I'm terribly sorry that I took so very long to post this… a combination of multiple vacation trips and illness delayed me. (Looking back at that sentence, I realize just how much I scare myself…eek!) As unbelievable as it may sound, this is mainly a filler/explanation/dialogue chapter (a 16-page long one… I can hear your snoring already!) but I only say that because it contains fairly little action (call it starving before the feast… can't say more!) I tried to tie off any loose ends I found laying around, and I narrated the basic story of… I shouldn't say, everyone likes a good cliffie! I also did a lot of other things that you'll probably appreciate… enough chatter *scolds self* so read the story, for goodness sakes! ***********************************************************************************************************************
"Give me a hand here, Carl."
Darre raised Brenna to her feet, and Carl helped her to the nearest chair. She sat down gratefully.
"What happened, Darre? Who's Tfr?" (A/n: It's pronounced tuh-FUR by the Kaenors, because only Gomes can say it with no vowels)
"Tfr...you don't want to know."
"Yes I do!"
"You'll wish you hadn't heard... oh, well."
Mairin and Joel leaned forward in their chairs.
"I can't tell you about Tfr without finishing the story about my parents." Darre took a deep breath. "Not long after Tammela came to Kaen, the Gomes entered the dimension. The Kaenors had known about the Gomes for proks and proks, but no one living had seen them, and they had become a sort of horror story or legend. Needless to say, everyone was shocked when they actually came. They immediately attacked. The old Zoyl died in the first attack."
"How did you become the Zoyl?" Mairin asked.
"When the Gomes attacked, Tejor wanted Tammela to go back to Earth, but she refused. She vowed never to leave him, and then... somehow... became a Kaenor." Darre held up his hand. "I don't know how! No one does. She just was."
"Then Heather and I were born. Tammela saw the Rojan on me-"
Darre showed them a tiny silver star on his right wrist. None of them had noticed it before.
"It's the mark of the Zoyl. When the old Zoyl dies, they look for the Rojan on every child. Since I was much too young to rule, Tejor led the Kaenors for a time. Tammela taught me everything I'd need to know as the Zoyl, plus everything a normal Kaenor child knows."
"But how did she know?" interrupted Brenna. She had recovered enough to be listening. "How would she know everything a Kaenor needs to know? She was an Earthling before."
Darre smiled. "It seems that, by becoming a Kaenor, some of the standard Kaenor knowledge was given to Tammela. It would probably be the same if..." he trailed off, looking into Brenna's eyes. They both knew what he meant.
Carl didn't, though. "Get back to the story, Darre! What about Tfr?"
"All right, be patient, Carl! Haeli and the other scientists fitted our ships with weapons and such, and the pilots set about the business of defending the planet. The Gomes had such advanced weapon technology, though, that it was hard for us to catch up. Thanks to our scientists, we have some good weapons now, but it's almost too late... so many lives have been lost."
"Anyway, the leader of the Gomes is called Tfr. I..." he shuddered. "Sam and I met him when we were captured. He's crafty and cruel, and will stop at nothing to see the dimension destroyed."
"Um..." Joel started uncertainly, "how could he destroy the dimension, anyway?"
Darre was silent for a moment. "I shouldn't say…I'm feeling rather confused at the moment. Ask me another time, when my mind is clearer."
Theta's comm beeped. She pulled it out and spoke quietly into it.
"Um, sire, we have a problem."
"What is it?"
"The BlackHeart used a hidden degravitator to knock our fighters off-course. We are unable to prevent the attack."
Darre frowned. "Nonsense. We won't give up until the base crew is safe with us."
"What should we do, then?"
"We'll take the battle to the ground."
Carl caught on quickly (A/n: It's about time, too!). "Oh, cool! We're going to fight them in the base?"
All eyes turned to Brenna. Her face was ashen.
"You… can't possibly… be excited?!"
Carl looked (as usual) very confused. "Yeah, of course I am! It's gonna be a real battle!"
"Have you seen the Gomes?"
"Believe me, you don't want to. Like Heather said, they're hideous."
"Oh, come on, Brenna! How bad can they be? I see hideous junk all the time on my video games."
"No, Carl. I've seen all that gross stuff on your games, and it's nothing compared to… them."
Darre looked at Brenna with a great deal of compassion. "I know what you mean, Brenna. They are terrible. They're worse than hideous." He looked at Carl with a great deal of annoyance. "I don't see why anyone in their right minds would want to see them, much less fight them."
Carl looked exasperated (and you could hardly blame him, poor guy). "Hey, don't give me that! I had no idea!"
"Well, now you know." He turned to Theta. "Get all the pilots into the Zoyl's Heart for launching."
Theta bowed and left the room.
