She had just walked in (no doubt from spying behind the closed door) as Uzryel left the terrace after his heated discussion with Arkesyys' King.
Myzryel smiled softly as he gazed down to his daughter, Anazryel, and knelt to her level, caressing her cheek, as she pouted.
"Then you probably heard that the argument finished well. Uzryel was upset over my decision, that is all, but now, he understand the reason."
He looked at her as the thought slowly entered his mind that she was growing older and smarter with each passing day. The children always seemed to outsmart their parents. He turned his gaze away from her and toward the slowly fading sun, as Arkesyys moved through space away from the star.
"Soon, my dear, the world will be a better place. I believe that today, with this treaty that 27 Empires signed, we just took the first step toward peace. Now all that is left is a billion more steps," he finished ironically, as his daughter giggled.
"What happened in Vega B?" Anazryel finally asked, torn by curiosity ever since from hearing its mention during the meeting.
"You spied on us?!" Myzryel asked, halfway between astonished at his daughter's actions, and amused by her endless curiosity. "There were very dangerous people there, Ana, I don't want you to be in their presence."
"I wasn't in the room, I was listening through the door," she defended herself, pouting once more.
Myzryel smiled kindly; she always needed to know everything. She would become a great Queen, when her time will come.
"Come with me, the Library will explain better, and you will see the whole story," he replied, taking her by the hand.
They walked to an alcove in his bedroom; various paintings covered the wall of the alcove, and he touched a specific part on one of the paintings, a little white flower. After a moment, they both vanished from the alcove in a pop.
They reappeared inside another room, a small and cozy library, the walls covered with countless books; the floor was covered with chairs, and some of them were used by Arkesyys' citizens, as they read from various books.
"Can I go say hi to the Library, please?" Anazryel suddenly asked. "Its been awhile since anyone went to see them..."
Myzryel smiled softly; she was always worried about the well-being of everyone, including the most powerful. He looked around them to make sure that no one heard, and he whispered in her ear:
"Sure; just don't refer to the Library as "them", for security reasons. Even in here there may be spies. Lets just verify that the Library wants a visit, okay? It is rather busy nowadays..."
He walked to the far end of one of the library's row, and took out a book named mysteriously "A Mystical Something". He brushed it, took Anazryel's hand, and waited. After awhile, he, his daughter, and the book vanished from the row. The Library had deemed it safe to let them enter.
They reappeared inside yet another room. This one felt different; it was very large, the walls were translucent, as if made of crystal, and the cathedral roof was adorned with soft lights, bathing the entire room in a soothing ochre glow. A soft music was playing, and Myzryel strolled across the room, making sure it was secure, in an instinctive impulse; one he had ever since the Shiakar Prince's threat of stealing the Library. As for Anazryel, she walked in a joyous manner to the center of the room, where 12 chairs laid in a circle. 12 Arkesyyans sat comfortably in these chairs, and one of them turned his head, and smiled widely toward the young girl as she approached them. Straightening up in his seated position, he hugged her, as Myzryel joined them. The 11 other Arkesyyans did not move, though a few of them smiled warmly upon seeing the King and his daughter.
"You're lucky Anazryel; due to recent circumstances, I would have not allowed your visit, for security risks. But things are calm for the moment," the Arkesyyan spoke softly. "How are you?"
"You know how I am!" Anazryel replied, laughing.
"I was being polite," the Arkesyyan smirked. "It's good to see you, and even better to know that you are doing well since your last visit."
"Can I go hug them?" she asked, looking uncertainly at the 11 other Arkesyyan, whom didn't took heed of her presence.
"Yeah sure; they are surveying some outposts, but you can go say hi."
Anazryel giggled in glee, and hurried to give each of the seated Arkesyyan a big hug, to which they paused what they were doing to happily replied, before returning to their survey.
"Anything new?" Myzryel asked softly the Library.
"Yes, but nothing of importance for the moment; just small events in the various civilizations," the seated Arkesyyan, the Library, answered as softly.
He was the leader of the 12 minds (the Librarians) that composed the true Power behind Arkesyys: the mysterious (and mystical for those who only knew of its reputation) Library. Their incredible abilities to memorize and store every events and every information surpassed even computers; and unlike the latter, they could not be wiped out. For storing informations was not their only ability: their understanding of the fabric of the Universe, and with the help of technology, allowed them to manipulate matter to their will. They could create walls out of air by arranging matter, and countless other "magical" defences against themselves. The Library was located at the deepest core of Arkesyys, which was the main reason why the city was drifting through space. A permanent location could not be fixed upon Arkesyys, except at the will of the Library and the King; and should it be necessary, the Library could concentrate their abilities for a short while, and make Arkesyys invisible for a short moment, long enough to change its direction, or fool the enemy into believing they have the wrong location.
Furthermore, though they were 12, the Library could still exist with a minimum of 7 minds, should anything happen to them.
