CHAPTER 21 – Ashkerian Dreams
One day, before Julia and Raphael left the University Ship; Raphael took an hour meditation period and focused in on the Mother Crystal of the ship. He wanted to communicate with the consciousness of their developing child, Jychondria.
Are you the soul that was my older brother, Jychondria , when I was in my first incarnation as Lord Delos of Sirust?
Yes, I AM. The reply was brief, but the feelings associated with it profound. Raphael felt an upwelling of both grief and joy.
Jychondria was the only brother left after Delos and Tazo were killed in the enemy attack against their small ship, The Silver Phoenix, after their witnessing the destruction of a small moon on the edge of Ashkerian space.
Jychondria was older than the twins, Delos and Tazo, so he was not on board the ship with his two brothers, thus his life was spared that terrible day for their Family.
There was another older son of Delos and Anya, Dante Vrey, who had already entered the Sirian Command as a young cadet.
So it was Uncle Jychondria who sacrificed his life to raise the children of his twin brothers, Fendra and Lina. Jychondria served as the Head Commander of the Ashkerian Fleet, which was still rather small in those early days of the Orion Wars.
Delos was reborn for a second time into his Ashkerian family eleven years after his death in the explosion in space. He was brought up by his Chananda and his now elder brother, Jychondria. Tazo was born nine years after his brother Delos. When they were very young, the two boys spent time in the safety of Naaru with their uncle. When they were old enough to return to Ashkera, the two boys entered the Ashkerian Space Academy, for both were intent in following in the footsteps of their elder brother, Head Commander Jychondria. However, it was Delos who outshone the rest of his family in terms of being a warrior, for after he interned and studied under Lord Lyonell of the Pleiadian Fleet, it was only twenty years before he became the Top Commander after his elder brother, Jychondria retired. Delos was the driving force behind the development of the Ashkerian Fleet into a vastly more sophisticated modern fleet.
In his second incarnation, Tazo died of wounds received in another enemy attack on his small ship even as Delos was studying under Lord Lyonell. Lord Jychondria died some 250 years after Tazo. At that time, Delos had already become the Head Commander. Some 300 years after the death of his younger brother, Tazo, Delos died in his last battle, as a sacrifice for his people. The leadership of the Ashkerian Fleet was turned over to Delos’ second, Commander Jon deAir just before Delos died in battle and had remained in the deAir Family ever since.
The third incarnation of Tazo was born two years after Delos’ death in battle to Delos’ former priestly son, Aman and his mate. Delos was also survived by his elder son, Commander Rojé who served under Head Commander Jon deAir.
It would appear the trauma suffered by and around him made Jychondria vow never to reincarnate as an Ashkerian. And he remained in a discarnate state until Raphael was old enough and settled enough to become his father. Jychondria sought out his former brother as the one to bring him back into embodiment this time as a Pleiadian.
As Raphael processed these memories and relationships of his long-lost Ashkerian family, he felt tears running down his cheeks unheeded until one of his Eagle guards came up to him and quietly asked him if he was okay. It was Gareth Vanderis, youngest son of Lady Arla.
Raphael opened his eyes and looked up at the concerned face of Gareth, “I am all right, Gareth. Thank you for checking up on me. I am just remembering and being informed about all the changes that have taken place within my Ashkerian Family since I left long ago.”
Gareth looked puzzled as to how that could be, but didn’t pursue a further line of questioning. He knew better as Raphael walked the timelines when and if he wanted to in order to discern the origins and designs behind developments.
Raphael knew he would not meet many of his Ashkerian relatives in this lifetime as travel to the Ashkera system was dangerous right now with the war waging so fiercely around the edge of Pleiadian Federation space and Orion space. Ashkera was located on the opposite side of the Orion constellation from the Pleiadian Federation. Still, the odd Ashkerian showed up to sign up for service in the Pleiadian Fleet.
As a youngster on board The Golden Lion, Raphael had met Head Commander Jon deAir and through him, his own grandson Tazo. Tazo had returned to Ashkera and since his own arrest and extraction from The Golden Lion seven years ago, Raphael had lost contact with him. Raphael missed Tazo but also knew it was time for Tazo to begin his own family as Tazo was some 56 years older than himself.
