The Nanukas left the Crater like shadows melting in the light. Kian and Arctis descended the passage and rallied to their friends. Eeria was elated; it was a miracol unfolding under their eyes: the Healer of her race brought back to life by the unique member of another, alien race. Shawn, Gavin and of course Sheera were totally amazed watching the revelation of Kian’s hidden talents and the power of his commitment. Sheera was all too happy to have him back safe. She ran to him and hid under his left wing, holding to his waist. Her eyes mirrored the faint aura emanating from him.
-So-said Shawn-what’s next? What are we going to do now?
-You’re not going to do anything!-boomed a dark voice and the bulky man appeared along with a crew of fully armed men. You’re under arrest for helping a dangerous fugitive and for conspiracy against the humans of this planet. I’ve told you-he turned to Kian, his voice a poisonous snarl-one day I’ll catch you and that miserable creature to, hehehe…
Arctis broke the silence:
-I’m not afraid of you; not anymore. The Angel healed me and you can’t torment me! Leave us! We mean no harm to you or to the humans. They were welcomed by our race long ago and this is their home now. We can live in peace all together. As spiritual leader of my people I vouch for them.
The bulky men dismissed the talk with an impatient gesture, ordering his men to surround the group.
-I’m no politician to make agreements. Your fate depends entirely on the First Mayor. Now move!
But the moment they reached out to catch them, the group of six vanished into the thin air, leaving them bewildered but steaming with rage.
The next moment they were in Eeria’s hidden quarters, shaken but unharmed. They looked at each other in confusion until they realized that Kian collapsed. Arctis picked him up and laid him on the bed. He threw an anxious look to Eeria; she rushed to the cupboard for the energizing drink.
Sheera knelt beside Kian, holding his hand, desperately whispering:
-Don’t leave me my love…Wake up, please…
He shifted and opened his eyes.
-I’m here-he said in an almost inaudible voice. I’m just deadly tired…
They all burst into laughter; it was such a relief to have him back. Eeria handed him a small cup of the thick, amber liquid and Kian sat up to sip it slowly.
-I think we all need some rest. I’ll show you to your rooms and we’ll talk more in the morning. We have won a battle but the war isn’t over yet-said Eeria.
-Maybe…-came a mischievous voice. Gavin was grinning.
-I’m sorry but ever since Kian told us about all this history of yours I planned something. I never had a chance to talk it over, so I kept on acting. Today I’ve recorded everything at the Northern Crater, including the threats and I’ve sent all to the Galactic Council. It’s all in here- he smirked, showing them a small device hidden into a shirt button.
Kian chuckled while Eeria was watching them in disbelief.
-Men-she finally said. I see now why the three of you are such good friends. Now go to sleep. See you all in the morning!
Sheera cuddled in Kian’s arms. Walking from Heaven to Hell in such a small span of time took its toll on her. Her luminous green eyes were glazed by fatigue and while he embraced her, gently stroking the auburn locks, she easily fell asleep. Kian wasn’t sleepy. He was recovering bit by bit from exhaustion thanks to Eeria’s miracle liquor and the comforting pressing of Sheera’s warm body against him. He watched her sleeping: she was so beautiful…There was slight tap on the door and Eeria entered the room.
-I wanted to check on you-she said. How do you feel?
-I’m fine-answered Kian issuing a faint smile. I’m still a little bit dizzy but I’ll be fully functional in the morning.
Eeria sat on a chair next to the bed.
-There’s something you should know: your race have visited this planet in the past; it happened in the recent past, some 200 years ago. They were fledging from home due to some tragic conflicts between them. They stayed only for a short time and politely refused our offer to establish a new home on our planet. Before they left, one of them gave this necklace to my grandmother and told her that in the future, when we would be in need, an Angel will come to help us out…
She handed the necklace to Kian; it looked like the one given to Shawn. The young angel warmed the milky crystal and looked to the image captured inside. His heart ached; the crimson sea was brushing gently the sandy shores. The night sky was arching over the undulating waters and right in front there was a shining Nova…Kian gasped; it was the same Nova that appeared at the moment of his slipping into oblivion. The necklace was a memento…
He handed back the necklace to Eeria.
-Keep it. Keep it for Arctis to remember our friendship. That’s my home planet and it’s my favorite spot on the shore, near my family’s house. Thank you, Eeria. Thank you for all you’ve done for me.
She stood up and squeezed his hand.
– You’re welcome, Kian. Sleep well now. Your guiding star is still high in the skies.
