BOOK THREE: CHAPTER 21 – Master Zang of Vey

CHAPTER 21: Master Zang of Vey


Raphael and Francis walked in tandem behind their slender dark-haired guide, the servant MeMe.  Raphael noted, that although MeMe was called a servant, he was attired in a fine dark blue silk tunic that draped to just below his knees over pale blue-colored silk pants.  The servant’s hair was cropped in the characteristic short bob worn by male Veyans, swaying as the man walked gracefully along the passage way. 

This time, the visitors were led through the massive structure of the royal house, an ancient pile built of large grayish stones, with huge timbers holding up the heavy tiled roofs, with deeply set windows covered with filigreed metallic or wood lattices. Large red pots were spaced out along the passage, some with tropical plants spilling over the edges. Periodically, niches were filled with small statues of ancient Veyans, male and female. Eventually, the party reached a series of large rooms, separated by tall wooden and reed screens to promote privacy, but which could be moved or slid open to allow passage. The visitor’s footsteps clattered on the immaculate tiled floors decorated with fantastical and somewhat whimsical designs with plants, flowers, animals, birds, and exceptionally large butterflies.

MeMe paused before one of the large intricate screens. The doorway was guarded by two small warriors dressed in intricate tunics, crossed, and re-crossed over their chests, armed with knives and swords. Their tunics were closely belted. Although small in stature, the lightly framed warriors stood at attention as the visitors approached, then bowed deeply in tandem as MeMe paused, again, just before the warriors. Two pairs of deep brown eyes regarded the visitors with stoic detachment.

MeMe explained briefly that the warriors were members of the traditional guard for the Lord of Vey, a tradition carried on from time immemorial. He smiled briefly glancing back at the tall Eagles and Feline Commanders who were easily nearly twice the height of the Veyan warriors and said, “These warriors are skilled in the control of their mental powers and can each lift more than 4,000 lbs. of weight without breaking into a sweat. My lord Raphael… I assure you and your party that these warriors mean you no harm. Although as trained and highly skilled these warriors are, their positions are largely ceremonial in these times.”

Raphael’s eyes widened slightly when he discerned MeMe’s emphasis on “largely ceremonial” and understood that during the wars there may have arisen certain instances when the presence of the warriors and their skills had been required to assure the protection of the lord and his family.

Upon going through the last screened entrance, the great hall opened into an audience room. Inside, there was a scattering of Veyans, including the Masters Tzulo, who were standing alongside the great teacher and healer, Lord Zang. Raphael noted there were no females present. Perhaps they were to meet some of the ladies later at the dinner of which Master AnMei Shen had mentioned earlier.

Then, Raphael felt his state of consciousness, if not his health, was being evaluated as he and his party approached the Masters Tzulo and Lord Zang. Behind them, there was a low wooden dais with a simple bench made of woven timber bamboo, a plant that thrived in the local forests. Sitting upon the bench was another slender, dark-haired Veyan male, one of singularly powerful presence, who was regarding the approach of his party with great interest, studying all the members, but himself, Raphael, most particularly. Raphael wondered at this… yes, he was a representative of the regent, but Master Francis as the future heir and more important in his own eyes. 

This lord of Vey was slightly built, even shorter in height than Master Li Tzulo, who stood five and a half feet in his stocking feet. Yet, the man had a presence that would give an observer the impression of great height and power. As Raphael approached the dais, he gave a deep, highly respectful bow to Lord Teu Li Zing and waited to be addressed. 

The lord of Vey smiled and nodded in Raphael’s direction while calling out to Master Li Tzulo, “It would seem these tall warriors have learned manners from their mothers. Master Li, please tell me which of our visitors is Lord Raphael?”

Master Li gave his lord a slight bow and approached the dais, indicating the waiting Raphael with a wave of his hand, “My lord, may I introduce to you, Lord Raphael Kantor-VaCoupe, brother to Claudine, our Regent. Lord Raphael also holds commander rank with the Fleet, although he serves out of Alyona.”

Standing as he was on the floor, Raphael still towered above the lord of Vey, but he knew better to under-estimate the mental prowess of the Veyan lord. For his part, Lord Zing quietly regarded the light complexion of Lord Raphael, with his nearly white hair and large blue green eyes. The lord smiled once more and remarked lightly, “My lord Raphael; I sense you were not born as you appear now standing before us?”

Raphael nodded, “Yes, my lord; years ago, I underwent a form of metamorphosis which resulted outwardly in these changes you now see in my appearance. I was born with darker golden tanned skin, blue eyes, and thick curly golden hair.”

“How extraordinary, Lord Raphael,” commented the Veyan lord. “I also sense the presence of a powerful gem on your person. May we see it?”

Somewhat reluctantly Raphael pulled out the great Feline crystal from beneath his uniform. He always wore the gem these days as the great jewel, and he had evolved together a symbiotic union of consciousness. As he dangled the crystal below its intricate and very ancient golden chain, Raphael displayed the gem to the lord of Vey, explaining, “My lord, I have been told that this gem came from another quadrant, a place of mystique and myth to our worlds today.”

Lord Zing examined the jewel as Raphael held it aloft but did not attempt to handle it. Perhaps he realized that it was a jewel that should not be handled by many hands, only those with whom it had a conscious relationship. After a few minutes of quiet but intense examination, Lord Zing finally remarked, “Thank you for showing us this… jewel. We sense that you have worked together in the recent past, my lord?”

Raphael nodded, “Yes, my lord; both of our services have been put to use on other worlds, especially for the detection of enemy devices and their removal from persons victimized by enemy agents or soldiers.”

“You will have no need to put your crystal to such a use here on Vey, my lord,” replied Lord Zing. “We have healers a plenty among our people if ever such a thing would happen to one of us. The enemy did attempt to penetrate our defenses during the wars, but I can assure you that their efforts were for naught. Our mental powers and collective higher frequency resonance thwarted all attempts to push an invasion into our lands despite the temptation of the gold and diamond mines that exist here on this world. Instead, Lord Raphael, we encourage you and your men to explore our beautiful city and world. We are immensely proud of the achievements of our people and are eager to assist in the healing of the other worlds. Master Leu and Master Li have told us that the Lord of Krey wishes to utilize the services of some of our healers, for that world was, unfortunately, penetrated to some degree by enemy agents. Master Leu has informed us of your part in helping to aid Lord Kreyesh in being restored to health after the successful removal of an inert implant from within his physical body. It would appear, Lord Raphael, although you are not a healer in this life, you have already played a considerable role in aiding our worlds in returning into balance. We thank you for your efforts and bid you welcome to Vey.”

Raphael bowed respectfully and replied, “Thank you, Lord Zing. It is a relief to both me and my companions that we need not look to anything being out of alignment here on Vey. As Master Leu may have shared with you already, I have been suffering previously from a certain nervous condition, my lord. He has suggested that while on Vey I enlist the services of your exemplary healer, Lord Zang.”

Lord Zing signed for the master healer to step forward. Lord Zang approached and gave the lord a reverent bow, and said, “My lord?”

“Lord Zang, does your schedule allow you time to work with Lord Raphael while he and his companions are visiting our world? How much time do you feel you would need to allocate to heal Lord Raphael of his apparent affliction?” As Lord Zing was addressing his master healer, he was studying Raphael’s quiet presence as he stood before the dais. 

Lord Zang regarded the tall blonde commander and lord for a moment and then replied, “My lord, I will better be able to answer your inquiry if I first perform a proper evaluation of Lord Raphael in private. This is neither the time or the place to do such a thing. I am sure the lord would prefer not to have his past laid out for all to view – something I sense which has occurred far too often in the past.”

