BOOK TWO: CHAPTER 2 – Seed Crystals

CHAPTER 2 – Seed Crystals


Dark dreams haunted Raphael’s sleep.  Occasionally, he felt a large hand wiping his brow with a cool damp towel, but he couldn’t seem to wake up or escape the dreams.  His father had died and his people had traveled to a far-distant solar system, one with a single yellow star and eight planets. One was a huge water planet of blue and green, beckoning to his people. They settled there for hundreds of years, but soon others came, a people filled with great darkness and his people were forced to flee.  Despite their great technology, they could not resist the intrusion and so they left, leaving behind their great cities, emptied out of anything valuable.  And in the midst of the last flight, he, their king, died, leaving the rule of an unsettled people to a young son…

A warm soft hand rested upon his brow, and someone kissed him. He heard the gurgle of a child nearby and he woke. Julia was bending over him wiping his brow while Sukio stood nearby carefully holding young Jychondria. Julia smiled to see him staring into her blue eyes, “You’re here, and with Connie! Where am I?”

“We’re in Jolf, in the inn belonging to Lord Mathdis and his son, Aiden, sir,” replied Sukio carefully.

Ah, Jolf…where’s my ship?” asked Raphael suddenly, concerned. 

Sir, you couldn’t fly so we took Lantrill’s and my ship back to Jolf. Lantrill looked back and saw your ship put itself back into the hangar,” replied Sukio.

How long have I been sleeping? Was I given a sleeping-draught? I can taste it on my tongue.” asked a still groggy Raphael. 

Ah, sir…Commander Monteras was concerned for your welfare yesterday – he decided to allow you to rest…” replied Sukio, who was getting clearly uncomfortable with the discussion. 

At that moment, Commander Monteras and another individual walked into the room, followed closely by Master Pelleur and Adario Kadish. Esturias VaCoupe looked down at his younger brother who was still waking up, “Good afternoon, Raphael! Father tells me you found some ancient ships in an old site near this town. He also thought it would be good to bring Julia and Jychondria here to cheer you up. How are you feeling today?”

Raphael glared up at his elder brother and growled, “What are you doing here, sir? And why am I in bed – I’m sorry Julia, Sukio – could you take Jychondria out of here for a few minutes? I need to talk to my brother and cousin.”

Monteras also looked uncomfortable. Raphael was awake and aware and clearly angry at the way he had been treated. “Sir, it’s my fault – you were acting strangely yesterday, and I thought it best you got some rest…”

“Since when did you become a healer, Tomás, or for that matter what gave you the right to decide to have me knocked unconscious?” snapped Raphael, livid; Tomás stepped back involuntarily. He had never seen Raphael get as angry except for the time after the unfortunate Morovian incident.

Esturias took command as was his wont, “Leave your cousin out of this, Raphael – you’re angry because Father insisted that I come here, aren’t you?”

Raphael glared at Esturias again, “Yes…sir! Doesn’t anyone think I can manage on my own for once? Master Pelleur – what happened yesterday? I don’t remember anything except we were standing inside the tomb…”

The Crystal master’s round face was uncharacteristically serious as he gazed upon his friend’s apparent confusion. “Raphael – you seemed to be locked into another world that doesn’t exist anymore.”

“It does somewhere!” interrupted Raphael loudly, clearly disturbing Adario who started. Raphael noticed his cousin’s reaction and sighed, “You all think I’ve gone crazy, don’t you? I’m not – I’m quite sane, only annoyed that everyone thinks I need looking after like a baby. I was walking timelines yesterday and yes, I admit I got caught up in it a bit, but who wouldn’t after finding one’s long-lost father’s tomb…”

Raphael looked at the Crystal Master: “Master Pelleur, you should know your own sister walks the Akash periodically. She probably doesn’t get caught up in it like I did yesterday, but surely you understand what I’m speaking of, sir?”

Reluctantly, Master Pelleur nodded and looked up at the tall dark-haired commander, “Commander Esturias – your brother is quite sane. It is clear to me he should have been a shaman rather than a commander this lifetime. It is us who didn’t understand what was going on. Still, it was rather alarming to see how obsessed Raphael was in getting all the seed crystals. He wanted to do more exploring even when the tomb sealed itself after the four of us exited. The men were getting alarmed in witnessing Raphael in such a fey mood.”

“Well, in listening to everyone’s version, I personally feel Monteras made the right call, Raphael. I’m sorry if you disagree. Your gifts can be alarming to those who have not witnessed them before. Fortunately, I have had a little experience in those matters – and we have Carlos here who can assist with any of your health needs,” replied Esturias thoughtfully. “Now since I’m taking over as the commander here, I am ordering you, younger brother, to continue resting today and then perhaps tomorrow you can show me this outpost your men are talking about.”

Raphael suddenly felt very tired, his shoulders slumping. Reluctantly he replied to Esturias: “Sir, I’ll abide by your instructions – for now — but I ask you not to interfere in our discoveries here. Master Pelleur, Adario, and I are working on the project, not you.”

“Well, I’m here to inform you, Raphael, I’m going to be partnering with you on behalf of our father,” said Esturias. “With the information you are gathering, we are going to start a whole new fleet of the future. And frankly, who is going to take you seriously, younger brother, with your reputation? As the elder brother and heir to our father, I will eventually become the Head Commander of the Fleet, so here we are…starting small. I know you don’t like me – you think I’m overbearing and demanding… and yes, I can be. However, thanks to the recent weeks spent on shore with my lovely mate, I’ve come to understand what you were trying to communicate to me a few weeks ago.”

“And what was that?” asked Raphael, sitting up. He rubbed his eyes with his hand, still feeling a bit groggy, irritated, and angry with his brother… and, if truth be told, with his adopted father, Lord Demetrius.

Well, basically, you have your gifts and I have mine,” replied Esturias simply. “I’m a commander and you’re a visionary. It will take both of us to take this new fleet from a vision to reality, brother… with the help of others like Master Pelleur and your cousin, Adario. You can’t linger in dreams of another era, brother – you have a mate and a child who need you to be present and whole. So, if you don’t mind, I’m going to look over those two sweet little ships out at the landing pad for starters, while you get some more rest. I’m going send Carlos in here to check you out and then Julia and Jychondria can join you. Understand, brother?”

“Yes, sir – so you’re my commander once again?” replied Raphael begrudgingly. He wasn’t too happy about the situation, even though he understood the immediate practical nature of the arrangement. Esturias was right; the Command would never accept his visions as being practical unless presented by someone with some prestige and weight behind him. He was the adopted son, not the heir. Still, he held the vision of the past and future within his mind. He was now determined to bring the vision into manifestation. If it meant working in partnership with his elder brother, he would do it. And he realized Lord VaCoupe knew he would be angry with this solution and decided to override his emotional reaction in favor of practical considerations. Esturias was correct in his initial analysis – Raphael was the visionary who sometimes walked in more than one world at once, which made it difficult for the people he had to work beside to fully understand him. He finally shrugged, “Okay, Esturias, I accept the arrangement… for now. However, when I take you around the outpost, you will have to let me follow my visions. It’s the only way we will be able to find all that we need for this project…”

“I agree, brother,” replied Esturias with a grin. His younger brother was showing a healthy amount of anger now. The long suppressed and pent-up rage was being released. Esturias could deal with it. After all, there was just one such person to deal with now, not an entire mothership of rebellious crew members.