They were all strung up high in the morning; confrontation with the First Mayor and his men was inevitable. Yet Kian didn’t want to involve the crew of the ANTARES. He has started this fight on his own without any previous consultation with Commander Sorren so he felt it wouldn’t be right to drag everybody into something that still might end up badly.
He asked Shawn and Gavin to look after Sheera and get back safely to their headquarters and fill in with details the Commander. On the other side, he would go together with Arctis to sustain the Nanukas cause and reach an understanding with the rulers of the humans. Eeria called in some of the most important members of their community to accompany them. Gavin insisted that Kian takes his recording/transmitting device to the talkings. They all agreed this might prove life saving since all recordings would go directly to the Galactic Council. As they worked out all the details, the whole scenario was set in motion.
Kian embraced his friends, kissed Sheena squeezing her gently and showed them out. The Nanuka Guide took them to the same exit and luckily they got to the Commander untouched. They were already expected; the Galactic Council had been in touch with Commander Soren ever since they’ve got the recording from Gavin and all the files they’ve gathered about the source of conflict between the human colonists and the Nanukas. The Commander scolded them for keeping vital information hidden from him and for taking risky steps on their own but he understood that Kian was connected into this story in an unexpected way even for himself.
So the Commander asked for an audition with the First Mayor and The Governor of the Amanis. The meeting was due for that day’s noon at the Governor’s residence. Commander Soren gathered his team and left for the meeting.
At the same time, Kian and Arctis were preparing for their departure from Eeria’s house.
Arctis was dressed up in a long sleeved shirt and loose trousers, tailored from a very delicate fabric colored in emerald green entwined with azure blue and decorated in an intricate pattern of thin gold design. The shirt was open on his chest and Arctis was wearing the Angel’s necklace. He was waiting for Kian to get ready.
Kian was wearing his usual uniform but decided to let his wings unfurled. He smiled when he saw Arctis; the young man looked handsome and dignified, a proper leader for such a gracious and peaceful race. Arctis approached him holding out a delicate silver necklace with a small blue pendant carved from a precious stone; it was shaped as a leaf with an azure eye in the middle.
-Take this as a token of my gratitude and a memory of our friendship. This is a Healer’s necklace and I’d be honored if you would like to wear it.
Kian took the necklace and put in around his neck. The two young men embraced for a moment then the Angel said:
-It’s time to go.
They left through the old “oak” tree of the city garden closely followed by twenty Nanukas, men and women, all dressed up in beautiful ceremonial clothes. People were gathering in the streets watching in silence and amazement the solemn procession. They knew nothing about the conflict and they knew nothing about the two astonishing young men leading the procession to the Governor’s residence. They have never seen the Nanukas dressed up in ceremonial clothes and they were oblivious about the reason the natives have disappeared weeks ago. Lead by curiosity, the humans gathered one by one and fell into the footsteps of the Nanukas and followed them towards the residential palace. Kian and Arctis looked at each-other, said nothing but they both made mental note about the growing number of humans following them.
Inside the palace the talking was reaching its boiling point. The First mayor had difficulties on explaining why he had kept the Nanuka-Tah captive, without informing the leaders of the human community. He was the richest merchant on Amanis thanks to the exploitation of the stellarite from the Nova Crater but the killings and the abduction of the child didn’t look well on his personal file.
The Governor was angry for being mislead about the Nanukas possible riot, Commander Soren found the Mayor’s politics distasteful and outrageous and the Galactic Council looked very much displeased. The most bitter of them all was the bulky man, sensing that he might be used as the escape goat for all the happenings; he wasn’t keen to take all the blame and he equally hated Kian for mingling into this. He considered the young angel as the source of all evil that happened to them and he sought revenge on him. The angry man hid in the shadows of the Council Room and watched the events unfold.
The delegation lead by Kian and Arctis has reached the ResidentialPalace and they entered the Council Room. The humans gathered outside in silence, waiting to see what was happening. Rumor spread among them about the reason of the meeting and the men and women became restless, wanting to know more about the talk. The Governor ordered that a holographic screen to be placed out so that the citizens could watch them.
The sight of the Nanukas delegation entering the Council Room lead by Arctis and Kian raised a low rumor among the members of the council. For those who never saw them before but even for those knew them well the two young leaders were a surprising presence.
In the very short span of time Arctis grew into a fine symbolic leader for the Nanukas. Completely restored, body and soul, he looked impressive and majestic yet his aura was gentle and peaceful. From his handsome face the bright azure eyes looked piercingly but benevolently around. He moved easily, with all the grace of his race.