When Raphael returned to the quarters he shared with Julia, he told her of his encounter with the consciousness of their developing baby. Raphael told Julia who the incoming soul was, Jychondria, his former brother from his first incarnation as Lord Delos. And then he spotted tears of remembrance sparking in his mate’s big blue eyes. He went to her and took her into his arms in a warm embrace, “Yes, my darling Julia-Anya, our beloved Jychondria has chosen to return to us!”
“Oh, Raphael, I feel so honored to know this precious thing about our baby”, she said as she stepped out of his embrace and hugged her growing belly. “He’s beginning to kick and move a bit. I think little Jychondria is eager to be born. I hope he waits until we are safely home in Medina once again.”
Then Raphael laughed and confessed, “You know how Jychondria has to be different; he is going to have his white hair.”
“Ah, what a precious one he is”, sighed Julia. “And I don’t doubt he will insist in going into the Command like you did as Delos and again in this lifetime.”
“Yes… our son who isn’t even born yet has already set the plans for his life in motion”, replied Raphael. “Being born into the VaCoupe Family will ensure he obtains the needed education and experience to enter the Command when he is ready to do so.”
“Well, let us enjoy the years when he is still a youngster before shipping him off to school. Since you will be at home working on your ship designs with Master Pelleur and my brother, Adario Kadish, you will be able to participate in some of his early education. And perhaps we can enlist the aid of your own former tutor, Commander Monteras, if he is willing to take on the early education of another version of you, my love”, replied Julia, touching Raphael on his nose with her index finger in an affectionate gesture.
“Of course, that is a great idea, Julia!” Raphael smiled, remembering Tomás as his tutor during two incarnations, as the rebellious camel boy and the shy former slave, Raphael. He didn’t fully understand their relationship, but he accepted that Commander Monteras was a part of his life and family, a valued friend and cousin.
Raphael was planning to attend one more class on remote viewing when he was stopped in the corridor by a somewhat familiar baritone voice, “Raphael DeAires Kantor, is that you?”
Paul Dominguez and Gareth Vanderis were following Raphael and immediately turned, blocking access to Raphael until he could see the person who had called out his former name. It was a slender white blonde man with green eyes dressed in a Top Commander uniform from the Ashkerian Command. Behind him stood another younger man who looked extremely familiar to Raphael even if he hadn’t seen him since he was still Delos the Commander.
The two Ashkerians approached cautiously seeing Raphael was being guarded, but then the commander recognized the frequency of the older man, he asked: “Commander Jon deAir? Is that you, Jon? And who is the young man with you?”
Jon gave Raphael a dazzling smile, reminding him of a young Tazo… who was a nephew of sorts of this same man. “Yes, Raphael… I am Jon deAir. And this young man is Rojé, your own son who you have not seen since before you died long ago. He is enrolling his own son in the University Ship so the young man can enter into the Pleiadian Command when he is ready. Times have changed at home, Raphael, since you were in command there; to get any action we have to join forces with the Pleiadians!”
“Ah, Commander, I haven’t encountered you since I was first on board The Golden Lion. And did you hear I’ve been adopted by Lord VaCoupe. I am no longer a Kantor, but go by Raphael DeAires VaCoupe”, replied Raphael. He stepped up to the Ashkerian commander and went to shake his hand. Jon looked at the extended hand, laughed, and stepped in to hug a startled Raphael.
“On his return to Sirust, Tazo told us about many of your misadventures upon The Golden Lion and the Golden Bee, so I feel I know you better now”, explained Jon deAir. He added: “I understand you are now mated to the reincarnation of your beloved Anya… is that so? Could I meet her sometime? It has been so long…”
“Father?” The young Rojé stood close by watching the two older men interact. The friendship of Jon deAir and Delos had been a close one, professional but also as relatives as Jon was married to Delos’ aunt. Rojé had not seen his father since before Delos departed on his final fatal battle.
Jon released his old friend and let the two men, father and son gaze at one another for a long moment. Then, finally, Raphael stepped forward to embrace his long lost son…one he had forgotten about in the wake of the trauma experienced in losing his Ashkerian birthright.
