BOOK TWO: CHAPTER 16 – Lyonell Redux

CHAPTER 16 – Lyonell Redux

BOOK TWO

Frida’s voice was strident: “Connie…Jychondria, fetch your father over here now.  Your mother is about to give birth!”

“Yes, Frida…he’s over at our house talking to Commander Bakken.” The boy paused as he saw Frida frown, her lips tightening as she pressed a hand to one hip in an age-old female gesture of impatience.  He grinned and replied, “Yes, ma’am… I’ll get him right away!”

Jychondria’s colt-like legs sent him flying across the street from the house of Lord Mathdis to Raphael’s house. The boy careened in through the gate, startling Eagle Paul who was on guard. Paul said, “Your father is…”

“I know!” The boy’s answer echoed in the passageway as he disappeared into the courtyard beyond.

He came to a panting stop before his father, Raphael, who was seated on one of the benches discussing one of Bakken’s latest reports on the ongoing projects. About two months into the project, the former Line Commander was hired on by Raphael as his personal assistant. Fortunately, the man was very adaptable and really wanted to be of assistance. Now, he had become indispensable.

Bakken grinned as the boy attempted to catch his breath and gasped out: “Father… father, Mother is about –”

“—give birth?” His father replied, finishing the boy’s sentence. “Excuse me, Bakken; it looks like family is calling.”

The Feline line commander looked up at Raphael’s anxious face and said, “It will be alright, my lord.”

“I know, I know – still, the anticipation is – okay, Connie, I’m come!” Raphael stood up and allowed his growing son to grab one of his hands and drag him towards the gate. He addressed Eagle Paul as they neared the gate, “you better come, too, Paul. Julia is about to give birth to our second child!”

“Yes, sir,” replied the big Eagle, grinning. He sent a telepathic message to Leo Vayin to take over the gate duties for him while he was gone.

The little procession of males made their way across the main street of Jolf, the only street, greeting the townsfolk who were out on errands. One of the women looked at Raphael’s face and smiled, “Is it time, my lord?”

Raphael nodded as his son tugged on his hand once again. The commander shrugged his shoulders and allowed his insistent son to guide him to the gate of Lord Mathdis’ residence, which had been turned into a temporary hospital of sorts, serving the needs of three very pregnant females, Julia, Astrig, and Brunella. By some unspoken agreement, the women had all become pregnant within months of each other. Julia was the first to begin delivery of the precious one she had carried for so many months now… a daughter.

Lord VaCoupe was in Alyona attending to matters at the High Council and his administrative duties as Head Commander of the Pleiadian Fleet. His mate of five years now, Lady Anna had chosen to be present as emotional support for the trio of pregnant women and to be on hand to counsel their mates. Hearing voices at the gate as Frida greeted Lord Raphael with the latest news, Lady Anna rose from her bench in the garden to greet the anxious father-to-be. She smiled as she saw Jychondria leading his father by one hand into the courtyard, chiding him as they approached closer, “Frida said she wants you here in case she needs to find you! There…there is Grandmother Anna!”

Come here and sit down, Raphael,” said Lady Anna in a soothing voice. “I’ll have Alexei get some tea and refreshments for you while you wait for your Julia to complete her work… Don’t worry, I have three healing priestesses with her and watching over Astrig and Brunella. I performed a scan of Julia this morning; everything is in order. The presentation should be normal and according to Frida, Julia’s water has broken, so things should proceed rapidly now. Ah, here comes some tea! Thank you, Alexei!”

Alexei, the personal assistant of Lord Mathdis, bowed to Lady Anna and Lord Raphael. Just then Lord Mathdis entered the courtyard and joined the little party. Jychondria was sitting on the tile at his father’s feet, as Raphael absentmindedly stroked the child’s silky blonde hair. The boy bounded up as Lord Mathdis drew near and gave him a courteous bow and then settled back down again leaning against his father’s knee.

Lord Mathdis grinned, scanning the face of Raphael, noting the anxiety there, common to most men whose wives were giving birth to their latest child. He gently inquired, “How do you fare, Raphael?”

A distracted Raphael glanced up and sighed, “Hello, Lord Ricardo; I would rather this all be over. This is one project over which I don’t have too much control!”

“Ah, quite, my friend!” replied Lord Mathdis, “And soon enough, it will be Aiden’s time and mine, when Brunella comes to term! How is Roméo holding up?”

Raphael took a sip of tea and said: “He’s out at Starship working on some reports with data given to him by the team leaders, Lantrill, and Sukio. We’re keeping him busy and distracted so he doesn’t worry too much.”

“Good idea,” replied Lord Mathdis, “Aiden is kept busy with the inn, his garden, and healing duties. He’ll be over later when we get an updated report on Brunella’s condition.”

Lady Astrig had been ordered into bed rest for the latter three months of her pregnancy. She still had about a month to go. On the other hand, Brunella was also quickly approaching her due date. She had been working at the inn up until a couple of days before but was ordered off her feet by the presiding healing priestess who noticed Brunella’s swollen feet. A small woman, Brunella was carrying twins; her belly was enormous by now. Lord Mathdis was dealing with his anxiety by helping Raphael with his. He was about to become a grandfather, twice over!

Hearing a cry ring out in one of the second story windows, Frida looked up and mumbled, “Excuse me, my lords…” She ran off and disappeared into the house to assist with the birth.

Jychondria stood up and sat down next to his father, leaning on him. Raphael put his arm around the boy who was now a bit over five-years-old, comforting each other as they waited for mother and mate to finish her work. They sat there quietly, both dropping into a meditative state, sending healing energies and strength to mother and mate. Lord Mathdis smiled as he gazed at the pair who sat there so quietly. Both father and son were unique, Raphael with his many talents and strong psychic skills; Jychondria with his quick intelligence and kind heart. The two were closely bonded, being soulmates, formerly brothers during two Ashkerian lifetimes. It was almost time for Jychondria to go to school in Arconia, but he wanted to be present to welcome his new little sister into the world. She was a special one, another soulmate, his former sister Arianna. Jychondria wanted to let his sister know she was welcomed and loved in her new world and new family.

This time the delivery took longer. Dinner had been brought to the outdoor table and Lord Mathdis’ friends invited to partake, but neither father nor son were very hungry. Jychondria pushed his food around his plate, and Raphael just took a few bites. Finally, after several hours, Frida showed up at the doorway, wiping her hands off on her apron and announced, “Lord Raphael, Jychondria – Lady Julia has been delivered of a fine little girl! Just give the ladies a few minutes to clean everything up and you can go up and visit them.”

Frida was the daughter of one of Lord VaCoupe’s long-time retainers and staff members. She fell in love with Julia and requested to act as her household assistant when Raphael and Julia moved into their rented house in Jolf. She had since become an irreplaceable member of staff, a part of Raphael and Julia’s extended family. A practical person, well-grounded in the running of a household, trained by her mother and the other female staff of the VaCoupe household, Frida was well prepared to act as an assistant and housekeeper for Raphael and Julia. She monitored the small staff and made sure all the males were kept well-fed when they were around, which wasn’t very often. Even Jychondria spent quite a bit of time out at the project, running errands and making observations as he wandered freely around the huge outpost between his tutorials with Commander Monteras. And now, Frida was determined to assist her lady to bring up her daughter properly. Now, standing in the doorway, she waved to Lord Raphael and Jychondria to follow her into the house.