As Esturias walked out of the room with Monteras in tow, he first ordered Carlos to check out his younger brother. Then, he immediately started asking Monteras a series of questions: “Father informed me there was an ‘incident’ here the other day involving the Command? Could you perhaps reiterate your version of what occurred, what you observed, Commander Monteras? And then, I would like to interview all the men, including Master Pelleur. I understand a former commander from my own ship, the Golden Lion, was at Elexa and decided to confiscate the ship Raphael discovered in the outpost and to possibly incarcerate the rest of your party?”

The voices faded as Carlos entered the room where Raphael was still in bed and looked at his cousin. Raphael blinked as he heard him enter: “Hullo, Carlos; did Esturias enlist your help, too?”

Carlos shook his head, “No, the directions came from my uncle, Lord VaCoupe. Your cousin, Commander Monteras, was concerned about your welfare and thought, since we’ve known each other for a long time; I might be useful if you experience more ‘problems’.”

“Ah, as in nightmares, illnesses, visions, and the like – generally being unpredictable, which seems to upset everyone around me,” replied Raphael somewhat bitterly.

Raphael, calm down…these men love you. They would protect you with their lives. Commander Monteras just did what he thought best – he was concerned about your welfare. And you are unpredictable; it’s not always easy being around you, Raphael. I’m telling you this, both as a friend and a healer. You tend to get more easily triggered than the people around you, so it can be alarming to the uninitiated,” said Carlos as he tested Raphael’s temperature and body signs. He nodded, satisfied, “There was no harm intended or done. You will recuperate nicely given some more time in bed. If you feel rested enough, you might take a walk before turning in for the night. Now, I understand Julia and your little boy are waiting outside to see you.”

Julia was standing in the hall with Sukio and Jychondria. When Carlos opened the door, he told Julia it was all right to go in now. Julia and Sukio rejoined Master Pelleur and Adario in Raphael’s room. He was still lying down feeling a bit groggy, but now felt resigned to having Esturias on the project. His face brightened as he saw Julia and he reached out to her, “My love…”

Julia bent down and hugged her mate gently. Sukio handed her Jychondria when she straightened up, again. She rested the boy on her hip and then looked pointedly at the men, tilting her head slightly and said: “Gentlemen, would you mind? I would like to get reacquainted with my mate…”  

“Certainly, my lady – come Adario; why don’t you show Esturias those delightful little ships. I’m sure he would be interested to hear your version of the other day’s events as well,” said Master Pelleur, with a grin. He was pleased to see Raphael responding to Julia and Jychondria’s presence. “Come, Sukio – you can guard your brother from outside…”

Sukio gave Julia a great toothy grin and left the room, following Master Pelleur and Adario. He shut the door firmly behind him. Julia then crawled onto the bed beside her mate, placing Jychondria on Raphael’s lap as he attempted to sit up. “Just rest some, my love…it would appear you’ve had a tough time the last couple of days. And what’s this about Sukio being your brother?”

“Can I have some of the juice that Sukio left? I hope there isn’t any more sleeping draught in it…” replied Raphael. He cleared his throat a moment and then started into sharing the story about Rigo, his father and brothers, and what was left at the outpost outside of Jolf. After sharing what had happened, so far, he finished, “And so, it would appear both Lantrill and Sukio were my younger brothers in those days long ago. Lord Lyonell was the king, my father. My own unresolved grief at the death of Lord Lyonell may have blurred my thinking – I know the others thought I was locked into another world, but I was only allowing for my feelings to come up. It is difficult to do so when others are counting on you to be in charge and fully functional. And I’ve had a series of lucid dreams – not so much when I was medicated, but they still break through occasionally. Now, I need to clear my mind so I can be well enough to re-embark on these important discoveries and still use my visions as a means of finding things.”

“You mentioned there was a third brother to the king, to Rigo. Have you determined who that is yet?” asked Julia.

Raphael shook his head, “No, not yet. You must be present there in the hangar with the ships to see if they respond to the presence of an individual. They appear to be in tune with specific frequencies. Being the king…the reincarnation of Rigo, I can activate any of the ships and the entire outpost. It wasn’t known by the seers who would be able to return – there are so many possibilities with the timelines slipping and disappearing, but here I am, here we are…back, again, on the planet I loved so long ago. It almost seems an impossible dream, but it is what I’ve walked through it in the last days.”

“Then it may take a while just to determine which of the ships belongs to whom,” replied Julia with a sense of wonder. “For that matter, our little Jychondria could be one of the owners…”

Raphael lifted his little boy who was trying to reach out and snatch up one of Raphael’s braids. “You’re a bit too young, my boy, to fly a ship on your own, even a small one. I’ll take you in my own one day soon, at least as soon as we establish it is my ship. I know Esturias will want it as it appears to be the largest one at the outpost, but it just responds to me and Lantrill… at least for now.”

“Perhaps Esturias was the third brother?” asked Julia pondering what Raphael had just shared with her. “It’s an amazing tale you’ve shared, my love.”

“Hmmm, Esturias the third brother…perhaps; we’ll find out for sure if the remaining ship in that one hangar responds to him if at all,” replied Raphael. “Meanwhile, I think I’m getting rather hungry. I didn’t get dinner or breakfast. I wasn’t planning on going on a diet when I came on this expedition!”

Julia laughed, heartened that Raphael seemed to be quickly regaining his sense of humor. “I’ll see if Sukio or Felipe can fetch some food and refreshments for you. You are looking rather thin…”

By early evening, Raphael felt revived enough to go outside for a walk in the gardens. As he emerged from the inn, he saw Esturias speaking to Paul and Gareth, quizzing the Eagles on what they had witnessed in the outpost, especially regarding the first ship they found. Esturias looked up and waved for him to come over: “Raphael, you seem to be looking better. Are you quite recovered?” He paused a moment and then said: “Men, you’re dismissed – I need to talk to my brother now. Thank you for your reports. We’ll finish them up later.”

The Eagles stood up, saluted, and then moved off to another part of the garden to enjoy the evening air. Esturias turned back to his brother, “Okay we can talk now, little brother.”

“I am feeling much better thanks to the enforced ‘rest’,” he replied. “I overheard you asking about the first ship we found and took to Elexa…quite by accident.”

“She’s that responsive?” asked Esturias, curiously. 

Raphael nodded. “I don’t have to do anything but give the ship a mental picture of where I want to go. I’m not sure how it would work on a place you’ve never been. I would probably have to give the ship a geographic location or latitude position on the planet. Or perhaps use a map or photo of the proposed destination.”

“Well, we’ll have to sort that out in the future. Right now, the men tell me you ended up rather quickly in Elexa, just a matter of minutes. Am I correct?” inquired Esturias.