“Well, then, Lord Zang – if Lord Raphael will give you permission, you may perform a proper and private evaluation on him on the morrow,” said Lord Zing, firmly. “And now, Lord Raphael, could you introduce me to the rest of your extraordinary companions?”

Obligingly, Raphael introduced his companions, from Francis and Salaniel, to the Commanders, and finally the Eagles and their Flight Commander Matteo. Each man stepped up, gave a bow as they were introduced, and then stepped back. Francis stood off to the side with Raphael as the rest of their companions were introduced.  Eventually, the final Eagle was introduced. Lord Zing then made a whimsical remark, “I understand your Feline Commanders and Eagles enjoy a spot of fish in their diets. We will be serving several kinds of fish at dinner. And now, Lord Raphael, since we have been formally introduced, allow me to leave this seat and join with you. I will take the time to introduce some of my companions and ministers. I understand you have already encountered my minister of education, Master AnMei Shen? Well, allow me to introduce these other gentlemen…”

For the next half hour or so, Raphael and his companions were introduced to several highly placed individuals who were presently serving in different capacities. The Lord of Vey made it clear that they did not serve him but the people of Vey. “Lord Raphael, we regard the education and proper upbringing of our young people as the highest service possible for a parent and teacher. I have heard stories of your own manner of raising your children – you have several, don’t you, my lord?”

“Yes, my lord Zing; I have four sons and two daughters. My youngest son is nine months old. Before this tour, I left young Daniel in the care of his adopted great-uncle, Lord Raimundo, brother to my adopted father, Lord Demetrius VaCoupe. I hope to see him soon upon my return to my own home world after leaving Commander Adrigus and Commander Semmas off at Alyona,” replied Raphael with a slight nod. “Your kind Master Leu Tzulo has advised me that I will require a long rest after the strain of this tour and the loss of my dear mate, Lady Julia, some months before.”

“It sounds like you already have a large family, Lord Raphael – and from what Master Tzulo has shared, you and your mate also raised three foster children?” queried Lord Zing. 

That is so, Lord Zing. My first foster son was Prince Lyonell, the second son of King Hilarus of the Suriya System, and the reincarnation of my former mentor, Lord Lyonell. I hope to see him and my first son, Jychondria, when we make a short visit to their mothership, The Golden Falcon, which I understand, is still stationed in nearby space to this world,” explained Raphael. “Then, I and my mate also fostered Patrick and Robbina, the son and daughter of King Vanairus of BerWare. I am the adoptive uncle of both children through their mother, Claudine Vanairus, who is now Regent.”

“You are a kind-hearted man, Lord Raphael, and devoted to family. I understand from what I have been told that you will be undergoing yet a second mating  with a prominent lady of the House of Dino,” said Lord Zing.

That is so – within months I will again be mated, this time to Lady Lorenna Dino VaCoupe, the former mate of my adopted brother Esturias and the mother of the heir, Francis Dino VaCoupe. My protégé Francis is quite excited that I will soon be officially his stepfather. Over the past decade of my mentorship of Francis, we have become quite close,” replied Raphael.

Glancing briefly at his uncle, Francis stepped forward and bowed slightly, “My lord, I am, indeed, most pleased that my mother, Lady Lorenna and my uncle by adoption, Lord Raphael, are soon to be united. For the first time in my life, I and my siblings will have a father who has a true and tender heart, although he can be firm and demanding as required by the circumstances.”

Lord Zing smiled and replied, “I sense your deep love and appreciation for your mentor, Master Francis. Lord Demetrius VaCoupe chose well when he fostered and then adopted your uncle as a young man. His foresight has proven true. And I see that Lord Raphael will play still other roles in his future lifetimes to come…”

The conversation eventually strayed from personalized comments and sharings as Lord Zing inquired about some of the things the various members of the party had seen, encountered and/or experienced on the other worlds.

After about an hour, a gong was sounded, informing the persons present that dinner was about to be served. The gathering moved slowly into yet another large room, where some beautiful ladies were already seated, apparently waiting for the men to join them. Lord Zing briefly introduced his mate, Lady Tara, a beautiful petite lady with shiny long black hair which was piled upon her head in an intricate bun and crowned with a beautiful diamond tiara. The lady had a porcelain ivory-toned complexion, ruby lips, and great brown eyes flecked with gold. She was wearing an ankle-length pale pink silk gown that skimmed over her dainty figure, a modicum of jewelry including the wearing of dangling pearl earrings that accentuated her graceful neck. She presented Raphael with one of her tiny hands to be kissed. He graciously obliged the lady and briefly said, “I am honored that Lord Zing would introduce me to you, my lady!”

Lord Zing laughed and remarked, “I will tell you a secret, Lord Raphael; you have just met the true ruler of this world and my heart… my mate, Lady Tara!”

For once Raphael enjoyed a state dinner. While somewhat formal, the conversation and interactions were personal, polite, and provided Raphael with some unintentional intel on the state of the planet and its people. Yes, there had been some attempted incursions made to invade the world, but they had all been successfully repelled by the courageous Veyans, using a combination of their powerful mental powers and the conscious cooperation of their world’s elemental kingdoms.

Towards the end of the evening, after the company had left the dining table and were mingling casually, Raphael found himself in conversation with Lord Zang, the master teacher of healers. Raphael asked the master healer when he wanted to see him the next day.

Lord Zang regarded Raphael quietly for a long moment and then asked a question, “Do you consider yourself an early riser, Lord Raphael?”

“I am sometimes, although my companions will tell you that I can be a heavy sleeper. And I have often had to take naps during this trip as I seem to get easily exhausted, especially when exposed to the enemy frequencies or devices,” replied Raphael quietly, looking around to see if anyone was nearby who might hear him. And then he smiled, these Veyans were perfectly able to listen in if they wished due to their great mental powers, but were also very polite and unobtrusive by nature, respectful of each person’s sovereignty over his or her own consciousness.

Lord Zang said, “Well, then, my lord; say we meet mid-morning after you have had time to exercise and eat some breakfast. Our people grow nice fruit here. Master Leu told me that you are very fond of taking fruit in the morning.”“Yes, Lord Zang; I prefer to eat fruit most of the day, although slightly heavier foods are compatible with my system early in the evening,” replied Raphael.

Very well, I will see you in mid-morning. I will send MeMe to your quarters, and he can guide you to my healing room – which I still retain here in case one of the members of Lord Zing’s entourage or family have need of my services or that of one of my students,” said Lord Zang. “I am incredibly pleased to be of service to one who has performed great service for our people despite your young years. I will see you, then, in the morning.”

In the morning, a long stream of servants brought in more bowls of fruit, flagons of juice and pots of steaming green tea (a drink favored among the Veyans) and even some more lightly sautéed fish for the Feline members of the party. Commander Semmas lifted the lid off one of the stoneware pots containing the fish and gave the contents a delicate sniff of appreciation, remarking: “If I didn’t have a job to do elsewhere, I could almost be content to remain amongst these generous people. They are extraordinary cooks!”

“Well, you do have a job elsewhere, Semmas; perhaps we should hire on one of their cooks to take to Alyona,” growled Adrigus, as he observed Lord Raphael dressing carefully in his uniform. “And where are you going, my lord?”

“I have an appointment with Lord Zang. He wishes to do a consultation with me on the advice of Master Leu Tzulo. I may be away for some time, so if any of you wish to investigate the city while I am gone, please do,” replied Raphael, somewhat nervously. 

Commander Monteras tilted his head as he carefully studied his cousin’s subtle body language and energies and said, “This may be a ‘safe’ city, Cousin, but I still want two of your Eagles to accompany you to your appointment. They can, of course, remain outside the consultation room.”