The midwife and her assistants were just leaving the bedroom where Julia had completed delivering her child. They smiled at Raphael and Jychondria as they followed Frida into the outer room of the suite. The midwife was washing her hands in a basin. On seeing Raphael’s face blanch when he saw the bloody water, she comforted him by saying: “It’s all right, my lord; just the usual messiness of being birthed. The afterbirth and all… You are the new father of a beautiful little girl.” Then turning to Jychondria, she said: “And you, young sir, have a new sister!”

Raphael stood in the doorway and saw his mate lying there holding a swaddled bundle in her arms. Julia’s hair was damp from her exertions, so Raphael asked the boy to bring him a clean damp cloth. He entered the room and went to his knees beside the sleeping pad, “How are you, my love… how are both of you?”

In answer came a little cry from within the blankets. Raphael bent and carefully folded back the clothes to reveal a little pink-faced infant with white blonde curls, a button nose, pink cupid mouth and huge blue eyes blinking up at him. The tiny girl stared at him, blinking her blue eyes as he greeted her, “Welcome to the Pleiades, Arianna!”

Raphael called his son over to examine his new little sister and asked, “Do you remember your sister, Arianna? Here she is, again, with us here!”

“Here is the cloth you requested, Father,” replied Jychondria, as he knelt beside his father. He pulled Arianna’s blanket closer so he could look closer at his new sister. He whispered in awe: “She’s beautiful, Mother!”

“Job well done, Julia – how do you feel?” asked Raphael.

Tired, a little sore, and sweaty…I need a bath, but don’t think I can get up right now. Thank you, the cool cloth feels good,” replied Julia with a sigh as Raphael wiped off her brow.

Just rest for a while, my dear; Connie and I will look after little Arianna. Do you mind if I show her off to Lord Mathdis?”

Julia yawned, “No, Raphael… I think I’ll going to take a nap. That was quite a workout compared to Connie’s delivery. Come back a little later – I might be hungry by then.”

Raphael carefully tucked his new child back into her blankets. She was a lot smaller than Jychondria had been when he was born, but her brother was going to be a very tall man. Already Jychondria was nearly five feet tall, at six years old. The boy’s build looked more like what his deceased uncle’s Ezekiel’s had been, very tall, big-boned, and broad-shouldered. Right now, Jychondria was mostly legs. Tomás made sure to include the boy in the daily exercise sessions so he would develop strong muscles to support his fast-growing frame. Unlike Raphael who had suffered abuse as a child, Jychondria was thriving, and his father wanted the best for him, although he made sure not to spoil the child as well.

Connie – would you like to hold your new sister? Be careful, put one hand under her head and the other under her bottom, and then hold her next to your chest with your arm, snug but not too tight… That’s right!” Raphael started as he heard a little snore from his mate; Julia was already fast asleep. He smiled and signed his boy to leave the room. Closing the door behind them, the two males made their way down to the main level of the huge house and out into the garden courtyard where Lady Anna and Lord Mathdis were chatting. Raphael guided his son to Lady Anna, “Connie, show your grandmother your new sister…”

Lady Anna – this is Arianna… she was our sister on Sirust before…,” said the little boy solemnly, remembering the sacrifices made by everyone during the Orion wars in the Ashkera star system. The suffering was part of the reason both he and his sister had chosen to reincarnate as Pleiadians. The other reason was the fact that their brother, Lord Delos, could no longer incarnate onto Sirust.

Lady Anna nodded and said, “Thank you, Master Jychondria, for sharing your remembrance. Can I see her?” The former high priestess held out her arms… this would be the second grandchild born to the family since she mated Lord Demetrius. The first, a little girl called Serena, daughter of Esturias and Lorenna, had arrived about four years ago now. She was hoping for a child of her own but so far that had not happened. Lady Anna carefully

took Arianna into her arms and peeked at the little pink face with its button nose, pink lips, and great blue eyes. “Oh, she’s beautiful! She’s looking at me!”

“They’re so tiny when just born,” said Lord Mathdis as he leaned over to look at the baby.

I do not think Arianna is going to be tall like her brother… or grow quite as fast. She’ll be more like her mother in build,” replied Lady Anna.

Well, little Jychondria is growing like a well-watered tree,” laughed Lord Mathdis, as he affectionately studied the boy, who, in turn, was watching his grandmother carefully handle his precious little sister.

Lord Mathdis was expecting the delivery of two grandchildren soon and was a bit anxious about Brunella’s health, although the sturdy Kadish woman was thriving. There hadn’t been any children in his life for a long time except for Jychondria, so at times, Lord Mathdis felt like an honored great uncle to be able to watch the boy grow from babyhood into a young boy who was about to embark on the next step of his educational journey, going to the University at Arconia, to begin his general studies at the boarding school. Eventually, when he had completed and passed the entrance exams, he would enter the College of Engineering, to train like his uncle Adario. After spending years seeing all the men of his acquaintance working on the Starship Project, Jychondria wanted to help, too. He knew by getting a solid base of understanding in the engineering and ship building, he could aid in the future as the project continued to expand its focus. Lord Mathdis was proud to see the steely determination, intelligence, and wit of the father echoed in his son. He often sat with the boy when both had a few minutes together and chatted about the boy’s dreams of the future. Jychondria was not the sensitive psychic or dreamer like his father, Raphael. Yet, the two, father and son, complemented each other. Still, Jychondria was a boy and had his silly moments, too. He was well-regarded and loved by the people of Jolf who had taken Lord Raphael and all his unique ‘family’ into their collective hearts.

Raphael studied the countenance of Lord Mathdis, who kept looking up at the window of the room in which his daughter-in-law was installed during her enforced pre-birth confinement. The young lord smiled in understanding and gently asked his friend, “How are you doing, Lord Ricardo? Brunella is getting close to the end of her term, too. Two new additions to your family…”

“You have a wonderful little addition of your own, Raphael,” replied the dark-haired lord as Jychondria carefully handed his baby sister over to her father.

Julia is pleased to have a little girl to raise now,” said Raphael with another tender smile. “That is one less possible addition to the Command, as I do see Jychondria heading in that general direction – at least he has expressed a desire to eventually enter the School of Engineering at Cove on Elexa. Depending on what Brunella and Astrig deliver… well, we could almost open our own school here!”

“How do Lady and Lord Kadish feel about their only grandson being educated on Medina instead of being fostered in Airus?” Lady Anna knew this topic was a bone of contention between Raphael and his wealthy in-laws.

“VaCoupes are educated on Medina and if going into the Command, on the Medinian University Ship. I may not choose to live in Medina village, but I’m still a VaCoupe by adoption and that was how I was educated,” replied Raphael firmly. “If we are blessed with another son in a few years, Julia and I will consider sending the lad to Airus for fostering. However, that won’t be the case for Jychondria. I know he wants to remain nearby, to both be able to visit us, his parents, and to continue being involved in the Starship Project.”

