Dark Clouds


Ken Burch


Whenever I close my eyes, I see him. He still remains as he's always been, strong and proud
and for that I continue smiling at his memory. So much of what I am, is because of him.

"Put it on right, I mean it. You have to put it on right, if you don't and go out there, they will
kill you and I'll be without a brother," he said. Wars have been fought, won and lost over
the dumbest things. Since the very beginning of time mankind has continued this ongoing habit
of destruction in one way or another. It's still unclear as to why, and many could argue that
the reasons are simple, "It wasn't meant to be....ever." So with an explanation such as that set,
we move forward, ever so closer to our own destruction, and the hopes of being stopped,
are never. So it would seem, that we really are born to die, sometimes at our own hand.

Part 1

Along the very road traveled, by those of his fathers, Paul had gathered what wheat he and his brother Sasha could find, and headed back to the village, their eyes remaining fixed upon the way ahead and of course, behind. Nightfall was a few hours away. Upon the third moon of the Fall ahead, Paul will turn 18. His younger brother Sasha, would have to wait four more years. The two had been close since birth, but after losing their father to the wars of Haderrack, life between them had become difficult to say the least. Home was not much different then those of other children on Aki. Most of the months, were spent learning and training for the battles to come. The people of Aki had long battled other worlds, or so it seemed. For as long as Paul could remember, the men of Aki were forever pinned against those warriors of Hillemth. The universe of Arie was comprised of four large planets. The first planet from what history would tell, was Tryi. It's rings of fire spun in opposite directions, creating a magnetic surface for which no being of any kind could live upon. Tryi's heat provided to the remaining planets, heat and a source of energy to those able to harvest it.

Lumia would spin 20 light years away from Tryi's heat. Here it would feel the warmth as well as the cold. Lumia's surface, while bearable, was too often unpredictable. Storms would approach it, leaving behind a hellish heat wave, often within hours. It's people, built cities both upon and below it's surface. They too, like those of Aki would be in constant training, the ever so battle of the worlds, beckons. Lumia's people, known as the Oui are born without the use of voice. They speak unto one and other through sensor nerve endings in their hands. The people of Lumia born tall have long since awaited what the people there call the "Manasi" the end of time. The science and religion of Lumia, are one of the same. Manasi is the cleansing of souls, a time for renewal and change. The Ouians believe and worship the very sayings and writings, carved deep into the stone of Armen, the mountains of Lumia. It is there that their God has set forth the known and chosen future of it's people. For him, they serve.

Planet Hillemth had been born but a few light years from Aki. Its icy realm and frigid layers, had provided a natural protection from those wanting to attack it for its forms of metal. The people of Hillemth, slummed over with twisted forms of flesh, appeared more animal then human. Hillemth's icy blue skies contained "Armuth" a gassy fog that allowed its inhabitants to roam about freely beyond the detectors of the times. In the past, the people of Lumia would send ships of great size to the outer layers of Hillemth, to collect the metal there known as "Brazin". Its sturdy structure and light weight, made it perfect for armor as well as weapons. Countless ships and crew members would be killed over the years before the treaty, by the Hillemth's layers of ice. Mining Brazin, took many months and hundreds of manpower. Recent years and changes in technology, allowed the Ouians to mine faster and move more quickly before the natives of Hillemth would attack, often upon the large beast known as" Fygen". The creatures of old, despite their size moved quickly upon Hillemth's frozen grounds. With four ivory shards that sat to both the right and left side of it's head, Fygen could not only attack but destroy Lumia's heaviest mining equipment. By the morning, for which the Fygen had attacked the night before, bodies of the miners would paint the frozen ice red, often with their weapons still in their hands.

Another planet not far from the Arie, was Noltst. Unlike Hillemth, Lumia, Tryi and Aki Noltst seemed more like a doorway into another time, then a planet. Because it sat just outside Arie's circle of spheres, no one ventured to Noltst, no one. It's been written and still taught in the very classes of whatever forms of teachings are used though out the Arie circle, that by all means should no one venture to the planet Noltst. Noltst's history and it's beginnings, are not well known. For thousands of years, though out the many wars fought between the planets, not once had the people of Lumia or Aki, the beast or creatures of Hillemth, dare to challenge the writings of old, the very words of the most sacred. "For whomever journey, to that of Noltst, finds that which is not, no longer shall they be, for all of time." The very writing, despite it's changes in language, has from the beginning of time, struck fear beyond the battles of eternity into the hearts and souls of every living creature within the Arie circle.

