitlaw would be proud of. He gave them the basic structure they needed, even though it was militaristic in form, it wasn’t in function, and now, six hundred years later, it was to become what he’d envisioned.
The construction of the additional bases, craft halls, university, archives, and a hospital had taken just over two years. There hadn’t been any sightings of the Marn so far, but the whole planet was on alert. Catya was certain that it wouldn’t be long before her father would find her, and then the real battle would begin. She wasn’t scared anymore, not for herself, but, it pained her to think that these people who had fought the Marn aggression to a standstill, were going to be fighting to keep her safe. The thought of that would cause her to have nightmares and sometimes it would take all that Chrylos, Gryton, and Zala could do to restore her calm. If she could do something to protect all of them from her father, she would. But so far she could only see herself surrendering to her father, leaving her new home and Zala, would be the only way. Chrylos assured her that she would be safe and that no one on Embrellon would allow her to sacrifice herself in that way. They would fight.
Chrylos was adjusting to his new position as Senior Ranger and Commander of Varna. They had so many things to be responsible for, people, supplies, rangers, cadets, settling disputes, and reporting to Jatar and the Great Council, meetings with the craft masters, and developing Varna. It was an incredible amount of responsibility that he could only wonder how he had found himself here, doing this, instead of being out on a scouting mission, with his only company being Gryton. Life had a strange way of changing you, and putting you in positions you never felt prepared for.
The archives had the most incredible amounts of information in them, as well as the secret rooms providing so much more. Life had been changed they felt for the better, not in ways you would normally think about, such as technology, they had an agrarian life on Embrellon. Because of the link, and the association of Skree and Brellon, technology wasn’t a concern for them. They had no desire for space travel, they had no need for air craft or things like that. Their ships were sailing ships, they had aurochs that were a bit smaller than their wild ancestors, but they were excellent beasts of burden as well as a source of food and leather, they had Kaba’s as well, they resembled an ostrich in size, with bodies that were shaped like turkeys and had plumage like peacocks, they were one of the foundational foods for all of Embrellon, Skree and Brellon alike. They had fresh fish, and shellfish, tubers, and greens, and tana. Tana he thought, this beverage that all Brellon cherished, was made from the roots of a plant that’s leaves and flowers were poisonous, but the roots, when dried, ground, and brewed had amazing restorative properties. The ground roots were steeped in hot water, much like tea, and when ready produced a dark liquid that resembled coffee and tasted like coffee mixed with chocolate and cinnamon. It was usually sweetened with the juice that came from the berries of a tree that resembled a maple with leaves like a mulberry. The berries were juiced, and the juice was a clear amber color and incredibly sweet, and the berries when ripe were white. They had flour and made some of the most incredible breads. There were nuts from trees, berries that were grown, different crops for the aurochs and kabas, and they had a beast that was ridden by the Brellon that resembled a caribou with a stockier body and was very easily saddle trained and even tempered.
With all the changes, the new bases, the extra Guardian Cadets to be trained at the new academy, life for all Brellons had become much better. They had the Guilds, University, and Academies to choose from for life skills, all Brellons were taught to read, write, and do calculations. The people themselves had lives worth living to all who chose too. Every society had members who don’t conform, or choose to be shiftless or live by taking advantage of others, Embrellon was no different. What was different were the Skree, if a Skree didn’t want to be part of their society, they could fly away and live unlinked and solitary, and some did. Those that didn’t join the unlinked, or Guardians, lived alone and usually flew away to live their lives in the unpopulated wilderness or islands that were along the coasts. The Brellon however that chose not to conform, became the cause of the creation of a police force. Guardians for the people, from their own people. Life wasn’t perfect, but it was still a good life.
The undesirables, as they were called, were sent to an Island the Skree had scouted out. It was far enough out that they couldn’t swim back, there were no Skree there to link with or convince to fly them back, and there weren’t any resources to build a ship to sail back. No forests, and curiously, no tanzite. With no tanzite, the Skree wouldn’t go there, it was needed for them to digest their food, for their bodies to produce purple ochre, and to strengthen their bones. In the Varna Archives and Secret Rooms, there was much devoted to the relationship between tanzite and Skree.