Lord Mathdis looked puzzled, “How is Jychondria involved in the project now? He is just a boy.”

“Jychondria was reincarnated with full memory of his Ashkerian lives – and for many years he was the Head Commander of the Ashkerian Fleet. When he finally retired, I took over as Head Commander,” replied Raphael. He also now had full memory, having worked through a great deal of the trauma his final sacrifice created for him. “His uncle Adario has remarked on the boy’s ability to read blueprints and make pertinent comments on the viability of one plan over another. Since not everyone has the innate ability to read plans, we are going to encourage Connie to continue to explore engineering and ship design as potential future studies. I don’t want to push him into anything that will make the boy uncomfortable, but he’s proving to be an intelligent youngster, curious about the world, and eager to learn more. What is clear, my old specialty of Line Communications is not of any interest to Jychondria right now.”

“Speaking of line communications, Raphael, are you still doing those periodic scans of Morova for the Command?” asked Lord Mathdis.

I’m sorry, my lord, but that is confidential information,” replied Raphael carefully. “I will say this; the situation on Morova has improved greatly in the last five years. As I understand it, the highly mobile tribesmen have agreed to begin to settle down in defined villages, so it makes it easier for the local chieftains to keep watch over their people and note those who do not belong in the community. This hasn’t prevented the traders from continuing to do their rounds on Morova and other planets, but their families are not wandering all over the planet now in small indefensible groups. The people have also been educated on what to look for in terms of possible infected individuals or enemy agents. They’ve been encouraged to bring any strangers immediately to the attention of the local authorities or their village priestesses. To reinforce these new arrangements, the Command has had a temporary base on the planet for about four years now.”

Lady Anna could sense Raphael’s sorrow about the still unresolved and dangerous conditions on his home planet, but she didn’t press him. Now was not the time to focus on the past, but what his children represented, the future. She smiled and said, “Thank you for sharing little Arianna with us, Raphael. Now, perhaps, you should check in on Julia…”

“I’ll do that; thank you, Mother Anna,” he replied, and then looking over at his young son, he asked, “Connie, are you hungry? Neither of us ate much earlier. Your mother may want a bite to eat, too. Could you manage a tray from the kitchens?”

“Oh, thank you, Father – I am hungry!” exclaimed Jychondria, suddenly feeling a lift from all the anxiety he had been experiencing earlier before his little sister was delivered. “I’ll go see what Alexei and his staff can gather together for us!”

Lord Mathdis and Raphael watched with amusement as the long-legged youngster dashed off towards the kitchens. Lord Mathdis grinned and simply remarked: “Boys!”

“Well, I’m going to head back up to Julia’s room and see how she is managing. Lady Anna, Lord Ricardo…” Raphael bowed to the lady and lord and then carefully tucking his daughter into his arms left the courtyard and disappeared into the great house.

Just days later, when Mistress Brunella was successfully delivered of two healthy boys. The tired but triumphant young woman named her sons Raphael and Adario in honor of her two cousins who had brought much happiness and cheer to Aiden’s household. It was a beaming Lord Mathdis who presented his grandsons to Raphael and his men when they all gathered for a celebratory dinner at the Mathdis house. Now, the lord’s family line was assured by the twins, two little dark-haired, blue-eyed boys who were both sound asleep in their ebullient grandfather’s arms.

By this time, Lady Julia was able to come downstairs and join her mate at the gathering to celebrate the new additions to both Raphael and Aiden’s families. Lady Brunella was already up and about; that sturdy young woman helped her hard-working mate, Aiden along with their kitchen staff, to prepare the evening repast. The only one not present was Lady Astrig, who was still on bed rest according to the instructions of the healers. Roméo visited with his mate for a long time and then left so she could rest while Frida watched over her.

Brunella and Aiden were immensely proud to have given Lord Mathdis his first set of grandchildren. Raising her wine cup, she announced, “I must thank my cousins Raphael and Adario for making all this possible – in being the instruments of my coming to Jolf and meeting my wonderful mate and his father, Lord Mathdis. I’m so happy to be here with all of you my dear friends and to have two beautiful sons to help to raise to adulthood. Thank you, Raphael, for flying your magical golden ship into Jolf and creating a diplomatic incident for which my family felt the need to make a peace offering. Long may this project of yours prosper, on behalf of all our people!”

“Here, here!” All the men present raised their glasses to Raphael, who, in turn, smiled shyly. And then he grinned and replied, “And I salute you, Brunella; it was you who did all the work bringing these beautiful boys into our world. Here’s to Brunella – and Julia – and all our beautiful ladies who keep our families whole while we fight this war for our freedom!”

Just then there was a stir at the front gate. Raphael could hear as the voices of Paul and Felipe rose in greeting. Then Lord VaCoupe entered the courtyard, closely followed by Master Edar. A young Feline boy was holding the hand of Master Edar. The boy appeared to be about five or six years old. Lord VaCoupe looked at Raphael and said, “Master Edar requested that I stop off at the University Ship before coming to Jolf to fetch Lady Anna. He has a relative with him whom he wants to deliver to you personally. Master Edar, do you care to do the introductions?”

The tall dignified Master stepped forward into the light and drew his young companion in front of him. His deep baritone resonated throughout the courtyard as the party focused on the young person: “Lord Raphael, men, please meet young Master Lyonell, second son of Lord Hilarus, King of the Suriya System. Our former Lord Lyonell has returned to the world of men.”

The boy stepped towards Raphael and bowed: “I told you, Commander Raphael, I was back. Uncle Lantrill and cousin Sukio, how are you? I see you still have your Eagles with you, Commander?”

“You have full memory, sir?” asked Eagle Paul, who had entered the courtyard so he could witness this reunion.

The boy nodded, “Yes, I do, Paul Dominguez; shouldn’t you be at your post?” Eagle Paul nodded in return and disappeared towards the gate. Young Lyonell turned back to Raphael, Lantrill, and Sukio, noting the bracelets present on their wrists and said: “I see you found the little gifts I left behind for all of you. Where is your brother Adrigus?”

“Father – Lord Lyonell… what do we call you, sir?” replied a slightly confused Raphael. They were addressing a young boy as if he were their father. He had been, long, long ago, but not now.

You can call me Prince Lyonell or Master Lyonell. I know the boarding school where I am going doesn’t like its students to flaunt their standing beyond those of others who are not so blessed or fortunate. I’m sure you understand me, Raphael, having been in that position yourself,” replied Lyonell. “I’m here to officially become the foster son of Lord Raphael Kantor-VaCoupe, whom I understand is now a Specialty Commander in the Fleet. Congratulations, Commander…Lord Raphael.”

“Thank you, sir!” replied Raphael as he wiped a tear or two from his eyes. “It’s a little overwhelming, sir, to be in your presence once again.”