Raphael sighed, “Very well, Tomás; Milo and Loki, could you suit up and accompany me? I will be leaving in a few minutes.”

“Could we eat some of this nice fish first, my lord?” Milo looked from Raphael to the steaming bowl of tempting fish. 

Raphael smiled and replied, “Of course, Milo; please excuse me, I am just somewhat nervous this morning. I should eat some of that lovely fruit before we leave.”

“Are you well today, Uncle?” Francis had overheard a portion of the conversation and noted the quavering tone of his uncle’s voice that spoke loudly of the man’s fatigue and anxiety.

Raphael rubbed his forehead with one hand and sighed again, replying, “No, although I don’t understand why. I feel faint… arghhh…”

Francis was the closest person to Raphael and caught his uncle’s body as the latter crumpled and began to fall to the tiled floor. “Oh, he’s heavy! Could someone help me?”

“Let me help!” Earl was the closest Eagle and took Raphael from Francis’ arms. “I’ll take care of him. Could you clear off those pillows from that couch?”

Once Earl and Francis had straightened out Raphael’s limp body on the couch, they stood up surveying their prone leader. Commander Monteras took up Raphael’s arm and tested his wrist for a pulse; it was strong and steady. He then checked Raphael’s forehead to see if his cousin had contracted a fever. No, there was no dampness or sweat to indicate a possible fever. Monteras regained his feet and looked down at Raphael who started to make some noise as if regaining consciousness. His fingers were twitching and then his eyes abruptly opened. Raphael looked around at the men standing above the couch and asked, “What just happened? Did I faint yet again? I don’t understand it.”

“Well, Cousin; it looks like your consultation with Lord Zang is well-timed. You are certainly in need of some attention,” replied Commander Monteras. “Now, if you can manage, eat some breakfast and allow us to look after you, my lord.”

A somewhat shaken Raphael nodded quietly, sat up and accepted a plate of lovely fruit. His companions vowed to watch him carefully during this stay on the last world of the tour… and secretly hoped that Lord Zang could assist Raphael in overcoming some of his persistent health issues.

When the servant MeMe arrived at the gate of the guest house, he was surprised to encounter an entire entourage of Raphael’s companions who were determined to accompany him to his appointment. Commander Monteras explained, “This morning Lord Raphael suffered another one of his periodic fainting fits. I would like to accompany him to the appointment so I can speak briefly to Lord Zang and explain this phenomenon to him from the perspective of a relative and long-time companion to Lord Raphael.”

MeMe nodded, accepting the explanation of the commander, but he looked up at the great Eagles who were looming over their charge and asked, “And what is the purpose of these… guards, Commander? Lord Raphael is in no danger here.”

“Ah, they are here in case Lord Raphael faints, again. I doubt your people could manage carrying my lord despite your advertised mental abilities. Now, is it time for my lord’s appointment with Lord Zang?” Monteras kept his eye on his cousin. He could sense that the man’s deep fatigue and lingering grief was sapping Raphael’s energy.

MeMe bowed and replied, “Yes, Commander, please follow me. We must walk to another part of this great house.”

When the small party finally reached their destination, a quiet studio on the northern edge of the complex, Raphael was shaking with fatigue. The Eagles assisted him in remaining upright. It was in this manner that Raphael reached the sliding screen which was the entry way to the small house or casita. Lord Zang was inside, seated on the floor in lotus position, quietly waiting and observing. Looking up and seeing the state of Raphael’s condition, he quietly signed MeMe instructions. The servant turned to the two Eagles and said, “Please assist Lord Raphael to lie down on the sleeping mat in the middle of the floor and then leave. You may stand guard outside. Commander Monteras – once Lord Raphael is comfortable; you may present your tale to Lord Zang.”

“Forgive me, Lord Zang, for not doing you honor…” mumbled Raphael as he relaxed into the sleeping pad.

No matter, my young friend; it would appear your appointment with me is well-timed? Your body appears to be in some distress?” Lord Zang stood up and bowed briefly to Commander Monteras. “My servant MeMe tells me (via telepathy) that Lord Raphael has suffered another fainting spell just this morning?”

Returning the bow with one of his own, Commander Monteras nodded, “Yes, my lord; my cousin fainted this morning and has only recovered slightly… Now, if you will permit, may I give you a brief synopsis of my experiences with Lord Raphael, with whom I have been assigned as guard, tutor, and companion since he was only 14 years of age?”

“Certainly, Commander Monteras. I understand your long acquaintance with Lord Raphael, although you are not his cousin in this life. Am I correct, sir?” queried the healer, even while quietly scanning his patient, for that is how he now considered Raphael. 

My lord – let me convey this information via private mode; it would be faster…” suggested Monteras.

Certainly – it is preferable that way as no lies or half-truths can be conveyed, not that I would distrust your observations. Still, being a close companion can sometimes create an unconscious bias of sorts which can skew true understanding of the circumstances,” replied Lord Zang.

Commander Monteras nodded, understanding the healer’s concern. He began with the information that Raphael shared with both him and Lord Raimundo soon after the boy had arrived at the Medina household of Lord VaCoupe. Then, he proceeded to give clips of the young man’s health difficulties as experienced through his early days in the Command, later in Alyona. Monteras went on to relate the relatively peaceful days when Raphael and his companions were focused on the Starship Project, happy days spent with Lady Julia, and raising their children in the sleepy town of Jolf. Next, Monteras passed on the jolt of the attempted coup by Esturias and his compromised ‘committee’ of Morovian traitors and how Raphael’s life abruptly changed with his being stationed in Alyona as an Aide to his adopted father, Lord Demetrius. Then, he carefully covered the decade of the constant efforts to defeat the purpose of the persistent enemy attacks on various worlds across the Federation.

 Then, Monteras stopped and spoke aloud, “My lord, after that decade of constant vigilance, all seemed lost when Lord Demetrius, adopted father of Lord Raphael was killed in an ambush in space. Raphael had no time to think, but acted from a deep intuitive level, instructing his sister, Claudine, to take the Regentship in lieu of a suitable male heir, even as he conveyed instructions to our ships and those of our allies, who were all waiting within the boundaries of our Federation space. Then, Lord Raphael conveyed the new Regent to BerWare to meet the Dark Lord who was expecting the Pleiadians to capitulate to him unconditionally. Only that did not happen for Claudine struck down the lord unto death with a casual flick of her finger. At that moment, Raphael signed me to convey his orders to attack the enemy fleets to our waiting and cloaked ships and allies. In mere moments, the last battle of the wars was over. It was a stunning victory, completely unexpected, unheralded, and certainly unmatched in the history of space warfare. The lower Orions were completely driven from our skies. And just a year or so later, Lord Raphael lost his mate of over 50 years due to complications during childbirth. He has not recovered yet from the strain of command and loss, my lord. During this entire tour, he has periodically suffered bouts of fainting, some lucid dreams, and occasionally appearing to be in a trance-like state. It is my belief that he is suffering from a combination of effects stemming from ill-treatment suffered as a child slave, compounded by the strain of dealing with his hypersensitivity to the lower frequency energies of the enemy. However, this morning’s fainting fit was unexpected as there appears to be no immediate threat to his person or any of your people, my lord.”

Lord Zang sent Monteras a flow of calming energies as he replied, “It would appear you have been on hand to witness much of this young man’s life, Commander. You are a cousin of his from another life? Well, I can assure you, Commander Monteras, that your friend and cousin, is in good hands, my own. Now, would you kindly join your men outside while I work with Lord Raphael. There are benches provided if you care to meditate in the garden. You might enjoy watching the goldfish in the pond outside.”