Rojé was slightly built, about 7’8”, a white-blonde with green eyes and a pale bluish-white complexion as was common among the Taals who had migrated to the Ashkera system from Vega. The taller, broader reincarnation of his father, Raphael, enveloped his slender son in a warm embrace and then looked the younger man squarely in the face, “And where is my grandson? And what is he called?”
“We named him Delos in your memory, Father”, replied Rojé, his strong tenor voice cracking with emotion. “We wanted to keep your memory alive in our Family, father…even if you could no longer return to us. Tazo explained why that happened – so many of our friends and relatives looked for your return in the years after your death in battle.”
Raphael felt the tears begin to run down his face, so he swiped his cheeks, feeling rather vulnerable out in the corridor with other people passing by. He addressed the two Ashkerians: “Could you come by our compartment tonight with my grandson? Julia and I are going to be leaving the University Ship in a couple of days. My lovely mate and I are soon to be parents and I want her delivery to be at home in Medina with the VaCoupe Family.”
“Parents, Raphael… that’s wonderful news!” exclaimed Jon deAir. “I would love to meet your new Anya – you said her name is now Julia?”
“Yes, Julia Ann Kadish VaCoupe, is my beloved Anya’s name now – and we are expecting delivery of a son soon”, replied Raphael smiling.
“A son – how do you know, Raphael”, asked Jon deAir.
“Well, Jon, I’ve developed a few new talents since I was Delos – I’m a natural seer and intuitive. I knew Julia was pregnant before she was aware she was – and I’ve connected with the soul essence of our son to be – it’s an old friend, Jon – Jychondria has chosen us to be his new parents!”
“What a marvel”, exclaimed Jon deAir. “Tazo tried to describe some of your new talents – I would love to hear more. We’ll make a point of visiting you tonight. Where is your compartment located?”
“We’re on the top level with the rest of the instructors. It was my intention to stay here when we first arrived, but with this new development, plans had to be changed. We’re going home to Medina where Julia will be surrounded by the best healers available, at home and from the Shemont, the great Temple of the Mother located there”, replied Raphael. “I’ll have one of my Eagle escorts look for you at the lift and guide you to the compartment. They have to escort visitors on the top deck which is only housing for command staff and instructors here. It’s a cozy compartment but handy to a cafeteria, gym and meditation spaces, plus nearby garden rooms.”
“Sounds good – we’ll be there tonight then”, replied Jon, this time shaking Raphael’s proffered hand. And then the two Ashkerians left, leaving the three Pleiadians staring after them.
Paul looked at Raphael and whistled, “Sir, I don’t know how you do it – you have relatives all over the place, here and Ashkera, scattered across three or four lifetimes – “
“I do, don’t I!” replied Raphael with a laugh. “And now, we’re late for Master Li Tzulo’s class – we better get moving!”
Master Tzulo looked up as Raphael and his companions entered the room. It appeared the students were already engaged in a scanning operation, so Raphael stood there with his Eagle escorts quietly watching and sensing…
While Master Tzulo had worked with Raphael, he had picked up a little battle language and sent a brief message to Raphael: Scan of present conditions on BerWare!
Ah, thanks…I’ll tune in, too!
Master Li Tzulo nodded a pleased expression on his face. The Veyan instructor had become very fond of Raphael during their time spent together on Alyona – he would miss him when Raphael returned to Medina. Raphael made a point of inviting Master Li Tzulo to visit Medina, also, along with Master Edar and the other masters with whom he had worked in Alyona for every one of them had become friends with the young talented line commander. They certainly didn’t hold his unorthodox methods against him for they had seen immediate results come from his seemingly quick scans. What didn’t work as well on board ship was beyond satisfactory for gathering up-to-the-minute reports to be used for ship assignments across the federation.
And now, as Raphael tuned into the known frequency of the crystalline heart of BerWare, the isle greeted him having felt his essence within her space before. Raphael was heartened by what he found. Apparently after Commander Strom had taken over The Golden Falcon, he had initiated fulfilling all the needs put forth by the BerWarian king to clean up the Isle. Order had been restored and now the local chieftains were aware of what the enemy “infection” looked and felt like. All individuals who had been infected were either removed or healed by expensive Shay healers. Any slavers were dealt with swiftly and all tribal units were warned not to engage with uninvited off-worlders unless they had been previously scanned and approved by the local priestesses. What children had been rescued were returned to their families or if they had been orphaned, they were housed and provided with education by Lady Claudine herself.