Yes, the ship was quite responsive to my telepathic suggestion. Before I realized we had not told anyone where we were going, we arrived in Elexa, only to be surrounded by fighters and warriors the second we landed,” replied Raphael. “I didn’t expect such a hostile greeting. Is there something going on in our neighborhood that would be reflected by such hyper-vigilance?” asked Raphael. He hadn’t thought to inquire why his ship’s arrival had received such a hostile reception.  “Well, I’ve been kind of out of the official line, myself, these past few weeks thanks to some arrangements father made for me,” replied Esturias. “However, I’ll be checking on the situation in Elexa tomorrow or the next day. If we go there, we’ll let the operations commander know we’re coming first, okay?”

“Yes, I should have thought of that first, Brother,” apologized Raphael. “I’m not a pilot and not cognizant about all the regulations and protocol – much the same as I was when I first came on board The Golden Lion as a cadet.”

“Yes, but that doesn’t explain the outright hostility exhibited by the temporary operations commander towards you other than a personal vendetta when he realized who had landed the strange ship,” replied Esturias. He noticed a dark shadow of growth on Raphael’s chin and chuckled, “Are you trying to grow a beard, brother?”

“Yes – my first one was shaved off during that incident in PoLiafee over a year ago. I thought since I’m not on board a ship, I could grow one now that I’m a mate and father,” replied Raphael as he scratched at his chin. “It’s rather itchy right now and Julia claims it tickles. Little Connie just wants to grab at the beard; he is getting quite strong!”

“Well, it does makes you look a little older, younger brother,” replied Esturias.

Have you looked at the little ships yet?” asked Raphael. “I’m afraid I don’t remember how I got here, so I don’t know how well they fly. I guess one of the Eagles knocked me out on Monteras’ orders. I understand he thought I was acting rather erratically.”

“I’m afraid so, Raphael; your cousin was quite concerned with your obsession in exploring the outpost. He thought you had done enough especially after the tomb shut behind you as you exited it,” replied Esturias. “And Lantrill witnessed you break down in sobs while inside the tomb. Master Pelleur was deeply concerned, too. I know you don’t appreciate what the men felt they had to do to keep you safe, but it’s clear they were thinking about your welfare, Raphael.”

“Yes, I realize that now I’ve had a little time to get some perspective on what I can remember of the incident. It all felt so dream-like… I was walking through the outpost, understanding the strange script like I knew it, understanding the words of the king although Lantrill has since told me he spoke in an ancient dialect that even his people don’t use any more. It was all rather uncanny, yet we found the ships and some of the seed crystals.”

“What’s on the seed crystals, if I may ask?” inquired Esturias. 

Whatever the Lion People placed there, I guess. I didn’t have anything to do with choosing what information was stored within the crystals; I just knew where the crystals were hidden… at least through Rigo’s memories. And there’s more, much more hidden within the outpost,” replied Raphael. “I would just like to request that the men exhibit more patience with my responses to the place. It is the last resting place of a man I adored, my father…and in this life, a great mentor of mine.”

“Lord Lyonell… Lantrill shared that with me,” said Esturias. “He told me that he and Sukio were your brothers then… and there was a third brother whom you haven’t yet identified.”

Raphael nodded. “I’m not sure how we’re going to go about finding the individuals who were associated with these ancient people. They could be Felines or other Pleiadians, or even persons of another race, like the Ashkerians.”

“Well, we’ll take it as it comes. Whoever they are, they are sure to be friends or relatives of some sort to you or the Felines,” replied Esturias. He was munching on a pear and wiped the excess juice off his chin. “Aiden tells me these pears came from Airus. Tomorrow is market day; some off-world traders are arriving here to sell their goods. I think it would be wise to stash the golden ships back into their hangars for now. We don’t want word getting out too soon that something…some interesting things have been found outside of little Jolf. It is a relatively isolated community for Medina and could be subject to enemy attack if word gets out, we’re discovering some advanced technology here.”

“Ah, good thinking, Esturias,” said Raphael. “I guess we do need your expertise to see the big picture here. I’ve been concentrating too much on discovering what was there to think about how it would impact this town and the whole of Medina. Maybe we can work successfully together

Esturias looked fondly upon his stubborn, talented, and strangely sensitive younger brother and replied: “Yes, perhaps we can, little brother.”

During the weeks he was on shore leave and getting acquainted with his exquisite new mate, Lorenna, Esturias had some time to ponder on the strange relationship he had with his adopted younger brother. He decided he loved Raphael despite all that passed between them, especially on Raphael’s side – as the young man still was fighting through his history of post-traumatic stress and probably would be until the day he died. It was what it was… just another aspect of a complex individual who was meant to be present for some yet undiscovered reason. And then, his father informed him plans had changed; he was not going to be transferring to The Golden Dolphin after all – and it was all because his very psychic brother who spoke to crystals had found something extraordinary near Jolf, an ancient outpost of a highly technologically advanced race.

Commander Esturias was no longer a top commander of a mothership, but with these new discoveries, there was a strong possibility he would become the father and co-founder of a new advanced space fleet, thanks to his dreamer of a brother. So, in the end, Raphael had saved him from the major embarrassment of having to start again as a Level Three Commander and work up through the ranks within the existing Command structure. No, this was an entirely new project, one that held great promise and in the eyes of his sister Claudine was going to be the future of the Pleiadian Star Fleet. If it all worked out as envisioned by her, his new position would be as Head Commander… along with his father for as long as he remained alive. There would be two fleets, the old one and the one under development. It was a long-range project which would take years, decades, perhaps centuries to complete, but he could see it and the possibilities excited him. This was way better than trying to sort out personnel problems on a hulking mothership. And he had Raphael’s vision and dreams to thank for saving him from years of being humbled in front of senior commanders who would be observing and weighing his every move and decision. So, he was grateful to be sitting next to his sometimes-difficult adopted sibling and talking about moving two amazing little ships back to their hangars within an ancient outpost of unknown origin and age.

Lantrill strode up and sat down next to the brothers. He sensed that things were finally being worked out between the two of them. “How are you feeling now, Raphael? We were a bit concerned about you…especially after what I witnessed in the tomb.”

Raphael looked at his old Feline friend with some annoyance and snapped: “Get used to it, Lantrill. The outpost contains the last resting place of our king and father of long ago – an incarnation of Lord Lyonell, your own father in this life. I’ve never had the opportunity to properly and completely grieve for my old friend and learning this new reason why he was so protective of me… well, it brings up a lot of grief. You know I’m not like other men so you’re going to have to cut me some slack when I encounter such things!”

Esturias smiled to himself as he noted Lantrill’s shock at Raphael’s answer. He commented: “Getting out some of that bottled up rage, Raphael? Master Tzulo would be proud of you! And, for once, it isn’t directed towards me! Lantrill, you should be proud of yourself – the boy loves you almost as much as he does our father, so if he can manage to speak to you in that manner – well, he coming along with his ‘therapy’.”