Monteras bowed, understanding that he had been politely, but firmly dismissed. He left the room, leaving the servant MeMe to close the screen behind him. MeMe remained in the room along with the master healer and Raphael. It was then that Monteras began to comprehend that MeMe was not what he and the others had been told. The ‘servant’ was not a servant; he was a student healer of the great master and perhaps more. Monteras sighed and settled down on a bench overlooking a lovely little pond dotted with lotus blossoms.

Raphael was lying quietly on the sleeping pad, which was like what is known as a futon on Terra, a thin, but comfortable pad stuffed with cotton and other natural fibers. Lord Zang sat on a small stool next to the pad, quietly observing his patient as he breathed gently in and out. The Veyan lord allowed himself to sink deep into a meditative mode as he began to scan Raphael’s bodies… his light body, including the mental, emotional, etheric, and physical bodies, plus his connection to his Angelic Guardians who patiently watched over him throughout his days.

Lord Zang watched the events of Raphael’s younger years play out upon the screen of his consciousness, observing how the youngster, alone and helpless, nevertheless successfully fought off the attempts of the dark energies of his captors from defeating him utterly… and noted how Raphael’s efforts to resist led to a weakness in his adrenal glands and nervous system. The master healer observed a slightly older Raphael begin to strengthen his local defenses by applying meditation and strengthening his connection to his inner core of Light, eventually expanding that core outward to create an impenetrable barrier against the darkness that prevailed over him in the outer world. Still, this long-drawn-out battle sapped the child’s physical body and created certain chronic weaknesses that were displayed later in the form of fainting fits, strong dreams, and bouts of tears.

The healing master gave directions to his assistant, MeMe, and together they projected healing energies into Raphael’s bodies at all levels, starting first with the emotional body, which had suffered greatly because of the perceived betrayal of his birth father, the long years of abuse, and even the abandonment of his elder brother by his death in battle at a time of great challenge in Raphael’s life, just prior to his being extracted from The Golden Lion.

Lord Zang observed the supportive role that Master Li Tzulo took on in watching over Raphael’s health and well-being while they were both stationed at Alyona and the continued regard the two soul mates had for each other through the years to even now on this tour. 

The master healer could feel Raphael’s deep grief and sense of guilt stemming from the recent demise of his loving mate, the Lady Julia. The healer knew that time would eventually assuage this grief, but perhaps not the guilt at being party to Julia’s death, which was, of course, not true, but emotions often do not correspond to logic or reason. Lord Zang would be sure to counsel his young friend to release the sense of guilt as it was a burden he did not need to carry further, especially when so many others depended on the lord’s wisdom and strength to carry them safely into the future as a mentor, leader, and adviser to both the regent and the future heir, Francis VaCoupe.

Lord Zang recognized just how Raphael’s experiences as a young slave had unintentionally honed an already talented intuitive to an unexpected degree, creating from the raw material of a tactical genius of a commander to a hypersensitive dreamer… and how that same man had been augmented still more unexpectedly by undergoing a shamanic transformation which brought back the highest qualities of both the commander and the ancient Feline ruler, King Rigo. Still, the inherent weaknesses of the man’s physical body, due to the abuse suffered as a child, occasionally led to unexpected bouts of illness and hypersensitive lucid dreams and visions.

 Lord Zang sighed, wondering how the young man had managed to retain his sanity due to all the outside and interior pressures placed upon him, especially when people began to comprehend his abilities and therefore, expected him to perform when commanded. The healer spoke aloud to his companion, MeMe, “My dear son, I have an assignment for you. I understand that Master Leu is now considered to be Lord Raphael’s physician or has been during the duration of this tour, but now I feel that your presence will be required to see that this valuable individual remains whole as many are counting on him to guide them into a more abundant and peaceful future, whether they are even aware of his presence among them.”

MeMe Zang looked over Raphael’s prone body; the Medinian lord was sleeping quietly, even snoring gently. “Do you think Master Leu would be offended, Father?”

“I would not think so, MeMe; he might even appreciate your company as I sense his father, Master Li Tzulo, is preparing to fully retire soon. Master Li merely wants to remain in Raphael’s company long enough to see his protégé and soul mate safely mated to Lady Lorenna Dino VaCoupe. And then, I can see the master wishing to return to his own family whom he has long neglected here on Vey. You can, then, act as support for Master Leu, his honorable son, to assist in his efforts to keep Lord Raphael healthy and whole until the end of his days, which will be lengthy. Are you agreeable and prepared for such an assignment, my dear son?” Lord Zang looked upon his lightly built son with deep affection as he observed MeMe looking at Raphael.

MeMe finally looked at his father and sighed, “I was a member of King Rigo’s people once, wasn’t I, Father? It is fitting that I rejoin him, again, as he yet aids another people to regain their freedom…”

“Yes, MeMe… you are one of his soulmates. I knew this thing when Lord Raphael’s beautiful ship entered the atmosphere of our world,” replied Lord Zang. “You will play a discrete part in this man’s future and hence the future of all of our people, as he now is the guide and mentor to our future Heir, the advisor to our present Regent, and a highly respected commander in the Fleet, whether or not he has ever served on board a mothership in the last fifty years or so.”

“Then, Father, I would like to be called by my real name, Mei Li, not MeMe, for the latter is a servant’s name. I am not a servant, but will be a companion of Lord Raphael, part of his entourage and extended family as he travels throughout our Federation and even beyond,” firmly replied Master Mei Li Zang, youngest son of Lord Zang and one of his finest pupils.

His father nodded and smiled, “I am immensely proud of you, Mei Li. You will serve the household of Lord Raphael and his soon-to-be mate, Lady Lorenna… and see that this second mate of Lord Raphael does not expire due to complications to childbirth. For I foresee Lord Raphael and Lady Lorenna possibly bringing into the world more children. You will be kept busy entertaining Lord Raphael’s precocious and intelligent children and grandchildren, Mei Li, while watching over the health and well-being of their father and mother.”

“Yes, Father, but now can we assist Lord Raphael… somehow strengthen his bodily systems so he is no longer bothered by these fainting spells? I sense he is somewhat embarrassed at being regarded as a weakling by many of those who work with him, although his closest companions regard Lord Raphael with great love and intense loyalty. I can feel this loyalty emanating from both his cousin, Commander Monteras, and those great Eagles,” replied Mei Li.

Lord Zang and his son regarded the sleeping Raphael intently, allowing their combined consciousnesses to sink together into the complex energetic layers of this person. With their eyes closed, they maneuvered their hands into Raphael’s energy body, sending light and strength to adrenals worn out by the constant barrage of the lower frequency energies he had encountered throughout this life. Then they followed the nervous system as it ranged and branched out from the spine, noticing some minor but still severe damage to the cervical and pelvic regions. Lord Zang could see scenes where the young slave was dragged about by his neck, sometimes beaten across his lower back and buttock before being repeatedly sodomized, bled, and brutalized by his keepers and assailants. Then, Lord Zang and Mei Li sent light and healing energies into the young man’s wounded heart to heal the sense of betrayal, abandonment, and despair held by the child locked deep, deep within the man’s body. At the end of his examination and healing of Raphael the master healer was in awe of the tremendous spirit of the man, how he had endured such treatment at the hands of low-bred and evil men. 

Lord Zang signed his son to wake up the patient. Mei Li knelt next to the sleeping pad and gently tapped Raphael’s shoulder. “My lord, it is time to wake up.”

