Once they had enjoyed their meal of roasted Auroch, with a rich gravy, roasted tubers, and kaba, they settled in to relax and enjoy being together. The evening had been quiet up to that time, and then Braela spoke, “We have had a lot of changes happening lately and it is the eve of the gravest time since the exodus for all of us. If we aren’t able to stop the Marn, they will destroy every living being on this planet. What is the plan you have to stop that Whitlaw?” It shocked all of them when Braela spoke. Not because she spoke, but because of the understanding she had of the situation.
Regulus replied, “We have convinced Yoran to return and help us develop the weapons that Whitlaw says we need to turn the tide of battle in our favor. I think that you already know what we are planning. You can connect with any Skree on the planet, and if you connect with our mind, then through us, their Bond-Mate.” They all had a quizzical look on their faces. What was he not telling them? It was Lara who answered the question for them. “Each of us being bonded share all of the thoughts, feelings, and pain with our Bond-Mate. Bonding creates a symbiotic relationship between Skree and Brellon, we are two halves of one whole. One can’t exist without the other after bonding.” There was dead silence in the room. They all looked at each other and realized that the plan was to get all of the ballista built, placed, and manned before the Marn returned, and they needed the Seers fully operational by then. Lantana sat there with her mouth hanging open, she realized fully what her father was planning. They were going to attack the Marn ships, troops on the ground, and it was going to be relentless. They were taking the fight to the Marn, no more hiding, they had the weapons they needed.
Jason looked at his father and said “Father, we need to return to the Companions Armory. Yoran said they had a way to create lights that were far better than torches, I know it seems trivial, but if we can find the way to create the lights, I think it will help us with this battle. It’s been nagging at the back of my mind that we missed some very important things in that Armory and we are going to need them in this battle.” Whitlaw looked at his son, he was proud of him, he had a quick mind, and was always thinking. He told them “tomorrow, you and Jama return to the Armory, see what else you can find. I want you back in a week.” With that they said their goodnights and returned to their rooms.
Jason, Sharma, Jama, and Skelon returned to the Armory. No one had been told about the Armory yet and it needed to be searched thoroughly. Jason and Sharma went in and began to study the inscriptions on the walls and the Steele that they had discovered initially. As they were looking at the Steele, Jason noticed that at the top, it had a tanzite crystal shaped like an orb, but it seemed to be skewed from where it should set. He asked Sharma to come and stand by the Steel and he stood on the saddle, lifted the orb up and saw and unusual shaped piece of some kind of shell under it. He took out the shell and examined it, it was a piece of a snail shell. One of the large ones that were dangerous. He resettled the shell in its place, settled the orb back in its socket, and when he turned it to lock it in place, it began to glow. It lit up the whole cavern. He got so excited he fell off Sharma’s back and landed with a thump, laughing. He excitedly called for Jama and Skelon, they were astonished by the light inside the cavern. Jason took out his journal, and drew every detail of the orb, the socket, and the shell. Then he placed it all back in place and set the orb askew as it had been before and told Jama that they had what they came for.
They returned to the Great Temple and took the drawings straight to Whitlaw, he sent for Yoran, and when he got there they showed him the diagram. Yoran asked what the socket was made from. Jason told him it was faron alloy, and it was set in the top of the Steele. Yoran got so excited that he almost jumped up and down. He had been looking for that secret for a long time, and Jason had found it. He went straight to the Craft Hall and set several journeymen to working on the lights. Within a week, they had replaced all of the torches in every room, hall, workshop, and throughout the Temple. This light source required nothing to power it. There was some kind of relationship between the tanzite, the shell, and the faron alloy. It was a mystery that Yoran would spend the rest of his life trying to puzzle out.
With the new lights, came increased productivity. It was incredible, even the farming masters came and seeing the lights, had them installed in all of their hydroponic rooms. This changed their life for the better in every way. The lights emitted no heat, just light, and that made them safe. Yoran developed portable lights for all of the Guardians to put in their field gear. They were made in such a way that allowed the orbs to be removed and reinserted, and that way the lights were used when needed. He had done that with all the lights placed in sleeping rooms, and personal quarters, but in areas that were accessible to everyone the lights were permanently on. Yoran wondered how long they would stay lit, he thought that at some time, whatever caused the tanzite to glow, surely would wear out and need to be replaced.
