He opened his eyes on a distant planet. It smelled very earthy, but they all do. He looked up into the night sky to get his bearings, but none of those stars looked familiar. In the sky were five moons. Then the smallest wisp of wind brought the smell of a distant campfire to his nose. He followed his nose down the path at his feet. Around the first bend, he could see a campfire in the distance.
A young anoza woman sat by the fire, waiting for him. Her soft blue eyes held him in their gaze as he approached. Behind her, were six anoza dressed in formal robes, with their hoods pulled over to cover their faces. Their arms were crossed. Each of them wore a white gold ring in the form of a crescent moon and a star. They were here to pass judgment on something very important. This was a test in the ancient anoza tradition.
"Chon of the House of Five Moons... your father is human," the anoza woman challenged him.
"Yes, he is," Chon strongly affirmed.
"But your mother is anoza," the woman added softly.
"Yes, she is," Chon affirmed more softly.
"Do you know that humans were cast into the outer darkness because of the evil in their hearts?" she challenged him once more. He could see the challenge in her eyes as much as in her words.
"Humans would tell you that they left Earth on their own, as explorers, but yes; they were cast into the outer darkness because of the evil in their hearts," Chon agreed. The woman appeared to be about to pass judgment based on this fact alone.
"But that was not the end of it!" he protested.
"How so?" the woman stood fast with arms crossed, looking down her nose, awaiting his response.
"In our absence, Fate had dealt Earth its due," Chon began his argument.
"And the wages of sin are death," the woman pronounced once more as if now that was the final sentence of mankind.
But Chon continued passionately, "So it was written, so it came to pass: 'Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and there was no longer any sea.' In fact, there were many 'new heavens' and many 'new earths' as we were to discover. Fate had cast us into the outer darkness for a reason. Fate had saved us, set us aside, and He was not willing that any who belonged to Him be lost. When Fate had cast us into the outer darkness, it was not the end of us, it was a new beginning."
The woman smiled. "So Fate once more sifted the humans through time, to separate the good from the evil," the woman agreed. "That is where we stand - at the tipping point - with the fate of the humans in the balance. Chon of the House of Five Moons, if I am to decide, then I must know what is in your heart. Where do you stand? Who are you?"
"As I said, Fate was not willing that any who belonged to Him be lost. So, He cast mankind once more into the crucible of time. He melted us down to separate the iron from the slag. It was by Fate that I was poured out of that crucible, but that was only the beginning. Then He hammered me over time on the anvil of all that came before me to harden my resolve."
"I am Evil's worst nightmare. I move in his shadows, and he does not see me. I walk in the sunlight, and he does not know me. I strike him when he least expects. I am gone before he knows what hit him. I am the defender of the faith. I am the protector of the weak. I am the tip of the spear. I am Recon."
With that, the young woman seemed to make up her mind. She joined the other six anoza for a private discussion. Their deliberations were lengthy and not without contention. As he waited, Chon reached for another piece of wood to put on the fire. On the ground, next to the wood, was a small, smooth, red stone that caught his eye. He picked it up and rubbed it in his fingers as he waited. He put the piece of wood on the fire. Only then, did the young woman return.
"You have kept the fire burning for me. That is a good sign. I have made my decision. In secret, will I cast my fate with yours. Where I can make a difference, I will. Know this - I am with you always."
"Who are you?" Chon asked her.
"I am Destiny," she told him as the dream dissolved.
Chon sat straight up in bed, now fully awake and took a deep breath to reset his mind. He looked around his room. He was at home... on the Five Moons... on Panara-5.
"It was only a dream," he tried to convince himself. "It was only a dream."
He tried to roll over and go back to sleep but rolled over right onto a small, smooth, red stone.