With his dark lashes fluttering, Raphael’s blue green eyes flickered open, and he stared up into the serene face of the one he had thought a servant. Raphael pushed himself up onto his elbow and regarded Mei Li for a moment and then studied Lord Zang and replied, “You are his son, are you not, MeMe?”

“My true name is Mei Li Zang, and yes, I am the youngest son of my father, Lord Zang, and one of his proteges, my lord,” said Mei Li quite humbly. “My father wishes to ask a great favor of you, Lord Raphael.”

“And what might that be, Mei Li?” Raphael attempted to sit up, but found he felt extremely dizzy and laid back down on the sleeping pad.

Rest there for a while, Lord Raphael,” cautioned Mei Li, placing a hand on Raphael’s shoulder, while sending calming energies to him. The young healer glanced up at his father.

Lord Zang nodded, understanding, and replied, “Lord Raphael, I am assigning my youngest son, Mei Li, to be your second physician, along with Master Leu. I respectfully request that both men become a part of your household and travel with you and your other companions, for I sense that you will be doing quite a bit of travel in the future in your position as adviser for Claudine and as mentor and stepfather of the future heir. Are you willing to accept the services of my son, Mei Li Zang, my lord?”

Raphael looked up at Lord Zang who was still standing and asked, “What did you see, Lord Zang, that would require me to have two physicians in my employ? I was considering assigning Master Leu to accompany me back to Medina when I return home and perhaps for him to remain in my employ, but two physicians. Really? Am I that ill that I need two physicians, both talented Veyans?”

Lord Zang’s mobile mouth curled up into a whimsical smile as he replied to Raphael’s query and unspoken concern and worry. “Lord Raphael, I have seen that you will outlive me by many years. For despite the apparent weaknesses of your present physical body, your spirit burns bright and strong. No, it is not your health that is a concern, but I see many children… many young and lively children in your future who will require a sometime tutor and healer, even as Mei Li endeavors to keep your second mate healthy and alive. I would like both Master Leu and Master Mei Li to give you periodic healings on a regular basis, which has not been done previously, for your body was exposed to great trauma and abuse when young which did permanently damage some of your internal organs, especially your nervous system. We can repair it to a degree, but I would feel better if you allow my son and one of my former students, Master Leu, make it a scheduled practice to fortify your health by giving you regular examinations and healings so we can circumvent any future issues for you.”

“Well, Lord Zang, if you insist,” said Raphael. “I must admit that I was tired before leaving on this tour and now the fatigue has seemed to crept into my very bones. Do you recommend that I go home to Medina and rest when this tour is over?”

“Yes, I see it very necessary for your physical, as well as emotional well-being, my lord,” replied Lord Zang, rather firmly. “Now, we have completed our initial examination of you, my lord, but I would recommend that you go and take one of your naps. We did some primary healing of some of your body systems, and you might feel unable to be active for some hours. You should feel better later today. Mei Li and I would like to do at least three more healing sessions before you leave the city or attempt to tour our beautiful world any further.”

Raphael sat up and felt somewhat better this time. Mei Li handed him a cup of mild herbal tea sweetened with raw honey. Raphael accepted the sweetened tea with a smile, and said, “I am honored that you would entrust your youngest son to my company, my lord. He could not be much older than my eldest son, Jychondria, who is now in his late forties.”

Mei Li smiled and replied, “My lord, I am over one hundred and fifty years of age and have studied under my father for most of that time. You will be in good hands, literally and figuratively.”

Lord Zang chuckled when he saw the astounded look upon Raphael’s countenance. He commented, “Thus, my lord, you witness yet another manifestation of the power of our minds. I am most pleased you will accept the services of my son. He and Master Leu will make an exceptionally fine team of physicians to work with both you, your mate, and any other members of your household who may require healing.”

“Thank you, Lord Zang; I must admit I am rather overwhelmed by your generosity and kindness,” replied Raphael.

Lord Raphael, it was you and your adopted sister who stopped the wars from further ravaging our worlds. It is us, your people, who are grateful for your continued service. I simply intend to guarantee that your health will be tended to while much is expected from you,” stated Lord Zang with a gentle smile. “And now, I will call in your giant Eagles to assist you in returning to your rooms. Rest well, my lord.”

“When do you wish to give me another healing, Lord Zang?” queried Raphael somewhat curiously. He was feeling a bit odd, tired, but relaxed. He hadn’t realized just how much tension he was previously holding within his body.

Tomorrow will be soon enough, although I will have Mei Li check on your condition then to see if you are ready to undergo yet another session,” replied Lord Zang. “Mei Li will visit your rooms in the morning. Until then, I suggest you rest and take your evening meal in your quarters.”

“Thank you, Lord Zang, for your help, your kindness, and your consideration,” said Raphael and then he respectfully bowed to the Veyan lord. 

Mei Li guided Eagle Milo into the room to make sure Raphael was steady enough on his feet, yet as Raphael attempted to walk, he collapsed into Milo’s arms. Mei Li explained, “Do not worry, Eagle Milo; your master has had a deep healing session and is not quite himself. Put him to bed and watch over him today.”

Milo regarded the slim healer with his great golden eyes and blinked, feeling the power emanating from that small frame. The Feline Eagle bowed his head briefly and then secured Raphael’s limp body in his strong arms. He growled, “I will carry my lord safely back to his rooms as you have commanded, Master.”

Mei Li and Lord Zang watched as the odd trio of two Feline Eagles and a tall slender Morovian carried Lord Raphael out of the small house and back to the guest quarters. Mei Li turned to his father with a smile, “Those Felines are very perceptive; Milo called me a Master, while he was told previously that I was a servant.”

“Lord Raphael and his Felines have more in common than you yet realize, my son,” replied Lord Zang. “You will learn more as you live among these strange companions. Master Li tells me that eventually Lord Raphael adopts his companions as part of an extended family, perhaps as a carry-over from losing his own family early in this life and his previous one which was truly short, with a violent end.”

“Well, Father – I will certainly be able to see many of our worlds while in Lord Raphael’s company,” commented Mei Li. “I sense that he will be doing quite a bit of traveling for our Regent and future heir, Master Francis.”

“Indeed,” replied Lord Zang. “And now, let us go speak to Master Li whom I am sure is eager to hear the results of our first examination of Lord Raphael.”

Raphael slept soundly the rest of the day, only waking up to have a bit of dinner and then he went back to bed and was soon fast asleep. Francis checked in on his uncle, grinning when he heard quiet snores sounding from the bed. Francis returned to the sitting room with his short report, “He’s sleeping! Whatever those two healers did, it’s put my uncle completely out.”

Monteras nodded, grinning… and replied, “I think Raphael has needed this kind of solid rest for an exceptionally long time. Before today, his spells seemed to be increasing, at least when we were around some danger. There was nothing that I felt here, though, so I was surprised to see him faint this morning. Hopefully, these two healers can manage to get him back on his feet.”

“I think Lady Lorenna would prefer to get him off his feet… after the mating  ceremony!” quipped Commander Adrigus, giving the shocked Francis a great wink of one of his golden eyes. 

Salaniel remarked, “Lord Raphael has been suffering from fatigue and grief ever since the death of his father and then of Lady Julia. He carries such a great burden. Let us hope that he feels better soon.”

There was a light knock at the door.  Eagle Paul opened it to reveal the Masters Tzulo standing there together. Paul bowed and said, “Please enter, Masters – we were all wondering where you had gone to, but of course, this is your home world. Did you visit your family home?”

“We did make a short visit to our home to see my mate, LouLou, Master Leu’s mother,” replied Master Li “She is well and pursuing her own interests. She gave me permission to see to my charge, Lord Raphael. How is he? I understand he had an examination and healing from Lord Zang and Master Mei Li today.”