“Sir? – Yes, I understand the king was our father, but I didn’t feel the grief you experienced while seeing the hologram message from our ancient father. Perhaps it is because I was loved by my father and served under him until nearly the day he died in that awful explosion – when I wasn’t there,” replied Lantrill, looking at his young friend.

“Perhaps – meanwhile, we have some practical considerations to take care of – Number One, we need to move the two ships back to the outpost because tomorrow is market day and there will be off-world ships arriving at dawn. We don’t want to advertise our discoveries to the entire star federation yet, so I suggest we move Lantrill’s and Sukio’s ships just before dawn and return them to their hangars. Then, a couple of the Eagles can drive two or three viscars out to the site so we can return in them after we’re done with a day’s work. Does that sound like a good plan so far?” said Esturias matter-a-factly. Both Lantrill and Raphael nodded at Esturias’ common-sense approach.

Lantrill said: “Yes, sir – thanks for keeping the emotion out of it.” He paused and then continued, looking Raphael in the eye: “I have always regarded you as a kind of son or brother, my young friend, but sometimes you can be exhausting to be around. It’s good to have someone here who can guide this process for us. Esturias has a long history of being a commander and making quick decisions. Between the two of you, we should be able to accomplish something without getting mired in sentiment and emotional outbursts.”

“Okay – I admit I got caught up yesterday in some extreme feelings, but you will need my visions to be able to discover what is in that outpost. I can see and read things my present self doesn’t even comprehend at one level. The two of you and the Eagles can guard and guide me when I hit a particularly difficult patch, although I hope the worst is over since the tomb is no longer accessible,” replied Raphael quietly. “Esturias – I think you meant to say more?”

“Yes, Number Two on my list, Father assigned me to conduct an investigation into the incident which occurred when Commander Hercule Kadish and his three Saber ships followed your little ship back to Jolf,” said Esturias. “I understand from what Father shared the commander threatened the people of Jolf when they didn’t obey him and move from the square? Then Commander Hercule arrested and threatened Adario because he told you of the pending move to confiscate the ship and arrest your people? So, you see I must interview everyone who witnessed the goings on so I can forward the statements to the top commander of Elexa. He will have to decide on whether to subject Hercule Kadish to a court-martial. Personally, I would dismiss the man from the Command altogether – he’s an opinionated, prejudiced officer and dangerous to crew morale.”

“Not only that, but Commander also – Kadish made out to lunge at Raphael when he was standing right next to Lord Mathdis. Monteras had Eagle Sukio restrain him or there might have been a fight right there in front of Lord VaCoupe, who was looking on through the giant screen in the Council Chambers!” replied Lantrill. “We all witnessed it! The man was crazy with anger!”

Esturias looked thoughtful: “I take it Lord Mathdis is the Lord of Jolf and Aiden’s father? Apparently, he is an old friend of our father, too. He would be a good person to get to know better. I would love to accompany your team back to the site tomorrow, but I first need to make some official contacts here in Jolf so the investigation can be completed. Lantrill, I’m going to assign you as leader of the expedition for now – to keep our sensitive companion, Raphael, under some close supervision. I know Master Pelleur and Adario will want to accompany the team back to the site, so I’ll keep Monteras and the other Eagles here, except for Sukio who must fly his ship back, as well as Paul and Gareth who will be driving the viscars to the site. I will continue interviewing Aiden, Lord Mathdis, the other Eagles, and any other citizens who wish to volunteer their impression of the incident with Commander Kadish and his men. Then, hopefully by the next day or certainly the day after, I can finally accompany you all to the site and see what is still left to discover. Raphael and I might also have to fly to Elexa with my report so I can present it in person to the top commander of the spaceport. You won’t mind being separated for a brief time from your precious outpost, would you, Raphael?”

“Well, if it will forward the standing of this operation in the eyes of officialdom, I guess I’ll have to go along with it,” replied Raphael. “And having you there, as a high-ranking commander and the heir to Lord VaCoupe, well, it will add some weight to whatever I manage to share. I admit to having somewhat of a patchy reputation in the Command – thanks to my past, but hopefully with your support, sir, we’ll get beyond that issue.”

Lantrill looked at Esturias with some curiosity and boldly asked: “What is your current rank, sir? Officially, you are no longer the top commander of The Golden Lion, although few personnel know of the recent change in your assignment.”

“Father told me I’ll be considered as a Head Commander until things get sorted,” said Esturias with some irony in his voice. “If this new fleet thing doesn’t work out, I am doomed to be broken in rank to a Third-Level commander, so I’m counting on your dreams, Raphael! At the very least, I could return to the battleship division, but it would still be viewed as being broken in rank by most of the senior officers in the fleet. I’m not looking forward to becoming as notorious as Raphael in the fleet!”

Raphael could feel Esturias was quite sincere in his desire to escape the notoriety Raphael had suffered through most of his career. He gave his brother a shy smile and said: “I’ll see what I can do about saving your reputation, Esturias – and I have Lantrill here as a witness!”

Esturias laughed in response, “You’re still a nuisance, little brother!”

Master Aiden had been warned of the early departure plans of part of the team, so he and his cooks prepared a couple of hampers for the team to take. And later he planned to introduce Commander Esturias to his father, the Lord of Jolf. Aiden was interested in learning more about the colorful commander who was, despite all he said, already notorious in the Command. Rumors about the problems resulting from the BerWarian operation had filtered down to civilians like himself, a humble innkeeper, but also an intelligent and observant man like his father, Lord Mathdis. He was certainly of the opinion, privately held, that the VaCoupe Family had some interesting members, not the least of which were the two brothers who were now staying at his inn. Raphael’s mate and little boy also charmed him, Jychondria. He was sure his father would be pestering him to get mated after encountering Raphael and his sweet family. He sighed inwardly as he handed over one of the hampers to Paul Dominguez, one of those extraordinarily huge Eagles who guarded over Raphael but seemed to do a lot of odd jobs as well. 

The morning proved to be a little misty; there had been some rain showers during the night. With a portion of the team staying behind and several ships involved, it was a complex proceeding. Raphael accompanied Sukio in the lead ship, flying it much to Sukio’s relief as this trip required the hangar doors to open, something he couldn’t even imagine accomplishing. Lantrill’s ship would follow Sukio’s in when the hangar roof opened. Paul and Gareth would simply drive the viscars to the site, closest to the coastline where the “front door” was located. Master Pelleur was in Sukio’s flyer, while Adario accompanied a slightly nervous Lantrill. The Feline commander told him: “I’m a warrior, not a pilot. Flying this thing makes me nervous, but Raphael seems to know what he is doing, so here goes!”