Of course, they were not completely invincible, and with the technological rise of the Shiakar Empire, whose level could now match the Library's in a more rudimentary manner, the Library found themselves to be in danger. Hence King Myzryel's treaty, created as a compromise with the Shiakar Prince, to protect the Library from falling in the wrong hands. Whoever controls the Library had the greatest Power in the Universe, with eyes and ears everywhere across space; and a bargain had to be struck with the Shiakar Empire. A bargain Myzryel wasn't fully proud of, but which protected the Library.
Now safe once more from the hands of the Shiakars, the Library could return to its normal surveillance and gathering program. The 12 minds were linked to hundreds of thousands of individuals across the Universe, through a technology that even Myzryel did not understood, and whatever happened, however insignificant, was recorded, to be compiled into books inside the physical library.
"Has the Vega B incident been put in the library yet?" Myzryel asked, as they both watched Anazryel chat with one of the Librarian.
"Yes. It will be in the 165th Tome of the Lyra History," the Library answered. "Haven't you already seen the incident?"
"Yes, but Ana hasn't, and she wishes to know what happened..." Myzryel paused, and he looked worried. "She is too young yet to worry about such things."
"On the contrary. She is older than she looks; she doesn't worry, she cares. It is a quality that should be explored. Let her see the Universe as it is; it may not be beautiful, but she will do her best to make it so when her time will come. Like you try to do," the Library reasoned.
Myzryel smiled weakly.
"Did I do well, Library, with the Treaty? I fear that it won't be enough to keep the Shiakars at bay."
"You did the only thing that could be done. And soon, we won't be their main concern..." the Library looked worried for the first time. "There is a Darkness growing, Myzryel. It is not yet define, but we can feel its blooming. It is something unlike anything I have seen, unlike even the Shiakars; dreadfully more dangerous. I don't know what it is, nor if it is here yet; maybe we are glimpsing some future events, or an alternate history. But it is very slowly but surely growing. And I fear that even we won't be within the Shiakar's plans."
"Fear that they will leave you alone? But that is a good news!"
"Not if it means the coming of something more fearful than the Power we hold. But this is a concern for the very far future," the Library quickly ended as Anazryel finally made her way back to them.
"Thank you for your visit, Anazryel," the Library thanked her, hugging her one last time. "Now, I believe your father wanted to show you something, and we must too go back to our surveillance."
"Of course," Anazryel nodded. "Bye, Library!"
The Arkesyyans waved her goodbye, and the Library returned them to the physical library. They reappeared with a pop in the library row, and Myzryel replaced the "A Mystical Something" book back in its shelf. He then moved to the row containing the history books, and found the latest issue, the 165th Tome of Lyra's History. He returned to the main hall of the library, and sat in one of the free chair, letting Anazryel sit on his knees. He opened the book, where a blank screen greeted him, inviting him to press "Enter" to read the video book.
"Allright, little girl, the Vega B event. Let's show you what it is all about."
A male Vegan stepped out from his house, and walked into the cool grass, his naked feet brushing the yellow leaves. He lifted his feral-like face to the sky, closed his eyes, and relished the warmth of the sun upon his skin, the wind brushing against the delicate golden and bronze fur covering his skin. Smiling softly, he then turned his attention to his garden, and harvested some fruits to prepare his family's breakfast. He surveyed briefly his farm and the rows of vegetables, verifying there has been no visible damage after last night's heavy winds, and satisfied, he walked back inside his house.
Such an action was performed by thousands of farmers across Vega B; their lives were not complicated, and after their independence from the Lyra Empire, they remained primarily an agricultural society, taking joy in the simple life of farming, and knowledge of medicine.
Later in the day, toward mid-day, the town's Deep Drum sounded; the citizens were urgently required for a meeting. As the citizens who could leave their farms came in the central Hall, most uttered a small cry of surprise and shock as they gazed upon a Shiakar General standing beside their mayor, the latter visibly shaken. The Shiakar's cloak hid most of his physical aspect, but his lowered hood exposed his hairless green scaled face, his thin mouth grinning, his yellow eyes with their slitted pupils looking over the citizens with disdain, his lack of nose and ears (replaced by small holes between the scales) only accentuating his dominating presence, as he stared down at the Vega B population from his 11-foot height. He held no weapon, but his dangerous presence alone was enough to prevent the population from making a movement. After one last disdainful survey of the crowd, he suddenly spoke, in a dangerously soothing voice:
"I am General Promethozar, from the Shiakar Universal Empire. Your planet has been selected by our Great Empire for its bountiful resources. Our own planets are not quite as well resourceful in agriculture, and neither do we have the time or the labour to dedicate our much-needed personnel to such a mundane work. You are thus honoured to become part of our Empire, and help our honourable conquest."
The Vega B citizens looked at each other with concern, and back at the mayor, who was clearly not fond of intervening in the General's decision.
The elder citizen stepped forth with determination, and answered:
"We have claimed our independence from the Lyra Empire, who was kind and helpful, to be the masters of ourselves. We are certainly not abandoning that freedom for another Empire, especially not yours, Snake."
Promethozar grinned with delight, and from under his cloak, he unsheathed his weapon and shot down the elder citizen.
"No! Stop!" the Vegan mayor cried, putting himself between the crowd and the General. "My friends, speak to the General with respect and politeness." Turning to the General, he explained: "He was only expressing the feeling of earned freedom that we have within ourselves since countless times; such a feeling is not easily put aside."