The flat lands of Aki which were spotted with mountains and sometimes huge stones which were markings left from wars fought before. Now, as the two brothers walked home from a long day in the fields, those castings of stones a few hundred years old, paved their way. Aki's sky which had burned brightly hours ago, now began to fade. In the great distance, beyond the eye of it's people streams of firelight burning a billion degrees, arched from a heated Tyri. Paul walked quietly with his brother Sasha. Their father had taught them so. "All eyes open with mouths shut, least you be one of less," they remembered him saying. Their father was a good man. He'd long since moved from his home as a young man, and after his father's teachings met and married Paul and Sasha's mother. The two had settled for a modest home in the fields of Garalf, just north of Tilieth a well known city of wealth and power.

Life had began hard for both Rolin and Ashmere Sallion. The fields of Garalf were vast, the very plains alone were 100 times the size of Zera, Aki's fourth moon. So much of life upon Aki depended of wheat and it's use. Akians harvest wheat for food as well as fuel. The massive ships known as Redicoms, would set out monthly to travel within the Arie Circle gathering raw materials and metals from Hillemth. These were then turned to weapons of war and shelter for the families of warriors left behind. Every second week of each month the skies of Aki would be peppered with the ships heading out. Some would return a few weeks later, some never at all. But so was the way of the people of Aki, so as it's been. The countless lives of those lost to the wars, more then accepted for the lives saved. Aki's people and their constant efforts would more then balance the ever growing population. Numbered in the tens of billions, the beings of Aki spared no man the right to fight.

Rolin Sillion, born south of Tilieth to a farm worker who's mother had be raped and killed before him, had set out to revenge his mother. Rolin Sillion had killed the rapist turned murderers and would spend the rest of his life, pushing the ghost that haunted him away. Many would say that Rolin had simply gone mad. No one, not even the woman he would later met and have a son by, would know what had happened. Rolin, a quiet man worked hard at raising his land and the only son he would ever have. Rolin's life would change once more as the calling for war and it's never ending pursuit for brazin. Rolin Sillion, at age 26 joined the Alternaggen, Aki's only military force unit. The Alternaggen kept a watchful eye on ships leaving and returning to Aki's ports. Far too often, these huge flying ships would be attacked by members of rebel forces known as the Gahsh. The Gahsh members numbers were unknown, mainly because they, were forever changing and growing. Some experts would speculate the numbers to be in the tens of thousands. This figure of course would help aid in the ever growing concern of Aki's people. Many of it's ship were now being destroyed moments after leaving the spaceports of Tilieth. News sources spoke of something big on the horizon, some messages had been intercepted using Nelsse waves. It would seem that the people of Lumia, had contacted the world of Gahsh and have not only joined the rebels, but managed to recruit most of the secret political members in order to carry out their newest vision. This would be the complete ending of the Alternaggen attack force and it's leaders. 10 years would past, five of them spent in horror of an uncertain future. In the end, more then 425,000 soldiers of the Alternaggen force, would give their lives to stop the rebels of Gahsh and disrupt the building of forces with the Lumia people. Rolin Sillion would never hold his wife in his arms, or teach his son again. He was only 36.

Some would say Sasha Sillion was a miracle. Born from a wound now filled with sorrow. Ashmere's cries would not go unanswered. Some continued shaking their heads, even after Sasha was 5 years old. It still became somewhat a mystery how a woman conceived a child, four months after her husband's death. As you might have expected, towns people had their own ideas, although not one of them had ever seen Ashmere, with another man. She remained at the very home she and her late husband built, and had work the very fields herself. When Paul became of age, he along with his miracle of a brother, would pitch in. The hours were long and hard.

By the time Sasha turned ten, he had grown to almost the same height of his older brother Paul. The two had become almost identical in appearance. Their manners too, was something strange. Very pleasant, but underneath, something different, something odd. Ashmere had long noticed, but as the hard working and dedicated woman she was, greeted this change as the will of Yar, Aki's people name for God. For as long as Ashmere could remember, she had always been taught to close her eyes for the evening, speaking only to Yar. Her mother had held her as a young girl, and rocked back and forth singing the praises of Yar. Ashmere remembers the soft and wonderful sounds that came from her mothers mouth, as she sang quietly in the dark. Now the little girl had grown up and become a woman, her devotion to her husband and now her family, unchanged.

