It was a new day for all of the cadets. Today, they were to begin Ranger training. They had done the initial flight training, learning how to make a battle saddle for the Skree, making armor for them, and learning how to pack their gear for travel. The last thing that you wanted to happen was to lose your gear while flying. They were all assembled on the grounds outside the Great Temple, and Whitlaw addressed them.
“Today, you are to begin the most important phase of Guardian training. You will be paired off with experienced Rangers, and will be sent out on scouting missions. You will be expected to learn everything you possibly can from your Field Training Officer, and you will follow their orders without question, the last thing I want is to lose one of you because of heroics, pride, or foolishness. Being able to fly anywhere you want to go can cause you to lean towards recklessness. The last thing I need is to have to bury you because you failed to listen.” With that, the cadets were assigned their FTO’s and were given their assignments.
Jason was paired with his father’s oldest friend and First Ranger, Jama and his Bond Mate Skelon, Lantana was paired with a female Ranger named Jana and her Bond Mate Rhela, the surprising thing was that Jama and Jana were siblings, and had been the first recruits to join the Guardians. They bonded with adult Skree, as had their father, and had served in every campaign fought since. If anyone was more qualified to train them, it would only be their father.
Jama and Jason were to go north towards the place where Whitlaw first met Regulus. They were sent to scout out and see if there had been any Marn incursions since the last hatching. The Marn usually only appeared around the time of a hatching, and with hatchings only taking place every couple of years, they had a few breaks over the last twenty years. When the Guardians first formed, the hatchings were happening every six months, once one group was hatched, then another would take its place. Once the Guardians had reached one thousand, the Council decided to ask the Skree if they could delay the hatchings. Regulus asked them how often they would prefer to have candidates and it was determined that every two years would be close enough unless they had sustained heavy casualties, in which case they would need more recruits. The Skree matured at least twice as fast as the Brellon, and Regulus said they could delay any hatchings up to seven years. With that being settled, they had kept the Marn raids to a minimum and had secured safety for their peoples for at least a couple years at a time.
Jama and Jana had decided to take the twins on their ranger training as a team. They had discussed it with Whitlaw and he approved it on the condition that they met up after departing, and didn’t leave together. Jana decided to take Lantana west, and then north, there was an outcropping of tanzite located near the coast line and she had wanted to check it out in detail. She thought that their might be a cave there that they could use as a base prior to heading north to meet Jama and Jason.
They arrived at the place she wanted to see, and wasn’t surprised to find a cave there. Wherever they found heavy tanzite deposits, they usually found cave systems. This was no exception. Jana, Lantana, Rhela, and Braela, entered the cave and finding some brush lit a fire. They stood there in awe, on the walls of the cave were detailed inscriptions, pictographs, and reliefs of Skree with mounted riders. They had found a treasure trove of information. Jana asked Rhela to send word to Regulus, she knew that Regulus had been searching for a cache of information on the past when he met up with Whitlaw all those years ago.
The next day, Whitlaw and Lara arrived to inspect the cave. They hadn’t disclosed anything that Jana had relayed to Regulus. This was something that he wanted to investigate in person, and didn’t want every Brellon, Elder, and Ranger here to destroy some secret that might give them an upper hand against the Marn. He did ask Jana to send for Jama and Jason, them he trusted, and wanted them there as well, they arrived shortly after Whitlaw and Lara. They all entered the cave together and were surprised at how clean the cave was, Jana told them that she and Lantana had swept out the cave carefully leaving anything other than dirt and vegetation intact. Whitlaw asked Regulus if he understood the inscription or pictographs, and he said that he could tell that it told the story of the exodus of the Skree from their ancient homeland, and that it referred to the companions, which were held as myth by most Skree. He told Whitlaw that his father had told him that he considered the myths to be true, and not myths at all, and that had been the reason that he had come to the cave where they had met.