A small battleship squadron was permanently assigned to patrol the space between BerWare and Morova. Raphael recognized the signature of The Golden Bee still cruising near Morova searching out possible slaving activities. The Golden Falcon also patrolled the vicinity as Raphael had found out himself not too long ago, so his friend Commander Strom was keeping an eye out for this sector of Pleiadian space.
When he pulled out of his scan, one of his Eagles steadied him, as he had been standing. He felt the attention of the class upon him so he greeted them: “I’m sorry to have arrived late, but Master Tzulo was kind enough to inform me what was going on, so I joined you in today’s scan…”
As he was speaking, Raphael walked up to the front of the class and began asking the students questions: “Who can tell me what world you were scanning today?”
Razaar, the young BerWarian grinned, “Ah, that’s easy—it’s my own home world, BerWare.”
“And how does your home felt to you today, Razaar”, replied Raphael smiling back at the tall young BerWarian.
“The planet felt peaceful today. Order has been restored by a combination of the continuous monitoring by the Command and the careful watch by our local tribal chieftains. The people have been advised not to engage with enemy factions or uninvited off-worlders… save command surveyors. The people have developed a means to inform the authorities in BerAir if there is any unusual activity in the isolated areas of the isle. It is much different from what the planet felt like when I was younger and we were being attacked by enemy forces periodically, while people went missing, especially children”, replied Razaar.
“Thank you, Razaar, for your contribution”, replied Raphael. “And now, Salaniel, can you describe the differences felt between your own home world and that of Razaar?”
“Well, from my brief scan, it would appear the people of BerWare are far more organized on an planet-wide basis than my own people of Morova. We are both tribal people, but the BerWarians seem to keep to the same regions or territories of their world, whereas the Morovians travel more randomly, not keeping to any one territory. The Morovians also interact more with outside vendors, therefore it is far more likely the planet would be susceptible to invasion or intrusion by enemy forces, whether covert or overt. I hope a satisfactory solution to the problems of Morova can be found soon for our people, my people have suffered for so long…”, replied Salaniel with a sad note in his voice.
“Very observant points, Salaniel”, replied Raphael.
“What did you observe, Commander VaCoupe, if I may inquire”, queried Master Li Tzulo, knowing what Raphael had experienced and felt upon the Isle of BerWare now over six years ago.
“Well, Master Tzulo, it would appear that both the influence of the efforts of Lady Claudine on behalf of Her people and that of the Command have made a tremendous difference for the whole of the Isle. I did not sense the presence of any enemy forces or activity as opposed to my last visit there nearly seven years ago now. The king and his chieftains are more alert to any outsiders and make a habit of patrolling even the unsettled mountains periodically to make sure there are no uninvited visitors present. There are still occasional enemy raids, but without a permanent base on the isle, these can only be accomplished by enemy squadrons passing through the area. There is also a semi-permanent presence by Command ships, moving between BerWare and Morova. The latter planet is getting more attention from the Command at the moment due to the extent of the pre-existing human trafficking activities that have been long present on that poor world. It is the intent of the Command and the Morovian High Council to rectify the condition their people are suffering under soon. It may require the tribal peoples of Morova to settle down on a more permanent basis in selected territories near or at suitable oases. The difference between the two tribal planets is quite striking right now…”, replied Raphael.
“And that, class, is a professional reading of the situation existing on BerWare, especially in contrast with Morova”, replied Master Li Tzulo with a smile. “Did all of you sense the difference between the energies and feelings emanating from the heart of the two contrasting desert worlds?”
The students were nodding. Master Li Tzulo continued with his lecture, presenting the methods employed when making a report to the acting line commander while on board ship. From time to time, Raphael added his insights coming from his own dealings with various commanders, some of whom were not open to his methods or findings. As he listened to the comments from class members, he was personally very grateful to have advanced beyond the need to be compelled to serve on board a ship of the line. He had more freedom of expression in his current occupation of doing ship design research with Master Pelleur and Adario Kadish.