The battle between the Lumia people and now Hillemth had been some three years in the making. Many of ships carrying tons of brazin, back from the frozen shores of Hillemth, had been destroyed. Over the years, the Aki skies, were lit with the explosions created by missile attacks from the Hillemth army. Creatures of Hillemth had learned to harvest the light rays of Tryi and with the help of the Lumia and their ever growing technology, built Eyorn cannons. These massive cannons fired huge shards of ice, powered by heat. The end result was burning ice, capable of ripping through the strongest of steel. In two short years, the vessel production on Aki, had all but stopped. As the Spring like season of Aki, turned to Summer so much work on the farm was needed. Wheat supplies had run dangerously low and the Wilmtac Aki's government, had called for all people of Aki to limit their use of wheat, to one third. This of course caused an uproar as the citizens of the larger cites like Blamier, Tosten, and Tilieth ran to the outer grounds of the planet, robing the farmers of what little wheat they had. Murders, had increased within the borders of the great cities as the have and the have nots, locked horns in street battles.

With crime growing and Aki's import of brazin declining, the Alternaggen what few were left, tried policing sectors of the cities. Public viewing screens showed an Aki planet, now battling within itself as thousands of workers from both in and around the city, riot in protest of an economy slipping painfully from their grasp. Blood spattered shop windows, told the tale as owners fled for their lives, their personal belongings left behind. High above the darken skies, mining ships attempted to take off, setting out to Lumia where some of Aki's people had made deals with the government there. From the grounds surrounding the cites, one could see the explosions for many miles. A meteor like shower of steel and burning flesh, drifted downward scenting the sky with death. A world turned chaos, with nothing to stop it but hope.

Few would argue that the future of Aki and it's people, were at best on a collision to self destruction. Ships caught afire, crashed into the fields and heavy wooded areas, causing massive fires and killing millions. The churches for which many had raced to, found themselves under attack as members of the Gahsh, would secretly hide themselves as natives seeking relief through prayers to Yar. Large buildings of worship joined the collective many that were now targets. The Atlim or Priest were dragged from the sacred buildings and stripped of their clothing, their bodies were beaten and then killed. The Gahsh and their leaders, had now gone mad.

Wheat fields were now set on fire and forced to burn as the Gahsh members stood and shot, killing anyone trying to stop the fires. Aki's farmers as well as those hiding out from the vile of their arrival, were useless to stop them. With the Alternaggen in disorder, it's members split between siding and not siding with the Gahsh. Farmers from the fields born into a life of hard working, took up arms. They would later form a legion of men known as the Reminson. They're numbers were unknown at first, but later reported somewhere in the millions. The Gahsh who had tried to stop the banding of Aki's people, had unknowingly set the stage for the greatest formation of workers, turned assassins, the history of Aki had ever seen.

With nightfall closing in, Paul and his brother Sasha had gathered bundles of wheat grown in an underground cave masked inside the Uryan mountains. The wheat there, while no where near as good as that grown outside, provided more then enough "Vianer" to make poison. This vianer was then extracted from the wheat and allowed to dry. The farmers would allow 60 days of time to pass, before adding to the vianer crushed plants called "Lotten". A brightly colored plant found only on one planet in the entire Arie Circle....Aki. The two had been walking for hours now, their feet swollen from the distance traveled. As taught by a father one barely knew, and one not at all, they continued their mission. Ashmere had joined the Reminson three years earlier, after the home she and her late husband built, had been burned to the ground. She had been raped and left for dead. Her boys had been away in the mountains at the time, she thanked Yar that they weren't there to see it. The Gahsh soldiers had come upon the small home one evening, late in the Spring. Ashmere had just finished putting away the tools needed, awaiting the return of her boys. It was members of the Reminson who while searching the forest of Garalf, found her. Foot travel provided the stealth needed to move about and through both the fields and forest, undetected by the Enore, a form of radar used by the Gahsh rebels. These men of honor had come upon a naked and beaten woman. They fed and clothed her, nursing her to health. In time, they returned and rebuilt the home for her and her boys. To this day, she still prays to Yar for their safety and protection.

Less then a month later, word had come from another nearby farm house. Fourteen members, soldiers of the Gahsh army had been beat to death and hung along side of the road, East of Tilieth. Their bodies stripped of their clothing and with hands bound, their penises had been cut off, and stuffed in their mouths, they're necks snapped. The news had sliced through Ashmere's emotional network of memories, her fright returned but she had to go. She had to see the men hanging. It was almost an omen, something she needed to do.

Standing in the middle of an unpaved road, she stood watching. A sight that could have easily sent chills climbing the backs of the bravest of men, she stood looking. She had remembered every one of them. Their faces had been left intact, unchanged saved for stuffed mouths and pasted death. It was then, at that moment that she felt the most rage. Someone had avenged her, and to them, she owed her life. To Yar she prayed, I will give my life for whomever did this. Her answer would come in a matter of days, and with it came a new member of the Reminson. This new member came, with two strong boys. The Alternaggen Force had been kick started by the Gahsh. Funding for new weapons, now made from brazin, had posed a new threat to the Reminson and it's ever growing number of Akian people.

