Today, my life ends and a new one begins.
Brok floated in front of the large window, both sets of arms crossed over his chest. His body pulsed rhythmically, keeping him in place in the water. His large violet eyes drank in the familiar sights of his home world, committing them to memory.
Colossal geothermal mountains belched forth superheated water. Sherubite crystals, with their hexagonal facets thrusting upward from the ocean floor, emitted luminescent hues of pink, purple, and pale blue. The dwellings, attached to the sides of these massive vents, were constructed of highly reflective minerals, which made them seem to glow from within.
Large schools of gelatinous fish darted amongst the tall undulating beds of grasses. Sea worms retracted colorful plumes into their protective tubes as the fish swam by. Sea stars, numerous thin arms winding side-to-side, crawled across the ocean floor.
A slight disturbance in the water signaled the approach of one of his fellow Guardians. Brok turned and smiled when he met Mirka’s eyes. The pair had formed a close bond in the time they had spent in training. Brok recognized the sadness and fear in her eyes; he had seen the same expression in reflections of his own face.
“We will see our sires and litter mates again,” Brok said softly.
Mirka gave him a reproachful look. “I know what you are trying to do and I thank you for it. No, don’t.” She held up one arm as Brok tried to interrupt. “What we do is important. I will do my duty, even if it means I must sacrifice my life to save my Chosen. But I have the right to wish for things that can never come to pass.” Mirka glared at Brok, daring him to disagree.
Brok pursed his lips. He understood his friend’s frustration. All of them had been taken from their families as younglings to be trained in secret in the home of the prophets. They had not been allowed any outside contact and spent their days and night learning about the new worlds that would soon become their new homes. Each Guardian had been born with certain gifts, fulfilling the letter of the prophecies. Brok smiled when he remembered the first time he had performed a spell, something no other Gentran in history had ever done, nor would ever do again.
The other two Guardians, Gerok and Forka, hovered on the other side of the room. They turned from the window and approached Brok and Mirka
“Where is our escort? He should be here by now!” Forka gestured in frustration.
“He will arrive soon. Master Ferrok and the others won’t allow us to be late,” Mirka said. “Are you anxious to begin your journey? I certainly am not.” She turned once again to the window.
“Anything is better than sitting here, waiting. I would rather get it over with,” Forka said.
Brok shuddered as he recalled his past journeys through the portal. The unimaginable, excruciating pain as his atoms were pulled apart, his familiar form being changed into something strange and alien. He cringed at how awkward it was during those first few moments after emerging. It was not easy to walk upright on two limbs on solid ground, especially when one was used to swimming. Wishing to feel more at ease, he went through a mental checklist and reassured himself that all of the necessary steps had been taken to acclimate quickly. On the last trip, he and his fellow Guardians had hidden food and clothing. He knew they were all ready, but it didn’t prevent the chill in his heart at the thought of having to travel through the portal again.
Gerok’s body pulsed rhythmically as he floated in the water, the bright yellow broken by flashes of bright green. “I can’t believe we are going through with this. The prophecy states—”
“Peace, Gerok! We have been over this. The Masters agreed that we are to go early to our new worlds to look after our Chosen. I don’t like it any more than you do but the decision has been made,” Brok said.
He was tired of the same old arguments, though he agreed with his fellow Guardian. Gentrans followed prophecy to the letter, never once going against the precise instructions. Brok and his fellow Guardians spent many a night wondering why Master Ferrok had decided to send them early. They tried to predict what would happen, hoping to be able to plan for any contingency, but soon realized the futility of such an exercise.
“We should refuse to go! The prophecy clearly states we are to go to our worlds only after the signs appear! Going early will alter the future, mark my words,” Gerok insisted, the flashes of green throughout his body becoming more frantic
“Master Ferrok believes this is for the best. Who are we to argue?” Forka asked.
“We hold the future of the entire galaxy in our hands! I think that gives us every right to argue! If we refuse to go, what can Ferrok do?”
“I will not disobey the Masters. As long as we keep our identity a secret and tell the Chosen of their destiny only when the signs appear, we won’t be going against the prophecy.” Brok tried to sound more confident than he felt. He was torn between his loyalty to the Masters and his doubt about going against the instructions provided in the prophecy.
The portals had been the most monumental discovery in Gentran history. One of the acolytes had come across some ancient text that spoke of the portals as doorways to other worlds. When the portal on Gentra was discovered, it was decided none but the Masters and the senior prophets should ever have access to such a device. They began visiting and cataloging the worlds, able to speak and interact with the life forms. Visitors tried several times to bring back items through the portals but soon discovered only living matter could pass through.
