There was a brilliant flash that could be seen through the clouds. A few seconds later he heard a sonic boom. Then the earth beneath him shook. It felt as though a volcano had erupted; that was known to happen on the newly terraformed planets. But this wasn't an eruption, this was something more sinister, he could feel it. A massive gust of wind rushed by, almost toppling him over, but Benni corrected the balance problem by curling to the ground away from the direction of the blast.
Without thinking Benni clicked on the transceiver behind his ear and sub-vocalized to the nano-mike wired to his vocal cords, "Aven, we have something."
Within minutes the tall blue creature that was designed simply as a super soldier - though had long since left that life - approached Benni from the shadows of the forest. "What is it Benni?" Benni internally laughed at the fact that Aven never used sub-vocals, considered them a waist of time.
Benni didn't have to explain to Aven that there was some sort of crash and that investigating it would be a good idea. That thought, Benni knew, had already crossed Aven's complex mind. No, Aven was asking what had specifically crashed, and whether or not it was Harmanian. Benni quickly made the hand signals, "Harmanian, unknown."
The two of them crept through the forest, rain splattering them as they went. There was a flash of lightening, a crack of thunder. Why does there always have to be a storm? Benni shook his head. They always make these things seem so much more dramatic. Soon enough they reached a newly formed clearing. Benni nearly fell into a crater. Aven caught him; he pointed out what might be a good place for Benni to descend. Benni nodded and walked cautiously to the far end, the entry side of the crater. Aven, well, being Aven, simply walked straight down the side of the crater. It vaguely reminded Benni of the military's
"Australian Repelling" technique, but much slower. Benni had always marveled at Aven's unique talents to completely ignore the laws of physics.
Aven reached the capsule first; Benni soon was at his side. Benni had seen something like this one before in the DIOVA sacred texts. It had contained the Angel of Death. Benni didn't believe such stories anymore. He knew that it had been the EVE. The capsule was designed like a miniature version of the twenty first century space shuttles. Streaks of space debris and earth covered the ornate white, turquoise, and purple designs lining the exterior. At one point Benni might have thought of them as holy or mystical, but now he knew them clearly to be Harmanian instructions and warnings for the care of the vessel.
Suddenly the black glassy dome that was the top of the capsule slid back into the body. A layer of steam plumed up out of the interior. A hand appeared, delicately draping itself over the edge where the lid had slid. Another hand appeared on the other side. Then the exquisite form of a woman emerged form the capsule like a pharaoh awaking from his tomb. She hunched forward, catching her breath. Then she stopped. Her head turned sharply to face Benni and Aven. In a swift fluid movement that wasn't expected from someone just having woken from apparent deep cryo, the woman launched herself out of the capsule and landed only inches from Benni's face. She started speaking something in gibberish, but the meaning was clear: she was on the offensive, and demanding to know where she was and who they were.
Benni had learned very little Harmanian in his devote service as a DIOVA agent, but he managed to blurt out something that loosely translated to, "We are Humans from Sol. We understand Dannot."
The woman blinked once. Then in an accent that remotely resembled the Australian accent from Earth she said, "Who are you?" in the most menacing tone of command Benni had heard since leaving DIOVA.
"I'm Jai Midori Benni of Terra Nova, this is..." But Benni's introduction of Aven was cut short. The woman had turned on Aven like a cat ready to pounce. She muttered something under her breath in a dialect of Harmanian that Benni didn't quite understand. He watched helplessly as the woman ran her left thumbnail along her right upper arm and extracted a cylindrical object that Benni recognized without thinking: force-lance. Her arm seemed to auto-heal and with a flick of her wrist the object extended into a full sized lance with the firing power of a large plasma cannon. She pointed it at Aven, letting it rest underneath his chin.
She muttered something also in Harmanian, the only word Benni understood was Founders: the people Aven had once fled. Aven answered back in the same language. They had a mildly lengthy conversation before she retracted the force-lance and stood erect.
"I am Alimah Saffa Dannot-Teluvian, beyond that I do not remember. Please, will you help me?"
She stood there, half defiant, half pleading, all-soaking wet. It seemed to suit her for what ever reason. There was another flash of lightening, and for the first time Benni got a momentarily good look at the woman.
She stood at a standard 5"3', built for combat but with exquisite form. Wavy, soaking wet, blond hair fell to her waist. She had an oval face, high cheekbones, and a pronounced chin. Her forehead was long, but it suited her. Her lips were pursed in slight confusion. She had the biggest luminous blue eyes he had ever seen... excluding his sister of course, whom he had not seen in nearly 18 years.
Suddenly the girl began to wobble slightly. She touched her hand to her forehead. She collapsed. Aven caught her, and fluidly swept her into his arms. He turned to Benni, "We have to get her someplace safe before the founders arrive."
A half galaxy away Kipnan Kar'Imah, pride of the Nan Kari Highguard, strode silently down the hall to the room of the ambassador's daughter. He knocked politely. There was no answer. He knocked again. "Lady Shaloma? Are you in there?" The door slid open silently.
"Yes?" All things forgotten, he was standing before the most beautiful female he had ever seen, Nan Kari or now. She was significantly shorter than him. Fair skin contrasted with her golden brown hair that at this point was thrown back into a pony-tail. She wore a blue dress that fitted her well: simple and elegant.
Kip was speechless for a short while. Finally he managed to ask the question: "Come away with me?" She blinked.
"Kip? Are you sure that this is what you want to do? You know that my father will be furious. He'll send the armada after you." Kip nodded, he had been thinking it over for some time. A Nan Kari Highguard Officer marrying the daughter of the Solarian ambassador to Nan Kari would eventually lead to peace, he felt it, but he would have to fight for her first.
"Sana', come away with me," He repeated. "I have safe passage for us out of here aboard a ship called Kat's Cradle. The Captain of that vessel has secured me a position as pilot aboard a ship run by a friend of hers."
"What's the name of the ship that's to be our home?" Always like Sana' to think of home.
"The Rhune, and eventually the Phoenix."
Sana' thought about it for a moment. "A good omen, alright, I'm coming with you."
"Have your bags ready, we leave in an hour." Sana' nodded and closed the door silently. A thrill of enjoyment spun through Kip, but it was accompanied by a pang of dread. "Pray to the gods that we make it out of here unharmed." He muttered to himself before walking down the hall and into his destiny.