By Winter, with soldiers of Gahsh now claiming three quarters of Aki and 30 percent of it's people enslaved, the future seemed dimmed. Hillemth, now in it's dark of Winter appeared almost a black planet now. Spinning to the outer realm of Arie's Circle, storms would now follow as the heat waves that normally arched from Tryi, would favor outward towards Noltst. Members of the churches that survived the attacks of Gahsh and the Alternaggen forces, had found refuge among the caves of Uryan. They now preached of the great words written one hundred thousands years before them, the sacred ever lasting words that predicted the end, the very end of time. Along the caves of mountains high, the chanting of prayers and the obvious predictions of Manasi.

Garalf's fields had turned to sheets of ice as a cold front never once record in time passed, drifted inward striking the south side of Aki. Crops froze and harvest were destroyed for 4 years as the Reminson raced to underground villages. Gahsh and members of the Alternaggen Force were hopelessly left to fend for themselves as many of the slaves captured knew nothing of the cold front nor how to handle it. The Ouians, still controlling what seemed the last of Aki's military, began killing farmers of Aki. Those unable to grow food among the cold harden ground were executed. Madness had come in an icy drift.

The union of Gahsh and the slaved people in and around the cities of Tilieth, were now causing problems as upheaval lead to conflict between the Gahsh leaders. Control that had once been ordered from those politically connected, were now in the hands of the Alterneggan. Many of those who once fought for Gahsh, were now seeking smaller controllable members, to aid in what was being called "Treamins" smaller armies.

Sasha's arms now weaken from the long walk and hours of swinging his "Halty" a carbon brazined weapon, asked his brother Paul is they could rest. "Well, just for a minute or two my brother, but first let's get off the road, bad things happen to those resting on the road," Paul replied. They quietly walked through the forest now draping it's long branches stretching like tentacles, masking and hovering. Although fall had found it's way to Garalf, many of the trees and plants would remain green year round. In the distance, the cracking of thunder, made from the mighty ships leaving Aki's atmosphere reminding them that this was still a place of war. Their thoughts of a time of peace where they once played along these very fields of green were now gone, save for the memories inside growing heads.

A small path lead them to a slopping trench that ran along side a brook of Tanni water. It's yellow tint a quick reminder of it's natural poison. The two sat down and Paul, still looking to the road, turned to Sasha, his face now sprouting the hair of youth. "Can you hear that?" he asked. Sasha, so glad to be sitting and now staring at the small Yanans, walking plants. "Yes brother, my legs are tired, not my ears." He tried to smile as he always did, but for some reason found little strength, emotional or otherwise. "I hate them," he said, "I hate the Gahsh and it's people, so much has come to us from them, so much that's bad." Paul sat listening to his younger brother and every so often would turn his attention back to the road. His father would have been proud.

"It's the ships, right? Those damn ships. I hate that sound Paul. Every time I hear that sound, I just hate it," Sasha said. He was about to continue on, expressing view points that Paul had heard a million times before, when Paul's hand had reached up to his brother's lips. "Listen," he said. The two went silent and sat still as their father had taught them. The winds and sounds of trickling water back dropped. What was it, five maybe ten minutes the two remained still before it came. Ereons, search vehicles built by the Ouians for deep salvage on Hillemth, were now used on Aki by the Gahsh. These huge patrol ships moved slowly and almost silently as they hovered above the ground. A high pitched whistling, it's only reminder. As the Ereon passed above them, the sturdy trees above them, began to bend and separate. The two brothers remained still. Movement of any kind from a human, would show clearly upon the scanning screens. Sasha's mind went blank as it retreated to a time not much long ago. Paul, learning also from his father, focused his attention to the brook of water, watching for the rings of sounds.

The patrol ship stopped moving for a moment and Sasha's mind almost bounced back to the present. Inside, he thought about moving, breaking into a full blown sprint, running for safety. He could still smell his brother's scent near him and it's sour tint. He pushed himself back into that place where everything was safe and felt not only his heart slow, but the warmth of Tryi's heat now baking them both. He was again back home. His father and Paul had just returned from the fields where hunting had been the morning's activity. Sasha's waved his small hands up and down seeing Paul who was much younger then, carrying a Halliot across his small shoulders. Their father too, had a few slung over each shoulder and he was now smiling as his wife who had just started a pot of boiling water and Operts awaited her loving hunters. Sasha's mind painted many images of his past and form them with absolute clarity, that if he wasn't careful upon it's return, would find himself sad, eyes filling with tears.

