Two gray-skinned males in hooded robes stepped single-file from an egg-shaped alcove. On either side of them, bluish-white streaks of energy bathed the portal frame as they passed through. In comparison to their technically advanced surroundings, their appearance was stark and primitive. Immediately, both approached a tall female in a creamy iridescent gown and bowed.
The first one placed a small icon on a pedestal, causing the room to pulse with energy. “Preservation and tranquility, Chosen Matriarch,” he droned. “It is done. The future has been altered and the Akuhrat is in place.”
No verbal response was returned by the stately female, only the lowering of her eyelids in cool acknowledgment.
The two left through another way as quickly as they had arrived. This time, their passing was plain and unaccompanied by a show of lights.
“I’ve located the Akuhrat string,” a third male announced.
Until then, Celas had manned his station, quietly working. Around him hung an intricate display of lights, suspended like a tapestry in thin air. A singular crimson thread, woven throughout its center, stood out from the rest. Centuries had passed in real time since the object awaited its discovery and traveled from one hand to the next. But it had taken only moments for Celas to track it, once the others returned with the other end of the string.
The tall female turned to face him. “Pull it! Return it all,” she ordered.
The research facilitator prepared for the task. He curled his six-fingered hand around the control to guide the thread back through the fabric. Unexpectedly, he saw something that made his skin crawl. “Darmar,” he sounded with alarm, “there are others on the thread …” His eyes widened, looking from his data to his superior. “… and they are not Ekauwans.”
For a long moment, Darmar did not answer. She closed her eyelids again, this time in concentration.
Celas knew that her mind was interfacing with the sentient. He could feel it. It made him uncomfortable as he waited.
He thought about how the Akuhrat had been a part of his people for as long as stories had been told. The tales mentioned a wanderer finding it on the distant planet of Dycar. The wanderer then gave it as a gift to the heiress of Ekauw, promising that it would bring countless new dawns to her people. The first Chosen One called it Akuhrat, which meant Dawn Bringer in the ancient Ekauwan tongue. The Ageless One’s ability to influence the future had won it a position of reverence among his people.
But now, the discovery of these new ones made Celas’s gut feel hollow. And the worst part was that he had seen it coming. All was not well with Ekauw’s future. No matter which path it forged, their civilization’s destruction was imminent. He sensed the Akuhrat becoming restless. It even asked them to do great violence to their descendents, as they had just done with Sahlek and her brave consort. But now his worst fear had been realized: their dawn bringer had found another playing field.
The facilitator felt sick, knowing that he was a part of re-writing that future. The strange thing was, instead of resenting the doom it spelled for his people, he felt remorse for these others. He knew the Dawn Bringer would devour them as it had his people, governing their every move until they were unable to think for themselves. Celas could feel its hunger for these new ones. But it would be heresy for him to speak it.
Darmar’s lids flew open. “Do it!” she blared.