Kian seconded him graciously. His tall and slender frame looked almost ethereal with the silky white wing unfolded, slowly moving with every light step he made. His steel- blue eyes held the usual dreamy, melancholic gaze, hiding the strong determination that set him in motion.
It was an odd moment, a third degree encounter: the humans facing the members of two alien races. They stopped and greeted the members of the Council then waited in silence for the Governor to speak. The First Mayor was shifting uncomfortably in his seat, unable to understand the changes in his former prisoner. He just realized the proportions of the miracles that happened at the Nova Crater and the possible powers involved. For the first time he realized the truth behind his own men’s fright as they witnessed the healing performed by Kian upon the Nanuka-tah. Beyond that fragile appearance the Angel was a real, touchable force of Nature. The heart of the First Mayor sank.
The Governor cleared his throat and spoke in a firm voice:
-Who are you and why are you here today?
Arctis took a step in front and answered in a light and pleasant voice:
-Governor! I’m the spiritual leader of my people, the natives of this planet. We came here in peace to settle some of the issues of our common past. We are a peaceful race and we do not seek revenge, not even for the innocent dead. We want them to be remembered but we don’t want any more sufferance. Our ancestors welcomed the humans so this planet is as much your home as it is ours.
-The First Mayor seems to think that you might raise a riot against our people and harm them. He says that you’re dangerous and a sorcerer.
-Governor! The First Mayor knows very well what his reasons were to keep me captive until I luckily escaped. It wasn’t because my hidden talents; I was so damaged at the time that all my native talents remained blocked inside until the Angel healed me. I am the Nanuka-tah and I have some special talents but they are coming from a better understanding and handling of the powers of Nature. Our people and I, we are willing to teach humans and share the knowledge we’ve got from our ancestors. All you have to do is to keep an open mind and respect Nature. Then she will open like a Book of Marvels under your eyes. This is our offer to Human race.
A deep silence set in the Council Room. Suddenly, people were staring at the First Mayor and they didn’t look friendly. The man started to sweat under their gaze. The Governor turned to Kian.
-Angel! You’ve helped a dangerous fugitive and restored the powers of a man you knew nothing about. Your actions could be considered unfriendly and harmful towards humans. What do you have to say about that?
Kian raised his head, looking sternly into the Governor’s eyes. His voice was soft but firm and he spoke with a tint of sadness in his voice.
-Governor! I am possibly the last descendant of an intelligent race that has reached the stars while human race was still in the childhood of their history. I was fascinated by your race’s wittiness so I dedicated my energies to study your history. My fate was so that I woke up upon the disappearance of my whole race and all I was left with were my human friends. I am forever in debt to them. I have seen what greed and the hunger for power has done to my race. I have lost more than any of you can imagine. I care too much for the humans to let this happen again. I’ll defend you even against yourself, if it’s necessary…
As concerning Arctis-when I met him first, he was just a tormented, caged soul, trapped inside a body that was badly damaged. His captors did their best to crush his soul, his hopes and his trust. All I did was to restore what they had robbed from him. He was a small child when he was captured, burned beyond recognition, caged like a wild animal. Why were they so afraid of him?
Kian was shaking almost imperceptibly while he was speaking about all the torment Arctis has undergone. The Governor was deeply disturbed by Kian’s speech. He turned to the First Mayor and looked at him like he was seeing him for the first time in his life. He stared at him in disbelief for a few moments then he turned to the members of the Council.
-Members of the Council, you’ve heard all. I ask you to express yourself and help me find a proper response to the offer made by the Spiritual leader of the Nanukas.
A sharp shout from outside broke the silence:
-We want to live in peace! The Nanukas are our friends! The First Mayor should resign!
There was uproar in the Council Room and in a few moments the members of the Council voted in favor of the offer made by Arctis. The Governor shook hands with the young Nanuka-Tah and Kian. He then made a discreet gesture and the guards escorted the First Mayor. He was to be judged later by his human fellows. Commander Soren joined the group, pleased by the ending of the conflict. The people around the Palace were overjoyed. They had a good life on the planet and they admired the Nanukas, so they were happy to live in peace with them.
The Governor led the delegations out to the awaiting people. They were passing by the colonnade that sustained the richly decorated roof of the huge hall when a dark silhouette jumped behind stopping in front of Kian.
-Bastard!-he hissed. You just couldn’t stay out and ruined everything!
The sharp blade gleamed for a moment before the hit. Kian collapsed without a sound. The vivid red patch was dangerously blooming on the young Angel’s chest.