Paul would shake his brother for another two minutes before Sasha would let go of his dream. It seemed to be getting worse, this hold he had on the past. Sasha had talked to Paul many times about how his mind would show him past events. He would try to explain how it worked. Paul had listened and even tried a few times to do it as well. Even well relaxed, Paul was unable to mentally drift as Sasha did. Oh he could remember things of the past like anyone else could. But what Sasha did, was not only remember but go there. Back to that place where time had long since passed. Sasha's eyes would tell it all. Always rolling backwards and around beneath his lids they did, as he relived a life no longer living.

"Wake up Sasha, wake up!" Paul said as he continued shaking his younger brother. The patrol ship had gone, left to scan other sections of the forest and fields. Soon, it would be night and much was still needed to be done. An eerie silence fell in the wake of the haunting ship as animals both large and small sensing danger, had also taken cover. The stream of water continued to flow although the yanans and other small plant known for moving slowly, or walking had come to a complete stop. A three legged Roaman had stuck it's head from a Wyan tree, checking to see if the coast was clear. It's round shaped nose and wide eyes darting about. Paul had returned his gaze to Sasha who was now returning to the present, like the Roaman his eyes too were searching for the here and the now. "Sasha, are you back? Are you okay? Talk to me my brother, I need to hear you speak." Paul's look of worry would last seconds more before his best friend in the world, had returned. Blinking followed my a smile. The yanans were once again walking.

The Reminson had gathered along the caves in the Uryan mountains. In the last six months, they had managed to destroy many of the transporting ships leaving Aki's harbors setting out for Lumia. Like Aki, Lumia too was in it's three months of fall. The people there were beginning to starve as animal life had taken to underground. Lumia's continued building of it's underground cities had all but destroyed most animal life there. And yet its people continued. A man of great leadership, a warrior of old named Jouran who had joined the Reminson more then 15 years ago, after his family had been killed by the Gahsh stood silently. These gatherings had become more frequent as the Reminson moved deeper into the cities now controlled by the Gahsh and Alterneggan.

The farmers turned warriors sat awaiting the next step in the many needed to regain back their once beautiful planet. "I can tell you what we know," Jouran now said. "According to our latest reports, the Gahsh and it's now dividing forces, have turned this matter in our favor. The Treamins have now given both Gahsh and the Alterneggan something else to think about. As we expected, a nation of evil divided into too many sectors can not help but weaken, so say the words spoken of Yar." Applause cracked the walls of silence as those not only understood, but agreed. "But what are we to do, wait for him? Should we continue fighting a war that seems to give advantage to those now controlling our own planet and enslaving our people?" The question had come from Mylint. Like Jouran, he too had become a great warrior. The two often had conflicting views in the best way to handle their recent attacks on the rebels.

Silence once again filled the cave now housing many as the farmers and warriors would turn to Jouran for Mylint's question. "My friends and warriors of this great planet, we have worked and fought for what is ours for as long as time has been. Many of you have lost loved ones and friends to this ever growing evil, now covering Aki's skies. I too feel your pain and anger as the family I once loved, now lay buried beneath the soil of Garalf. We have continued fighting for that which is ours, as our fathers and their fathers had. Peace cannot come without war so Yar teaches us. It has been written along the very walls of Armen, Lumia's mountains that the Manasi will come. It is their very God who speaks to them in warnings, and yet they do not heed. So much depends on our beliefs in our own Yar and his will to aid in avenging his people. I know that many of you have lost everything, I've spoken with you about your lost and with the help of those Atlims saved from the Alternaggen rebels, we have continued to keep our faith in Yar and his plans through writings that we the people of Aki will once again be not only free, but given back that which is ours." Again the thunderous sound of applause filled the caves. Mylint still standing had looked directly at Jouran, their eyes fixed.

"Well my friend," Mylint said. "You have once again managed to avoid the root of my question through the words of Yar. My question which is simple, requires an answer of the same. I've only asked that we move the matters before us, ahead. I'm not against any of those seating here, for we are all Akians and people of peace. But we have paid a wealthy price for the life we've tried to lead. I'm aware of the words of Yar, my dear friends. I pray to him as you do every night and many times in the mornings. I just feel that as of late, he seems to be attending matters that do not involve the people of Aki. I no longer feel his presence, it's as if he has left us, taking his teachings to planets beyond the Arie Circle. If this is the case, I'm not to question his reasons, but to defend our planet with the knowledge and the will, he himself have left us with." Jouran now pleased and impressed with Mylint's understanding of the truth, thought it best not to show division, or conflict, but to continue the unity that had got them this far.