“You’ll be all right. Remember Raphael was Lord Delos in a previous incarnation. He probably knows more about flying than any of our top commanders in the fleet!” said Adario, who wouldn’t admit he was nervous, too, but excited to see what would be discovered this day. He was startled by the sensitivity of his cousin and was quickly beginning to understand why the man had such a reputation among their own mutual relatives. He was unpredictable, imaginative, and far beyond his time and the ability of others around to fully understand him. It was a challenge for Adario to expand his own mind just to be around Raphael, but he relished the challenge. Raphael had made his dearest sister happy and so Adario loved him, too. He now also understood how Master Tzulo described his cousin and brother-in-law. Raphael was a wayshower, doomed to be misunderstood by his contemporaries but followed by many in the future whose visions were just as powerful and driven from an inner knowing. Somehow Adario knew that Raphael would be forgotten completely by future generations while Commander Esturias would be hailed as the founder of the new Pleiadian fleet. No one would remember the quiet genius who found its seed crystals. He felt sad for his cousin, but it was the way of the world. What he didn’t realize was that presently Raphael would prefer it that way…

The mist was rising by the time the ships reached their destination. The sun was just beginning to peek over the ridge casting long shadows on the flower-studded turf which covered an ancient secret. Sukio’s ship paused above the approximate location of the hangar as he best remembered. Raphael sent a silent command, and the ground began to lift slightly to the west. The ship corrected its position and descended into the landing bay, setting down gently. Sukio and Master Pelleur breathed sighs of relief while Raphael simply grinned, “Another sweet ride, Prince Sulrus!” After a moment or two, Lantrill’s ship also descended gently and lit upon the landing bay deck like a golden butterfly. Lantrill and Adario tumbled out of their ship, grateful to be safely on the deck once more. Lantrill signed the others to join up with him and announced: “We’ll have to open the ‘front door’ for Paul and Gareth. I don’t think they can manage it themselves, so Sukio if you can accompany me? The rest of you please wait in the old control room while we all get situated. Raphael, please refrain from touching anything until after we return!”

After a brief time, Lantrill, Sukio, and the two other Eagles returned. Meanwhile, Raphael had managed to resist bringing up the holograms on the console. He did, however, sit upon the floor and went into meditation briefly to see if he could tune into what to find next. His visions began to flow spontaneously as if there had been no lapse. He leaped up and began to talk: “In Rigo’s memory – which I seem to be able to tap into at will – I see two more hangars in this section. This time, they contain personal vessels, which can carry only two Felines, perhaps three people of Master Pelleur’s size!”

Lantrill looked annoyed. It would take quite a bit to tap down Raphael’s visions, so he decided to flow with them for the time being. “Okay, Raphael – lead on.”

Raphael headed the opposite direction from the original hangar where he found Rigo’s ship. Soon he came upon another door which slipped into the wall, revealing a long curving corridor beyond. Lantrill followed behind Raphael, with Sukio taking the position as rear guard. The others followed Lantrill. Soon Raphael halted in front of another door. This time he waved his hand in a manner which didn’t correspond to any Morovian code known to Lantrill or the Eagles. Lantrill looked at Paul who was observing Raphael’s every move; he shook his head and shrugged his shoulders. The door opened and without hesitation, the young commander stepped through and into yet another hangar. This time there were six small ships parked in a semi-circle near the edge of a landing platform. As Raphael had suggested before, these ships appeared to be large enough for just two Felines or perhaps two to three normal-sized Pleiadians. The Eagles, being large men, would only be able to seat two in the small ships. These ships were of the same golden metallic alloy, but had a slightly different body design, being slightly taller and more oval. When Raphael approached one, it immediately responded to his frequency. He patted the ship and said out loud, “Not now, little one.” The ship quieted down, the engines turning off. 

Adario was filled with astonishment to witness Raphael’s evident mastery and comfort with dealing with the ancient ships. Master Pelleur sensed his discomfort and smiled, “It’s all right, Master Adario. Raphael is in his element now as he has rarely had an opportunity to be in this entire life. His dreams and visions are coming into manifestation, and we are witnesses to this miracle. I’m not sure if the establishment will accept that a sensitive man like him is capable of such feats, but I’m going to support his efforts to claim the original ship as his own. It is his by rights – given to him by his ancient father, after all.”

“I will do that, also. I know, even though he’s not a pilot in this life, he is still Lord Delos reincarnated… although we will have to be careful with sharing that detail of Raphael’s past lives. The enemy still fears that name,” replied Adario. “I know that from my studies – I looked up what the Library at the University Ship had on Delos after I found out about Raphael’s past lives. It was quite detailed. Delos knew how to personally fly every ship in his command, every single one, including the fighters and scout ships.”

Raphael felt slightly disappointed as he looked on at the tiny fleet. It was clear no one in his present party belonged to any of these little ships, which were only slightly larger than a regular viscar. As tiny as they appeared to be, he intuitively knew they were highly maneuverable and faster than the average viscar. Any one of the little ships could easily make the trip across the sea to Arconia on the continent of Rickland, on the far side of the planet. He thought about claiming one or two to use as personal vessels on his own if they could not determine to whom the ships ultimately belonged. Of course, he would need Lord VaCoupe’s approval before he could claim any of the ships as his own, including Rigo’s ship. He wanted it but who would support his claim? And what would become of the ship if he weren’t allowed to claim it? He shook his head; it wasn’t time to get sentimental about a ship that had sat inside a hangar for thousands of years. 

Again, Raphael led the way back to the corridor which continued in a broad curve and another door. Opening this second door, again it revealed another hangar, this time with five ships sitting in a semi-circle. Raphael spoke up: “Okay, it looks like there is a total of fifteen ships within this section of the outpost, none of them suitable to add to the Pleiadian fleet. They all look like personal ships, fast and maneuverable, but small. However, the data contained on the seed crystals probably does contain information on what materials are required to build the larger ships our fleet will need in the future. Let’s return to the Control Room and see if we can find anything there of interest or do people want to take a break and get something to eat?” Master Pelleur spoke up, “I know I could use some of that lovely herbal tea prepared by Master Aiden, and maybe a couple of pieces of fruit?”

Raphael laughed and replied to his little friend, “Of course, I think it would be useful for all of us to have a bite to eat. Why don’t we head to the beach; then Paul and Gareth could fetch the baskets from the viscars. We might all enjoy some fresh air after being underground.”

Lantrill looked relieved that his friend seemed in good spirits today, not obsessing over the contents of the outpost but enjoying the adventure like it was an outing. “Sounds good, Rafe; I know I would enjoy watching the sea for a little while. After our refreshments, why don’t we head back to Jolf in the viscars and see how Commander Esturias is progressing in his investigative efforts?”

“That’s a brilliant idea, Lantrill,” replied Raphael. “With that in mind, why don’t we just climb to the top of the cliff… a bit of exercise for all of us, especially Master Pelleur and eat our refreshments there? I understand Lord Mathdis would like to hold a dinner in honor of Commander Esturias tonight. I would like to give my mate, Julia, an opportunity to prepare for the occasion.”

Sukio grinned as he bent down and gently patted Master Pelleur’s shoulder, “I’ll help you up the slope, Master, if it won’t insult your self-respect?”

“I don’t have a problem with it at all, my friendly giant. Sukio. Were you a brother to our Raphael long ago?” asked Master Pelleur, marveling at Sukio’s great height and strength. The Lion People must have been magnificent at the height of their civilization, he thought. They still were as far as the crystal master was concerned.