Whitlaw had always known that among all the worlds he had visited, Embrellon was unique. Most of the worlds had certain things that were common on all inhabited worlds. The presence of mineral ores like iron and copper, precious metals, volcanic or seismic activity, changing seasons, severe weather patterns, but not on Embrellon. The only mineral ore deposit was faron, the tanzite only existed on Embrellon, and it bubbled out of the planet like hot mud and when it cooled, it had the oddest properties of any substance he had seen. It could be shaped easily, it was highly resistant to breakage, when combined with faron ore, it made the faron nearly indestructible, and it could focus telepathic abilities to allow the symbiotic bonding between Skree and humanoids with telepathic abilities. With Jason’s find in the Armory, now it was used for lights. What other secrets it held no one knew.
Yoran had completed the ballista’s in record time. The tests were impressive, the could hurl a bolt three thousand meters accurately. The crossbows, were accurate to five hundred meters, and the bows he had designed were easily accurate for the worst archer to two-hundred and fifty meters. He still had found no way to create explosives, they had even experimented with using the dung of every life form on the planet to create some form of explosive, but, without nitrite deposits, sulfur, or any of the other components for basic black powder, there wasn’t a way to make them. He had originally thought of using some type of compressed gas operated system but all the attempts had failed. That caused him to find other alternatives, which resulted in the ballista.
Yoran had told him years earlier, when they first worked on ways to defend the planet, that Embrellon would provide the means to defend it. When he had left, he was looking for those ways. He had found some, and had used Whitlaw’s designs as a starting point. The Vatarian was exceptionally gifted in adapting ideas into working models, and he was a perfectionist, which made developing working models a slower process than Whitlaw liked, but the end results were always better.
With all the new defensive weapons built, the training could commence. They had less than two weeks to get ready, he had taken the Marn statements of meeting back up with the other ships in a month, cut it in half, and then added spaceflight time back to it. Even with a hyper-drive, it would take them thirty days to arrive, unless they were already in the system, time was short.
He had discussed the possibility of building an observatory with Yoran several times, they had the means and the material, tanzite could be polished to make clear magnifying lenses, but, the observatory would have to be placed where it could be seen from the air and it would be the first thing the Marn would destroy. That prevented them from building it.
Then Yoran’s words echoed through his mind, Embrellon would provide the means to defend it. The Seers, they were the key. If they could see through the eyes of any Skree anywhere on Embrellon, then with their ability to see, they could become the observatory. He had the answer to the puzzle. He went immediately to get Yoran, he needed answers, and Yoran would have them.
He took Yoran with him to the Seers, he wanted them to understand what he wanted them to do. He needed Yoran to train them. When they entered the Seers were sitting in a semi-circle all concentrating on seeing through Tarmand. As they watched them, it occurred to Yoran that there was something missing. All of the Seers were wearing the diadems, and had their armor on, the tanzite stones were softly glowing. He realized what they needed to do. He placed his hand on Whitlaw’s shoulder and motioned for him to leave with him. Once they were out of the room, Yoran told him, “James, I believe I know how to make the Seers more effective, I need a day, two at most, and then we will return.”. It was a rare thing for Yoran to call him James, he usually deferred to Whitlaw, as did all other’s but Lara, this meant it was important, and he needed to be patient and trust Yoran. He inclined his head, and said, “Then two days you have.”
When Yoran sent for him, he also asked for Jason, Jama, Jana, Lara, and their Bond-Mates to come. This meant it was incredibly important, they wasted no time getting to Yoran’s workshop. Yoran was standing next to a cloth covered object sitting in the middle of the workshop floor. When the ten of them entered, he ushered all his assistants out of the room, closed the doors, and asked them all to find a place to sit.
He sat in his chair and before removing the covering, he started with, “Whitlaw and I went to observe the Seers while they were trying to see through Tarmand. They were doing it but the effort it took was tremendous. I observed that their diadems, and the stone in the breastplate of their armor was glowing weakly. That made me realize that what they needed was a way to amplify their ability to see. When I gave the first stone to Lantana, I instructed her to split the stone, place half in the diadem and place the other half in the center of her armor breastplate. That worked, and when she and the other cadets had received their diadems at graduation, they all experienced the same thing, and the same vision. I believe that what I have under this cover will make what they do, complete.” With that he stood and whipped the cover off with a flourish of showmanship.
Standing in the center of the workshop was Steele a meter and a half high, on top of the Steele was the largest polished tanzite stone any of them had ever seen. It must have been a meter in diameter, it was mounted in faron ore, the Steele was made of tanzite, and it was glowing, like one of their lights. The difference between the orb lights and this orb, was that the orb lights had no purple veins in them, and this orb had purple veins running all through it. Then, Yoran said, “While I was constructing this orb, I had my assistants prepare a special room for the Seers. We will reconvene there when we move this to the room.”