"Mylint, you and I have fought side by side for many a years, all in the name of Yar, and his teachings. We two have shed the blood of those opposing our people and they're way of life . I remember the wars of Haderrack and the decline of that once evil nation. Even then, my friend we managed to rely on Yar's teachings and wisdom. In the end, that kingdom fell but not without a heavy price, paid for by our people. You and I both agree that our time is near it's end. If we have finally come to the end of our reign here on Aki, let it not be because of our faith or lack of, but of the very will of Yar." No clapping of hands this time, just an insight shared between them all as the possibility that an awful truth had just shown it's head.

Jouran had excused himself and asked that Wiltoman take over. Wiltoman was one of the few priest that were spared from the rebels, just two weeks ago. He stood and led the group who were still rather silent in a prayer. As Jouran walked past Mylint, their eyes dropped as the two realize that both had made that one mistake, one offering hope when there quite possibly could be none, and the other for pointing it out.

The night air had carried a strange coolness with it. Fall had settled in and it looked to be winter's hands now showing it's cards early. The two stood outside the caved mountains and looked off in the distance. Friends from long ago, spoke to each other in silence.

Ten minutes had past before it was Mylint who first apologized. "Jouran, old friend I would never want you to think, not even for a minute that I would go against you. It's just that it doesn't seem like we're going to win this one. So much has changed now, the tides have now shifted against us. With so much riding on the future and it's rulers. I just think it's time that we rise against the writings and they're sayings this time. Time my dear old friend, is no longer on our side."

A large Rummer who's ivory snout allowed it to dig for insects hidden in the ground, tossed up a cropping of dust. It's low pitched grunt caught the attention of both. Jouran had quickly turned his attention back to the topic at hand. Mylint, now gazed upwards at a crisp clear Aki nightsky. "Time, time, when you speak of it, it's as if it's ours to own and to control. Like some object bought from the markets in Tilieth or Blamier. It's never been ours my old friend. Time has it's way of cleansing those who try to own it. I remember my grandfather who had turned 112 tilacs of age. Although quite young at the time, I remember asking him if there was anything he may wish to do on this his day of birth. I can still see those old and tired gray eyes, looking up at me from his bed. He had lost one of his legs in the battle of Tonsted in early Drockon. He had returned home and although we Akians had won, he continued living the life of a man counting his days. My grandmother who had worked the fields aiding him, said once that he had never returned. That the man she so loved had died upon the battlefields and been replaced with a shell. So as I asked him, this question. He looked up at me his face somewhat surprised. It was the last time I saw him, for he died the next day. Those gray old eyes, still holding on my friend, to time. Yar speaks of the limited time we have here, and forever in the next. I too have my doubts for even now, no one knows for sure. But there are those of Aki who have given their lives freely based on what they believe, it's the very essence of hope that keeps us. Without it old friend, why would we bother?"

The rummer had walked off now, it's grunting sounds fading. Jouran looked over at his friend who now more then ever, seemed worried about Aki's future. "Mylint, no one knows what the future brings for us or Aki. But one thing is for certain. Should we ever find ourselves wondering and second guessing ours decisions, it's then that they will have won. Evil has no boundaries and is timeless, let's make the best of what time we have, and when it's all been said and done, be a part a great part of what's to come, even if we're not here to see it. Let history remember our names." A squack of Gailems flew in the night sky, lighting it with their tails. They were heading south for the worst winter to strike Aki's north ridge in ten thousands years.

Paul and Sasha had continued walking as Tryi's last light of day had faded into night. Still an hour or so from their home. The boys thought of dinner and the food their mother made. They were still staying close to the road, Sasha looking ahead while Paul occasionally glanced back. Fire light off in the distance followed by the constant thundering of death, sure reminders that time was closing in. Pages of a great history, now coming to a close.

"I think I hear something, wait yes it's coming. We better get off the road Paul, I don't like that sound." Sasha had a way of knowing things that often left Paul scratching his head. His younger brother was indeed something special, and when he felt something, it was always best to heed. "Okay, over here." Paul said. "No!" Sasha added. "Paul, let's hide on the other side of the road, the other side Paul, let's go now!" Sasha's voice was loud now, almost frighten. He and Paul raced to the other side of the dirt road and stashed themselves, just under a cliff rock that had settled into an embankment. "Quiet now, just listen, you'll hear." Sasha whispered and fell silent.