Chrylos and Catya were summoned to the Great Council, so, after a few days’ preparation, they loaded their gear, and started out for the Great Temple. As they travelled, Chrylos shared with Catya that he wanted to revisit Lantana’s tomb on the way back. She agreed, but Chrylos didn’t say why he wanted to go back to the tomb. She decided to let it be for the time being and wait until they went there on their way back to Varna. Once they arrived at the Great Temple and went to the meeting, they were greeted by all present. All the base commanders were there, the Master Craftsman, the Master healer, and all the unlinked Skree Pride leaders. Joktar addressed them, “Our ancient foe the Marn, will be here soon. Two weeks ago, one of our advanced scouts found a site where a Marn ship had landed. There were remains of their camp left, and this” he held up a cylinder the length of his arm, it was silver colored and had small knobs protruding from each end. Joktar looked at Catya and said “can you identify this for us?” Catya was stunned, she knew what Joktar was holding up for all to see. It was a projector. She said “Yes Joktar, I know what this is, and it’s a message, from Tygos”, she then approached Joktar, took the cylinder from his hand, pressed a sequence on the small knobs, and suddenly the image of Tygos appeared in the air above them. Tygos began to speak, “people of Embrellon, I know my daughter Catya is among you. We Marn have left your world alone for centuries, but if you do not return my daughter my forces will invade your world and take her by force and enslave your world to serve the Marn Empire. You have thirty of your days to prepare, return my daughter to me, or become my slaves. I have spoken.” The recording ended. It was as silent as a mausoleum, Catya’s nightmare had come true. In tears, she spoke to the Great Council, “I have brought great danger, and a war to you, you have become my people and I no longer consider myself Marn, but Brellon, a Guardian, and part of this world. Yet, I cannot let my people sacrifice their world for me. When Tygos comes, I will go with him to prevent the spilling of any blood.” When she finished, she stood there with her head bowed looking at her feet. Then, from somewhere in front of her, she heard a low grumbling laugh, and it rose and rose until she finally raised her head, and standing right in front of her was Tambar, and he spoke. Not on the link, but he actually spoke, something that no Brellon had ever recorded in any record, that the Skree possessed the power of speech. Yet he spoke, “little one, no Skree linked or unlinked could ever allow you to sacrifice yourself to protect us. We are the protectors, always have been, and as long as the Skree live, always will be. This Tygos cannot take you, not by choice, not by force, not for any reason. In you lies the hope of Embrellon, we have waited millennia for you to come. It was prophesied in eons past that one would come from the stars, and lead us into a new age. Regulus thought it was the Whitlaw, and through them came the Guardians, Seers, and the Great Council, and now through you, we have gained so much, in knowledge, comradery, and a future. Today, we tell you that you are the prophecy, and we will fight for you to stay, to our very last breath.” The Elders consented as well as the Guardians, Seers, and Masters. It was settled for her, they would fight, and she would stay on her new home.
She and Chrylos set out for Varna the next day, they decided to take a leisurely flight home, not just to think about the time frame that Tygos gave them, but to go to the tomb unseen. Chrylos knew that they missed something important in the tomb, and he couldn’t get it out of his mind. He knew that they had to go, and it would change the future.
As they made their way to the tomb, there was an explosion near their location, they followed the smoke and made their way carefully to the site. The Ranger training kicked in and they were on the defense. Chrylos and Catya crawled forward on the ground toward the smoke. As they crested a low hill they were using for cover, they saw what made the explosion and smoke. Before them was a ship, a three hulled ship, a Marn ship and they didn’t crash. They had fired one of their weapons to clear debris out of the way from the landing. Marn troops were exiting the ship, they were early. Chrylos told Catya to notify the Seers down the link. Marn had invaded. Catya told Chrylos this was a scout ship, not a heavy cruiser and she didn’t believe that Tygos had arrived yet, but that this wouldn’t be the only ship that had landed. If they were following Marn battle tactics, there should be at least a dozen more scout ships landing as well.
The Seers notified all the bases, everyone mobilized for war. It was fortunate that Chrylos and Catya were the ones who saw the Marn first, Catya would be able to coordinate the efforts of the Guardians and get the Rangers in place as quickly as possible. This wasn’t what she had been looking forward to, she had wanted to see Lantana’s Mausoleum and go to Varna not be in a battle.
It was a long day, scouting, following, reporting on the link to the Seers, passing the intel to Chrylos, Gryton and Zala. Preparing to fight, and knowing that she must be one with Zala to defeat Marn weapons. They were only four against at least one hundred. They had no one coming to back them in a fight, the others would have their hands full with battles of their own. She and Chrylos decided that the most efficient thing to do would to stay hidden until dark. Then if things went well, they could at least make it to a base before having to fight. Information was the most important thing they could provide at the moment. An all-out battle wouldn’t help anyone.
When darkness fell, they mounted up and headed for Varna, even though it was two thousand kilometers to Varna, they could only fly at night for the time being, which making the coast would be as far as they would get before daybreak. Once at the coast, they would need to find cover and stay put until the end of the day, and then on to Smyrna that night, then they could breathe a little easier. They arrived at the coast just before dawn, and Gryton found a place to hole up for the day. It would be cold rations and water today, he really could use some tana, but, they couldn’t chance a fire, not today.