They all had questions, especially Whitlaw. Yoran held up his hand for them to quiet and said, “I will answer all your questions once we are ready to bring in the Seers. Until then, I need you to wait.”. Jason started to say something and when Whitlaw looked at him, he knew it would be pointless, Yoran wouldn’t answer them.
They came back together in the new room two hours later. They were astonished by what they saw. The room was paneled in tanzite, with heavy purple veins running through it. All the panels were framed with faron, the door was made from tanzite as well, framed the same way. The ceiling was paneled as well. The room had thirteen sides and in the center of the room was the Steele with its huge orb. Around the Steele were thirteen chairs caved from a dark hardwood that was ebony in color. Each chair had a high back, with orbs at the top on each side, the chairs had thick cushions on them, and they were placed around the Steele. The Steele had thirteen sides as well and the whole room was designed so that each side of the Steele spread out to the wall in a concentric design. In the center of the ceiling was another orb, larger than the one on the steel by half. On each chair was a robe, diadem, and amulet and all the tanzite seemed to match, almost as if the whole room had been carved out of single large block of tanzite. Beside each chair was a couch for a Skree. Leaning against each chair was a staff two meters long, with an orb fitted into the end. The staffs were made of the same wood as the chairs, fitted with a faron tip. Along the walls of the room was a single bench, fitted with cushions, and in front of the bench were couches for Skree.
Yoran had instructed the Seers to come to the room, and to leave their diadems and armor behind. They were dressed simply, tunic, shirt, breeches, and soft soled knee high boots. He told them to put the robes, diadems, and amulets on, and to be seated and to take the staff and hold it in their right hand with the tip on the floor. Once they had all done as instructed, Yoran approached the steel and rotated it to line up the lines in the floor with the Steel and it settled into the floor and became flush. He then took the orb on the Steel and rotated it clockwise and it locked into the top of the Steele, much like the one in the Armory that light up for Jason. The orbs all began to glow, floor, ceiling, on the chairs, and the staffs, then the amulets and diadems also began to glow and between the orb in the ceiling and the orb on the steel, a shaft of light appeared and in the light, Whitlaw could see the planet as he had once seen it from space. He was stunned.
Yoran was beaming, he had discovered how to make the observatory that Whitlaw had wanted, and it was incredible. Jason and the others were sitting there with their mouths open, they had never seen the planet from space, that was something only Whitlaw had seen. He looked at his father and understood clearly how his father had been so passionate about this planet, it was beautiful. You could see every detail of the surface, and it was spinning slowly. His father said that was exactly how it would look from the bridge of his ship. He asked Yoran to explain what they were looking at.
Yoran said, “What you are seeing is the way our planet looks from space, I realize that only Whitlaw has seen this, and he can verify that this is a true image.” Whitlaw nodded, Yoran continued, “this room, is constructed in a way that the minds of the Seers and their Bond-Mates, can see anywhere on this planet at any time. They also can see for a certain limited distance around the planet. They are no able to warn us of any danger coming toward us, as well as link to any Skree on the planet who is Bonded. The Free Skree would have to agree to share their mind with the Seers and I know that seems to be an answer for everything, but would destroy the minds of the Seers, that’s why Lantana and the others all feinted, they had become connected to the planet, and were seeing through the minds of every sentient being with telepathic traits all at once.” Everyone was stunned.
Yoran asked the Seers to reach out to Tarmand and touch his mind. He reminded them to only reach for Tarmand. They did, and when they connected, between the orbs appeared exactly what Tarmand was seeing, The Seers, at Yoran’s direction, spoke to Tarmand, Lantana spoke while the others just concentrated. And to all their surprise, they could hear him in the room. Whitlaw was stunned. He had had communications devices in the past, but they were based in technology, this was different. He looked at Yoran for an explanation. Yoran smiled and even his long canine teeth showed this time.
Yoran explained, “The heart of Embrellon is made of tanzite and faron, everything on this world is connected through it. The tanzite is in everything, even the purple ochre that runs through the veins of the Skree. Because it has the ability to amplify telepathic signals, it has created the ability for the Skree to become symbiotically linked to any being possessing telepathic abilities, even those who aren’t aware of it.”