There was a snap of branches from the Hipian trees along the road. They had been torn and snapped as a large Fygen made it's way up the path of the Garalf Forest. It's huge hind legs and leather hide, unseen on the grounds of Aki. Upon it's back rode not a being of Aki or Lumia. Not even the leaders or warriors of Gahsh or Alterneggan. What rode on this beast's back was something not human, something from a world unlike Aki. The scent of danger now stinging their noses. Paul had already removed the halty he'd carried on his back and had wrapped the leather sash around his wrist. He turned to see that Sasha had done the same and the two looked at each other, waiting.

Excess of steam burst quickly from the breathing ports on the sides of the frygen's head. It's rider who rode the beast slumped over and looking about, snarled and with it's arm of bone, patted the beast's side as if to settle it down. More snarling and a quick bellow came before two shadowy figures appeared as if out of nowhere, they charged towards the large beast and it's rider. Seconds clicked away rapidly as two swords of brazin flickered in the moon light. The rider, quickly caught the scent and tried to jump from the beast, removing it's weapon. Paul had seen the beast wearing it's armor and weapon on the right side, so he struck left swiping downward. A howling sound came as the rider turned to see a young Akian with brown hair and raging eyes, now cutting through it's midsection with a weapon of brazin, razor sharp. The slow moving frygen was useless to assist as it's leather exterior was sliced beneath it. Sasha's weapon now peered through the belly of the frygen, hitting it directly in it's heart. A blue substance ran outward in an arch, above it's head. The rider, gasp once more and dropped to the ground as it's chest pumped once more and stopped.

"How did you know where to strike that thing?" Paul asked. He had just finished coughing and like Sasha, was still trying to catch his breath. "I don't know." Sasha answered. "It just came to me and seem like a good place to start." Two brothers stood, panting in the night along side the road leading to Garalf. In their wake laid dead two creatures from the planet Hillemth.

"What in the name of Yar is that thing?" Paul had removed some sort of plate from the rider of the frygen. It's size when strapped, covered most of his midsection. "Some kind of armor I supposed, it's shiny like brazin, hard too." Paul replied. "Well if it's armor, it sure didn't help it much, your halty missed it by a milac. Not very good I guess." Paul had stopped and after striking a firestone, took a closer look. There were markings around the oval shaped metal and brackets that seemed to act as handles. Some kind of writing had been etched along the outer sides and markings like claws had tried to attack the now dead rider. Sasha could see that whatever attacked the rider, couldn't penetrate the brazin armor. "I don't know Sasha." Paul finally said. "I've never seen brazin like this before, it's barely dented."

With the death toll well into the millions, the Gahsh along with the Alterneggan and now Treamins seemed unstoppable to rule Aki and it's people. Bloodshed poured through the streets of Aki's cities and country side. With Aki's government now controlled by the Ouians and their rebels forces, Reminson pushed back into the caves in the outer realms, it would seem that any hope at all, whether from the ground or above, was all but gone. Manasi was near for the Akian people.

How the creatures of Hillemth made their way to Aki is not clear. Nor the value for which they held for Aki. But one thing is clear, the frozen tundra that once was Hillemth, was melting.

And nature had a way of surviving.

By morning, the path and roads leading in or out of the cities, were blocked. Soldiers from all rebels forces were now staked out and on high alert. During the evening, the Treamins and members of the Gahsh, had also found and killed several frygen and their riders. Scanners used by the military showed that thousands of frygen had been teleported from Hillemth through the night and had set up grounds deep into the northern ridge of Uryan. Ereons were sent out to search for these huge beast, only to be destroyed before returning with any information. The redicoms that left for Lumia, were quickly blown from the sky as fire rocks hurled from Tryi made their way through Aki's atmosphere.

Jouran had awaken the next morning to the pounding of guns, fired from Gahsh soldiers. He quickly yelled out to Saeram, a long trust friend. "I'm here Jouran!" he replied. "The ships are closing in, but still a great distance away, sleep friend, we have time." Jouran sat up listening once more as the booming sound of war in the distance, closed a little further in. He laid back and tried once more to dream.

Lumia's tracking devices recorded a tear in the Arie Circle. Ouains technology, well beyond that of Aki and certainly Hillemth, could do little to explain how the creatures of Hillemth and the frygen they rode, were appearing as if out of nowhere on the surface of Aki. Thousands upon thousands had warped through time without the need of ships or machines. Data retrieved left the Ouains that were at first surprised, now frighten by what could be.