Raphael also felt the irony of having a Kadish on his side. Julia was different; they were soulmates through many lifetimes. However, as a Kantor and distant cousin to the Kadish, he found many of his “cousins” slow to warm up to his unusual qualities and skills. Perhaps he would venture to travel to Airus someday to actually meet his cousins on their own home turf. However, now he was officially VaCoupe, so it didn’t really matter what they thought of his checkered past, including his long captivity and the unfortunate death of both of his parents.
When the class was over, Raphael remained behind to wish Master Tzulo well as Julia and he were leaving in a day or so. Raphael knew he would be back to visit periodically and encouraged the Master to visit Medina while Raphael was stationed there during the young years of their soon-to-arrive son. Raphael was intent in keeping in close contact with the generous and kind men who had embraced him and his work wholeheartedly while at Alcyone and now here on the University Ship.
Evening came and with it, their Ashkerian guests arrived at the modest compartment of Julia and Raphael. Commanders deAir and Rojé were escorted into the sitting room by Eagle Commander Monteras and Paul Dominguez, to be greeted by Raphael and Julia. Behind the two older men followed a tall slender white-blonde youngster, whom Raphael took to be the young Delos, his namesake and grandson. Raphael stood up to greet his Ashkerian guests and then turned to face his grandson… Raphael could see the similarity in looks to his own appearance as Lord Delos, although much younger and fresher. The boy was a bit shy, but gravely shook the hand of his strange appearing grandfather, with his golden tan complexion and golden blonde mane, now worn hanging free. Raphael was also arrayed in his comfortable Medinian gown and robes now that he was officially “off-duty”. The Ashkerians were still wearing their uniforms, but the young Delos was wearing a Pleiadian command uniform with the crème-colored cadet robe over it. Apparently Delos wasn’t used to the garments yet as he fidgeted a little or was just nervous being in the presence of one who was supposed to be his grandfather but who didn’t look Sirian at all.
Raphael smiled at the lad and showed everyone where they could sit in the small room. One of the Eagles had brought some refreshments for the Ashkerians from the nearest cafeteria and some fruit for Raphael and Julia. Raphael started the conversation: “Well, Delos… how do you like the University Ship so far?”
The boy’s green eyes grew big and slightly alarmed that the room’s attention was focused on him. He cleared his throat and started to speak in a strangely deep baritone: “Commander VaCoupe? I just arrived on board a couple of days ago. The ship is quite different from our Ashkerian vessels, not being as highly decorated. In fact, the student’s quarters are quite spare. I guess it’s to keep our minds focused on our studies while we’re here…”
Raphael laughed, “You’ll find all Pleiadian vessels are such, young Delos – oh, it is odd to call you that after all the time being told I was once a Delos, too.”
His grandson looked at Raphael and shook his head, “If you pardon me, sir, you do not look Ashkerian.”
“Delos!” chided Commander Rojé. “When you change from incarnation to incarnation, your appearance can change especially if you are born into another star system like our former Lord Delos has done. He is now a Pleiadian and actually on his second lifetime as one. I was told that he took on this present appearance to please his new mother and brother, the former Eagle Commander Ezekiel Kantor.”
“That is so, young man…”, replied Jon deAir, “Although I might add, I was skeptical of Commander VaCoupe’s identity as a reincarnation of Lord Delos when first I met him on The Golden Lion. He was only a skinny lad of nineteen years sent I thought rather prematurely to be a cadet on a mothership after only six months on this same vessel!”
“Only six months?” replied Delos, with some astonishment. He would have to spend at least two years or more depending on how fast he absorbed the training before being assigned to any Pleiadian ship. Students were required to have a good grounding in ship government and protocol, as well as a sound understanding on the basic running of a vessel of any size within the Pleiadian fleet. Despite the war-time standing, the ship commanders were insistent the new cadets be better trained than when Raphael was assigned to The Golden Lion.
“Yes, only six months – I actually only finished one class – remote viewing under Master Li Tzulo”, replied Raphael with a laugh. “And to complicate matters, I was still recuperating from the effects of being a prisoner of the enemy for a decade…”
“And opening up to his psychic gifts!” said Jon deAir. “We were witness to more than one occasion when… can we call you Raphael? When Raphael would go into a catatonic trance as he was receiving one of his unpredictable visions; he would go silent, his face pale and eyes huge and unfocused. He was in obvious distress at what he was seeing, but had some difficulty in conveying the message, so oft times he had to use telepathy to share the visuals. His warnings saved our ships from some bad scrapes, I can tell you that!”
