After Atlantis and other cities sank into the depths of the oceans, humanity regressed to a primordial era. Humans turned to planetary beings and called them gods. Those who shifted to higher dimensions as Merleina had done quietly observed the rise and fall of civilizations, particularly the development of humanity.
Travel between the third and fourth dimensions had not been uncommon in Merleina. Unofficially, they became the eyes and ears of the Council. The unspoken rule was to strictly observe and not participate in human affairs.
Young explorer Dorme, however, left Merleina for good. It baffled his family and friends that he would choose to live in primitive conditions.
Eight years had gone by when a civilian, who had incidentally passed by Sinta Lake, discovered a man and a child at the center of it. They were obviously outsiders by their garb. Humans. Protocol demanded that such an occurrence must be reported to the authorities. Still, the Merleinan who had found them was surprised at the similarity of their auras to his people. He brought them to the nearest temple. Both were covered in soot and smelled of burnt hair and clothing and greatly in need of a wash. By their thin faces, they sorely needed food and rest as well.
The temple priestess identified the man carrying the girl. Dorme had returned bearing news from other dimensions. He had been busy gathering data. Planetary beings were less inconspicuous and have humans with authority working for them. Souls from other galaxies were being seeded in Earth. Born as humans, their purpose is to uplift humanity from ignorance enforced by those in power. Members of the Galactic Federation were close at hand, ever watchful of the human race.
Mankind was not far behind from awakening to the Truth. Dorme had married a healer with psychic gifts. She was advanced for her time, accepting him for what he truly is and sharing his more modern views about her world. Yet, it did not save her from the Plague that spread in her country.
Dorme had been gone from home for a few days. The house that greeted him on his arrival was boarded up. The neighbors would not come near it for fear of contracting the disease. He broke down the door and discovered his daughter still alive. His wife lay on the bed, her corpse smelling of rot and decay. The person who had anchored him to the third dimension had passed on, which decided his next course of action. Dorme torched the house seeming to outsiders to have included himself and his daughter in the fire. He then subsequently returned to Merleina with his child, vowing to help humans, like his wife, ascend to the higher dimension.
The priestess sympathized with his loss and offered them shelter. It was weeks later that Dorme would approach the Elders with his proposal to form the Gate Keepers Order. The presence of his daughter in Merleina became his strongest defense to sway the Council to his cause.
Five hundred years after the Order’s establishment, its headquarters lay at the northern borders. A huge complex built on sun-bleached gray stones. Offices were situated at the east, conferences were held at the west end of the main building. The northern part of the complex was reserved for Gate Keepers residing within the base. Arturion made a mental note to drop by his quarters after his meeting with Sola and Reno.
The crystal he carried on a twine around his neck flashed as he passed through doorways. The frequency emitted by his identification stone would be transmitted to a larger centralized crystal that would register the identity of the bearer and check if it matched with a profile in its records. It was an efficient way of identifying available personnel who has the necessary expertise that can be called upon to aid a colleague during a field assignment. The simplest task it performed: tempered glass doors of the HQ automatically slid open for the bearer of the stone.
The last door held a clay tablet with Sola’s name engraved on it. Arturion entered the office expecting his commanding officer to be seated at his desk working on various reports and documents. But it was empty except for the shadow of a man with a larger build standing by the long table near the window. Reno wore the severe navy blue uniform of the Guards and kept his hair braided down the back of his head. The four-leaf clover embroidered in gold silk on his right breast proclaimed him as Commander of the Black Guard Order. The uniform meant he was on official business with the Gate Keepers’ Commander.
They acknowledged each other with a nod. Reno had arrived just as Sola had been called away. The Council of Elders had arranged for an emergency meeting, requiring Sola’s and High Priestess Sara’s attendance.
“You look worried,” Reno observed.
“Shouldn’t you be worried, too?” Arturion reached for the decanter and poured water into two glasses.
“I’m not. This is the first real interference we’ve had from those Ancients.”
“You shouldn’t call the Elders that.”
“Suits them fine to me. Half of them still uphold obsolete ideals.”
