The small silver shuttle descended slowly towards the unknown planet. Kian has chosen the closest continent to land; there were large flat, grassy spots to land safely and it was in plain daylight. Two continents were on the lighted side, the third one was in the night side of the planet. There were white clouds scattered in the air and the whole scenery looked so very Earth-like. It seemed peaceful and harmless; but Kian knew it was just a deceiving appearance. Right after he passed the canopy of clouds, the connection with ANTARES went dead and an invisible tracking force begun to act upon his small ship. Fortunately for him, Kian has expected that. He left “them” to believe that he was out of control while he was searching for a proper landing spot. It didn’t matter even if it was a bumpy one; Kian remembered well his previous crash-landings on Earth. He had escaped mostly unharmed…so it was about time to revive his skills. He took back the command and took a sharp turn towards a wooded area that was hiding a small clearing. He landed inside the spot. The first round of this challenge has been won.
Kian hid the small shuttle under some bushes and fallen branches; he took his back pack and left the place. The scenery around him looked untamed and deserted but his senses alerted him constantly; the Angel knew he was watched. The landscape looked natural but there was a constant feeling of “staged scenery” in Kian’s mind. He couldn’t point out for now what was wrong but he was sure that some of the natural looking features of the land were hiding the signs of an intelligent species; and that species was hiding from something with great care.
“ It makes you wonder- thought Kian. Are they fleeing from some deadly enemy? Who could that be and where do I fit in the picture?”
He left the woods and descended a grassy slope towards a nicely curved valley; the small stream that crossed it was clear and cold. Kian stood there for a moment and tasted it; the water was pure and soothed the thirst. He took a bootle and filled it; for a moments, memories of his home planet and those of the Earth washed through his mind. It was a moment of homesickness…but he shook his head and let it go. He was an explorer; he had important things to do. He couldn’t afford the state of melancholy…perhaps later. Suddenly, he sensed a presence and looked up.
From a safe distance a…humanoid creature was watching him. Kian slowly stood up and faced him. What he saw was a winged young man, with well developed translucent wings folded behind his broad back. His intently watching eyes were black and sparkling. In the oval of his face the features were pleasant, quite handsome. He was tall and long-limbed and he moved silently.
The two young men watched each other with undiminished curiosity, though Kian was able to detect the restrained fear in the stranger. Fear from him. He decided to speak first.
-You don’t have to fear me-said the Angel in a soft voice. I came here in peace; I know nothing about your species. Please…help me understand.
The other young man almost jumped as he heard the voice.
-Silence!-he shouted pointing a finger towards Kian. I don’t want to hear this! You want to cheat me!
For a moment they stared at each other in disbelief as the language they were talking matched almost entirely. How on Earth was that possible?! Before any of them could find out, there were sounds of powerful wings and other creatures surrounded Kian. They were well built and of different ages and ranks. They all shared the same fair skin, black eyes and manly features, the spiky black hair…One of them stood out as a leader; he was more composed and serious. The others parted and let him come close to the Angel; he watched him for a few moments trying to discern how dangerous this stranger might be.
-Since you speak our language, I’ll be short. You have to come with us to the Elders. They are waiting for you. Don’t try to escape or I’ll be forced to kill you! The voice was deep and powerful.
-Antares!- he continued, turning towards the youth Kian first met. Watch him!
-You don’t have to worry about me-said the young Angel. I came here on my own will and I came in peace.
-We’ll see-came the short response. Let’s move! It’s too much light here.
The gathering proceeded towards a small crop of trees and bushes. Kian turned towards the youth guarding him; Antares returned his gaze. The deep, black eyes had tiny golden spots scattered inside, like the stars in the skies above the planet. There were unspoken questions and innocent curiosity behind those intent eyes. Antares looked very young and fresh, a boy on the verge of becoming a man. He looked into the Angel’s luminous grey eyes with equal amazement. It seemed that this alien was speaking the truth and his intentions were good after all. Antares felt a sudden surge of warmth coming through the mesmerizing blue-grey pools. He blinked and turned away. Kian sighed and made a mental note; this young man might become a friend.
The earth beneath their feet suddenly split and darkness enveloped them. It took only seconds before artificial light lit up their way towards the Council Room. The corridors they were walking were narrow and turning frequently to the left or the right; it was quite a labyrinth they were walking through. Suddenly, the corridor widened and the area opened up into a rounded hall with one monumental door in front of them. The door was decorated with intricate designs and for the second time, Kian was astounded discovering familiar traits in those decorations. He kept the information for himself and watched carefully.