As Whitlaw and the others began to explore the cave, he noticed that in the pictographs, all the Companions, as Regulus called them, wore a strange accoutrement on their heads and that their swords and daggers had some kind of jewels in the pommels. He wondered what they were, and it was Lantana who made the discovery quite by accident. As she was looking at the inscriptions on the walls, she ran her hand over them to see if there were any tool marks to show how the inscriptions were placed in the tanzite walls, and the wall slid back about ten centimeters and then slid to one side. Inside, it was strangely lit, by some kind of panel in the ceiling, and on the shelves inside were the devices that were depicted on the heads of the Companions in the pictographs. It was a treasure trove indeed.
Lantana’s curiosity got the better of her and before anyone could stop her, she placed one of the diadems on her head. It fit perfectly. Then the strangest thing happened, she could hear all the Skree that were with them, and not only could she hear them, she could speak to them on the link as well. This was something that no one else was able to do. She told them all to find a diadem that fit their heads and to put one on. Thinking that all the others would also experience the ability to hear the other Skree as she could, she was expecting a reaction, but not the one she got. Her mother and Jana could hear the Skree, but her father, Jason, and Jama could not.
As Lantana continued to read the history of the Companions, she was made to understand that this ability was one that only females had, and not all females were able to do it. It was a shock that the diadem was able to not only open the link for her, but that it also made it possible to hear Skree conversations that were taking place all over the planet. The voices became so loud and confused in her head that she tore the diadem off and started to weep. It was too much. Hearing all those voices, most of which she knew personally, all at once was such a shock that she finally passed out from the strain.
Once she regained consciousness, she asked her mother and Jana if they had experienced hearing all the voices of the Skree. They told her that they only heard the six Skree that were present, and that while she was unconscious, they had discovered through the inscriptions that not all females could hear every Skree on the planet. That was a special gift that only a rare few possessed. All females could both hear and speak to any Skree while wearing the diadem, but only at close quarters.
They also found information about how the diadem worked. It said that if they placed tanzite crystals on the pommels of their swords and daggers, they would be able to channel power from their Bond Mates and increase their skills, speed, and strength. After the discovery of the cave, they began to wonder if there were other troves of knowledge hidden away in some forgotten cave that could help them change the course of history and defeat the Marn, or at least make it too costly for them to return to Embrellon.
They gathered the diadems in the cave and Whitlaw and Lara returned to the Great Temple. They distributed the diadems to the Guardians and went to the Craft Masters who made their swords, and showed them the diadems, and asked that they make more diadems, and to start adding tanzite crystals to the pommels of all the Guardians swords and daggers. This was a start, they may not have pulse rifles or phase pistols like the Marn had, and they couldn’t use the weapons they had captured. Whitlaw knew that the Marn weapons were genetically coded to each individual and with Embrellon being an agrarian society, they didn’t have the technology to reprogram the weapons.
They had tried to remove the power source from the Marn weapons and use them to make explosives, but every time they removed the power modules, they would discharge and were useless. Without a working knowledge of Marn technology, they were going to need a solution from Embrellon, and now with the discovery of the diadems and the inscriptions in the cave, they had more than a fighting chance. They could actually go on the offense instead of constantly having to be on defense.
Whitlaw’s experience as an Earth Force Expeditionary Marine had made it possible to have a defense against the Marn. He had consulted all the files from his ship that were left. The thorough cataloging of the mineral deposits, flora and fauna, as well as geothermal and tectonic scans had been of great value in his establishing the Guardians. He knew that there wasn’t any mineral or chemical deposits on Embrellon to build any devices, make explosives, or the technology to make any devices to use against any spacefaring civilization. What they did have was a completely stable world. No tectonic shifts, no volcanic processes to deal with, and so far, no earthquakes. The planet had no moon to influence tidal shifts, the world was for the most part, idealistic. The society was agrarian, and the only indigenous sentient life-form was the Skree. There had been a humanoid race here at one time, they were the original bond mates of the Skree, and the Marn had released a biological weapon that wiped out the Brellon.
The Brellon that lived on Embrellon today were all refugees, mostly from Vela, one Human, and a small group of Vatar, they were similar to the Marn, but not warlike, their religion forbade them to kill for any reason, and there were only a few of them here. They were all males, and had no inherent telepathic abilities, and they lived in a small closed community that would die out because there were only males, and they refused to interact with the Vela.