It wasn’t until the prophets wrote down the first words describing the Mekan threat that the importance of the portals became clear, leaving the Masters to wonder if the discovery of the portals wasn’t somehow tied into the prophecy. Without them, they would never have been able to send the Guardians to the worlds of the Chosen. The prophets also unwittingly changed the course of Gentran history. This was the first time a direct threat to Gentra had ever been mentioned. This was also the first time other worlds had been included in their prophecy. Gentran prophecy was used for important decision making and day-to-day decision making. In fact, Gentrans couldn’t make big decisions without consulting the scrolls
When it was decided that the Guardians would be sent to the planets early, against the directions of the prophecy, Master Ferrok had insisted that they be told everything.
“We cannot ask them to endure the training and to put their lives at risk without telling them everything. We owe them that much.” Ferrok had won the argument and the Guardians were told all of the details pertaining to the Chosen and the Mekan threat.
All of the Masters understood the need to keep the prophecies out of the hands of those who could not understand their cryptic nature. Prophecy could be dangerous to those that could not decipher its secrets. If misinterpreted, the results could be disastrous.
And yet here we are, interpreting it in our own way. Brok sighed.
Further talk was interrupted by the arrival of Master Ferrok’s servant. The Guardians followed their escort to the building that housed the portal chamber. They passed several pens of scrago, whose long sinuous bodies and many dangling appendages swayed simultaneously with the minute movements of the water. The scrago’s large dark eyes were half closed as they fed.
The five Gentrans swam over several plankton blankets. Suddenly, the ground fell sharply beneath them. Mirka looked at the yawning black maw of the trench and gave a slight shudder. She glanced at her fellow Guardians and saw in their eyes a fear matching her own. The deep trenches were virtually unexplored. No one knew what lived down there. Parents often used tall tales of young Gentrans being thrown in the trench, weighted with stones, to frighten their children into obedience. Now, as she gazed into the inky blackness, her heart raced. She saw her life as one deep, dark, unknown rift of danger and uncertainty.
Her fear of the trench was soon forgotten, however, as the group neared their destination. The Guardians passed through the entryway of a long hallway. They crowded closely together, allowing their gelatinous bodies and arms to softly brush up against one another. They found themselves gripping one another’s hands and giving an occasional squeeze of comfort and encouragement. Their escort stopped before a dark doorway and opened the door, gesturing with his arm for the four Guardians to go inside.
The portal chamber was lit by glow rods hanging from the ceiling, giving the room a bright, cheerful look. Directly ahead was the activated portal. It was rectangular in shape and was surrounded on all four sides by strange symbols, from the simple to the inordinately complex. Six Masters flanked the portal, three to each side. The Masters to the left were female, their bodies trailing behind as long trains. Their arms and finger-like appendages were smaller than those of the three male Masters who hovered to the right. The bodies of the males were broad and darker than the females.
All six had the same violet eyes: deep, dark, and full of wisdom and mystery. Their penetrating eyes scoured the four Guardians as they approached. They fanned out and stopped a short distance from the six Masters. The middle female and the middle male Master glided forward and bowed deeply.
“You first came to us as the Elected. You leave now not only as Guardians, but also Masters, sent forth to guide and protect the Chosen,” the female, Briska, stated.
“Time is short. The danger the Mekans pose to the galaxy grows with each passing day. The fate of the entities that inhabit our galaxy depends upon you, and your ability to keep the Chosen safe.
“You have been instructed as to the signs and portents that will appear when the time is right for you to take your Chosen, travel to the portals, and bring them to Gentra.” When Briska finished, she glided back between the other two female Masters and fixed her gaze upon Master Ferrok, who now floated alone facing the Guardians.
“Gerok, from this moment forward you now hold the title of Master. Go forth, and meet your destiny,” Ferrok declared. Gerok swam toward the portal, and after a moment’s pause, passed through.
“Brok, from this moment forward you now hold the title of Master. Go forth, and meet your destiny.”
The same declaration was repeated for the other two Guardians, Mirka and Forka. After the four Guardians had passed through the portal, the Masters exited the chamber except for Master Ferrok. He remained behind, facing the portal, lost in thought. A slight vibration in the water behind him interrupted his uneasy deliberations.
“Do you still doubt what we have done, Ferrok?” Master Briska asked.
“We alone have the knowledge to save the galaxy. As long as the Guardians do not disclose the prophecy to the Chosen before the signs appear, then we will not be interfering with fate. We cannot take the chance that something happens to the Chosen before the signs appear,” Ferrok said.
“I hope you are right, Ferrok. We have done all we can. The fate of the galaxy now lies in the hands of the Chosen.”