.In a language unspoken but heard between Ouains, panic rushed in as they scrambled to understand what may be happening. A fear gripped the leaders of Lumia, as scientist there, braced for the worst. "It's like nothing we've ever seen!" would have been the words fitting. "They can bend time, my god they're bending time!" would have been another. The high priest of Lumia, now gathered in the great halls of Ilandor. Here, they prepared for what many were already calling the first stage, of Manasi. Fear now rippled through all of Lumia as it was now their turn to run from the unknown. The beast of Hillemth were not the problem as far as the Gahsh rebels knew, they fell quite quickly under the electric cannons and weapons of new. No, what sent fear through the Lumian powers, were the idea of those controlling the Hillemth. Who or what had given these creatures of old, the knowledge of speed and time. How was it that, they were chosen? And by whom?

The valleys of Aki and it's now desert wastelands, were perfect bases for the Hillemth forces now moving in. Frygen by the thousands equipped with riders and shields, gathered along in battle stages and formations unseen by those within the Arie circle. A massive permutation of beastlike warriors with faces devoid of emotion and soul. Soulless riders, activated and controlled by a force far greater then anything or anyone. Their stench of death grew as the numbers continued, now spanning the Akian globe. Temperatures dropped below average as ice shards cast from rebuilt Redicoms, fired from outer realms. Beyond the reach of Gahsh's control guns and search ships, warp holes of immense size, channeled divisions after divisions of these now horrific creatures. The very surface of Hillemth now a launch pad deep in melting ice.

The Lumian army now split into divisions of four, gathered along the open shores of Aki and Lumia, searching for portals spouts. It was believed that the Hillemth and it's armies, were using the methods of old to transport regions of riders, and frygen. The night skies of both Lumia and now Aki, sparkled with the gun ships bound for battle. Along the cities turned prisons, where those opposing the government now ruling Aki, were fitted with clothing or war. Those captured, were sent to the front lines of this soon to be great battlefield, to be used as canon fodder. These were the penalties paid to those of slaves, born not Ouian. In the great city of Janyo, west of the Black Sea of Pampal, a nation of Akians gazed into a dark sky. The buildings which stood for hundreds of years, were now struck down in a hail of frozen fire as attack ships just in from Lumia's belt of Shar, fired upon the city's bright lights. A nation of millions, screamed for only a moment.

Through borders that were blocked with bodies of those dead, the frygen and it's riders came. Hell fell from skies painted with dark clouds, as ships of fire fell towards alien soil. The Lumian soldiers tall and lanky, tried with great effort to steer clear of fire lit frozen missiles now traveling beyond their reach, porting from great distances. Below, the Gahsh and Alternaggen armies fought with creatures seen before. Both Akians and Ouians had long battled the Hillmeth's people and frygen. What seemed so different now was the movement, frygen and riders so vast in numbers and moving about the plains of Aki so quickly now. The great ships, those few left, were struggling to stay airborne as fire below, missing targets summoned them back. The screams in the city's streets followed by prayers along the country side, made for an eerie mix of musical chaos. The Reminson was also helpless to defend it's members as they too, took to the fields in ereons stolen from the Gahsh and now loaded with ammo, unleashed fire upon the Treamins of Gahsh and other rebel forces.

The tides were soon to turn as a blanket of worlds out of order, spun into pure focus, that of manasi. A future undecided now that it's past has been forgotten.

Paul and Sasha now ran quickly the final quarter mile home, their feet pounding the road. So much had happen, so much had changed. Their house which once stood, burned down and rebuilt, was once more afire. Running inside, Paul fighting off the heat of blaze created by wood, yelled out for his mother. Sasha too, yelled although something told him, it was useless. The crackling of wood and burning material, all too familiar. This time however, things would be different. Something had changed in them, this time forever.

Paul sat crying, his face filled with sorrow and anger at the same time. What had they come back to? He thought. Why had they left to begin with. Was it Yar? Is this what he wanted? The questions flowed inside a head of a boy now turning a man. Raised to take care of, he now found himself needing support. More tears would come, but not now. So much was still needed to do. Through a set of eyes clouded in tears, he saw it. The ereon was set back, hidden behind a curtain of forest now lit from the fire. The fire had raised the temperature well above freezing and now Paul could see the shimmer of steel as it called to him. Sasha too had seen it. His expression to Paul the same: There will be pilots, I'm sure. Ones with guns. it said. The two stood up, Paul more then Sasha and split up, heading around opposite sides of their once standing home.

It was two of them, two warriors of the Alternaggen. Akian born. As they sat amused by their doings, little could help the shimmering light of raised haltys as the owners revealed themselves in an array of fury. Severed heads and arms sliced, would be all they would find of two members, trained in battle, to fight. The attackers, both young now heading towards the city of Tilieth in a military made Ereon, dust stirring beneath it's twin turbines.

To be continued....