Francis spoke first, commenting, “He is sleeping. I just checked on him a few minutes ago. Whatever those two healers did, it totally knocked him out. My uncle only managed a couple of bites of dinner and then went back to sleep.”

“Excellent! That indicates the initial healing went very deep. Lord Zang is one of our finest healers and his son, Mei Li, is also extremely talented and competent,” replied Master Li. “By the way, Master Mei Li will be joining our ranks when we leave Vey. It seems his father, Lord Zang, feels Raphael requires to have two healers on his staff… for a variety of reasons. Considering the amount of strain and responsibility that Lord Raphael currently carries, it is a sound idea. Having another set of eyes on our stubborn lord cannot hurt.”

By the next day, Raphael was feeling well enough to take a short tour around the immaculate and impressive city of Bopti. There was a large university, geared primarily towards the scientific and healing arts, although other colleges offered classes on engineering, philosophy, and other physical and social sciences. Throughout the city, there were vast parks with ponds and gardens set out for the enjoyment of the residents and visitors alike. Students attending the university roomed in housing provided and were strictly watched by their mentors. Veyan students did not attend university for socializing with friends; they were intent on studying and applying themselves seriously to their studies so they might become industrious and responsible participants in their close-knit society. As with many other cultures on some of the Pleiadian planets, most matings on Vey were arranged by the parents. The children were expected to obey, unless there were extenuating circumstances, which would then have to be adjudicated by neutral parties.

The tour of the city was attended by Francis, and the other commanders, Monteras, DeAires, Adrigus, and Semmas. The men wanted to keep an eye on their leader, who seemed to be holding up well, perhaps better than expected. Still, upon arriving back to their quarters, Raphael went promptly to his room to take a nap.

During the next five days, Raphael underwent five more separate treatments from Lord Zang and his son, Mei Li Zang. Upon rising from the mat on the fifth day, Raphael felt wondrously renewed and reinvigorated. His heart felt light. The grief and guilt he had previously held within his heart had dissipated, fully released. He was able to comprehend how he had injured himself unintentionally by taking on the blame for the death of his father, Lord Demetrius, and that of his beloved mate, Lady Julia. He had managed to fully forgive his birth father and even his brother, Ezekiel, for their self-destruction, through choices made by them or made for them. Moreover, he was finally able to even forgive his captors and tormentors who had kept him in their power for a decade of his young life. For him, the energies were now balanced; yet, for those others, they would eventually be compelled to address their own part of the balance sheet.

As Raphael rose to his feet after the last healing session, he no longer felt dizzy or weak. He turned to the two healers who were waiting quietly for him to say something. He smiled and said, “I don’t think I have ever felt better during this life as I do now, and I have the two of you to thank!”

Master Zang gave a quiet smile in answer, yet when he spoke, he said something that surprised Raphael, “Mei Li and I did nothing. We merely allowed your own body to heal itself. When the mind is quieted, the body can knit together its wounds, repair its tissues, strengthen the blood, fortify the organs… even straighten and strengthen broken bones. The physical body is a miracle of nature granted for a lifetime to each of us. It is up to each of us to decide just how we use it and care for it. You, as a child were removed from your natural protectoress, your mother. Your father was compromised beyond recognition, and you were the sacrifice that he offered his new masters. These beings are dark as their hearts are closed off to Source; they hate and despise the Creator of All Things, as they hate themselves. Due to their inability to create, they are compelled to feed off others and so they used you and other children like food and drink, siphoning off your energies, leaving only enough to just keep you alive. The abuse that you suffered also reversed the flow of your natural source of energy, emanating from the Kundalini, which when lifted through meditation connects in an electromagnetic pulse with the higher dimensions. The damage created through the abuse was healed to some degree by other healers, but never completely, not to the degree required for one such as yourself to be able to function under the stress of your double career, as an officer in the Command, and as an advisor to our regent.

“You must understand that your body was early compromised by the abuse and that you will always require more rest than others, especially considering your already sensitive nature. These sensibilities were developed to cope with the never-ending mental, physical, and emotional torture to which you were subjected as a child. Yet, you survived due to your strong inner connection within to your source, your connection to the Divine. If it had not been for your strong will, you would have joined your father in being entirely subjected to the Dark forces that long throve to conquer our worlds. And as you were well acquainted with those dark energies, you were able to identify them and warn others of their reality, even as those with whom you worked doubted your abilities until they witnessed for themselves the effects of what you saw and felt intuitively.

“So, due to your hypersensitivities, you will still require more rest and should take it in an environment that feeds your soul, surrounded by fresh air and plants. Take time in your busy schedule to spend it at home in Medina where you are refreshed by the presence and support of those who love you well for who you are, not what they wish you to be or do. “My son and Master Leu will continue to work with you periodically as I personally feel you should have at least one healing session per month, perhaps even on a weekly basis until you have grown stronger in your body. Your two physicians will compare notes and monitor your progress. If they observe positive changes, the healing program will be reduced. Remember, it is designed primarily to augment your own body’s ability to heal itself. We are merely the hands and hearts of Source whose energy moves through us and is applied in an intelligent and intuitive manner to those areas that need it most.”

Raphael bowed to both healing masters and then said, “I can’t thank you enough for your compassionate understanding of the difficulties I have faced during this one lifetime, compounded upon the others that were also artificially shortened by the great wars. Like I said earlier, I feel so much better… and if it takes receiving a healing session once per week, I am certainly willing to reserve that time especially if I continue to grow stronger and more able to perform my duties as well as being a mate and hopefully, a new father to more children.”

Lord Zang chuckled, “Lord Raphael – you will not have to worry about your ability to father more children or perform your duties as a husband. There was a reason you were never sacrificed by the dark to their detestable gods. However, they managed it, your keepers determined that you are extremely potent as a potential sire. There was a reason behind the desire to have you shipped to the Asba’a system… a reason of which you were informed when you were briefly held as a captive by one of your former assailants, the dark agent.”

Raphael flushed with embarrassment, uncomfortable with being reminded of those stressful few days following his kidnapping. He mumbled, “I know, I remember… it was just weeks before I realized that my mate, Julia, was pregnant with our first child. We had been mated for seven years before we had our first…”

“During those first seven years, my lord, you were recovering from all the prior abuse and the stress of being stationed on board a mothership… your body had to recover long enough to be able to father a child. There is no reason to fear that you will be unable to successfully father more children with your new mate, if it is what you both wish,” replied Lord Zang. “You are quite an exceptional man, Lord Raphael, for I find despite all the abuse and trauma you have endured, there still exists a core of such purity and almost a quality of naiveté that surely must appeal to your future mate. Women find such things as shyness in a man appealing especially when he is as handsome as you are, my lord. I can say such things as I am a physician and view you and your past adventures with detached compassion. I do not seek to judge or condemn you or any other person who has walked through your life.”

Master Mei Li spoke up to further reassure Raphael, “My lord, nothing that we have seen within these walls of your past or your physical state of being will ever be shared by us. We know you have been scanned in the past but only by selected persons such as Master Li and Lady Amethyst… for the sake of your safety and well-being. If need be, I can share some things with Master Leu Tzulo although I gather, he has already been informed by Master Li of at least some of your past troubles. Other than that, there is no reason to share stories of your past experiences to anyone of our mutual acquaintance.”

Raphael gave a deep sigh and replied, “That has been a particular problem in the past for me as people have always questioned how I could detect low frequencies merely by tuning into an planet or nearby space. Always my gifts, talents, and developed abilities have been questioned and looked upon as being odd or even unnatural, although certain persons such as high priestesses or talented shamans see me as belonging naturally to their kind.”