The leader of their pack opened the door and allowed him to pass; the others followed in silence, splitting in two and seating, one by one on the chairs beside the rounded walls of the impressive Council Room. Once again, Kian felt a pang of homesickness; he relived the ancient times when he met the ruler of the Angels in a room much the same. The only real difference was that this particular room was located deep underground. The Council of Elders was seated around a huge table, carved out of a single piece of heavy, dark wood and it was decorated with the same pattern as the massive entrance door. Once again Kian recognized the sacred symbols of Angels and wondered about the connection between him and these elusive flying humans.
The members of the Council were of different ages and he could discern a wide range of features that individualized each of them, despite the fact that they all looked to be male. Until then, he hasn’t seen any women or children among the Night Flyers
The most impressive member of the venerable gathering was a tall, stern man with shoulder-long white hair and piercing black eyes watching under the bushy white eyebrows. He was wearing a heavily decorated, wine-red robe over the usual, more practical clothing; an intricate silver chain hung from his neck.
Kian and his guard stepped in front of the Council, leaving the others behind. The young Night Flyer identified as Antares stood back with his peers, watching the unfolding of the events with eager eyes.
-Respectable Fathers!-spoke out the guard. I brought you the stranger that landed from the starship and briefly escaped our tracking beam. I must warn you that he speaks our language! Now, please, allow me to step down.
The red robed Elder gave him a short nod of approval and he approached Kian, scrutinizing the Angel from head to toe. The young man held his gaze but tensed slightly; this old man had a powerful aura and he felt…dangerous!
-So- said the Elder in a low, husky voice-you’re the one who discovered us, despite our best efforts to keep the secret of our presence. I wonder if you’re bold or just plain stupid to land here all alone…
-I came here on my own will and I came in peace-answered Kian calmly. I felt your presence during the night so I’ve decided to come as Good-will ambassador for my fellow humans from the ship. We came from a far planet in search for a new home and we are mainly scientist aboard. My name is Kian.
-I am Sagitarius, leader of the Night Flyers and I am no fool, young man!-shouted back the old man, while his face contorted into a grimace. There is only one chance that you could detect us from such a distance: either you are a Night Flyer or you’re…our sworn enemy!
The enraged Elder stopped in front of the young man and looked deep in his eyes.
-I have never seen your race before but I felt that you are messaging to me so I came. I am no enemy.
Kian looked around in the large room; the faces were all tense and full of expectation. He failed to detect his only possible ally, the young man with star-lit eyes. So he turned back to the old Ruler; it was like when he faced Gharmos…annoyingly similar. But this Elder was way more dangerous. He raised a dry, slim hand and pointed a sharp nailed finger towards the youth.
-You are a deadly danger to us and I will expose you!!!
With a quick move, the razor sharp nail slashed Kian’s overall; unleashed from their stretching of the fabric, the white wings sprang out, shedding some small feathers as they opened up from the Angel’s back. The tall, slender figure wrapped up in those pearly-white wings looked fragile but magnificently impressive at the same time. It was a beauty unseen on this planet…yet, there was a rumor and a surge of fear and hatred rising from the assistance. “Murderer”…the whisper was quickly growing in intensity. Kian turned abruptly and faced them
-No!!!- He shouted back. I am not!!! I have never harmed anybody in my life! Why do you hate me?!
His voice was pained; the Night Flyers took a step back but continued to watch him with deep discontent. Fear clouded Antares’ eyes and Kian felt miserably about hurting him unknowingly. The young man turned his attention to Sagitarius.
-What have I done to you? –he asked desperately.
-You’re an Angel! Your race chased down my race and we were forced to flee our home before we were wiped out entirely! It is you and your race we were hiding from, becoming creatures of the night. And now you came here, claiming your innocence and trying to feed us with lies!
Kian shook his head incredulously.
-I have no idea what you are talking about. Besides, I am the only one left of my own race. Five hundred years ago, after an accident, my body had been preserved and it was the human crew from Earth that revived me. By that time, I woke up on an empty planet to learn that I was the only one left from the race of Angels! Whatever happened during those 500 years, I know nothing about!
Sagitarius laughed a short, insane laugh; he smirked as he turned around and then back to the youth.
-Such an incredible story-he sneered. But it won’t work! I can smell a liar from a mile and you’re not the best one! Guards! Lock him up until we decide his fate!
-You’re wrong, Elder of the Night Flyers! Fear and hatred prevents you from thinking clearly. I am the last of the Angels but I am no fool. I came here to learn the truth about your people and me; I will not give up on this!
-Insolent! Shouted Sagitarius, grabbing the youth; the piercing black eyes locked into the blue-grey eyes.
Kian felt a sharp pain in his mind and the world turned black. Antares watched in horror as the guards carried away the unconscious young man. This felt terribly wrong to him. He decided for the moment to stay and watch the debate; as a member of the one the most important families, he had the right to speak up and vote, despite his young age. It looked that he was the only one the stranger could count on.