"So… what do we do during the battle, Darre?" asked Mairin.
"I don't think it will be necessary for you to fight. You can stay here."
"What about you?" Joel wanted to know.
"I've got to lead the soldiers. Zoyl's duty, you know."
"But, wait!" interrupted Brenna. "You're going down there, and risking all Kaen?!"
Darre looked very solemn and serious.
"A leader should never ask his followers to do something he won't do himself. I would not be worthy of my position were I to lead from behind."
"Then I'll go with you."
"So will I," volunteered Carl unexpectedly. "You'll need all the help you can get."
"I'll go, too."
"And I'll go!"
Darre shook his head. "I can't put you all in danger. You still can't use your powers, and you've never fought before-"
"Look, buster," said Joel, facing him squarely, "we didn't come here to sit in your pretty ship and stay safe. If you want us to help you, then let us, for crying out loud!"
That was very cool!
The Zoyl smiled (he couldn't help it). "If you feel that strongly about it, I guess I'd better let you come." He grew sober. "But don't say I didn't warn you; you're probably going to be sick when you see the Gomes."
Brenna reached out and took his hand. Her bright eyes locked with his soft ones. "I've seen them, Darre. I've seen them, and I was terrified. I still want to be there. I'll fight beside you."
Carl snorted. "Jeez, how much longer do we have to listen to your guys' mush? I'd rather…"
Darre turned his cool green eyes on Carl, who faltered under his steady gaze.
"If you think you have more right to her than me, just say so."
Carl suddenly found an interesting bit of floor to look at. Satisfied, Darre turned his attention to the view outside the window. The Gome ships were out of sight, and the moon took up his whole field of vision.
"When we get to Meian… well, anything could happen." He looked at Brenna, who was staring at the moon-base. "Maybe you should try to figure out how to use your powers. They could really help during the battle."
Mairin giggled. "Joel and I already figured out telepathy. We've been talking about you."
Joel and Mairin burst out laughing. The others couldn't help but join in.
Darre's eyes changed to glowing yellow in the red lights. "We've got to go. Theta must have alerted the launcher pilots."
"It's a type of transport that takes large groups of people to and from ships in space. Saves us the trouble of landing."
Darre led them through the wall into a dimly lit hallway (not again!), through another wall, and into the launcher. It was like an auditorium; there were at least a hundred people in there. Each person had a silver letter badge pinned to the right shoulder of their tunic.
Theta appeared in front of them. Nodding to Darre (there was no room to bow), she handed each of the Earthlings a silver badge.
Carl looked at his in confusion. "O? What's that stand for?"
"Omicron. You'll be joining the Omicron division during the battle."
Brenna looked at Theta in astonishment. "How did you know we were going to fight?"
The Zeta pilot winked. "I knew you wouldn't leave the Zoyl.":
Carl rolled his eyes.
Mairin? What the-
I'm in the other dimension.
Don't worry, Dad, we're all fine.
What crazy thing is Darre having you do?
He isn't making us do anything. We're volunteering.
So you do have telepathy.
I thought you might have it.
Oh, that. Yes, that's one of my powers.
What are the others?
Invisibility and super-speed.
Same as mine.
So, what crazy thing have you 'volunteered' for?
We're going to save the moon-base.
How on Earth - or Kaen - are you going to save the moon-base?
We're going to fight, how else?
Have they trained you to use your powers?
Then how do they expect you to fight?!
Darre told us to stay in theTammela, but we wanted to go.
That little sneak.
Dad, he meant for us to stay!
No, he knew you foolish kids would never be happy with sitting in the ship while the battle was going on.
What makes you think that?
I thought Darre was your friend!
Well, he is…
Then why don't you trust him?
Because you're important to me, Mairin.
But what about the others? They're risking everything, too.
Dangit, Mairin, they're not my kids!
Does that make any difference?
Why should it?
Well… maybe it shouldn't, but it does.
Well, I know Darre would never trick us into fighting.
How can you be sure?
He's in love with Brenna.
One of us.
The four Earthlings: Brenna, Carl, Joel, and me.
Darre didn't want Brenna to go, but she insisted. We all did.
Do you have the slightest idea what you're getting into?
Yes. I think Brenna saw a Gome, and she just fell apart. She still wants to go, though.
She… my God, she must be insane!
No, she's in love.
I'm dead serious, Mairin.
Well, so am I.
Just don't get yourself killed, okay? I don't know what I'd do if anything happened to you.
Don't worry, I'll be okay. Joel won't let them get me.
Joel? …Oh, yeah. He's still a kid.
So am I.
That's not the point. How's he going to help you?
He's got powers, too, you know.
Oh, right. But can he use them?
