Chapter 1: Paradise Lost
They called him Toron. Amongst the Anoza, Toron was a mountain of a man, not in physical stature, but in thought and deed. He was a renaissance man in a culture past its prime. He was the one-eyed man in the land of the blind. He could clearly see what others could not even comprehend. He should have been heralded as a visionary. Instead, they sought to burn him at the stake as a heretic.
The Anoza High Council, in their formal robes of office, sat in session to hear a challenge. Toron sat with the other Anoza High Council members: Hotep, Zuzann, Tianna, and Korin. Anoza all over this sector of the galaxy were watching this proceeding as it happened, live via quantum-com from the Anoza planet Akkad. The High Council had not been challenged in nearly ten-thousand years. This was important, very important. Every Anoza would have a say in the final outcome.
The Great Hall of the People was of a magnificent architecture purpose-built to intimidate you with its massive size and intricate detail. For as totally alien as it was, any human would have found it hauntingly familiar. It almost looked vaguely Egyptian. Or, did it look almost Mayan? The Anoza were a million years older than mankind, so maybe it did.
The walls of the Great Hall were intricately decorated with ancient Anoza pictographs. It was the story of the Anoza people from their very beginning in the Garden of Paradise on Turah Kala, the Anoza home world. It was the perfect backdrop for the issue before the High Council today.
"Humans are an evil vermin that infest the galaxy," Raven opened her argument powerfully to her fellow Anoza supporters.
Raven was as perfect a specimen of Anoza as existed anywhere. While extremely similar to humans, the Anoza were evolved from a more cat-like line of primates, called anozids. So, Raven was lithe by human standards but perfect by Anoza. Her eyes were the perfect shade of light violet and definitely cat-like, as were her pointed ears. The subtle line of spots around her hairline that ran down the center of her back also fit the perfect model for her species. Her skin was the perfect shade of light golden-tan. Her hair was jet-black, an ancient Anoza trait. Even her name, Raven, was an ancient Anoza name meaning 'Dark Angel.' Raven was as perfect an Anoza as she was arrogant about being Anoza.
"Toron made a terrible mistake and the High Council went right along with it. Now all Anoza will pay the price for it," Raven continued her argument.
"Toron made no such mistake," Peroh, the High Council's advocate, argued. "He simply gave the good humans the gift of Tesseract."
"But it was a test as much as it was a gift," Raven turned his argument back on him.
"Yes, it was," Peroh admitted.
"Which the evil humans failed miserably. They wrecked it!" Raven seized the opportunity to counter this folly.
"Admittedly, we thought that all was lost, but then Toron found Leaf in the Wind. Iyo, herself, chose him for his warrior's spirit. Leaf in the Wind saved the Five Moons. Leaf in the Wind changed everything. He is a true warrior, in the spirit of Kilka Mesch," Peroh argued.
"In the spirit of Kilka Mesch?! That is next to blasphemy! Dallas Blake, the human that you call Leaf in the Wind, is by no means a warrior by the ancient measure and certainly not of the impeccable moral standing to be compared to Kilka Mesch," Raven countered.
"So you say. Yet, Leaf in the Wind did change everything," Peroh refuted her argument.
"Yes, he did! He got Iyo pregnant! He polluted the bloodline! This cannot be left to stand! We are not humans! We are not half-breeds! Our lineage is pure! We are Anoza!" Raven argued.
"Enough of your evil intolerance!" Toron finally had an end to what he was hearing. "I cannot believe that I am hearing these words from another Anoza! Your arrogance goes before you like black smoke! Arrogance is an evil that I thought we Anoza had left behind us long ago until just now when I heard your own vile words."
Raven sized up her opponent. Toron, though of average height and build for an Anoza, had the most piercing steel-grey eyes that gave him a powerful presence. His salt-and-pepper gray hair and strongly masculine face made him look distinguished and wise. Add to all of that a deep, resonant voice. Toron was a powerful orator. It was never her intention to draw him personally into this debate. Now it would be a real fight.