The boy grinned at his former aide and replied, “It took me a long time to convince my father, Lord Hilarus, to allow you to be my foster father, Lord Raphael. Although you may be the reincarnation of King Rigo, you are now a blonde Pleiadian. I just told him I wanted to assist you all in the building of the golden ships. After a while, I just wore him down. He brought me to the latest High Council and presented me to Lord VaCoupe and made mention of my determination to be reunited with all of you, once again, gentlemen.”

“Then, welcome, Master Lyonell; may I present you to Lord Mathdis, his son Aiden; Aiden’s mate, Lady Brunella Kadish Mathdis; my mate, Lady Julia Kadish Kantor-VaCoupe; Master Adario Kadish, my cousin; and Master Roméo VaCoupe, my adopted brother and partner in our current endeavor. Master Roméo’s mate, Lady Astrig, is upstairs expecting to deliver her child shortly. Lord Mathdis is presently holding his two new grandsons, named Raphael and Adario, after my cousin and me. We’ll fill you in on the reason later, sir. And here is my lovely new mother, Lady Anna Ramirez VaCoupe, who assisted me in moving through the final stage of a major transformation,” said Raphael, as he pointed out everyone seated at the table.

How long have you been a VaCoupe, Lord Raphael?” asked Master Lyonell.

For about six years, Master Lyonell – soon after I left the Alyona Command.” When Lyonell looked puzzled, Raphael laughed and explained, “A lot has happened since… since we lost you and Commander Ryland in that attack, sir. I’ll explain it all to you in private, sir, when we get you settled in. You’ll be sharing Jychondria’s room in our house during your occasional visits to Jolf between your studies. Jolf has become my home for now, despite my father’s desire for me to return to Medina – there’s just too much to do here. And oh, here’s my son, Jychondria – you might remember his name, sir; he was my brother when I was Lord Delos.”

The two boys stood, studying each other’s appearance. Jychondria was a sturdy lad, with his white-blonde hair, great blue eyes like his sire, the strong chin, straight nose, and broad cheekbones. Lyonell remarked, “Jychondria, it’s nice to finally meet you. By the way, you look a bit like your uncle Commander Ezekiel Kantor. Where is he, Raphael? I thought Ezekiel would be with you…”

“I’m sorry, nephew, Ezekiel, Earl, and Garry all died in a battle, as did Captain Ulrus and Captain Racquer,” replied Lantrill. “It happened soon after you and Commander Ryland were killed, sir. It was a tough time all around, sir.”

Lyonell looked over at Raphael who was wiping away yet another tear, “I’m sorry to hear that, Lord Raphael – I didn’t see Commander Ezekiel very often, but he was a good man, as were all the rest.”

The Feline boy tilted his head as he studied Raphael’s altered appearance, “I must say, Lord Raphael, your appearance has changed greatly. My cousin Falonus mentioned that when I met him on the University Ship. I also had the pleasure of meeting young Salaniel, Alphar, and your grandson, Ramanda-Delos. Another grandson, Raphael? I remember Commander Tazo as being your grandson. Where is he?”

“Tazo is away along with Commander Monteras, sir, currently on a visit to the Elexa shipyards to review our latest production efforts on the second fighter models,” replied Raphael. He studied Lyonell’s altered appearance – the boy was, of course, still a boy, but promised, at least initially, to be of a lighter build than what Raphael remembered his old top commander having had. He still had a short mane, but it was more golden in appearance, without any beads. There were no tribal tattoos on his face, either.

Jychondria was standing behind his father and stepped forward, saying: “Lord Lyonell – I’ve heard a lot about you from Father and the men. I am pleased to meet you; finally, sir, and I understand you and I will be attending the same school in Arconia. Perhaps we can be friends, sir?”

“Of course, we can, Jychondria. Whatever your Father and the other men remember about me, I’m still a little boy like you and need to go to school. Your father will have a hand in raising me, as well. I understand you have a new little daughter, Lady Julia; may I see her?” Lyonell smiled at Lady Julia who was staring at the young Feline with great curiosity, realizing this young person was the reincarnation of her mate’s former mentor and long ago, his beloved Father.

Yes, sir,” replied Julia.

Let me, my dear,” insisted Raphael, taking his daughter from Julia’s arms, and walking over to Lyonell. “This is Arianna, another Ashkerian who has decided to make the Pleiades her new home. She was my elder sister just as Jychondria was my elder brother on Sirust. Lord Chananda was our Father there.”

Lyonell glanced at the little girl in Raphael’s arms but gazed long into his old friend’s blue-green eyes and simply said: “I missed all of you and now I’m back. Thank you for agreeing to be my foster father, Raphael – it’s your turn now!”

Raphael laughed, “That’s what Jychondria told me when he arrived – it’s now your turn, Raphael to be the father.”

“And it looks like you’ve done a wonderful job with your son, Jychondria, and now a beautiful daughter. I’m proud of you, my old friend… my son.” Lyonell turned away as tears glistened in his great black-lined golden eyes. “And there you are, Lantrill, my son, and Sukio, my nephew – I see you all found each other, once again. And the outpost, Raphael; what of it?”

“Yes, Lyonell – we found the outpost several years ago and now it is the base of operations for our Starship Project. The shipbuilding yard at Elexa is already building our first Starfighter models and has started on our

second version of a fighter, like the Saber in size. We’re starting small and will work up gradually into more complex models. We’ve already been successful in creating a fully sentient ship. One of the Daughters of the Crystal Heart Chakra of this planet was responsible for accomplishing that singular feat, which has now been duplicated in the models built since. The crystals can speak to each other and to share information – but as a Feline, you already know that” said Raphael, with a smile.

Lyonell nodded, “Yes, Raphael – I do. Before I left home, I had some long chats with my great uncle Lord Edrus. He told me about the time he met you after your brief conversation via comm when you had just discovered the outpost. He related his visit soon after your transformation and how evident it was to him, at least, that you should oversee the outpost,” replied Lyonell. “It was, after all, your project, Raphael, from the very beginning… so it was only fitting that you would be the one to rediscover it. Congratulations!”

Lantrill stood up from the table and went over to young Lyonell, taking the boy by the shoulders, he said: “Father… nephew… it is so good to see you among us, again. We’ve all missed you. The Golden Lion was never the same after your death, sir!”

“Well, there is obviously a lot to catch up since I’ve been gone and here again…” replied Lyonell with a toothy grin, reminding Raphael of his old self, the tall Leonine commander. “I’m glad to be here with you all. As much as I love my Father, he can really be quite stuffy – begging your pardon, Lord VaCoupe. I would rather be with some of my former crew as obviously I can’t have my old ship back now. Who is now in command of her?”

“Head Commander Char’las has that honor – after Esturias VaCoupe commanded her for seven years, sir,” replied Line Commander Bakken.

Esturias VaCoupe? Your eldest son, Lord VaCoupe?” inquired Lyonell.

Raphael interrupted and replied, “Yes, yes… my adopted brother, Esturias VaCoupe, who is now serving under your uncle Top Commander Leo Adrigus, sir.”

“Ah – there’s a story there, I’m sure, but perhaps now is not the time or place to discuss such matters,” said Lyonell as he looked around, noting the discomfort on several faces, especially that of Lord VaCoupe. He cocked his head in response to some noise coming from the house: “Ah, is that a woman crying out? Is someone in the house, Raphael?”