I guess so, Master Pelleur, although like Lantrill, I don’t remember being a prince,” replied Sukio in his deep growly baritone. “Imagine me, a prince… well, I guess I am kind of one, being of Lord Lyonell’s kin.”

“Well, you are certainly a great help to me on this trip, Sukio!” replied the merry Crystal Master. “I nearly fainted at the thought of climbing all those stairs out of the tomb a couple of days before.”

It was slow-going as the men climbed the steep slope up from the beach. There wasn’t any obvious trail to the top, so they stepped from grassy tuft to tuft on the steep grassy slope. Fortunately, the tufts were soft and wide enough to accommodate even the feet of the large Feline warriors. Paul and Gareth went ahead to fetch the picnic baskets and then they all sat enjoying the view of the coastline. It was a pretty place, quiet and breezy. Except for the hummocks in the background, one would never guess this place was once an outpost of a long-forgotten people.

Raphael sat close to the edge, kicking his feet out into the air as he munched on a peach. He didn’t mention it to anyone, but he was having visions non-stop: He could see the great Fleet filling the skies in every direction. It was magnificent beyond belief. And it was his people who designed, built, and flew the great ships, some as large as great cities in the sky. Others were slim and fast. Still others were designed to carry large cargos as the people moved their entire civilization to new yet unknown worlds. His father, King Lyonille, was the last of the generation who had entered this new quadrant through a magnificent interdimensional portal, leaving their former home-worlds behind. He, Rigo, did not remember the other side of the portal as he was born within a year or two of his people entering this new quadrant. They knew their duty – to prepare worlds for the coming of many who decided to leave the higher densities and venture into lower density, lower frequency worlds. There they would be able to heal the scars and traumas left upon their light bodies as the result of dying in or living through the great disaster that befell the ancient quadrant, their former homeland. He remembered dying a terrible death at the hand of a relative at the sudden end of one life there; but more than that he contained within a burning desire to protect those whom he loved who would be following in later waves to populate this new quadrant. And now he led his people still further into the unknown. He hoped he could do as well as his great father… As he saw this great vision, he began to remember what was on some of the seed crystals: detailed plans of ships of every size and type, including a copy of Rigo’s ship. His mercurial mind sorted through the various plans looking for the perfect ship to present to his father someday as a prototype of the new fleet. It was a vessel that carried perhaps fifty persons plus cargo, enough for a long jump through Pleiadian space. It wasn’t so large to be considered a battle cruiser or small enough to be a fighter. It was meant to be a leader’s personal vessel, larger than Lord VaCoupe’s present ship, but small enough to be able to land most anywhere. As he sorted through the records, he also discovered an important secret, the source of the material needed for building the outer shells of the golden ships. It was just a matter of visiting the planets to gather the needed ores and materials, for they were located within Federation space, then gathering and refining the material to the degree where it could be used. 

Raphael didn’t know how he knew all these things, but it was apparent that the founder of the VaCoupe Family must have been aware of some of the more exotic contents or information stored in the Mother Crystal of Medina. Raphael had already received a couple of downloads from the crystal. He guessed that his own mind carried all the needed information to inform the engineers and designers what to do next… He was a bit overwhelmed, but grateful the Mother Crystal entrusted such a mine of precious data to him. He was not sure how to inform Esturias of what he knew…without potentially upsetting his elder brother. And as for the engineers and designers, he could simply download the data, as needed, into their mother crystals and allow the men to proceed from there. He was sure Master Pelleur would be able to guide him in the future. He felt extremely grateful to have the Crystal Master by his side.

Raphael stood up after finishing his little pile of fruit and asked: “Well, are we ready to head back to Jolf now?”

Lantrill looked at Raphael suspiciously. The young commander appeared to be incredibly pleased about something which he wasn’t sharing with the rest of them. Still, it was already afternoon and time to head back to the town. He shrugged, hoping whatever Raphael was concealing would be eventually revealed. “I agree – let’s pack up and get going, men!”

The viscars were loaded up, with hampers and men, and started back to town. As they neared the landing area, they noticed the trading vessels were still present – apparently, the market was still open. The men pulled up to the inn and disembarked. Striding into the interior courtyard, Raphael found Julia sitting there watching little Jychondria crawling around on the tiled patio. Carlos was studying the various plants in the garden while Felipe and Tomás were sitting a discrete distance away to allow Julia some privacy with her thoughts. Esturias was nowhere to be seen. Julia looked up as she felt Raphael’s presence nearby; she leapt up and ran into his arms.

Julia exclaimed: “You’re back already!” She gave Raphael a quick hug and then continued in a quieter voice: “Esturias is speaking to Aiden and Lord Mathdis right now in the Council Chambers. He was quizzing the men, except Carlos, all morning about the events of the other day. Is it true – did Command fighters follow your ship from Elexa? And did the commander threaten you in front of Lord Mathdis?”

“Yes, my dear – there was a spot of trouble due to my ill-thought-out flight to Elexa, landing there with a strange ship,” replied Raphael. “And as ‘luck’ would have it, my ex-superior officer from The Golden Lion was there as a temporary operations commander of the landing field, Hercule Kadish, who had been recently broken from his rank of 2nd Level Line Communications Commander on the Lion.”

Julia looked disturbed, “Why did the commander try to attack you? Tomás said he wanted to arrest you especially and take you into custody as well as my brother, Adario!”

“Out of a desire for revenge? I really don’t know; it was quite a scene, Julia, and played out in front of Lord VaCoupe who was watching through the giant screen set up in the Council Chambers. He saw the whole thing – at least the part played out within that room!” replied Raphael, shrugging. He bent down to pick up his little boy who was sitting up and stretching up his arms towards his father. “Ah, Connie, Julia… it is so good to see you and have you here with me!”

Later that same day, Raphael, and his family, Esturias, Master Pelleur, and the other men all trooped over to the entrance of Lord Mathdis’ lovely gardens. It was the same white-washed sort of house built all over Jolf, with high abode walls to protect it from the high winds that sometimes prevailed before the beginning of the hot season. Entering through a garden filled with roses and lavender, everyone came to the entrance where Lord Mathdis was waiting to receive his guests. Raphael saluted Lord Mathis and introduced his mate, Julia, and Jychondria to him.

Lord Mathdis commented, “It is a pleasure to meet you, Mistress VaCoupe, and this is your son? What a charming little boy!”

The party was shown into another interior courtyard filled with water features and more flowers. There was a choice between benches and a table with chairs, brimming over with a selection of fruit platters, smoothies, light soups, thick stews, light crackers, and thin breads. Aiden and his cooks, knowing of the Feline’s different dietary needs, presented Lantrill and Sukio with a large platter each piled with fish (dried/smoked and freshly baked or poached), rice, and vegetables.  

Esturias encouraged Raphael and Lantrill to inform Lord Mathdis of their day’s findings at the outpost. Raphael was attempting to feed Jychondria some cold soup, but responded: “Well, my lord, Esturias… we found more ships, but they are small personal ones designed to carry only two to three persons, two if they are large Felines like Lantrill and Sukio. We really didn’t do much other exploring today; knowing Esturias was still working on his investigations of the incident the other day. We enjoyed a little picnic on the cliffs above the outpost looking out at the sea. There weren’t any storms, so it was a pleasant day. And the medium-sized ships were carefully stowed within their hangars without any problem. Thank you for providing the viscars, my lord; it would have been a long walk back to town.”