Whitlaw asked Lantana to ask Tarmand to ask Jamar for a report, and it was Jamar who answered her. Everyone was silent, this was beyond incredible. And now they understood Yoran’s instructions to only connect to Tarmand. If they had opened their minds to receive, it would drive them insane. It had to be done with control. Jamar gave his report, he hadn’t seen anything so far, and he would report as soon as he did.
Whitlaw realized that he had a means of communicating anywhere on the planet. He turned to Yoran with another question. “Yoran, how did we see the planet from space, there are no Skree able to see the whole planet?” Yoran explained, “What you saw was the extent that the tanzite properties allow the minds of the Seers to expand. The same way we saw the planet, they can focus on any area of the planet and see it. If there is a Guardian there, or we send one, we can get on the ground intel clearly and see exactly what is happening there. It is my belief that at regular intervals, the Seers should scan the space around the planet to see if ships are coming, that will give us time to get into place before they land.” Whitlaw had his observatory, communications center, and scanner, all in one. The Seers would be able to warn them. It was incredible.
He told Lantana to ask Jamar and Tarmand to go aloft and to scan the ground as they rose. He wanted to see how large of an area the Seers would be able to clearly see from the vantage point of the Rangers. Jamar rose steadily, making sure the ascent was done in a leisurely manner so that they could adjust if needed. The vantage point was incredible, the could see everything Tarmand saw, and switching were able to see what Jamar saw. They could survey a large area. At least ten kilometers in any direction, and they could hear whatever the Rangers heard. It was more than Whitlaw could have hoped for. Even the technology he had had as a space marine didn’t equal to this, usually the intel was visual and there was no audio.
He told the Seers to break the link, he wanted them to contact each ranger as they could locate them and to hone the skills he needed them to have, and he told them they had a week. He would be making some assignment adjustments, and deploying Scouts. He sent Jama and Jana to gather all the guardians that were in the Temple and they were to meet them in the great hall in thirty minutes. He told Jason to be there and to gather the best archers among the Guardians that were trained and to have them ready.
When the Guardians were all assembled, he called for silence. Then he spoke, “The Marn force will be here soon, we have been working non-stop to find a way to know when and where they would arrive. We have that means now.’ He paused for effect, then he continued, “Today, the Seers have made it possible for us to effectively stay in contact with all Guardians and to see what they are seeing.” The hall fell to complete silence. “Today we are going to be forming new cadre’s in the Guardians. I need Scouts, able Guardians who are expert archers, swordsmen, survivalists, and who are adept at adapting to situations. You will be sent out in two person teams, and stationed in areas where you will maintain constant vigilance. Rangers will be assigned to patrol areas and maintain contact with scouts, and we will establish platoons of Guardians who will be on the ready and transport equipment to any battle area. I will have your new assignments posted later today and you will report to the Senior Guardians who are in command of your platoons.” With that he dismissed them. Once the bulk of the Guardians had left, he called Jason, Jama, Jana, and several of the Senior Guardians he had in mind for a meeting.
When all the Senior Guardians had assembled, he told them his plan. They were going to form up the Scouts first, he assigned Jama and Jana as head of Scouts, they had been a team for a long time, and of all the Senior Guardians, they had the most experience scouting. They were to train and ready the scouts and deploy them in two days. He assigned Jason to their command, and told Jama to find a suitable partner for Jason. He then divided the Guardians into the new ranks, he gave command of the Rangers to Xeon and Tarbarro. They along with their Bond-mates Rondera and Sharrova would be taking the Rangers into the field and assigning the areas they would cover. The rest he assigned to equipment transport. He asked Jason, Jama and Jana to stay, and dismissed the rest.
Once the room was empty, he addressed them, “I need dependable eyes and ears, you are the best scouts I have, and I need you to select the Scouts from the best archers and woodsmen we have. We need pairs, if they are already with a life-mate, that is all the better He asked Jason if he had any problems with being assigned a partner? He said he didn’t, and then he left with Jama and Jana to go and get the Scouts teamed and ready to go. They had the locations that Whitlaw assigned as Ideal locations for Scouts, and he had assigned Jason the sector with the Bonding Cave.
Jama had selected one of the graduates who had shown to be the best archer they had with probably the exception of Jason, her name was Shandarro, and her Bond-Mate was Knala. Shandarro and Knala accepted the assignment with exceptional grace. She was ready to leave she had brought her gear with her. Jason told her to load up, and they left within the hour. Jason was impressed, he thought he was only one who brought his gear. They gathered supplies, mounted up and with a great sweep of their wings, their Bond-Mates had them aloft.