The slam of a door and the rush of feet announced the coming of Frida as she called out: “Lady Anna – Lady Astrig’s water has broken. Her baby is coming!”

“Excellent timing…” murmured Lord VaCoupe, “Roméo, would you like another glass of wine while you wait for your daughter to be born?”

“Lyonell, why don’t you have a seat and take something to eat?” suggested Aiden, always the generous host.

Young Lyonell gave everyone present a golden glance, recording the various facial expressions, including the one of relief on Raphael’s face. While a boy in age in this incarnation, it was an old soul who now wore his tawny hide once again. Lyonell was determined to grill his former aide and now foster father on what events had befallen The Golden Lion and the young line commander after his death over a decade ago. He gave Raphael a toothy and knowing grin; he had, after all, the patience of a feline. He could wait and choose his moment to get to the truth of the matter.

Lyonell sat down beside his new foster brother, Jychondria. The boys were close in their ages, Jychondria being only a few months older. Both would be starting at the boarding school in Arconia, to begin their preparations for eventually entering the Command as engineers. The Pleiadian people valued an education for all their people, appropriate to the talents and skills everyone brought into their present incarnation. From the questions asked by Lyonell, it was apparent he had not lost any of his ability to read people and discern frequencies. Lord VaCoupe glanced from his adopted son to Lyonell, realizing that in this association he would probably be the loser, as Lord Lyonell had always been Raphael’s primary mentor since he had attained adulthood. He was just grateful to have another grandchild delivered safely… and another one about to be delivered if the sounds emerging from the house, were any indication. And he had the company of Lady Anna to console him and to bring harmony to what was left of his family after the unfortunate demise of Reynar now five years ago.

Most of the men returned to Raphael’s house, but Julia, Lady Anna, and the two healing priestesses remained to keep watch over Astrig as her labor progressed slowly. Raphael, Lord VaCoupe, and Roméo remained outside enjoying the cool night air, holding vigil, although Roméo was seen to wince occasionally, when his mate cried out. While the birthing of babies wasn’t particularly difficult for most Pleiadian women, Lady Astrig was perhaps a little more narrow-hipped than many, so she was having some difficulties.

It was finally the middle of the night when Lady Astrig was finally successfully delivered of a fine dark-haired baby girl. When Roméo saw his daughter, he remarked, “What extraordinary hair! It’s as dark as mine, but curly!”

When her new uncle Raphael had a chance to look the new baby over, he remarked: “Does curly hair run in your family, Roméo?”

Lord VaCoupe spoke up, “My first mate, Serena, had curly white blonde hair. It was always going into ringlets when damp, much like yours used to, Raphael. Roméo, it looks like your little Sabina has chosen to look both like her grandmother and her father with her choice of hair. Congratulations, my boy! Lady Anna – now we have three beautiful grandchildren and all girls!”

Lady Julia replied quietly, “And no future candidates for the Command in this lot, my lord father!”

Lord VaCoupe looked at his daughter-in-law a bit sharply, “Not now, at least, daughter Julia. However, if the wars persist, who knows?”

Raphael frowned at his father’s comment and stood up a little abruptly, “It’s late; we need to get Jychondria and Lyonell to bed. I want to give Lyonell a tour of the outpost tomorrow but need some sleep right now. Julia, Adario…?”

 The next day, Raphael personally took young Lyonell and his uncle, Master Edar, on a tour of the outpost, visiting the command center, the first tower, the various hangars, and King Lyonille’s tomb. Raphael promised to take Lyonell out on The Golden Cat someday when the boy returned home between classes. Then he looked at Master Edar, who was grinning as he read his friend’s mind, and said: “Good Heavens, Lyonell, I’ll personally deliver you and Jychondria to Arconia and fly The Golden Cat to get there!”

Lyonell regarded his old friend with a twinkle in his golden eyes, “Ah, there is still a bit of the impetuosity of Lord Delos in there, after all, my lord!”

“Indeed!” said Master Edar, laughing. “That trait occasionally manifests in Lord Raphael now and again, especially when it has to do with flying his golden ships!”

“You always loved to fly when you were Rigo, but you were hesitant to leave this little planet and jump back into space for unknown territory,” replied Lyonell as he strolled around the tower command room. “This is where you first spoke to Lord Edrus and my father?”

“Yes, sir; apparently I was in a trance, which Edrus assisted in breaking,” explained Raphael. “I was rather confused on how I arrived in this room as my consciousness had been taken over temporarily by Rigo. Your father, Lord Hilarus, was furious to see me, a blonde Pleiadian in the comm screen, speaking in a Feline dialect and talking about a mythical figure in your collective history! Only I wasn’t mythical…”

“That must have been disconcerting for all your companions, your brother Esturias, Commander Monteras, Lantrill, and the Eagles?” remarked Lyonell as he leaned out one of the windows to view the other towers looming above the green flower-studded turf. He swung around and suddenly confronted Raphael: “What happened after my death on the shuttle, Raphael?”

Raphael’s face paled as he glanced over at Master Edar. He replied slowly, “Your death and that of Commander Ryland were a huge shock for everyone. There was also the problem of the failure of Intership communications

which we later discovered was caused by the introduction of enemy satellites into our star federation space, blocking communications except for telepathy. Since Commander Esturias was the Head Commander of the battleship fleet that had arrived to rescue The Golden Lion, the fleet commanders felt they had the authority to elect a new top commander of the mothership against all protocol and tradition. They chose Esturias VaCoupe, instead of one of the seasoned Head Commanders on The Lion. Unfortunately for Esturias, he hadn’t trained on a mothership in an awfully long time and was quickly overwhelmed by his new duties. As I had been previously stationed on the Lion, I was returned to the Line Communications department, this time under the command of 2nd Level Line Communications Commander Hercule Kadish…”

Lyonell made a face, wrinkling his long nose in distaste at the mention of the man’s name and remarked: “I remember Hercule; he was always complaining that I protected you unfairly. He patently did not understand or appreciate your extremely sensitive psychic gifts, not being a commander with much imagination and holding a lot of spite against those who didn’t fit his tight little box of reality, including me.”

“Well, you can imagine, sir, what it was like for me to be pushed into that scenario without your presence to protect me,” sighed Raphael. He continued: “Hercule went out of his way to block my reports from ever getting to even the Operation Commanders, much less the Top Commander. Commander Kadish railed against just about everything I managed to accomplish, including training several brand-new Feline line technicians on the job. And then, three months into my being stationed on the Lion, an arrest warrant showed up with my name on it; Esturias summarily had me arrested and extracted from the Lion and sent on a fighter to Alyona, where I was immediately tried, stripped of my commission, and placed into protective custody under my foster father, Lord VaCoupe.”

“Ouch, my lord – that must have brought up your post-traumatic stress syndrome for you, once again, being treated in that manner!” exclaimed Lyonell, as he made a fist. He glanced over at Master Edar who had made a noise. “Uncle, do you have a comment to make?”