“Well, with the exception of interviewing yourself, Raphael, Master Pelleur, and Adario, I’ve pretty much finished up my investigation here in Jolf,” said Esturias. “Several citizens willingly came forward to describe their impression of being ‘invaded’ by the armed Command forces; something that was rather shocking to them. They also voiced their complete support for any work we do out at the outpost. The townspeople would like to know some of the prehistory of this area so they can put it into their museum for visitors and schoolchildren.”

Lord Mathdis replied, “I think my people are overwhelmed with all the attention our little town is receiving, having two sons of Lord VaCoupe staying in the inn, command troops invading, and a strange beautiful ship in the midst of the town square!”

“Sorry we brought the Command ships and troops into your beautiful village. I was supremely surprised with the hostile greeting we received at Elexa, my lord,” replied Raphael. He was bouncing his son on his knee. The little boy was done eating any soup and wanted his father’s braids to mouth. He succeeded in grabbing one and pulled it rather hard trying to stand up. Raphael couldn’t help but chuckle, “Connie, that’s attached to your father! Ouch! This is one of the joys of raising a child, my lord!”

Esturias laughed at his nephew’s antics and said: “I’m glad Father suggested bringing Julia and Jychondria here – you look much happier now, little brother.”

“Yes, I love them…” replied Raphael and then pulled back as Jychondria tried to grab his nose. “Now, that is attached to Father!”

Lord Mathdis was watched the play between father and son with a tiny bit of sadness in his countenance. Aiden noticed his father’s expression and knew it wouldn’t be long before his father arranged a suitable mating for him, as well. Aiden was the only heir to his father and would be Lord of Jolf after him. Aiden glanced over at Esturias, who was also watching little Jychondria’s antics and was surprised at the degree of tenderness in the stern commander’s face. 

Esturias felt Aiden’s attention on him and smiled back: “I’m nearly done with my investigation on this side of the water. I need to sit down with a few others, like Raphael, Master Pelleur, and Lantrill. I understand they were in the thick of matters.”

“Well, yes, and Eagle Sukio was called in to keep Commander Hercule Kadish under restraint when he lunged at Raphael. He handed the commander over to the warriors Hercule had brought from Elexa,” replied Aiden. “When Captain Montoya found out Raphael was related by adoption to Claudine of BerWare that bit of knowledge sealed Commander Kadish’s fate. The captain apologized to my father for intruding and disturbing the peace of Jolf. Have you spoken to Master Adario? The commander arrested him when he spotted him sitting in the Council Chamber. Commander Kadish had two of his men seize Adario and drag him out into the middle of the room where he yelled in his face. It was quite a scene!”

“Thank you, Aiden, for pointing out that detail. I’ll have a short talk with Adario after dinner,” replied Esturias as he attempted to eat another piece of fruit. It wasn’t difficult getting details out of the people of Jolf. They were quite excited by the whole matter and thrilled to learn Lord VaCoupe would soon be visiting their town, as well. Esturias just hoped the investigation was proceeding as well at Elexa. He was also disturbed that Raphael’s arrival would stir up such a negative reception and he wanted to know why. The station could also be experiencing more change of personnel if there was a problem not provoked by the vicinity of enemy forces. A civilian ship landing in Elexa wasn’t an unusual occurrence. Lord VaCoupe used the station occasionally on his trips to and from Alyona, especially if he wanted to check out the progress of the construction on the growing fleet. And traders often landed at Doven, a nearby town on the small continent of Elexa.

Esturias was feeling a need to do some investigation of his own on Elexa. And Raphael and Adario probably wouldn’t mind showing off Rigo’s ship to the instructors at the engineering college at Cove. In fact, Raphael seemed mighty pleased with himself today, which was unusual considering the strain he seemed to be under the day before. Esturias had a hunch Raphael knew something he wasn’t quite willing to share yet, something that had to do with the knowledge contained within the ancient outpost. Esturias watched the interplay of boy and father with an interest in speaking to Raphael, when he was ready. Raphael was an expert in hiding his emotions from long practice. He would bear watching… that unpredictable younger brother of his…

Raphael had given up on finishing his meal and decided to hand Jychondria over to Sukio to watch for a while. He needed to walk, and the large herb garden beckoned. He had another purpose in mind, as well, and asked Master Pelleur to accompany him. Walking very slowly so the Crystal Master could keep up with his longer strides, Raphael made his way through the garden and up the sloping terraces to a stone bench. He assisted Master Pelleur onto the bench which was designed for taller individuals. And then turned to his small friend and said: “I know everything that is on the seed crystals, Master Pelleur. It’s all here in my head. I discovered this today while we were enjoying our lunch on the cliff side. I can go through the plans of all the ships ever created by my people before we left this planet and bring them up, complete with specifications and diagrams of the plans. And I know the location of the material needed to create the metal alloy which will cover the ships. The Mother Crystal located within the ancient VaCoupe house contained all this information. The Feline Masters downloaded it into the Crystal so the records wouldn’t get lost in case no one could find the outpost or open the records. It was not known whether any of us would return. This was a precautionary measure stemming from great need, knowing what our people had survived just to get this far into this new quadrant. And they of all people knew what those who came later would also be facing – a great terror unimaginable to people who love peace and harmony. So…I know.”

Master Pelleur looked upon his young friend in absolute astonishment. “You knew there was a strong chance you would not make it here, didn’t you?”

“Yes – I can now remember being killed in front of my whole family by one who was my brother. It was unexpected and unimaginable among our people. Between lifetimes, I vowed to do whatever was necessary to provide clues and knowledge for those who would need it, so we did…” replied Raphael rather soberly.

“I have to ask this – was the brother Esturias?” asked Master Pelleur, suddenly genuinely concerned for his young friend. He gave a great sigh of relief when Raphael shook his head in the negative

No, not Esturias; actually, I have reason to believe Esturias was the third brother of Rigo. We’ll discover whether my theory is correct or not once Esturias finally sees the third little golden ship in that one landing bay,” replied Raphael. “Whatever he is, arrogant at times, impulsive on occasion, Esturias is basically a man of honor. And I know he loves me. I can feel it – now that I’ve worked through a lot of my suppressed anger and grievances, I’ve held against him for years. Even a seer can be blinded by emotions.”

“You grow wise, Raphael,” replied Master Pelleur. He knew that Raphael needed protecting now more than ever, even if he wouldn’t acknowledge the need himself. “When are you going to tell Esturias that you’re suddenly this fount of knowledge?”

“Not until Lord VaCoupe arrives – if I can wait that long; I may have to tell him after the Elexa investigation is ended,” replied Raphael. “I’ve realized this fleet is something new. It’s going to be our new family business. We will design and build the ships and then hand them over to the Command to be used for the protection of our Star Federation. It’s not the Command’s decision whether or not we have permission to do this exploration. Lord VaCoupe is the Lord of the Pleiades, and he has the right, every right to defend his people or for that matter, any other people who appeal to him for protection.”