"I see," Promethozar replied menacingly. "Then let me elaborate and help you put these "feelings" aside: you are no longer protected by the Lyra Empire. You are alone in this Universe. If you do not join our Empire, we shall consider you as an obstacle to the survival of our specie, and we will erase you from our path."
The threat was clear enough. The mayor turned to his citizens, and looked at them with an anxious expectation:
"They only require a part of our agriculture production. It is not a great demand, we are gifted with an abundance of crops."
"What are we gaining in return?" many of the citizens replied angrily.
"Protection from the Ferelengus; their own conquest will soon lead them here, and they will use you for their experiments," Promethozar answered.
Only he knew that this was a lie; the Ferelengus were allied with the Shiakar Empire at the condition that their respective conquer path didn't cross. For this reason, their respective Empire moved away from one another.
But the lie gave the desired effect upon the Vegan B crowd. Their fear of the Ferelengus, nicknamed "Praying Mantis" by the few who met, and escaped from, such a specie, was stronger than the dislike of supplying the Shiakar with their surplus of crops.
They finally nodded in agreement, and the mayor turned to Promethozar:
"We accept your request, at the condition that we harvest what is necessary to us, and we give to you the surplus?"
"Of course," the General snarled. "You shall bring every week your harvest in this Hall. Do not disappoint the Empire, mayor."
With that, he suddenly vanished from the Hall, in a loud pop and hiss, as a part of the air around him got sucked up in his disappearance. The mayor turned to the frightened citizens:
"We will start implementing rations. With luck, once the Shiakar moves out of the Sector, they will leave us alone and back to our old ways. So let's not disappoint them, and give them as much food as we can."
The citizens reluctantly accepted, and most left in a hurry the Hall, while some stayed behind to take care of their shot companion.
For the following months, the population of Vega B gave as promised their surplus of crops. With all that they harvested, they could have fed their civilization for the next hundred year without ever need to harvest again. But the Shiakar Empire requested more. The population was implemented with even more rations, and as the months passed, a good 80% of what they harvested went to the Shiakars. It still wasn't enough, and the mayor requested a meeting.
"General Prometozar, we do try to make more crops, but we have already taken all the lands that we can cultivate, and we eat as less as we can. We don't have more space."
"Easily obtained," Promethozar hissed.
He gave orders to his platoon, and with a pop, a hundred of soldiers appeared in hundreds of farms across Vega B. The mayor heard not what happened, but he saw smoke rise in the horizon.
"What have you done?!" he exclaimed, shocked.
"You have more space, mayor. More space, less mouths to feed, and ashes are good for the soil, so I'm told," the Shiakar General replied with a grin. "I'll expect to see more production the following week. If you lack space, please don't hesitate to mention it, we will make some for you."
The mayor resorted to extremities to make more crops. Infertile lands were worked to the maximum of their potentials; but it was to no avail. Every few months, the Shiakar soldiers would "make" more space.
Finally, Vega B was exhorted of all its resources. The soil had been worked for so long, that it no longer recreated the necessary nutrients. Food became scarce not just for the Vega inhabitants, but for the Shiakar Empire. So the latter resorted to its final stage.
Several ships surrounded an asteroid orbiting around Vega, and using their latest technology, nudged it away from its original orbit into a new one: straight toward Vega B. Their weapons were not powerful enough to make an effect upon the entire planet, but they needed to leave nothing behind for the Lyra Empire to salvage. And so they nudged into place one of the greatest weapon the Universe had against life: a 5 kilometer asteroid. There was a warning for the inhabitants of what was to come, but no escape. Their agricultural life didn't included space travel, and there was no shelter against a colliding asteroid or its aftermath.
When the Shiakar ships left the Vega sector, only a cloud of small rocks stood where Vega B did.
Anazryel stared blankly at the book as Myzryel closed it. She was trying hard to keep her misty eyes from crying; people could be looking at her.
"Why?" she could only ask, her throat choked.
"The Shiakar left nothing behind once they finished with it. With luck, it won't happen again," Myzryel sighed.
"Because of your treaty?"
"Yes. because of it. Instead of destroying everything, they will need, if they wish to expand their Empire, to spend their time converting people so the latter will follow them once the deadline is reached. So will we."
"What if they convert everyone? Even those you will try to save?"
"They won't be able to do so. Darkness never wins. The sky is the perfect proof, Ana. Just look at it, and you will see. There'll always be shining stars. And they will be ours."
Anazryel smiled weakly, and laid her head against her father's chest. The latter extended and arm and picked another book from a shelf near his seat.
"Now... what about a bedtime story from Aldebaran?
She nodded fervently, and he started reading aloud for her, for a few moments where he wasn't a worrying King.
- TARDIS - also known as RV
- Optimist Writer
I'm a writer that believes in optimistic, hopeful stories that tell a good future. A friend said: if you cannot find the light, become the light.
So if you like feel-good, kind fantasy and sci-fi stories, sometimes dark but always striving for the light, you've come to the right place.