“Yes, nephew – I was there in Alyona, when Raphael arrived and was placed under protective custody,” replied Master Edar. “The arrest warrant was a front to remove Raphael from The Golden Lion and bring him to Alyona so he could make system-wide scans to determine what was preventing Intership communications. Lord VaCoupe and his son hoped by doing so, they would free Raphael of the impediments of ship politics and protocols. What they didn’t take in account was the extreme sensitivity of the young man, who didn’t react too well to having what he viewed his entire career in the Command being torn to shreds due to the way he was removed from the Golden Lion. Raphael suffered some profound health issues because of this unduly harsh treatment. However, this intelligent young man eventually overcame his physical and emotional issues and went on to teach six of us, all instructors from the Medinian University Ship, on how to perform scans on all the planets, using his own methods. This new team finished its goal within two months and Commander Raphael was reinstated but remained in Alyona for another six years while creating a new Alyona Line Communications Center with the help of his old superior officer, Commander Charles Lo’Telle.”

Lyonell looked at his old companion and former aide and sighed, “Well, it looks like you were put through the wringer after my death, Lord Raphael. What happened to Esturias? You mentioned he is currently stationed on The Golden Dolphin under the command of my former brother, Top Commander Adrigus?”

“Ah…well, sir, when I next encountered my brother, Esturias, some seven years later, at the family home in Medina, it became apparent to several of us present that the commander was not entirely successful in running The Golden Lion. Esturias was suffering from depression, anxiety, as well as being slightly suicidal – enough that he took out a fighter and directly engaged the enemy, sir!” replied Raphael.

Hmmm, shades of Lord Delos, only he didn’t die, did he?” Raphael shook his head and leaned against the control console, “No sir; he was only wounded, but the damage was bad enough that Master Teu sent him home to Medina to heal. The Veyan healer had a legitimate concern about the frame of mind of his commander. In the end, Lord VaCoupe, after consulting with several of the men there present, made the decision to have Esturias transferred to The Golden Dolphin and broken in rank to Specialty Commander Engineering. That was over five years ago. Now, if I recollect what Father shared with me

recently, Esturias has been promoted to 2nd Level Commander Engineering, although he also spends time in other departments to thoroughly learn their procedures and protocols. Lord VaCoupe is determined his eldest son will be fit to run the Fleet after he himself retires – although that doesn’t appear to be coming soon.”

“Very interesting – you haven’t had an easy time of it, have you, my lord?” inquired young Lyonell studying his tall companion with a shrewd eye.

No, I haven’t, sir. I have done better since being in Jolf and working on this project, plus having my Julia and Jychondria with me. My health is certainly better now than it was on board the ships,” replied Raphael.

What ships did you serve on, my lord?”

“Just the Golden Lion under you and Esturias; and then for three months on The Golden Bee under Esturias. The rest of the time, I’ve served in the Command on shore… first in Alyona, briefly on the University Ship, and now here, sir,” replied Raphael. “Of all the work I’ve done, I am the most-proud of what my teams have accomplished here and in Elexa on our beautiful new ships – thanks to you, Father, and the golden ships, plans, and equipment we left behind so long ago.”

“Well, I’m not your Father now, my lord, and not likely to be again, but when I finally get certified as an engineer, I will be able to assist your team in making more beautiful ships,” promised young Lyonell, reaching out to shake the hand of his new foster father. His lips curled up in a wry smile, “We do have an odd relationship, don’t we, Lord Raphael?”

Raphael smiled and shook his former mentor’s hand, which was much smaller than Commander Lyonell’s had been, yet this latest version was still young and apt to grow quite a bit in the years to come. “Indeed, we have, Master Lyonell, but one I cherish with all my heart. I am so pleased you insisted to become my foster son – rather against tradition, but you were always moving through obstacles like they weren’t there. I know Lantrill, Sukio, and Master Edar here, are certainly happy to have you among us once again. Perhaps we can even get Commander Strom to make a rare visit to Medina to meet you. I know he would be thrilled, sir.”

Lyonell looked thoughtful for a moment and then replied, “I would love to meet Strom, again, if he ever manages to get home for leave. As I remember, he is a native of this planet, Medina?”

“Yes, sir; he is a native of Doven on Elexa, so I may even run into him when in Elexa spaceport for meetings with the shipbuilders,” said Raphael.

Well, thank you for filling me in somewhat on what happened after my death. I know Lantrill and Sukio could offer me their own perspectives on the matter,” said Lyonell. “Did Lantrill continue to serve on The Golden Lion after you were removed from the ship, my lord?”

“Yes, sir – in fact, after I was removed from the Golden Lion, I didn’t see Lantrill until the time when Esturias was sent home with his wounds,” replied Raphael. “Lantrill accompanied Esturias on the visit, which ended up being a lengthy visit during our Howling season. When Lantrill discovered Esturias would not be returning to the Lion, he requested that he be allowed to remain with me – and has, now, been here in Jolf since we made our first discovery of a golden ship and flew it to Elexa!”

“How did Esturias feel about that?” queried Lyonell, curious about Raphael’s elder brother whom he had never met.

Raphael grinned, “Esturias was aware of the affection that existed between Lantrill and me, sir – after all we two had had a special bond ever since he saved my life as a young teenager. And my cousin, Monteras, was glad to have another commander to talk to besides me, sir!”

“Ha! I bet he was! Monteras has been a good and loyal friend to you for a long time, my lord,” said Lyonell. “You’re a fortunate man to have such loyal friends. I can see the Eagles are also closely bonded to both you and your family.”

“Yes, sir – sometimes my mate, Julia, wonders if Jychondria will choose to be an Eagle when he reaches his majority rather than an engineer,” replied Raphael with a smile. “After all, the Eagles have always been a part of his young life. Going to school will be the first time he will be without any of them around. We thought it would be best to go without a bodyguard initially. If things change, we can always send a couple of the Eagles from the University Ship to watch over my son and you, sir.”

“Yes – I imagine the news that I’m reborn will begin to get around. If I were you, my lord, you might check periodically on the frequencies in and around Arconia to see if things are clear? If not, send help at once,” chuckled Lyonell, more than half-seriously.

Raphael nodded… “Fortunately for Jychondria, he is not well known by the enemy forces here. And it was an awfully long time ago when he served in the Ashkerian forces. Unless they are aware that he is my son, he should come to no harm in Arconia.”

“Well, my lord – shall we visit another area of the outpost? I would think your Eagles are wondering what is keeping you up in this tower.”

Raphael smiled and replied, “There is one more room I wish to show you today, sir. Follow me!” As he swiped his hand across the control console, the holograms disappeared. Then he grinned at Master Edar who knew his intent and bounded down one floor to the third level. He waited until Lyonell, and the dignified master had made their way down the steps and then waved the door open, “Lord Lyonell… here is a painting made of your incarnation as King Lyonille long ago… and here is a video showing you and your sons as we all looked in those days.”

The young Lyonell studied the beautiful painting of his ancient incarnation with great interest, as he did the video showing him and his adult sons. At length, he gave Raphael another toothy grin, “I will have to remember that Esturias was my youngest son, Adrigus. It must feel somewhat ironic to him now that he is currently serving and being mentored by a namesake.”