“Grandfather… this is so unexpected to actually meet you, sir”, said the young Delos quietly. “I’ve been told all about your exploits during your last Ashkerian lifetime. I hardly expect to outshine you, sir, but I am glad to have met you finally.”
“Well, Delos… I am not at all like my own incarnation as your namesake, as my dear mate will tell you. She was Anya… who would be your grandmother now”, said Raphael, as he gently picked up the closest hand of his mate who had been quiet up until now. She had been quietly observing their Ashkerian guests and remembering snatches of her own lifetime with the two older men.
“Rojé, you look much like your older brother, Aman”, said Julia-Anya. “How is he today? Is he still alive?”
“Aman Treya – yes, he is still alive, but getting on in age, as I am”, laughed Commander Jon deAir. “I’m going to be retiring this year or next and allow the younger men to run the Fleet for a while. My own son will be taking over as Head Commander, as we continue the assignment and duty given me by you, Lord Delos-Raphael…”
“Oh, Jon… I have long replayed those last moments and my own death… in reoccurring nightmares not long after I learned of that lifetime and its significance. I have had to refrain from sharing my once-identity with others as the enemy still hates my name. It is partly for that soul inheritance that I suffered such a long captivity in this life. I would not bring that fate upon any of my own blood. I am almost sorry you now carry my name, grandson. Perhaps you can be called by another name while you are stationed within the Pleiadian Fleet – I mean this for the sake of your own protection.”
“Ah… that is a good point, Raphael”, remarked Rojé. “Such a thought would have never occurred to us at home where your memory is highly regarded and much revered as a great hero. Well, young Delos does have a second name… Ramanda… perhaps that would be a better name for him here while he is exposed to many different kinds of people outside his experience at Home.”
“That sounds reasonable, my son”, replied Raphael, “Just let the administrators know of the name change so he can have the proper name on his badges here and on ship. “And how are you, dear Anya-Julia?” said Jon deAir, “I see that you have changed your appearance a little, also… but mostly your eye-color. You still have beautiful white-blonde hair, my dear!”
“Thank you, Commander deAir – I am fine and doing well, reunited with my beloved soulmate whom you have known as Delos and now as Raphael…”, replied Julia with a bright smile. Raphael looked at his mate fondly, thinking her face was simply glowing. It seemed Commander deAir noticed the tell-tale glow of impending motherhood, although her condition was well camouflaged by her comfortable Medinian gown. She looked at the Commander with an impish grin…”Yes, Raphael and I are expecting… I’m to be delivered soon – which is why we are returning to Medina in a day or so.”
“Ah… well, Rojé, it looks like you will have another brother, although a Pleiadian one – what an interesting encounter, two, even three overlapping lifetimes and in two different star federations!” exclaimed Jon deAir.
“One of my Eagles mentioned just that fact to me the other day – as I have met relatives now from three different lifetimes, one in Ashkera and two in the Pleiades!” replied Raphael. “Delos – Ramanda, in case you weren’t aware, my Head Eagle is also a relative, a cousin of when I was first born on Morova as a trader’s son. He has been with me most of my life after I was rescued as a fourteen year old boy. Commander Monteras is now the Head Commander of the Eagles on this vessel, at least while I am here, but actually on permanent assignment as one of my Eagles according to the instructions of Lord VaCoupe, my adopted father.”
“Why do you have Eagles to guard you, sir?” asked Delos Ramanda out of curiosity.
“Well, that is a long story, lad”, replied Raphael, “but I will tell you this – it was first due to my having been a captive for so long – the command was unsure of how I would respond to the stress of working on board ship; and secondly, it was simply because I happened to have unpredictable talents, like the visions your grand-uncle spoke of, as well as the nightmares I suffered from as a youngster after my rescue. The work I do is very demanding, especially when I go into deep scans and encounter enemy frequencies. When I was first serving, this process was quite exhausting and often I would faint and have to be carried back to my quarters to rest. It was quite exasperating for some of my early commanders to have to witness this odd and unpredictable behavior, so the Eagles also served as protection against jealous or angry co-workers!”