“The Traditionalists, you mean. Your opinion is biased because they’re always the last to approve on your organization’s projects. They are the foundation of our society. Without them, our heritage would long be lost to us. They consider the implications of more novel ideas to society before they give their support. The events leading to Atlantis’ fall remain fresh in their memories. They cannot bear a repetition of the past.”
“Point taken.” Reno studied the light bouncing off his glass. “Would you still be taking their side when your full-blooded human friend becomes the object of their scrutiny?”
“Touché.” Arturion winced, his hand coming up to his chest.
They both grinned. The Commander noticed that his friend’s smile did not reach his eyes.
“You’re regretting your career choice, aren’t you?”
“Reno,” Arturion said, exasperated. “I will still refuse your invitation even if I decide to leave my Order.”
“Well, the invitation still stands.”
The Commander has always looked out for his childhood friend. When they were young, they were mischievous as the Forest Folk despite that fact that Arturion was smaller in stature and more serious. In addition, unlike most half-humans in Merleina, he didn’t know the identity of his biological father. Reno suspected that this was partially the reason why Arturion pushed himself to catch up with the older children.
When they grew older, the latter faced the pressures of a foster child to Sola. The Commander of the Keepers had been newly installed in office after Dorme’s sudden disappearance. Elders had been skeptical of Sola’s competence. The founder’s grandson did not have the same devotion Dorme gave to the Order. Arturion supported his foster father as any son of his age could; he became an exemplary student in the academy. Despite being the golden boy in the eyes of many, he exuded restless energy whenever he traveled to the third dimension. It prompted Reno to take his friend with him whenever he collected data in the human world. This research would eventually result in the formation of the Black Guard Order.
In a sense, Arturion co-founded the Guard. His sense of honor, loyalty and duty were the only things tying him to the stoic and strait-laced Gate Keepers. Reno believed the Keepers’ Code was not designed for half-humans. His kind has a tendency to be influenced by their human emotions than others and more passionate in their interests and convictions. It was impossible to deny one’s nature as Arturion has done. Reno feared that his friend would not be able to control the torrent of his emotions once it was loose.
There have been cracks in Arturion’s mask. Feelings he kept bottled up were leaking all over the place since the incident in Karina’s house. Reno had sensed another emotion lurking behind the calm façade with the mere mention of the young woman.
“Speaking of the mortal woman–”
“Kristina,” Arturion said.
“Yes. Karina.” Reno corrected, eyeing his friend. Arturion’s persistence on using her real name was odd. “The Devatas’ acknowledgment has quickly spread in our neighborhood. The Merleinans who are learned of the Devarian Tongue would surely have heard of it and reported it to the Council of Elders.”
“That’s why Sola and Sara have been called, isn’t it? They can only confirm its truth. Kris – Karina’s health is still unstable. She is ignorant of the title.”
A vertical line formed between Reno’s brows in confusion.
“She thinks the Forest Folk gave her a Devarian name.”
“Then, she hasn’t accepted the position yet. That’s a bit of a tangle. Would she willingly bear the burdens of Liyanna?”
“I don’t know. Parts of the forest she visited have been said to thrive in her presence. She is more popular than Kelor-dan.”
“Where did you get this information?”
“A tree-spirit told me.”
A friend. Reno did not have friends with Devatas. The relationship he has with them was limited to work. The Forest Folk, especially the Sentries, have a low regard for humans in general, including half-humans whom they call Halflings. It was safe to assume that Arturion’s friendship extended to the gentler folk of the Devatas.
Come to think of it, if Arturion loosened up a bit, he could be devastatingly attractive. With a small enchantment – just to change some of his features – he could pass off as a Devarian noble, Reno thought.
“What are you thinking?” Arturion saw an idea form in the Commander’s eyes.
“I could really use you in the field. You have nearly all the qualities of my ideal Guard.” Reno fiddled with the tiger’s eye bracelet around his wrist. “Looks like your superior officer won’t be joining us.”