“Yes, I’m sure it is… at least somewhat. The last time I spoke at length with him was five years ago – I haven’t returned to Medina since the incident involving my third adopted brother, Reynar. Father is always reminding me that home is in Medina, not in Jolf – but I now prefer Jolf with its milder climate and lovely gardens. So, Father makes a point to stop through here periodically with Lady Anna to check on my family and to see how the project is coming along. We really don’t see each other very often these days…”

“Who is Reynar?” inquired Lyonell, noting the discomfort in Raphael’s face at the mere mention of the man’s name.

Was… who was Reynar; he’s dead now, nephew,” replied Master Edar. “I happened to be there for part of the incident, when Raphael first met Reynar, his third adopted brother who was a priest serving out of the Temple of Groche on Maia. Reynar seldom came home but did so out of respect for his father and Lady Anna who were mated during that visit. However, after the happy couple left for their honeymoon, things began to go awry for Raphael and Reynar. You’ve witnessed yourself, Lyonell, Raphael’s intense sensitivities to the frequencies of our enemies?”

Lyonell looked surprised and replied, “Yes, quite often if there were enemy ships in the vicinity. The boy often came out of his visions looking very pale and exhausted. What was it about Reynar that set off Raphael’s early warning system?”

Raphael studied the floor for a long moment and then replied slowly, “Sir, apparently when Reynar and I met, it was my frequency that triggered an ancient implant within his light body, placed there thousands of years before by his own father – long before we all entered this quadrant. And just days later, by the time Reynar was scanned by the authorities in Maia, it was found to have penetrated too far into his nervous system and heart to be safely removed. It was then determined he would have to be executed or he would become an enemy agent in our midst with classified information about Lord VaCoupe’s family and this project. He was killed… and then Lord

Raimundo and I had to explain to Father what had happened while he was away enjoying his honeymoon. I have not felt safe in that old house since that time…”

Lyonell looked at Raphael with compassion and stated: “He was one of your relatives before, wasn’t he, Reynar?”

“Yes, Lyonell – he was my nephew and became a part of my elder brother’s army, part of which attacked my home and killed me and all of my relatives who were there celebrating my birthday,” replied Raphael in a somber tone.

Which event was the motivating factor for you wishing to be born into our Feline race?”

“Yes, Lyonell – the primary reason; I wanted to do what I could to prevent that kind of event from ever happening again to those I love,” replied Raphael. “I haven’t been too successful in my prevention efforts – since I have witnessed two sets of my own parents destroyed in front of me… and have died a few times myself at the hands of the enemy forces.”

“Which is part of the reason I returned so early although the stay in the Houses of Healing was pleasant; still, it was time to be reborn,” replied Lyonell with a grin, knowing Raphael would remember the dream-like existence of any time spent there.

Shall we visit your old tomb, Lyonell, or have you had enough for today?” replied Raphael.

Lyonell looked around once more at the painting of his old identity and nodded, “Yes, let us depart. I wouldn’t mind reviewing some of the blueprints of the ships your teams in Elexa are currently building. Could we visit there and see your first sentient model? This is quite exciting, foster father! I can hardly wait to grow up now!”

A few days later, Raphael packed the two excited youngsters into The Golden Cat, along with Master Edar, who would then be taking an escorted shuttle from Arconia back to the University Ship. Lady Julia voted to remain in Jolf as her daughter was too young to travel yet, so she said her farewells to her son before the party left Jolf on one of the little golden ships. She was sad for her son to leave but understood this was a big step for Jychondria and his future. He would be visiting in a couple of months if he successfully passed his first class in mathematics. Jychondria promised to write her letters via comm, which she could pick up from Lord Mathdis. She was glad to have another child to occupy the empty space left in her life with Jychondria’s departure. She knew she was fortunate to have Raphael working near at hand for as a member of the Command, he could have been stationed anywhere within the vast reaches of Pleiadian territory. It still hurt her heart to see her firstborn leave her behind, taking his first significant step towards becoming an adult.

As the golden ship landed at the Arconian spaceport, it drew some attention due to its unique configuration and coloring. Raphael decided to activate the defense shield that disallowed anyone but him from approaching the ship. He, Master Edar, and his Eagle escort were going to stay overnight to visit with a few of his old instructors at the University he had attended so long ago. And he wanted to see his two charges, Jychondria and Lyonell, settled into their new quarters.

Master Edar accompanied Raphael to the college that the young commander had attended long ago. Looking around, Raphael felt odd; everything looked so small. He looked around at the students – they all looked so young. He wasn’t that old, just in his early forties, but looking around he felt much, much older. He turned to his old friend, “Master Edar – how do you feel teaching these youngsters? Some of them look barely older than Jychondria. I can hardly imagine that I was a student here once.”

“Ah, Raphael – you feel the passage of years now? A son finally going off to school and a new daughter just arrived. It is good for both you and Julia to have another little one on which to focus your attention while Jychondria is away at school. I promise you the time will go by quickly. As for feeling old – now you can understand how Lyonell felt when he first encountered you as a teenager. However, Lord Lyonell was then over seven hundred years old. It is good to see my brother returned so quickly. He has such a strong dedication to see the Pleiadian people are kept free, as do you. You will make a talented team when he finally grows into manhood. Both of your sons, foster and blood, will then make wonderful additions to your growing family company. I hope Lord VaCoupe appreciates the efforts you are making on the part of the family and the Pleiadian people.”

Raphael sighed, “My father and I still don’t always see eye to eye on everything. I know he would rather I lived in Medina, but both Julia and I now prefer Jolf as our home, especially since I met Reynar. I know it sounds funny, but I no longer feel safe at home in Medina. Hopefully, for Father’s sake, I will eventually get over this feeling, but right now I need to pay attention to it. I get these feelings for a reason. It may be that Reynar was able to connect with individuals aligned with enemy forces who may be planning an attack against Medina or even Jolf. I don’t know. I just know my senses are at high alert now, especially as the word gets out about our ships being developed in Elexa. For that reason, I keep a couple of Eagles stationed at the house, so Julia and little Arianna can be transported to the outpost quickly in case of an attack. The outpost is equipped to handle anything the enemy might send it. I hope I’m just being a little paranoid…”

Master Edar regarded his young friend with some alarm, “Do you really think an attack is imminent on Medina, my lord?”

“I hope not, Master Edar,” replied Raphael soberly. “It is a high frequency planet, so the likelihood of that happening is low, but still… I guess the added responsibility of a little girl on top of everything else makes me a little nervous. Perhaps it is just a reflection of some unresolved issues that Lord Delos had… he died before his third child, a girl, was born.”

“Well, if you need any counseling, be sure to visit some of the healing priestesses in Jolf. They were all trained by your mother, Lady Anna. And while you’re at it, find a mate for Master Adario! He is looking lonely these days. And where has Tazo been? I didn’t see much of him while I was in Jolf,” inquired Master Edar.