Toron looked around the Great Hall of the People and out to the trillion-or-so Anoza watching by way of quantum-com, drawing up his thoughts. He began slowly, "We were once a glorious people. We moved like lightning and spoke like thunder. We were, and still are, masters of all that we survey, but that is quickly fading into the past. Our numbers were once like those of the humans. We once numbered well into the sextillions, but now there is barely a trillion of us left. And why is that? The very advanced quantum technology that gives us great power robs us of ambition and makes us lazy and weak."
"And then there are those humans. Yes, they truly are a mix of good and evil, but in the beginning, so were we. When I went back to see how they had fared, they were at war... with each other, no less. We endeavored to help the good humans defeat the evil humans once and for all and settle that for all time, as we had done ourselves long ago. Anyway, that was the plan. With the humans, that was not exactly what happened. They did end the war alright, but even that was not at all what we expected."
"So, yes. I am sorry to say that the gift of Tesseract was misused by a few evil, arrogant, misguided humans. They crashed it and killed most of their crew. Into that disaster, Aeyo went. She saved four of the humans as moons. Once more, the evil humans did their best to destroy the ship and kill the crew, but Aeyo saw the beauty in the good humans and so she alone defended them. When the High Council ordered us to end the mission, Aeyo complied but left her own moon, Iyo, behind to continue the fight."
"As a punishment for Aeyo's disobedience, the High Council ordered her moon, Iyo, to be bound to the network of the ship, the Five Moons. Even so, bound to the network, Iyo fought to save the humans that Aeyo had stored as moons. She fought to save the ship and the mission. After we had prevented the evil humans from flying the ship into a star, they dragged the ship back to their space docks. There, they intended to destroy the ship as well as the moons. And they would have succeeded too, but for Iyo."
"Iyo refused to give up. In that incredible chaos of humans in the wake of that terrible war, indeed, at the very Gates of Hell at the very last second, did I find hope -- a single leaf in the wind. In that sea of chaos and despair, that single leaf in the wind was our only hope. I found Leaf in the Wind, but Iyo chose him. He is a human of exceptional integrity and warrior without equal amongst the humans. Iyo was determined to save this mission. It was only by her tenacity that this worked at all."
"Nothing went according to plan, but the outcome was far better than any of us could have possibly imagined. Dallas Blake found the four moons that Aeyo had saved and restored them to their biological human form. Together, they not only saved Emma, but they also saved Sophie. They not only saved Sophie, but they also saved her whole people from extinction. Dallas Blake and the crew of the Five Moons also saved Micah. Micah will save thousands. They even saved young Jacob, which we all thought was impossible. The High Council was so pleased with all that Iyo had accomplished that we freed her from the Five Moons' network."
"Yes you did, and then she got pregnant by that very warrior of such high integrity that you spoke of," Raven argued back sarcastically. Toron glared angrily back at her.
"Yes. Like I keep saying, nothing went according to plan, but everything worked out for the best. Our mission was to join with the humans, to reinvigorate our people, to regain our destiny. I would say that Iyo accomplished that in a very unique way that none of us ever expected. How many of you would have so willingly become the humble servant of your own people? Iyo did!"
"Iyo betrayed us all!" Raven countered, even more incensed about it than when she began. "Shall we then all beget half-breeds? Is that what we are to become? We won't strengthen Anoza blood. We will pollute it and dilute it until a true Anoza can no longer be found. Oh, no! I will not stand one cetra for that. I will fight to my last breath to ensure that never happens. I demand a Rindar be taken." That surprised everyone. In human terms, Rindar was the equivalent of a Vote of No Confidence. The High Council took a private recess to discuss the matter.
"Rindar is a ridiculous waste of time," Zuzann stated flatly.
"I agree. It is pointless," Toron argued. "Rindar stands no chance to succeed."
Tianna and Korin both agreed.
"I see this differently," Hotep, Chief High Council, argued. "This unimportant issue will tie us up for months if we do not stop it. I say we hold the Rindar, which has no chance to succeed, and put an end to it now."
They took a vote.
"So be it," Hotep announced when they returned from recess. "Tomorrow at this same time let the vote of every Anoza be cast yea or nay for Rindar. Until then, the Council stands in recess."