“Yes, you would have probably had quite a different life if you had been fostered out to Lady Chokama,” stated Lord Zang. “I can sense her eyes upon you in this life, but she long ago realized your life was taking a different and more difficult path, again, due to those self-same talents and gifts. However, we are aware that she will claim you in your next life… and you are aware of this, also?”

Raphael nodded and replied, “Yes, my lord; I know this is my last lifetime as a male householder. When I next become a householder, I will be embodied in a feminine form, perhaps never more to be male. I have seen that someday I will be born to Master Li Tzulo and his mate. He has seen it, too.”

“Yes, your gifts are precious and rare. We are truly blessed to have someone like you walking among us during these difficult days,” said Lord Zang, “which is behind much of our motivation to assist you in any way we can. Take diligent care of my son, Lord Raphael. His gifts are also rare and powerful, so you are a good match. He is also good with children… and grandchildren. Your son… well, I will let him tell you himself. You will soon see your eldest?”

“Yes, before we travel back to Alyona, it is our intention to visit The Golden Falcon mothership where my son, Jychondria, now serves in the Navigation Department as a Specialty Commander,” replied Raphael. “I also have several Feline friends who are stationed on the Golden Falcon, including my foster son, Commander Lyonell, son of Hilarus, Commander Lantrill, Captain Sukio, and Specialty Commander Bakken. The latter four individuals all were part of the team working on the Starship Project alongside myself while we lived in Jolf. It was a magical time… that ended rather abruptly.”

“I am sure your friends will be overjoyed to see you, my lord,” said Lord Zang. “Now, I think we will end this session. I consider your health condition strong and stable enough so you to enjoy some more tours of our beautiful world. Have you ever seen snow, my lord? Frozen water?”

“I caught glimpses of it while on Airus which also has some high mountain peaks, but we were not on a sightseeing tour at the time,” replied Raphael.

Well, while most people get the impression that Vey is extremely tropical, that climate zone exists primarily around the equatorial regions where we are now. Further north or further south, you will witness very tall, dramatic peaks and beautiful valleys filled with rushing waters, rivers, and lakes. There are also vast stretches of grasslands which provide some of our people with areas for farming. We also have several large cities that are mostly located on the coasts or on the great rivers for purposes of ease of transport by water or air,” said Lord Zang. “I encourage you to take the Masters Tzulo and/or my son on your tours, as all are quite well acquainted with the geography and natural history of our lovely world. I have been honored to serve you, my lord. I wish you well in your future endeavors.”

Realizing there wasn’t much more to say, Raphael simply gave Lord Zang a deep respectful bow, turned, and left the room. 

Master Mei Li looked at the door through which Raphael had just walked through, “For a man who has been brutalized within an inch of his life more than once, he has a sensitivity to others I have seldom seen matched outside that of our own people.”

“Indeed, my son,” replied Lord Zang. “Your life with him and his companions will be an interesting one of that, I am sure. Do you understand what I am asking you to sacrifice for the sake of this one man?”

“Yes, Father. I will have no children of my own but will serve him and his all my days, in honor and grace,” replied Mei Li Zang, the youngest son of Lord Zang, master healer of Vey.

Yes, my son, yet there will be moments of pure joy for you, too,” said Lord Zang. “Of this I am certain.”

“Does Lord Raphael realize the implication of our meeting?” queried Mei Li.

No, I do not think so, not yet at any rate, my son. His mind is on other matters, seeing his eldest son… his approaching mating , adjusting to living with a new mate, seeing that his young son is well cared for in Medina… plus, his many concerns involving the ruling of this huge Federation,” replied Lord Zang. “Lord Raphael is under great demand and will require your services to help him continue to give his best towards helping our people to remain safe and free.”

“I know, my Father.  I will miss you and Mother,” said Mei Li, walking up to his father and placing his forehead against his father’s. 

And I will miss you, my son,” replied Lord Zang. “Perhaps I will replace Master Li Tzulo as a part-time representative of Vey and attend High Council in Alyona. By so doing, I will be able to see both you and Lord Raphael on occasion.”

“Oh, if you can… if Lord Zing will allow you to leave Vey!”

“Ah, my master whom I have long served.  Surely my talented students can aid him now,” replied Lord Zang with a slight smile. His master Lord Zing considered Lord Zang a living treasure and now only approved of his working with special clients. Lord Zang knew Raphael did not realize just how honored he was to receive a healing from him, but the Veyan master was humble enough… and polite enough not to inform the Medinian lord. He would let Master Li Tzulo do the honors in the future.

Commander Monteras and two Eagles had accompanied Raphael to his latest healing session and were waiting patiently when he emerged from the casita. Monteras was momentarily struck by the glow upon his cousin’s countenance and remarked, “My lord, it would appear that these healing sessions are affecting positive changes?”

“Indeed, Cousin – I feel much better today. I think tomorrow, I will be ready to really tour this world. Have the Masters Tzulo made an appearance today?” queried Raphael. “Perhaps we can find Minister AnMei Sing and ask him where our friends are staying…”

The next day, the Masters Tzulo reappeared and joined the party once again, along with a new member, Master Mei Li Zang, who Raphael introduced properly as the youngest son of Lord Zang and an exceptionally talented physician who was now being assigned to assist Master Leu Tzulo in looking after the welfare of Lord Raphael.

Raphael made it a point to introduce Salaniel DeAires to Master Mei Li Zang as another possible patient, as the young man had also suffered greatly at the hands of the dark forces while incarcerated as a young child.  “Master Mei Li, this is Salaniel DeAires, a cousin of sorts of mine and Commander Monteras. He was also captured and imprisoned by the dark forces during the Orion Wars. I first encountered him after he had been rescued at the age of 10 years old, along with 44 other children being held captive. Master Leu has helped Salaniel to largely recover his health, but I would be grateful if you could give Commander DeAires a healing session periodically as well.”

Mei Li regarded Raphael with interest after he had made this personal request. He said, “My lord, it would appear you care a great deal for the welfare of your people. I also sense a soul connection between you and Commander DeAires…”

“Commander DeAires is the reincarnation of Anor DeAires, my first Pleiadian father, a tradesman who sold textiles and traveled across the desert planet of Morova,” replied Raphael. “I realized that connection long after I first met Salaniel on The Golden Lion, just before I was arrested and removed from the ship and sent to Alyona.”

Master Tzulo spoke up, “Several instructors from the Medinian University Ship were brought to Alyona to work with Raphael. I was there when he arrived. Frankly, he was a mess, but recovered eventually and later, Raphael went on to start the Alyona Communications Command Center with the help of his former superior officer, Commander Charles Lo’Telle. Years later young Salaniel also ended up serving at the Alyona Command Center, as he was suffering from a condition like that of Raphael’s in that he suffered greatly from headaches, violent dreams, fatigue, and fainting fits. It was in Alyona that Lord Raphael and Salaniel met once more. For over a decade, Commander Salaniel has been serving in the capacity of Lord Raphael’s personal assistant as well as being tutored by Master Francis Polaño in how to run the administration of the Alyona Castle. In effect, both Raphael and Salaniel have two jobs.”

Raphael frowned as he really didn’t want to discuss his past, even around his new physician. “Let us focus, gentlemen. I would like to make a tour of this planet and get a sense of its general state of well-being. Master Mei Li, where would you recommend, we fly the Golden Cat today?”

Master Mei Li looked thoughtful and then suggested, “Why don’t we visit the city of Ummas, which is situated on the plains just south of the great mountain range of the Snowy Mountains.”

“Why there, Master Mei Li?” queried Commander Adrigus, thinking from the standpoint of security.