“Oh, Tazo was visiting the Elexa shipyards to view our latest models as they are being assembled. Masters Beteros and Pelleur are also there monitoring the growth of the latest crystals to be placed within the new ships. I’m going to pick Tazo up when I return from Arconia. I also wanted to stop by to visit Commander Strabo, who is spending more time in Elexa than the outpost these days now that the place is setup and running smoothly,” replied Raphael. “After I knew the Commander quite a while, he finally confessed it was Myka Strom who suggested Lord VaCoupe contact him to jump-start the project. They all knew I was struggling even just to make a tour through the place. I have changed quite a bit since I was Delos and more so since I was King Rigo. I don’t think I will want to challenge myself quite as much with this kind of project during my next incarnation, which is hopefully a long way off.”

“I should hope so, Raphael; you are still a youngster in my mind. Remember, I’m Lord Lyonell’s brother. I am over seven hundred years old, too, but still feeling well and strong. Instructing youngsters isn’t as energy-draining as running a complex mothership, let alone an entire fleet like your father does. I hope Lady Anna is monitoring his health and well-being closely,” said Master Edar.

To the best of my knowledge, Lady Anna is doing a superb job as being the mate to the busy Lord VaCoupe. She even attends most of the High Council meetings. She didn’t attend the latest two sessions due to all the births in our family and that of Lord Mathdis. Now, Father has four grandchildren to brag about when he visits Alyona,” replied Raphael.

Master Edar and Raphael said their good-byes the next day. The Feline master promised to bring the boys, Salaniel, Falonus, Alphar and Ramanda-Delos to Jolf on his next visit. He would also gather up the two younger boys, Jychondria and Lyonell from Arconia. It would be the second meeting of the two cousins, Falonus and Lyonell. The eldest cousin, Falonus, had not met his uncle Lord Lyonell until he met him briefly on board the University Ship, but had heard many tales about the great man over the years as he grew up at home and later attended school.

Just as Raphael and his Eagle escort were boarding The Golden Cat, Raphael was struck by one of his periodic visions: There was a threat in Medina against Lord VaCoupe, the disgraced former commander Hercule Kadish would make an assassination attempt…Eagle Paul noted the glazed eyes and whispered to the rest of the men present, “Lord Raphael is having one of his visions. This can’t be good!”

Carefully the big Eagle shook Raphael’s shoulder, “My lord, what is a matter – what are you seeing?”

Aghast, with tears in his eyes, Raphael glanced up towards the Eagle and grabbed his cloak, “Get me to a comm, Paul – there is going to be an assassination attempt on Lord VaCoupe in Medina!”

Astonished, Paul stared at Raphael for a moment and then his adrenaline kicked in… he shouted, “Men, help me get Lord Raphael to the port authority here – Lord VaCoupe is in imminent danger – not this one; his father!”

With his men supporting him, Raphael managed to stumble into the surprised commander’s office. The man’s assistant protested, “This is for Command personnel only!”

“What do you think Lord Raphael is? Move aside, he needs to get to a comm!” Paul and Leo Vayin shouldered their way into the office and set Raphael down at one of the comms. Raphael punched in his private code and succeeded in getting Lord VaCoupe on the screen.

His father stared at Raphael with some confusion, “What is it, Raphael? I can see you’re not in Jolf. Where are you and why are you calling?”

Raphael wiped his brow and looked down at the keyboard, “Father – I just had another vision. There is going to be an assassination attempt on your life in Medina. It is Hercule Kadish. You need to order some guards to take up position around the house and gardens. I’m too far away to help you, other than to warn you. Call in the Command guards who are at the spaceport; get them there immediately and don’t leave the grounds without protection! You know my visions are true; trust me, Father! I’ve had a bad feeling for more than a day now!”

Lord VaCoupe repeated his question: “Where are you, Raphael? I can see Paul and Vayin standing behind you…”

“I’m in Arconia and was just about ready to take off to fly to Elexa when the vision hit. Paul and Vayin had to assist me to get here at the command center. We disturbed the local commander by barging into his office without leave!”

“Okay, son, I will notify the spaceport here and have some of their guards reassigned to protect me during this… crisis,” replied Lord VaCoupe. “I’ve never required a guard in my own town, Raphael.”

“I understand, Father… but I’ve had to live surrounded by guards for most of my life. I will speak to Commander Monteras about having some Eagles reassigned to be your escorts. If I can get used to it, so can you, my lord,” replied Raphael. “Remember we are on a war status and the darkness has penetrated some of our worlds and people. According to his younger brother, ex-commander Hercule Kadish has always been a bully, but now he goes too far. He needs to be arrested, tried, and convicted – and have him scanned for AI. You might contact the Shekinah and advise her about the situation but go nowhere without an escort!”

Lord VaCoupe looked incredibly sad, but he nodded, replying: “I’ll do what you advise and have Raimundo contact the guards for me.” He looked at Raphael and said, “Thank you for warning me about this, Raphael. I know your visions are true; that has been proven many times over; I’m just sad that we must exercise such precautions at home. Now… you are going to Elexa to speak to Commander Strabo?”

“Yes, Father, and to pick up Commanders Tazo and Monteras, who have been visiting the shipbuilding yards to oversee the progress being made on our newest models. Monteras and I can contact the University Ship so they can ship some Eagles over to Medina quickly to take over from the spaceport guards,” said Raphael.

Lord VaCoupe nodded again, and said, “Lady Anna just stepped in here. Do you wish to speak to her about this… situation?”

“No, sir – I feel a need to get on my way and make contact with Commander Strabo in Elexa, as well as Tazo and Tomás,” replied Raphael, glancing up at the astonished spaceport commander who was listening in on the conversation.  “I’ll be in touch, Father. Stay safe… for the sake of our family and people!”

Raphael abruptly stood up and stretched. Turning to the spaceport commander he said, “I’m sorry, sir, but we have a family emergency.”

“Who are you?” gasped the commander.

Eagle Paul stepped up behind Raphael and spoke first, “This is Lord Kantor-VaCoupe, sir. Thank you for the use of your comm. I believe we will now be departing shortly for Elexa.” Then the big Eagle guided the still shaken Raphael to the door and to The Golden Cat, leaving behind an incredulous commander scratching his head.

Raphael sat at the controls of the Cat for a while before he felt calm enough to attempt to fly the ship. He sighed and called out to his men: “I just hope Father follows my advice. He can be just as stubborn as me or Esturias!”

“Yes, sir – are you alright now, my lord?” inquired Gareth, concerned about Raphael’s well-being, as well as that of Lord VaCoupe.

Raphael took a deep breath, tuned inward for a moment, and then nodded his head in reply, “Yes, he is following through… now, hang on, men! This is going to be a quick flight to Elexa!”

The spaceport commander stood next to his assistant outside his office, watching as the golden ship levitated above the field and then streaked off to the south. “So that was Lord Kantor-VaCoupe?  I’ve heard things about him for years; never thought I would meet him in person. That is a gorgeous little ship of his…”

© All Rights Reserved, Eliza Ayres, videos and recordings of this material is not permitted, http://www.bluedragonjournal.com and https://sunnysjournal.com

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