Jon deAir looked amused, but both Rojé and young Delos looked a bit shocked. Delos spoke up, “You were carried back to your sleeping quarters by an Eagle, sir?”
Raphael felt the boy’s shock – perhaps feeling it was unmanly to faint – and unexpectedly laughed, “Yes, as odd as it sounds, I used to tend to faint and still do on occasion when I encounter those hideous frequencies. Having lived in the midst of them for years, they are etched upon my consciousness and tend to bring back memories of times best forgotten.”
Jon deAir remarked, “It’s true – I witnessed Raphael go into a trance and then crumple to the ground once he was able to convey what he had seen – it was quite challenging for him in those early days as a cadet and later as a technician, according to your cousin, Tazo Gia, who observed Raphael and served with him for many years.”
“Well, now – I’ve settled down in some work that takes me off the ships and away from too much exposure from enemy frequencies. Julia and I are returning back to Medina to await the arrival of our new addition – which is, by the way, Jon… an old friend of yours – Jychondria!”
“Oh… Jychondria – you mean your brother from your first incarnation as Delos?” asked Jon deAir, wonderment filling his pale face.
“Yes… the very same person… soul essence”, replied Raphael. “We have already become acquainted, he and I. I’m a seer and telepath… and seem to have no problem communicating with my as yet unborn son…”
“Father – mother – you are both radiant and glowing. I sense the great joy with this coming birth, said Rojé. “If I didn’t have to return Home to my own mate and duties, I would love to be present when Jychondria re-enters this world. However, if you don’t mind… could young Delos Ramanda visit his new, I guess it would be uncle?”
“Oh, certainly – Medina is not very far from here… on the continent of Maubene. You could accompany one of my friends among the instructors here or even young Salaniel, a young Morovian whom I have invited to visit Medina as well. Young people are always welcomed at our Family home. It is a rather large sprawling edifice of some age and many rooms – plenty of room for guests. If you are back this way, Jon or Rojé, feel free to contact us in Medina so we can arrange for your visit there. And I will be visiting the University Ship and the spaceport at Elexa in the future as I continue learning about ship design”, replied Raphael.
“Ship design, Raphael?” questioned Jon deAir, “Well, I guess it isn’t that far-fetched – you were one of the designers of many of the Ashkerian vessels, if you recall my old friend.”
“Ah, well – I gave the engineers ideas of what I wanted, the speed, maneuverability, cloaking, etc. – I didn’t actually design the vessels”, replied Raphael humbly.
“Ah, Raphael – I remember Delos mumbling about the ship designs in his sleep during the short periods when he were home on shore leave”, teased Julia-Anya.
Rojé and Delos Ramanda looked a bit startled at Julia’s remark. Ashkerian women were not usually outspoken in mixed company, as a rule. Raphael grinned and told them, “In the Pleiades, our women are more outspoken; and they run the home and raise the children. I’ll be there to help sometimes unless I’m sent out to the herb garden to prune the sage bushes…”
The two younger people looked quite startled at Raphael and Julia. Delos ventured a comment, “Grandmother… may I call you that, Mistress VaCoupe?”
“Certainly, Delos Ramanda, I am your grandmother although I have another body now”, replied Julia-Anya.
“I am glad you do, Grandmother – so I can speak to you and hug you. Tazo and Jon shared the sad stories of all those men who died in battle.
“Yes, that is one of the best things I ever did for Ashkera, was begetting a son like Aman Treya. I can’t say we got along while I was alive as Lord Delos.” said Raphael.
“Ah, Delos… you are much missed at Home. You are still a hero in the eyes of your people, my soul brother”, replied Jon deAir.
“That may be, Jon, but I’ve had a much different time here in the Pleiades, not all fun, but I’m managing better now… largely thanks to having my beloved mate with me, again”, replied Raphael, once again taking up Julia’s hand and kissing it tenderly. “I’m afraid I rather neglected Anya when I was Delos – always pursuing my duty as the Head Commander with great diligence.”
“You were greatly needed in a time of great danger for our people, Delos”, replied Jon. He could feel the lingering guilt in his old friend with more clarity now that Raphael had matured beyond being a confused and vulnerable teenager.