“Esturias may not have realized he is going to be like a company president, in charge of a huge operation. Personally, I don’t want to be involved. I am the key to starting this process, but by merely downloading the information into the proper mother crystals, my part will be done,” said Raphael. “I’ve never wanted to be in the limelight. While Esturias thrives on challenge, I do not. I just want to live a quiet life in Medina and raise my children with Julia and the rest of my family around me.”

Master Pelleur was shocked. He knew Raphael was an extremely humble and private person, but he never guessed how much he wanted to retreat from being the center of attention. As a seer and empath, Raphael intuitively dreaded the attention he would attract once it was known how much knowledge he held inside. It was also a threat if the enemy realized this fact, as well. Raphael was wise in withholding the knowledge from his bold brother for the time being lest something got shared with the wrong people. If too many people knew, Raphael would, once again, become a target for kidnapping, this time to extract what he held within. It would have to be classified as to where the technical knowledge came from, although Master Pelleur also understood the sometime arrogance of the trained engineers and scientists who would probably not believe that a psychic sensitive like Raphael was even capable of understanding the design of a ship. 

If the downloading to the Mother Crystal was done in great secrecy, Raphael probably would be spared ever having to share where the knowledge came from in the first place. The seed crystals carried the same information and that would serve as an acceptable explanation to most people outside their own circle. Master Pelleur knew the Eagles and Lantrill would never reveal that Raphael was the source of the knowledge. And he was, for Rigo was not only the King’s son and heir, but he was also the master designer and builder of the great fleet. Master Pelleur also knew that Raphael probably should not be given Rigo’s ship unless people begin to connect the dots and realized that he was Rigo still, as he was also Delos. The times were too uncertain and dangerous for these things to be generally known and shared with the worlds and even within the Command, for Raphael did have enemies there as evidenced by Commander Kadish’s attempted attack on his person.

Raphael spoke up, breaking the pleasant silence: “I see Esturias is signaling for me to rejoin the others. He hasn’t quizzed me yet on my take on the events of the other day except for a few random comments I have made.”

“Go ahead, Raphael, I’ll take my time going back to the courtyard; I’m enjoying the cool air,” replied Master Pelleur. He had much to ponder given what he had just realized about his young friend. Perhaps it was nearly time to introduce Raphael to the rest of the Crystal Masters…

“Okay, little brother, while we’re here with Lord Mathdis, could you fill me in on some of the details of the events of the other day – at Elexa and when you landed in Jolf. Did you really land the ship in the middle of the town square?” inquired Esturias; he was keen to finish his report to Lord VaCoupe and to Top Commander Contreras at the Elexa spaceport.

Why don’t I just share the information with the two of you telepathically?” suggested Raphael who was getting bored with the whole proceedings. 

Lord Mathdis appeared to be surprised at Raphael’s suggestion, but Esturias shrugged, “Okay, if you must…” Raphael sent the images of the events via private telepathic mode.

Lord Mathdis’ face registered some surprise at the rapidity of the download. He was also taken aback by the reception of Rigo’s ship at the spaceport. He commented: “Your arrival was treated very strangely. It’s not unusual for civilian ships to land at the spaceport. I do it all the time when traveling to Alyona if I’m representing my people here.”

“I thought so – well, I didn’t have time to think about it. Adario was quite adamant the Head Commander wanted to confiscate the ship and arrest me and my party, including Master Pelleur,” replied Raphael. “I just thought it would be wiser to return to more neutral territory where we weren’t outnumbered and outgunned by fighters and men, given the hostility we were met with upon landing. And since when does a person need to be a pilot to fly a vessel that flies itself?”

Esturias laughed, “You ask the darndest things, little brother. Most pilots have received their training in the fleet, including our father, although he doesn’t fly his own ship anymore out of choice. The Elexa Command Center would have up-to-date records on all qualified pilots in their records. Your name is not included as you have never received official flight training. You will have to obtain a special license to fly your ship!”

Lord Mathdis chuckled and said: “Commander Raphael, I don’t think there are any other ships quite like the one you discovered the other day. It is beautiful and beyond amazing.”

“It was nothing compared to the great ships of our people…” replied Raphael then stopped talking when he realized he had unintentionally divulged part of his visions.

You’ve seen these ships, in your visions?” inquired Esturias, looking intensely at his brother. Raphael reluctantly nodded. “When?”

“While sitting on the top of the cliff staring out to sea…” replied Raphael quietly. “I can’t really say more than that right now, sir.”

“You can’t or won’t, little brother?” said Esturias rather harshly. 

It’s not time and it’s not safe yet to do so, Esturias,” replied Raphael, determined to hold his ground against any further interrogation from his brother.

Excuse me, gentlemen,” said Master Pelleur interrupting the conversation. “I couldn’t help but hear your last exchange and I must agree with Master Raphael. The lad knows things he can’t quite share right now. I want him to meet with the rest of my associates, the Crystal Masters. We have some work to do with this young man.”

“Ah, crystals yet again,” snorted Esturias. “I just want to finish this investigation, Raphael, not interrogate you – it’s only… well, we’ll leave it at that. You are unwilling to share what you are hiding – will you share it with Father?”

Raphael shook his head, “No, not immediately. Finish the investigation. Then, you and I, Master Pelleur and a few other trusted men can discuss where and how to go forward. This knowledge cannot get into the wrong hands right now.”

Esturias stood up a bit abruptly, “Okay, Raphael – I’ll give you until Father arrives and then I do intend to grill you!”

Raphael watched his brother as Esturias strode away, leaving Master Pelleur and Lord Mathdis staring at his retreating back. 

Lord Mathdis spoke first: “Well, I applaud you, Raphael, for being able to withstand that barrage. I think Esturias wanted to wring the information out of you here and now! He is an impulsive one.”

“Which is one reason, my lord, I do not wish to share this information with him right now,” replied Raphael cautiously. “The outpost has existed untouched for thousands of years; a few days give or take with Esturias not getting what he wants doesn’t really matter. Master Pelleur understands exactly to what I am referring.”

Master Pelleur nodded, “Yes, Raphael. Lord Mathdis, I would like to contact my associates who are currently on BerWare to send some representatives here to speak with Raphael about his concerns.”

Lord Mathdis looked surprised, “Well, it’s a good thing our family owns an inn. Just let my son, Aiden, know how many guests to expect. And do you wish to use my comm to reach your associates?”

“That would be truly kind, my lord – and would save any misunderstandings if I attempt to reach them via telepathy at this point. I’ll attempt to reach someone tomorrow if I may?” Master Pelleur was already planning the encounter between his associates and Master Raphael. He was certain they would be as astounded as he was in realizing who and what Raphael was.

Lord Mathdis nodded and then noticed the Master was already preoccupied. He smiled in amusement, thinking to himself: Yes, this is all rather exciting.

All Rights Reserved, Eliza Ayres, videos and recordings of this material are not permitted, and


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