He figured out telepathy.
No, the fighting ones.
We're working on it.
Says you. Be careful, alright?
I will. I love you, Dad.
I love you, too.
"Do you honestly think that you can defeat the Gomes by hitting me on the head?!"
"I said I was sorry!"
Joel snickered. He and Carl were practicing degravitation with their badges, and they weren't exactly pros at it yet. Brenna had been hit about twenty times, and she wasn't too thrilled.
Carl whirled on Joel. "At least I can get my badge in the air!" he said indignantly. "Yours hasn't moved a millimeter!"
Bonk!Carl's badge bounced off his head.
"At least I can aim!"
Darre was struggling not to laugh. "Good one, Brenna. Carl, you and Joel had better be more careful."
They were in a corner of the launcher bay, waiting for everyone to get there. None of the Earthlings could imagine any more people coming in - it was already as densely packed as an NYC traffic jam - but Darre said they were still expecting another division or two.
Carl sent the badge flying towards Brenna again. This time, though, it didn't make contact.
"I'm over here, silly." Brenna tapped him on the shoulder from her new position behind him.
"How'd you get there?" asked Carl incredulously, turning around.
"Teleportation, of course! It's not that hard."
"Really?" Carl suddenly was on the other side of Joel. "Oh, you're right!"
Mairin started running around Joel… and around… faster and faster…
"What the heck are you doing?!"
"Practicing super-speed!" said Mairin, stopping abruptly.
"Okay, but do you have to make me dizzy?"
Oh, it's okay, Mairin. I'm just mad at Carl.
Everyone's mad at Carl.
Well, his own fault.
Darre was looking at Mairin strangely. "Sam did that to me once… he has super-speed, too. And he had telepathy… Mairin, do you think you could get a message to your dad?"
"Ask him if he has the Spectra 2-4-1 Trans-Dim."
"Just ask him!"
Mairin? What is it?
Do you have the Spectra 2-4-1 Trans-Dim?
Yeah, but how- Oh, Darre's asking?
Yes. Do you have it?
Hold on, I think it's in my pocket. Yes, here it is.
"He's got it," confirmed Mairin.
"Oh, wonderful!" Darre produced a small metal cube (they weren't sure where it had appeared from) and tapped one of the sides. He spoke quietly with it close to his mouth. The Earthlings couldn't hear what he was saying, but he sounded both happy and anxious. His voice rose a bit, the happiness fading from it. Joel, who was standing closest to him, caught a few words.
"..safe? Nothing is…Tfr tried to…brave…no, not foolish…young…perhaps…all right, thank you…sure…"
Brenna couldn't hear a thing from her position. Carl couldn't either, but he realized the solution almost immediately. He teleported himself to a more favorable position: directly behind Darre.
"…anything goes wrong, I'll take full responsibility."
"Why doesn't that reassure me?"
"Because you still think of Mairin as being a defenseless child."
"She is a defenseless-"
"Sam, she's got your powers," interrupted Darre.
"But she can't use them."
"She figured out super-speed."
"A minute or two ago."
"Well, that will only help a little,"Sam grumbled.
"I won't let her out until she can disappear easily. She'll also be fully armed, and she won't be alone. She's in the Omicron division, like you were."
"Okay, that's fine… But if she's in major trouble, get her out immediately."
"I'll try to the best of my ability to keep her safe."
"Remember, Darre, if anything, I mean anything, goes wrong, I'll never forgive you for it."
"I know full well. Don't worry, Sam, I'll guard her with my life."
"You won't be preoccupied with that Brenna girl?"
"What are you talking about?" asked Darre innocently.
"Mairin says you're rather fond of another girl that you brought over."
"Any feelings I may have for Brenna certainly will not affect my judgement."
"I know you better than that. You'd risk anything to save the ones you love."
"Exactly. Why do you think I took the children over? I love my people dearly, Sam. They are so very precious to me… Would you have me abandon them?"
"A very wise man says it is better to go after one stray sheep than stay with 99 sheep who are safe in the fold."
"But they are not safe! These children and my people will be facing the same danger."
"But the price will be different."
"In what way?" said Darre angrily.
"You know I can't answer that without starting an argument, Darre."
"The last division has arrived. I've got to go."
"Sam, if you were here now, I'd do what I did to you last time you said that."
"Oh, I'm terribly frightened,"said Sam sarcastically.
"Did you like working with the Maasticas?"
"They were pretty annoying."
"I could just teleport over and send you over. Get the point?"
"Darre, you're the absolute limit!"
"I'm scared, Sam!"
"My people are at stake! The lives of the ones most dear to me! Do you think I'd be anything but scared?"