The Commander untwisted the bracelet from his arm. He removed a disk, a centimeter in diameter, and tossed it in the air. It hovered three inches from the table, spinning non-stop, sucking the light in the office. It glowed twice; then, lit up the room. A simulation of the Guards assigned to the Torres case (Karina’s file) surrounded both men. Reno uttered a command in the Old Tongue. The disk slowed and the Guards vanished, encrypted messages taking its place.
“Her social circle is diverse for her age. Karina’s mother is the root cause of that. Mrs. Torres offered sessions to the working class up to the elite when New Age became a trend. Then, she transferred the sisters from a specialized school to a parochial one after the divorce. Afterward, Karina enrolled to a public college.
“There isn’t much to go on. The people she has had contact with in the past twenty years has no connection to the Zertans’ direct assault.”
“What of Peter?” Arturion was not certain of the man’s innocence. There had been instances that he felt deep-seated anger and bitterness in Peter’s aura, seeping from the chakra in the solar plexus. It was a common experience in the third-dimensional plane. What set him apart was a slightly different density mixed into the chakra.
Arturion initially thought that Karina’s former boyfriend was a victim of a psychic attack. He didn’t like the gross feeling of an unclean chakra nor the putrid smell coming from the wound of psychic attack. The second meeting he had with Peter, he had braced himself. Arturion put up an invisible barrier to nullify a possible assault from the entity feeding off the negative energy and confirm his doubts to no avail. The moment he tried to probe on Peter’s aura, he had come up against a thick invisible wall.
The Keeper hoped that his extended senses had been playing tricks on him at that time and Peter had nothing to do with Karina’s case.
“We picked up a radioactive frequency from his house, the same one from our Zertan drone. We’ll wait for Peter to tip his hand. If it goes as planned, we’ll take him in for questioning.” The Commander grinned fiercely.
Arturion knew the Guard intended to nab the human once strong evidence pointed to Peter.
“It is still with your Order?”
“We’re not exactly at the top of the Galactic Federation’s list of priorities. They’re stricter in following procedure than your lot; not the type to interfere with world events if it doesn’t directly affect the equilibrium of the entire universe.” The Commander shook his head. He had expected the outcome but could not help hoping the Torres case would move the intergalactic beings to action.
The Galactic Federation was evasive in answering specifics of when and where they would pick up the drone. They were noncommittal on the subject of providing aid with regards to the investigation.
“Have you additional information from your side?”
“Kris – Karina mentioned something that might help narrow down the number of suspects,” Arturion replied.
The inscription enclosing them faintly glowed neon blue. It recorded Arturion’s narration of his conversation with Karina.
“I’ll have the Guard prioritize their search on that year. We’ll need to check Section V of your archives, as well. If there’s an existing file on Mrs. Torres, I have a feeling it would explain a lot of things.” Reno retrieved the disk. The simulation flickered and died, momentarily leaving the room in darkness. Then, the disk’s borrowed light dispersed outward, the interior of the office once again touched by natural light.
The Gate Keepers’ archives consisted of profiles of every human they have interacted with in their journeys. Profiles were categorized in five sections, accordingly. Section I contained data of people with inherent psychic abilities but unaware of their gifts. Information on psychics who actively used their talents was placed in Section II. The people who have the symptoms of ascension were in Section III. Section IV stored files of humans that Gate Keepers had offered a choice to stay or leave the third dimension. Sensitive data were stored in Section V. The last section was accessible only to the Council of Elders and Commander of the Gate Keepers. Leaders of other Orders would need Sola’s authorization to enter it.
“Mrs. Torres’ file should be in Section II or III.” Arturion frowned.
“The Guards and I have gone through the archives for a week. The last place we haven’t searched is Section V. Either Mrs. Torres had been very good at eluding the Gate Keepers in the period she offered New Age classes and seminars or there’s a special reason her records are kept under lock and key.” The Commander flipped a pentagon-shaped glass between his fingers. It bore the Gate Keeper’s and Sola’s insignia – the key to Section V.
Wattpad code: 58366003
©MC Babasa 2014
A/N: Feel free to post your feedback as this is the first book. Your comments and suggestions may influence the story as it progresses up to the second book.
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.