“And now, it appears I am much needed here in the Pleiades. I am endeavoring to create a new type of ship that is completely sentient…” said Raphael, changing the subject slightly. Bringing up the old trauma of Delos’ last days always set him on edge a bit.
“Sentient! A ship that is sentient; how can this task be achieved, Raphael?” Jon said in astonishment.
“Well, that is the work Master Pelleur and I intend to accomplish – the how is not quite known at this time. Master Pelleur is one of the Crystal Masters who grow and train our Mother Crystals which power our motherships. Then, they use crystals grown from the Mothers to power the smaller vessels associated with the motherships so they can all “talk” to one another. So, our ships are already sentient to a degree if you take the great Crystals into consideration”, replied Raphael.
“Well, it sounds like fascinating work, Raphael”, replied Jon deAir. He noticed that Julia appeared to be tiring. “I sense Julia is in need of rest now, so we best get going for the night. It has been wonderful seeing you, once again, so greatly matured since I saw you last on The Golden Lion, acting as aide for Lord Lyonell. I was greatly saddened to hear he was killed in an enemy ambush… and then you lost your brother, Ezekiel, and several friends.”
“Ah, yes… difficult times, yet now long past for which I can thank the wisdom and foresight of Lord VaCoupe. I am honored to be a member of his great Family now – we both are”, replied Raphael. “And yes, it is time for Julia to retire. I still have some studying to do on some blueprints before I rest.”
Raphael stood and drew his grandson into a hug. “I am so glad your father and uncle decided you should attend this university… just so I could meet you, young Delos!”
“And it was a great surprise to see you here, Father”, replied Rojé. “I am overjoyed to hear Lord Jychondria will be part of our extended family once, again. It will motivate me to return for some visits – to see my son and my new brother!”
“Ah, such joy – it is like a dream to me”, proclaimed Raphael, as the tears started to stream down his face.
Jon observed the tears and said quietly, “You are very different from Lord Delos – he kept his feelings locked up tight and his thoughts tighter. Still, I also feel the continuation of the development of your soul essence in its desire to serve – thank you for having us over tonight, dear… very old friend. We will meet again – in this life or another one.”
When their Ashkerian guests left the compartment, Raphael sat down on the sofa and began to cry in earnest. It was both a great joy and a reminder of what he had lost when he made the fatal decision to put his life up as a sacrifice for the people. He could never go back – but occasionally, he could encounter members of his past life. He tried to breathe and still the tears came. Then he felt a small hand slip into his and another arm gather him to Julia as she sought to console him with her presence.
“It was wonderful to meet our son, again and to see our grandson of whom we did not even know – Tazo didn’t say anything about him when you were together did he?”
All Raphael could manage was to shake his head in the negative and bury his head back into Julia’s shoulder. “Ah, my dear Raphael – Jon was right – you are not Delos any more. You’ve become something even more wondrous, a sensitive, tender-hearted man who has survived great hardships and won free. I love you so much, my darling mate…”
They sat together until Raphael could gather himself up. He stared at the wall for a few minutes and then shook his head, “After Tazo left, I thought that part of my life, my past, was over, but I was wrong, so very wrong. And now I have another grandson in my life. I will have to return here, not only to visit the Masters and your brother, but also my grandson… and our sad Salaniel… whom I hope has packed well for the trip to Medina! He certainly deserves some love, too. I hope Ramanda-Delos and he can become friends in the future. And now, I think both of us need to get some rest for tomorrow will be a busy day packing and getting ready for our trip home.”
“I’m looking forward to seeing Lord Raimundo, Carlos, Mazzie, Francis, and all the rest of our large family. And to receiving visits from mother and father in the upcoming days as the birth of our little Jychondria approaches; I remember him as an extraordinary man, raising our children when you died the first time and continuing in that station until you were old enough to mate and father your own children as Lord Delos. And to think he will be small enough to carry for a time…” Julia sighed as she rubbed her round stomach, feeling for movement from the little passenger within.
“If I know our Jychondria, he will grow very fast”, replied Raphael. “And now, my dear, lights out… it’s time to sleep.”
And we will close on this section as Raphael and Julia prepare to depart for Medina and a new adventure as they are about to become parents.
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