"Darre, Mairin is dearest to me, and her life is at stake, too! I'm as frightened as you are!"
" Sam… I'm so confused. A Zoyl doesn't know everything."
"That doesn't mean you can't do anything."
"Thank you for your service, Blue Falcon of the Omicron division. That will be all."
"Shhh! I just remembered something. They're over there, Sam."
"They're… Confound it, Darre, why didn't you say so before?!"
"I've had a lot on my mind since we came. Just keep low and call only when it's safe."
"Alright. Keep my girl safe and… you, too."
"My people will see to that. Over and out."
The Spectra 2-4-1 Trans-Dim snapped off with a ping.
Carl quickly teleported to his former spot. Darre looked up just as he appeared.
"I will," he said to himself. To the others he said, "Weapons distribution has already begun, but I'll make a request for some top-quality weapons." He raised his hand to signal to someone behind the Earthlings, who turned to look. They were surprised to see a large cylinder floating over the crowd.
"A flying saucer?" said Carl sarcastically. Darre nodded; Carl looked surprised. Mairin giggled (A/n: Since the only change I have noticed now that Katra is really eleven is that she giggles more… need I explain?)
The cylinder was moving in their direction now. When it was directly above their heads, it dropped, not a high-tech laser gun, as Brenna expected, or an anvil, as may have crossed the cartoon-conditioned minds of Joel and Carl, but a small circular object, not unlike…
"A compact?!" chorused Mairin and Brenna.
Darre smiled and popped it open. On the top half of the inside was a little blank screen, while the bottom held a wire curled around a red button. The Zoyl lifted out one end of the wire.
"Will one of you volunteer your badge?" he asked unexpectedly. Joel gladly handed over his badge, which he still couldn't degravitate. Darre plugged the wire into a previously unnoticed hole in the bottom of the badge; the screen lit up with a small picture of a dark-haired Kaenor.
"Hey, Haoli, are you awake?"
The Kaenor on the screen jumped. "Oh, it's you, sire! What's the trouble?"
"Nothing really. We just need some decent weapons. Any 23-44's available?"
"Let's see… request processing… gotta work on this computer. Ah, here we are. How many do you need?"
"Five, if you have them."
"Five it is, then."
The cylinder above them (they had nearly forgotten it) opened up like a clamshell, dumping its cargo into the air before closing and flying away. Five sleek laser guns hung tantalizingly in the air over their heads.
Carl reached up and grabbed one. "Sweet!" he exclaimed, examining the controls. "This is just like in a game, except not!"
"Could you be any more vague, Carl?" asked Brenna sarcastically. He shot her one of those looks (heaven knows he had quite a store of them).
"Okay, here's how it works," explained Darre. "It's almost like an Earth gun, but more powerful and complicated. Here's the trigger, and this control adjusts the power. You're going to want it on high. These buttons change the direction of the side nozzles, and-"
"Basically, you have three guns here: a big one, and two little ones attached to the sides. The little ones can move independently."
Joel jumped up and grabbed his own gun. "They're like chameleons or something!" he said excitedly. "Cool!"
When all five were armed, they looked around. Brenna and Carl, who were (obviously) taller than the other Earthlings, noticed that the seemingly empty flying cylinder was bestowing weapons on the pilots. Another similar cylinder was doing the same at the other end of the room.
"Nearly done," said Theta's voice. She appeared beside Mairin, holding a gun of slightly smaller size than theirs.
She looked with approval at their weapons. "23-44's? Excellent choice, sire. Those Gomes won't know what hit them."
"Could they hurry up?" asked Carl impatiently. "It'll be forever before they finish passing out guns."
"For once, I have to agree," said Darre, frowning. "The distribution is much too slow. What happened to the other Couds?"
"Two of them are broken," Theta explained, looking nervously at the cylinder nearest them. "There was a bit of an accident in the storage closet."
"Accident? If there was any time… but there isn't, so never mind. The minute everyone is armed, we take off."
"What happens when we take off?" Mairin wanted to know.
"We go flying."
"Oh, that really helps."
Carl looked impatiently at the distant cylinder, wishing it would go faster. "I want to go now!"
And suddenly, everything was rather dark.
"Where are we?" asked Joel in the darkness.
Well, that's done… finally… *yawn* do you think it was worth it?
I know what you're going to say… a) I could have broken this up into two chapters (it wouldn't look right, though!) or b) I could have taken out a major chunk of the explanation this chapter and put it in later (but when, may I ask?) or c) I could have done without half the explanation (Admiral's saying that, and I dare say it's true). I have foreseen these ideas, so if you feel you must mention one of them in your review, just mention a, b, or c. You were just about to review, weren't you? Well, go do it! *grumbles…readers these days*