The flight will give the party a brief overview of the general topography of this continent upon which we are now residing, Commander Adrigus. Also, the great city of Ummas happens to be my birthplace, where my ancestors lie. I would like to say good-bye before I leave my home world, if you don’t mind, gentlemen,” replied Master Mei Li firmly.

The healing master’s reply gave Raphael a first poignant glimpse into the great sacrifice being asked of this talented healer. A similar sacrifice was being asked of all those who served beyond the boundaries of their home worlds, including himself. Raphael did not belong to any one culture; he belonged to the Pleiadian people, and now, this young healer was joining his company.

Francis looked concerned and asked, “Master Mei Li, are you reluctant to go with us? I am sure another Veyan physician could be assigned to Lord Raphael to assist Master Leu Tzulo.”

Mei Li shook his head and replied, “No, it is my fate to go with Lord Raphael. Long ago, I was among his people… who followed him willingly into the stars. I was also of the Lion People. My father, Lord Zang, knew this when your ship entered our atmosphere, my lord. My fate, my life is bound up with that of Lord Raphael. I am willing to go… only first, I would like to say good-bye to my mother.”

“Then, gentlemen, we will fly to Ummas and perhaps beyond. The flight won’t take long in The Golden Cat… a ship that may inspire memories for you, Master Mei Li, since you claim to have been part of my people in the long ago past. I am sorry that I cannot show you the ancient Feline outpost located near Jolf… inside it, anyway. We can fly over the site, but the outpost is out of bounds for now,” said Raphael. He turned to Master Li, and queried, “Master Li, is there anyone we need to inform before we fly across this continent? I would not like to unintentionally offend anyone in authority here.”

Commander Monteras grinned and commented, “My lord, you grow cautious in your old age! Lantrill should hear about this!”

Master Li looked momentarily annoyed and replied, “I will send a telepathic message to Minister AnMei Sing. I am sure that Master Mei Li can inform his father of our intentions.”

“Well, then, I think we have covered the logistics,” said Raphael. “Commander Matteo, you are coming along, also, on this little expedition. How would you like to fly as a passenger in The Golden Cat, commander?”

The slender dark-haired flight commander looked surprised and pleased. He had not yet flown in the Cat and was extremely interested to get a sense of the technology contained within the ancient vessel. He smiled and replied, “My lord, I would be highly honored to accompany your party in your beautiful ship!”

“All right, then… Master Mei Li, can we order some viscars to transport our party out to the space port? It’s a long walk there in the heat and humidity! Although I can probably use the exercise, I would rather not faint in the middle of the jungle before reaching The Golden Cat,” requested Raphael.

Certainly, my lord. Your wish is my command. By the time we reach the entrance to the royal house, there will be some viscars waiting for our party,” replied Master Mei Li, bowing to Raphael and Francis. “And now, if you are ready to depart, shall we?”

Upon reaching the ship, the party members climbed into the main cabin, making themselves comfortable. It was the first time Mei Li had ever been in a starship, so Raphael insisted he sit up front in the navigator seat. The slightly built Veyan started when the seat shrank down to fit his slim body. Mei Li gave Raphael a slight grin and then sent him telepathic directions for the course coordinates, which Raphael passed onto the ship. The Golden Cat gracefully levitated above the city and its surrounding area. From a thousand feet above, it was easy to see the vast city below, with its suburbs and outlying farms and villages. Raphael guided the ship towards a nearby river which was the primary mode of transportation for many of the people living inland on this continent, like the great Mississippi in North America on Terra or any other large river system. Of course, the Veyans had viscars and shuttle craft, but as Raphael and the others soon discovered, the distances to be traveled between the cities and villages were vast. River travel was slower but required less alteration to the natural environment – although some of the main routes had to be occasionally dredged due to shifting mud and sand in the riverbed.

The ship crossed over the edge of the jungle which thinned out, with the flora changing in quality from trees and shrubs to shrubs and finally to vast grasslands. Fertile farms were clustered around large and small villages, nestled in the rich bottom lands of the great river. Further north, the landscape changed again, this time to rolling hills, laced with valleys and occasionally deeply incised canyons. Near the roots of a magnificent mountain range, Mei Li pointed out the first sign of the great inland city of Ummas. Part of the city rested on the ridges which fanned out from the mountains. Beautiful bridges spanned deep ravines and canyons that wound through the beautiful hill city. There were blocks of neighborhoods sprinkled throughout, broken up by the stream-carved ravines, then a large plateau area where there appeared to be a great college and gathering of temples and administrative buildings, as well as a business district for the local people. 

In the middle of the plateau, there was a small landing pad for star ships or shuttles. Mei Li pointed it out to Raphael and said, “Set down there, my lord; we have permission from the city administrator… who happens to be my uncle!”

Obligingly, Raphael had The Golden Cat set down gently on the platform. Waiting off to one side was a small welcome committee. Mei Li pointed out his uncle, “There, Commander Chui Mai Zang; he is retired from the Command where he served as a senior science officer. He now runs this great city for Lord Zing.”

Raphael’s eyebrows raised a bit when he heard this tidbit of information coming from his new physician. Apparently, the Zang Family was prominently positioned within the fabric of Veyan society. Raphael glanced over at Master Li Tzulo who was smiling like a Cheshire Cat. The master was enjoying this display of Veyan culture and strong familial ties. Raphael remarked, “I think the Veyans could teach a thing or two to some of our other worlds…”

“Quite, my lord. Now, I would like to introduce to you to my honorable uncle,” replied Master Mei Li. The slender Mei Li led the party of visitors up to his uncle, who was accompanied by a small honor guard of warriors like those seen in the royal house, small and doughty. Mei Li gave his uncle a deep respectful bow and then began introductions, but his uncle silenced him with a wave of his hand, gave a short nod to Raphael and Francis and informed his nephew that he was aware of the identity of the visitors. Mei Li then bowed, once again, and stepped back. 

Commander Chui Mai Zang regarded Raphael for a long moment, then gave him a terse military bow, and growled in a surprisingly deep voice, “Welcome, Lord Raphael; I am honored to meet you and your nephew, Master Francis. Welcome to the great City of Ummas. I trust you will enjoy your stay.”

“Stay?” Startled, Raphael looked at his erstwhile guide, Mei Li, who shrugged his shoulders.

Mei Li replied, “Uncle insists that our visitors savor the quality of our great city, so he would like you to remain for at least two days to sample our hospitality. I did not anticipate this development, my lord, so I hope you will forgive me. I can assure you that your people will be well looked after while visiting here.”

“Well, short of being extremely rude and leaving here, I guess we will accept your uncle’s rather unexpected hospitality. We have nothing with us except what we are wearing, Mei Li,” said Raphael.

That can be easily remedied, my lord,” replied Mei Li with a grin. “Our people can manifest things. Clothing, even for your massive Eagles and Felines, should be easy enough, my lord. Do you fancy something in silk, wool or do you prefer cotton?”

“Ah… Master Li, your people are quite surprising,” commented Raphael. He turned back to Commander Chui Mai Zang and gave a slight nod, indicating that the commander’s hospitality had been accepted. Commander Chui gave Raphael a beaming smile in return, with a quick bow. He straightened up, waved for some nearby viscars to approach, “Then, Lord Raphael – I hope you and your interesting friends enjoy your visit to our beautiful city! Come this way and we will first take you to your lodgings for the next couple of nights. Then, you will be able to meet my formidable sister-in-law and mother of Master Wei Li Zang, Madam Lia Xi Leu Zang.”

We will continue onto the next chapter as the companions explore the mysterious and grand city of Ummas…

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BOOK THREE: Table of Contents

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